Blogging Gets Results!

by John Holbo on June 11, 2007

Example: Scott Kaufman contributes, in civil fashion, to a thread at Jesus’ General – and as a result, he is defamed to his entire local academic community as a white supremacist! One of the General’s commenters – Ghost of Adolph Rupp, a.k.a. ‘John Casper’ – took it upon himself to email a bunch of people at UC Irvine (Scott’s department head, dean, various politicians across the whole state, I gather) as a generous public service.

Scott K. is innocent as charged. But that isn’t to say these allegations can’t be career-threatening, eh? (Stay classy, John Casper!)

You can read about the whole sordid saga at Scott’s blog – starting here. (A post explaining the fight that caused the fight that caused this problem.) The latest development, depressing but relatively inconsequential compared to the defamatory emails, is that Patriotboy (Jesus’ General) ain’t exactly coming up heaped in glory. Go read, if you care to. I guess the main post, reporting the first wave of emails accusing Scott of ‘refined white supremacy’, is here.

So Scott’s life is officially a mess. So if you are a friend, drop a comment, extend him your support and best wishes that an idiot hasn’t managed to wreck his career in vile and irresponsible fashion. I have the flu and am going straight to bed, probably will not be contributing to any discussion for the next 14 hours or so. So no fighting, if you please.

{ 1 trackback }

Sadly, No! » Wingnut, Unpaste Thyself
06.12.07 at 7:49 am

{ 85 comments }

1

Rich Puchalsky 06.11.07 at 12:22 pm

It’s actually “John Casper”, as in Casper the (un)friendly ghost, which probably doesn’t matter since it may well be a pseudonym in any case. (Or, if it is a real name, the proper spelling may not matter to anyone.) Whatever the spelling, the actions are certainly vile.

2

alkali 06.11.07 at 12:54 pm

There are numerous levels of meta here. Do I have this much right?

(1) A right-wing blogger put up a hostile blog post regarding the death of liberal African-American blogger Steve Gilliard. Among other things, the post asserted that SG’s criticism of other African-Americans was itself racist.

(2) A blog maintained by an ABC news affiliate in Nashville quoted and linked to post (1) as part of an ongoing survey of what was on local blogs.

(3) A liberal blogger who goes by the ironic pseudonym “Jesus’ General” (“JG”) sent a e-mail to the ABC affiliate taking issue with that blog post, on the basis of the perceived endorsement of the content of post (1). The resulting controversy led to the resignation of the ABC affiliate’s blogger, although that was not JG’s intention.

(4) In a follow-up post on JG’s blog, numerous commenters (including Mr. Kaufman) discussed the situation. Mr. Kaufman is a grad student in English at UCI and a liberal blogger. He was criticial of JG’s conduct, arguing that JG had failed to provide appropriate context that would show that the ABC affiliate blogger was not endorsing the content of post (1).

(5) Another commenter on blog post (4), the Ghost of Adolph Rupp, a.k.a. “John Casper,” sent a number of e-mails to members of the UCI community contending that Kaufman’s defense of the ABC affiliate blogger showed that Kaufman was a white supremacist.

(6) I understand that there is some debate about whether “John Casper” is actually sincere in his criticisms of Kaufman or whether he is simply attempting to cause trouble for Kaufman because he dislikes Kaufman’s politics.

(Corrections invited.)

3

Rich Puchalsky 06.11.07 at 1:17 pm

As far as I can understand the thing, alkali, my corrections would be:

(1) The original post was not only hostile, it deliberately pushed a lot of racist hot-buttons.

(3) I would take the resignation to be JG’s original intention. However, JG said that he was sorry that it happened once JG understood what was going on. The resignation, however, was presented as being due to burnout from dealing with a history of vicious comments by the blogger, not as being caused by ABC management.

(4) The only thing wrong rather than incomplete in your summary is, I think, one phrase in the middle of the following: “He was criticial of JG’s conduct, arguing that JG had failed to provide appropriate context that would show that the ABC affiliate blogger was not endorsing the content of post (1).” Scott claimed that JG should have taken the time to read the ABC affiliate blogger’s context more carefully before going off on someone, i.e., that JG misread the situation and acted irresponsibly. It wasn’t a criticism of JG not providing context. The context thing was about that JG should have understood that a news blog has a different implicit context for links than a personal blog does — that they do not automatically signal approval.

(5) The theory, insofar as I can follow it (it’s really not too coherent) was that this constituted enablement of white supremacy. I think that the argument was supposed to resemble a sort of lobotomized version of Orcinus’.

4

Rich Puchalsky 06.11.07 at 1:18 pm

In (3) above, I meant “vicious comments directed towards the ABC affiliate blogger” — sorry for a phrase that could be read another way.

5

abb1 06.11.07 at 1:21 pm

Certainly it’s unpleasant, but how can it be career-threatening? Don’t people in charge usually spend a couple minutes checking if allegations like these have any basis in reality?

