Saturday, December 10, 2005

Rough draft that will stay a rough draft

My opinion would be the same as yours on the Kat/Bernie issue, and the same as any (sane) person who read the original post. Kat hasn't caused any problems. Bernie clearly distorted everything and is acting like a spoiled brat.

The above is a quote from Folding Star. I've been in the e-mails tonight and focusing on those. A lot of members weighed in on this in the regular edition of the gina & krista round-robin that went out Friday morning. But Folding Star didn't and since A Winding Road is no more, I wanted to be sure to note FS's comments.

A lot of e-mails still come in asking, "How's Folding Star?" or "Have you heard from Folding Star?" so members who've been here awhile will be happy to read the remarks above.

For new members to the community, Folding Star is a member of the community and used to be a member who ran their own site. FS started A Winding Road in January of 2005 and it ran until the first week of July of 2005. I believe it was after Rebecca started her site but before The Third Estate Sunday Review began. (I could be wrong. Check with Rebecca on that if you have questions because she follows all of that better than I can.)

If you're a newer member and you read the book discussions over at The Third Estate Sunday Review and wonder why it's "Five Books, Five Minutes" or something else ("1 Book, Ten Minutes") the title was an acknowldgement that within the community, Folding Star was the book critic. On the weekends, FS would always do a lenghty book chat.

So that was just acknowledging that for deep book discussions, check out FS and for more of a conversation (that sometimes used the book as a starting point to discuss other issues), go to The Third Estate Sunday Review. Book discussions were FS's terrain.

After FS shut down A Winding Road, a curious thing happened. Someone grabbed both sites.
FS had a mirror site like we do for The Common Ills (though nothing's gone up there this week).
Not only were the sites grabbed as A Winding Road but the person grabbing them used the name "Folding Star." That's not Folding Star.

The first time a member e-mailed saying that FS was back to posting and that they were glad (I believe this was Maria) but FS sounded strange, I checked it out and it wasn't FS's writing. I e-mailed FS and FS said, "It's not me."

We delinked from the sites. I'd wanted to leave the links up because FS is a part of the community and A Winding Road was one of our voices. So even though Folding Star had deleted all entries and shut down the sites, it just seemed to me a way to honor the a member. When it was obvious that someone was trying to be FS, I stopped the links. (Betty may still have a link to one of the sites. I believe Mike does as well. That's due to the fact that no one likes to go into their templates.) (Which is where you'd change the links.)

So for older members, you'll be happy to know that Folding Star weighed in as well. FS didn't disappear or leave the community; FS just stopped blogging.

Thursday night meant hitting the wall and beyond to get the "special programming" together. And Friday, most people have taken time for themselves. (Mike posted Friday evening, Wally posted early Friday morning.) I was prepared for an all nighter as were Dona and Jim and Rebecca. We didn't know about the rest and didn't expect that everyone would be.
I can go without sleep and still function (to a degree) but Jim and Dona blowing off classes is one thing. Betty and Cedric and Elaine still had work the next day. Kat can make her own hours. And Rebecca's fortunate enough financially that she doesn't have to work if she doesn't want to. (And currently doesn't want to.) So for some, the all nighter wouldn't be that hard. (And for me, I don't like not going without sleep but I'm used to it. I did work Friday.)

But what ended up happening was that everyone wanted to stay through until the end. Which is why Jim & Dona rightly worried about the fact that three pieces were not near completion and we pulled them together to do "Editorial: War Got Your Tongue?"

It was noted that Elaine didn't say much during the roundtable. That's for two reasons. First, there were more points that Dona had wanted to get to but we all knew we needed to get something up so Dona stopped it early. (And it's a long roundtable as it is.) Second, Elaine had been doing private sessions during the day and then had to do the group session she does on Thursdays. So she was wiped out. I really didn't expect her to stay through the end of special programming. I knew she was going into work on Friday so I thought she'd bail by one o'clock.
She didn't. She stayed. Betty stayed, everyone did.

On the phone tonight, Betty said she was glad it was cold because the kids were tired and she thought they'd fall asleep before nine and was planning to hop into bed immediately. So it took a lot out of everyone.

