Sunday, December 18, 2005

Three Cool Old Guys and about megabully

So here's the thing, I started this on Saturday and finished it a few minutes ago. The time may flip because of that. I'm taking Jim's advice about the links. I think there are enough here. If I wasn't rushing for time, I would provide more.

Thank you to Three Cool Old Guys and all their friends who were so encouraging Thursday night when we tried out our caroling program. We really want to do a great job and we appreciated all the input on what six songs we should perform in church Christmas Day. I also thank them for their public praise (and C.I. for mentioning them) Friday.

They get a kick out of it when they get a mention here or at The Common Ills. Or at the gina & krista round-robin. Now Gina and Krista are great and I'll give them their due and then some. But they really deserve more due than that. I have Three Cool Old Guys and Gina & Krista's permission to announce this. If you read your Friday round-robin, you know they each wrote about the first time it hit them that color was an issue. Not the first time their parents had told them but the first time when they saw something that told the truth about a society still pretending.

I really loved their feature. And Gina & Krista persuaded them to make it a monthly feature for the round-robin. So once a month, you'll get perspectives from Three Cool Old Guys on how much we've changed as a society or how much we haven't and on where we are headed. Those men have lived long lives and are a wealth of history and information so I'm really thrilled about this.

And I've been on their backs for them to do that on a website of their own because I think it's important. How much have I been on their backs? They've taken to telling me to "get up out my grill." That makes me laugh because it's funny to hear them say that and also because, since they got online, they are able to stay in touch with their families and specifically their grandkids.
That means so much to them and I'm really glad that's happened.

But even with me, their friend, urging them to do a site, they didn't want to. I told them if it was a technical thing, I would help them out and I know C.I. would be available for any phone call. But they didn't want to. So I offered they could write it in an e-mail and I'd set up the site and copy and paste their e-mails into posts their.

They didn't want that.

In the time since they've become Common Ills members and started getting the round-robin, they've seen what Gina and Krista are able to do in that and they've agreed with C.I.'s remarks that it's a more private way to have a conversation. They did an interview with Gina and Krista for the round-robin and never told me that they'd asked Gina and Krista if they might be interested in any writing?

Of course G&K were. So this was the first of their monthly contributions this week. They wanted to see how they felt about it after it was in the round-robin and they're pretty pleased with themselves as they should be. So with their permission and Gina & Krista's permission, let me be the first to note that this is now a monthly feature of the round-robin.

When we were talking this morning, they explained why they were more comfortable with this format. They feel the round-robin is supportive and geared towards a supportive audience. They really aren't in the mood for "flamers" who would post racist remarks or for the nonsense that people like C.I. and Ava have to put up with (all the threats for silly stuff like not presenting Wentworth Miller as the second coming of acting).

They agreed that their was a need to share their experiences as Black men who lived before the civil rights movement and lived after. But they weren't comfortable talking about specifics where someone could attack them or someone in their family. You know one of them spoke of seeing their strong father have to "play the fool" when a White employer started hollering at him in front of his kids. They didn't want someone insulting their father's memory or some right-wing website chuckling about it.

While they were talking to Gina and Krista, they never let on to me. They said it's their Christmas gift to me since I've been urging them to share their experiences publicly and I think it's the greatest gift I'll get this year.

But they did sound out Betty, C.I. and Ruth for feedback. All three were supportive and encouraging. They were thrilled by the idea. But I think it was the comfort Gina and Krista instilled that helped decide it for them as well as the fact that Gina's an African-American and Krista is White and that they try to address race and racial interaction seriously in the round-robin. They felt this was to place to share their experiences and memories.

I spoke with both Gina and Krista but Gina, like Seth, is living a nightmare these days because she's in retail and this is a busy time for them. She kept trying to think of a quote to go up here and finally begged off saying that she and Krista had spoken at length about this so use a quote from Krista and everyone should know that Krista's speaking for the both of them.

Krista says that they are very honored that Three Cool Old Guys have chosen to share with the round-robin readers. She said she and Gina both see tremendous value in hearing from people who lived through the times and not just someone born after weighing in.

Three Cool Old Guys told me to put in that Ava & C.I.'s commentary last week was the deciding "push" because "we are losing ground." They appreciated that Ava and C.I. didn't shy from noting an obvious but often unremarked fact, African-Americans are leads less and less. Ava & C.I. were focusing on women in their feminist critique and that certainly includes women of color but they were really glad that Ava & C.I. also worked in the fact that when the groups who are being stereotyped and shut out work together, they can put the pressure on.

