Ravelry unravels: knitting community bans Trump supporters and “white supremacy”
Ravelry, the world’s largest online knitting community, is banning support for US president Donald Trump and his administration. The move is to ensure a space that is “inclusive of all,” the website says in a statement:
We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry. We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is unambiguously support for white supremacy. (…) You can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
Ravelry, which was founded in 2007 by married couple Jessica and Casey Forbes, has more than 8 million members. The ban includes patterns and posts on the website’s forums and groups, but does not include conservative views in general, according to the statement. Yet as of the time of writing, it’s perfectly fine to take an opposing view of Trump, as a quick search revealed several patterns containing the word “Trump,” including a knitted baby Trump and a “Fuck Trump” hat pattern.
At first glance, many reactions to this curb on free speech appeared largely positive among knitters, crocheters and designers in the increasingly woke fibre arts world, with many people applauding the move. Branding people white supremacists and worse seems to be part of the course for the illiberal left these days and is a way of marking yourself out as on the “right side of history” while ducking the debate of actual political issues that might need attention.
After following the Instagram knitting community for a few months, and documenting how an increased focus on “anti-racism” and intersectional feminism have led to a call-out culture where designers and other yarn businesses have been targeted by the social justice warriors, this was no surprise. After my first article in Quillette, which focused on witch-hunts on the picture-sharing platform Instagram, I was contacted by several Ravelry users who said Forbes had a long history of censoring conservative viewpoints, and had banned several members for going against his ultra-woke agenda. I have been contacted by people who didn’t want to be named, fearing they would be targeted by social justice activists, saying they had already committed professional suicide by disagreeing with Ravelry’s ban by stating their opposition on their Instagram profiles.
There’s nothing new about Forbes et al taking drastic steps to get rid of dissidents. In her blog, Tammy, who describes herself as a Christian homemaker and knitter, tells of how a group, which supported the Republican candidate McCain ahead of the presidential election in 2008, got shut down:
A lot of people did not like us being there and eventually managed to cause enough grief that, last month, Casey shut down our group (the first and only group to ever be shut down on Ravelry) and announced that he had to do so because we, the moderators, were doing a poor job. This was a lie. (…) Needless to say we were hurt and angry, and I ended up leaving Ravelry (which you should know is almost impossible to do… and if you do get Casey to remove your account, all of your projects, stash, patterns, and posts still remain… fortunately I removed mine in advance).
Tammy writes that the group managed to set up a private board off the website, so they could keep in touch. The reaction from Forbes was the deletion of all the group members’ Ravelry accounts, which Tammy estimates to be up to about 400 people. So while Ravelry says it doesn’t endorse Democrats or ban Republicans, past actions have proven otherwise.
Forbes has been vocal recently too about what he finds unacceptable, and in January, he tweeted:
I deleted that Build the W*ll hat that was posted to @ravelry. It goes in the bin along with confederate flag patterns. I’m especially thankful for the latinx Ravelers who took the time to write me about it and I’m sorry that you had to look at that shit.
His use of language is far from what you would expect from a CEO of a large company, yet it’s fairly typical of Forbes from what I have seen so far.
Jennifer Townsend from Michigan is a knitter and academic, who’s been a Ravelry member since 2009. Things started getting increasingly political around the time of the first women’s march in 2017 when all the pussy hat patterns started popping up, she says. A libertarian, Townsend says she has never seen any instance of white supremacy on Ravelry: “I think this notion that support for Trump is white supremacy is ludicrous. The selective outrage and convenient memory loss of the progressive left is nothing short of tiresome.” Townsend has often felt that she couldn’t express her opinions freely. “No society can function in this extremist manner. It’s a lonely and scary place to be.”
Sophia Cai, a Melbourne-based knitter, curator and writer who’s been involved in several campaigns to call out those she sees as perpetuating white supremacy, welcomed Ravelry’s stance and but re-iterated what this group of activists often refer to as threats to their safety:
@masteryarnsmith, another Instagram profile, also warned in a temporary “story” on Instagram of a backlash, including media attention from “trolls” from the right wing press, and encouraged her friends to report hate, as she feared the decision by Ravelry to ban Trump support would function as a “call to arms” for Trump supporters.
