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robertogreco : civility   17

Rethinking the Peace Culture [The Pearl Magazine]
"Last September, our university made significant progress by moving from the 39th to the 22nd position in the US News Ranking of the Best Liberal Art Colleges in the country. Soka also lands at #1 in Study Abroad and #2 in Faculty Resources. However, statistics alone cannot tell the whole story. When evaluating a college, we should also take into consideration the extent to which it achieves its mission statement. Does a national ranking mean that the university succeeds in achieving its goal to “foster a steady stream of global citizens who committed to living a contributive life”?

The core value of Soka—pursuing a peaceful culture—somehow contributes to a lack of engagement in the community. This issue was reflected in the First-Year Class Senate election this year. In comparison to the rising tension in the US political climate, our election could not have been more “peaceful.” Candidates weren’t required to give speeches about their plans. No campaigns or lobbies were launched. The process only required an application that was put in a booklet and sent to all the first-year students. Students were given one week for online voting—and then the new officers were announced.

The silence of the process surprised me. In my high school in Vietnam, to run for student council, we had to run campaigns and give presentations about our plans to win votes from students and teachers. Here, an election for the most critical student organization was unexpectedly quiet.

I’d argue that one of the unexpected results of the peace culture is that students become silent and passive when it becomes necessary to speak personal opinions. As we do not want to be excluded from the community or be seen as “too aggressive,” we easily come to an agreement even if it is not what we really think. The pressure to please other people and maintain a peaceful atmosphere makes us hesitant to express ourselves and fight for what we believe. We want to be “global citizens,” but we stop at the border of disagreement because we are afraid that we will cause trouble if we cross that boundary. How can multi-cultural understanding be developed without the clash of ideas and interactive debates? How can truth and progress can be achieved if everyone is not willing to speak up?

From the bottom of my heart, I do not regret choosing Soka as my college. I understand the importance of pacifism to the world. However, we cannot have a “happy peace” on campus without encouraging freedom of idea-exchanging and structural discourses. As life goes on, conflicts are unavoidable. The best way to solve them is not by ignoring them, but by seriously discussing them to find a solution that works for the community."

[Goes well with:
"The Biden Fallacy: Struggle against the powerful, not accommodation of their interests, is how America produced the conditions for its greatest social reforms." by
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/opinion/bloomberg-schultz-moderate-democrat.html

"There’s something odd about the self-described moderates and centrists considering a run for president. If “moderation” or “centrism” means holding broadly popular positions otherwise marginalized by extremists in either party, then these prospective candidates don’t quite fit the bill.

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax on the nation’s largest fortunes is very popular, according to recent polling by Morning Consult, with huge support from Democrats and considerable backing from Republicans. But Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York who has flirted with running for president as a moderate Democrat, rejects the plan as an extreme policy that would put the United States on the path to economic ruin. “If you want to look at a system that’s noncapitalistic, just take a look at what was once, perhaps, the wealthiest country in the world, and today people are starving to death. It’s called Venezuela,” he said during a January trip to New Hampshire. He is similarly dismissive of the idea of “Medicare for all,” warning that it would “bankrupt us for a very long time.”

Likewise, Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia, has staked out ground as a moderate politician, even as he opposes similarly popular ideas. A substantial majority of the public favors proposals to greatly expand college access or make it free outright. In a January op-ed for The Washington Post, McAuliffe dismissed “universal free college” as a misuse of tax dollars. “Spending limited taxpayer money on a free college education for the children of rich parents badly misses the mark for most families.”

And let’s not forget Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks chief executive who might run for president as an independent, who characterizes himself as a “centrist” despite holding positions that have little traction among the public as a whole. “We have to go after entitlements,” he has said, referring to the unpopular idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare to shrink the federal deficit.

In each case, these moderate politicians have positioned themselves against broad public preference. What then makes a moderate, if not policies that appeal to the middle?

You’ll find the answer in two comments from Joe Biden, who served two terms as vice president under President Barack Obama and is mulling a third run for the Democratic nomination. The first is from a speech in 2018, the second from more recent remarks to the United States Conference of Mayors. Speaking last May at the Brookings Institution, Biden rejected the confrontational language of some other Democrats. “I love Bernie, but I’m not Bernie Sanders,” he said. “I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. I get into a lot of trouble with my party when I say that wealthy Americans are just as patriotic as poor folks.”

Speaking a month ago, Biden defended his praise for Fred Upton, the electorally embattled Republican congressman from Michigan whom he commended in a paid speech last year. Republicans used these comments to bolster Upton in campaign advertising, helping him win a narrow victory over his Democratic challenger. Biden’s response to critics was defiant. “I read in The New York Times today that I — that one of my problems is if I ever run for president, I like Republicans,” he said. “O.K., well, bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

Biden hasn’t endorsed a “Medicare for all” plan, but if he runs, he won’t be running on deficit reduction or modest tweaks to existing programs. He supports free college and a $15-per-hour minimum wage. He wants to triple the earned-income tax credit, give workers more leverage and raise taxes on the rich. This is a liberal agenda. And yet Biden is understood as a “moderate” like Bloomberg, McAuliffe and Schultz.

