Within WordPress circles, I don’t talk much about politics. I was raised to believe that politics and religion are not polite dinner topics. That belief generally extends to my work-life too. However, sometimes these topics crash into one another at full speed.
I don’t typically provide qualifying statements about my beliefs when writing an article. My words should stand on their own, regardless of my personal views. However, in this toxic political climate in the U.S. that sometimes worms its way into the WordPress community, alternative views are often automatically dismissed if the writer is not considered one of their own. If I wrote a piece that defended conservatism without self-describing myself as a liberal, my words would fall on many deaf ears. Such is the climate that we live in today.
Therefore, without further ado, I proclaim myself as one of you.
WordCamps and Political/Hate Speech
In Symbols of Hate at WordCamps, Aaron Jorbin makes the argument that red MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats should be banned from WordCamps because they are symbols of racism. While one-sided and starting from the position that such apparel is hate speech regardless of context, it is a thought-provoking piece. It is also the sort of statement that will earn you internet points from what is seemingly a majority, Left-leaning inner WordPress community. But, there are unanswered questions and another side to this story that Jorbin failed to explore in his article.
Jorbin opened with a large image. The image has a simple word as a faux HTML tag:
</hate>. Before the argument begins, this imagery lets the readers know that there is no discussion. In HTML, the
/ character is meant to close a statement. The opening salvo is the end of the discussion. The text is merely a formality.
MAGA caps are hate speech.
There is no context in which a MAGA cap is acceptable. The reader should know this because the argument was won before it was given.
“I fully cosign,” said Adam Soucie, the co-lead organizer for WordCamp 2020, on Twitter. “Show up to @WordCampOrlando in one of those red hats and you’ll be politely asked to leave. You know exactly what you’re doing with that choice. If you have a problem with that, take it up with Central.”
The message is clear that certain people are not welcome. More often than not, that message is squarely aimed at conservatives. This type of groupthink is prevalent within the WordPress community. Your political beliefs are not welcome.
In his article, Jorbin does describe how political speech, the MAGA cap, has been co-opted by various hate groups. The question is whether we allow the actions of the minority of one group to become the deciding factor in how we treat the majority. We must also ask whether we hold other political speech to the same standard.
Conservatives within our community
This article was written by Justin Tadlock and originally published on WordPress Tavern.