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Wed, Apr. 30th, 2008, 08:27 pm
insomnia: Introducing LJ United

Hi. My name's Mark. Some of you might know me from as LJ's first "All things Business" Manager in the early, freewheeling days of the site before it started becoming yet another dotcom.

Recently, I created ljunited -- a coalition of LiveJournal users dedicated to putting forth a slate of two qualified candidates for the upcoming LJ advisory elections, drawn from individuals who believe strongly in the original promise of LiveJournal.

Specifically, we believe in:

Working with the community, for the community.
Honoring the status of every account.
(That means supporting and championing your free speech!)
Maintaining the uptime and performance of the site.
Staying advertisement free.
Never sending unsolicited e-mail.
Supporting the Free Software movement.
and ...
Protecting your privacy.

It's a simple promise. A list of goals to aspire to that plenty of LiveJournal members theoretically believe in.

... and yet, it doesn't always work out that way in practice, does it?!

Recently, I posted about  ljunitedto the  earlyadopterscommunity, which includes many of the earliest users of the site. 

The community's founder -- who is a strong defender of the rights of earlyadopters to maintain the free special features they were given -- recently quizzed me about  ljunited's platform, first asking me....

"when you step into, say, parryhotter, do you let them know how serious you feel about being allowed to write children's-book-inspired pornography?"

My reply was:
"I haven't had the time yet to really reach out enough to the fandom community, but when I do, you can absolutely count on me defending the right for people to write children's-book-inspired pornography. YES. ABSOLUTELY.

You might as well ask me if I would support jailing
Nabokov, or Henry Scott Tuke, for that matter.

Last time I heard, there were no minors harmed in the making of slashfic... and, in fact, many of the creators of slashfic are minors. And while I have heard it argued by some that their work has no redeeming artistic value, I have to wonder... to who?!

To me? Probably not more than a laugh or two at times. To someone who reads slashfic? Moreso.

It's a stupid question, in that it's like asking whether anyone in any given tenth grade English class is going to write something in that class of redeeming artistic value. Answer: probably not. But many of the young people writing slashfic will at least feel motivated to write regularly, and that's arguably a more significant accomplishment than than many tenth grade English classes achieve."

He went on to say:
"I personally think it's far more likely that the slash authors who are writing about child characters online are probably more likely to be child predators. . ."

... to which I responded:
"From personal experience running things at LJ for a long time, I think its safe to say that the facts do not support this claim, unless you mean it perhaps in some sort of vague statistical manner, such as:
"I think it's more likely that men who express an interest in women are more likely to be rapists."

Statistically? Well, yeah, it's probably true. But it's hardly an indictment or reason for preemptive steps against all men, is it?!

The fact of the matter is that during the years that I oversaw LJ's abuse department, there were exactly *ZERO* reported trial convictions of anyone on LJ related to child molestation."

As a final note, he wrote:
"You want me to believe that it's more likely that chilren are writing sophisticated sexual content surrounding the characters that are currently most popular to children, you show me. I personally think it makes a great cover for child sexual abusers."

to which I commented:
"Or a dad. Or an uncle. Or a priest. Or a babysitter. Or a teacher. Really, any family member, or any other person who is trusted with kids. That's who is statistically most likely to molest a child."

Basically, he doesn't believe that people under 18 write slash... so, if you or your friends either are or were involved in slashfic, yuri, yaoi, etc. before the age of 18, please let him know... and please ask your friends to do the same.... and as for all you adult fans out there, well... you might want to let him know that you're not actually a child molester, too.

As I said recently:

"What's a mistake, I think, is to think that the rights of those in  earlyadoptersand those over at  parryhotteraren't intrisically connected... because they are.

To those who don't believe me, all I can say is that you *ALL* had your rights once, and now some of you might not, or might feel that your rights are threatened... and you don't see any connection there?!

All too often, the management has played one minority after another against the weight of "public opinion". (Whose public?! Russia's? America's? LJ's?) The end result being that people's rights get infringed upon and rolled back, LJ dies a bit more, and there's a precident for even more rights to be taken away, usually for profit.

It's always easy to make a popular argument to take away someone's rights. But it takes integrity to defend someone whose rights most people do not need or use, based on solid principles. And sometimes, it takes a small army to not get steamrollered in the process."

That's why I stress the need for unity. Because, this isn't just about you. It's about us.

Join LJ United

Help us take strong, principled steps to bring back our rights, and to resist further attacks on our fellow LJers. 

We're looking for members who aren't willing to cave on issues involving the rights of any LJer, just because they happen to be an early adopter, or a breastfeeding mother, a survivor of child molestation, a sex-positive advocate, a Harry Potter fan, a Russian teen angry at the police, a Chinese dissident, a person who glorifies drugs, a person who worships a banned religion... or you.

