Diversity & The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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172 Responses

  1. You know how I said a awhile back that I write less these days in part because you write a lot of what I otherwise would have, except better? This is a good example.Report

  2. Well, I’m working on adding a lady contributor over at my own little corner as fast as I can, so there’s that.

    One of the nice things about good ideas is that their intrinsic quality is utterly independent of the attributes of those expressing them.  A good idea or sound argument is neither enhanced nor degraded by the gender, creed, race, ethnicity, etc of the person expressing it.  (The obvious exception being sexual orientation.  Gays give everything they say just a little extra panache, n’est-ce pas?)  I come to the League because I think the quality of the ideas expressed (even when I disagree with them) is markedly higher than just about anywhere else on the Internet, and certainly the quality of the commentary often is.  So since the quality of the ideas speaks for itself, I don’t know what value is added by aggressively pursuing diversity for its own sake.

    Now, one could argue that more diversity might bring more good ideas into the discussion.  That ethnic, religious, racial minorities have experiences and ideas that might otherwise not occur to those of us in the majority.  I suspect that that’s true.  But the LoOG has a very clear and welcoming policy with regard to guest posts.  Anyone who has a good idea is welcome to submit it so everyone else can enjoy it.  Those who do so with particular frequency often get to join the masthead if they’re so inclined.  To me, that seems a sufficient policy.

    PS>  I found Freddie’s comment a bit distasteful.  I like TNC because he writes so beautifully.  I’m not a member of his commenting community (largely because I spend so much time here), but if I were, it wouldn’t be because I need a proxy for my racial opinions or reasoning.  It would be because the man can write.  And anyone who reads his posts on a prodigal number of topics has a clear picture of him as a fully realized human being, thanks all the same.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    On one level, the great thing that the internet provides is the whole “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” phenomenon. You are nothing more than the words/sentences/paragraphs you write. I’ve heard it said, however, that you can tell whether a sentence was written by a male or by a female (visit here for the Gender Analyzer website!).

    Which makes me wonder if there is a particular language used by people steeped in privilege vs. by those who are not (and, of course, you’d have to be able to tell in a discussion about something *OTHER* than privilege)… and if there is, then it’s likely that our webpage is swimming in that language in the same way that the gender analyzer guessed that we are male.

    Which brings me to the question of whether this is the result of us “othering” people who want to show up and comment or if it’s something as simple as the dynamic that existed in the lunch room when I went to college: the white people all sat together, the African-American people all sat together, and the Asian people all sat together. If it’s the latter, I don’t know that there’s *ANYTHING* that can be done to change that. If it’s the former?Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

      Is it possible, though, to tell whether a sentence was written by a white man pretending to be an Egyptian lesbian?Report

    • wardsmith in reply to Jaybird says:

      Just had to do it JB, posting your comment gets the following:

      We guess https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2012/01/16/diversity-the-league-of-ordinary-gentlemen/#comment-226993 is written by a man (51%), however it’s quite gender neutral.

      Congrats, your posting is quite gender neutral. I’m afraid to submit my own. 😉Report

    • BSK in reply to Jaybird says:

      To your last point, Beverly Tatum has a book on that very subject, called, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria”.  In it, she explores the need for “affinity groups” and the importance of people having spaces where they can engage in people who are “like them”.  These need not be formal groups and need never explicitly talk about whatever it is that makes the members of the group alike and still provide value.

      The question is, is the LoOG the white table in the cafeteria?  If so, do we want it to be (which is okay if that is the case, but we ought to own that decision)?  If not, how do we signal that despite appearing like the white table, we are not?Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to BSK says:

        I think we are all overlooking the very real possibility that we are in fact the Nerd Table, and the kids in the other cliques aren’t really chomping at the bit to eat with us.Report

      • Kim in reply to BSK says:

        Having affinity groups is great! I love sitting at other people’s tables, though! Dropping by a Latina blog, a faith-based blog (StreetProphets is great, very inclusive), a black blog or two, a hillbilly chemist blog. I get around, or at least I used to.

        It’s perspectives, bright and clear and shiny!Report

        • Will H. in reply to Kim says:

          Street Prophets is one of the few places I’ve ever been banned from.
          I’m not sorry for it either.
          Being around that group made me realize how “progressive” I’m really not.
          And I mention it because the first big rift, of all things, was about race; specifically, there were quite a number (ie, practically everyone else) who was willing to disregard equitable representation for minorities solely for the basis of advancing a policy agenda, in this case abortion.
          Or, I suppose you could say that opposing all restrictions to abortion is more of a sacred cow to that crew than equitable representation for racial minorities.
          Odd how that pans out.

          There was some rabbi that posted there that I really liked though.
          Can’t remember his name.
          I’ve never really known any Jews before.Report

      • b-psycho in reply to BSK says:

        After observing that split while still in high school, I deliberately sat at random tables for a couple weeks.  Reaction by folks I didn’t know wasn’t openly hostile (nobody said “fish you doin’ here, yo?”), but the tension and confusion was quite thick.

