As Michael Balter asked about a similarly unfactual kind of post some time
back:  Do we want the list archives to show that SftP willingly invites such
activities by rarely, if ever, speaking out against them?

There are two problems with doing this. First, public silence on the issue
is ambiguous.  It's an absence of data: if no one points out irrational,
irrelevant, hostile, and/or politically self-serving prejudice, it can later
or privately (as happens) be claimed that it was recognized as such.  But it
can equally be claimed as tacit agreement.  The fact is usually that saying
nothing leads to continuation, if not escalation, of aggression and delusive
crap.  Silence ultimately supports the status quo.  The status quo on SftP
with regard to

Second is the problem of people saying to someone who objects to personal
vitriol or unfactuality, "well, if you don't like it, quit the list, hit
delete, or start filtering all of notoriously raving person X's posts to the
trash."   This in effect privatizes the burden of unpleasant posts onto the
individual.  Rather than the list collectively agreeing what topics, goals,
processes, etc., are supportive of SftP's principles, we default to
agreement that anything goes.  This doesn't just contradict the purpose of
SftP, it contradicts the purpose of a "list serve," because it makes the
list a universal posting site for anything anyone wants to throw up, which
the individual members must then use their time and computer to filter it
down to the actual SftP reading list they hoped for.

It's long struck me as ironic that a list with socialist aims is nonetheless
willing to privatize the toll of hostile postings from people who disagree
with those aims onto those of its members who are willing to measure the
difference. The public message this sends is - at the least - that socialist
scientists are quite careless of theory.  Or perhaps, more fundamentally,
don't agree what a "list" is, or what SftP is.

The long continuation of the posting of misogyny (or other uninformed and
vitriolic bigotry) without much challenge, however, makes it seem equally
likely that a substantial number of the list members simply don't mind it at
all, so long as it's directed against subordinate or minority groups they
don't belong to - like women.   Perhaps they think SftP really might be
compatible with hostile oppression against women.  After all, socialism has
been, often enough.

Or maybe many list members are simply so accustomed to the rampant misogyny
of the blogosphere - which simply follows the lead long set in other mass
media, even if it's dialled it up to nuclear levels, in which the most
racist, misogynist, classist and homophobic use the mantra of "free speech"
as cover for overtly hostile and even threatening posts.  The problem of
this growing incivility, and its particular assault on women and political
minorities, is admitted by every commenter on mass media or the cyber-world
(eg, )

The interpretation of "free speech" as "everyone can say whatever they want,
and those derogated and threatened can just leave" is exactly the one
offered by the very people who either want to make those threatening and
derogatory remarks. It's easy to agree with, especially if you aren't in the
targeted groups, or ethically alert to its consequences.

The consequences of laissez faire public speech policies are the same as
those of unfettered "free market capitalism" - the most aggressively,
obsessively, and unethically self-serving win. The more restrained,
balanced, moderate, and collectively-minded are told to just go away, get
offline, segregate themselves away somewhere, or be flattened -- or be
debased into like-minded hostility.  This does not further SftP's goals,
either for science or for socially just society.  It is rule by those most
willing to be unjust.  It re-segregates the world into a place where those
who aren't willing to be loud, to rant endlessly, to batter and bully
others, are pushed aside and trodden upon.  (As a woman who rarely joins
mixed-gender list-serves outside of academic ones moderated by a
list-maintainer or the social checks of academia, I well understand the
anger of many feminists [yes, this includes many men - and on this list]
about this sad lowering of the cybersphere's potential.)

Surely these outcomes are contrary to SftP's goals -- as Herb pointed out.

After all, if the rule is "anything goes - caveat lector", why not also
encourage posts advocating institutional oppression of non-white people, or
the poor, or disabled?  Or privatizing and consuming the entirety of the
planet's resources, including water? We could similarly tell those who find
such discourse (a) contrary to SftP goals, and (b) constructive of a hostile
list environment, that it's up to them to read and delete, or filter out,
all such crap.

Better yet, SftP could simply invite every right-wing totalitarian
capitalist, racist, misogynist, homophobic, anti-environmentalist, etc.,
etc. to flood the list with their irrational ideas and hostile politics -
and force EVERY member to view and delete the garbage.  That would be more
democratic. Instead, at present, we simply force the burden onto those
scientists and other members who recognize the irrationality of misogyny.
Are they a minority? If so, why is a theoretically socialist list
privatizing the cost of the hostility onto this minority?

Perhaps it is a substantial majority of the list who finds blatant,
irrational, and offensive misogyny inconsistent with the goals of SftP.  In
that case, Herb's request should find support and lead to the actions he
suggests, or something similar.  There is no good reason for the list to
invite its use as a free messaging service for moral mayhem.


On Sun, Aug 24, 2008 at 12:57 PM, Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> I myself have filtered out all of RM's posts for years. I only learn of one
> when someone else copies it. If everyone would refrain from copying or
> responding to the  visibly misogynist ones, that would help. If RN would
> refrain from posting such things, that would help even more. If he would
> only recognize that misogyny invalidates any good he might accomplish, that
> would be better yet.
> Best,
> Michael
> On Aug 24, 2008, at 12:23 PM, herb fox wrote:
>  That Rob Mann is a misogynist is not news to those who have been reading
>> his stuff off and on.  This serious flaw in his character and politics does
>> not deny that he has also contributed well-informed critiques of GM and
>> other stuff.  Racism, misogyny and homophobia are contradictory to the stand
>> and tradition of Science for the People.  Since we (or rather Mike G) do not
>> have the resources to examine his every contribution in order to filter out
>> his destructive and insulting trash,  it would be appropriate to invite him
>> to remain on the list only if he suppresses his in-your-face misogyny.
>> Robert should examine how he himself does exactly the opposite of that for
>> which he commends Kendall.  He has used unscientifically gathered
>> correlations to determine cause.  That the growth of interstate highways and
>> divorce examined as time series beginning in the 50s through the 70s show
>> strong correlation is hardly the basis to conclude that highways cause
>> divorce.  That there is a marked correlation between the misogynist trash
>> appearing on this list serve and communications from New Zealand is hardly
>> the basis for concluding that New Zealand scientists tend to be misogynists.
>>  Calling attention to the necessity that critics of GM including SftP
>> maintain high credibility by well founded and documented science is a
>> positive contribution.  Maintaining our credibility as a progressive,
>> critical voice based on sound science is indeed essential  For that reason
>> we must deal firmly with insulting, unscientific misogyny.
>> I recommend that one racist, misogynist or homophobic post earns a warning
>> to the poster.  Repeated racist, misogynist or homophobic posts is an
>> adequate basis to remove the poster from the list.
>> herb