What connects them (and similar politicians) is a belief that meaningful progress is possible without a fundamental challenge to those who hold most of the wealth and power in our society. For Biden, you don’t need to demonize the richest Americans or their Republican supporters to reduce income inequality; you can find a mutually beneficial solution. Bloomberg, a billionaire, may have a personal reason for rejecting wealth taxes, but he may also see them as unnecessary and antagonistic if the goal is winning powerful interests over to your side. McAuliffe governed Virginia with an eye toward the business community. Sweeping social programs might be popular, but they might alienate that powerful constituency. And Schultz wants a Democratic Party less hostile to those he calls “people of means,” who otherwise back goals like gun control.

But this is a faulty view of how progress happens. Struggle against the powerful, not accommodation of their interests, is how Americans produced the conditions for its greatest social accomplishments like the creation of the welfare state and the toppling of Jim Crow. Without radical labor activism that identifies capitalism — and the bosses — as the vector for oppression and disadvantage, there is no New Deal. Without a confrontational (and at times militant) black freedom movement, there is no Civil Rights Act. If one of the central problems of the present is an elite economic class that hoards resources and opportunity at the expense of the public as a whole, then it’s naïve and ahistoric to believe the beneficiaries of that arrangement will willingly relinquish their power and privilege.

If there’s a major division within Democratic politics, it’s between those who confront and those who seek to accommodate. Because we lack a varied vocabulary in mainstream political discourse, we call the latter “moderates” or “centrists,” which doesn’t capture the dynamic at work.

Anna Julia Cooper was an author, activist and public intellectual, a prominent voice in the struggle for black liberation. In her 1892 book, “A Voice From the South,” she ruminates on what’s necessary for “proper equilibrium” in society:
Progressive peace in a nation is the result of conflict; and conflict, such as is healthy, stimulating, and progressive, is produced through the coexistence of radically opposing or racially different elements.

Antagonism, indignation, anger — these qualities don’t diminish democracy or impede progress. Each is an inescapable part of political life in a diverse, pluralistic society. And each is necessary for challenging our profound inequalities of power, wealth and opportunity.

“The child can never gain strength save by resistance,” Cooper wrote, a little later in that volume, “and there can be no resistance if all movement is in one direction and all opposition made forever an impossibility.”]
2018  peace  hongthuy  democracy  community  governance  government  silence  passivity  jamellebouie  us  politics  progressive  progress  change  michaelbloomberg  terrymcauliffe  howardschultz  juliacooper  antagonism  indignation  anger  pluralism  society  conflict  conflictavoidance  diversity  resistance  joebiden  elizabethwarren  democrats  2019  barackobama  fredupton  moderates  centrists  accommodation  statusquo  inequality  civilrights  power  privilege  discourse  civility  race  wealth  opportunity  sokauniversityofamerica  thepearl  soka  sua 
february 2019 by robertogreco
The Heresy of Zone Defense | Thomas Cummins Art & Architectural Photography | San Antonio, Tx
"Consider this for a moment: Julius Erving’s play was at once new and fair! The rules, made by people who couldn’t begin to imagine Erving’s play, made it possible. If this doesn’t intrigue you, it certainly intrigues me, because, to be blunt, I have always had a problem with “the rules,” as much now as when I was younger. Thanks to an unruled and unruly childhood, however, I have never doubted the necessity of having them, even though they all go bad, and despite the fact that I have never been able to internalize them. To this day, I never stop at a stop sign without mentally patting myself on the back for my act of good citizenship, but I do stop (usually) because the alternative to living with rules—as I discovered when I finally learned some—is just hell. It is a life of perpetual terror, self-conscious wariness, and self-deluding ferocity, which is not just barbarity, but the condition of not knowing that you are a barbarian. And this is never to know the lightness of joy—or even the possibility of it—because such joys as are attendant upon Julius Erving’s play require civilizing rules that attenuate violence and defer death. They require rules that translate the pain of violent conflict into the pleasures of disputation—into the excitements of politics, the delights of rhetorical art, and competitive sport. Moreover, the maintenance of such joys requires that we recognize, as Thomas Jefferson did, that the liberating rule that civilized us yesterday will, almost inevitably, seek to govern us tomorrow, by suppressing both the pleasure and the disputation. In so doing, it becomes a form of violence itself.