But the editorial and the roundtable were done and they were done for a reason.

We weren't sure how to address the issue. Was it a Kat and Bernie issue? I was hoping it was.
When someone else at Bernie's site elected to weigh in and weigh in with a misstatement (either because she didn't know or because she didn't think it was known, I don't know), everything changed.

There wasn't any member with a site that wasn't offended that Bernie thought he could demand Kat change her opinion. We suspected (and events would prove this out in our opinion) that he wasn't interested in having a say, he wanted it to appear that Kat had changed her mind.

That's the reason he twice refused her offer to write something (anything he wanted) and have it posted at Kat's site. What he appeared to want was for Kat to write something and for it to appear to be her idea. As though one day she'd felt one way and another day she had another thought.

I wasn't pleased that I'd given a generic, in fariness statement to Gina Thursday morning and that later my attempt at a high road, like my hope, bites me in the butt.

At the most basic, Bernie had an opinion on Dylan, Kat had an opinion on Dylan. There should have been no problem. Especially since, as Kat noted in her first reply to Bernie, Kat didn't critique Bernie's commentary. She could have. She could have demolished it, "point by point" as Christine claims she can Kat's. Keep claiming that Christine, but with all due respect, you don't know music. Not just you don't music as well as Kat who's trained in several instruments and has performed onstage and has spent her lifetime listening to music, but you don't know music period. It's not your "beat."

Bernie's a bad music writer. He can't write anything worth reading. It's the sort of tut-tutting that kills music journalism. On the one hand, on the other. Do you have an opinion or not? Are you able to express or not.

Now you didn't see any comments like that here. Nor would you now.

But Christine felt the need to weigh in that Bernie was right and Kat was wrong.

Music criticism is opinion based on information. Kat's done a disseration on Bob Dylan's music. I don't know what Bernie's done but I know he's fond of sounding self-important.

Kat could do that too. But she's chosen not to. She thinks music journalism needs to be alive and to breathe. It needs to give you the excitement that a good song does. (Bernie's apparently dancing to a polka.)

So when Christine chose to weigh in, all bets were off.

Her statement that Bernie had to post on it at Pop Politics because Kat doesn't allow comments was less than forthcoming because readers of that site were never told that the day Bernie posted that comment on Kat, he'd contacted her and she'd told him, write what you want and I'll post it at my site.

He had another outlet.

He chose to slam her at his site. His opinion and we would have dealt with it in another manner.

Rebecca and I were offended that Kat, a woman, was being ordered to do a correction to her opinion. We still are offended. We're also offended that there's no acknowledgement of that at Pop Politics.

But what bothered me was Christine weighing in.

I'm going to assume she was unaware of Bernie's e-mails to Kat. I'm going to assume that she didn't know that while Bernie posts one way at the site, in e-mails he insists upon a correction to Kat's opinion. I'm going to assume that because what was done to Kat wasn't feminism.

So I'll give her a pass on that.

What I won't give her a pass on is the slap at Kat's writing. Kat writes better than Bernie. Kat writes with passion and fire and Bernie writes in a limp manner that only comes half way alive when he's found the time to scold Kayne West or someone else. (In what reads like, "See I'm not one of those leftists!")

It's an above it all, in the clouds style of writing. One far removed from the "style" in the e-mails. (Elaine has an analysis of that style. She may or may not blog on that.)

I didn't feel the need to slam Bernie's bad writing.

But when Christine claims she can pick apart Kat's writing, I am bothered.

I'm bothered because I don't understand why Bernie grabbed a 2x4 and slapped Kat in the face to begin with. But having done that, I don't understand why Christine, a feminist, thinks she can slam another woman?

Christine claims to have read Kat's piece and Bernie's piece. If so, why didn't she notice that Bernie's misquoted Kat?

Maria, who was one of Christine's hugest supporters in this community and has worked her butt off to get the word out on Christine, attempted to calmly explain, at Pop Politics, her problem with what had happened. She didn't bring up Bernie's e-mails because she knew about it from the round-robin and because she didn't want to embarrass Christine by posting, "You say Bernie had no other outlet, what about Kat's offer to print any statement he wrote to be posted?"

