Three points about Mitchel's post below:
1. The objections to the posting of AIDS denialism on this list were made by a number of list members at the time this became a major debate here, about three years or so ago, and not just by one person even if some of us were more vocal than others. I personally made the decision that I was not going to allow posts of this nature to go unanswered, and was encouraged in this by many list members both publicly and privately.
2. Jonathan Campbell engaged in repeated provocations on this subject, which even George S. acknowledged in the end.
3. In my view, if Campbell's business was threatened financially that was a very good thing. He was advising HIV-positive people not to take their anti-retroviral drugs but to buy his pamphlets and products instead. Yes, what we say here has real world ramifications, and those goes for what AIDS denialists say too.
On Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 3:13 AM, Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]>
We should also be clear about why such folks as Jonathan Campbell were
driven from this list. Jonathan's BUSINESS (his for-money business) is
advising people about their health issues. But because this listserve is
on the web, when one googled his name at the time what came up near the
top were all the attacks on him from this listserve, and those threatened
his business financially.
My friend Cathryn had a similar experience in the Green Party. She has
put several extremely significant blogs out there that even the corporate
media turn to when dealing with certain issues; but when you googled her
name, what came up was a piece calling her a liar and the call for her
expulsion from the Green Party, which she felt to be inimical to what she
was trying to accomplish.
In other words, whether the arguments are right or wrong, they cement
into place positions and attacks of the moment, and nail individuals
forever to swiftboat-type takedowns.
So what we say here has real world ramifications.
At 05:40 PM 8/16/2010, you wrote:
I had just drafted, but had not yet sent, a careful statement that I
hoped Michael Balter would understand about how I felt his style affected
people on this list (appended at the end of this exchange for the
record). I was debating whether it was worth the trouble. Now
I know that sending it would be a waste of time because of the email
below he recently sent to the list.
I think Michael Balter’s first paragraph below represent his declaration
of victory of his personal purge 9/11 types and AIDS denialism and others
from this list. I for one, did not appreciate Michael’s verbal
assaults on people.
His second paragraph reads like most generous offer to let anyone
participate provided, from his perspective, people, including women (most
gracious of you Michael), are not attacked for their political
views. Written as though he does not attack people for their
political views. Jeez.
The arrogance is awesome.
He may not think he sounds that way, but he does to me.
All Hail the new SftP list controller. Three cheers for his obvious
non sectarianism--NOT (e.g., 9/11 types, not allowed, AIDS deniers, not
allowed, anyone with Stalinist tendencies, not allowed) that he is so
offended by in others.
OK, so moderate me.
On 8/16/10 1:51 PM, "Michael Balter"
<[log in to unmask]" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]>
- I remember when I first came on this list too, about 3-4 years ago or
whatever it was (maybe longer?) This list was largely dominated by posts
on 9/11 conspiracy theories and AIDS denialism, and a battle had to be
fought to put that in its place. I was kicked off the list briefly during
that time for the strong stance I took, and Phil himself quit the list in
protest at that purely political move by the then moderator.
- I remember how appalled I was that the once influential Science for
the People had degenerated into a listserve that so regularly featured
such nonsense. Those days are largely over, and as I said before, the
list is what its members make of it. Nobody is stopping a larger number
of list members, including its women members, from participating and
shaping the nature of this list. If they did, then the posts of allegedly
"abrasive" list members would take their proper proportion and
percentage of the total. And if people were not attacked personally for
their political views, that would help a lot too.
- On Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 3:11 PM, Phil Gasper
<[log in to unmask]" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]>
- Sadly, that may already have happened. One of the things I always
used to like about this list was that for the first few years I was a
member (I joined in 2002, immediately after Stephen Jay Gould's death),
there were several women who regularly posted and participated. That's
extremely unusual on left listserves, where men (often very abrasive men)
make 95% or more of the contributions. Sometime in the last few years,
the character of this list changed and it is now very rare for women to
participateI suspect that some may have also unsubscribed. And I can't
say I blame them. --PG
- On Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 12:03 AM, Michael H Goldhaber
<[log in to unmask]" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]> wrote:
- Not trying to follow this helps turn any list into a
not-very-illuminating boys' club, in my experience.
- My initial meaningless email.