An instance: I can remember being buoyed up, as a youth, by reading about Jackson Pollock in a magazine and seeing photographs of him painting. I was heartened by the stupid little rule through which Pollock civilized his violence. It’s okay to drip paint, Jackson said. The magazine seemed to acquiesce: Yeah, Jackson’s right, it seemed to say, grudgingly, Dripping paint is now within the rules. Discovering this, I was a little bit more free than I was before, and I know that it was a “boy thing,” about privileging prowess at the edge of control and having the confidence to let things go all strange—and I know, as well, that, in my adolescent Weltanschauung, the fact that Jackson Pollock dripped paint somehow justified my not clearing the debris from the floor of my room (which usually, presciently, resembled a Rauschenberg combine). Even so, I had a right to be shocked a few years later when I enrolled in a university and discovered that Pollock’s joyous permission had been translated into a prohibitive, institutional edict: It’s bad not to drip! the art coaches said. It means you got no soul! Yikes!

Henceforth, it has always seemed to me that the trick of civilization lies in recognizing the moment when a rule ceases to liberate and begins to govern—and this brings us back to the glory of hoops. Because among all the arts of disputation our culture provides, basketball has been supreme in recognizing this moment of portending government and in deflecting it, by changing the rules when they threaten to make the game less beautiful and less visible, when the game stops liberating and begins to educate. And even though basketball is not a fine art—even though it is merely an armature upon which we project the image of our desire, while art purports to embody that image—the fact remains that every style change that basketball has undergone in this century has been motivated by a desire to make the game more joyful, various, and articulate, while nearly every style change in fine art has been, in some way, motivated by the opposite agenda. Thus basketball, which began this century as a pedagogical discipline, concludes it as a much beloved public spectacle, while fine art, which began this century as a much-beloved public spectacle, has ended up where basketball began—in the YMCA or its equivalent—governed rather than liberated by its rules."



"The long-standing reform coalition of players, fans, and professional owners would have doubtless seen to that, since these aesthetes have never aspired to anything else. They have never wanted anything but for their team to win beautifully, to score more points, to play faster, and to equalize the opportunity of taller and shorter players—to privilege improvisation, so that gifted athletes, who must play as a team to win (because the game is so well-designed), might express their unique talents in a visible way. Opposing this coalition of ebullient fops is the patriarchal cult of college-basketball coaches and their university employers, who have always wanted to slow the game down, to govern, to achieve continuity, to ensure security and maintain stability. These academic bureaucrats want a “winning program” and plot to win programmatically, by fitting interchangeable players into pre-assigned “positions” within the “system.” And if this entails compelling gifted athletes to guard little patches of hardwood in static zone defenses and to trot around on offense in repetitive, choreographed patterns until they and their fans slip off into narcoleptic coma, then so be it. That’s the way Coach wants it. Fortunately, almost no one else does; and thus under pressure from the professional game, college basketball today is either an enormously profitable, high-speed moral disgrace or a stolid, cerebral celebration of the coach-as-auteur—which should tell us something about the wedding of art and education.

In professional basketball, however, art wins. Every major rule change in the past sixty years has been instituted to forestall either the Administrator’s Solution (Do nothing and hold on to your advantage) or the Bureaucratic Imperative (Guard your little piece of territory like a mad rat in a hole). The “ten-second rule” that requires a team to advance the ball aggressively, and the “shot-clock rule” that requires a team to shoot the ball within twenty-four seconds of gaining possession of it, have pretty much eliminated the option of holding the ball and doing nothing with it, since, at various points in the history of the game, this simulacrum of college administration has nearly destroyed it.

The “illegal-defense rule” which banned zone defenses, however, did more than save the game. It moved professional basketball into the fluid complexity of post-industrial culture—leaving the college game with its zoned parcels of real estate behind. Since zone defenses were first forbidden in 1946, the rules against them have undergone considerable refinement, but basically they now require that every defensive player on the court defend against another player on the court, anywhere on the court, all the time."



"James Naismith’s Guiding Principles of Basket-Ball, 1891
(Glossed by the author)

1) There must be a ball; it should be large.
(This in prescient expectation of Connie Hawkins and Julius Erving, whose hands would reinvent basketball as profoundly as Jimi Hendrix’s hands reinvented rock-and-roll.)

2) There shall be no running with the ball.
(Thus mitigating the privileges of owning portable property. Extended ownership of the ball is a virtue in football. Possession of the ball in basketball is never ownership; it is always temporary and contingent upon your doing something with it.)

3) No man on either team shall be restricted from getting the ball at any time that it is in play.
(Thus eliminating the job specialization that exists in football, by whose rules only those players in “skill positions” may touch the ball. The rest just help. In basketball there are skills peculiar to each position, but everyone must run, jump, catch, shoot, pass, and defend.)

4) Both teams are to occupy the same area, yet there is to be no personal contact.
(Thus no rigorous territoriality, nor any rewards for violently invading your opponents’ territory unless you score. The model for football is the drama of adjacent nations at war. The model for basketball is the polyglot choreography of urban sidewalks.)