        I find relations became much easier in my life once alcohol got involved.  The type of person that’s still picky about who they talk to while drunk tends to either drink by themselves or do things in public while drunk that drive others away.Report

    • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:


      Yeah, I heard that one about analyzing gender. Problem is, most people tend to think I’m a teenage boy. I think it’s my obstreperous nature.

      I sat with everyone at the lunchroom, sooner or later (got bored easily, ADD anyone?) Most of the black kids were pretty nice. The Asian kids often were speaking in another language, so they weren’t terribly fun to talk to [I once pointed out that I would kinda like to understand what they were saying — only to be informed that there were multiple languages at the table, and most people didn’t know what they were talking about!]Report

  4. sonmi451 says:

    Or do we do exactly what Somni asks us not to do – attempt to engage with people like TNC on our own, as BlaiseP and JL did, and welcome those that such discussions brings with open arms, hearts and minds?

    I never called for a policy of non-engagement, but isn’t it obvious that there’s a difference between how JL Wall engaged TNC on the issue and the way BlaiseP did? I suspect BlaiseP’s method of engagement will not bring “open arms, hearts and minds”.  It’s not about who you engage or whether it’s your place to engage, it’s how you do it.

    BSK and Somni both call for a census and cataloguing of the race, gender and creed of all who participate at the League.

    This is really unfair to BSK, and somewhat unfair to me. My point was about the front-pagers, not the commenters and visitors. Who the commenters and visitors are is of course outside the power of the League to determine, but that’s not the case about the frontpagers. People don’t suddenly become frontpagers by magic, there is a selection process going on, and what factors the League considers when doing that selection says something about the priorities and values of the blog.

    I take your point about Tom van Dyke and Murali,obviously I have issues of my own, but then again, I’m not running a semi-popular blog on the internet, so my issues are my own, and don’t reflect on anyone else. I believe a group blog has a bigger responsibility.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to sonmi451 says:

      I think I see your point about Blaise and JL, and find that I both agree and disagree with it.  That JL’s post led to a (very nice!) response from TNC and Blaise’s has not (at least yet) is probably not coincidental.  But, to touch on the TVD/Murali point, I am not a big believer in saying only X opinion can be stated.

      Regarding the census, I obviously did misunderstand if everyone had meant only the front pagers.  For what it’s worth, I don’t know that there is much of a selection process.  I think anyone is invited to guest post, and anyone that has done so and enjoyed it and goes so far as to ask to join the team has been welcomed on board.  And I think that has served this group well.  So the trick to my mind isn’t shouldn’t Erik be combing the internet for, say,  black people, but rather how do we make a larger and more diverse group of smart people with something to say know that we exist and decide they have a place here if they want it?Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I think anyone is invited to guest post, and anyone that has done so and enjoyed it and goes so far as to ask to join the team has been welcomed on board.

        This.  I myself try to prod people who sound interesting to submit a guest post.  Most people don’t submit guest posts.

        If there’s a self-selection bias, it’s toward people who are willing to haul their butt in front of the keyboard and start topics of discussion.  I feel like my wheelhouse is keeping them going, personally (you can compare the frequency of my posts to the other contributors to see that I’m a bursty “start conversations” sort of guy), but all you really have to do to join the League is comment intelligently, submit a decent guest post or two, and then show up and chop the wood.Report

      • kenB in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        anyone that has done so and enjoyed it and goes so far as to ask to join the team has been welcomed on board.

        Aha, so you admit that you discriminate against people who don’t enjoy writing for this site!  I suspected it all along.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to kenB says:

          Are you kidding?  We PREFER people who hate writing for this site.  It’s just that with the new bleeding-heart labor laws, we’re not allowed to lock them up and withhold food till they write stuff anymore.

          I tell you, we are becoming a nation of sissies.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to sonmi451 says:

      Everything is what it is and not another thing.

      You’re wondering how the League can become another thing, no?


      • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Whoops. That’s a reply to Tod, not sonmi.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

          No, I’m wondering how it can become more of what it already is.

          There was a time when the likes of Dr. Saunders and Elias would have seemed odd here.  But they appeared and prevailed because what makes the League great isn’t that it’s a Libertarian BLog, or a White Guy Blog, or anything else.  It’s a blog that celebrates the meeting of minds with different viewpoint, backgrounds, and outlooks.

          Having a member of our family who is – for example – an African American comment on Blaise’s post about TNC’s view on the black experience doesn’t alter the core of who we are; it underlines it.Report

          • E.D. Kain in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            The internet largely self-segregates itself. We did have Jamelle Bouie here for a while but he left around the same time as Freddie. Not because of race issues but because the blog then wasn’t great for liberal perspectives I think. But it still really isn’t great for a lot of progressive bloggers, truth be told. It’s not partisan enough.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to sonmi451 says:

      Well, I agree that tone matters as well as content. I can see Mr. Coates reading both JLWall and BlaiseP and determining that he could have engaged with JLWall but not BlaiseP, based on tone alone.