6

Wissen 06.11.07 at 1:58 pm

You lot have time to read a 200+ comment thread and all the sites it links to? I thought academic holidays were getting gradually attenuated?

7

Rich Puchalsky 06.11.07 at 2:09 pm

Checking how, abb1? I think that alkali’s summary presents how hard this is to follow, especially for someone not used to flamewars. In such cases, people will often say “a pox on both your houses” — that the person being investigated clearly did nothing wrong, but was vaguely involved in something that they shouldn’t have been involved in, which caused the investigator trouble. Or, as Scott wrote more pithily, “Still, there’s a stain attached to someone who acquires multiple mentally unsound stalkers. People wonder whether they’re really the issue, or whether it’s you.”

8

Anderson 06.11.07 at 2:14 pm

Don’t people in charge usually spend a couple minutes checking if allegations like these have any basis in reality?

At Irvine? On a good day, maybe. You can see it coming:

“Why does the administration want to protect a faculty member accused of racism?” etc. etc.

9

CR 06.11.07 at 2:17 pm

abb1,

No, sometimes they don’t. Duh. And sometimes things escalate beyond the “basis in reality” scale, especially when they hit the local news or find their way to a preexisting issue group looking to hit the quad with new ammo. And sometime people just get fed up with / won’t hire graduate students who look like troublemakers, even if they make trouble on the side of the angels.

This is serious, abb1… Let’s hope it doesn’t get more so.

10

Ben Alpers 06.11.07 at 2:18 pm

Don’t people in charge usually spend a couple minutes checking if allegations like these have any basis in reality?

Frequently academic administrators’ first priority is to avoid bad publicity and other forms of trouble. If trouble arrives, they very often seek what they perceive to be the quickest way to get out of it. Whether or not this course of action is equitable is far too often not a serious enough concern.

I sincerely hope that in this case my cynicism is misplaced.

11

Adam Kotsko 06.11.07 at 2:30 pm

This post is a great way of helping to calm down the situation.

12

Steve LaBonne 06.11.07 at 2:31 pm

Cynicism about academic administrators is very, very rarely misplaced.

13

elliottg 06.11.07 at 2:35 pm

The post is bullshit. The idea that Scott is going to have any reprecussions is playing the victim card. The idea that JG should break his policy of not releasing IP addresses is stupid. Stupidest post on Crooked Timber ever. In fact, the first truly stupid post I have ever read here.

14

MikeJ 06.11.07 at 3:05 pm

It’s not as if it’s that hard to get a subpoena, which is all JG asked for. In the same situation, I’d say the same thing. Bring me a subpoena and I’ll give you all the info you want.

15

alkali 06.11.07 at 3:14 pm

Rich Puchalsky writes:

I think that alkali’s summary presents how hard this is to follow, especially for someone not used to flamewars.

Part of what made this confusing for me is that at least some of those involved don’t adhere to the “sincerity convention”: e.g., when Jesus’ General says, “I intend to do X,” does he mean that he actually has it in mind to do X, or does he mean to say “in character” that a militaristic right-wing zealot would want to do X? When someone says, “that’s racist,” do they mean “I really do find that offensive and racist,” or “Ha! I’ve hoisted you on your own petard by accusing you of racism, you left-wing P.C. troll!” In most cases, I think I can tell what’s going on, but it’s hard to keep straight on a quick read.

16

brent 06.11.07 at 3:15 pm

The post is bullshit. The idea that Scott is going to have any reprecussions is playing the victim card.

Why are you so sure of that exactly? I admit that it doesn’t seem too likely from an objective point of view but I suspect that I don’t have the slightest inkling of how a UCI administrator might react to something like this. Certainly Rupp’s Ghost thought he might be able to cause some sort of problem.

The idea that JG should break his policy of not releasing IP addresses is stupid.

Where does this post suggest that?

17

Marc 06.11.07 at 3:45 pm

We have been there before with that site. They released a map to Michelle Malkin’s house (with a fig leaf that was easily removed). On his good days JG is a brilliant satirist. On his bad days he and his posse bring to mind Nietsche’s saying about looking into the abyss.

Elliotg, perhaps you don’t understand the potential personal impact in a liberal humanities department of a campaign claiming you are a white supremacist. It could kill a career. And it also happens, on its face, to be a vicious lie.

I think an actual, you know, apology for reckless behavior on the part of the JG folks is what is called for here.

18

Randy Paul 06.11.07 at 4:01 pm

The post is bullshit. The idea that Scott is going to have any reprecussions is playing the victim card.

I would not want to be in Scott’s shoes right now. Would you?

19

elliottg 06.11.07 at 4:12 pm

There’s nothing colorable to the claim that Kaufman is a racist. The idea that ridiculous ramblings of Casper (who Kaufman now knows who they are – but oh so coyly won’t reveal) is not going to be given much attention except by those who already hate Prof. Kaufman. So, at worst and extremely unlikely, he will face problems because this gives his enemies a pretext. But anyone who has assigned grades in a college course faces the potential of such attacks on a regular basis. Students routinely accuse professors of bias (too liberal, too conservative, misogynist, misanthropic, racist) so this is nothing new. Kaufman acts all bent out of shape because JG honors his own policy regarding IP addresses. Now, I’m not 100% behind JG on this, but I cut him a lot of slack because Gilliard died and he’s in mourning. I can’t figure out what Kaufman’s excuse is.