And there might be some truth in that. If the goal of Ravelry was to get rid of what they deem to be hate, white supremacy and unacceptable opinions, this move would instead do two things: reiterate to those who already agree with Forbes that they are on the side of good, and thus making them feel righteous about their opinions and values, whereas to those who oppose them politically, whether they are Trump supporters or simply not on the left, it reinforces the impression—that has some merit by now—that the Hard Left is simply banning things they don’t agree with. It has abandoned the idea that free speech is a universal good that benefit us all in the long run.
Thus, the ban on Trump support risks fuelling polarization rather than facilitating reconciliation. It also smacks of naiveity: opinions you oppose won’t disappear because you ban them, even if you ban the people who hold them. Instead, they will go elsewhere, and Ravelry risks losing advertising revenue in the process, as well as being held up as one more example of censorship and oppression of dissidents akin to what you would expect in totalitarian regimes.
Traditionally, free speech was something the Left fought for, before it became afraid of words and words came to mean “violence” if they offended, thanks to postmodern thinking that has invaded the humanities. The old German song “Die Gedanken Sind Frei” (“The thoughts are free”) was recorded by folk singer and left-wing activist Pete Seeger in 1966, and it seems hard to imagine that same song being sung today by anyone on the left.
In an article in Aero Magazine, Malhar Mali writes: “Words are not violence. We brought Western civilization through a crucible of ideological warfare to establish the norms of differentiating speech from physically harmful actions. Now some operators in the humanities want to drag us back there.”
And it seems Ravelry is doing its best to help in this sad endeavor. Free speech isn’t just about the freedom to say whatever you want, but to allow ideas to float to the surface so that views that you disagree with can be challenged, not suppressed.
Perhaps the views of even Trump-supporting Republican knitters wouldn’t be so scary to Forbes and his comrades if free discussion was allowed. And making the decision that supporting a democratically elected president in the land of the free constitutes white supremacy—whatever you think of him—surely is not how we tackle political differences. It’s a statement that ignores how Trump was not only supported by white people, but also by minorities that Ravelry claims to support. To be inclusive of all, as Ravelry says it aims to be, including those you disagree with surely is part of that?
The Philadelphia Flyers’ beloved mascot Gritty is being investigated by police after a father claimed that the big orange furry monster punched his 13-year-old son in the back.
Chris Greenwell took his son Brandon to the Wells Fargo Center for a November meet and greet photoshoot with the beloved, google-eyed mascot.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Greenwell claims that “Brandon playfully patted the mascot on the head after the photo was taken. As Brandon walked away, Gritty got out of his chair, ‘took a running start,’ and ‘punched my son as hard as he could,’ Greenwell said Wednesday.”
“We took Mr. Greenwell’s allegations seriously and conducted a thorough investigation that found nothing to support this claim,” said a spokesperson for the Philidelphia Flyers.
A police spokesperson has described the alleged incident as a possible “physical assault” that occurred “during a photoshoot with 13-year-old white male and Flyers mascot Gritty. The investigation is active and on-going.”
The hashtag #FreeGritty is now trending on Twitter.
The Ontario teachers’ strikes are proving to be more acrimonious than anyone expected. Elementary teachers have now opted out of writing report cards and have already begun to engage in rotating strikes.
The Ontario government, on the other hand, have offered up to $60 per day for parents who are feeling the fiscal consequences of the strike, and rumours of back to work legislation is being floated around the corridors of Queen’s Park.
The teachers’ strikes are deeply consequential and have affected the day-to-day lives of 13 million Ontarians who live in the most populace province in Canada. Due to the vast impact this strike, and the mainstream media’s lack of balance in the coverage (often siding with the unions and tecahers), The Post Millennial has compiled a list of things you need to know about the Ontario teachers’ strikes.
1. Ontario’s teachers are among the highest paid in the country
Ontario’s teachers are among the best paid in the country. In the Greater Toronto Area, for instance, top teachers can expect to get paid up to $96,000 a year. The average salary for a teachers in Ontario is $89,300 for elementary teachers and $92,900 for high school teachers. In contrast, the average Ontarian earns $55,000 per year.
2. Ontario teachers are taking more and more sick days
A 2017 study found that teachers have been taking more and more sick days over the past five years. On average, sick days have increased by over 30 percent. In 2020, another report revealed even starker results with teachers taking 70 percent more sick days than over a decade ago.