      To reach the original issue of how and why frontpagers achieved that status, Erik explained it quite nicely below. The point about adversarial comments potentially disattracting those sorts of people who are adverse to adversarial confrontation is interesting and vexing to me; in my line of work I encounter people of all sorts who engage in adversarial process — but then again, my line of work is self-selecting for those who enjoy or at least can tolerate adversarial process so it’s very filtered.

      This is vexing because it could it be that we have a cultural bias that white men enjoy participating in adversarial exchanges to a larger degree than other kinds of people (if you filter out those people who didn’t choose to go to law school). If so, the lack of other-than-majority commenters emerging from the process Erik describes would then be the result of this cultural bias. I’m agnostic about this in the culture — and can never be certain, because I am in the group that would be given license to be adversarial if that cultural model turns out to be accurate, so I would never perceive any barrier to particpate in an adversarial exchange because there is no barrier to my participation.Report

  5. Matty says:

    Could you invite Mr Coates himself to do a guest post? That might have the effect of advertising the League’s existence to a different audience and draw in more diverse commentors and potential bloggers.

    Since it seems oddly relevant I am 75% white European and 25% Vietnamese but I think being raised a middle class English liberal contributed a lot more to my views than the details of my ancestry.

    Also kind of relevant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_dog.jpgReport

  6. Kolohe says:

    Dude, you’re just going to attracting the same audience with pics of chicks.Report

  7. E.D. Kain says:

     Assuming that different viewpoints are good for the League, how do we best go about fostering that? Do we simply have an open dialogue, and see who shows up?

    Yes, in a word. Here’s a small story.

    For a long time we worried quite a bit about diversity. We worried about ideological diversity. We tried, and failed, to recruit girls. I even suggested that we could change the name of the site if we brought some girls on board. None of it really worked. Attempts to bring diversity to the League also helped to bring the wrong people on board as writers who didn’t feel at home here for various reasons or who clashed with the commentariat.

    And so Mark and I decided to work in the sub-blogs and work out trial posting periods for people, and then it just sort of organically grew into essentially only bringing on people who were already members of the community. Commenters and especially those who submitted guest posts began writing here. Much to my delight, it’s been quite natural and lovely to see the site evolve in this manner. It’s a marvelous success.

    Forced diversity is no answer. I do hope that more of our female readers and commenters will send me guest posts and maybe become front-pagers. I do hope that more people who aren’t as white as me come and read and comment and write, though I have no idea how many people of color already do. A gravatar is a lousy substitute for a real face, but there it is.

    No, I think we let this thing continue to grow and evolve as it has been and if there is a League of Greater Diversity in its future, wonderful. If someone can convince more lady-bloggers and others to post here, wonderful. A TNC guest post would be lovely. I’ve offered several bloggers of the female persuasion a guest posting spot and so far have been politely rebuffed. Such is the internet, I suppose.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      Yeah, this seems right.Report

    • sonmi451 in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      I’ve offered several bloggers of the female persuasion a guest posting spot and so far have been politely rebuffed. Such is the internet, I suppose.

      Did you ask them why they refused? Have you considered the possibility that there might be other reasons why you were rebuffed (maybe related to the nature of this blog itself) rather than just because of the fickleness of the Internet?Report

  8. Nob Akimoto says:

    Is Sonmi male? I figured based on the monicker and some posts that sonmi was female….

    Anyway on the original subject.

    I’ve considered doing guest posts here, and I sort of wish we had more international diversity, too. I applaud Murali’s efforts for that reason, though I often disagree with the contents.

    I do think there are times when the commentariat can be a bit adversarial, but that’s par for the course.

    I do find it more cheerful now than at one point, though.

    Also, Freddie’s “If only you cared enough you’d see things the way I do” shtick is beyond old.Report

  9. Sam M says:

    Inviting people to weigh in smacks of tokenism. It doesn’t have to, probably. I suppose you could just randomly ask people you read and admire and associate with to weigh in on certain issues. But that group is probably not all that diverse, either. So it would always come down to, “So… why are you asking me again? Because I am [Insert monority group]?”

    Which raises the related question: Is there anything wrong with tokenism? Is it wrong for a group of largely similar people to seek out a different voice specifically because the voice is different? I guess it could be. I mean, if you are writing about which fast food place has the best fries and actively seek out the “gay” or “black” take on that issue, it seems frivolous, like some kind of stunt. But if you are a bunch of white guys having a debate about why there are no good delis in DC, it might actually make sense to ask someone who is Jewish.

    Having a bunch of white guys who are writing about terrorism reach out to a Muslim guy would appear to make sense. Etc. But I think you need to be midful of how you do it.

    In the meantime, can someone talk a little bit about the whole, “it’s a luxury” formulation.I see Coates use it from time to time. Most recently, he said he could never vote for someone who is pro-life because it’s a luxury he can’t afford.

    A luxury? In this post, how is not thinking it’s important to ask if people are minorities a “luxury”?Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Sam M says:

      JL Wall is Jewish.