20

Luis Alegria 06.11.07 at 4:14 pm

Mr. Marc, et. al.,

Isn’t all this really a comment on the actual or perceived hypocrisy/depravity of liberal humanities departments ?

If you fellows have to walk on eggshells all day for fear of offending each other, it explains a lot.

21

elliottg 06.11.07 at 4:25 pm

I’ll revise and update my opinion after reading through more material. Kaufman’s likely to be in trouble for being a pompous a**hole who has given a rambling jerk much more consderation than necessary.

Instead of letting it go with a short, dismisive shrug and some uncivil insults or a full frontal attack on Casper’s anonymity, he almost shouts and begs that he wants a full investigation so he can be vindicated. A typical adminstrator’s reaction would be annoyed at being drawn into a petty blog war. They will likely blame Kaufman for that, but that’s because he’s playing the stuck pig rather than the respected aademic.

22

Wax Banks 06.11.07 at 4:31 pm

elliottg, you’re so awesome I can’t even believe it. Do you have a blog? I’m ready to be your very first reader, boss.

23

CR 06.11.07 at 4:32 pm

Students routinely accuse professors of bias (too liberal, too conservative, misogynist, misanthropic, racist) so this is nothing new.

Really? In the circle of people I work with or have worked with, I’ve heard of it happening exactly once, and the person it happened to ended up elsewhere the next year. (Lucky to land on his feet – and the charges were completely unmerited in the first place). It is not routine… And it certainly isn’t routine for a student to write, say, the better part of the university administration, the local congressperson, the school newspaper etc about it.

24

abb1 06.11.07 at 4:34 pm

Btw, where did I see this the other day?

In the opinion of those opposing tenure, your unprofessional personal attacks divert the conversation away from consideration of ideas, and polarize and simplify conversations that deserve layered and subtle consideration. As such, they believe your work not only shifts toward advocacy and away from scholarship, but also fails to meet the most basic standards governing scholarship discourse within the academic community.

Hear me, Academics! Under any circumstances don’t shift toward advocacy and away from scholarship; place your head between your knees and and brace for impact.

25

Christmas 06.11.07 at 5:15 pm

On his good days JG is a brilliant satirist.

Hmmm… no.

26

Karl Steel 06.11.07 at 5:36 pm

Prof. Kaufman. So, at worst and extremely unlikely, he will face problems because this gives his enemies a pretext

This is just one of your mistakes, elliotg. SEK’s not a professor; he’s a grad student. Due to various nasty institutional problems in higher education, that makes SEK very vulnerable.

If you fellows have to walk on eggshells all day for fear of offending each other, it explains a lot.

Er. We don’t. And I don’t see how SEK’s cyber-stalker’s problems with SEK can have any explanatory force to understanding SEK’s professional relationships.

27

Marc 06.11.07 at 6:14 pm

karl caught the essence: there is a difference between a tenured professor and a graduate student in terms of vulnerability. There is a pretty ironclad boundary in online discussion forums, namely that harassment of people “in real life” based on their words in discussion forums is either 1) never justified or 2) justified only in extreme circumstances. The folks at Jesus’s General appear to have forgotten this.

The complete jackass from JGs comment board has apparently not just fired off a single complaint – he’s been flooding the campus with broadsides against a single student. This is truly loathsome behavior, and it may actually rise to be an exception like 2) above. e.g. by doing this the anonymous toad from JG may well deserve to get fired from his job. Personally, I think that de-escalation (and apologies to SEK) are the proper course, and that folks over at that site should be reminded of why mob behavior is a bad thing…

28

christian h. 06.11.07 at 7:43 pm

The stalker’s behavior was despicable. How this makes “the folks” or “posse” or whatever else you want to call JG’s commenters as a group collectively reponsible is, however, beyond me. I’ll guess it’s typical flamewar-speak.

29

Doctor Slack 06.11.07 at 9:32 pm

I really don’t agree with elliottg’s charge that SEK is being a drama queen, and I feel bad for Scott (who seems to be something of a looper magnet). But I have to say that reading the guy’s initial communique and subsequent ramblings, I’d be surprised if Scott had that much to worry about from a career standpoint. Whether or not one agrees with SEK’s argument in the original instance, the volume and vitriol of the unfriendly ghost’s writing about it screams “nutter” at even a cursory glance, and the closer one examines it the worse it looks.

