State of the Avocado Special Edition – The Red Handle Rule

It’s been a bit since we’ve had a State of the Avocado address, and while we don’t have any general guideline or rule updates, we’d like to focus on one of our guidelines that has come up a lot recently, both to reiterate how important this guideline is but to let you all know WHY it is important.

Today we’re talking guideline #8, “Considerate Insults”, which reads:

We ask that you please be considerate of who else is catching flak when you cast a wide net of insults about the looks of various politicians and pundits, or when you insult them based entirely on their gender. For example, when you want to post about Trump, we suggest you think about how people who are larger might feel if you comment in an extremely derogatory manner about his weight. Similarly, it is not okay to call Kellyanne Conway misogynistic slurs just because she’s an awful person. We ask that you read this article for more thoughts about these kinds of posts.

We’re going to call this the Red Handle rule when discussing it here because the central thesis of the article is this:

“Here’s what I mean: A lot of people have a red handle installed deep in their person, where if somebody yanks on it, it hurts.”

That red handle can be a ton of things, and many of them are covered by our general rules about how using -isms: everyone knows that the Avocado does not hold with sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. But there are issues get overlooked, or -isms that slip by when we talk about individuals we really hate, especially when we feel it’s for a good reason. And that isn’t okay either, because you’re still pulling a Red Handle for someone and hurting them.

I’m going to give some examples here, so here’s a CONTENT WARNING for slurs and fatphobia.

Let’s say you really hate Donald Trump. Totally understandable: he’s a horrible person and we all hate him. But that doesn’t make it okay to call him a fat piece of shit. Feel free to call him a piece of shit, but insulting Trump for his size will also mean you are insulting anyone else who also happens to be larger, forcing innocent people to catch flak for your hatred of Trump. Use your empathy when thinking about this: I am sure no one here wants to make another person feel worthless and hated because of their body.

Or maybe you hate Melania. Also probably understandable. But that doesn’t make it okay to call her a bitch or a whore. We don’t need to use slurs or throw sex workers under the bus because we don’t like a person. Again, do you want your hatred of one individual to result in an innocent person feeling devalued because of some part of their identity? I don’t think so.

To put it simply: our rules about -isms include all the usual bigotries most people think of, they also include fatphobia, and they are not thrown out of the window just because you think a person is bad enough to deserve it, because it’s not about the person you’re insulting at that point, it’s about everyone else that will be hurt by those insults.

Please remember the Red Handle rule when you’re making posts, and use the empathy I know we all have to remember who you’re hurting before you post.