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Zer Netmouse
March 9th, 2009
11:49 pm

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Because I said I would give more context

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From:jrittenhouse
Date:March 10th, 2009 12:45 pm (UTC)
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OK, most precisely you're correct as to what sent him over the edge, but I quote:

This is of course intimately related to a long and to my mind absolutely goddamn pointless discussion that’s been going on over at LJ for the last several weeks, which was supposed to be about something but in which that something has been primarily used as cover for a bunch of people to spend quite a lot of time being shouty to be shouty and being pissy to be pissy. Since it’s happened to involve people I know one way or another, some other folks have asked me why I hadn’t weighed in on it to this point. The reason I haven’t is for the same reason I don’t regularly stick my head into a bag filled with angry, feral cats. The fact that someone involved in that “discussion” got a nasty itch to use my site to settle a score basically confirms my opinion that any actual value that particular LJ crapfling might have ever had (which given its overall execution, wasn’t much) has long since evaporated. And what we have left is people thinking it’s a swell idea to drag their shit into my house.
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From:liviapenn
Date:March 10th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)
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Unfortunately, the most charitable interpretation of that paragraph is that he hasn't actually read the discussion that he decries as "goddamn pointless," and is hearing about it second-hand. It would be really sad if that was his *informed* opinion.
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From:liviapenn
Date:March 10th, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
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Actually, the most charitable interpretation is "I see a few people trying to have a reasonable discussion in a sea of folks reaction to their emotional hot buttons."

No, at that point you're reading things into it that he actually didn't say. He called the whole thing "goddamn pointless" and a "crapfling." That's a long way from "a worthwhile topic that deserves to be discussed in a non-reactionary manner."
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From:veritykindle
Date:March 10th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
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Sorry to break into this long thread, but the way I read that was that Scalzi thinks the subject is important, but that everybody involved (everybody, on both sides of the discussion) is not discussing it, but "being shouty to be shouty". At no point did I see any indication that he thought anybody in this "bag filled with angry, feral cats" (which is how he apparently sees LJ) capable of saying anything reasonable.

I agree that a lot of noise has been made that has covered up and made it much more difficult to find all of the important, thought-provoking, challenging posts that people are (still) making on the subject of race. I would even argue that a lot of that noise was made with the express purpose of burying those posts and posts like them, so that it would be easier to dismiss this whole debate as just another "LJ crapfling". But that makes it all the more important not to allow those posts to be buried! Dismissing the whole debate (ETA: by which I mean making public posts and comments that dismiss the debate and denounce everyone still involved in it) because some people are going to great lengths to keep people from listening to it is not somehow "remaining above" the debate; it's giving in to bullying, and helping to suppress an important conversation.

(Note: the posts I linked to in that last paragraph don't even come close to showing the whole complexity of the debate that is going on, or reflecting all the points being made. They are just a few posts I dug up in about 5 minutes of looking. And even in that time, I was able to dig up so many good posts that I found myself unable to link to all of them. There is a lot more out there, all thought-provoking, and all important! But of course, this is all just about "a bunch of people to spend quite a lot of time being shouty to be shouty and being pissy to be pissy", and there is no reason to pay attention, right?)

Edited at 2009-03-10 08:04 pm (UTC)
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From:netmouse
Date:March 10th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
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Hey, thanks for sharing your links and thoughts. I feel like pointing out that the phrase "been primarily used as" does imply a secondary process going on that is somehow different. Aside from that, Scalzi has specifically commented that he doesn't want me to feel like I have to defend him, so I won't. He told me late (Late!) last night that he had read most of RaceFail, and I think he's still reading, just like I am. but I can't blame him (or anyone) for waiting for the stabbity stabbity glint in some people's eyes to die down before trying to tread those waters.

(I love those late night IM conversations where both parties are sitting there asking "why are we up so late discussing this NOW?" I had an even later conversation with Mary Robinette Kowal that was like that. I'm looking forward to conversating with her sometime when I'm awake. :) )
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From:veritykindle
Date:March 11th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
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I feel like pointing out that the phrase "been primarily used as" does imply a secondary process going on that is somehow different.

Heh. I did notice that phrase, as well. I guess I just object to the notion that the part of the conversation with the "bunch of people spending quite a lot of time being shouty" *is* the "primary" part of the whole mess. I see the current debate as being primarily a very difficult but still important conversation about race that some people have tried to suppress by... well, by using pretty much every method mentioned in that link. Dismissing it as being primarily about all those examples of suppression instead just proves that yet again, those methods of suppression are succeeding. And that's just not right!

And here's the thing that has finally been brought home to me as I was reading this latest round of the debate, and saw the sheer lengths some people went to in order to avoid talking about race: any real conversation about race is going to end up having a lot of extraneous angry noise and people shouting at each other in it, too. It isn't possible to have a real debate about race that includes both people of color and (even well-meaning) white people new to the subject that will be completely "polite and civilized."