30

grackel 06.12.07 at 1:09 am

It may be that Scott’s ‘problem’ will be that those in his personal academic hierarchy become aware of the amount of time he feels he has available to pursue such delicate matters as are provided by Jesus’ General and his cohort. I read the whole damn exchange, from the links, and my own reaction, after I registered a real sense of sympathy with his dilemma, was along the lines of “isn’t there a better way to avoid your dissertation?” So while mistakes were made, as they say, it points out that it’s a big bad world out there and you have no idea just who you may be engaging. Not a bad lesson to learn.

31

seth edenbaum 06.12.07 at 1:11 am

My god, Kaufman is a self-important prig

The second trend is that I should remove the gloves, pick up a roll of quarters and give as good as I’m getting. I can’t stomach that. I’m not some common internet thug.[!!] I know who “John Casper” is. I know where he works. I even know his home phone number. I may be a brawler, but I am no tattler. I will not tell his employers what he does on company time. I will not stoop to his level. I believe in the medium, no matter how much “John Casper” and the General shake my faith.

The irony in all this is that I need to put the finishing touches on an article espousing the virtues of blogging sometime tomorrow.

“…my interests are only intellectual”

It’s hard for me to feel sorry for anyone associated with “Long Sunday.” The woman who posted the link is an idiot. Patriotboy was offended, as he had every right to be, and Kaufman tries to get all intellectual-like, trying to explain “context” [no joke he reallly tries, linking to his own posts and everything!] and gets in trouble by playing the pedant to someone else’s soapbox riding hothead. It’s a sad joke.
I read Steve Gilliard once or twice and one of those times was when he pissed off Max Sawicky. Max was right, but that’s neither here nor there. Kaufman used a streetfight over an insult to someone’s dead friend as an excuse to extemporize on matters serious and intellctual and of great moral consequence.

and he came off as an idiot doing it.

32

seth edenbaum 06.12.07 at 1:13 am

“The irony in all this is that I need to put the finishing touches on an article espousing the virtues of blogging sometime tomorrow.”

Supposed to be in blockquotes.

33

SEK 06.12.07 at 1:44 am

Elliot:

I can’t figure out what Kaufman’s excuse is.

Being slandered and harassed by unknown parties on the internet?

Instead of letting it go with a short, dismisive shrug and some uncivil insults or a full frontal attack on Casper’s anonymity, he almost shouts and begs that he wants a full investigation so he can be vindicated.

Academia often functions as a matter of perception. The strength of my response was partly a result of anger and bewilderment, partly measured to demonstrate definitively the untruth of the allegations.

Marc:

Personally, I think that de-escalation (and apologies to SEK) are the proper course, and that folks over at that site should be reminded of why mob behavior is a bad thing.

This is why I—how did Elliot put it, “oh so coyly”—refused to publish his identifying information. I don’t want anyone harass him the way he has harassed me, and if I revealed exactly who he was, mob mentality might lead someone to.

Dr. Slack:

I really don’t agree with elliottg’s charge that SEK is being a drama queen, and I feel bad for Scott (who seems to be something of a looper magnet).

The funny thing is, last time I hung out with Bitch Ph.d., she called me a drama queen. I sputtered, “I never leave the house, what do I have to be dramatic about?”

“You find ways,” was her response.

Yes, certain people seem to attract trolls and lunatics. I don’t know what it is about me that attracts them, however.

Seth:

It’s hard for me to feel sorry for anyone associated with “Long Sunday.”

Um, what? Nevermind. I’ve learned my lesson, and won’t be responding to you.

34

Rich Puchalsky 06.12.07 at 2:31 am

“It’s hard for me to feel sorry for anyone associated with “Long Sunday.””

Since Scott is not a Long Sunday poster, I guess that by whatever standard is being used, I am associated with Long Sunday. Cool.

35

seth edenbaum 06.12.07 at 2:56 am

associated |əˈsōsēˌātid; – sh ē-| adjective (of a person or thing) connected with something else : two associated events. • (of a company) connected or amalgated with another company or companies.

36

Doctor Slack 06.12.07 at 3:21 am

Seth, I think Rich is alluding to the fact that Scott’s main “association” with Long Sunday is via constant argument.

Nice guy though he is, I admit to finding his attempts to engage with political blogs to be sometimes a little on the tweedily naive side, but that’s not an excuse for the accusations that were leveled at him and I don’t fault him for being pissed off in the immediate aftermath.

37

SEK 06.12.07 at 3:39 am

For some reason, I’m stuck watching Rich and others anticipate me in moderatorial limbo, but whenever I break through, let it be said that I consider “tweedily naive” a compliment. It’s the stance I cultivate in the classroom, so that all might feel comfortable expressing their opinions. (The actual instruction involved Star Trek, Octavia Butler, and a roll of pennies. That class was incredible.) Such is the feminist pedagogy I was taught, such is the feminist pedagogy that I practice.*

*Damn it, I mean to sound light and quippy, but I seem destined to the stentorian. I only mean, that I am naive, and tweedy, and that I am for a reason, on purpose, because I believe (and now know, believe you me, I now know) that as many people on the left are unhinged as on the right. I know who I agree with, but I no longer comfort myself with the thought that my ideological compatriots have any sort of monopoly on sanity.