      I’ve asked Muslims to weigh in before as well.

      I’ve asked female bloggers to weigh in on feminist issues, but I’ve also just asked female bloggers who I think are good bloggers for no particular reason.Report

      • Sam M in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I wasn’t trying to suggest that implied that. I just think that if there’s a policy in place to “reach out” to get “other perspectives,” you have to be careful not to fall into that trap. In the case of Coates… forget it. He’s a guy that has written a lot about the Civil War. In fact, I think he’s the go-to guy for that issue at this exact moment. You’d want his perspective no matter the forum.

        Again, I’d just be cautious about any sort of broad policy, which could descend into caricature pretty quickly.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Sam M says:

          I agree.  This is why I like the idea of having someone like JL engage someone like TNC, with the hopes that folks that follow him might feel compelled to join in the conversation.

          This to me seems the surest way to add quality voices without losing who we are.Report

          • sonmi451 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            I’ve seen BlaiseP’s post linked to and discussed by TNC’s commenters in an Open Thread, but not JL Wall’s. Just my two cent, but I’m guessing that’s not really going to encourage the folks that follow TNC to “join in the conversation”. I’d link to JL Wall’s post myself there, but I’m too lazy to get a Disqus account. Maybe somebody here with a Disqus account can do it, so people there won’t get the impression that BlaiseP’s post is somehow or representative of this blog. Or not. I don’t even know why I care, up to you guys.Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to sonmi451 says:

              I don’t know if you recall this, but TNC and JL had a number of exchanges on this topic a few months back.  TNC didn’t respond to JL’s latest, but it’s safe to say that JL’s other posts on this subject have been linked over there far more frequently and in a far higher-profile than Blaise’s.Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to sonmi451 says:

              I might do that.  I confess I was somewhat disturbed last night to see what I thought (and I am very much hoping I am reading it wrong) Blaise insinuate that TNC does not actually read any of the scholarly or source material he says he does.  If that’s what folks at the Atlantic are coming over and seeing, then I have to agree – there will either be no conversation at all, or whatever takes place won’t really be worth having.

              Thanks for the catch, Sonmi.Report

    • Matty in reply to Sam M says:

      To be clear I suggested inviting Mr Coates as the one whose article sparked this debate and someone who clearly has interesting things to say on race issues. I did not mean to suggest him as a token black.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Sam M says:

      I think you may have misunderstood my use of the word “luxury;” it sounds like in part because it’s a word TNC uses as well.  This is how I meant it:

      One of the advantages of being a member of the majority in society is that it is easier to take the equality you perceive as granted.  Being a white guy from Portland, race doesn’t usually show up on my radar screen unless something forces it there.  But if I had grown up as a white guy in a predominantly black city & country it’s hard to believe that the whole idea of race won’t color (ha!) a lot more of my perspective about a lot more things than it does now.

      It is a luxury of being part of the majority that race does sit off in the background for me, is what I meant.Report

    • sonmi451 in reply to Sam M says:

      Interesting though that deliberate reaching out or inviting is only considered tokenism when we are talking about diversity of race/gender/religion/sexual orientation. When Freddie de Boer was the sole left-wing voice here, that was not considered tokenism. When John Cole reached out to ED Kain and invited him to Balloon Juice because he thought they needed a right-wing voice there after Cole’s conversion, that wasn’t considered tokenism either. I’m not saying that Freddie’s and ED’s case should be considered tokenism, I’m questioning the premise that if the blog deliberately reach out to women or people of color, that automatically makes it tokenism. It’s tokenism if you give  job to someone who is not qualified to do it just because the person is a female/black/gay/whatever. Reaching out is making an effort, curious how our minds immediately go to tokenism in this discussion.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to sonmi451 says:

        I think you might have missed to point of Sam’s comment, which was not that the act of engaging anyone of color is automatically tokenism, but saying that asking someone just because their of color might be tokenism… and then immediately walking that back.Report

    • BSK in reply to Sam M says:

      Tokenism is, in part, defined by the idea of one representing for an entire group.  If there was one African-American brought in to speak for “Black America”… that would be tokenism.  If there was one African-American brought in to speak and speak as himself, which sometimes included speaking as an individual African-American, I see little problem.

      As long as we aren’t saying, “Well, we’ve got the black angle covered because we brought in that one black guy,” odds are against (those not guaranteed) having created a ‘token’.Report

  10. DensityDuck says:

    The bit about why people like Coates reminded me of this The Onion article.Report

  11. Mike says:


    I’m in no mood to become a front pager, far from it. I’m seeing quite clearly the defined “haves and have-nots” attitude with the ridiculous “gravatar” bullshit that makes anyone not registered endure a loony picture next to their posts. It’s pathetically obvious that you don’t have to do this, as most of your sub-blogs use geometric shapes instead.



  12. b-psycho says:

    As a black man, I’d have to say I honestly never even thought about this stuff regarding this site. Don’t really care. Sorry to disappoint anybody.

