Doctor Science Knows

Friday, May 02, 2008

Blogcomment record: Pam Spaulding at Pandagon

Comments I made on Pam Spaulding's post about the Amanda-Seal Press controversy.

As I said last week, I'm back at Pandagon to hear what Pam has to say. Maybe I'm the only one, but I found this:
I missed the controversy over Amanda’s book. I’ve been so bogged down here in NC primary fever over at my pad (prez and state races), the Day of Silence, a family member in the hospital and — can you believe this — the day job, that people obviously thought I was simply ignoring this pot boiling over on the homebase stove
a hilarious example of just the kind of communication problem Pam is talking about. I was one of the people who was trying to be tactful and not bug Pam to wade into the mess until she was ready ... completely overlooking the possibility that *she'd never noticed* because of, like, having a life.

I have only a moderate amount of patience for people who talk about needing "safe spaces" on the Internet. As far as I'm concerned, *everyone* needs places where name-calling, ad hominem attacks, privacy violations, etc., won't occur -- that's not IMHO a "safe space", that's a "common decency space" and yes, everyone needs to work together to maintain them. And *glares around at some of the young 'uns* that means YOU.

In my experience (warning: I'm getting my crone on), when people say they need a "safe space" they too often mean "where no-one will tell me when I'm wrong and I can vent without learning anything." I will have no truck with that -- this is the Internet, and you *never* get to stop learning. And everyone gets to be wrong a *lot*: this is "trial and error", not "trial and perfect results every time".

So, to get more specific (because I *hate* vagueness), I think Seal Press's art department is unprofessional. After the uproar over cover #1, they had *no excuse* not to look at the pictures with a careful eye, and they didn't. It's really hard for me to say that I'd be interested in buying their books in the future, because it's pretty clear that they're not professional about their work, so why should I want to help them?

But also, it's got to be possible to say that a WOC messed up without pressing everyone's "racism alert" button. And here I'm going to try an experiment.

Tahlequah, if I say: "brownfemipower did a Good Bye Cruel World post and took down her site" -- does that strike you as demeaning, not just disapproving? What if I call it a Swan Song? In the fannish areas of the 'tubes I normally frequent, it *would* be called a Flounce, but that's partly for alliteration to go in "Fandom Flounce" and partly because of experience. In fandom's experience, people who say they're mad as hell and can't take it anymore *do* take their toys and go home ... and then some of them come back in a couple months under a different name. Or show up in another fandom under a new name, and do the same thing all over again. Serial flouncing seems to be part of some personalities.

BFP may have just been overwhelmed -- I've seen this happen before, the first time someone finds hirself in a true Internet blogstorm and just starts deleting wildly because ze can't cope. But from my cranky crone POV, she gets marked down as "possible flouncer", because that's what I call that kind of behavior. I do not see how it's a racial issue: it's a *people issue*, one of the many many Stupid Human Tricks available to us all.

And speaking of White Gals Who’ve Messed Up Occasionally, I have to agree that:
Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, Amanda’s gotta pop off and say stupid things she later regrets when she feels like she’s being attacked.
If we’re analyzing Amanda’s character and needs, she needs to learn more about where her inner Zen lives — no-one wants to see her become the feminist Bill O’Reilly.

But I also profess myself boggled at mnemosyne saying:
Amanda is one of the most divisive figures on the internet. My husband, who is very feminist and aware, will not read her because he gets too angry too quickly and finds it hard to think logically about what she’s saying.
?? *Really?!?* I mean, “divisive figures on the Internet” is a *large* category. What the heck button does Amanda push that makes him that angry?

Personally, I read Amanda’s posts because they’re often funny, kind of like the progressive-political version of Go Fug Yourself but with a better comments section. (exceptions apply.)

Foucault (hey, at least it’s not Derrida!):

My waiting for Pam to say something (and I wouldn’t have mentioned it on that Feministe thread if someone else hadn’t said something first) was because I didn’t know what to do, and a number of friends of mine (white and otherwise) were getting more & more upset. Pam blogs on race issues, I thought, Pam will lead me!

My own personal coloration is best described as “whiter shade of pale”, so I was trying to defer (to a certain extent) to the feelings of people who might have more personal feelings.

Re: hoping Amanda doesn’t get caught up in her own outrage, like Bill O’Reilly, I was thinking of a recent discussion at Making Light, trying to separate parody from trolling where SF writer Jo Walton said:
Picture the sad ruin of a once-great troll tearing at the very planks of the bridge he’s sitting under because he can no longer tell them from the goats he used to try to lure, and once they are gone, tearing angrily at his own hair, not noticing as he devours chunks of his own brain.

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