38

seth edenbaum 06.12.07 at 3:50 am

The distinction doesn’t interest me much, and also I’m not saying he deserved the accusations of racism. But the popular injunction not to speak ill of the dead would seem to have a corollary: not to repeat ill meant words without comment. “I’m just saying what someone else said” isn’t nearly enough of a defense.
And it’s not the naivete that annoys me it’s the presumption that he or anyone with intellectual pretensions has a right to it. Personally I think it’s a moral failure, and it makes me wanna go all Joan Didion on his sorry ass.

No offense intended to Professor Dr Slack. More of a mensch than I am.

39

Doctor Slack 06.12.07 at 3:56 am

But the popular injunction not to speak ill of the dead would seem to have a corollary: not to repeat ill meant words without comment.

I agree with you there.

40

SEK 06.12.07 at 4:46 am

But the popular injunction not to speak ill of the dead would seem to have a corollary: not to repeat ill meant words without comment.

Who would disagree with that? I only defended the someone’s right to mercilessly mock those who would do so. People were upset with the ostensibly invisible context of the mockery. In essence, all I said was:

“If you have a blog in which you regularly post material you find offensive without comment, you should not be pilloried for posting offensive material without comment, as all of your regular readers understand the context of the post.”

I never spoke ill of the dead. I called such speech “vile.” I merely defended the right to hang those who do speak ill of the dead with their own words. If Edenbaum’s to believed, I am the horrible person the lunatics believe me to be. (Then again, if he’s to believed, I’m a contributor to a group blog that — with the notable exception of CR — reviles me.)

41

joeo 06.12.07 at 5:13 am

>But the popular injunction not to speak ill of the dead would seem to have a corollary: not to repeat ill meant words without comment.

This isn’t something that Scott Kaufman did. You are thinking of the codicil to the corollary to the popular injunction: never defend the intentions of someone who repeats ill meant words without comment.

42

abb1 06.12.07 at 7:10 am

never defend the intentions of someone who repeats ill meant words without comment.

That’s not exactly what he did. He was criticizing someone who jumped to the conclusion about the intentions of someone who repeats ill meant words without comment. One should never ever do that, obviously.

This seems to be a story where a sequence of benign characters make each a minor mistake, each amplified by the next, and in the end – BADA-BOOM – a terrible bloodthirsty monster is unleashed!

There’s gotta be something along these lines in The Thousand And One Nights…

43

MikeJ 06.12.07 at 7:12 am

At least we can all agree on one thing: Brittney Gilbert is an idiot. Even if she meant no offense, and I’m willing to believe that, if she couldn’t figure out that people would take offense from the way she posted she is too stupid to blog. And that’s pretty damned stupid.

44

rea 06.12.07 at 1:02 pm

What SEK missed in his initial comments about context on the JG thread was, ironically, context: there is a recognized style of blogging, notably practiced by a certain law professor from Tennessee, which involves saying, “This is something interesting:[Link to some atrocity] Heh, indeed.”

Later, when people complain that he linked to an atrocity, the blogger explains that he just linked to it; he didn’t endorse it.

Brittney Gilbert gave an awfully good impression of this type of blogging, even if she didn’t have that in mind.

Blogging is a public activity; you can’t blog and expect only insiders will read what you’ve written. This is particularly true if, like Ms. Gilbert, you are hired to blog for a mass media outlet.

45

lemuel pitkin 06.12.07 at 1:05 pm

let it be said that I consider “tweedily naive” a compliment. It’s the stance I cultivate in the classroom, so that all might feel comfortable expressing their opinions.(The actual instruction involved Star Trek, Octavia Butler, and a roll of pennies. That class was incredible.) Such is the feminist pedagogy I was taught, such is the feminist pedagogy that I practice.

Neither here nor there on the merits of the case, but Scott Kaufman is evidently the sort of person I would chew my own ears off, if necessary, to avoid conversation with.

46

soullite 06.12.07 at 1:38 pm

File suit, get this guy’s real name, and turn his life into a fucking wreck. Show these people that the internet isn’t some place where they can assassinate peoples credibility with no response. Make it so his children can’t go to school without being mocked and he get’s threatening phone calls at all hours of the night.

These people do this shit to us, and they won’t stop until it happens to them too. Stop being such a bunch of fucking pansies and defend yourselves.

47

kc 06.12.07 at 2:13 pm

But the popular injunction not to speak ill of the dead would seem to have a corollary: not to repeat ill meant words without comment.

Actually, she posted them with a snarky headline, and then in the 7th or 8th comment to the post, Ms. Gilbert herself said she found the comments abhorrent.

I guess it would have been savvier of her to update the original post, but I suspect even that wouldn’t have made a difference to some of the people hounding her.

48

seth edenbaum 06.12.07 at 2:39 pm

“Damn it, I mean to sound light and quippy, but I seem destined to the stentorian.”
What annoys some people is that every subject under discussion becomes another excuse to pat himself on the back.