    Though I tag my own site “random thoughts from a big angry negro”, I don’t usually talk directly about race because the way I see it, scratch a race issue and you’ll usually find a class issue underneath it.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to b-psycho says:

      Like. Or +1 or something.Report

    • Robert Cheeks in reply to b-psycho says:

      Perhaps the most sagacious comment I’ve read here in quite a while.Report

    • wardsmith in reply to b-psycho says:

      So when ya gonna do a guest post here psycho?Report

    • b-psycho in reply to b-psycho says:

      In case anyone was curious an example of what I mean by the class-under-race thing, here’s a recent one: Consider the strict immigration codes that some states put in. The one in Arizona that kicked it off turned out to be not just the thought of a state senator with white supremacist ties, but a collaboration between him & lobbyists for a “private” prison company, who openly said they expected to make money off of increased detention of immigrants.

      Alabama did their version, and what turned their faces red about it? Enforcement to the letter of the law resulting in sweeping up rich foreigners.

      To the extent their constituents hold racial resentment, the key fuel for many is fear on the part of working-class whites of being either pushed down or held down by competition.  Meanwhile, look who is doing the hiring.
      It’s the same kind of conflict that happened in the past with white union labor vs blacks that had been shut out at the time.Report

  13. dexter says:

    Tod, I can’t speak for anybody else, but I have spent less than a nanosecond pondering the gravatar given to my replies here.  And, before this reply gets posted, I can’t tell you what mine is.Report

  14. Tom Van Dyke says:

    Thx for this post, Tod.  Really great.

    For the record, I have posted on the frontpage exacly four times, the last time on January 1, in a little number called “The Stupid Party Strikes Again: The GOP and the VA primary’s “loyalty oath” .

    I appreciate all the support in the comments here about my right to exist.  The League should not be blamed for my bad writing.  I was the best righty they could scrape up, and let’s face it, most of them are even worse.Report

  15. Will Truman says:

    I have a friend that would be *perfect* for this site (the guy who brought Burt and I together), and a minority to boot, if only I could convince him to get back into blogging. But… he’s an Indian-American, and that only sometimes counts as a “real” minority. And his perspective, while incisive and interesting (we still trade emails since he gave up blogging) aren’t remarkably different than those around here (libertarian-minded, maybe liberaltarian). In the end, I expect it “wouldn’t count” for many.

    The LoOG is what it is. Though the comment section can be adversarial, it’s less so than most places I go and it’s adversarial in a more constructive sense. If there are under-the-table things that make this less amenable to minorities and women (such as what Burt says above), that’s a shame because their perspective would be welcome, but I think caution is warranted when it comes to diversity for the same of diversity (this applies as much to ideological diversity as it does anything else).Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Will Truman says:

      Yeah, he would be good! Considering his current affiliation, I can understand why he hung up the blogger’s hat. That was the blogosphere’s loss and [generalized profession]’s gain.Report

    • BSK in reply to Will Truman says:


      Interesting, though to people who REALLY cared about genuine diversity, his perspective sure as hell would count for something.  If we had a “rainbow” (BARF!) of people here who all largely agreed on a given topic, we could more confidently say that that is a topic that is not, or only minimally, informed by race.  When we have only or almost exclusively white guys here, it is hard to know if the consensus is a function of that being a truly preferable idea or simply being an idea preferable to white guys.  One person of color wouldn’t be enough to confirm, but it would help.  And, I’m sure there would be times where his opinion would differ and be directly related to his race.Report

  16. Jeff says:

    I’ve commented from time to time, but find it’s not usually worth my while.  When the front-page standard is “Liberals are ooky” (see the Huntsman article below) and the comments tend to be worse, I see no reason to cast my small pebble into the ocean of opinion here.

    Plus, a lot of the articles fill me with searing hate, and that’s not the tone adopted here, so thanks, but I’d rather not.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Jeff says:

      I find this interesting.  Conservatives seem to say almost the exact same thing, but from the other direction.  I say this not to diminish your experience, but I do find it interesting.

      And like you, I also keep try to keep away from the fray when I sense that I have nothing that isn’t negative to add.

      However, FWIW, the comments you occasionally throw up on my posts  always add something positive to the discussion.Report

      • Jeff in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        You’re kind to say so, but the more general reaction I feel is more along the lines of “you occasionally throw up”.  [Insert appropriate smiley here]Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Jeff says:

          And actually, more as a feedback thing, would you mind terribly if I asked what about my posts fills you with hate?  I promise not to challenge; I’m more curious.

          And of course, if you don’t really feel like saying that is entirely cool.Report

          • Jeff in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            It’s not your articles that fill me with searing hate.  In point of fact, even the “Commandments of Tod: was amusing, even if I disagreed with most of them.  It’s the more Right-wing “Liberals are ooky” and “Barry [sic] has destroyed this country” (where were these clowns during 2000 to 2008?) types that make me want to scream, especially if the response is temperate and even positive.


