Sunday, September 30, 2012

Does "The Writing Revolution" explain Social Justice Warriors?

Peg Tyre - The Writing Revolution - The Atlantic is about the inability of many US students to write critically.

And the essence of the SJW attitude is an uncritical acceptance of facile notions they've been taught.

I dunno if the New Dorp experiment is valid, but I'll ponder it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Frank Capra on the rules of art

"There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness." —Frank Capra

Frank Capra on the rules of art

"There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness." —Frank Capra

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Two incompatible tests of American Indian identity for Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren has been getting flak from American Indian Democrats over the question of whether she can claim a Cherokee heritage.

One test is racial.  Karen Geronimo, a Mescalero Apache, said, "“Someone needs to make her take a DNA test."

The other test is tribal. Jim La Pointe of the Rosebud Sioux said, “I’d like to hear her speak her native language."


Karen Geronimo's test is meaningless, unless you think race matters. Historically, American Indians didn't care about race. Like the Greeks and Romans, the test that mattered to them was the one Jim La Pointe suggests: when you speak, do your people understand you?


Elizabeth Warren might pass the DNA test. But that would make her a Cherokee in the same way a DNA test would make me a Celt.


Warren has responded as well as she possibly could to the controversy:




She doesn't say this, but her response is based on something that's true: Who you are has more to do with who you think you are than what your genes can say.

Quotes from The Party - For Elizabeth Warren, Bad Blood Over Indian Heritage Claims.

Two incompatible tests of American Indian identity for Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren has been getting flak from American Indian Democrats over the question of whether she can claim a Cherokee heritage.

One test is racial.  Karen Geronimo, a Mescalero Apache, said, "“Someone needs to make her take a DNA test."

The other test is tribal. Jim La Pointe of the Rosebud Sioux said, “I’d like to hear her speak her native language."


Karen Geronimo's test is meaningless, unless you think race matters. Historically, American Indians didn't care about race. Like the Greeks and Romans, the test that mattered to them was the one Jim La Pointe suggests: when you speak, do your people understand you?


Elizabeth Warren might pass the DNA test. But that would make her a Cherokee in the same way a DNA test would make me a Celt.


Warren has responded as well as she possibly could to the controversy:




She doesn't say this, but her response is based on something that's true: Who you are has more to do with who you think you are than what your genes can say.

Quotes from The Party - For Elizabeth Warren, Bad Blood Over Indian Heritage Claims.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Oscar Wilde on disobedience and socialism

His The Soul of Man under Socialism has this fine observation: "Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion."

Anyone who likes Wilde should read that essay. Or who likes socialism or anarchism. Or who likes good writing.

Oscar Wilde on disobedience and socialism

His The Soul of Man under Socialism has this fine observation: "Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion."

Anyone who likes Wilde should read that essay. Or who likes socialism or anarchism. Or who likes good writing.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ithiliana and the outing of Michaela Ecks/Laura Hale/Purplepopple/Partly_Bouncy

The Heart of the Maze - Calling out Michaela Ecks/Laura Hale/Purplepopple/Partly_Bouncy. Ithiliana's excuse in the comments is amusing: "I knew that she has been open, but did not take into account that many people would not know as well!" I could've said the exact same thing.

Friday, September 21, 2012

about the shrinking life expectancy of less-educated US whites

Because it's the New York Times, you should expect a failure to analyze the role of class in Life Expectancy for Less Educated Whites in U.S. Is Shrinking, but the data's interesting. They note:
The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found. White men lacking a high school diploma lost three years of life. Life expectancy for both blacks and Hispanics of the same education level rose, the data showed.
Black poverty is more urban, which probably translates to better health care than the rural poor get.

about the shrinking life expectancy of less-educated US whites

Because it's the New York Times, you should expect a failure to analyze the role of class in Life Expectancy for Less Educated Whites in U.S. Is Shrinking, but the data's interesting. They note:
The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found. White men lacking a high school diploma lost three years of life. Life expectancy for both blacks and Hispanics of the same education level rose, the data showed.
Black poverty is more urban, which probably translates to better health care than the rural poor get.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

jackhammer advice (applies to almost everything)

It's better to approach the job as many small sections rather than a few large ones.

Why, yes, I am jackhammering the slab in the back yard, and hope to get to the old sidewalk about the house, too.

jackhammer advice (applies to almost everything)

It's better to approach the job as many small sections rather than a few large ones.

Why, yes, I am jackhammering the slab in the back yard, and hope to get to the old sidewalk about the house, too.

why do sj warriors feminize the people they mock?

In Blatant gender discrimination in who we discriminate against, Ann Somerville calls me "La Shetterly".

???

It makes me think of the SJW anti-feminist obsession with tears and the warriors who characterize departure as "flouncing", a word that evokes women's frilly clothing, and "clutching pearls", another metaphor based on traditional feminine accouterment. Why do they equate femininity with weakness?

Ah, well. Their problem, not mine. The feministsf wiki has my back.

—La Shetterly

ETA: And if anyone's keeping count, add Somerville's attempt to out the StGRB folks to their double standard on outing.

Thomas Jefferson on rich and poor

"Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." —Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson on rich and poor

"Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." —Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ann Somerville, SJW

Ann Somerville kept one of the histories of Racefail 09 that banned commenters who disagreed with her. It seems she has her own history with outing. At Goodreads | Belle’s Status Update - Aug 15, 2012 05:39pm, Kaia says,
If you really want to know, [try googling 'ann somerville tritorella' and 'tritorella fandom wank'. It's old and impressively buried for something on the internet, but it's there. I can't seem to find the list of her sock puppet e-mail addresses again, though.
At fwgreatesthits, Lasha says,
From my understanding, Tritorella, then known as Honi Soit, allegedly e-mailed aukestrel's employer and outed her slash writings to him. There are e-mails and IP traces (I've seen some) that could go to prove Auk's claims of Trit stalking her. 
And at Calysta Rose - Public Service Announcement: CYBERSTALKER ALERT, there's a long list of pseuds that Tritorella may have used.

It's looking like glass houses all the way down.

ETA: Somerville's response: That’s your best shot, Melissa? » Ann Somerville's Blog. That section of fandom is strange. The nice thing about not using pseuds is you don't have to worry about being outed.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is oversimplifying again

In The True Face of 'Voter Fraud', Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds readers about the history of racism behind attempts to limit the vote.

But he's leaving out the bigger picture. From Sharon Smith's 'Race, class, and "whiteness theory"':
When the racist poll tax was passed in the South, imposing property and other requirements designed to shut out Black voters, many poor whites also lost the right to vote. After Mississippi passed its poll tax law, the number of qualified white voters fell from 130,000 to 68,000
So, what's most relevant? Disenfranchising black folks or disenfranchising poor folks? The rich are happiest when the poor can't vote because poor folks of all hues have this annoying notion that wealth should be shared.

If you think you can generalize about white Southern voters, see Paul Krugman's Bubba Isn't Who You Think:
...income levels seem to matter much more for voting in the South. Contrary to what you may have read, the old-fashioned notion that rich people vote Republican, while poorer people vote Democratic, is as true as ever – in fact, more true than it was a generation ago.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is oversimplifying again

In The True Face of 'Voter Fraud', Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds readers about the history of racism behind attempts to limit the vote.

But he's leaving out the bigger picture. From Sharon Smith's 'Race, class, and "whiteness theory"':
When the racist poll tax was passed in the South, imposing property and other requirements designed to shut out Black voters, many poor whites also lost the right to vote. After Mississippi passed its poll tax law, the number of qualified white voters fell from 130,000 to 68,000
So, what's most relevant? Disenfranchising black folks or disenfranchising poor folks? The rich are happiest when the poor can't vote because poor folks of all hues have this annoying notion that wealth should be shared.

If you think you can generalize about white Southern voters, see Paul Krugman's Bubba Isn't Who You Think:
...income levels seem to matter much more for voting in the South. Contrary to what you may have read, the old-fashioned notion that rich people vote Republican, while poorer people vote Democratic, is as true as ever – in fact, more true than it was a generation ago.