"I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." - Voltaire

As we've seen, it's too easy to scapegoat one community or group of people.  That's why we need unity. Help us appoint representatives for LiveJournal who aren't *just* strongly supportive of fandom, but of ALL the promises that were made to us over the years, and of ALL our rights and freedoms.   

I don't care whether you are still on LiveJournal or have let your account go inactive, having moved on elsewhere.  There is still a fight to be fought, an argument to be made, and a reason to cast your vote and try and turn back the tide.

If you feel powerless and alone in the fight, but know some friends who feel the same way, spread the word, because WE WANT YOU.
If you would like to run as a LJ United candidate, embracing the promise of the site and representing us all, WE WANT YOU.
If you are tired, dispirited, frustrated... ready to pack it all in, but hanging around on LJ for the sake of your friends, WE WANT YOU. 
If you are tired of watching your friends be targeted, and wonder what will be next, WE WANT YOU.
If you personally have no worries and no fears, but you can't stand LJ's policies anymore, WE WANT YOU.  

Join LJ United.
Let's stand together. 

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 06:49 am (UTC)

It's always easy to make a popular argument to take away someone's rights. But it takes integrity to defend someone whose rights most people do not need or use, based on solid principles. And sometimes, it takes a small army to not get steamrollered in the process.

This is the odd thing about civil liberties; no one's ever going to challenge your right to cuddle kittens or dance about in the rain or whatever. The time you need to stand up for civil liberties is when you're talking about something that's discouraged, something most people don't want to know that anyone gets up to, but which is still within your rights. Civil liberties are distasteful subjects, and without them you've got nothing.
(Deleted comment)

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)


I didn't start reading or writing slash until I was seventeen, but I was reading and writing *straight* porn by the age of 15. Voraciously. And, being female, at that time I was *statistically* more likely to go out and *get* raped (the ratio is 1 in 4 now, it was 1 in 3 when I was 15) than to go out and try to do it to someone else.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)

As I mentioned to him, the popularity of slashfic, as a trend, seems to be quite influenced by Japanese fan culture... which includes fanmade literature, yuri, yaoi, etc.. . aimed at, and often created by, a younger audience.

In that sense, I don't really see much difference between someone who is young in the U.S. getting censored for expressing a kind of imported Japanese cultural standard that is still very new and misunderstood in this country, versus someone in China getting censored for expressing western ideas regarding democracy and free speech.

We're moving towards a kind of global blending of cultures and standards, and that's leading to a lot of kneejerk misunderstanding, rather than serious efforts to see where people are coming from. As such, we need to be inclusive when it comes to free speech, especially on global online communities, because we're dealing with the beliefs and standards of many different people, all of who reasonably believe that their rights should be respected.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)

Not non-existent, sadly. But damn small.

The OP just killed the entry. Heh?

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 07:24 pm (UTC)

He replied back:

"You obviously don't even care what comes out of your mouth. Your double-sided, what's the common parlance these days, "bipolar" approach is exactly what I dislike about the typical liberal activist. And this comes from me, a person who used to be terribly activist and still today quite a great deal more liberal than even your die-hard local organiser for NORML, PETA, Earth First!, HLF, you name it. I don't like what appears to me to be cognitive dissonance, I don't like people who destroy their own integrity and change stances just to feel the thrill of victory, and I don't like being hounded.

And look, now you're getting me hounded with all of these people who aren't going to be any more successful than you were, and who I am going to approach with extreme prejudice. You even have rabid fanficcers beating down the door, now, to join earlyadopters, who have account numbers in the millions margin. This doesn't impress me. We'll see, though, what they have to say.

As far as being cautious with child molestors, sorry but you're obviously too lacking in either the simple verbal skills or the maturity to wield them properly -- I'm not erring on the side of caution "with child molestors", I'm erring on the side of caution with journals and their users, period. For a number of reasons, including any potential threat to anything that I feel threatened by.

