I want this post to be the starting point of a major and vital discussion. I welcome ALL pertinent commentors (only spam advertising will be deleted by me). This is i believe one of the most pertinent possible conversations.
Where is the line between Ethical and Unethical tactics when engaged in fighting for ones rights and when engaged in running websites that will involve supporting sections of the community, specific issues and general discussion?
Thats not a minor subject and cannot be solved quickly. I welcome long comments, i welcome examples, i welcome bringing in connections to other areas or raising parallels that other sites would often consider off-topic or derails but which are all too often vital to a deep understanding and can cut right to the heart of an issue. I am totally happy for people to quote this, to have it cross-posted, to engage in conversations across other sites etc. Theres a lot in this and it covers a panoply of varying issues and needs and perspectives.
Now I'll give some of my current starting thoughts:
* I think that as philosophically the foundation of Human Rights including Civil and Political Rights is one of an assumption that all rights are enjoyed equally, and that as they are not enjoyed equally that anyone fighting for their own rights does indeed have an obligation towards fighting for the rights of others, supporting others fight for rights and to ensure that they fight for their own rights in such a way that it does not interfere with the rights of others (in general, there WILL be an exception which I'll get to shortly).
* I conclude based off this also that anyone currently enjoying their rights while others do not enjoy theirs have in essence borrowed upon the future enjoyment of all on those rights and as such do literally owe those currently unable to enjoy their rights.
* I see that Equal Rights requires as a responsibility all claimers of those rights to be obligated to respect the equal rights of all others as well as to fight to defend and also to ensure the equal rights of all others. That this requires some compromise of rights to practically ensure but should be kept to the minimum required to do so. That this then results in, if failed to do so, a loss of valid claim to ones own rights. That this loss should still be as minimal as possible with the goal of rectifying the problem. This is an important but complex part. It justifies a legal system for example, road rules and other laws where compromises on free action when behind the wheel of a deadly machine to the lives of others etc.
* That when the state and appropriate systems fail in it's duties to the equal rights of all then the minimum required amount of law-breaking to change that is ethical. Now lets not take this one too lightly, because it does go all the way up to killing. Before you dissmiss that thought lets remember that the legal and Ethical validity of many modern democratic rights-principled states are based upon this because revolution, civil war etc was validated by the citizens literally being prepared to die or kill in order to assert their equal rights. Now i'm so not suggesting we reccomend wheel-chair bound or transgender suicide bombers or violent revolutionaries but we must consider the ethics of every aspect of fighting for equality including the riots and bloodshed of past fights for equality. The degree of usefullness and practicality must be weighed regarding such actions.. so it's not so neatly Ethical to use violence as it can sometimes seem.
* Redressing inequalities become everyone's responsibility. That actually validates Affirmative Action for example so long as, and this bit is important, so long as it's still required and is applied relative to need.
* Rights-organisations and activists need to develop full Ethics Standards to ensure that they do not harm the rights of others in their fight and in proposed legislative reforms except where it fits the exceptions discussed above.
* Websites have a Duty-Of-Care to the members of forums, to commentors, to the community they are targeted at and serve. That this includes troublesome members/commentors who may act from triggers and inner pain and refelxive defencive aggression as well as the community they are trying to create a safe stable place for and that while difficult to balance these policies regarding moderation, temp-bans and bans need to consider the realities of mental illness, vulnerability to suicide and the like all too often ignored.
These are not set-in-stone but open for reasoned debate. It's good to discuss them, test them, consider them carefully. There are all sorts of practical considerations like how one might ensure that a small minority populations needs and voice are not drowned out by a larger one when the rights of both need to be considered in order to find the answer to achieving equality. Or how to ensure a community that has been past hurt by another community can still ensure that it considers the rights of that community are not harmed inappropriatly when attempting to get legislative reform. (good examples here involve conflicts between parts of the gay community and transgender community as well as conflicts between the Transsexual and Crossdresser communities).
So please, think about these issues. Think about the principles that underly them, what you feel about them and why, what makes the right thing right and the wrong thing wrong. Consider examples of this and practical considerations. Look for problems and for ways around them.
Lets make this the start of a broad inclusive cogent and consistent conversation that needs to consider all the issues of all involved. The begininng of a deep consideration of some of the most important, contentious and vital issues effecting much of todays society. One that relates to every activist, every official, every democratic represenative, every system, every forum message list and website. It's a big subject and it's time we got started on it.
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