They also told me this morning that I better note that review because they think it covered a great deal and felt it was "speaking truth when some are just wanting to keep it light." The title of the commentary is "TV: We're losing ground and now is not the time for silence." That was pretty powerful, I agree. And I spoke to Jess and Ty about it Friday to check on the e-mail reaction. The feedback's been incredible on that. Ty joked that they should have just made the edition the commentary and "War Got Your Tongue" because those two pieces spoke powerfully to readers.

I'm going to talk a bit about that edition because I wrote Thursday about the problems that some have caused the community. We had a really strong edition ready to go and the pieces were set but needing some polish. The only thing we hadn't done was the book discussion. As we were on what we thought was our final break, C.I. checks the public e-mail account and there's Christine whining and saying she wants "peace."

C.I. conveyed the e-mail to us, which I won't quote from though I groaned at it as did several others, and felt the need to respond to it.

Christine seems to be offended that anyone would call her out on anything. There's the treatment of Kat which I noted on Thursday, but there's also the fact that she can't grasp why anyone would object to her site pushing The New Republic? If she can't grasp that, she needs to find out information about what she chooses to promote. Her other big beef is that she was called out on her silence about the war.

C.I.'s feelings, expressed to us, were that she was hurting and if she was hurting as much as she said we might want to consider the edition. The edition wasn't focused on her but it did talk about people like her, and she's sadly not alone in her silence.

C.I. took the time to respond to what might have been a genuine e-mail. C.I. took the time to, as was done in the roundtable, attempt to see their side. A lot of us were mad, not at C.I. because C.I. will try to be fair.

But we didn't think the e-mail was a genuine offer of peace or that it was anything but someone whining for being called on what they should be called on.

But in the spirit of the season, we agreed to scrap the edition. That and C.I.'s taking the time to reply to her, cost us a huge amount of time because we suddenly had to come up with an entirely new edition.

Ava and C.I. had written their TV commentary. They wanted to polish it and C.I. needed to call a friend at a TV show to confirm the facts that were passed on by a guest star on the show. The show was Veronica Mars and all last year Veronica was saying she was raped. This year it turns out she's with Duncan who was the man who raped her. (Read on, as Ava and C.I. would say.)

Jim and Rebecca were very angry about scrapping the edition and very vocal about their anger.
Although no one blamed C.I. for the mess Christine was creating or for doing the "in fairness" bit, there were a few remarks that both Jim and Rebecca apologized for later in the week.

But because of the Christine's issues that she dumps on C.I. at the last minute, we were all put out. I say "dumps on C.I." because her gripes were about stuff going on at all the sites but she only contacts C.I. to scream at C.I. and that's how the e-mail read to me.

So all her nonsense put us way behind schedule. And C.I. wasn't able to make the planned call.
We're now agreed to scrap the edition, we all agreed, and Jim posted a note to the readers but felt something, anything had to go up and had to go up right away because it was almost eight o'clock Jim's time and they usually have most of the content, or try to, up by seven a.m. Jim's time. The TV commentary was brought up and C.I. said, "I'm flat out uncomfortable with posting that until I make the call to ____ ______. I can do that, the earliest, in three hours." So the thing to do was to wait. And Ava supported that as well. But there was so much frustration over Christine's nonsense that Jim and Rebecca were basically saying, "You agreed to this delay so it's going up." That was posted over Ava and C.I.'s objection.

When the edition is finally done and posted, we're all wiped out. I left in the middle to attend church but skipped Sunday school. Betty skipped church all together because she felt that things were getting a little out of control in terms of the anger at Christine spilling over onto C.I.
I'll add again that Rebecca and Jim have apologized.

I'll also say again that we were all put under a lot of pressure due to scrapping the edition.

But three hours after the edition's done and posted, C.I. wakes up to the phone ringing and it's the friend. Duncan is no longer the rapist. Veronica wasn't raped. They just tossed that plot out the window.

Ava and C.I. corrected their commentary and really rewrote it, not just offering a simple correction, but rewriting it to work in the fact that marketing Veronica as a rape victim and then letting her be someone who cried rape falsely is even more offensive.

