Some of this goes back this post by Nitro: http://ilb2011nitro.blogspot.com/2013/03/community-building-vs-community.html
I’ve been thinking about his since he posted that, and then last night something happened that spurred me to type.
I agree w/ Nitro about people not being negative, and I try myself to be, on the whole, positive. I particularly don’t like malicious gossip or hear-say, and won’t be a part of spreading it. 90% of the time I use the rule: If you can’t say anything nice about someone then say nothing at all. (Well... okay, 80% of the time.)
However, if asked, I will generally be honest about what I know about someone – even if it’s just, “I don’t know anything first-hand, but I have heard…” I don’t like spreading negativity, but if I’ve heard something from a source I think reliable and if asked directly by someone, then I kind of think it’s my duty to be honest w/ what I do know. So the thing abut vetting is that you have to do the vetting – it’s not a passive process. Most people if you ask them discreetly (don’t put them on-the-spot in public) will be honest w/ you. And, in fact, the ones who don’t just go around proactively trash talking are the ones who you’re more likely to get solid information from.
Generally, my one exception – the one time I will proactively warn people off – is if I consider that person in question to be a predator or in some other way seriously unsafe. If I have good reason to believe that, then, in that case, I will spread the word, and I don’t consider that to be rumor-mongering or spreading-drama. Fortunately, there are very few people I know in our community who fit that category, but I do know 3 or 4: One who committed date-rape… someone who appears to be a sociopath hiding abusive behavior behind the disguise of BDSM… a couple of people who have been known to out other people (or threaten or attempt to do so) or to call Child Social Services on them or call the cops on them or call the media just to be vindictive… I do know a few folks who have done that.
I totally agree w/ Nitro when he says: “There are those out there that will spend their time bad mouthing events to keep people from going to them, trash talking Leather establishments to keep them from getting new patronage, and sending vicious e-mails to the very people that work so hard to try and build their community…. It is time for us to bring our Brothers and our Sisters back with us and stand together. Let our Light shine brighter than any darkness that the others can muster, and we will be the ones still standing in the end.”
But the flip side of what you said is that you also can’t just put on your rose color glasses, sing kumbaya, and get along w/ everybody. Sometimes having integrity demands that you speak negatively of people or groups or events. Those who know me know that I am a generally positive person, that I don’t spread gossip, and that I don’t like to stir-up melodrama… therefore, I’ve found, when I do feel the need to be critical, people listen and respect my opinion more b/c I’m not just always going around trashing folks for no good reason.
Oh, what happened last night? I mentioned to a good friend some thing I recently learned about someone I now consider to be a predator – the way he mistreated a pup who asked to leave his household was so outrageous it’s clearly unethical. My friend, in return filled me in on a rumor he’s heard about this same individual. Scary shit. He didn’t know if it was true or not... until he compared notes w/ my information and a pattern formed. That’s why it’s important to share what we know. That’s why it’s important to drag the monsters into the light.
Nobody loves a negative, trash-talking, drama-mongering, Debbie-Downer. (Or at least I don’t.)
But we also have to share what we do know whenever it looks like somebody (or some group or event) is a genuine danger to get involved with (and not just your run of the mill goof).
When do you play nice - and when do you say, "That person is a contemptible lump of human garbage?" It's not always an easy balance to strike, but there is virtue in striving for it.