5) The goal shall be horizontal and elevated.
(The most Jeffersonian principle of all: Labor must be matched by aspiration. To score, you must work your way down court, but you must also elevate! Ad astra.)"
davehickey  via:ablerism  1995  basketball  rules  games  nfl  nba  defense  jamesnaismith  play  constrains  aesthetics  americanfootball  football  territoriality  possession  ownership  specialization  generalists  beauty  juliuserving  jimihendrix  bodies  hands  1980  kareemabdul-jabbar  mauricecheeks  fluidity  adaptability  ymca  violence  coaching  barbarism  civility  sports  body 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Shape of the Web
"The Web is a living ecosystem that exists in a delicate balance and we all have a role to play in shaping — and ensuring — its future.

At Mozilla, we believe that the more you know about the Web, the easier it is for you to make more informed choices and be a more empowered digital citizen.

That’s why we created this site: to show you where the Web stands today, the issues that impact it and what you can do to get involved."
mozilla  web  internet  online  maps  mapping  accessibility  advertising  adtracking  adoption  affordability  civility  power  data  dataportability  identity  digital  censorship  government  policy  surveillance  content  netneutrality  opensource  security  privacy  patents  software 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Doxxing to Defend Student Privacy
When you’re doxxed, there’s a whistle: you’re now the target. Everything you do; everything you did. It’s fair game now.

Braun and Ravitch and Schneider whistled. They called out a woman for the masses on the Internet to target, to have all the data of her life pulled out, examined aggressively and maliciously. All in the service of protecting students from Pearson. Charles C. Johnson’s whistles call a different crowd, sure, but it’s still a whistle.

Now, thanks to Schneider’ justification that “doxxing is okay,” I wonder if we’ll see a new sort of crowdsourced harassment from these quarters. We’ve already seen folks from that circle go after women of color who worked for the teachers’ unions but who were, because of their demands for racial justice, deemed unruly.

If doxxing is the tactic – and “a primer” sure might indicate that it’s a-okay – then we have much more to do than prepare students how to think through the implications of portfolios or surveillance and discipline. It’s not just “don’t tweet about PARCC,” it’s – gah! – “don’t tweet.”

Seriously, we have to think about what it means when political groups decide to use those social media mechanisms not just to observe and monitor but to destroy their opposition and to stifle dissent. When I wrote my most recent story about privacy and identity development, I admit, I thought I was trying to carve out a space in which I hoped that students were free to be themselves without government or corporate influence. Now, I get to add to that list of organizations students need to protect themselves: the surveillance of well meaning education bloggers, who are willing to shame and doxx in order to sway systems to meet their own personal political machinations.

Congrats. You’re why education can’t have nice things."
audreywatters  2015  doxxing  dianravitch  education  pearson  bobbraun  civility  politics  debate  sexism  mercedesschneider  gamergate  harassment  internet  behavior 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Grand Rounds: The Beast of the Block (H/T to Audrey Watters)
[This URL links to the comment by Audrey Watters:

"I have a bunch of thoughts here:

1) I support people's decision to block, even if it means they're avoiding disagreements. Like I said in my post, social media is intellectual and emotional work, work we do for free. People should not feel compelled to engage with people, whether they agree or disagree. I think it's unfair to demand others pay attention to us by hopping, un-beckoned, into their feeds. I think it's unfair to demand that people respond to us online. I think it's unfair to @-mention people to bring them into an argument or discussion they weren't in. To do this often involves power and privilege in ways that is unexamined. You say you poke. I get it. I poke. But we need to recognize that constantly being poked is exhausting. Emotionally exhausting.

2) I definitely support Diane Ravitch's decision to block you or me or anyone she chooses to. She has over 100K followers on Twitter, on an unverified account. Verified accounts give users tools to handle the incredible amount of messages that one receives when one has a high number of followers. (I have less than a third of the number, and I tell you, it is overwhelming.) If she needs to take measures to make her feed tolerable, so be it. I have also tussled with her online; she hasn't blocked me, but we don't follow each other and I try not to @-mention her. (I subtweet or use her name, not her handle.) It's not that I don't want to engage with her. It's that I don't really see the point of doing so on Twitter.

3) I don't think you're a troll. I've told you that before. But I do think you can be a sea lion. (http://wondermark.com/1k62/ ) "If I see a comment wander by the I disagree with, agree with, wonder about, want to poke at, I'll poke. If someone doesn't want to get poked at for something they said on Twitter, I'm continue to wonder why they said it on Twitter." -- that's pretty classic sea lioning. And I think we all need to be aware of these sorts of interjections and interactions. (You write that you don't know why you were blocked. Maybe it was something other than what you said. Maybe it was how you said it? How often you said it? I don't know, but it seems like it's worth a little introspection.) We presume a lot when we jump into people's mentions unannounced. We can still preach and advocate online without @-mentioning people we disagree when we do so."