So she just stuck with what was known to readers of Pop Politics. And she raised an issue: the distortion of Kat's words.

Christine replied (in a comment that's outraged the community and hurt Maria's feelings) but never acknowledged the issue that Kat's words were altered. Christine claims she read Kat, so she should know that the quote Bernie chopped up doesn't reflect what Kat said.

Maria can't get over the fact that a serious issue was raised by her and that Christine, someone she admired, chose to ignore the most serious issue in Maria's comments.

A community member was asked to phone Christine. I found out about that after the "shut off contact" entry of mine went up. The member saw that and didn't call her. Didn't reply to that e-mail.

My opinion before Christine's comments were a) Bernie's a jerk for demaning a correction to an opinion; b) Kat had an opinion, Bernie had one and both were out there so end of story; c) Bernie shouldn't whine to Kat that he's been misunderstood when he creates a misunderstanding by chopping a sentence of her's apart to imply that she said he quoted The New Rag. (Kat said he could quote it. She also said he could cream in his pants.)

Bernie's coming off like one of those men who can't take it when a woman disagrees with him.
He can share it in the locker room but let a woman weigh in and he's outraged.

I don't care for Bernie. Though I didn't like that a man thought he could demand a correction of Kat's opinion (of any woman's opinion), to me it was a matter between them. When Christine weighed in, that changed things.

And that's why we did special programming.

If the statements go from being Bernie's to include others, you better believe we're not going to be silent in this community. And I'm outraged that a woman who self-identifies as a feminist, thinks she can knock the writing of another woman while at her site the writing of the woman is chopped up to misconstrue the meaning.

I don't know what trumped the sisterhood, but something did.

And when Christine's comments went up the idea that I would high road it and play in fairness (though some feel I did in the roundtable) went out the window.

Kat's a woman. She wrote an opinion. One that avoided dealing with Bernie's critique because Bernie writes for Pop Politics and I know Christine. So for that reason, she didn't go into Bernie's opinion. She instead focused on the comments. Christine explains that the post appeared at a Dylan site or was linked to by one and that the comments were coming from outside Pop Politics. You allow commenting, you're responsible for it.

That doesn't mean censorship. That does mean that when we had commenting and some of the centrists who haunted the comment section would get out of control and I'd hear about it, it was my responsibility to go in and say, "Things are getting a little heated here." Bernie didn't do that. He was fine with someone being trashed because the person disagreed with Bernie. Bernie didn't have a comment until he posted his comment on Kat.

By which point there wasn't anything feministic about the majority of quotes. So let's be clear here, there's a bashing going on of a comment made by someone who disagrees with Bernie and Bernie chooses to weigh in. Not to say, "The guy's got a right to his opinion" but instead to slam Kat which reads like an implied suggestion that "We've got another person to bash."

He doesn't want her bashed?

Then why did he chop her quote to make it appear she said something she didn't?

So Bernie's actively encouraging, my opinion, a mob mentality.

For Christine to weigh in and back Bernie's post and not acknowledge that Kat's meaning has been altered by Bernie is not feminism.

And I won't pretend that it is.

I could pick up the phone and call Christine as me, not as C.I., and we could talk about this.

But I'm not doing that.

They've chosen to respond in a way that makes me not want to try to do a high road.

Bernie distorted a woman and did so in a forum where the distortion would encourage anger towards the woman. I don't see that as feminism. (A point made in repeated calls to me Friday of the "You see what we were saying" nature.)

They've put up their opinion. Christine and Bernie have.

Fine. We're not smoothing it over through backdoor channels.

They decided to do this. They did it.

We'll respond in our forums.

And note, no one has ever asked them for a correction. Kat didn't. The roundtable didn't.

We've noted Kat was distorted.

We didn't ask for a correction, we certainly didn't demand one.

They can write whatever they want at their site.

Which includes posting a quote that's a half-quote and it's a half-quote to distort Kat's meaning.