Monday, September 17, 2012

the cognitive dissonance of the social justice warrior

"It's racist to write anything about any other culture whatsoever. That is "appropriating". It is also racist to not write anything about any other culture. That is "erasing"." —Julio Siete

Feminists and anti-racists share two principles that sound good:

1. We should treat people who are not part of our identity group with respect.

That's a great principle. It's a shame SJ warriors ignore it—see the problem with social justice fandom's "tone argument".

2. We should give more weight to the opinions of people in an identity group than the opinions of outsiders.

That sounds great, but it has at least three problems:

1. If SJ warriors truly believed that, they would favor the opinions of white people on whiteness and men on maleness. Instead, they look at economic power in the world, see that it's been dominated by white men, and conclude it must be understood in terms of whiteness and maleness. This is like looking at traffic and concluding what matters is the color and size of cars, so white midsize sedans must be the privileged source of everything that's wrong with the automotive industry.

2. The notion that members of a group understand their group best is the argument of devout members of every group.  It's endorsed by people who will earnestly explain to you that the world is run by lizard-people, Satan, Jews, blue-eyed devils, the Illuminati, or thetans who have forgotten their true nature. What cult doesn't think it knows itself best?

Moreover, the moment a woman or a person of color disagree with a warrior, their social identity is revoked—they'll be dismissed as race traitors or pawns of the patriarchy. Group identity only matters to social justice warriors so long as the person of that identity shares the warrior's worldview.

3. While SJ warriors claim they oppose privilege, they fail to see that giving more weight to the views of people in a group is privileging that group. The reasonable way to understand anything is to reject privilege of all forms. Study the evidence of both insiders and outsiders, then draw a conclusion.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

identity politics quotes

"It is easier [for Republicans] to coax one of two ideological tendencies (usually the Christian right) to compromise for the greater good of conservatism than it is to persuade an identity-based group (feminists, gays, African Americans) to make concessions on what is, after all, their identity as they see it.” —Todd Gitlin

“For years, I declined to fill in the form for my Senate press credential that asked me to state my 'race,' unless I was permitted to put 'human.' The form had to be completed under penalty of perjury, so I could not in conscience put 'white,' which is not even a color let alone a 'race,' and I sternly declined to put 'Caucasian,' which is an exploded term from a discredited ethnology. Surely the essential and unarguable core of King's campaign was the insistence that pigmentation was a false measure: a false measure of mankind (yes, mankind) and an inheritance from a time of great ignorance and stupidity and cruelty, when one drop of blood could make you 'black.” ― Christopher Hitchens

“People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it. If I would not vote against someone on the grounds of 'race' or 'gender' alone, then by the exact same token I would not cast a vote in his or her favor for the identical reason. Yet see how this obvious question makes fairly intelligent people say the most alarmingly stupid things.” ― Christopher Hitchens

“We must not be anything other than what we are.” ― Maaza MengisteBeneath the Lion's Gaze: A Novel

“...we have to be aware of the power and importance of organizing not just around identity, but the materiality of daily life, which still, in many respects, is racialized for people of color. You build from that, but you have a grander social vision that transcends it and recognizes the strengths and limitations that are drawn from the particularity of identity.” ― Manning Marable

"Identity politics enabled many formerly silenced and displaced groups to emerge from the margins of power and dominant culture to reassert and reclain suppressed identities and experiences; but in doing so, they often substituted one master narrative for another, invoked a politics of separatism, and suppressed differences within their own 'liberatory' narratives." - Henry Giroux, "Living Dangerously: Identity Politics and The New Cultural Racism"

Walter Benn Michaels on anti-racism and diversity

From The Trouble With Diversity:
We would much rather get rid of racism than get rid of poverty. And we would much rather celebrate cultural diversity than seek to establish economic equality. 
Indeed, diversity has become virtually a sacred concept in American life today. No one's really against it; people tend instead to differ only in their degrees of enthusiasm for it and their ingenuity in pursuing it.
From The Trouble With Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality:
There’s no reason why people with a certain set of genes ought to be reading a certain set of books and thinking of those books as part of their heritage, or why, when they read some other set of books, they should think of them as part of someone else’s heritage. There are just the things we learn and the things we don’t learn, the things we do and the things we don’t do.
From a pay-to-read site, The Chronicle of Higher Education:
The argument is that anti-racism today performs at least one of the same functions that racism used to — it gives us a vision of our society as organized racially instead of economically — while adding another function — it insists that racism is the great enemy to be overcome. But all the anti-racism in the world won't take any money away from the rich and won't give any of it to the poor.
...at a time when class difference in the US is as high as it’s been in the last hundred years, we’re being urged not to talk about what we never talk about (the inequalities produced by capitalism) and to talk lots more about what we always talk about (the inequalities produced by racism). Why?
From What Matters:
In 1969, the top quintile of American wage-earners made 43 per cent of all the money earned in the US; the bottom quintile made 4.1 per cent. In 2007, the top quintile made 49.7 per cent; the bottom quintile 3.4. And while this inequality is both raced and gendered, it’s less so than you might think. White people, for example, make up about 70 per cent of the US population, and 62 per cent of those in the bottom quintile. Progress in fighting racism hasn’t done them any good; it hasn’t even been designed to do them any good. More generally, even if we succeeded completely in eliminating the effects of racism and sexism, we would not thereby have made any progress towards economic equality. A society in which white people were proportionately represented in the bottom quintile (and black people proportionately represented in the top quintile) would not be more equal; it would be exactly as unequal. It would not be more just; it would be proportionately unjust.
The emphasis is mine; that's a statistic I plan to memorize.

From Identity Politics: A Zero-Sum Game:
About three quarters of the job losers in the current recession have been men, which means that the numbers of men and women in the workforce are now roughly equal. So, from the standpoint of gender equity, the recession has actually been a good thing. It's as if, unable to create more jobs for women, we'd hit upon the strategy of eliminating lots of the jobs for men—another victory for feminism and for anti-discrimination since, from the standpoint of anti-discrimination, the question of how many people are unemployed is completely irrelevant. What matters is only that, however many there are, their unemployment is properly proportioned.

This is, in part, a logical point: there's no contradiction between inequality of class and equality of race and gender. It is also, however, a political point.
and
although real progress in the direction of greater economic equality would be more beneficial to poor blacks and Hispanics than would complete economic parity with white people, the goal of economic parity with whites works a lot better for black and Hispanic elites. Indeed it works pretty well for white elites too: which would you rather do—welcome some women and minorities to your board of directors, or not have a board of directors at all?
From Neoliberalism: Diversity and Inequality:
Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panther movement in 1966, warned his comrades: “Those who want to obscure the struggle with ethnic differences are the ones who are aiding and maintaining the exploitation of the masses of the people: poor whites, poor blacks, browns, red Indians, poor Chinese and Japanese... We do not fight exploitative capitalism with black capitalism. We fight capitalism with basic socialism.” Now, with the rise of Obama, we still don’t fight capitalism with black capitalism, we try to save capitalism with black capitalism.

Not content with pretending that our real problem is cultural difference rather than economic difference, we have even begun to treat economic difference as though it were a form of cultural difference. What is expected of the upper middle class today is that we show ourselves to be more respectful of the poor, and that we stop acting as if things like our superior educations really make us superior.

And once we succeed in convincing ourselves that the poor are people who need our respect more than they need our money, our own attitude towards them becomes the problem to be solved, and not their poverty. We can now devote our reforms not to removing class but to eliminating what we Americans call “classism.” The trick is to analyse inequality as a consequence of our prejudices rather than of our social system, and thus replace the pain of giving up some of our money with the comparative pleasure of giving up (along with our classism) our racism, sexism, and homophobia.
 From Let Them Eat Diversity:
Major social changes have taken place in the past 40 years with remarkable rapidity, but not any in any sense inimical to capitalism.

...as people get more wealthy they tend to become less committed to the redistribution of wealth but there are lots of ways in which they become “more liberal”—with respect to gay rights, antiracism, with respect to all the so-called “social issues,” as long as these social issues are defined in such a way that they have nothing to do with decreasing the increased inequalities brought about by capitalism, which is to say, taking away rich liberals’ money.