[Below are some related tweets that I made prior to seeing Audrey's replies, which are much better than what I said. I had never hear the term ‘sea lion’ before and that's specifically what I was getting at:

“From 2012: “unleashing a temporary tweetmob on people to discourage dissent… gums up the conversational works” http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/03/why-you-shouldnt-retweet-the-haters/254300/
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/560903816116051969

"That post is about retweets, but I think the same applies for .@ replies.
[image of person with bat in hand, gang of buddies just behind]"
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/560904364651343872

"To be more clear, I’m referring especially to the bit that includes the phrase “reasonable disagreement.” https://pic.twitter.com/xA6j6ZzFRd "
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/560908340247543808

"and especially with RTs + .@ replies that *initiate* an interaction instead of an individual reply in good faith of beginning a conversation"
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/560910624826204160 ]

[Also for comparison (via: https://twitter.com/mpershan/status/560882491205373952 and https://twitter.com/mpershan/status/560882582163050498 ):

“On gentle pushback.”
http://ryanbrazell.net/on-gentle-pushback/

and “I don’t know what to do, you guys” or “I’m fed up with political correctness, and the idea that everyone should already be perfect”
http://fredrikdeboer.com/2015/01/29/i-dont-know-what-to-do-you-guys/
http://qz.com/335941/im-fed-up-with-political-correctness-and-the-idea-that-everyone-should-already-be-perfect/ ]

[These two also relate:
“Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls; It Trolls for Thee.” (Lindy West and her troll)
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/545/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say-say-it-in-all-caps?act=1

“Win of the Day: Woman Defeats Twitter Troll With Words, Kindness on MLK Day”
http://thedailywh.at/2015/01/win-day-woman-defeats-twitter-troll-words-kindness-mlk-day/

“The Newsroom: Santorum on Gay Rights” (Clip from Season 1 Episode 6 via https://twitter.com/jonathanzhou_/status/560844926615703552 )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBnk2aKsIQA ]
audreywatters  comments  twitter  replies  socialmedia  blocking  2015  sealions  interjection  interaction  dianravitch  discussion  argument  dissent  harassment  civility  tone  subtweets  disagreement  privilege  engagement  freddiedeboer  trolls  thenewsroom  lindywest  ijeomaoluo  ryanbrazell 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Civility Wars - The New Yorker
"The language of civility has always been a code of sorts, a way of holding life’s quotidian messiness up against lofty, sometimes elitist ideals of proper behavior. Perhaps, in the most practical sense, we might agree that some basic understanding of civility is what compels us to hold doors open for strangers or to avoid cussing out the elderly. Over the past decade, however, civility has come to assume a more prescriptive dimension. At a time when our ideological divides feel wild and extreme, civility has become our polite-sounding call to fall back in line. Nowhere has this charge been sounded more forcefully than on college campuses."



"At its worst, concern for civility is a way to avoid having difficult conversations at all. Today, the greatest structural driver of the civility wars is the Internet, where these two versions of the word collide. In the comparatively decentralized space, we have become compelled to take everyone’s grievances seriously, even when those claims for civility and courteous debate have been made in bad faith. And, as the common ground between us seems to dwindle, it has become easier to fixate on incivility than to reckon with whatever ideas rude language might describe. Interestingly, the new civility troubles those across the political spectrum. For those on the right, civility is political correctness by a different name, while those on the left tend to see it as a way of silencing dissent. What unites these interpretations is a shared suspicion that the rules of civility exist to preserve our hierarchies.

Thanks to the Internet, we have become expert parsers of language, meaning, and authorial intent. We have grown obsessed with subtext. In other words, we live in very discursive times, when language seems to matter more than ever. Perhaps the return of civility, as those on the right and left have both argued, constitutes a renewal of the culture wars, where taste became an object of national debate. But it also seems like a natural result of the sheer amount of time we spend engaged in the textual worlds of the Internet. There is more to say and share than ever before. As we dive headlong into this world made of words, the temptation will always be to shout above the din."



"Over the past five years, the public relations firm Weber Shandwick has published “Civility in America,” an annual report indexing American attitudes on politics, the Internet, and our collective spiritual health. With each passing year, the surveys show, our incivility problem worsens. The evidence is everywhere: road rage, professional basketball players caught cussing on camera, cable news pundits, personal friendships disintegrating over a Facebook post on Obamacare.

These results should be unsurprising: there was a greatest generation but not a politest, a Gilded Age but no Era of Total Kindness. The problem with civility is the presumption that we were ever civil in the first place. This is why calls for genteel discourse from on high always feel like deeply nostalgic fantasies offered in bad faith. There should be nothing controversial about everyday kindness; civility as a kind of individual moral compass should remain a virtue. But civility as a type of discourse—as a high road that nobody ever actually walks—is the opposite. It is bullshit."
civility  behavior  power  hierarchy  statusquo  suppression  huahsu  stevensalaita  discourse  conversation  disagreement  highered  highereducation  opinions  2014 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Mary Beard Takes On Her Sexist Detractors
[Alt URL: http://www.newyorker.com/?p=2715385 ]

"Finally, Beard arrived at the contemporary chorus of Twitter trolls and online commenters. “The more I’ve looked at the details of the threats and the insults that women are on the receiving end of, the more some of them seem to fit into the old patterns of prejudice and assumption that I have been talking about,” she said. “It doesn’t much matter what line of argument you take as a woman. If you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it—it’s the fact that you are saying it.” Such online interjections—“ ‘Shut up you bitch’ is a fairly common refrain”—often contain threats of violence, a “predictable menu of rape, bombing, murder, and so forth.” She mildly reported one tweet that had been directed at her: “I’m going to cut off your head and rape it.”"