            I would to have more of a cross-posting between this site and Slacktivist — where you can  say anything you want as long as you’re willing to back it up.  The commentariat there is a bit more … aggreessive, shall we say, but nowhere near Balloon Juice.  I think it might do both blogs a bit of good.  As with any blog, it’s best to lurk for a while, to get the feel of the place.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Jeff says:

              Dude. Do you really think that there is a lack of people on this site who were not sufficiently yelly about Dumbya from 2000-2008?

              It’s like we represent a group of people for you and you’re yelling at them.

              Which is all well and good for you as therapy, but try to look at it from our side.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

                Psst. No challenging.Report

              • Jeff in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Do you really think that there is a lack of people on this site who were not sufficiently yelly about Dumbya from 2000-2008?”

                I’d have to look at the archives, and I may not have been reading much before 2008, but my intial reaction is “Yes, there was such a lack.”  Even today, no-one here seems all that upset about W.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jeff says:

                Wow, I think you would get a majority opinion on “Dubya, terrible president”.  You might even get a majority opinion on “Dubya, worst president ever”.Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I would certainly agree with “W., worst president ever.”  Absolutely.  He should have been impeached.  He turned the United States from a peaceful, prosperous, relatively free country into a belligerent, broke, all-but-police state.

                But here’s the trouble.  He’s just not making news anymore.  There’s this new fellow, O., in the White House, and he’s mostly continuing or even modestly strengthening W.’s bad policies.

                When I complain about O., people assume that I’m secretly pining away for W.

                I’m certainly not.  But they assume it anyway.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Mostly is an important word here.  But yes.Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jeff says:

              The one thing I will agree with Jeff here is that there a lot of people on this site who wish for a Republican Party that never actually existed. Thus, the fluffing of Huntsman and such. It’s the same thing that pisses me off about Andrew Sullivan at times.


              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Jesse – With presidential campaigns it’s far less about the party than the individual. On that front there are plenty of Republicans worth pointing to at all levels of government.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                When it comes to individual Republican’s, I don’t see many at the Congressional level to be praiseful of. After all, even supposed “moderates” like Snowe vote 90% the same way as people like Cantor, Ryan, and DeMint.

                So, yeah, I’m sure there’s a nice Republican city council member out there or something. Same as there was in 1968 or 1980. Doesn’t matter that the national party was aligned with idea of going as rightward as possible on the issues the American people would let them get away with (law ‘n’ order in the 60’s, welfare spending in the 80’s, and civil liberties and/or tax policy in the 00’s)Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I was thinking more about how Presidents often transcend party. Even Obama has certainly not stuck to the agenda we would have expected in 2008.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Eh, maybe I’m just a far better Cassandra than others, but Obama hasn’t really surprised me. But then again, I never expected a President that agreed with me on much, especially when it came to foreign policy. Obama has moved the Overton window slightly to the left, passed some good bills, and made sure the GOP didn’t totally nuke things. That’s about what I expected, that’s what I’ve gotten.

                Also, nothing Obama has done is out of the ‘mainstream’ of the Democratic Party. Now, it may be out of the mainstream of the Democratic Party as it exists on the Internet’s, but the guy still has an 80%~ approval rating among liberals. He hasn’t pulled an Eisenhower or even a George H.W. Bush when it comes to attacking his own party.Report

  17. Mike Dwyer says:

    I don’t have the energy to research this, but does anyone have any idea of the overall racial make-up of American bloggers? I’ve always pictured it as a mostly white pursuit. I’m actually surprised it doesn’t have an entry here.Report

  18. Rufus F. says:

    So I throw the question out to to the hive mind: Assuming that different viewpoints are good for the League, how do we best go about fostering that? 

    Oh, why does this question remind me of the long argument (I started) here about conservatives in academia?

    Anyway, the problem with a site that doesn’t pay (like most of them) is that you have to entice people to voluntarily write for you. Perhaps you could do that by posting more on topics that are of interest to whatever group you’re looking to attract. Of course, a bunch of white guys writing about topics assumed to be of interest to other ethnic groups could be all sorts of ridiculous. Conversely, maybe you could start conversations with other posts on other blogs that are more diverse than this one, and hope it goes better than “mansplaining” to Tiger Beatdown went.

    A funny story- my wife and her friends are all super intelligent and accomplished women, so when she and her friend Amber called from a dinner asking to know more about the site, my hopes rose that they’d want to write here. After looking at it for an hour, they called me back laughing hysterically: “Wow! You guys are a bunch of dorks!” They meant it kindly (I hope) but I did not get the feeling they wanted to be added to the roster.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Rufus, as in academia, scout up some Republican women and I’ll take this diversity business as sincere.  Conservative women are the yeti of the blabosphere.Report

    • kenB in reply to Rufus F. says:

      “Wow! You guys are a bunch of dorks!”

