How do you handle when friends reveal troublesome views?


#21

That’s a great story, and a wonderful example of humanism winning out, BUT, there aren’t enough people to coddle every racist until they aren’t racist any longer. And even more to your point, everyone has their own journey towards, well, hopefully a more enlightened perspective, but like, we cannot take responsibility away from people who hold hateful, antiquated views. It’s one thing to be uncomfortable or use the wrong terminology during conversations about LGBTQIA+ issues, for example, and it’s another entirely to believe that people belonging to subordinated sexual identity groups are bad and actively deserve harm. If the latter is to be redeemed, they better work for it, and hard. Ostracization really is such a small penalty to pay for being a hateful person.

I’m not saying never forgive, I’m just saying these conversations must center the fact that active bigots are both active and bigots. They don’t deserve easy outs for old behavior.


#22

CW: hate speech, zionism, prominent twitter/YouTube racists, gamergate

Okay, this is going to ramble for a bit, but here’s my story of trying to fix a shitty friend.

I had a small group of online friends that I met through blogging on gamespot that began to corrode following gamergate. One guy went full “ethics in games journalism” and the rest of us routinely shouted him down because at the time it seemed like he had been suckered by “we’re against harassment, we’re just asking questions” line. As the year went on he got into prominent nu-atheist racists like harris and shapiro, started calling himself a libertarian and then an anarcho-capitalist, posted anti-abortion propaganda on Facebook, got way way more zionist (he’s Israeli) etc etc. Needless to say, we let so so much slide that we shouldn’t have because we had grown up on the Internet together.

Other members of the group just stopped engaging after a while but my friend and I kept at it, debating him on his points, only to be met with “strawman” and “appeal to emotion” or whatever bullshit these logic guys think discounts actual empathy. Eventually I cut him off, telling him that even his least (haha) offensive political stance: his libertarianism, was emblematic of a callous disregard for human suffering, and incredible selfishness. He did his logic thing and I told him that everyone in the group thought he was nasty, odious person but thought that ignoring him would fix things, and that it had just resulted in him becoming the worst person we all knew. The group collapsed and I think he still lives with his parents in Tel Aviv trying to get the baseball crank to RT him.

We should have burned that bridge long before we actually did. Even the slightest hint that someone is willing to entertain the right wing pseudo-intellectuals of youtube speaks volumes. The same goes for bigotry. I wish I had known that then because one of our friends hadn’t come out yet, and here this self-satisfied little shit was posting in the chat about how he opposed gay marriage and the queer rights movement in general. I can’t imagine how much pain that caused them.

We tried to catch those views and behaviours early and it didn’t help. If you’re incapable of human empathy, all that shit is a way of convincing yourself that being awful is Good Actually. All I know is that I’m ashamed of having ever considered him a friend, and that if I met him for the first time today he wouldn’t pass the sniff test. Sometimes the right thing is cut people off, because it protects the people around you and makes you a better person for taking a stand on principle. Sometimes you have to come to terms with the idea that they were this person all along, and that you turned the other way because it wasn’t hurting you or directed at you.

In the end, trying to stick around and change that dude would have hurt a lot of people around me and made me hate myself for associating with him at all. I genuinely feel guilty for the amount of time it took from him becoming gater-adjacent to full-on reactionary for me to say/do something that wasn’t in some way validating his arguments i.e. trying to debate and reason with him.


#23

This is the same as saying their words aren’t actually harmful. Um, yo, heads up, they are. The replies in this thread are similar, teetering between labels of ‘ignorance’ and racism, sexism, or queer-phobia.

Here’s the thing, under a white cis-male dominated society, taking on these ‘troubling’ views and such is more than accepted, it’s encouraged. (See: all y’all making excuses.) Truthfully, it’s actually near impossible to not be affected by these influences. I know I’m not an exception and I see every problematic action that is brought to my attention as a chance to grow and learn about injustices. The problem occurs when you learn of the negative effects and simply ignore or don’t care. Then, yes, the person is indeed someone I wouldn’t hesitate to call a bigot.

But, I get it. It’s a friend. Someone close to you. Honestly, it is akin to a break up - and that hurts. However, I’ve always thought is bringing humanity to a person degrading another’s really the side I want to stand on? Because they brought me laughs here and there? Were the only ones there during some dark times… Hm, yeah, I still left those people. Their words have real consequences and devaluing disadvantaged people is something I can live without. There are more people in this world who are worth spending your energy on. In your town! You can make better friends. It’s not that scary. Trust me.