...people in the Tea Party movement have a problem that is realer than “White male status anxiety,” ... my point isn’t really to deny the phenomenon of status anxiety, it’s just to point out the extraordinaire eagerness of American liberals to identify racism as the problem, so that anti-racism (rather than anti-capitalism) can be the solution.

...it has been very comforting to discover over the past five or six years that there are plenty of people who have views similar to mine and who are actually better at expressing them.

...Victimization that does not take place through discrimination is invisible and that’s why it’s worth remembering that the vast majority of poor people in the country are White. After all, the country is about 70 percent White and if you look at the bottom quintile of income it’s about 61 percent White, so it’s an absolute majority.

...Today we’re living in a deeply anti-racist society ... officially committed to anti-racism ... which you can tell when Glenn Beck thinks it’s a good idea to couch his criticism of Obama by calling Obama a “racist.” It’s the killing word to say to anyone. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still racism, it means that there is an important sense in which anti-racism is absolutely the official ideology because no one can imagine themselves to be committed to racism. It’s become a kind of moral imperative rather than a political position, deployed by the Right as well as the Left.

...To be poor in America today, or to be anything but in the top 20 percent in America today, is to be victimized in important ways and in so far as we’re appreciating the characteristic products of victimization, we are not actually dealing with exploitation, but rather enshrining victimization, treating it as if it had value and therefore ought to be preserved. And that’s obviously reactionary.
Interviewer: Like the Richard Geres of the world viewing Tibetan poverty as a commendable stand against materialism.
WBM: Completely.

...You know you live in a world that loves neoliberalism when having some people of color who are rich is supposed to count as good news for all the people of color who are poor. The argument for Obama is he’s there, so I can be there too, but all the white male presidents we’ve had haven’t done much good for poor Whites, and in a country where there’s now declining social mobility (less than in Western Europe), it’s hard to take even the traditional solace in the fact that the empty claim that anyone can grow up to become President now includes Black people. None of this will make any difference unless we start thinking about the politically relevant question, eliminating the gap between the rich and the poor.

predator theory vs rape culture theory: looking for solutions

it's all one thing: predator theory vs rape culture theory: looking for solutions

Thursday, September 13, 2012

creating a cultist is all about timing

Kim ("BB") of the "Den of the Biting Beaver" said:
I suppose it all came together for me when I bought my first Andrea Dworkin book, Pornography: Men Possessing Women, right about the time I kicked my ex-husband out. In it I found names for the infrastructures I had already recognized in my mental meanderings. Andrea Dworkin gave me a center from which to work, and I connected with her words on a very basic level. From there I read everything I could get, and sometime around then I also began blogging about the threads I was so excited to be seeing.
If a book by a Scientologist or a Jehovah's Witness had arrived at the same time, if Kim had bought Bell Hooks or Ayn Rand instead of Dworkin, she might've found different "names for the infrastructures". There are times when we're sure something's wrong with the world and we need a model to make sense of it. Then we accept the first model that seems to work, and because it came to us first, we believe it's best.

FAQ #2 How does slavery explain racist attitudes toward Asians?

Chinese and Japanese workers in the US were the victims of both racism and nativism because they were seen as both members of another race and another culture. Nativism was the same obstacle that the Irish and the Italians and every other immigrant faced, but racism could not have existed without the model of race that developed to rationalize the African slave trade in the 17th century. While extreme nativists believed only northern and western Europeans had the cultural background to become good Americans, most people knew the children of "white" immigrants would be no different than other Americans.

But the racial model meant non-European immigrants were seen as fundamentally different, and therefore inferior. Racial prejudice and nativist prejudice worked together: racists said the Chinese could not fit in; nativists said the Chinese should stay in their own country.

FAQ #1. Why does it matter if a prejudice is tribal or racial?

A. When prejudice is tribal, humans are different but equal; when prejudice is racial, humans are different and unequal. The practical consequence is most obvious with slavery. Where slavery was tribal, as it was with the Romans and Native Americans, the children of slaves were usually free, and sometimes could rise to positions of great power. Where slavery was racial, as with the North Americans, the children of slaves were assumed to be slaves.

This understanding of tribe and race changed tragically with the Cherokee, who once saw the world in tribal terms, but have now expelled from their tribes the descendants of slaves, even when a descendant was more ethnically Cherokee than some of the tribe's racially Cherokee members.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chinua Achebe and Joseph Conrad, artists of their time

It's been too many years since I read Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Conrad's Heart of Darkness—I think I'll try to read them back-to-back soon. For now, I'm relying on old memories and recent readings about Achebe's denunciation of Conrad.

Achebe is interviewed in The case against Conrad. He says Conrad "is obsessed with the physicality of the negro" and misses the fact that Conrad was obsessed with physicality in general. Achebe conflates Conrad with Marlow and makes an odd assumption: Why does he think Marlow has a "pure" soul? Heart of Darkness is about imperialists whose souls are not pure at all—Kurtz looks within himself and famously sees "the horror!" the horror!"

In the interview, Achebe says something that's mostly true and very revealing:
This identification with the other is what a great writer brings to the art of story-making. We should welcome the rendering of our stories by others, because a visitor can sometimes see what the owner of the house has ignored. But they must visit with respect and not be concerned with the colour of skin, or the shape of nose, or the condition of the technology in the house."
When the point of view character is supposed to be a typical man of his time and place, a white visitor to Africa who exploits it without wanting to understand it, would it be realistic for Marlow to write "with respect" of Africans, ignoring their physical traits and technology? The story's power would be lost if the viewpoint character was an academic who calmly observed what happened and placed everything in perspective.

I might agree with Achebe if he was talking about essayists. But a storyteller's job isn't to be respectful—it's to be honest in a way that the essayist may try to explain, but can never duplicate. The essayist seeks answers. The storyteller seeks questions that linger when the essayist's work is done.

PS. This post was supposed to be about how Conrad and Achebe can't be divorced from the time when they worked, and Achebe's criticism of Conrad says more about people of Achebe's time than it says about Conrad. Art is always about its time, and criticism is always about its time, so in great criticism, you find interesting ideas in conflict, but in most criticism, you find the platitudes of the present being applied to the art of the past.

Maybe I'll return to this subject, but I suspect I'm done with it now.

Recommended:

Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe

Rights of Passage

Chinua Achebe and Joseph Conrad, artists of their time

It's been too many years since I read Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Conrad's Heart of Darkness—I think I'll try to read them back-to-back soon. For now, I'm relying on old memories and recent readings about Achebe's denunciation of Conrad.

Achebe is interviewed in The case against Conrad. He says Conrad "is obsessed with the physicality of the negro" and misses the fact that Conrad was obsessed with physicality in general. Achebe conflates Conrad with Marlow and makes an odd assumption: Why does he think Marlow has a "pure" soul? Heart of Darkness is about imperialists whose souls are not pure at all—Kurtz looks within himself and famously sees "the horror!" the horror!"

In the interview, Achebe says something that's mostly true and very revealing:
This identification with the other is what a great writer brings to the art of story-making. We should welcome the rendering of our stories by others, because a visitor can sometimes see what the owner of the house has ignored. But they must visit with respect and not be concerned with the colour of skin, or the shape of nose, or the condition of the technology in the house."
When the point of view character is supposed to be a typical man of his time and place, a white visitor to Africa who exploits it without wanting to understand it, would it be realistic for Marlow to write "with respect" of Africans, ignoring their physical traits and technology? The story's power would be lost if the viewpoint character was an academic who calmly observed what happened and placed everything in perspective.

I might agree with Achebe if he was talking about essayists. But a storyteller's job isn't to be respectful—it's to be honest in a way that the essayist may try to explain, but can never duplicate. The essayist seeks answers. The storyteller seeks questions that linger when the essayist's work is done.

PS. This post was supposed to be about how Conrad and Achebe can't be divorced from the time when they worked, and Achebe's criticism of Conrad says more about people of Achebe's time than it says about Conrad. Art is always about its time, and criticism is always about its time, so in great criticism, you find interesting ideas in conflict, but in most criticism, you find the platitudes of the present being applied to the art of the past.

