Progressive social media: A translation guide

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The reason the blog is quiet just now is a purely practical one. I’m finishing off some renovation at home. That’s nearly done, and blog entries will start flowing more regularly, but while I’ve been laying floorboards and insulating walls, I’ve been thinking.

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What we need to do is learn the language of online progressive communication to use in our articles, blogs, and social media comments. To this end, I’ve taken a swing at a short, handy translation guide. So before you write that next headline or reply to that next tweet, try these easy tips to make yourself more understandable to the generation that really cares about justice.

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Progressive Christians would have shamed Jesus

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Partly a product of social media, the way we talk about those with whom we disagree has changed a lot.

In particular, at the risk of sounding partisan, here is the way I see those who view themselves as “progressive” (what a terrible name to give yourself) engaging religious conservatism: Instead of talking to people about why they disagree and why they think people of a conservative bent should change their minds or behaviour, they talk about them to the world. When they do so they are not critically engaging  with them (even if they tell us that this is what they are doing). Instead they are serving the social function of shaming them, not so that they will change their mind, but so that they will be afraid of speaking.

Many progressive Christians, if I have observed things correctly, think that they are the real followers of Jesus (who, we are told, was an inclusive, tolerant, liberal-minded progressive), while religious conservatives are more like the religious hypocrites from whom Jesus distanced himself. Sweeping generalisations are usually wrong if taken as hard and fast rules. This description is true of many religious conservatives, no doubt There are plenty of them, after all. But to a large extent it is self-flattering nonsense. While many progressives like to say that religious conservatives “pick and choose” which commands of Jesus they follow, sometimes it’s helpful to hold up a mirror to this outlook, if only because of its irrepressible self-confidence in being real, authentic, pure-as-the-driven-snow, Jesus-following Christianity, along with its current occupation of a position of social power, something Christians are justified in being suspicious of (let’s remember that it’s not just a worrying combination when it’s manifested in the religious right).

Progressive Christianity, had it existed in the first century, would have found opportunities to shame Jesus himself. Continue reading “Progressive Christians would have shamed Jesus”

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Killing the conversation on justice: Social justice warriors and the sabotage of dialogue

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You might think that when people dismiss “social justice warriors,” it is because they just don’t want their own bigotry to be challenged. You’d be wrong. It’s because social justice warriors kill the very conversations about justice they want to be seen as having. The reaction to Mike Hosking’s comments about Māori representation on the local councils is just the latest example.

The back story: There’s a current affairs TV show here in New Zealand called Seven Sharp, so named because it screens at 7pm. It’s normal on this show, as on many others, for the presenters to offer their own editorial comments on stories, discussing the issues raised with each other and provoking conversation from viewers. Continue reading “Killing the conversation on justice: Social justice warriors and the sabotage of dialogue”

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Free speech and the crusade against Brendan Eich

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We know that constitutional or legal freedom of speech was not violated when you bullied Brendan Eich out of his job at Mozilla because of his view on marriage. But lift your standards a little. “Legal” does not mean “good.”

Sometimes, public, ugly spats, cases of abuse or bullying, hate, or division can have the effect of causing misunderstandings – or perhaps just properly understood but really wrong views – about moral and legal issues to come bubbling to the surface of public discussion. The appalling treatment dished out to Mozilla’s Brendan Eich recently has been just such an example. In particular, the issue of freedom of speech and the consequences of the exercise of that freedom have been much discussed. Continue reading “Free speech and the crusade against Brendan Eich”

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Abortion and Depression: An open letter to the pretentiously angry

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If abortion poses a risk to women, then why are some people so offended when others point it out? Why do some even become angry, accusing those who highlight this connection of bullying and vilifying people? Is it really concern over bullying that drives such outrage? Or is the outrage just a front for the opposition to any negative press for abortion?

As some readers may know, Charlotte Dawson, a model and celebrity born in New Zealand but who lived in Australia, was recently found dead in her home in Sydney. Her tragic death was a suicide. Charlotte battled depression and had also endured a very public battle with internet bullies. People are awful beyond words sometimes.

Continue reading “Abortion and Depression: An open letter to the pretentiously angry”

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