I’ve never had a problem unfriending people. I’ve been the same way since I was 10 and I’m 30 now. If something makes me uncomfortable why the hell am I going to sacrifice my wellbeing and swallow my anxiety for someone else to get a laugh at a ‘harmless’ joke that will impact forever impact my life, but never theirs? Nah. It doesn’t make you a better, more open-minded, person to include a person who revels in being part of the comfortable majority - embracing the minority does that.

Oh, and those keeping ‘problematic’ friends: then don’t be mad when I call you a racist apologist or a racist as well for buddying up with them. :wave:t4:


#24

If your solution to dealing with problematic people is to write them out of your life immediately and not actually confront them about it and inform them about how what they are saying is hurting others then you are helping no one but yourself because guess what, just because you don’t have to listen or deal with their actions doesn’t mean others don’t.

I rather lose some evenings talking to someone and explaining why they should act like a decent human being and come out of it having changed this person or at least set them on the path of changing then just pass the buck and have them continue being a shitty person and hope someone else comes along and helps set them straight. If they don’t want to change fine then I’ll write them off but I’m not about to do that before I make an actual effort.

People who don’t call out and confront bigotry are no better then the bigots themselves. Everyone whether they recognize it or not has an impact on the people in their lives, changing a single persons views has an impact on everyone else that person meets in their life going forward.


#25

I second this. For the longest time I never spoke up, when I heard friends say casually sexist, racist, ableist, homophobic or transphobic things. Why? Because I told myself, that all of them would leave me for being too confrontational and naggy. After a while I couldn’t take it anymore and I started to call them out on their behaviour. Turns out, most of them stayed and even if I couldn’t get them to stop entirely, they now know where I stand and sometimes even correct themselves. Some of those people really did leave, but looking back those weren’t the best ones to keep around. But the raddest thing to come out of all of this - besides learning to stand my ground more often - was the amount of people that I did get to meet, exactly because I started to speak up more often. You’ll probably find that there are a lot more people around you, that react just as strongly as you. There are better people out there, oftentimes our brains just tell us to stick with what we know out of fear. While that can be justified, it can also be just as much of an obstacle.


#26

“actual Nazis” was a poor choice of choice of words and you’re right to call me out on that. I don’t want to be the kind of person enabling shitty people/opinions just because they aren’t literally wearing a swastika.

I think a the place of lot of my hesitance is coming from, is that as a as a English Roma I am oppressed in British society - there are plenty of statistics out there about how we are discriminated against in terms of planning permission, NHS access, social services, education services, etc. But it’s not an even vaguely visible issue so plenty of people I know may be sympathetic but they don’t really understand. Because of that, I think I definitely am fearful of becoming ‘that Traveler who keeps banging on about race’ and that’s my own failing and I really am realizing I need to find more supportive friends, because as you say there are people out there who do get it as much as I worry there isn’t.
So I probably have been giving people more slack than I should because I feel that I have to a lot of the time.
I’m the only Roma any of my friends have known to my knowledge, we’re an ordinarily a rather insular community most of the time, and I feel a pressure and obligation to try and offer people a picture of a nice, law abiding, tax paying traveler and to not be difficult, as misguided as that may be.

You’re right though, it’s like a break-up. it’s all tied up in human relationships, social dynamics, emotional attachments and things that are really hard to define, and really painful and shit.


#27

Wow, I had no idea this article existed. I went to school with Derek and sat next to him in a class. I remember that massive message thread after folks found out about his history. Wild. Nice to hear he changed.


#28

I have a weird situation. Some background, I live in Liverpool with my girlfriend and newborn I am a socialist like most people in the city and utterly despise the right of politics, it’s generally morraly vapid.

So my girlfriend’s older sister doesn’t live in the city, she lives about 200 miles north east, just north of Newcastle in the country somewhere. Now her sister lives america, she loves country music, Jack daniels, guns and Trump.

She visited America 2 weeks ago and after some pictures of the trump tower and some comments about how much she loved him she done what I think is massively problematic. When she got home, she sent us a picture of her 7 year old in a “I love Donald trump” tshirt. Not only was it a disgusting Tshirt, the poor lad has no understanding of what Trump stands for other than “he likes guns”.

So after receiving the picture my girlfriend argues with her about why she shouldn’t do that because it could end badly if he is seen out and about with that t shirt on and shouldn’t have to suffer that. Secondly she simply asks “anyway, what would you do if your child was seperated from you and you were given no information whatsoever”.

To that, her sister replies with a big wall of text, the type you see on Trump Reddit and alt right twitter. So I respond to her counteracting each point with evidence and sources but of course she fires back with fake news shouts.

In the midst of this though her racist and homophobic attitudes come to light (I’d been told she isn’t exactly progressive but never experienced it). So naturally I call her out for this.

