Geeks and Professionalism

Most of the time I don’t bother posting here when some high profile person goes on an anti-trans rant. It would get very boring if I did, because there is at least one a week. Besides, many of these people are folks I’ve not heard of, and don’t care about. I have little interest in video games or web comics, and consequently was only vaguely aware of Penny Arcade. I still wouldn’t have any interest, had I not found out about them from this article.

What’s so special about it? Well, it is in the National Post, which is a right-leaning newspaper from Canada. What is more, it is in the financial pages of that newspaper. Succinctly, a young geek with a successful business is being taken to task by a financial newspaper for damaging his brand by going on an online rant about trans people.

That’s amazing to me. What people regard as offensive changes with time. When I first transitioned, the mere existence of trans people was deemed offensive by many. For an employer to send me to a meeting with a client would have been seen as an insult to that client. Many people, of course, still think that way, including, apparently, lots of people in the UK’s Civil Service, and a substantial majority of the House of Lords. And yet here is a financial newspaper telling a young man that he should be more circumspect about airing his prejudices, because it will offend potential customers and cost him business. How the world has changed.

Personal issues aside, however, this is another prime example of the issue confronting SFWA. Painful as it may be for some people, the world does change. Nowadays, if you express contempt, not just for trans people, but for the whole QUILTBAG community, for people of color, for women, and so on, the Internet is liable to fall on your head. People may think that this is horribly unfair. They may decide to form pressure groups to fight for the right to be allowed to hate and despise their fellow human beings without being discriminated against for doing so. Perhaps one day the world will change again and they will be able to vent their spite more freely. But until that time, if you are running a business or a professional organization, you need to be aware that certain types of behavior can cost you dearly.

I’m sure that there will be people who find this outrageous. But you know, having spent most of my life being told that people like me are freakish, disgusting and a social embarrassment, not to mention a danger to children by our mere existence, I have very little sympathy. Boot, welcome to the other foot.

One thought on “Geeks and Professionalism

  1. I think last I checked, I had the top-rated comment on that article. I wasn’t aware it was right-leaning or anything, but I thought it was a brilliantly written article that made some very good points.

    I mean yes, okay, I think it’s good that the person in question has subsequently donated $20k to an LGBT charity, and that is a victory to some degree and hopefully it’ll bring in more. But it’s a shame it even has to happen in the first place, and for this guy to make so many hatchet jobs of trying to apologise.

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