“I’m not some common…”
The politics and culture of democracy are the politics of the common. Academic snobbery is snobbery first and foremost. And condescending lectures on civility by someone who has no understanding of the lay of the land… “I never leave the house,” are more than a bit much.
I associated Kaufman with Long Sunday because he seemed to me to spend a lot of time there.
If Crooked Timber were as bad as Long Sunday and 3 Quarks Daily I wouldn’t waste my time.

49

julia 06.12.07 at 3:37 pm

I guess it would have been savvier of her to update the original post, but I suspect even that wouldn’t have made a difference to some of the people hounding her.

It might have made a difference to Steve’s teenaged nephew and pre-teen niece when they googled their uncle and came up with this

Which brings us to today’s marquee morbidity. The tragic, untimely death of Donk House Negro and all around bigot Steve Gilliard. Who knew that boiling bacon grease in a spoon and mainlining it into the neck vein was bad for your health?

on an MSM site.

Since Ms. Gilbert was the one to make – and defend – the decision to frontpage that piece of garbage, and to present it as an ironic inside joke, perhaps a little distancing language was the least that she could do?

50

Doctor Slack 06.12.07 at 5:11 pm

SEK says: let it be said that I consider “tweedily naive” a compliment.

Okay, but that’s going to be a problem for you in some contexts. Whether or not “as many” people on either side or unhinged (I really don’t know that I buy that, though I too have reason to know that lefty blogs are not immune to netkooks or groupthink), if you’re going to involve yourself in certain conversations it behooves you to think about whether there are concrete reasons that some of the people you deem to be too combative take the tone and approach they do, and to wonder whether those reasons could be in fact rational and supportable. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that every setting is not a grad seminar, nor should it be.

People were upset with the ostensibly invisible context of the mockery.

I don’t think Seth was accusing you of speaking ill of the dead, merely of misguidedly defending someone who effectively had. He’s kind of right about that; if it was meant “in context” as humour, it was failed and clumsy humour and an all around bad idea. I’m sympathetic about your travails with netkookery, but I don’t really agree with you about the original argument.

51

Doctor Slack 06.12.07 at 5:19 pm

Oh, this gave me a good chuckle, though: The funny thing is, last time I hung out with Bitch Ph.d., she called me a drama queen.

Funny. But is someone really a “drama queen” if actual drama keeps finding them? Maybe you’re just not sacrificing to the proper gods.

52

SEK 06.12.07 at 6:15 pm

Maybe you’re just not sacrificing to the proper gods.

Any suggestions?

53

Doctor Slack 06.12.07 at 6:32 pm

Apparently there’s one that accepts offerings of carp. Worth a shot.

54

Rich Puchalsky 06.12.07 at 6:33 pm

“I’m sympathetic about your travails with netkookery, but I don’t really agree with you about the original argument.”

Lest Scott be thought of as having his own claque, I should point out that on his own blog, before the netkookery, the regulars who commented on the issue — tomemos, Joseph K., and I — all disagreed in one way or another with Scott’s original argument. Of course, this was phrased as some version of “I don’t think I agree”, not expressed through Emails to department heads or in diagnoses that Scott must be writing as symbol and avatar of the entitled whitemaleprogressive.

The actual argument, as such, is almost completely decoupled from the various reactions to the argument.

55

Doctor Slack 06.12.07 at 6:38 pm

The actual argument, as such, is almost completely decoupled from the various reactions to the argument.

Quite.

56

Karl Steel 06.12.07 at 7:16 pm

also I’m not saying he deserved the accusations of racism.

Wow. How big of you.

57

bitchphd 06.12.07 at 10:56 pm

I hope it doesn’t need to be said that 47 is stunningly shitty advice.

My advice, based on a li’l bit of experience w/ this sort of thing, is to ignore it. Everyone.

58

Kevin 06.12.07 at 11:13 pm

Re: 58,
Truly.

I’m amazed that anyone would still think that the “scorched earth” method is a wise – or effective – course of action.

59

Nigel 06.13.07 at 12:37 am

I don’t think Seth was accusing you of speaking ill of the dead, merely of misguidedly defending someone who effectively had.

He’s also, and I say this as someone far removed from all individuals involved and having taken no side in the issues debated, been remarkably unpleasant in a very personal way towards SEK. The fact that he did it in the measured tones of a grown-up rather than the poorly-typed invective of the usual internet bottom dweller made it actually worse, being atypical. I know I’m being thin-skinned and sensitive on behalf of a complete stranger, but it really was kinda skin-crawlingly repulsive. The ‘idiot’ and ‘ear-chewing’ comments weren’t much better. Surely civilised people can exercise judgement without being so… dickish.

60

Doctor Slack 06.13.07 at 12:58 am

I know I’m being thin-skinned and sensitive on behalf of a complete stranger, but it really was kinda skin-crawlingly repulsive.

