And I’d Do It Again

ALT: A sign that reads “GET USED TO IT” in white letters on a board with the progress flag painted in the background. It’s held by two people who appear to be at marching at a protest.

I think it’s probably accurate to say I’m one of the people most impacted by Shapiro’s appearance at Podcast Movement because I tweeted that he was there and I shared how I felt about it. This thread was, of course, widely spread around out of context by Shapiro’s fans, who took to gleeful name calling, attempted doxing, and efforts to harm my podcasting career.

That being said, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. And let’s talk about why.

When I saw him in the expo space, I wanted to know immediately if he was an invited guest of Podcast Movement. Why is that different than Daily Wire being an invited guest? A fine line, absolutely, but the former provides a much stronger rallying point for Shapiro’s fan base. I know this because I tweeted about the Daily Wire Booth (captioned “oh come on”), and got no traction. I tweeted about Shapiro (captioned “hey Podcast Movement what the fuck”) and had to lock my Twitter for safety. The line is formed by Shapiro’s fans. On one side I am ignored. On the other side, I am threatened.

Let me say — it was a relief to know that Shapiro wasn’t invited by Podcast Movement, that a team I respected hadn’t gone out of their way to platform a man who believes I have a mental illness for being nonbinary. It was bad that the Daily Wire had a booth, but it was good that they were not on stage.

I was on stage every day of the conference. I am working hard to carve out a place in this industry for people like myself — people who are not cisgender, straight, white, men. I’ve chosen to use whatever ounce of power I have in this space to fight tooth and nail to make it inclusive. Because here’s the thing — my very existence as a marginalized person is inherently political. The only thing a “politics free” space does is form a breeding ground for hate. I refuse to let this industry become that. Not just for me, but for everyone one else.

There’s this story about a Nazi bar. The first people who come are friendly and kind. They don’t raise a ruckus. They’re paying customers. You let them in because they seem polite. They bring their friends. Who being their friends. You look around, and suddenly, this is a Nazi bar.

This exact scenario is what a no politics, anti-safe space rhetoric brings. And the people advocating for it know that and want that.

It’s just the Daily Wire booth. Ben Shapiro came for 15 minutes and he was polite. He didn’t have a badge or anything, but his network has a booth so I guess it makes sense. Walking by, I see people shaking his hand. Some of his fans are here this year, and I wonder who’s going to come next? How many of them will there be?

Do you follow the allegory? A podcast movement full of Shapiro fans is not a convention I’d feel safe at. Emphasis on FANS. Many people on Twitter have shared that they think I could win a physical altercation with Shapiro, and I don’t doubt it. I didn’t feel unsafe because of his measly frame. I felt unsafe because I knew who would follow him here.

It’s the same people on Twitter I spent the second half of the convention blocking. The folks who don’t hesitate to tweet at my collaborators like Realm and Apollo in an attempt to get me fired, the people speculating about what’s in my pants in very graphic detail, and those telling me I shouldn’t leave my house in a way that makes me glad I own literally 7 swords. I cannot safely be in a room with these people. And if Podcast Movement is that room, I cannot safely speak. I am not welcome in that room — this isn’t about feelings, it’s a basic fact. I will not be respected, I will not be granted bodily autonomy, I will not leave unharrased.

See this thread by Mac Rogers that breaks this down in even better words.

I said Shapiro’s presence made me feel unsafe, and mere hours later, his supporters proved me right with threats. This is the reality of being a marginalized creator in podcasting. I refuse to sit by and let this space insult, harm, and threaten other creators. At the end of the day, I’m a target for them, but it’s not about me. I lock my Twitter and move on with my life. (It needs to be said — I can get away with a lot because I am a white person, and I wholly believe the deluge of harassment I got this week would be 10 times worse otherwise.)

But read the article by Wil Williams. Jared Easley, Head of Community and Content at Podcast Movement, was interacting with the very people harassing me on twitter and validating them. I had no idea of this until I got home. “You are right,” he said, to the very people calling me racist, fascist, an anti-Semite, and “it”.

Yikes.

I love speaking at Podcast Movement. Taking the stage to talk about sound design on Thursday was the highlight of the conference for me. But will it be physically safe for me to speak next year? To broadcast to all attendees the room I will be in and when? I wish I knew.

I deeply appreciate that Dan Franks reached out to me before PM posted their apology. I noticed their efforts to shield other creators from harassment by restricting replies and removing tweets. I respect that they’ve stood their ground. I hope all the employees of Podcast Movement (yes even Easley) are doing okay despite the harassment I know they’ve gotten too. I thank the organization for the actions they took, and I believe in their ability to do even better.

But I join Wil Williams in their list of demands:
- I would love to see Jared Easley removed entirely from Podcast Movement.
- I want Podcast Movement to develop statements and policies regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- I want them to hire full-time DEI employees.
- I want them to develop standards for whose money they take and whose they reject.
- I want them to donate the money received from The Daily Wire.

Sometimes I’m too much of an optimist — but I think yall can do it. Build an event I can safely be at, and you’ll have me there.

And if you don’t? I’ll find another conference to speak at. Or I’ll make my own. I’m not going to stop being queer and nonbinary, I’m not going to stop being a podcaster, and I’m not going to stop pushing this industry in a better direction. Get used to it.

ps. If you clown in the replies it’s a block. Freedom of speech protects you from the government not from the Tal.

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Tal Minear

Tal Minear

Tal (they/them) is fiction podcast producer who cannot be stopped from making things and will occasionally write about audio fiction.