Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

The difference between threats and boundaries.

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BoundaryThere is a difference between a boundary and a threat - and when someone uses the two interchangeably, it says more about them than it does about the person setting the boundary.

Admittedly, at first glance they can look similar.  They're usually non-negotiable, and contain an if-then-else kind of statement. 

But the difference is super important:

It's all about whether the person in question is trying to project power over you, or maintaining their own power over their own actions and decisions.

For example, I have a respect policy as a publisher, and have signed John Scalzi's convention harassment pledge.  Those are things that are important to me both personally and professionally.

Do I have any authority to force an author or editor to follow my respect policy?  Not at all.  Multiple authors can - and repeatedly do - act in racist, sexist, homophobic, and outright hateful ways online and off.

But I have every authority to say that I will not be involved in business dealings with them until they get in line with my policies.  I have every authority to honestly answer why I am not working with that person.

Do I have any authority to force a convention to have an anti-harassment policy, or force them to enforce it?  Not at all.  A convention could decide to forego any kind of policy, or repeatedly fail to enforce it when it becomes inconvenient.

But I have every authority to say that I will not be involved with a convention which does not have an anti-harassment policy or will not enforce it.  I have every authority to honestly answer why I am not going to that convention.

If others whose views align with mine decide that they will take the same action, that is their choice. 1

If you view people deciding they aren't comfortable with your decisions and statements, or if you view policing their own boundaries and deciding what they're comfortable doing... If you view those actions as a threat...

...then that says far more about you than me.

1That's not a threat either. It goes both ways. Some people refuse to work with me (or have made derisive comments about me) because of my respect policy, and that doesn't bother me either.

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