Thursday, September 2, 2010


Today, it seems, I got my blog groove on.  Don't ask me how that happened, it just kind of did.  Yet again, another comment on a blog that got out of hand - so I decided to post it here.   But first some background. (for those disinclined to read this wall of text or follow links, there will be a TL:DR at the end)

Chastity at RighteousOrbs posted this in response to the inspiration he gave to Pewter the 'Mental Shaman's post here (I originally read her post on geek feminism, but it started getting some serious linkspam at some point around then, including inspiring my post on the topic earlier on this week.  Pewter has a list of great posts on her site of women writing about feminism in a geek context, specifically WoW). Adam, the noisy rogue, seemed to take exception to the entire thing and posted on his blog in several chunks starting here.  I read all of this and in a fit of pique at work commented on RighteousOrbs here.  This, apparently, achieved some notoriety somehow, and I made it to the front page of Adam's blog with a nice piece of selective editing.

On the Righteous Orbs comment I made, I was employing (it was at work, so hastily) mimicry and parody.  Also, a bit of reductio ad absurdium, calling Adam out on his argument from authority, a good straw man, a bit of baiting and quite a few other logical fallacies thrown in for good measure as much as I could think of in the time I had, because that was pretty much exactly what I read in not just his comments and posts, but in just about everyone who agreed with him, and also from the side agreeing with Chastity (but far less frequently).  I was trying to be amusing, and outrageous and look where it got me!  Adam even called my comment extreme, which was exactly the intent of it.   Honestly, I was a bit stunned to see my words quoted back at me and dissected (not terribly badly either) when I idly went back to his site to see if there had been any more interesting comments made on any posts.  No one reads what I say!  I just shout into the black void of the internetz (... etz ... etz.... etz.....)

But now, my response to the blog post "Boxed In"

OK, so I got the Sydney bit wrong, it was an educated guess that Adam grew up there, I did make an assumption - and consciously too.  However, as Chastity called me on, and I agreed with, I also do not normally like to assume things, but I thought... bugger it, Adam's doing it, so I will to make a point.  However, I never said he was living there now (because I did read his about me page and it does say that he lives in Italy and has done so for 10 years).

I was actually trying to throw some context around the privilege - an attitude as a female working in Australia in IT (I wonder if he assumed I was male on purpose to get a response?  It is exactly the type of baiting I would do in his position) I deal with in my face on a daily basis.  I also happened to have opened on my browser the UN article I linked to.  I thought it should be read, as it was relevant.  We, as Australians, are racist and sexist.  Me too.  I am racist (ETA Sexist too), I don't mean to be, I try my hardest NOT to be, but I am.

I 100% agree that critical thinking is important;  I am a card carrying member of the James Randi Educational Foundation and my partner is a member of the Australian Skeptics.  My new guild is called Pastafarian.  Critical thinking is something I pretty much live and breathe.  So, of all the comments he could have chosen to use as an example, I am very glad it was mine.  His dissection of my points was accurate, but brief, and apart from the fact my attempt at the explanation of Australian privilege was to partially mollify not incense, pretty spot on with the intent of the comment.

I agree with every point Adam makes about my list:
  • There were massive assumptions just like point a on both sides.
  • There was meaningless chatter as in point b (HA! I actually was thinking of a fictional literary character called Salamander as I was writing that comment, who was dubbed a "chattering elf" so I really liked that Adam chose to use the word chatter in commenting on that point)
  • There were more assumptions in the guise of information and reasonableness just like in point c.
  • There were misquotes and paraphrasing and twisting of words to suit the purposes of the author, just like in point d.  However, it seems that Adam missed a secondary point of d - that your intent, no matter what you think you meant, must be clear.  Reading his about me section where he correctly realises what I was referring to means that he understands how something like that can be read, but he unfortunately assumes that people are capable of reading sarcasm or willfully give others the benefit of the doubt.   BTW, I believe he is a bigot based on his posts and comments recently.
  • He curiously leaves off point e in his dissection, where I say his attitudes disgust me (to clarify, his intolerance disgusts me more than anything) but that I was trying to put a bit of context around where some of his opinions and attitudes may have come from.  I very much doubt that he is much different in age to me, and growing up in Australia in the 80s and 90s I am fairly sure would have shaped his opinions and attitudes that he is digging his heels in about now.  The context was relevant.
I'm not attacking this person but... I am attacking this person.  You don't wish to restart a flame war, yet he posts again on the topic.  There is only one way to not start/continue a flame war in circumstances like these and that is Don't Respond.

Opinions in these situations are not going to be changed.  As someone pointed out somewhere in the comments I read (I apologise, I cant actually find the comment, let me know if you do so I can link it, I suspect it was Pewter, but my mind may be playing tricks on me and I might be thinking of a completely other thread) they respond not to change the mind of the person they are debating with.  They argue to inform the person who is NOT commenting, but is reading to learn more and inform that silent person.  This is exactly why I poke and prod.  This is why I post and comment.  This is why I blog.

TL:DR - Some people yelled at each other about sexism in the geek world.  I stuck my head in and made fun of one particularly blustery protagonist.  He singled me out as an example of the bad.  I may have accidentally on purpose trolled him, but honestly wasn't expecting a response.  *headdesk*  He pointed out all the things I did.  He was right, but... I was trolling.

We agree critical thinking is important.

The end.