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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 07:24 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 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 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?

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.