Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Dangers of Standing Next To Hitler

For one thing, you might get killed by a time traveler. Think about it.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m saying that if you raise a controversial topic, the way I did in my last post, there will be people who will be only too happy to attack you for what you didn’t actually say.

I call it being Hitler-Adjacent, and it goes something like this:

You are researching World War II Germany for a school paper or an historical novel. Of the many facts you learn about that period, you happen to discover that Adolph Hitler happened to have been surprisingly good at golf. Huh, you think, and you post this random discovery on social media.

And then you get attacked for saying the leader of the Third Reich was an alright kind of guy.

You of course said no such thing - all you did was mention he was fairly proficient with a nine-iron. The trouble is, if you write this sentence - Hitler was good at golf - too many people will only read those first three words: Hitler was good. The taint of who he was and what he did covers all else.

I thought I’d been really clear when I wrote my post about the FHRITP incident that I wasn’t defending Shawn Simoes or his ‘right’ to say whatever he wants in public without any form of consequence. However, my calling into question the right and power of an employer to fire someone over things they’d said and done on their own time (and asking what the implications of such power might be) wasn’t done at a safe distance from the sexism and assholish behaviour of the FHRITP incident and thus couldn’t escape the taint.

I will be better prepared for the fallout next time around(and yes, I’m sure there will be one). Still, nothing could have prepared me for the perils of moderating the discussion in the comments that followed my Facebook link to my post(whew, that's a mouthful and a half!). During the worst of it I felt my identity as a writer called into question; dare I speak my mind again, if I can't handle the consequences? Hmm... speaking one's mind, and consequences... how very relevant!

But that’s another post for another time. Until then, I’ve still got quite a bit of taint to scrub off.

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