Truth is, many of us in Blogovia are profoundly desensitized to snark, if not outright addicted to it. I’d feel more comfortable taking Seth to task for his tone were I the soul of restraint and sensitivity myself, but it ain’t so. FWIW I found his reaction to Scott a little overheated, but “skin-crawlingly repulsive” seems over the top to me.

61

Josh 06.13.07 at 2:11 am

Context, Doctor Slack: picking this time to express a distaste for Scott’s style/tone gives the impression of kicking a guy when he’s down (Hey, didn’t that actually happen, when Scott, recently crippled by a hit-and-run driver, stumbled and fell in the supermarket and was then victimized by a woman angry that he was slowing her progress through the aisles? Maybe he has been cursed with thug-magnetism!).

62

seth edenbaum 06.13.07 at 2:12 am

Kaufman used the very specific language of a snobbery that I for long standing and very personal reasons find repulsive.
I described his words and manners clearly.
You call me uncivil.
It’s a class thing. You wouldn’t understand.

63

seth edenbaum 06.13.07 at 2:18 am

“but I seem destined to the stentorian.”

How the fuck am I supposed to respond to uinknowing self-parody?

64

Doctor Slack 06.13.07 at 2:19 am

Josh: I don’t have any more to add on The Question of Seth, but in fact it would not surprise me to learn that Scott has actually IRL been kicked when he was down.

65

Doctor Slack 06.13.07 at 2:21 am

How the fuck am I supposed to respond to uinknowing self-parody?

I do believe that there is a case of knowing self-parody, actually.

66

SEK 06.13.07 at 2:52 am

Josh is correct, and though I appreciate his vice-like memory, I’m annoyed that he made me remember the other time I’d damn near lost my faith in humanity.

Seth, you tin-eared fool, that’s a case of knowing self-parody. As for this:

What annoys some people is that every subject under discussion becomes another excuse to pat himself on the back.

No, apologizing for sounding excessively formal is not the same thing as patting myself on the back. It’s an apology. I could’ve spent another fifteen minutes rewriting my original remark, but since I know Doctor Slack to be a generous reader, I understood that an apology would suffice. Then there’s this:

The politics and culture of democracy are the politics of the common. Academic snobbery is snobbery first and foremost.

What I said, however, was not “I’m not some common,” but “I’m not some common internet thug.” That’s not quite the same thing as “common thug.” The word “internet” is important there. Anyway, you’re singling out as typical something I wrote as someone was sending letters to the people with the reins on my career. If you want to express your displeasure with my prose, you’re free to. You think I’m an ivory tower isolate because I’m self-deprecating about my social life, you’re free to.

However, you may want to pick up an ear for nuance before doing so, lest you look the fool.

67

SEK 06.13.07 at 2:53 am

Damn it, I spent to long composing that. Pwned by Doctor Slack.

68

seth edenbaum 06.13.07 at 2:59 am

I picked that one out at almost at random. There are other quotes above. I’d like to think they were all knowing and ironic, but the others aren’t.

69

SEK 06.13.07 at 3:06 am

I await your disquisition of my many flaws. Be sure to forward me a link.

70

Doctor Slack 06.13.07 at 3:09 am

Okay, fuck it. Seth? You’re being a jackass, dude. Let it go.

71

CR 06.13.07 at 3:18 am

Seth is showing a remarkable amount of restraint in this discussion. He hasn’t even pwnd all of you with his parents’ FBI files yet. So I’d walk away now…

(The best part is when he slips and talks about his FBI file…)

72

seth edenbaum 06.13.07 at 3:32 am

“But context is a feature of presentation. Were I to write a post entitled “Lacanian Theory Is Valuable,” context would dictate that some heavy sarcasm was to follow. I think the context, enframing but invisible, is important — if nothing else, the fact that context is regularly ambiguous in blogs means that its consideration should be an incumbent duty instead of an afterthought.”

A lecture on context from SEK @ Jesus’ General
I’m done.

“He hasn’t even pwnd all of you with his parents’ FBI files yet. So I’d walk away now…
(The best part is when he slips and talks about his FBI file…)”

that was funny.

73

Xanthippas 06.13.07 at 3:35 am

Sorriness abounds. This kind of crap makes me and my fellow bloggers look really really small-minded and petty. So, thanks for giving the right-wing bloggers something to laugh about guys.

74

abb1 06.13.07 at 7:42 am

I’m tellin’ ye: one day John Holbo will rise from his sickbed and banish y’all. Anathema!

75

John Holbo 06.13.07 at 9:01 am

You’re all banished.

(Especially Seth ‘the unknowing self-parody king’ Edenbaum.)

76

lemuel pitkin 06.13.07 at 11:12 am

Surely civilised people can exercise judgement without being so… dickish.

If you can’t be dickish in pseudonymous blog comments, where can you be dickish?

77

Joseph Kugelmass 06.13.07 at 7:27 pm

Lemuel,

If you can’t be dickish in pseudonymous blog comments, where can you be dickish?

Nowhere! How crazy is that!