Maybe I'll return to this subject, but I suspect I'm done with it now.

Recommended:

Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe

Rights of Passage

"Spoon Theory"

Let’s talk about spoons - Morning Chorus: "If you use this expression and are not disabled, you are appropriating a term meant specifically for people who suffer from chronic fatigue and pain. You’re ignoring the true spirit of the analogy and are being an ableist fuckhead for reducing our daily struggle to get by with something that just upsets you."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon

The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon - YouTube:

The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon

The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon - YouTube:

my new theme song?

The Indelicates - "Class" - YouTube:

my new theme song?

The Indelicates - "Class" - YouTube:

a statistic for SJ Warriors

A Third of Americans Now Say They Are in the Lower Classes | Pew Social & Demographic Trends: "a virtually identical share of blacks (33%) and whites (31%) now say they are in the lower class."

Basic Income worked in Canada's Mincome test

Mincome - Wikipedia:
Mincome is the name of an experimental Canadian Basic income project that was held in Dauphin, Manitoba during the 1970s. The project, funded jointly by the Manitoba provincial government and the Canadian federal government, began with a news release on February 22, 1974, and was closed down in 1979. The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether a guaranteed, unconditional annual income actually caused disincentive to work for the recipients, and how great such a disincentive would be. A final report was never issued, but Dr. Evelyn Forget [for-ZHAY] has conducted analysis of the research. She found that only new mothers and teenagers worked less. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies, and teenagers worked less because they weren't under as much pressure to support their families, which resulted in more teenagers graduating. In addition, those who continued to work were given more opportunities to choose what type of work they did. In addition, Forget finds that in the period that Mincome was administered, hospital visits dropped 8.5 per cent, with fewer incidences of work-related injuries, and fewer emergency room visits from car accidents and domestic abuse.[1] 
External links 

Basic Income worked in Canada's Mincome test

Mincome - Wikipedia:
Mincome is the name of an experimental Canadian Basic income project that was held in Dauphin, Manitoba during the 1970s. The project, funded jointly by the Manitoba provincial government and the Canadian federal government, began with a news release on February 22, 1974, and was closed down in 1979. The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether a guaranteed, unconditional annual income actually caused disincentive to work for the recipients, and how great such a disincentive would be. A final report was never issued, but Dr. Evelyn Forget [for-ZHAY] has conducted analysis of the research. She found that only new mothers and teenagers worked less. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies, and teenagers worked less because they weren't under as much pressure to support their families, which resulted in more teenagers graduating. In addition, those who continued to work were given more opportunities to choose what type of work they did. In addition, Forget finds that in the period that Mincome was administered, hospital visits dropped 8.5 per cent, with fewer incidences of work-related injuries, and fewer emergency room visits from car accidents and domestic abuse.[1] 
External links 

Monday, September 10, 2012

the simplest way to end poverty


"How much would it take to bring all the officially poor up to the poverty line? Surprisingly little: about 1% of GDP, or not quite 10% of the Census Bureau's estimate of the income of the richest 5%. It's about half the increase in the military budget since 2000. . . . the solution to ending poverty is pretty simple: you give poor people money, preferably taken from rich people."
—Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer #134, 2/17/12

Anyone who inherited anything has no right to complain about giving money to people.

the simplest way to end poverty


"How much would it take to bring all the officially poor up to the poverty line? Surprisingly little: about 1% of GDP, or not quite 10% of the Census Bureau's estimate of the income of the richest 5%. It's about half the increase in the military budget since 2000. . . . the solution to ending poverty is pretty simple: you give poor people money, preferably taken from rich people."
—Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer #134, 2/17/12

Anyone who inherited anything has no right to complain about giving money to people.

dirty words are reminders of the class war

"Dirty words" were said by the people who worked in the dirt.

Inspired by THE POWER OF DIRTY WORDS | Norman Spinrad At Large: "In French-conquered England, the three classes spoke three different languages.  The language of the conquering power was French, the language of religious power and high-toned intellectual discourse was Latin, and the language of the conquered natives who became the lowest class serfs had already been  a proto-English “Anglo-Saxon.”"

dirty words are reminders of the class war

"Dirty words" were said by the people who worked in the dirt.

Inspired by THE POWER OF DIRTY WORDS | Norman Spinrad At Large: "In French-conquered England, the three classes spoke three different languages.  The language of the conquering power was French, the language of religious power and high-toned intellectual discourse was Latin, and the language of the conquered natives who became the lowest class serfs had already been  a proto-English “Anglo-Saxon.”"

the racist assumptions of anti-racism, or yes, social justice warriors are racist

Several people came to this blog seeking "social justice warriors are racist."

This post's for you.

Social justice warriors love to say "race is a social construct" as if that's a new concept. It's actually ancient. Even in the 19th century, when most English-speaking people thought race was a valid concept, the opponents of racism knew, from a scientific view and a theological one, that humanity is one family.

Social justice warriors say "race is a social construct" in the same way that conventional racists say "I'm not racist, but...." It's a rhetorical device that, in their cases, means nothing. If social justice warriors truly believe race is a social construct, why do they make statements about all white people or all people of color?

Because they're racists.

Social justice warriors get their understanding of race from Critical Race Theory, which does not reject the idea of race. It endorses race, then tries to reject the idea of racism by dividing people racially. For Critical Race Theorists, the "social construct" is based on appearance, not culture. That's the only way that they can divide humanity into "people of color" and "white allies" and, by implication, "white enemies." Since all white people are racist in their view, the white allies are still racist, but they become allies because they accept the terms of CRT.

Critical Race Theorists see power in racial terms, as though only poor dark-skinned people and rich white people are relevant to understanding the US today. But power is not that simple.

For more about the assumptions of Critical Race Theorists:

The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, Where Racism and Anti-Racism Intersect.

Racism equals prejudice plus power, so only whites can be racist?

the social justice workers that I love

it's all one thing: the social justice workers that I love

the social justice workers that I love


I've long been a fan of liberation theologists who risked their lives and their standing in the Catholic church by speaking out for sharing the wealth. I love Dom Hélder Câmara for saying, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."

"Why are the people poor?" is the most dangerous question anyone can ask a capitalist. The answer's obvious: in this world that has enough for everyone, the only reason anyone is poor is because the rich don't share.

Speaking for "social justice" makes sense in countries where socialists are marginalized, imprisoned, or killed, but social justice is a movement that cannot exist without the tolerance of hierarchs who will squash it if it goes too far. That's what happened to the liberation theologists; Wikipedia notes, "The influence of liberation theology diminished after proponents were accused of using "Marxist concepts" leading to admonishment by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1984 and 1986. The Vatican criticized certain strains of liberation theology for focusing on institutionalized or systemic sin, apparently to the exclusion of individual offenders/offences; and for allegedly misidentifying Catholic Church hierarchy in South America as members of the same privileged class that had long been oppressing indigenous populations since the arrival of Pizarro."

In Martin Luther King's time, socialists were excluded from political discourse in the US. To be effective, he had to talk about social justice instead. In a 1963 WMU Speech, he said, "I think with all of these challenges being met and with all of the work, and determination going on, we will be able to go this additional distance and achieve the ideal, the goal of the new age, the age of social justice."

But his concept of social justice was very different than that of identitarians who appropriated the term. That became clear as his focus expanded from race to poverty and peace, when King was willing to directly confront capitalism directly with statements like “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.”

the social justice workers that I love


I've long been a fan of liberation theologists who risked their lives and their standing in the Catholic church by speaking out for sharing the wealth. I love Dom Hélder Câmara for saying, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."

"Why are the people poor?" is the most dangerous question anyone can ask a capitalist. The answer's obvious: in this world that has enough for everyone, the only reason anyone is poor is because the rich don't share.