Now, you might argue that infringing on freedom of speech is heinous. That's nice -- take it public. Go get your fanfics out, people, and spend some money to get a public forum where you can read them out loud to the world. You're not going to do that, and it's obvious why -- you, with all of your activism and all of your bleeding heart, dying for the cause mentality, can't bear to take it to a real forum where it may have real consequences. Why? You feel guilty. That's the only explanation. Sure, it may be illegal to read things like these in public in some places, but you know what, getting your ass ticketed for a public offense stands for a lot more than the cheesy, cheap-ass "self sacrifice" of "walking out". But the entire alternative-sexuality movement is entirely armed with wallets, and you really, sorry, can't "fight them with wallets" or "vote with your wallet" in the middle of a verified recession with no end in sight, and if you'd read wall street, you'd know that LJ isn't the only online place getting "balkanized" these days, and frankly you are in the minority of online users worldwide, of all online services, against a majority who *like* this infringement. Now you know, you can't walk into a gay bar with a bunch of nazis and get away with keeping the podium to hear your fascist bullshit getting spent out. And you know, you probably can't walk into some nazi rally with your gay pride flags and expect to be taken really seriously, either. You want to act out, and exist as diametrically opposed to something, go ahead -- you'll peter out, you'll always fail. I've seen it time and time and time again. Anti-Rascist Action (ARA) is the best example of a club I was member of that totally fucked up, but let's not digress. You can't make livejournal a place where nobody is going to take action out of offense; gauranteed, given the new owners who don't like this twinkle-toes shit very much. I'm sorry, but they don't. I don't, but I wouldn't be trying to take your journals away; I'd be trying to verify your ages more soundly than a simple "press this button here and you're magically 18!" As far as writing fiction depicting children having sexyual encounters, even in the innocent act of exploring with other children, that simply does not belong in fiction.

I don't see why any of you are so bent out of shape. You obviously love fights and causes so much, if it gets to be policy to put your journals out of commission, you'll simply have all that much more to fight about. As far as 'driving the pedo threat underground', I'm really not afraid -- there are thousands of people volunteering their time to get them locked up. And there are every day more and more ways to censor the internet and make it a safe, wholesome place for whoever you're protecting. See my journal? I use SafeSurf. I care. And I really don't think you do."

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)

His reply to you was rather more polite than his reply to me. My post pointed out that I'd started slashing before I was 18, but never mentioned whether or not the characters involved were underage (and they weren't). The only reason I actually answered though, was to express my displeasure at people constantly screaming that they're doing this for the children. I've got one, and I don't want other people protecting him for me.

In response, I was called a psycho, told my child would grow up psycho and repeatedly sworn at. I think, seeing as this person is often incoherent and can't seem to make a point without namecalling, that this person probably doesn't pose all that much of a threat and the effort of arguing with them is pretty pointless.

Now I have to go to work, and apparently, be psycho.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)

I didn't notice his reply to you previously, but no. Not very nice of him.

Really, I didn't want any kind of conflict. I just wanted him to know that he was mischaracterizing the community. But apparently, he's unwilling to accept that fact.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 11:20 pm (UTC)

I saw that 0__o

Have a nice psycho day at work!

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC)

Or rather, that was his reply to me, before he deleted the entire post, which included numerous in-depth discussions of the various issues involved.

And now he's claiming that by my inviting you all in to challenge his assertions that you don't exist, we were bringing "adult content" into an all-ages community.

Is it just me, or does he come off as a complete loon?!

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)

It's not just you. Quite apart from the fact that he's pretty incoherent in his writing and makes a ton of faulty assumptions and ad hominem attacks, this guy sounds as mad as a hatter!

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)

Well, given that he asked me whether I would also stand up for the rights of the members of the parryhotter community...

... and that he said slash writers were probably adult pedophiles, and said "you show me" when I suggested that wasn't the case.

And then accuses us of bringing adult content into his community?

Well, he kind of opened the door on that one, didn't he?!

Obviously, he demands the right to smear people who support the rights of those who write slash, so long as they don't actually point out the fact that it's not a threat to anyone.

Edited at 2008-05-01 08:00 pm (UTC)

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)

Yeah, a loon, and a very defensive loon at that. He reminded me of this.

I can't view that link, sadly - not a member. I'm not sure I want to, though :P
(Deleted comment)

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 07:24 am (UTC)

I've only recently turned 18 myself, and I've been reading slash for four years, writing it for two. I wonder if we need some kind of general survey to present as facts to these people who know -nothing- about fandom; but then, it'd probably be dismissed as biased. People don't like facts when they counteract their argument.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 07:56 am (UTC)

lj-cut please?

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 08:42 am (UTC)


Thu, May. 1st, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)

Sorry about that... I actually emailed the mod shortly after I sent the post, with my concerns that it might need lj-cutting once approved.

I've trimmed it significantly. Thanks!

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)

Sorry about that... I actually emailed the mod shortly after I sent the post, with my concerns that it might need lj-cutting once approved.

I've trimmed it significantly. Thanks!

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 08:39 am (UTC)

Convincing argument. I'll have to be keeping tabs on this.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)

I'm glad you like the idea. I hope that we can grow a large, diverse community of people based around defending the promises that were made to LJers once, and protecting ALL our rights.

Ultimately, though, it will take a lot more people than me making the same argument. I'm willing to start the ball rolling, however.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 10:17 am (UTC)

wrote the guy a message. I'm 18 now, but started fandom when I was 14. including the sexy parts :D

have to agree with sorion on the female part, an even though therer are cases when women actually are in involved in child molestation, it's far less than men, and often it's child molestation in "statutory rape" cases where the "minor" cannot give consent - even if he did.

well, we really should stand united. let's see what comes from it. I am retreating from LJ gradually because I don't like the money-leeching that's getting bigger now and I already didn't like strikethrough and boldthrough.


