The subreddit r/AmItheAsshole (known in common parlance as “AITA”) is one of the most notorious places on the internet, for good reason. Every day, strangers post confessionals about morally righteous and/or wrong and/or ambivalent things they have done — or not, some of these are definitely fake — and, like supplicants awaiting divine judgment, wait for the community to deem them assholes or not. It’s an incredible space where you can witness justifications of not taking in homeless family members because “you don’t owe them anything” alongside completely sincere questions like “Would I be the asshole if I threw out the only photos of someone’s dead parents?”
Most of the moral dilemmas posted in AITA are obviously biased toward one side and also aren’t real moral dilemmas, so the majority are judged to be “NTA” (Not the Asshole). But occasionally there will be a “YTA” (You’re the Asshole) that gets everyone riled up. I always wondered what it was like to be on the receiving end of hundreds or thousands of votes calling you an asshole. Is there a process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance involved? Does it change lives? Can anyone very sincerely and gracefully come to grips with being declared an asshole by internet strangers?
I messaged several AITA posters who were voted YTA. Only one was gracious enough to say yes to an interview about her experience. What we have here is a typical dilemma over whether or not to burn a grandmother-given quilt bearing what unfortunately appears to be a swastika-like pattern:
My Grandmother awhile back made me (F26) and soon to be ex husband (M30) a quilt, but due to the pandemic I was unable to receive her gift. Now that I’m vaccinated and work from home I was able to visit to see her. In the midst of catching up she asked me to follow her and handed me the folded quilt and told me she meant for it to be for me and my ex, but she’s still happy that I was finally able to get it. Immediately I noticed it was blue (my favorite color). She stepped out of the room to attend my grandpa, all the while I unfolded it and was taken aback.. the patterns look like swastikas… I thought it was just me so I sent it to my older sister and friends with no context and they all saw what I saw. My sister said I needed to burn it. My friends asked how could she make that big of a mistake. Is this a normal pattern to quilt?
WIBTA if I burned the quilt my grandmother made me because it has the patterns of swastikas all over it?
(I suggest you scroll down to the comments, which contain some arguments over whether or not it’s the poster’s responsibility to educate house guests who come across the quilt about the true history of the swastika before it was appropriated by Nazis. Also some stuff about cancel/woke culture.)
Here is the interview with the poster, who asked to be referred to as “Miss E,” edited for length and clarity:
Gawker: So, your grandma accidentally made a swastika quilt?
Miss E: My grandmother’s a quilter, and bless her heart, she’s kind of mediocre. Seeing this quilt was kind of a shock. She actually stepped out of the room when I unfolded it, and my face was just like, “(gasp) No, she did not.” She’s still not aware. We unfolded it out, and I even said, “Let’s take a picture” and showed her the picture. Nope, didn’t register.
Were you seriously considering burning the blanket, as you said in your post?
I asked my sister, and she was like, “You have to burn it or something, you can’t keep it in the house. If somebody finds it, they’re going to think you’re a Nazi sympathizer.” But once I got a bird’s eye view, I decided I have to keep it now because it’s a memorabilia of a moment. I don’t think I would have burned it.
My thing is, what do we do with gifts that are terrible? Do you hang on to them, or can you actually get rid of them?
Was being voted YTA a surprise?
I thought I was gonna get like 53 comments at most. Now it’s like a thousand comments. I didn’t expect the whole quilting community to go after me and say, “No, you must like it.” I think I generated a big uproar with the community. There was a spinoff post in the r/craftsnark subreddit where the other crafting community was saying how the quilters have lost their mind.
Do you accept the YTA judgment?
I accepted it: I would be an asshole if I burned the quilt. So I changed the question to be, “All right, well what are y’all’s suggestions?” Part of them wanted me to keep the quilt, and part wanted me to modify the quilt. I made a poll on my Instagram about whether I should modify it or keep it as is, and out of 65 people, 65 percent want me to modify it.
I thought it was wild how such an innocuous post about a quilt with an unfortunate pattern somehow devolved into rants about cancel culture, taking down Confederate statues, wokeness, PC culture, etc.
That whole wokeness of everything and people saying that this is the problem with my generation — it’s crazy.
Do you have a favorite comment on your post?
I took some screenshots:
It might be the community. There are a lot of passionate people on Reddit.
Does this whole experience change how you’re going to interact with AITA, going forward?
I mean, it could have gotten a lot worse, so I’m grateful for that. It definitely makes you think about how you word and say things. It made me realize how random the internet is; anything you post can blow up.
Do you regret posting, or did it help you find the moral clarity you were looking for?
No, I don’t regret posting it. I think it helped bring out some bigger issues, and people were having a conversation. If somebody who saw the post went and googled the swastika and looked up the history behind it, I think that’s important and made an impact. So I’m kind of glad I did it; it’s kind of the highlight of my year right now.