      I’m pretty sure this is the response I’d get from most of my male friends and relations as well.Report

    • Sam M in reply to Rufus F. says:

      This is an interesting perspective, and one that turns the question of privilege on its head a bit, at least in my reading. That is, sure, great, maybe it WOULD be grand if some people who are not priviledged would drop some knowledge on us. And it’s nice to think that maybe they don’t because we are unwelcoming, or that we don’t reach out enough, or whatever. Either way, the assumption is some version of, “We have the power, and these other people do not feel welcome enough to share their ideas. How can we be more welcoming?”

      But maybe such people, either individually or as a class, think we are idiots? Or not worth the time?

      Like, if I have a party and there are no 24-year-old bikini models there, maybe the problem is that they are intimidated by my intellect, or they are afraid that they aren’t up to it, or their invitation got lost in the mail.

      Or, maybe there are no 24-year-old bikini models there for other reasons that are less charitable to consider.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Sam M says:

        Wait…  the bikini models are coming though.  Right?  Eventually?Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to Sam M says:

        Tom: So, I’m insincere now? Thanks. If you know how to “scout” bloggers, share that knowledge and I’m sure we’ll do it.

        Tod: I think she was just trolling us because she thought Jaybird is too liberal to be a real man or something. It still hasn’t risen to the level of “interesting”, frankly.

        Ken: I’ve had many friends say they think the site is cute but our interests are a bit too dorky for their tastes. I have no idea what they could mean by that!


        • Will Truman in reply to Rufus F. says:

          Who in the world are you two talking about?Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to Will Truman says:

            Will: It’s really not interesting. You know how there are some trolls who will leave comments along the lines of “You all suck! Ha Ha! Stupids!” to get attention in the comment threads? Well, there are bloggers who do the same thing with links to get attention for their blogs. For the most part, they’re easier to ignore than thread trolls and about as intellectually engaging as teenagers who yell out of cars at pedestrians.Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I didn’t question your sincerity, Rufus, but the premise of this whole inquiry.  My apology if it came off any other way.

          Find a Republican woman who’ll take the spitstorm that’ll come her way and I’ll testify at her mental competency hearing for the prosecution.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Rufus F. says:

      That was a great story.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Rufus F. says:

      “Wow! You guys are a bunch of dorks!”

      And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.

      This all sort of reminds me of an old article talking about one of the reasons for the gender disparity in IT is the geekitude of the guys. I don’t mean areas of geek misogyny, but relatively innocent stuff like Star Trek posters, coke cans, video game boxes, and so on. Now, it’s one thing to ask current IT folks not to have actually offensive things on the walls, or to crack down on offensive behavior, but it’s another to say that the entire culture of a place should be changed to make it more enticing to outside groups.

      (Again, this applies as much to ideological diversity as it anything else.)Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to Will Truman says:

        That was a great story.

        Thanks! I probably should mention they were hanging out at our friend’s house getting tipsy on booze. It’s the only explanation for thinking the site is dorky really.

        And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.

        That’s what I said. I can’t imagine why anyone would think long conversations about Hobbes and fantasy novels are dorky though.


  19. North says:

    Well I’m a half Canadian gay man who is married to an african american hawaiian and I own a Liza Minnelli lunchbox (it sits in the pride of my place on a shelf in the kitchen. Such artifacts are infinitely too precious to actually sully by filling with lunch).

    Therefore I feel I have contributed my part to the League’s diversity. You’re welcome.Report

  20. BSK says:


    Great piece.  However, I feel I am misrepresented in this quote:

    “BSK and Somni both call for a census and cataloguing of the race, gender and creed of all who participate at the League.”

    I did not call for a census or cataloguing of any kind and, if it appeared so, I either misspoke or was misunderstood.  I do think there is value in knowing who and what is represented within a group, but do not think the methods expressed following that statement are the appropriate way to do so.  This is a particularly difficult thing to accomplish with the anonymity of the internet, but there are better ways.  Anyway, I just want to make sure my position on the matter is clear.

    You did make an interesting comment in discussing how an African-American commenter might lead off with that, particularly if his perspective is informed by his race.  However, does a white commenter need to do the same?  Or is it assumed that we are white unless we indicate otherwise?  And, if so, what does that say about us/the LoOG?

    I haven’t read the comments and will do so and decide on weighing in.  I do alot of professional work on diversity (in schools) and hopefully can contribute here.  But I just wanted to get that one point across first.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to BSK says:

      Yo BSK –

      As to me misunderstanding you, so says Sonmi as well – you’ll note that I apologized for having done so, and I happily do it again here.

      Your question about “does white guy identify;” and I think I would argue that we do (or at least I do) as appropriate.  So, for example, if I wrote a post that I liked going to Borders back in the day and someone said, “I, as a whit man….”  Yeah, that would look a little off.  But so would starting off “I, as a blah man…”

      I was referring to those contexts where one recognizes that those things that make them different give them different perspectives, and say so.  So I would not mind it, frankly, if someone said to Blaise something along the lines of “Hey, look, I’m an African American, and because of that I see what you’re saying about slavery as being way off base.”  I cannot imagine resounding to Blaise about his TNC “as a white man.”  But when talking about progressive cities, I do say “as a guy from Portland,” or about childrearing “as a guy with two sons,” etc.

