Eric - My statement IS my best summary of what I see in those posts I've seen.  "He generally and generically (literally) intends that attack to apply to any and all women who claim political and social rights, or are in sympathy with that struggle."

You reply: 
"I'm not going to waste my time going back and reading every post from said R. Mann, but I really don't think this is accurate."

Nor am I interested in old posts.  But even from what we both have seen and recall, the problem, I think, is twofold. 

1. If he means some particular political "organization" of women, which one is it, why doesn't he identify it?  If you can't think of it without dredging through old posts, it certainly hasn't been made clear!  Why?

2. The use of terms like W's Libbers and "feminazis" IS generic and also pejorative. These are terms widely and historically used to describe the "women's rights movement" by the backlash against it.  They are still used to attack all women who seek legal equality.  Such discourse is linguistic bullying, harassment and implicit threat.  It is intended to keep women in the subordinated status that ironically, they are simultaneously told is one they should enjoy! It doesn't take Brownmiller or Estrich to recognize the rape threat implicit in this neo-conservative discourse. 

This isn't subjective; it's right there in the language. Mann doesn't follow conventional linguistic rules for restrictive naming - that is, name a specific formal membership organization, list a finite set of individual women, or list an unambiguous set of objective classificatory criteria.

Rather, he uses well-known, highly generic terms: feminist, women's libber, feminazi.  These are terms that (1) include many women, or all women, and also men who support women.  (2) are established as pejoratives. 

Here, have a sampling from online dictionaries:

feminist: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
women's libber: (pejorative) A member or supporters of the women's liberation movement; a feminist.

feminazi: an extreme feminist who believes the option of abortion is essential to the political, social, and economic advancement of women. Etymology: feminist + Nazi. Usage: derogatory.

Wikipedia expandsfeminazi is "a pejorative term used to characterize feminists. It is used in North America by social conservatives to refer to feminists whom they perceive as intolerant of conservative views.[1] The term does not relate to the National Socialist Women's Organization or any other organization of women supporting Nazi Germany or Neo-Nazi organizations." The term has been popularized by conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh...  "In practice Limbaugh has used the term "feminazi" for much wider contexts" and "has never offered the names of any specific group or individuals."

Thus, the widespread use of the term is "a way to dismiss all feminism and any group run by (or for) women as being extreme." It is "one way in which social conservatives attempt to minimize and marginalize the work of liberal feminists. This work includes equal pay initiatives, sex discrimination and sexual harassment laws, reproductive freedoms, promotion of diversity, and legislation that helps protect women from violence."

Now, aside from why on earth you'd want SftP to be hosting Rush Limbaugh's leavings, you cannot disagree (unless you disagree with dictionaries and the principles of linguistics) that the use of these terms is indeed sweeping, prejudiced and disparaging. As disparagements, they are personal, antagonistic, and unfactual. 

Mann's posts frequently - as recently as today - extend these terms and the denunciations linked with them to specific named individuals on this list such as myself or Michael Balter who ask him to refrain. This is unacceptable and completely ad hominem.  As Michael G pointed out in his letter to Robt Mann that clearly was unread, uncomprehended, or ignored.

The verbal violence concerns me as much as the illogic and unfactuality.  In the U.S., anti-feminist rhetoric is strongly correlated with injurious and lethal attacks on women, their healthcare and birth-control clinics, their lawyers, supporters, and others.  I don't think the language of hate, linked to physical acts of violence and political movements of neo-conservative suppression, belong on this list or any list, launched against women or any other religious, racial, sexual, or other historically subordinated group.

If the use of these terms is intended differently, they should be redefined - but far better would be to use more appropriate and precise terms.  Maybe you have some in mind.  However, Robt Mann hasn't done this, despite repeated invitations to disavow the pejoratives and prejudice, and clarify the reference.

If Mann, as seems possible, is operating in an alternative universe of his own "private language" - ie making up his own meanings for common English words but not sharing them with us - he's simply not communicating.  Either way, I don't think posts containing such language belong on this list, as they are best idiosyncratic non-communication and at worst, hostile prejudice.


On Tue, Aug 26, 2008 at 8:19 AM, Eric Entemann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2008 07:29:15 -0700

From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: pseudo-experts on GM--re anti-scientific misogyny
To: [log in to unmask]

Eric, wow. Of course attacks on an organization don't seem to be necessarily as personally emotional or threatening as those against an individual (though members of certain religions, among others, might disagree...) 

But my GENDER - like my race/ethnicity, and the socioeconomic class I grew up in - is hardly an "organization"!  It is an inborn and empirical fact of one's existence. It is the first classification made upon a person's birth: It's a boy! a girl!

When Robt Mann attacks "WimminsLib" he is not specifying an organization - he has never identified it as any professional, political, or other formal group.  Rather, he generally and generically (literally) intends that attack to apply to any and all women who claim political and social rights, or are in sympathy with that struggle.

Therefore, his attacks on women are very personal attacks. Etc. And I agree with you that if we define ad homs as intentional hostile attacks on individuals for natural features of their character that are irrelevant to the argument - then Mann's attacks on women in general are quite individually applicable. Hence my offense, and that of a few others on this list who understand "women" to be a gender/sex/sexuality.

