> Subject: Re: pseudo-experts on GM--re anti-scientific misogyny
> To: [log in to unmask]
> You know, this is as I feared.
> Some folks here jump from proposals to ban misogynist and sexist
> statements that occur periodically from one person posting to this
> list, and now are lumping those misogynist statements together with
> IDEOLOGICAL perspectives that they don't agree with, labeling others'
> ideas and evidence "quackery" and "conspiracy theories" and "antiscience".
> That is the slippery slope that want starts sliding down when one
> starts engaging in censorship.
> I had been leaning towards some sort of moderation of Robert Mann's
> posts, but I now feel that given this authoritarian streak in some
> individuals just bursting at the seams to come out, I would ask the
> members of this list to find some other way of addressing the urge to
> purge, which is in my opinion an even greater problem than the
> disgusting comments made by Robert Mann.
> At 09:08 AM 8/25/2008, you wrote:
> >If one just considers the frequency of posts, this list appears to
> >be one that promotes quackery and conspiracy theories more than any
> >other flavor of "antiscience".
> >Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2008 21:47:31 -0700
> >From: [log in to unmask]
> >Subject: Re: pseudo-experts on GM--re anti-scientific misogyny
> >To: [log in to unmask]
> >Your thoughtful and impassioned posts on this issue merit equally
> >thoughtful replies. Let me at least strive towards that here, though
> >I may not succeed. First of all, I think RM's stands on feminism are
> >wrong and rather disgusting. To me they tend to invalidate any
> >worthwhile remarks he might make on other topics. That's why I
> >filter everything he posts. But my version of socialism, such as it
> >is, does include freedom of expression, and to me that has to
> >include the freedom to say quite obnoxious things. I have generally
> >done my moderating by asking people to refrain from going over the
> >same ground in arguments again and again, and to refrain from ad
> >hominem or ad feminem attacks. This does not mean I approve of
> >everything else said; far from it. But if I were to start punishing
> >or removing people I disagree with strongly, not many might be left.
> >One does not, for instance, have to be a socialist to be on this
> >list, and still less any particular variety of socialist.
> >When it was an active organization, SftP never had a completely
> >coherent ideology as far as I'm aware, and, given efforts I know of
> >to try to define such ideologies, I think they mostly do not end
> >well. They either lead to debating how many angels can dance on the
> >head of a pin, turn into sheer vitriol, drain what life there is
> >from a group, leave only a tiny core happy, end up with strict
> >dogma, or all of these at once.
> >As to the supposed tacit approval of everything on the website
> >(which I never look at, I admit) I would suppose every single
> >article that anyone of us chooses to copy to the rest of us ends
> >up there. Many of them contain claims and science most of us
> >--quite often including the poster her or himself--- would probably
> >dispute. To include only what seems correct in advance or what has
> >been fully vetted or critiqued would defeat what many obviously see
> >as the list's function.
> >Still, if enough people are outraged by Rob't Mann's attitudes and
> >feel his posts should be censored, I am willing to warn him as Herb
> >suggests, and then either to remove him if he refuses to heed the
> >warnings or put him under moderation, which would greatly limit his
> >ability to take part in any discussions, since I cannot always check
> >such things promptly. I think doing either would open up a can of
> >worms, and is probably a mistake, but if enough want this, then so be it.
> >On Aug 24, 2008, at 3:11 PM, Claudia Hemphill Pine wrote:
> >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
> ><<mailto:[log in to unmask]
>[log in to unmask]
> >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.
> >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.
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