She eventually left it but I’m stuck, I don’t want to jeopardize my girlfriend and her sisters relationship, though If it were me I’d drop her instantly. I’ve told my girlfriend I just don’t want to see her again if I can help it.


#29

I have a friend who loves Jordan Peterson and I just don’t want to have to listen to that asshole for hours in order to point out all his bullshit so I just don’t bring it up.


#30

Peterson literally wants the Handmaiden’s Tale to be real so maybe you should bring it up. I think you’re doing your friend a disservice by not challenging views that toxic just a bit.


#31

I mean… after the van murders in Toronto, he literally advocated for “enforced monogamy” as a solution to men murdering women in the street. If I had a friend who knew about that, and was ok with it, I would be heading for the hills tbh.


#32

My 2¢ on this tends to be that once the amount of time I spend with them trying to correct their toxic viewpoints supercedes the amount of time I’m spending with them where we’re having fun and not arguing, that’s when I start to cut them out.


#33

I didn’t realize this was a reply to my comment, but now that I do it is even more ridiculous. Giving everyone a chance is such white liberal nonsense I personally can’t ascribe to it. It just reminds me of all the attention the media keeps giving to bigots instead of straight up helping those who were the target of their tirades. It is up to white people to talk to/console their fellow racists, not me. Any BIPoC who wants to walk away from these people gets to. And the same goes for any marginalized person at the focus of a jab to their livelihood.


#34

You’re right it should mostly be white people trying to get other white people to stop being stupid and terrible. However, the person that got me to self-reflect and realize that I was saying some really terrible shit that I wasn’t thinking twice about was my friend and neighbor that was marginalized. Him sitting there at the bus stop and telling me that he was actually gay and that me dropping the f-word and using gay as an insult all the time made him feel terrible really impacted me.

Having someone who you call a friend confront you face to face and tell you that the things you are saying are incredibly hurtful to either you or another person goes a long way. I’m not saying you owe it to every person you ever interact with but if this is someone you are calling a friend I think you at least owe them that before you cut ties so that they hopefully grow up a bit.

I’m also the kind of person though that doesn’t label a lot of people friends because I don’t trust a lot of people so our definition of a friend might vary wildly. I have people I hang out with that I would call acquaintances but the word friend is reserved for people who I would trust my life to.

And I definitely wouldn’t hold it against anyone who walked away if they didn’t feel safe in a situation.


#35

I’m in a pretty similar situation. My partner and I grew up middle-class in the same well to do area of the US, but her mom and two younger half sisters moved to Middle-of-Nowhere, Ruraltown USA when they were real young, and as a result have been completely indoctrinated into being backwoods stereotypes. They love Trump and hate government moochers, completely ignoring the fact that their family has been living off government assistance pretty much their entire lives.

Her dad’s always been problematic for a variety of reasons, but lately has completely bought into the Fox News talking points of Trump being the candidate for the working man and that Hillary Clinton Benghazi’d the troops with her e-mails.

Any time we’ve tried to appeal to reason or empathy, we just get a wall of alt-right buzzwords with nothing logical enough stringing them together to even respond to. Most of the year it’s easy enough for me to pretend they don’t exist, but around holidays when my kids are around them I get incredibly uncomfortable. My partner still insists on keeping them in our lives, but if it were up to me I don’t think I’d mind never seeing any of them again. Sorry, this was totally a venting post and I don’t think I actually have anything constructive to add. Only that you’ve got my sympathy. Family is exhausting.


#36

Right now I’m actually in a situation where I’m considering not hanging out with some of my friends because I recently realized that they have some pretty abhorrent views. I always tried to call them out, but so far I haven’t really seen any signs that they are actually listening what I’m trying to say. Instead I get the impression that they see my attempts at being “political correct” as some kind of strange curiosity.
It’s not that they’re Nazis or anything, but some of the stuff they’re saying makes me wary that they might be on the road towards becoming one.

There was also an instance where I got into a fairly heated argument with one of their other friends after I’ve heard them misgender their own child.

Of course I could maintain this relationship, but at the same time I’m wondering if it might be more impactful to tell them “I find some of your opinions about minorities incredibly disgusting and I don’t want to have you in my life anymore because of it”.

After all, most of us think of ourselves as good and open minded people. Being confronted with the fact that some people don’t see you that way, as hurtful as it might be, might actually be more effective in getting them to think about their own positions.


#37

We argued about that and other issues and it ended with him sending me links to that assholes YouTube videos and I haven’t spoken to him directly since.


#38

I feel for ya. You hit the nail on the head though, it’s that uncomfortable feeling being around them, to the point I’d rather just cut that person out.