3. Teachers get a whole lot of time off
Ontario’s teacher’s have a pretty great job. Not only do they get paid a wage that is far higher than the average Ontarian, they also get a lot of time off. Due to breaks in the school year, teachers are allowed three whole months off, on top of the aforementioned sick days.
4. Teachers’ Unions are spending big bucks to win the PR war
So far, the OSSTF has spent $336,389 on Facebook ads alone. These ads usually attack the Ford government and have been running since June. In one week alone, they spent over $40,000. They’re also waging a war of words against Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce through the mainstream press.
5. The Ontario government has already made concessions, but unions won’t meet in the middle
Premier Doug Ford has offered numerous concessions to the teachers’ unions from the government’s initial demands. Ford, for example, offered to meet the teachers half-way on classroom size. This, however, was not good enough for the teachers, and they walked away from the negotiation table. They’re also refusing to do report cards and help out in after school activities, despite claiming the strikes are primarily for the students, not their pay cheques.
6. Ontario’s students are flunking math tests
If you’re going to teach mathematics to a new generation of students, you should probably have to prove that you have some basic ability to do so. This hardly unreasonable request, however, created some tension with the teachers’ unions. Despite EQAO tests showing all-time lows, the unions were upset that teachers had to score at least 70 percent in a math test.
7. Ontario’s debt is astronomically high
After a decade of Liberal government, Ontario’s debt stands at over $350,000,000,000. This figure constitutes one of the highest sub-national debts in the world. Due to this, the Ford government is trying to cut back public sector salaries, which means slowing down the rate at which teachers are paid. Teachers in Ontario also have what many experts consider to be a great pension package.
Shawn Lewis, city councillor for London, brought forth a motion to move the annual London Santa Claus Parade at Tuesday’s Community and Protective Services Committee meeting. The idea for the move is due to its proximity to the Remembrance Day Parade according to CBC.
The motion Lewis introduced was to restrict any parade permits on public streets between Nov. 1-11, the idea being so that the public doesn’t lose focus on the veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made. Lewis serves as chair on the committee.
“As a member of the Royal Canadian Legion myself, I think it is important that Remembrance Day and the lead up to it have a public focus on our veterans and the sacrifices they have made for us,” Lewis wrote in a letter.
The London Santa Claus Parade has taken place on the second Saturday of November in the past, a date that often falls just before Remembrance Day, leaving many veterans feeling unappreciated.
The organizers of the Santa Claus parade agreed to move the date in the future but Lewis wanted to ensure that this didn’t become an issue down the line.
“As time goes on, people retire from organizing events, other people take over, councils change, mayors change, and I think it’s just a good idea to formalize it in our procedures and policies with respect for our veterans,” he told the committee.
Much to Lewis’ delight, the motion passed 4-1.
Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih voted against the decision however stating, “Me personally, I’m supportive [of the motion], … but I’m struggling on restricting people from choosing to make their own decisions,”
He went on to add, “Many of those people who have served, served to ensure people can make whichever decisions they want to make and do what they want to do on certain days, but I recognize where this is coming from,”
“It seems like a simple solution,” said Ward 1 Coun. Michael Van Holst, who voted in favour of the motion. “[It’s] surprising that someone hasn’t thought of it before.”
Lewis stressed the importance of dealing with this procedurally, saying it’s the only way to address the issue but the decision will still require approval from city council.
The former intermin Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose has officially announced that she will not be running in the Conservative leadership contest.
Ambrose, who was encouraged to run by Brad Wall and Jason Kenney, is a highly respected figure within the party with particularly deep roots in Western Canada.
In a statement published to Facebook, Ambrose stated that it was “humbling to be considered” for CPC leadership. “I love our party, I love the people in it and I love our country. I have really struggled with the decision to return to political life,” she added.
“I loved my 13 years in public service as an MP, minister and especially as leader of this great party. But right now, I am focused on making a difference through the private sector. Creating policy and advocating for our energy sector to create jobs … the truth is, I love being back in Alberta.”
This will come as a blow to many Conservative supporters across Western Canada who viewed Ambrose as the best chance of defeating Justin Trudeau. She also would have been a deeply competitive candidate in the leadership election.
As a result, Marilyn Gladu remains the only women who is competing in the leadership contest. This announcement will be celebrated by the veteran Tory candidates like Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, who risked having their vote share divided.