Encouraging anger at a woman by distorting her words isn't feminsim.

Backing the man who does that, a man who's demanded a correction from Kat, isn't feminism.

Christine has to wear several hats and I know that.

I can even respect that.

I can't respect what was done to Kat and I won't pretend that I do.

Nor will I be silent about it out of some sense of sisterhood since sisterhood went out the window when Christine elected to back Bernie and to take issue with Kat's writing.

I don't think Christine's qualified to judge Kat's writing.

I think Kat fits into the brave tradition of women who've tackled the male assumptions of rock (Patricia, the Ellens) and done so in a female voice. That Christine has no respect for that voice is an issue to me.

Had I posted the saved draft, the point I made re: Kat and Bernie, first paragraph, was that they each had their opinion. (I wasn't aware that Bernie had altered Kat's quote. I was only aware that Bernie had linked to it and disagreed with Kat.) I was aware that Bernie was insisting Kat correct her opinion. On that I said people have a right to their opinions. Bernie did, Kat did. People do not have a right to insist that someone else "correct" their opinion.

Because it was Christine's site (and because I was tying it into to what had happened to me and to what had happened to Rebecca in similar circumstances -- which meant dredging up a lot), I didn't post the entry.

I wanted to be supportive of Christine's site. (I still do, believe it or not.) However, when Christine elected to weigh in and to take issue with Kat's writing, the line was crossed.

Martha made her own decision not to call Christine. (She saw my entry of "stop contact" but it was her decision. And please note, the person taking that dictated entry, took out my qualifiers of "please" and "I think" because he thought it read better without it. And for the record, I didn't note that he was Ava's godfather. I know Ava's aunt. And we do a number of the same people so it's amazing to me that we never knew each other until The Third Estate Sunday Review. I was quoting her aunt to her, a strong feminist, one time when we were working on a TV review and Ava said, "She is a smart woman." And then asked if I didn't know that was her aunt? I honestly didn't know that. Watch for Ava, she's going to be one of the strongest voices of the next wave of feminism. My predicition.)

But we're not doing private contact of any kind with that site or anyone connected with it. Friends who know I do this site, called all day Friday to express their outrage over what was done to Kat. With everyone, I asked, "Did I do wrong by going public?" I wouldn't ask that question if Pop Politics was run by a man, a point several of them made to me.

But as was pointed out by one woman after another, you can't hide behind sisterhood after you've slapped down a woman.

I don't hate Christine. I don't dislike her. I am disappointed.

Unless Kat asks that we delink from Pop Politics, we're not delinking. That will be Kat's call.

I wish Christine the best with her site. But I don't support what was done to Kat. Not the altering of her statement via selective pull quoting of a sentence that doesn't even include the word "can" that immediately precedes the half quote Bernie's supplied -- to pour fuel on Kat, my opinion, for the burning Bernie expected Kat would receive.

How is Kat? I've asked her to post "this is how I feel now" when commenting on this at her site. She said sure but thought I meant that she would feel less bothered as time went on. That's not what I meant and I want to be clear on that here and not just to Kat. As time goes on, this may really piss Kat off. It's kind of shocking when this happens to you for the first time. That it comes from a site run by a woman and that the woman participates in it (I don't think Christine knew Bernie was in contact with Kat) takes awhile to absorb.

What I mean by "This is how I feel now" is don't paint yourself into a corner.

Don't post, "It's over." Because it may not be. You may realize a week or two from now that you are more offended than you realized. This is the first time Kat's been on the receiving end of a distortion or a smear job. (It was both a distortion and a smear job.)

She doesn't need to figure out how she feels for all time right now. She needs to process her feelings and that's a continual process.

I asked Kat to post here (in the first place) because she's very smart and very passionate about music. I'm offended that this happened to someone whom I asked to share her thoughts with an audience. Rebecca thinks that's why my response was so immediate. And she's probably right. I'm very protective of this community. I was hurt by what was done to me but I've largely avoided it because it was done to me and I really don't care.