***

This particular issue has had some serious consequences, starting with Brittney’s resignation and rippling out from there, and the idea that we should all stop to consider whether, with whatever a priori biases, Scott’s style or ethos suits us — it makes my stomach turn, it’s so superficial and nasty. Let’s talk ideas.

78

Doctor Slack 06.13.07 at 8:15 pm

The correct answer to Lemuel’s question was “Starbucks.”

79

Shez 06.14.07 at 1:03 am

Thank You, John for speaking up fairly. I want to add what I’m not seeing anywhere I go is that “John Casper” is a long time regular (not just the ‘reader’ he claimed) at Firedoglake, and The Next Hurrah, where under his “real” “handle” he comes off as being on his best behavior. It certainly appears he was doing an evil alter ego version of a sockpuppet act on JG’s site unbeknownst to anyone reading it at the time in their comments. He more than deserves to be called out on what he did.

What he left out of his letter was the fact the original offensive Smantix post he quoted also got on FDL and Jane’s case and mentions her take-no-prisoners-attitude tucked in at the end. They were pissed at TRex’s Falwell post “Ding Dong the…” the night he died, besides citing her own blackface incident. Brittney Gilbert lifted the title of her post directly from the Smantix comments, she wasn’t making it up on the fly or to be ironic, from what I saw when I researched the issue. The Smantix comments stated they really were going to teach us libs a lesson. They were trying to lure in FDL with a direct link to Jane’s SG obit, and I doubt NiT had a clue about that. I’m really starting to wonder if Patriot Boy knew this before he decided to NiTpick on the RSS feed blog instead, or if he bit on the bait instead of Jane once someone conveniently alerted him. Rove must be so proud of his little wingnuts, recall how well the April Fools stunt worked.

Of course FDL has gone silent on the whole affair as far as I know, other than a single post where they immediately accepted and parroted the Jesus’ General versions and their comments that followed were hilariously fact free since it was obvious they didn’t go check out anything on their own. Now that this latest has happened does anyone think Christy is pleased as punch they were named in this infamous letter by their own regular, which didn’t exactly how shall I put this.. strictly follow their stated rules of ‘be polite when you write’? I didn’t realize “and be truthful” had to be spelled out too. They’ll be lucky to escape being named co-defendents if UCI gets pissed enough and decides to take matters into their own hands, although that wouldn’t be fair either since it didn’t come directly from them.

I’ve watched this whole sordid mess go down, including the entire comment threads and links starting from the day it happened on several blogs directly involved, and although I’m still seeing some errors on facts a couple of the comments here are rather close to what happened with that NiT blog. It looks to me and many others to be a classic case of kill the messenger no matter what excuses or whatever they are now trying to convince themselves of.

After nearly a week of this, I absolutely agree with John Holbo when he says “in civil fashion” of SEK, and that virtue can also be attributed to the liberal major players and friends of the NiT lady involved, they were gracious and respectful as they could possibly be in light of the constant poo and yes sexism being flung at them from the Patriot Boy crowd who refused to listen to reason or the defense, and followed them around to further harrass their blogs discussing it (except the perp’s blog no sign of them there) and then at even more blogs picking up the story, from my objective perspective of just observing it but not diving in.

The injustices and falsehoods I witnessed were despicable during it all. What has happened to SEK goes beyond the pale. I know of a couple blogs that have now lost my respect and others that have gained my admiration.

80

nil 06.14.07 at 5:49 am

Seth, it seems that you are claiming a working class opposition to complex prose. as the son of a sewage farm worker, may i just say: fuck off. twat.

81

seth edenbaum 06.14.07 at 1:32 pm

No dear, I’m only “opposed” if that’s the word, to cheap mannerism, even more so to those who think of such mannerism as complex prose.

Sorry Dr. Slack, but Kaufman’s language has just about completed it’s slow progress from expressions of academic naiveté to expressions of academic decadence.
Par for the course for Holbo to defend this shit.

82

Doctor Slack 06.14.07 at 5:05 pm

shez: Don’t class yourself with SEK and John. They’re not playing childish blogfight games over the corpse of a respected blogger. Those who are — that includes the “it’s all about sexism, period” brigade, which apparently includes you — are not earning anyone’s respect. Y’all suck. Seriously. Find something better to do.

Seth: I think what you’re saying is that Scott makes you completely uncomfortable with his words and what he says. That’s okay. You’re not alone.

83

Megan 06.14.07 at 6:17 pm

I’m seconding Nigel’s 60, and thanking him for saying it outright. This has been a pissy discussion, full of ad hominem attacks. I don’t know why Crooked Timber tolerates this crap. I think it reflects poorly on them.

84

BBG 06.14.07 at 11:07 pm

I was already convinced that Seth Edenbaum was a crank. After this discussion, I’m also convinced he’s quite cruel. Go away, Seth Edenbaum.

85

John Holbo 06.15.07 at 12:53 am

This thread is now closed, thank you very much.

Comments on this entry are closed.