Thu, May. 1st, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)

This is a little silly and long-winded. Why should we care about your little flame war? The internet is not your army. You're just using this to promote your little comm.

And next time it would be pleasant if you remembered a lj-cut.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)

Sorry for not lj-cutting earlier.

The reason you *should* care about it is that, to a significant degree, others in LJ deserted fandom and their freedom of expression when it was unfairly attacked.

And the thing is, these sorts of issues don't just effect fandom. They effect everyone, sometimes in very serious ways. For instance, did you know that in Russia, LiveJournal user Savva terentyev is facing the possibility of two years imprisonment for suggesting in an LJ comment that bad, corrupt police should be pubically burnt at the stake.

Strong words, yes... but just words, with no threat involved, and not even a specific target in mind.

So really, it's important to make the argument that we need to be united, and that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

Edited at 2008-05-01 03:14 pm (UTC)

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)

You sound very patriotic and everything, but I'm yawning. The only reason why you did this was to shock-horrify slashers into joining your community. It wouldn't have been so obvious had you not flaunted your comm FIVE DIFFERENT TIMES. And I understand that you feel strongly about this and everything, and that there's a slight possibility you did this for a nobler reason than prestige and popularity for your comm, so what? You even said yourself in that post that a single LJ comm is never going to reach everybody in LJ. So we couldn't possibly become united (whatever THAT means in a democracy), anyway.

I feel bad about Russia, and I understand that you feel strongly about it, but it's not as if you are going to solve Russia's social problems by me joining your crappy comm. Livejournal, even if joined together, doesn't have any power over Russian court rulings and there is nothing you can do to change the fact that you'll all be united and still be able to do nothing except wank each other.

The only thing you're doing is riling slash writers for no reason except your own gain!

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)

The reason I posted was to promote the community and idea to people in the larger fandom community, this is true... but I think I only encouraged people to join twice during the post.

"You even said yourself in that post that a single LJ comm is never going to reach everybody in LJ"

Absolutely. But that's why we need to reach out to as many communities as possible. I mean, what's the alternative? I wish there were a good one.

" it's not as if you are going to solve Russia's social problems by me joining your crappy comm"

If I thought it were impossible for LJers to effect some things, I wouldn't suggest trying to do so. It's very hard to prevent Russian authorities from going after their people, but as it stands, we don't even know whether LJ played any role in the case, as far as being subpoenaed, revealing user information, etc. That's the kind of things that the advisory board could influence.

"The only thing you're doing is riling slash writers for no reason except your own gain!"

Except, of course, I'm not gaining anything, and I think most slash writers aren't riled. More accurately, they have been pretty frustrated about a lot of things on LJ for a long time now, as I have.

I just think it's a bigger issue than slash writers. It effects all sorts of groups at LJ when its management are not standing up for free speech.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)

lj-cut is your friend.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)

Sorry about that... I actually emailed the mod shortly after I sent the post, but before it was approved, with my concerns that it might need lj-cutting once approved. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to it before it upset a few folks.

I've trimmed it significantly. Thanks!

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)

If you truely believe in what you're writing here you might want to consider putting your efforts somewhere else ;)

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)

"If you truely believe in what you're writing here you might want to consider putting your efforts somewhere else"

I do believe it could help, depending upon whether other people come forward to lead on this issue. I can completely understand any skepticism or cynicism that you might have as well, because there's certainly been a history of disappointments in trying to improve the situation on LJ.

Where would you advise that I put my efforts?

Fri, May. 2nd, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)

How about a community that already complies with what you believe in? I'm sure there must be one or another that'd appreciate it.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)

Whats with all the nasty and unsupportive comments being posted? I mean in case you havent noticed youre currently posing as a member of fandom_flies which seems to have been abandoned after many long-winded and exorbitant messages promoting a rise up from LJ because of policies being made up as we go that denounce freedom of speech and punishes first, asks questions later.

This persons post is just the different end of the same stick.

Im pretty sure I had another point to make but I went to make lunch and forgot. Oopsies.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)

This sounds like an important and worthy idea, even if there are those who decry it. I'll be joining the comm, though I don't know how active I'll be able to be.

For my part, though I read and write slash fan-fiction (with adult characters only, in my case), I'm joining with a broader view of the issues currently presented by the PTB at LiveJournal. Defending speech that is odious to us is at least as important as defending that which pleases us, and cultivating tolerance for different ideas is not the same thing as embracing or adopting them.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)

OP has since deleted his post :( Bad form.

Thu, May. 1st, 2008 10:01 pm (UTC)

Yep. See what he posted here as a final sendoff, before he deleted the thread.