I will join Michael Balter in attempting to keep the discussion
civil. I reflected on my choice of going silent about this
discussion or going silent. I also thought about sending this email
directly to Michael offline, but decided against being silent or writing
I tried to address Michael Balter in a comradely fashion below about why
he makes me so angry at times and how he does it. Comradely almost
sounds trite and maybe paternalistic, but I do not mean it that way
because am writing about feelings and I tried to keep my language as non
pejorative and as non ad hominem as possible. I hope I
I read Michael’s email below carefully and there is one section that for
me that is particularly important.
Starting here: “... this constant misconception [that Michael has a
different ideology] is the source of a lot of the trouble, and indeed
reflective of sectarian attitudes on the left. I am a socialist, a
far-leftist, an anti-capitalist, an anti-Zionist, an anti-racist,
anti-fascist, against the war in Iraq and the current one in Afghanistan,
etc etc etc. I am not a liberal nor a Democrat. I share the basic
political outlook of most people on this list.
I agree on the source of the trouble, because when you express yourself
online Michael you really do sound at times like a Democrat. I
disagree with you that attitudes on this list toward you reflect
sectarian attitudes on the left. SftP is a small list that hardly
reflects the whole left. I and I suspect a number of others (I
would never say all) are actually personally insulted by what you
Great on all the “ists” you oppose. Me to.
The above point is followed by: “But I have some different ideas than
some here about tactics, strategy, and priorities; and I am staunchly
anti-Stalinist and, because so many "communists" still insist
on "democratic centralism" and engage in destructive sectarian
battles, I am anti-Communist from a left perspective.”
I feel your perspective about being staunchly anti-Stalinist, opposing
sectarian battles, and being a anti-Communist from a left perspective,
contribute mightily to the repeated disagreements on this list.
That added to what I see as your sometimes dismissive, pejorative, attack
style can inflame others, including me. The other way to view your
being picked on is that you have succeeded in angering a number of
us. Your recent labeling of me as a Stalinist (I think you said
something like that, I don’t want to get hung up on exact words) was for
me just sniping, but fits with your staunch anti-Stalinism.
Michael: I was politically ignorant (a thoughtless conservative) until
the police set the dogs and fire hoses on people in Birmingham in 1963
and then I underwent a gradually awaking with the anti-war movement, SDS
and the New University Conference (organization folded) at Indiana
University as a graduate student. I also started reading Scientists
and Engineers for Social and Political Action about this time, but never
participated in the creation of the magazine. But I was
impressed. As a Post Doc at Santa Barbara and a faculty member at
Rutgers since, I have formally belonged to no political party (except I
worked for Nader and McKinney a bit). I met one guy who declared
himself a Stalinist at Indiana University, but soon realized he was as
ignorant as me about Stalinism. All the organizations I have
belonged to have been against democratic centralism or, more likely, the
members don’t know what democratic centralism is.
Michael: I feel at times you are trying to root out anything and
anyone on this list that does not pass your Stalinist sniff test.
This is a discussion group not a political faction.
Michael: You did an “aha gotcha” on me several emails ago by
posting that I have a grant from the US Department of Agriculture
That is correct. I suppose others might see me as hypocritical for
applying and taking a USDA grant. It is a contradiction that I live
with. When I decided to do academic research about 30 years ago and
actually got hired to do it, I succeeded in getting my funding from NSF
for much of that time. Later I also had a small grant to do research from
the Center for Advanced Food Technology to do basic research on
antioxidants in emulsions and I had some success and applied to the USDA
and after about 6 tries, got funded. During this time I also had
two NSF rejections of a renewal proposal. I was scared that all my
scientific effort was simply going to die. Last year both the USDA
and NSF grants were funded and I am in better shapebut very busy.
I also have a grant pending with the Army Office of Research, which in a
way, is even worse than the USDA grant, although the Army makes no more
demands on me than NSF.
I can tell you than none of my colleagues in the chemistry department
understand the mixed feelings that I have about taking money from the
USDA and maybe the Army. They just see them as different funding
sources than NSF. Sometimes I feel like a worker who is against
some US war, but only can get a job in a defense (war) plant.
Trapped by my reality. Yes, I can quit, but I have to give up my
research to do it. After 30 years and some successes, this is
difficult. I am pleased that to my knowledge none of my research
has improved our military capability nor increased corporate profits that
I know of. Everything I do is in the open journals.
So, can we declare a truce. You don’t like being attacked. I
don’t like being attacked. Others don’t like it
I hope I was clear.
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University
Email: [log in to unmask]
"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." -- Hélder Pessoa Câmara