"Beard’s ancient world can seem, at least on the surface, rather like the more urban and liberal parts of our own. Her Rome is polyglot and multicultural, animated by the entrepreneurialism of freed slaves in overcrowded streets. At the same time, Beard warns against the danger of smoothing away the strangeness and foreignness of Roman life. Her latest book, “Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up,” which has just been published, is an engaging exploration of what made the Romans laugh—bad breath, among other things—but it also explores dimensions of Roman sensibility that have become elusive to us. Beard observes that there is no word in Latin for “smile,” and makes the striking suggestion that the Romans simply did not smile in the sense that we understand the social gesture today. […] Beard’s popularizing bent is grounded in a deep knowledge of the arcane, and she gives new insight into the hoariest of topics, according to Elaine Fantham, a well-known Latinist who is a generation Beard’s senior. “If you are a Latinist, you are always being asked to talk about Pompeii,” Fantham says. “When Mary does something, it is not old hat. It becomes new hat.”"



"Gill’s review of “Meet the Romans” had been a turning point, Beard explained. “That is when it became kind of a personal calling, because I spoke out and said, ‘Sorry, sunshine, this is just not on,’ ” she said. “The people who read the Mail are middle-aged women, and they look like me. They know what he’s saying. For all the very right-wing, slightly unpleasant populism that the Mail trades in, its readership is actually people who know an unacceptable insult when they see it. They’ve got gray hair. He’s talking about them.”"



"In another highly publicized incident, Beard retweeted a message that she had received from a twenty-year-old university student: “You filthy old slut. I bet your vagina is disgusting.” One of Beard’s followers offered to inform the student’s mother of his online behavior; meanwhile, he apologized. Beard’s object is not simply to embarrass offenders; it is to educate women. Before social media, she argues, it was possible for young women like those she teaches at Cambridge to enjoy the benefits of feminist advances without even being aware of the battles fought on their behalf, and to imagine that such attitudes are a thing of the past. Beard says, “Most of my students would have denied, I think, that there was still a major current of misogyny in Western culture.”

Beard’s zest for the online fray seems indefatigable. If there is a newspaper comments section excoriating her, readers may be surprised to come across comments from Beard, defending herself. If there is a thread praising her on Mumsnet, a popular British site for parents, she may pop up there, too, thanking her admirers. When she feels that she has been misrepresented in a newspaper article, she takes to her blog to explain herself further. If she gets into a Twitter spat, it is likely to be reported on by the British press, to whom she will give a salty, winning quote. When asked by the BBC what she would say to her university-student troll, she replied, “I’d take him out for a drink and smack his bottom.”

There is, she acknowledges, an irony in the imbalance of power: as a prominent scholar, she does have a voice, however unpleasant the threats to silence her may be. Most of her Twitter detractors are grumbling to only a handful of followers, at least until she amplifies their audience. She has discovered that, quite often, she receives not only an apology from them but also a poignant explanation. After she published the genitalia photograph on her blog, the man who ran the site where the image had originally appeared wrote her a long letter. “He explained his personal circumstances—he was married with kids—and he said how he should never have done it, in a way that was very eloquent,” she told me. After a “Question Time” viewer wrote to her that she was “evil,” further correspondence revealed that he was mostly upset because he wanted to move to Spain and didn’t understand the bureaucracy. “It took two minutes on Google to discover the reciprocal health-care agreement, so I sent it to him,” she says. “Now when I have a bit of Internet trouble, I get an e-mail from him saying, ‘Mary, are you all right? I was worried about you.’ ”

The university student, after apologizing online, came to Cambridge and took Beard out to lunch; she has remained in touch with him, and is even writing letters of reference for him. “He is going to find it hard to get a job, because as soon as you Google his name that is what comes up,” she said. “And although he was a very silly, injudicious, and at that moment not very pleasant young guy, I don’t actually think one tweet should ruin your job prospects.”