The cancer mocking still hurts, I'll be honest. But the rest of it, he can have his opinion. I don't worry every time some man, especially one I don't know, has an opinion of me that's negative.
And his opinion could very well be right (on things other than mocking my illness) and I could be wrong. That's the thing about opinions, they're opinions. They're based on someone's take of the information they have.

Which is why I didn't feel the need to say, "Kat is right! Bernie is wrong!" Until Christine weighed in.

Now we have a few waves of feminism since I came of age. But in my wave, we didn't make a point to tear down a woman and prop up a man. We didn't mistake push up bras for empowerment. I've read some of Chrstine's commentaries on TV and thought, "Goodness" because it's so far from what I knew feminist criticism to be. But feminism, like everything else, is a living thing and it will grow and be added onto. And it should be.

So she can like Commander-in-Chief and feel it's a feminist show and I don't have the need to scream, "You're wrong!"

I can offer my opinion (it's the usual patriarchial nonsense with the window dressing of a woman in the lead to push the war, war, war, and female exception, Queen Bee nonsense). And it's nothing anyone has to lose sleep over or get into an argument about.

In our TV reviews, Ava and I aren't chasing down trends. We're not trying to write about what's "hot" and dropping it, the way so much TV criticim does, the minute the cultural movement moves on. What we try to do is provide a feminist critique. A critique. Not the critique. There are numerous strands and waves of feminism.

We're not doing plot summaries or recaps. We're looking at a TV show as feminists (and people concerned about the war and other issues because, as NOW notes, peace is a feminist issue) and basing our opinions on that while attempting to be humorous. (And thankfully, friends whose shows we've reviewed have been very accepting of the humor and more want the "Ava & C.I. treatment." We try to always note that we're reviewing a show a friend or friends work on when do a review where we know someone working on the show.)

We're not going to be everyone's cup of tea. That's not a surprise because it is opinon. You can cloak it in "on the one hand but on the other" all you want (and have really bad writing to show for it) , but it's still opinion. That's what criticism is.

Is it based on knowledge. Yes, all criticism is. It may be faulty knowledge (as when one person ran with the false claim that ABC didn't promte Commander-in-Chief -- they need only check on the budget for Billboards, bus panels, etc. to know better -- for Ava and myself that took one phone call), but it's knowledge based.

Someone may deliberatly skew the facts (as in altering Kat's words) but more often than not people are processing through their own frame of reference. I've always taken exception to Bob Somerby's comments that a report on a candidate that presents them as "higher class" (for lack of a better word) is intended as an insult. Especially with regards to the New York Times, that's not an insult to their intended readership. At the New York Post, that would be an insult. They're a paper for the masses. (With a conservative tilt which is why I won't even touch the paper.) But the Times has never been about the masses. It's always wanted to be the paper of the elites.

So when Ava and I do a review, we're processing it through our feminist lens. When William Safire writes something (or wrote something), he's doing it through his conservative lens. I don't cover the op-eds here despite repeated requests from members. I'm not interested in a back and forth over opinion. Because people are entitled to their opinions. We cover the reporting becasue that's supposed to be fact based.

Thomas Friedman irriates the hell out of me. I wasn't aware of that until Betty started doing her site. Why? Because I avoided him. He had nothing to say to me and I disagree with his take on things. For him to claim that no Muslims did this or did that goes beyond opinion (and FAIR's pointed out his mistakes there). But if he wants to offer that he feels the Muslim response to whatever is inadequate, that's his opinion. It's one I disagree with but it's his opinion.

In a court room, witnesses will conflict because of their own points of view (both internal beliefs and where they were when they observed something). So a columnist, who's limited in space, or someone writing brief things, like Bernie does, doesn't really bother me too much with their opinions. I read it and think, "Uninformed" and move on to voices that speak to me.

When Elaine and I saw the film a friend brought over (an evangical one looking for distribution but it won't find a reputable one because the production values are so shoddy), I knew I wouldn't like it (and didn't want to watch it). But that's someone's take. Someone truly believes that the whole world is out to get them. That's how they're filtering the world.