I charitably assume from your change of subject that you didn't mean to insert a straw man or red herring, but actually take Mann's invective against women to somehow refer to some shadowy political organization. Perhaps you know the specifics? Since he has never defined them or linked to their website or official publications, maybe you can help him out!  I guess it might have offices next door to the U.S. Civil Rights party? And no doubt, that pan-arabic/islamic conspiracy against the West.  Its publications perhaps come from the same press as those of that other mythical bugbear of the paranoid imperialist white male, the Gay Agenda.  Hee.


On Tue, Aug 26, 2008 at 4:42 AM, Eric Entemann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
IMHO, ad homs are far more hurtful to the person attacked than would be an attack on an organization
to which the person belongs.  Would you not agree with that?
Furthermore, all progressive organizations I know of have made mistakes that deserve to be pointed out and criticised,
calmly and without exaggeration.   The response should not generally be to attack the people who make them, unless they are
infiltrators or provocateurs.
I would not say that "unproductive and childish displays of hostile prejudice against entire [progressive] groups" is OK, ever.
Nor would I "consider groundless and unjustified attacks on women's concerns to be somehow productive and/or mature".
Neither of these would follow from being opposed to ad homs. 

Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2008 10:49:44 -0700
From: [log in to unmask]

Subject: Re: pseudo-experts on GM--re anti-scientific misogyny
To: [log in to unmask]


Why are you opposed to ad hominems - unfactual, nasty, self-serving attacks on individuals - yet in favor of allowing equally unfactual, nasty, self-serving attacks on groups?

Please tell me how unproductive and childish displays of hostile prejudice against entire groups is okay, if the equivalent assault on an individual is so clearly not. 

Does the individual rate more consideration than an entire group of individuals?  Shouldn't it be rather the reverse, mathematically?

If ad hom's are not good because they are "unproductive and childish", do you consider groundless and unjustified attacks on women's concerns to be somehow productive and/or mature?  In what way/s?

In all seriousness, I am interested in the answers.  There seem to be some implicit understandings in play in our discussions of what's constructive on this list, and this leads to striking differences in the ad hoc arguments on the issues that repeatedly arise. 

So far, it seems to me that Robt Mann's vindictive, tendentious and unfactual rants against women are widely tolerated on this list because most readers are men, who feel it's not their ox being gored (wrongly, I think, since prejudice  affects far more than just the people it aims at suppressing).   Several members (men) have emailed me off-list to express different, and more reasoned sentiments.  That in itself underscores my sense that there's a reluctance to take the bull (or the ox) by the horns and follow this discussion of productive vs. unproductive SftP discourse -- an increasingly regular feature of the list -- to any productive outcome. 

Perhaps too many fear that they themselves might then have to eschew the attacks that bring them such amusement - when it's not them being attacked, either in posts or by masses of unwanted posts.  But we've demonstrated many times that the list is collectively capable of highly interesting and robust discussion without including falsehood, smears, or personal attacks.  I think the key to unblocking the logjam lies in better understanding of what "productive communication" consists of.  The mantra some keep raising of "free speech" vs. "censorship" is based on a fantasy at heart - the wet dream of limitless individual freedom to say, spit, defecate whenever or wherever one likes, to or on whomever one chooses.  It's fundamentally incompatible with social activity, including discourse, which by their very nature require mutual acceptance of common norms in order to be intelligible.  Research on the intersection of the internet and deliberative dialogue ("democracy" as some call it) increasingly shows that the western masculinist class-biased utopian vision of the internet - and the planet - as a free-for-all, a wild-west frontier, where everyone can somehow do anything he wants, leads not to freedom for all, but only to the freedom of some who speak loudest, longest, and most angrily, to run roughshod over the values and concerns of all others.

I too find these discussions amusing, insofar as they demonstrate how little a number of SftP members are willing to practice whatever "ism" they preach, and instead periodically (as on most internet fora) use the list chiefly to assault and offend others.  It's not inconsistent with Science as it's been practiced, but is hardly for the People. It's simply vainglory, the Cartesian - and western - fantasy of individual human autonomy run amok. One case among many.


On Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 9:10 AM, Eric Entemann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I agree.  I am also opposed to censorship.  People should be free to offer their criticisms of Robt. Mann, and he should be free to criticise the feminist movement.  Likewise Mitch should be free to support HIV/AIDS denialism and alternative medicine, and Michael B. and others (including myself) should be free to criticise.  Any of these things can get out of hand -- that's why Michael G. should be paying attention and not be filtering, and should step in when he feels the need or when others remind him of what is happening on the list.
One thing for sure: the ad hominem attacks should cease.  They are entirely unproductive and childish.  Let's stick to the issues.  (Although I must admit that sometimes the ad hom nonsense is amusing...and revealing)

> Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2008 10:48:28 -0400
> From: [log in to unmask]

> 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.
> Mitchel
> 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]
> >
> >Claudia,
> >
> >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.
> >
> >
> >Best,
> >Michael
> >
> >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.
> >
> >Claudia
> >
> >On Sun, Aug 24, 2008 at 12:57 PM, Michael H Goldhaber
> ><<mailto:[log in to unmask]>[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
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >----------
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"Rather, he generally and generically (literally) intends that attack to apply to any and all women who claim political and social rights, or are in sympathy with that struggle."
I'm not going to waste my time going back and reading every post from said R. Mann, but I really don't think this is accurate.

"EVERY GUN that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." --U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953.

"War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent." --British author George Orwell (1903-1950)

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"EVERY GUN that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." --U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953.

"War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent." --British author George Orwell (1903-1950)