At the same time, Beard questions a narrative in which her troll is recast as her errant son and she takes on the role of scolding but forgiving mother—a Penelope who chastises Telemachus for being rude, then patiently teaches him the error of his ways. “There is something deeply conservative about that reappropriation of errant teen-ager and long-suffering female parent—it is rewriting the relationship in acceptable form,” she says. “If I said to my students, ‘What is going on here?’ and they just came out with a happy-ending story, I would be very critical. I would say, ‘Haven’t you thought about how the same sorts of gender hierarchies are written in different forms?’ ” Despite this analysis, she feels emotionally satisfied with the outcome. “Some of these adjectives we use, like ‘maternal’—try putting ‘human’ in there instead,” she told me on one occasion. “If being a decent soul is being maternal, then fine. I’ll call it human.”



"Her wrongness lay not in her political position, she explained to me, but in the language she chose to express it. Beard believes that there was a very brief moment after 9/11—“a kind of extra-ordinary rhetorical aporia”—when there was not yet a consensus about how to define the attacks, and that this gap had firmly closed in the interval between her composing her contribution and its publication, two weeks later. In the years that followed, she added, “we have constructed a series of ways in which we can disagree about 9/11 without it being hurtful.” Beard remains in occasional contact with some of the people who were angered by the L.R.B. essay, and feels grateful to all those who engaged with her rather than demonized her. Through listening, she made herself heard."



"I was an intellectual control freak, and Greek was quite good for that—you could be good at it. You could master it.” She appreciated the ancient languages precisely because nobody spoke them anymore. She told me, “Part of the pleasure of knowing Latin is that you don’t have to learn to say, ‘Where is the cathedral?’ or ‘I would like a return ticket, second class, please.’ You actually get to the literature. You don’t always have to be making yourself understood.”"



"As Beard continued through the basement, her eye fell on a dozen Roman tombstones arrayed against a wall, in a gloomy half-light. They were from a site on the Black Sea, and each was engraved with a standardized image of the dearly departed. “They look horrible, don’t they?” she said. “It’s good to come along and say they are awful. You are so trained to admire them. At school, the older the object is the more respect you were supposed to give it. But you can look at them there, all piled up, and they appear to be what they are: mass-produced, not very good gravestones. Thank God the ancient world was democratic enough that it turned out crap.”"



"In “Oh Do Shut Up Dear!,” Beard’s lecture at the British Museum, she referred to one of the very few occasions in Roman literature when a woman is permitted a public voice. After Lucretia, the wife of a nobleman, Conlatinus, is raped by Tarquin, a royal prince, she denounces her rapist, then kills herself to preserve her virtue. This rape story, as told by Livy, sets into motion the founding of the Roman Republic: Lucretia’s defenders swear that hereditary princes will no longer assume privileges through violence. In her lecture, Beard acknowledged that it is easier to document ways that women have been silenced than it is to find a remedy to their silencing. (Virtuous suicide is not an option.) The real issue, she suggested, is not merely guaranteeing a woman’s right to speak; it is being aware of the prejudices that we bring to the way we hear her. Listening, she implied, is an essential element of speech."
trolls  internet  twitter  listening  feminism  rape  academia  gender  history  ancientrome  2014  commenting  web  online  socialmedia  materalism  empathy  civility  behavior  grace  humanism  discourse  classics  ancientgreek  latin  hibrow  lowbrow  culture  democracy  cultureproduction  power  marybeard 
september 2014 by robertogreco
In defense of open source innovation and polite disagreement | hello.
"One dynamic that happens in a lot of idealist communities: we praise our opponents who make even a small step in our direction, but we attack our own mercilessly when they make even a small step away from us. It’s counter-productive.

I don’t know what MakerBot will do regarding the Replicator 2′s licenses and source material, but if they do something I disagree with, I will talk to them in the same tone that I’d expect them to address me in if I did something they disagreed with. I won’t call them names.

So: if you’ve got an objection to what MakerBot or anyone in your own community does, speak up. But do it politely. Before you say anything, phrase it as if you had the person you’re addressing in front of you. Check the language with your grandmother, if you need to. If she tells you you’re being impolite, listen to her. She’s probably right. She changed your diaper once, you know. She knows when your poo stinks."
counterproductivepractices  civility  respect  discussion  debate  attack  praise  criticism  brepettis  replicator2  tomigoe  idealism  opensource  disagreement  2012 
september 2012 by robertogreco
FT.com / House & Home - Liveable v lovable
"“These surveys always come up with a list where no one would want to live. One wants to live in places which are large and complex, where you don’t know everyone and you don’t always know what’s going to happen next. Cities are places of opportunity but also of conflict, but where you can find safety in a crowd."

