[sixties-l] Re: Delete file

From: Michael Rossman (mrossman@igc.org)
Date: 10/09/00

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    Brad Duren writes, re Carroll Cox: "So... your own posting here would have
    been deleted in compliance with your specific standards" -- and re a prime
    nuisance, "since [he] leans to the right, he is fair game."
    Brad, you seem to have read Cox's post carelessly, and the conversation as
    well, perhaps in accordance with some presuppositions. Cox's position was
    clearly personal, saying in effect, "I find this person's posts, and posts
    about hiis positions and  manners, to be so fruitlessly irritating to read
    that I routinely ignore them. I have a small tool to do so efficiently, which
    others similarly minded might find useful." To compare this to a process of
    deleting someone from the list-conversation itself seems more foolish than
    malign. If you have not resorted to such a kind of "censorship" yourself, with
    or without software facilitation, I imagine you must either not have spent
    much time in reading weakly-moderated online forums, or have wasted time
    better spent in responding to your students' needs.
    As for what's fair game for "intolerance" and why, you again confuse the
    personal ( in this case, a widely-shared distaste for someone's personal
    manners) with the general (contempt for a political tendency.) My own case
    illustrates the problem of Mr. Unmannerly's manners compactly. My very first
    post to this conference departed neutrally (even somewhat sympathetically)
    from his reference to a tragedy, to point to present  issues of educational
    governance. He responded with a canned tirade having nothing to do with the
    subject of my post, stopping just short of ad hominem character attack save by
    nuance, a boundary not well observed with others.  [I quote the texts as
    addendum below.] This pattern of attack seems to be habitual, and dominates
    his enthusiastic contribution to this forum.
    The problems with such behavior  would be clearer, and more amenable to
    solution, if we were all in a big room with one microphone. Read in that
    setting, this discourse and its microphone would seem to be dominated by the
    few most aggressive and energetic in attacking others and/or in their
    self-conviction of their own importance.  In participant-democratic company,
    we would be wise to regulate the microphone's use so that no one could
    dominate, necessarily by restricting the frequency and length of individuals'
    contributions. Observing how invective and personal attack provoke more of the
    same, cloud thought, and actively discourage participation, we might also
    require that people speak civilly to and of each other, and even deny the
    microphone to those who refused to honor such limitations. If we didn't take
    such measures, we'd of course expect people to drift out of the room,
    disappointed with a degraded conversation.
    For many, such old-fashioned manners may seem irrelevant to the new millenium,
    in which everyone is empowered to offer everything to everyone without
    censorship, and to pick and choose what they want. But really, isn't the
    existential experience of this list  more old-fashioned than new? The main 
    difference from the tyrannical, ruled-by-force microphone is our ability to
    skip down the pages, facilitated some by the list of contributions at the top
    -- but even so, the actual experience of dealing with this linear transcript
    is remarkably similar to the one--microphone model, unless one employs
    software as Cox does to screen out domineering noise. The process would be
    easier and the experience less similar if this list were organized by
    hyperlinks (perhaps it is and I just haven't recognized this?) But even then,
    and certainly in this case, the degradation of the discourse is as evident as
    the loss of readership and participation. For one coming, as I do, to look in
    on it seriously for the first time, its state is disappointing to behold.
    	Michael Rossman <mrossman@igc.org>
    >[HE:}  . . . the SLA became famous . . .  with the cold blooded assassination of
    > Marcus Foster, the first black superintendent of Oakland's schools.
    [ME:]  Although I abhor such violence as much as the next pacifist, even at targets
    less-generally respected,  it's instructive to review the rationale given by
    the SLA for the assassination of Marcus Foster. As I recall, they saw him as
    presiding over the military pacification of the public schools -- the key
    points being their fenced enclosure with armed guards, and the drugging of
    then-termed "hyperactive" students, particularly with Ritalin. Although the
    paths of development since do not coincide with SLA expectations, the irony of
    the present situation is apparent. For the degree of protective fortification
    and policing has advanced significantly,  not only in inner-city schools but
    in spreading to those more privileged; and the degree of drugging, across all
    social levels, has multiplied remarkably with the popularity of ADD/ADHD
    diagnosis and the general trend towards pharmaceutical management of personal
    and social problems. Ironically also, perhaps, Foster's assassination was a
    significant factor in disrupting the development of analyses and activism
    concerned with the conjunction of these two continuing developments.
    [HE:] Although you abhor violence Michael do you also feel obligated to give Hitler's
    rationale for the bombing of Britain (it was to bring "peace"), Stalin's rationale
    for killing 10 million kulaks (they were defending capitalism), etc. Marcus Foster
    was implementing the policies of an elected school board. In a democracy you vote
    the school board out if you don't like it's policies. You don't ambush the school
    district's hired administrator, a father of three children, with cyanide bullets.
    You were once an intelligent man, Michael. What happened to you?

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