Speaking for "social justice" makes sense in countries where socialists are marginalized, imprisoned, or killed, but social justice is a movement that cannot exist without the tolerance of hierarchs who will squash it if it goes too far. That's what happened to the liberation theologists; Wikipedia notes, "The influence of liberation theology diminished after proponents were accused of using "Marxist concepts" leading to admonishment by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1984 and 1986. The Vatican criticized certain strains of liberation theology for focusing on institutionalized or systemic sin, apparently to the exclusion of individual offenders/offences; and for allegedly misidentifying Catholic Church hierarchy in South America as members of the same privileged class that had long been oppressing indigenous populations since the arrival of Pizarro."

In Martin Luther King's time, socialists were excluded from political discourse in the US. To be effective, he had to talk about social justice instead. In a 1963 WMU Speech, he said, "I think with all of these challenges being met and with all of the work, and determination going on, we will be able to go this additional distance and achieve the ideal, the goal of the new age, the age of social justice."

But his concept of social justice was very different than that of identitarians who appropriated the term. That became clear as his focus expanded from race to poverty and peace, when King was willing to directly confront capitalism directly with statements like “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.”

Sunday, September 9, 2012

a crime statistic for Social Justice Warriors

FBI — Latest Crime Statistics: Volumes Continue to Fall: "Most common characteristics of arrestees: 74.5 percent of arrestees were male, and 69.4 percent of arrestees were white; "

what is "upper class in India"?

• caste: the first racism, or another reason to blame the British? (1/26/9)

Most of my reading about India had been about the Raj and Hinduism, so I thought the concept of caste and race were effectively identical: people are born and die in the caste their culture assigns them, and no matter how much their class might change, the prejudice against their birth category remains.

But it may be that when the British accepted the pseudo-science of race in the late 1700s, their concept influenced Indian thought. From Caste system in India:
Some scholars believe that the relative ranking of other castes was fluid or differed from one place to another prior to the arrival of the British.[40]
Whether they're right about the past, the ranking is not fluid now. Some writers desperately claim that modern casteism is not racism. From Caste system in India:
...Andre Béteille, who writes that treating caste as a form of racism is "politically mischievous" and worse, "scientifically nonsense" since there is no discernible difference in the racial characteristics between Brahmins and Scheduled Castes. He writes that "Every social group cannot be regarded as a race simply because we want to protect it against prejudice and discrimination".[93]
What people like Béteille cannot grasp is there is no significant genetic difference among the commonly accepted racial groups either. If "caste" allowed for change the way "tribe" does, if you could change your caste by adoption or marriage, the caste system would not be racist. But so long as "caste" is seen as an inherent human quality, the caste system will be a form of racism.

• what is upper class "in India" (2/24/9)

In the recent LJ brouhaha between old school opponents of racism and younger upper and middle class antiracists, the question of upper class "in India" came up.

A few weeks ago, my knowledge of India was relatively superficial. I knew it was a growing economic power, and I'd seen articles like last year's Richest Man In India Builds $1 Billion House:
What would you do if your net worth were $22 billion? If you were Indian businessman Mukesh Ambani, you might build yourself the world's most expensive home.
And I knew a bit about caste injustice from articles like Untouchable @ National Geographic Magazine:
Discrimination against India's lowest Hindu castes is technically illegal. But try telling that to the 160 million Untouchables, who face violent reprisals if they forget their place.
More recently, I saw this in Too Much weekly:
You won’t find a shopping mall any more lavish than the six-month-old Emporio in India’s New Delhi. Gold-plated ceilings. Atriums with crystal chandeliers. Boutiques offering every top luxury brand on the planet. You probably won’t find a mall any more exclusive either. The Emporio carries an entrance fee that equals, the Birmingham Post noted last week, “about one week’s salary for 80 percent of India’s billion-plus population.” Guards everywhere make sure that no one tries to sneak in without paying up for the $5 entrance ticket. With hundreds of millions of Indians living on less than a dollar a day, sociologist Satish Deshpande points out, India is “tending more and more towards a kind of apartheid, a kind of separation” now “sharply visible in our cities.”
Within India's more than one billion population, there is a middle-class country of 80 million, the size of Germany--with satellite televisions, nice cars, well-appointed homes, and white collar jobs hooked into the world economy
Which included a link to mall talk: Arundhati slams Slumdog:
"English writers in India come from a particular class, but if they do not make an effort to come out of it, they are bound to be superficial.”
Obviously, I love the last quote. But the question remains: what's the border between middle and upper class in India? If Juan Cole's vague definition of India's middle class is accurate, it's quite comparable to the US's. Which would suggest that India's upper class is like the US's also. I've thought that the world's upper class is effectively international, coming from different cultures but sharing similar privileges. Am I wrong? If so, I welcome the chance to learn the truth.

ETA: Gandhi said, "All amassing of wealth or hoarding of wealth above and beyond one’s legitimate needs is theft." However you define India's upper class, Gandhi defined them as thieves.

• when googling "upper class in India"(2/25/9)

The three-day siege of Mumbai, which ended a week ago, was a watershed for India’s prosperous classes. It prompted many of those who live in their own private Indias, largely insulated from the country’s dysfunction, to demand a vital public service: safety.
The bombers, it turned out, systematically targeted first-class men's compartments, poking a poisoned finger in the eye of the city's well-heeled white- collar establishment. The victims were overwhelmingly male; judging by the lists of dead and injured posted at city hospitals, they were mostly of working age; judging by the testimony of their friends and relatives, most of them were habitual first-class passengers.
in 1990, only a handful of students with very rich parents went abroad for undergraduate degrees. Now over 10,000, with indubitably middle class parents, do.
India's notorious social distinctions based on caste and class have spilled into the blood donation sector. Even reputable blood banks now advertise blood that is guaranteed not to come from the dregs of society.
When I tried to talk to Mangabhai about his financial planning for the time he can no longer work, he looked at me with glazed eyes. He had absolutely no idea. “The poor don’t have the luxury of looking into the future,” Bhavnaben said to me.
From here:
In India, over 40 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. Ten million of those poor would have to work over 60 years each to match the combined fortune of India’s 100 richest. This Indian top 100, Forbes related last week, now together hold $276 billion in assets, “over $100 billion more than the $170 billion total net worth of their Chinese counterparts.”
 • Why I love Gandhi

MEANWHILE : Gandhi, for one, would have found it funny - The New York Times
When a reporter asked him what he thought of Western civilization, he famously replied: "I think it would be a good idea." He did not spare journalists either, saying: "I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers."

Even the mightiest were not spared. In order to identify with India's poorest, Gandhi used to wear a homespun loincloth all the time. Winston Churchill bristled at the thought of a "half-naked fakir" going to meet the British king thus attired.

But that's exactly what Gandhi did at the Round Table Conference in London called to discuss India's future in the 1930's. He went in his loincloth to Buckingham Palace and met the king. Later, when somebody asked him if he felt that was proper, Gandhi replied: "The king had enough for both of us."

Gandhi believed his life was his message, and, as such, he lived simply, usually traveling by the cheapest form of transportation — the third class of Indian Railways. To a reporter's question as to why he did this, Gandhi said, "Because there is no fourth class."

Pseudonymityfail, or the Pseudo-pseudonymity of Coffeeandink

Early in February, 2009, the Feminist SF group decided to record what happened in RaceFail 09. Kathryn Cramer corrected a link there that had connected Coffeeandink to Catherynne Valente's LJ. When told that Micole wished to be pseudonymous, Kathryn accepted the wiki editors' decision, though she continued to argue that shielding Micole was wrong.