"What makes a city great: *Blend of beauty and ugliness – beauty to lift the soul, ugliness to ensure there are parts of the fabric of the city that can accommodate change…*Diversity…*Tolerance…*Density…*Social mix – the close proximity of social and economic classes keeps a city lively…*Civility…"
cities  rankings  vancouver  nyc  losangeles  london  joelkotkin  rickyburdett  joelgarreau  tylerbrule  edwinheathcote  2011  livability  diversity  density  tolerance  society  vitality  social  economics  civility  beauty  ugliness  janejacobs  crosspollination  opportunity  dynamism  conflict  classideas 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Subtraction.com: Commented Out
"I think what’s really happening is a simple matter of divided attention: there are much more absorbing content experiences than independent blogs out there right now: not just Tumblr, but Twitter and Facebook and all sorts of social media, too, obviously, and they’re drawing the attention that the ‘old’ blogs once commanded. Moreover, these social networks allow people to talk directly to one another rather than in the more random method that commenting on a blog post allows; why wouldn’t you prefer to carry on a one-on-one conversation with a friend rather than hoping someone reads a comment you’ve added to a blog post, number 59 out of 159?"
blogging  community  khoivinh  web  online  blogs  2011  twitter  facebook  civility  communication  follow-up  conversation 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Subtraction.com: Commented Out – Marco.org
"Comments have always been a dysfunctional medium. They solve a real problem: authors’ need for validation, criticism, and feedback. But they solve it in a way that discourages civility and following up, and encourages hatred and spam.

To address the same problem that comments solve, I post links to my articles on Twitter, read my responses there, and react if necessary. This has most of the value of ideal comments, but with very few of the drawbacks."
commenting  tumblr  twitter  blogs  blogging  2011  marcoarment  khoivinh  civility  feedback  onetoone  conversation  follow-up 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Stewart Closes Rally With Biting Critique of Media | Rolling Stone Culture
"And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile-long, 30-foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river…And they do it. Concession by concession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go -- oh my god, is that an NRA sticker on your car, an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s OK. You go and then I’ll go…"Sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute. But that individual is rare and he is scorned, and he is not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together and the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together."
jonstewart  2010  rallytorestoresanity  moderation  cooperation  tolerance  society  us  civility  concessions 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Athenians and Visigoths: Neil Postman’s Graduation Speech » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog
"To be an Athenian is to understand that the thread which holds civilized society together is thin and vulnerable; therefore, Athenians place great value on tradition, social restraint, and continuity. To an Athenian, bad manners are acts of violence against the social order. The modern Visigoth cares very little about any of this. The Visigoths think of themselves as the center of the universe. Tradition exists for their own convenience, good manners are an affectation and a burden, and history is merely what is in yesterday’s newspaper."

[See the comments for discussion of accuracy of Postman's depiction of Athenians and Visigoths.]

[via: http://lukescommonplacebook.tumblr.com/post/742157919/to-be-an-athenian-is-to-understand-that-the-thread ]
neilpostman  commencementspeeches  society  civilization  vulnerability  civics  violence  convenience  tradition  socialrestraint  civility  ego  selfishness  libertarianism  egalitarian  knowledge  learning  empathy  humanism  art  beauty  commerce  corruption  commencementaddresses 
july 2010 by robertogreco
one forty plus. - Twitter Isn’t “Over”, I’m Over It.
"This is where Tumblr comes in. It’s the future of social networking if your image of the future features intelligent discourse. I love reading other Tumblr users replies, because they’re thoughtful by virtue of the fact that if they’re not, they’ll bring the intellectual property value of their own blog down, and that’s a commodity on Tumblr."
tumblr  twitter  community  civility  discourse  conversation  johnmayer 
april 2010 by robertogreco
News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments - NYTimes.com
"When news sites, after years of hanging back, embraced the idea of allowing readers to post comments, the near-universal assumption was that anyone could weigh in and remain anonymous. But now, that idea is under attack from several directions, and journalists, more than ever, are questioning whether anonymity should be a given on news sites.

The Washington Post plans to revise its comments policy over the next several months, and one of the ideas under consideration is to give greater prominence to commenters using real names.

The New York Times, The Post and many other papers have moved in stages toward requiring that people register before posting comments, providing some information about themselves that is not shown onscreen.

The Huffington Post soon will announce changes, including ranking commenters based in part on how well other readers know and trust their writing."
news  web  online  commenting  anonymity  civility  nyimes  wapost  wsj  andrewsullivan  ariannahuffington  huffingtonpost 
april 2010 by robertogreco
plsj tumblelog - The capacity of play(grounds)
"Originally designed to cultivate virtue & counteract vice, playgrounds of the past were to complete the discipline of the schoolroom, assisting the trained master to ‘direct’ the child’s thoughts, feelings & actions...the strategy of supervised play was intended to conceal its purpose from the child, with power exercised through discreet forms of surveillance & constraint that would, it was hoped, gradually be embodied and re-enacted as self-restraint. Contemporary playgrounds...no longer claim to be directing the conduct of children. Public playgrounds are framed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, while commercial playgrounds provide a service to consumers of play. Yet, both unobtrusively act upon the child’s capacity for action & there is a tension between these different modes of provision..article examines this tension and shows how it provides insight into the relationship between power, habitus, and (in)civility today."
children  play  power  control  freedom  civility  discipline  playgrounds 
june 2009 by robertogreco

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