In the new version, Ava and C.I. take the fall for the mistake without ever noting that they were screaming their heads off against that going up before C.I. called the friend. They just own their mistake. And Ava's comments may not be as clear to some, she and C.I. both offer an individual comment midway in the commentary, because Ava & C.I. never say, "Don't blame us. What posted was a draft that we didn't even have time to polish let alone check out." But when Ava's talking about how it wasn't funny to her, she's talking about how she and C.I. had screamed and hollered that the thing shouldn't go up but were overridden. And not just by Jim and Rebecca. I supported Jim & Rebecca on that. Others did too. Jess and Betty were actively taking C.I. and Rebecca's side. And everyone I'm naming gave me permission to discuss this except for C.I. who left it up to Ava to make the call for both of them. (C.I. was polite but vague and I'm guessing intentionally vague in an attempt to high road it. Elaine said she'd be happy to help me in terms of "Yes, that got said" and "No, that didn't get said" if I wanted to run things by her but that she wasn't comfortable being quoted or speaking on background. Everyone other than C.I. and Elaine particpated in this, whether quoted or not, if they were present for The Third Estate Sunday Review edition.)

Dona and Jim's attitude is that the positive side is one C.I. commented to them (C.I. claims not to remember individual conversations which is, my opinion, an attempt to take the high road on the whole issue): it showed that The Third Estate Sunday Review wasn't afraid to correct a mistake and to do so immediately.

As Dona and Jim point out, Pop Politics can't say the same thing.

But after C.I. got off the phone with the friend, the next call was to Ava and, on the speaker phone, to Ava, Jim and Dona, it was explained what was up.

Dona says that it's a lesson. The writers were saying they weren't comfortable. That should have been the clue to wait. But the rape was promoted for a year and a guest star on the show had told C.I. (and backed it up on the phone with Ava) that Veronica was with Duncan. (And Ava and C.I. knew Duncan was the rapist before last season ended because of friends on the show.) Based on the fact that Veronica was raped, because a full season was built on that, and on the fact that Ava and C.I. had been told months ago that Duncan was the rapist, that the guest star told them both Veronica and Duncan were now a couple, Dona says one last fact check went out the window.

"It's one that should have been made," Dona says. "But it wasn't. And it was an issue that the mainstream media deals with all the time, time constraints and the need to go with a story as quickly as possible. I think it was a lesson and I'm glad to say that on our end, the correction began as soon as it did. Not the next day or days later."

That's because as soon as C.I. explained it, Ava & C.I. got to work on the corrected commentary.
They didn't write the whole thing and then post it. That note at the top of the piece was written and it was published with a note that the correction was in progress. As they rewrote their way through, they continued to publish every few paragraphs always noting that a correction was in progress and noting how far along they were in the revised commentary.

Ava says they made that decision because they didn't want anyone to stumble onto it after they knew there was a mistake and not know that there was a mistake.

"As soon as we knew, the correction began," Ava explains. "We could have just done a note at the bottom and nothing else. Some people would never read to the end so we felt we needed the note at the top. We also felt strongly that this was worse, that she wasn't raped, than what we'd originally critiqued so we felt the need to make that point. But anyone reading along, and according to Jess' report on the e-mails, could see the process as it happened. Jim stayed out of it and I wasn't aware that he and Dona were her in room following the progress until after C.I. and I finished. I was exhausted and went to the kitchen to make some hot chocolate and head to bed. Jim and Dona came in. Both apologized, again, for insisting the piece go up before we made the call. They also both stressed that they thought the model C.I. and I used was the one that should be used if there's ever a need for a correction again. There was none of the junk that the New York Times is so fond of where a week or two later, they note in the corrections box a mistake. And online, they'll say something like''correction appended.' We made a mistake and we corrected it and we didn't let the piece stand with a correction but rewrote it. We rewrote it publicly, bit by bit, and anyone curious or wanting to follow it could do so by refreshing their page every few minutes."

Wally told me that he still couldn't believe that the show had "trashed" their own plot like that. He said he would probably still argue for something to be posted but he would be more likely to listen to reservations. He said it was like if The Simpsons suddenly decided to do an episode claiming Mr. Burns had never been shot.

"Everyone saw Mr. Burns shot, so how could you know that the writers would just decide that the facts they presented no longer mattered?" Wally asks. "But, for me, next time, if there is a next time, someone who's participated or, in this case with Ava and C.I., written the whole thing objects, I will listen. I don't know if it would have mattered this time if I had listened because the 'facts' were that Veronica had been raped. Anyone who saw the show at all the first year knew that. My cousin watches and so when Ava and C.I. knew who the rapist was, I asked if it was okay to tell her before the cliffhanger ending. They said it was fine with them so I did. Then you had ___ ____ telling them that Duncan and Veronica were a couple. So the facts should have been the facts. As soon as I heard about the correction, I called my cousin and she said, 'Oh Wally, I stopped watching when it all got too soap opera-ish.' But I could've thought to call her when Ava and C.I. were saying that the weren't comfortable with it being published. I didn't and that's my regret in the whole thing along with not listening when they were saying 'no.'"