To understand Kathryn's concerns with pseudonymity and mobbing:
I think I was the one who coined the term "orcing" in the context of organized trolling by the Little Green Footballs gang circa 2004. They went after me right after their group attack on the John Kerry campaign caused the Kerry campaign to pull all their ads from Daily Kos. I was the next target because I was anti-Blackwater. In essence it involves the use of online discussion boards and platform for organized attack on a blogger. . . . The incident in question (LGF vs. KC) was white-on-white politically motivated Internet aggression involving death threats, threats on children, rape threats, a claimed false report to Child Protective Services, etc. It was back before it was easy to turn off comments. It took a few days (maybe as many as 4 or 5) of serious 24 hr. gang abuse before I figured out that I could edit my Moveable Type template to turn comments off.
Her first use of the term was:
It was very unwise of Charles at LFG to attempt to launch a new attack on my site in reponse to criticism, given that he knows that the first round of attacks resulted in threats to me and to my family. My referrer logs can presumably be compared to the IP numbers of new posts of this nature. As one can see, this behavior from the LGF folks is so far beyond trolling that it needs a new name. Orcing. (Or should we spell it orking?)
On February 6, 2009, she commented twice at Ambling Along the Aqueduct. First:
There is an additional issue, which is pseudonymity. The preponderance of those arguing as representatives of the Other are pseudonymous. This, it seems to me, is a big problem. Pseudonymous people are often not as they claim to be. 
Also, I am confused by the terms of discussion proposed by this mostly pseudonymous Other: Just when and how did it become OK to make broad generalizations about specific people based on race? I have a very hard time with the notion that this kind of rhetoric is a good idea no matter who is it aimed at and no matter what the intended purpose.
Then she refered to Micole:
You know, I just found out earlier this afternoon that one of the LJ combatants, who refuses to allow her alias i.e. false name to be public used to report to and work for people she's flamed and inflamed other to criticize. I think this is wildly unethical. 
Is MORE of that kind of stuff hiding under other of these aliases?

Late in February, when I was writing the first draft of "looking at a few of my critics, champions of the upper class", I wasn’t sure how to spell Micole's last name, so I googled "Micole coffeeandink". Her last name came up immediately. Soon after I posted, I got email from her. (SJ Warriors approve of sharing other people's email, so I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing hers.)

2/26/09

Dear Will,


I do not put my full name on my LJ user profile because I do not wish it to be linked to it by general Google searches.  It's okay to name the owner of the LJ coffeeandink as "Micole", but not as "Micole [redacted]”.


Thanks,


--m.
I laughed when I saw that. Her claim that using “Micole” instead of “Micole [redacted]” on her profile kept her LJ from Google’s notice had to be a joke—at the time, Google clearly disagreed. Her LJ was public. She had nearly a thousand followers who linked to her, using her extremely rare legal name. About “Micole”, themeaningofnames.org says, “The highest recorded use of this name was in 1988 with 39 baby girls.” Her last name is so uncommon that namestatistics.com claims “Very few last names in the US are [redacted] Be proud of your unique last name!” Anyone concerned about being pseudonymous wouldn’t use either on a public LJ.

I wrote back:
Huh. You're very free with my name, and I get Google-searched, too. I realize you use "racist" differently than I do, but still, when you have items like "Will explains how racism doesn't affect middle-class black people" when I said at that post and in many other places that racism *does* affect middle-class black people, I have trouble feeling sympathy for your desire for anonymity. Integrity is hard.

Well. I really shouldn't become the asshole you say I am. I'll delete your last name now.
I removed her last name from my blogs, then posted this:
well, I think it’s funny

My most vitriolic critic wrote me, asking me to remove her last name from my response to her so she wouldn't look bad when Google-searched.

You can't make these things up.

It was a surprisingly tough call. On the one hand, I believe if you don't have the courage to identify yourself, you should shut the hell up. On the other hand, it's nice to be nice. So I snarled and growled a little, then deleted her name.

This seems especially amusing given the number of people in the Great Silliness who criticized friends of mine for deleting information from the web.

ETA #1: I realize that some people's circumstances force them to choose between anonymity and silence. In those cases, which choice is right depends on what they hope to say. There are many kinds of identity. Sometimes an online name is as valid as any name you claim for yourself. It all depends on what you do under the cloak of that name.

ETA #2: I also realize that if I was a nice guy, I would've deleted her name and never said a thing about it. But since I've realized that justice is personal, I'm beginning to think being nice is overrated. I'm not going to say "it's nice to be nice" again. I will say "it's good to be kind," because I deleted her name out of kindness, not niceness. Niceness is never surly or grudging. Kindness is better when it's whole-hearted, but grudging kindness is better than none.

ETA #3: I am petty. She asked me to shield her while she attacked me, and when I did, she didn't even thank me. I've encountered a great deal of upper class entitlement in my life, but hers has managed to surprise me.

ETA #4: I just googled Micole’s first and last name. The second hit connects her to her LiveJournal. Then I googled what she has publicly there, "coffeeandink Micole.” The third and fourth hits brought up her last name. Now I'm totally baffled by her request. Oh, well. We all have our quirks.
On March 1, not yet concerned about her privacy, Coffeeandink made a public announcement about the conventions she would be at, should anyone wish to find her.


But on March 2, Coffeeandink claimed in RaceFail: Once More, with Misdirection:
Kathryn Cramer has been linking my LJ to my full name on wikis and in other people's blog comments and has repeatedly stated that my participation in RaceFail debates was an attempt to smear the Nielsen Haydens in grudgewank.
And, referring to me:
He posted my full name and LJ on his blog, even though I deliberately do not list my last name on my LJ.
Her post about being outed included an excellent list of reasons to be pseudonymous:
  • Because it is a standard identity- and privacy-protection precaution
  • Because they have experienced online or offline stalking, harassment, or political or domestic violence
  • Because they wish to discuss sexual abuse, sexuality, domestic abuse, assault, politics, health, or mental illness, and do not wish some subset of family, friends, strangers, aquaintances, employers, or potential employers to know about it
  • Because they wish to keep their private lives, activities, and tastes separate from their professional lives, employers, or potential employers
  • Because they fear threats to their employment or the custody of their children
  • Because it's the custom among their Internet cohort
  • Because it's no one else's business
But she never suggested pseudonymous people shouldn't use their legal names where they're claiming to be pseudonymous, and she didn't offer her own reason. (Months later, she said, “I am mostly just fighting a losing battle to prevent my mother from finding my LJ via Google.” I confess I have trouble believing her mother didn't know how to type her daughter's name into Google, but perhaps Micole has the most internet-incompetent mother ever.)

As soon as she posted, the social justice warriors attacked, probably because she did not say Kathryn and I had acted in ignorance. They sent angry email, left anonymous comments at our blogs, and played the telephone game that they love, each sharing and exaggerating what outraged them. Cofax7, for example, posted this, apparently forgetting that Coffeeandink had helped out Zathlazip:

The fundamental law in online discourse, particularly in fandom, is that you do not out people. But Will Shetterly (whose writing I used to enjoy) and Kathryn Cramer (who has written meaningfully in the pursuit of government accountability) think it's more important to cast blame, to assert grudgewank, than to analyze arguments. I don't care what you think about RaceFail 09, or if you're tired of it or whatever. But this is the establishment striking back at the online community, this is the frenzy of disparagement by people tied to a failing model. And this is why pseudonymity is So Fucking Important. 
Fuck you, Will Shetterly. And fuck you, too, Kathryn Cramer. I will not link to you.
People like Seperis—who had also helped out Zathlazip—shared Cofax7's version. As the charge that we had outed Coffeeandink burned across the SJverse, I went to the feministsf wiki page and saw how Micole was being shielded while people on the other side were being attacked.

Which infuriated me so much I posted Micole's name deliberately:
Own your shit!

Micole [redacted] is coffeeandink.

Here's why I'm outing her. I originally hadn't known Micole was hiding her last name, because she uses her first at coffeeandink. Last week, I got an email from her asking me to delete her last name from my posts. I thought it was funny that she would ask me to shield her while she attacked me, but I did. What can I say? I guess I'm a bit sexist: I usually protect women when they ask me.

You can read about that at well, I think it's funny.

This morning, I heard about people attacking Kathryn Cramer because she had revealed Micole's last name at the wiki entry for the Great Silliness, aka RaceFail09. So I went to that site, and my hypocrisy circuits overloaded. If the point of the wiki is to preserve the record of who said what, it should record the facts without favoritism.

So I restored Micole [redacted]'s name there. I left this note on the Talk page: “When someone hides Micole's identity again, I won't correct it. I won't begin a wiki war, and I respect the right of site owners to do what they please. But just for the record: If the point of this wiki is to share information, don't censor the truth. Revise it when you have more information, delete what no longer seems pertinent, sure, but feminists should especially know that double standards stink.”