      I had not meant that a minority needs to self-identify to the group; I meant that acknowledging that you are seeing things from a certain viewpoint in certain contexts is helpful for mutual understanding.

      I am recognizing as I write it that what I am saying is coming out more clumsily than I am thinking it, but hopefully you get the gist, yes?Report

      • BSK in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        As I said, I didn’t read all the comments so if you already addressed the issue, that is well-enough for me.  You did accurately capture me elsewhere so I trust it was just that: a misunderstanding.

        I get your point.  And it is illuminating.  Though I don’t think you intended to, a statement like, “I was referring to those contexts where one recognizes that those things that make them different give them different perspectives, and say so.”  Deliberately or not, you are defining the black person/woman/Muslim/whomever-not-in-the-majority-here as he/she who is different.  I, BSK, white Christian straight male, need not identify about what makes me who I am (those characteristics among others) because it is the norm: I am not different.  It is all those OTHER people who are different and who are best served to identify how their difference is informing their different perspective.

        I get what you’re saying and do not mean to imply you did that consciously.  But subtle shifts in language can lead to subtle shifts in behavior and culture which can have profound impacts.  So, instead of viewing a black guy as offering a different, black perspective from the normative perspective, why not view the black guy and the white guy each offering a perspective that is, at least in part, informed by their racial experience to date?  As you said, we need not include all demographic data in all posts and comments.  But it would do us all a service if we stepped back and thought, “How does my race/gender/sexual orientation/age/religion/class/etc. inform the perspective I have?”  It is easy for those of us in the majority to be unaware of how our majority status impacts our worldview.  I don’t have WHITE opinions… I just have opinions; TNC… now THAT guy has BLACK opinions.

        This ended up a bit clumsier than I intended, but hopefully you see the point.  In the end, I agree that we need not demand everyone include every detail about them in every post, and we certainly should not expect this uniquely of “minorities”.  But people ought to think about why they don’t view their opinions as white/male/Christian/blahblahblah, or, if they do, why they don’t acknowledge them as such…Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to BSK says:

          I think I do see where you’re coming from.  I’m not entirely sure, but I actually think if we’re not actually on the exact same square we’re in spitting distance.Report

          • BSK in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Indeed.  It is hard to tackle issues relating to a topic as nebulous as “diversity” in a blog post or comment.  It involves much deep personal soul searching, cultural analysis, and institutional review.  Being willing to have the conversation and ask the questions is the first step and it seems that many here are more than willing.Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to BSK says:

              Yeah!  I have to admit I was somewhat pleasantly surprised.  I was a little afraid when writing this that the threads would get clogged up with a bunch of “That’s PC bulls**t!” comments.  So good for us.


              • BSK in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                It all comes down to how you define “diversity” and what your ultimate goal is.  Pushing for quota’s and good “college brochure” pictures would likely generate (and justify) such responses (though I personally hate the “PC” slur, since I think it is intended to be a conversation ender but, alas…).  If instead you are looking to both broaden and deepen the intellectual power of this blog, with an eye towards how diversity, in all its myriad forms, will help accomplish this, I see little reason why anyone would object.

                One must also be mindful of the purpose of an organization.  This is a blog, primarily intended to educate and inform through honest, engaged dialogue (or, at least that is what I think it is… recently it has at times seemed like an episode of “This Old Boat” :-P).  So, “diversity” here means something different than diversity in a school (where I work), which has a very different purpose and mission.  So if the goal is compromised under the auspices of “promoting diversity”, than you are not only failing to realize your mission but you are also likely doing a shitty job with diversity.  Of course, “promoting diversity” itself can be a goal and an organization’s goals can shift, so there is that.

                FWIW, I don’t like the term diversity… at least, not all by itself.  I prefer to couple it with “equity” and, depending on the context, “justice”.  Equity, as I define it (i.e., NOT equality), certainly seems to be a major theme here and the creation of a forum where all folks feel comfortable expressing their viewpoints would seem to fit.  The question is: is that the case now?  Do we have limited voices because folks aren’t interested in what is going on here (Are we the nerd table?) or is there something about the culture that says only a certain type of person is welcome here (Are we the white table?), noting that such a culture can be created without any deliberate intent or explicit message to be so exclusive.Report

    • Kim in reply to BSK says:

      I have oft maintained that I am a spotted American.

      Make of that what you will.Report

  21. wardsmith says:

    Why do all these discussions keep making me think of this movie?Report

  22. Will H. says:

    I’m bi-racial, but I just don’t talk about it.
    Why should I?
    I spent a lot of time in my teens and 20’s trying to come to terms with a racial identity.
    Finally, I got tired of it, and said, “Screw it.”
    I am who I am.
    And I eat spinach too.
    But I don’t need to be anything other than what I am, and I don’t think it’s really fair to pigeon-hole people on the basis of racial make-up.
    So screw it.
    There, I said it again.Report