Rules FB

Red Handle Rule Update

There’s been a lot of discussion and argument lately about how issues of age and religious beliefs fit into the Red Handle rule. The mod team recognizes that this is a complex issue with heightened emotions all around, and justifiably so. There is never going to be a way to write a policy on this that will perfectly cover all cases.

In the interest of intersectionality, we ask that when you punch up when it comes to these specific topics, you employ more caution with generalizations and mean-spiritedness, keeping in mind that many of our members sit on the complicated intersection between privilege and oppression in these matters.

We have updated the phrasing of the Red Handle Rule to clarify what sort of behavior is covered under it, and under which circumstances we will be granting more leeway to certain people when it comes to how we enforce it.

Criticizing “boomers” as synecdoche for class-privileged older people does qualify as “punching up.” But what would be unacceptable is deploying it as a specific insult against a member of the community or older members of the community collectively. It’s the difference between saying, “White people suck” in general and “Fuck you whitey” to a commenter. Also, in a context where “boomer” is not clearly used as a shorthand for a subset of that generation which has engaged in a certain behavior, we would intervene. An example might be “Boomers are awful and suck.”

This same nuance applies to religious belief: there’s a difference between saying “the Catholic church has done a lot of evil”, “the Catholic church is evil”, or even “religious people are evil idiots”. Or “The United States has done a lot of evil”, “The United States is evil” and “Americans are evil”. That said, of course there are organisations/groups in which probably none of us recognize any redeeming qualities, in which case the above distinction is mostly moot.

Additionally, using certain key phrases and memes as short-hand to push back against bad-faith arguments is often useful for people who are “punching up”, and does not necessarily qualify as a violation of the Red Handle rule. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

As always, please remember that we as The Avocado are meant to be a community of people: That means striving to approach your fellow Avocados with kindness first. And that goes in both directions. Sometimes it means letting somebody from a marginalized group vent against the demographic of which you are part (i.e. punching up), and acknowledging that they don’t mean you, given that you have probably not done the evil thing they are venting about. Conversely, it also means being considerate when you do the venting about how you phrase your post and how far you go. In either case, be empathetic with your fellow community members.

Lastly, something to keep in mind: While religion and older generations are a majority in many countries and do hold significant power, this is not necessarily the case when it comes to our site. According to the 2018 census, only 30% of us are religious, and we are on average in our mid-30s. This can affect the dynamics of discussions around those topics significantly, and is something we might opt to take into account when it comes to enforcement.

To sum up, we have a Red Handle rule, we’ll continue to enforce it in a way that makes allowances for punching up, and we’ll continue to warn people who repeatedly refuse to comply with our enforcement of it.

As an addendum: We have updated the formatting and structuring of the Site Rules and Guidelines Page somewhat to hopefully make it a bit more easier to find information.