I should've expected this. The editor's response was typical of their side of the Silliness: "Hi Will. You sure won't start a wiki war here, because I just banned you."

Hypocrites love to ban and censor and disemvowel. They fear opposing views, so they silence them. Free speech is not for cowards.

And now there are a flurry of LJ posts about what an asshole I am for outing Micole at the wiki. I'll own that: I'm an asshole for truth, justice, and the egalitarian way.

If you haven't already, check out the XKCD cartoon I posted the other day, or visit it here. It's got my new motto.

And now I'm done with this group of hypocrites. There are greater ones to worry about.
Because Micole had publicly used her full legal name on her LJ for years, I thought everyone would know I was using "out" sarcastically.

Really, do not use "out" sarcastically on the web.

That post got ten times as many hits as any other I’ve made. New visitors were interested in the controversy, not the context—few of them bothered to read what was posted before or after it. Because I wasn't writing for new readers, I didn't clarify that "uses her first name" meant "uses her extremely uncommon first name as her LJ name", and didn't bother to mention her casual public use of her last name.


A little later that day, when friends said I had over-reacted (which I fully agree I had), I took her last name off my site and wrote a flurry of posts amid the flames:

Fuck. That. Shit.
Fine. Let hypocrites hide while they attack others. I’m deleting Ms. X’s last name from my site. Life’s too short to be lectured by people who want to protect cowards.
And:
is hypocrisy in fashion now?

I'm being croggled by the people who defend Micole's position. I've heard, for example, the stock argument that Coffeeandink is a valid identity, so what she does under that name isn't acting anonymously. I suppose by this argument, Superman and the Green Goblin aren't anonymous, either. But would you defend a Klansman's anonymity?

Integrity usually calls for paying a price. That doesn't mean you should be afraid to admit who you are. Make your mistakes in public, apologize for them in public, and keep trying to do your best in public. The coward's way will kill your soul.

As St. Bob Dylan said, "To live outside the law you must be honest."
And:
which is worse, banning or anonymity?

Another painful moment of self-awareness: I usually figure that if you're not an asshole, you're welcome to be anonymous—a handle is a nickname. But I don't much like anyone who bans. Ban others and demand anonymity while you libel folks who are up front about who they are online and off? That's the complete coward's way. Kathryn Cramer and I disagree sometimes—dear God, who don't I disagree with sometimes?—but she knows a basic truth: if you're going to talk the talk, you sure as shit should walk the walk.
And:
is a nickname a pseudonym?

I'm failing at answering no comments, but I'm trying to stay ahead by making new posts to positions that more than one person brings up. I agree that there's a difference between being anonymous and pseudonymous.

But that distinction has limits in both directions.

On the anonymity side: sockpuppets game the gray area by using several pseudonyms to be more effectively anonymous.

On the pseudonymity side: a pseudonym is only an identity that can be put on and taken off with ease. Con artists love pseudonyms.

In the world Behind The Keyboard, nicknames are connected to faces or voices or mailing addresses—they're ultimately legally verifiable, though you may need detectives if someone you only know by a nickname shafts you.

But in Life Online? A pseudonym is just a pseudonym, not a nickname. Log out of gmail, make a new account, and you're a new person, walking free from all the shit you've made. It's tempting to want that freedom.

But real freedom calls for owning your identity everywhere you go. No matter how bad the shit behind you is, find a way to carry it or correct it or simply admit that you're done with it. That's how humans grow. I'm not proud of my online shit, but I made a decision when I went online decades ago that I was going own my shit—especially when I hate having to own it.
The damage was done. People promised to boycott my work and the work of my friends who did not denounce me. I was emailed anonymous death threats. Kynn Bartlett, who I only knew was a close member of their community, posted:
I live in Tucson, and so does he. I've never met him. 
But if I ever do, I'll likely spit in his fucking face.
I had learned a lot about death threats and ostracizing as a boy when the KKK threatened to burn our home, and I had gotten a death threat from a white supremacist for writing Captain Confederacy, but I wasn't prepared for electronic mobbing. I went a bit crazy—when the price of community is conforming to what you reject, the tension between being true to yourself and being accepted is unbearable. It’s why most people who are mobbed online will conform or flee. I wanted to disappear and forget what had happened. I needed to make things better somehow. At the time, I had my main blog on WordPress and a copy at LiveJournal—keeping two blogs had been a nuisance, but now it became a nightmare, so I deleted my LJ and tried to address the outrage with reason at my WordPress site.

Advice for anyone who gets mobbed: there's no room for reason in a riot.


Coffeeandink wrote that I was "equating pseudonymity to belonging to the KKK." She did not say I also equated it to being Superman. On my LJ, someone said it was problematic to compare pseudonyms to Klansmen and cited Publius—a group that included James Madison, who owned about 100 slaves.

People said they couldn't donate to Shadow Unit because they couldn't trust me, so I wrote:
I’m leaving Shadow Unit

Someone expressed doubts about supporting Shadow Unit because of my involvement. My creative role has been slight; people who disapprove of me can simply skip my story in Season One. (People who really disapprove of me should ignore Brady, who has more of me than any other character.) Shadow Unit is much more Emma's and Bear's baby, with enormous help from an amazingly talented group of writers. It'll be fun for me to approach it purely as a reader.

I have been concerned that this would happen. Some writers have conventional approaches to life, and some subordinate their beliefs in order to keep a broad audience. I fear I don't fit in either camp. The Shadow Unit writers are having a wonderful time, and I do not want them to take a hit for me, so it's easy to step down.

Go, team, go!
And then:
about “outing” coffeeandink or anyone

This keeps coming up, so I'm interrupting my internet holiday:

She says here that she briefly outed two fans, then took the information off the public web. I "outed" her briefly, then took the information off my sites entirely. It's not in a "friends only" area. It's gone. She is as safe from me now as those two fans are from her. I will not "out" her or anyone again. Everyone's shit is theirs to live with.

ETA: I've been informed that she hadn't known her brief outing was an outing. Apologies for making it seem like that was my point: my point is that she is just as safe as those two fans are now. She will not be outed. Nor will anyone else.
Then I closed down the LiveJournal copy of my blog, something I'd been wanting to do for ages. Keeping a copy is a nuisance, especially in times of heated debate.

In the furor, there were voices of sanity. Sierrawyndsong observed:
Now there is currently a huge bruhaha brewing between two authors online. One would like to remain anonymous but claims to have been 'outed' by another author. A flame war of massive proportions has ensued, slandering both authors, appearing in numerous blogs and blurring the lines of libel and defamation. Brilliant. Neither author is invisible online, both are published authors, both blog often and have been very vocal in a long drawn out race issue concerning SciFi writers and their writings and blogs have been linked to their real names in published and public forums. Read that again. BOTH. Of them. Period.

By the time anyone bothers to read this, I am sure the name will no longer be linked to the LJ account. However, in December 2007: The article titled Fantasy Roundtable: People of Color in Fantasy Literature, written by K. Tempest Bradford and published by Dark Fantasy, links an author's name to their LJ account. (It is my opinion that if the article published the identity and link without the author's permission, then Dark Fantasy and Bradford owe the author an apology and a retraction.) This same article has been used very often in numerous blogs concerning race issues in SciFi genre and has always contained the link. So, not just there, but in many, many posts, this article has made it very public who that author is in real life. Therefore, it is a MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD. Get it? Got it? Good. 
(I recommend the comments there. Sierrawyndsong made more good points to Tempest and Kynn.)

Elsewhere, Jace pointed out: "The issue isn’t whether or not she wanted to establish a pseudonymous identity online, it’s that she went about doing it so badly she has no right to complain when it failed."


On March 4, Coffeeandink escalated the situation with Guess who managed to escalate the situation again! I posted:

• a reply to Coffeeandink


Coffeeandink says, “You seem to have difficulty with reading comprehension.”

True. Reading How the internet is rewiring our brains, I thought, “Yep. Uh, huh. That’s me. Damn. I need to work on this.” But there’s been a lot of reading fail on both sides. I’m still getting charged with crap I never said.

She says, ” You encouraged your commenters to seek out my name…”

Where did I do that?