Everyone I spoke to is seeing the positive, or trying to, about the whole thing. Which is that the commentary is stronger, the correction was handled in a timely fashion and done openly, and a lesson can be learned from it all.

But it's also true that if Christine hadn't come whining at the last minute, we never would have been put in that position to begin with. We wouldn't have had to decide whether or not to post an article that the two writers weren't comfortable with. C.I. wouldn't have been dealing with Christine's crap and been unable to make the call to confirm with the guy on the show what the story was. And we wouldn't have had to scrap an entire edition.

We put ourselves out to take Christine up on her "peace" offer. That's why when her e-mails attacking Kat went out, people were offended. That's why when she made the decision, in the midst of her "peace" to delink from The Common Ills without ever noting that in any of her many e-mails she sent out, we'd had enough. She'd trashed Kat to Ryan. She'd excused Bernie altering Kat's words (including change a verb form, not just dropping off the "can" in front of the quote) and wasn't too concerned about a correction.

No one asked C.I. or Ava to do a correction. They did their correction because the truth matters to them. A different set of priorities went on at Christine's site where a distortion of Kat's words remained. It may still remain. Christine wrote in one of her many e-mails that she'd cleaned up the comments to that post. I read that as she grasped how badly she'd embarrassed herself and wanted to hide it.

She came whining minutes before midnight Saturday, three I believe, offering "peace" and everyone suffered for it. We made a real effort and you won't find any talk of this at any of the community sites until her "peace" was demonstrated to be false.

This happened even though she continued to trash Kat's writing in her e-mails. This happened even though she tore into Ava in response to a Ava's e-mail that was not controversial and didn't warrent an attack. (I've read Ava's e-mail to her. Both the one that set Christine off and the one replying to that. Even when replying, Ava didn't bring up the attack and stayed with a flat tone.)

Three Cool Old Guys have followed this issue and they think it stems from someone wanting to write "nonsense" and get a pass for it by playing "the feminist card." They think it's like someone wanting to be recognized as a powerful leader for civil rights but deciding not to comment on race issues. When called on it, instead of attempting to make a difference, the person just wants everyone to act like it's okay to call yourself a feminist but not address feminist issues. They say too many people are let off the hook because they pull that nonsense and that it harms us all.

I agree with that and the point that if we were all demanding action from the media, we might see results. Instead the 'vangical voters (to use C.I.'s term) demand and they get served. They got Ford to waffle with their demands.

I also see it as shameful that a grown up of any gender thinks that some stupid TV show is more important than the war.

I'm offended as well that someone calling herself a feminist is willing to promote a magazine that's promoted and offered attacks, including violent ones, "jokes" or not, against Arundhati Roy. That was such a shock to us, what Wally found in the column by Dave Zirin, because we'd been reading a book of essays by Roy. C.I. and Rebecca knew about the attacks on Roy but the rest of us didn't. For Christine to see the rag as worthy of promotion and feel that we're quibbling over something small may be telling about where she stands.

As an African-American, I'm offended that she promotes the rag since the so-called liberal rag has been happy to pimp and further offending stereotypes against African-Americans for many years. Instead of seeing it as a quibble, a thinking person should be looking into the magazine to determine the validity of the arguments.

Christine's happy to have her links and to try to get attention. It doesn't matter that to do that, she has to promote a magazine that, for the left, is one that's been racist, sexist and war mongering.

Having been made aware that there are problems for some with promoting that magazine, she decides the delink to do is not to the magazine that pushed the contras as "freedom fighters" and covered up the crimes in Central America, the delink to do is to The Common Ills?

This is done during her "peace" while everyone's attempting to respond to her offer in a peaceful manner.

At this point, it's not ignorance that allows her to push The New Republic, it's stupidity. I use that term because we were reading a book by Robert Parry for today's book discussion.
Parry's talked about The New Republic at his site but this book makes the points even more clear.

When you can't speak out, and she can't find her voice on the war, people will have to look to other things to figure out where you stand. One of the things they'll look at is what you endorse.
There is nothing left or feminist in endorsing The New Republic.

For those who have been seeking their answer about where she stands, we probably now have it.