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 <email@example.com> [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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