[sixties-l] Re: say what?

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

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    Jerry West writes:
     " Michael, could you put the  paragraph [referring to the SLA, appended
    below]  in plain, terse English telling us whether you support the shooting of
    Marcus Foster or condemn the SLA for doing it?  The [paragraph]  looks like
    obfuscatory prose used in an attempt to avoid the heart of the issue."
    Jerry, I'm sure that you did not intend your post as an illustration of the
    problem of dysfunctional manners discussed in mine, but it may serve in part 
    as such. You've taken an ancillary paragraph out of its context (discussion of
    list-behavior), and used it to poke at me in a manner completely unrelated to
    the content of my post. Yet the problem here is less in this formality, than
    in how you've done it. You seem to be trying to reduce the meaning of my
    contribution to a black/white litmus test: am I for or against the SLA? But
    what is the meaning or use of such a challenge? The paragraph makes my
    feelings about Foster's murder  clear at the very start -- that I found it
    abhorrent should be plain, terse English to anyone  who can use "obfuscatory"
    so precisely -- before venturing its brief meditation on an irony of
    historical perspective. That irony, and the content of the issues I cited, is
    worth considering, independent of whether I'm for or against the SLA,
    Stalinism, character assassination, or whatever. What business does anyone
    have in loyalty-testing me rather than dealing with the content of my
    contribution? I hope you did not intend this, but that's how it comes across
    -- particularly since the very next paragraph in context quotes someone else
    (Mr. Unmannerly) doing the very same thing! Such extraneous, distracting
    challenges degrade the very cli mate of conversation, as well as its content. 
    I realize only now that I began the paragraph unconsciously  in defensive
    posture, putting myself on record as being on the side of the angels in a
    fruitless effort to deflect precisely this kind of loyalty-testing, so
    irrelevant to what I had to say. Whether I was sincere in my angelic
    pretention  may perhaps be judged better by the poem reproduced in the digest
    (#341) bearing your post. I hope it will not lead you to see and dismiss me
    simply as someone who can't (or won't) give a straight answer; and I will try
    to credit you with somewhat similar complexity of feelings and perceptions,
    beyond the evidence of this isolated posting I critique.
            Michael Rossman <mrossman@igc.org>
    [The cited paragraph:]
      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.

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