She says “You posted my full name again and took it down again several times.”

To give her the benefit of the doubt, having information on two blogs makes correcting them in both confusing. This has created problems before: Teresa Nielsen Hayden once charged me with doing something I hadn’t because she confused my LJ with my main blog. Serious advice to anyone thinking about having more than one blog: Don’t. Anyway, Micole may be confused here, or I might be. Really. Don’t keep two blogs.

She says, “You claimed I had suggested a boycott of Tor.”

I claimed that her last name was relevant to the wiki because Tor was cited in RaceFail and people in RaceFail had discussed a boycott. I never claimed Coffeeandink suggested it.

She says, “[you] encouraged many of your commenters to believe I had suggested or encouraged that you be forced to leave Shadow Unit, even though I had never commented on it.”

Leaving Shadow Unit was entirely my idea. I do not let friends suffer for my shit. I walked away.

She says “You tried to out me once again on the feministsf wiki, based on the argument that no one on the antiracist “side” was “forced” to reveal their full name…”

My belief all along: Either all legal names should be on the wiki to have an accurate account, or anyone mentioned there should be able to delete any information they wish. I don’t care that some people on her side are willing to own their shit. When they mock people on the other side for deleting information from the web and shield people on their side, they are simple hypocrites.

Which is their right, of course.

She says, “You outed me having been warned it could expose me to physical violence, sexual abuse, personal harassment, and professional and personal hardship.”

She never warned me of anything. Had she done so, I would never have made my mistake—but I would’ve wondered why her name and her LiveJournal were so high in the Google rankings, and why she used her uncommon first name on her LiveJournal instead of a handle.

She says, “You have offered several different explanations…”

True. I have more than one, and I don’t always cite all of them. If anyone has a full list of my quotes, I’ll own all of them.


On March 5, I did an Advanced Google Search for public appearances of Micole's last name on her LJ and found it appeared 162 times. Now, that would not be 162 unique times, because Google counts summary pages as well as unique posts, but that increased my astonishment that anyone could consider her pseudonymous.

On March 7, Micole wrote, "I may change my userprofile name to "Mely" again." That's the day she acknowledged her "very identifiable first name" in a post addressing Kathryn Cramer: “Please also explain how I was hiding my identity from you or the Nielsen Haydens in a LiveJournal pnh friended a few years ago*, with a user profile that lists my very identifiable first name, in a post that is signed with my very identifiable first name.”

On March 9, Micole acknowledged that she was revising her past: “I have locked down or edited some posts with identifying information in them." She did not explain why,
 if she truly believed she had been pseudonymous, she was changing anything.


When she changed her LJ user profile to “Mely” and removed her last name from her LJ’s public pages, she asked her readers to change their blogs to conceal her past. Because I wanted to make peace, I asked mine to do the same. 
How many posts she made friends-only or edited, only Micole knows. Whatever the number, it took her a few weeks to finish retconning her history.

And then the connection between Coffeeandink and her legal identity slowly sank in the search engines.

But a post I had made and deleted about Micole's many self-outings would not disappear from Google's cache. I tried deleting it. I tried restoring it and changing it. The damn thing would not go away. I felt like the Ancient Blogger, and it was my albatross. Though my main blog was on WordPress, I had been blogging since 2003 at Blogspot. To nuke the offending post, I deleted my WordPress blog, planning to recreate it back on Blogger. But the archived copy was unusable. I restored as much of my blog as I could at the new/old location, but some posts were lost and others lost their comments.

Which, I decided, was my karma for getting into a flamewar. At least the offending page was gone.


2010

Continuing effects of violations of Internet pseudonymity

After Racefail 09, wherever I mentioned anything about class, a warrior would derail the conversation with the claim I had outed Micole or cite her "do not engage", because she had left the charges against me public while hiding the evidence that she had changed her public record.

The story of Micole's pseudonymity was further complicated on June 30, when someone created an account and left several comments at Jane Austen's World that hotlinked Micole's name and LJ. I came across them a few months later and added them to the examples of her habit of using her name and LJ in public.

In 2010, in the comments at Charles Tan's blog, someone claimed I had outed Micole. Robert N. Lee replied using her name and LJ. Micole wrote “Continuing effects of violations of Internet pseudonymity” and claimed " since Mr. Sh*tt*rl* is publically discussing this issue and ONCE AGAIN linking my name to my blog..."

James Nicoll, a great lover of gossip, shared Micole's charge.

Tan deleted the post and comments, but Robert left this public comment on his Buzz site: "So, uh, actually I "outed" her, slyly. Because that whole "outing" thing is a bunch of bullshit. But anyway, this is what (a) liars or (b) poor readers or (c) star fucker/haters or (d) all of the above these people are."

Because I'd been banned from their LJs, I couldn't ask Micole or Nicoll to check the facts. Eventually, friends of friends interceded. Nicoll deleted the charge without explanation and Micole changed her post to "since Mr. Sh*tt*rl* is publically discussing this issue and ONCE AGAIN linking[encouraging other people to link] my name to my blog..."

Naturally, she didn't bother to cite me encouraging anyone to link her name to her blog, because I hadn't.

In her post, she denied making the account at Jane Austen's World, saying, "I have never commented in any blog listing both this URL and my full name." It may well be that someone made the account in her name. In every fail, there have been trolls who decided to add to the fun. But her statement is only true if "blog" doesn't include her own LJ or doing things like publicly posting a story with her legal byline on it for International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day and linking to it at Jo Walton's LJ.

Sometime after that, a commenter at my blog said, "coffeeandink should really take the "Do not engage" post down. Because every time someone links to that post and dredges up the issue yet again, her name and identity come up again as well. And if she really wants to remain anonymous (though half the internet knows her name by now), constantly dredging up her "outing" again and again doesn't help."


Which was when I realized that acquiescing to her demands was playing her game.

2011

The Coffeeandink Countdown

In the summer of 2011, I began playing by my rules with the Coffeeandink Countdown. I gave Micole a week to decide whether she wanted to make all her posts using her name public again or to make her charges against me private. When she didn't respond within four days, I decided against dragging it out and posted this:
Dear Micole, go in peace 
I've restored your name to the posts where I used it before and I added it to my account of Racefail 09. I suggest that you restore the many posts where you used your name in public on your LJ, but that's entirely your decision, of course.
If you ever truly wish to be pseudonymous, let me know, and I'll delete your name again. Ain't no big.
If you're content with things as they are, go in peace.
But nothing is ever over on the internet. Soon after, K. Tempest Bradford and one of the Julias brought it up, so I posted this:
One irrelevant point, one lie 
At Why The Argument That People Using “Real Names” Are Better Behaved Online Rings False | The Angry Black Woman, K. Tempest Bradford makes a true, but irrelevant, point: using my real name doesn't stop me from doing what I do. Nor does it stop her from doing what she does: helping in the outing of her opponents, decrying racism while ignoring the possibility that factors like class prejudice might be at work, etc. 
But I do sometimes wonder about the reasoning of Micole [redacted] and Julia Sparkymonster when they decided to make their obsessive page about me. Did Micole honestly believe she was pseudonymous then? Did Julia? Would they have attacked so many people over the years deliberately using their own names? 
I suspect not. It's easier to attack when you believe you can hide. I suspect that's why Micole is claiming retroactive pseudonymity and Julia refuses to say whether she's pseudonymous. 
As for why Bradford's point is irrelevant, no one's claimed that using legal names will eliminate disagreement online. We're only saying that reduces it. 
In the comments there, Julia says, "...when they do things like post people’s phone number and/or address (which Will Shetterly has done) ..." I realize that to failfans, I "outed" Micole by noting that she had not been pseudonymous since at least 2006, but saying I posted her phone number or address is a simple lie.
I left Micole's last name on "the Pseudo-Pseudonymity of Coffeeandink" for about a year. But once I’d reclaimed the right to share what she had originally made public, I found myself pitying her. I still don't understand how she can believe she was pseudonymous, but she's clung to her story so tenaciously that perhaps she now believes she was. People can believe impossible things. So I’ve deleted her name from my sites again, and stand by what I said before: Micole, go in peace.