Race as a topic is uncomfortable. If you are having a discussion about racism that doesn't make ignorant white people like me reading it feel uncomfortable and defensive, then chances are it's because the conversation in question is controlled by those white people, and is more about making them feel happy about themselves than about making any actual progress talking about how racism is affecting people of color.

Sure, it's easy enough to admit that there is racism in society, or even that there is racism in Science Fiction in general. But if anyone dares to, say, start giving actual specific examples that aren't really obvious and extreme, then you can be sure that there will be people who will get offended and angry, and think that the fact that they liked that book or that movie or that TV show means that of course it could never have any racism in it, and how dare the person giving the example imply that they are racist! And those people will do everything in their power to make the whole debate about them, and what they like, and how they've been hurt by the debate. (And chances are, they won't even realize that they are doing it!)

We can't have an honest conversation about race by letting white people in power, unaware of their own privilege, control the conversation. And if someone else does take charge of the conversation, then chances are that there will be times when the conversation will make us uncomfortable. And when that happens, the thing to do is not to try and take control from the people leading it, or dismiss the whole conversation as "uncivilized" and beneath our notice.

I can't blame him (or anyone) for waiting for the stabbity stabbity glint in some people's eyes to die down before trying to tread those waters.

Oh, of course I can't blame him, or anyone else, for wanting to just stay quiet and read and learn in the face of such an uncomfortable situation. I'd hardly be one to talk, given that I haven't posted anything either, and every time I try, my hands start shaking, and I can't think of anything new to say. (And I don't even have a popular blog, like Scalzi does, or have any kind of personal or professional relationship with any of the people involved.)

But when he does post about the subject - and he did post about it, after all - I don't think it's unfair of me to get upset with him for dismissing everybody involved, just because the debate has gotten uncomfortable for him.

But heh, you said that you don't want the conversation to be diverted to defending him, so I will stop venting in your space over something that is really not your fault. Sorry about that! *sheepish grin*

ETA: sorry for the length of this comment - I seem to be incapable of not being wordy. *g*

Edited at 2009-03-11 12:26 am (UTC)
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From:veritykindle
Date:March 11th, 2009 02:06 am (UTC)
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my own emotional knee-jerk reactions reduce my already-low tolerance for morasses. I wish I had the emotional detachment to "shut up and listen" (as one white person described her take on her role in this).

Oh, trust me, me, too! I don't want to put myself forward as some sort of model of dealing with this situation, because I'm very much not. I'm a clueless white person, and my knee-jerk reaction is also to look away and not deal with anything I find uncomfortable. And I think that I've only been able to read as much of this debate as I have (which I admit is not all of it) because I've cringed and looked away from so many similar debates in the past, and I've finally seen enough on the subject for some of it to actually stick. (ETA: I'm not saying this because I'm proud of it in any way - I'm saying it because I'm deeply ashamed of myself, and to show that I do understand how tempting it is to hide from what is going on, but I believe that hiding is still the wrong choice.)

There are important things being said! (ETA: And I strongly believe that these issues are important not just for the people involved in the debate, but for everybody who reads science fiction.) The fact that our first reaction is to try to hide from everything that is going and and avoid listening to it is our failure, not the failure of the people leading the discussion.

If you are serious about looking for more interesting posts about race, here is a post I just found that has some of the links I included before, plus a lot more, some of which I haven't read yet either. And, since this current round of RaceFail has certainly not been the first time this subject as come up, this tag has quite a few very useful and interesting Racism 101 for clueless white people posts from previous debates, as well. (ETA: Also, this post that I just found has a very useful summary of events that shows why I so firmly believe that this is primarily a discussion about race that has been purposefully derailed by people not wanting to listen, rather than just another LJ flamewar.)

And, since you mention book recs, there are a lot of very interesting book recommendations showing up in the comments of quite a few of the posts, as well! This post in particular has a treasure-trove of cool recs in the comments, because there are ten pages of comments and the great majority of them include some book recs along with other reactions to events. Apparently, some people are making a spreadsheet of all the book recommendations in that post. I am really looking forward to seeing it, because my sense is that there are literally hundreds of book recs there! :)

(But as I said, I'm hardly an expert on this subject! These are just some links I personally found interesting and thought-provoking, reading from the sidelines as I have.)

ETA: edited to add a few things, and edit a few typos.

Edited at 2009-03-11 05:37 pm (UTC)
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From:liviapenn
Date:March 10th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
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"primarily used as cover."

That's the part that makes me hope he is speaking from ignorance. Because it's not true.

He's posted again, though, and clarified his opinion. It's really sad. I wonder if he realizes he's actually giving people an incentive to behave badly? If people are trying to say something thoughtful and useful, all you have to do to shut them up is behave badly; then Scalzi gets to decide that the *whole conversation* has been completely pointless.

Talk about ignorant.
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