I might look up and see rain and think, "Well, we needed it." They're looking up, and due to their frame of reference, thinking, "God is punishing us!"

I disagree but am not going to lose a lot of sleep over it.

But what's happened to change things is that the opinions offered to us are even more narrow than they once were. (And I don't buy the myth that the press suddenly got bad. No feminist I know would argue that there was a "good old days" for the press. The press was racist, sexist, and you name it. For the time. Not in looking back with what we know now.) That is a danger.
John Tierney becoming a Times columnist doesn't have to be a bad thing. For some readers, like myself, it actually means less time reading the paper.

But the fact that they could have provided a different perspective and chose not to is a bad thing. The Times offers no feminist critique. One woman columnist might have been "brave" for the paper once. At this late date, it's not. Maureen Dowd is the token. (That's not a slam at Dowd, she's made similar statements herself.)

I worked on, but didn't post, a thing on Susan Estrich's comments re: op-eds. Something else came up, from members, and since that wasn't requested by members, I dropped it. But she had some strong points. And I didn't feel the need to offer qualifiers or my opinions of Estrich to take on the points she was making.

It's not brave that women are still on the same position in the op-eds that they were many decades ago. It's not brave that few are allowed to offer a feminist critique. It's not brave that a critique of race isn't to be found, or one of class, in most papers. What you do find is, male or female, a ton of right-wing critiques coming at how awful the liberal media is and the liberals are.

There are right-wing critiques that go beyond that. So don't kid yourself that because the right-wing has more columnists they're point of view is well represented. It's not. Steve Chapman (Chicago Tribune) is a conservative. He's often a lonely voice despite that. That's because he's actually thinking and writing as opposed to pulling out a play book to grab talking points.

I don't do talking points here. I can't imagine anything more boring. When I read Anne (Peevish...I'm Just Saying) or Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?), I'm not responding to talking points. I'm seeing them process meanings and provide their own perspective. I can agree or not but I'll always end up thinking. I can read and enjoy Delilah Boyd (A Scrivner's Lament) because she's taking on events and finding the humor in them. (Not in a "everything's great" tired, old manner.)

But due to the fact that the right wing has an echo chamber (that echoes some conservatives though not all), I don't think we need an echo chamber on the left. We need more access, we need more voices, but we don't need everyone saying the same thing.

That might help you win one election cycle but unless you think electoral democracy (and one cycle at that) is the beginning and end of politics (and democracy), I don't think that helps anyone.

When a member wants us to go hard left, we go there. No worries about how it won't appear "moderate." We stake out our ground. And whether you agree or not (visitors) that helps the dialogue. Someone can Joe Lieberman it and use us to appear "moderate." Or we can raise issues that wouldn't be raised otherwise.

The worries about talking points and framing come from the fact (and it is a fact) that when we're all supposed to be on the same page, spouting the same points, you have to narrow things down and when things get narrowed, people get left out.

Usually what happens is the message gets "white-ended" and "masculinized" (despite the fact that there are more women who could vote than men). Like gender, sexuality and gender orientation fall by the way side as well.

It is very difficult to "frame" universally. That's why niche marketing is so huge today.

And there was a huge section below. It's not being included. Why? Ava and I were wondering what to write about TV this week and I think that's it. It's a topic we talk about a lot, what was below, and one we've noted in many reviews but, if she agrees, it's an essay for The Third Estate Sunday Review.

So if you're a visitor, you're now frustrated. Where was this going? I must have my ending!

If you're a member, you know there are no tidy packages and that life goes on. Members look for something that continues this discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review. (I'm positive Ava's going to say yes because this is an issue we raise everytime we're on the phone watching a show to review it.) It will pick up the thread. It will not be a "part II." I've deleted the section below so it will not be a part II.

I'm not going to read over this. For visitors, dismiss it as "one of those feminist manefistos" (a lot of visitors see every entry as that). This was an attempt to explore some topics and I'm not going to tidy it up. I am going to change the time stamp on it due to the fact that I've written for several hours. No links, no nothing. It is what it is, Kat's phrase.

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