There will be bad blood

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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477 Responses

  1. I’m excited by the possibility of new sub-blogs.Report

  2. Loviatar says:

    Why does the need for “ideological diversity” (h/t Kazzy) outweigh common courtesy.

    Get rid of TVD.


    Why does the need for ideological diversity give you a pass to continue to publish someone whose is a sexist, a bigot and possibly an outright racist.

    Get rid of TVD.


    LOOG is a reflection of all of the Front Pagers character, standing and reputation, however in the name of ideological diversity you are allowing one person to besmirch that reputation.

    Get rid of TVD.


    To paraphrase Michelle Obama; the TVD controversy doesn’t change who the Front Pagers are, it reveals who they are. Lets see what it reveals about Erik and the other FPers.

    Get rid of TVDReport

    • Erik Kain in reply to Loviatar says:

      I’m glad you feel so passionate about this, but this whole chorus-response style comment rubs me the wrong way. Feels sort of disingenuous, like you’re standing on a perch that makes genuine interaction with us impossible.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Loviatar says:

      I don’t want to say much more than this, but TVD is not a racist and labeling him as such is unfair.Report

    • North in reply to Loviatar says:

      Yeesh I’m a bloody liberal and this makes me want to keep TVD just outta spite.Report

    • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Loviatar says:

      I’ll weigh in on both issues:

      As for TVD, my issue with him is not his ideological content, but that he seems to enjoy causing discord: he is not a good-faith member of the community, but our sprite, who drops in to disrupt. He has done some front-page posts that have been interesting, but at least half of his commenting is just stirring up shit: partisan name-calling, besmirching of the motives or integrity of others, and the like.

      That he is not a good-faith participant here seems self-evident. When he is called on an argument or behavior that others object to, only in the rarest of circumstances does he engage on substantive grounds, or defend his position in an intellectually honest way. Most often he’ll bail–I imagine him taking great pleasure in the barfights he has started. When he does engage in good faith, I enjoy reading him, even though I agree with almost nothing he says: he is an excellent writer, and–when sincere–produces interesting and provocative prose.

      Personally, I don’t think we should constrain the ideological content of the blog at all (short of calling for harm to others). I’d love to hear from all quarters, presuming that they engage honestly, and respond in kind to the questions and challenges of others in the community.

      Which leads me to the second topic…

      I would love to see more women in the community, and I certainly don’t think that it’s the blog’s title that’s holding them back. Part of the issue, I think, is that visitors don’t see that we already have a few–I was here for some months, for example, before I realized that North was a woman. Most of us are buried behind a pseudonym (except for me, of course), and that kind of disguises the makeup of the community. I think the most welcoming thing for women is to see that there are other women here.

      I’m not sure how much headway we’d make, though. The culture of this blog is kinda wonky, kinda nerdy, and kinda disputational. All three of those characteristics skew male, in my experience.Report

    • Loviatar in reply to Loviatar says:

      To paraphrase Michelle Obama; the TVD controversy doesn’t change who the Front Pagers are, it reveals who they are. Lets see what it reveals about Erik and the other FPers.

      The commentary is pretty revealing about who/what LOOG and FPers are.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Loviatar says:

        I agree that it’s revealing:

        They take themselves seriously, they take criticism seriously, and they don’t respond with kneejerk action to angry comments (most of the time).

        Also, they use gentle, self-mocking humor to defuse tense situations.

        Also also, they’ve spent enough time rubbing up against other people’s flaws that their internet blinders work okay.

        Finally, they are pretty adept at focusing on what they like about things rather than what they don’t, most of the time.

        Yup. Pretty revealing.Report

  3. Sam says:

    -Is a LeagueCast a podcast? Oh my goodness: I am anxious about the possibility of putting on headphones to reveal all of my intellectual inadequacies.Report

  4. greginak says:

    I can see how the Meta stuff and the bad blood is tiring. However the Meta stuff seems like a natural and unavoidable consequence of this kind of blog. This a community ( like a relationship) and it requires overt discussion. We talk about contentious topics and all enjoy talking…talking a lot about abstract topics and things that matter to us. Mix all of those things together and that is a recipe for talking about how we talk with each other. This place is still great but humans are humans and that means there will always be conflict.

    I’m not a TVD fan but i tend to just avoid his post mostly and i think that would be wise choice. Don’t feed the trolls or people you don’t get along with. However plenty of people disagree with me on this apparently. As i suggested in Kazzy’s thread yesterday, closing threads is often best. Deleting posts often raises the heat.

    I agree having more diverse viewpoints, like more women’s views would be good. One of the great things about here is that we have people from other countries as FPer’s. That adds a lot to the discussion.

    Despite all the fuss this place is still great and as good as its ever been in most ways. The discussions are productive and interesting. As blah and grinding as this election season has been i would think some of the stress and bad blood will decrease after its over. My guess is some of the stress if from people overwhelmed with the crap of an American election and some people are seeing their candidate drown in flop sweat.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to greginak says:

      I think what I struggle with in terms of the “meta” stuff is…

      A) It never stays very meta for very long. Talking about Tom or any other individual commenter is not particularly meta, as I understand the word. Talking about why we are here and how we’ll accomplish what we’re here to do is. That often gets swallowed up in pettiness, including myself as a prime culprit.
      B) Lots of talking, little resolution. I don’t know if we’re wrongly trying to build a consensus that will just never come to be or if we’re opting to maintain the status quo, but it seems that in spite of all the talking, little ever changes.
      C) A lack of clarity on stated goals. In my work as an educator, folks often ask me if they should do A or B, activity X or Y, lesson S or T. I always say, “Well, what are you trying to accomplish? What is your goal?” More often than not, they are dumbfounded and just want to know what to do and when to do it. It is mindboggling. I struggle to see how any conversation about what ought to be done and how can happen without a clear understanding of the purpose of undertaking any action in the first place is.Report

      • Erik Kain in reply to Kazzy says:

        Stated goals are tricky; we’ve been amorphous in this site’s goals somewhat on purpose. But largely it is to provide a community for discussion that includes as many perspectives as possible, so long as those perspectives don’t eliminate other potential perspectives.

        I do think the discussion of TVD, in this instance, has moved to meta, given the prominence of this dispute.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Erik Kain says:

          “But largely it is to provide a community for discussion that includes as many perspectives as possible, so long as those perspectives don’t eliminate other potential perspectives.”

          I think that last part is where things get tricky.

          We can explicitly ban folks who make this place hostile to Martians. So we’ll have fewer Martian-haters but more Martians. But then we’re banning folks. And that is ugly.
          We can frown at these people when they make the place hostile to Martians. We’ll have fewer Martians but we won’t have resorted to banning, which makes us feel icky.

          It seems we often opt for the latter. And perhaps for good reason. But I can’t help but think that at least some of that tendency is couched in the libertarian bent here. Banning folks is coercive; making them uncomfortable is not. I find this problematic for a number of reasons, though also recognize it as a wholly reasonable place from which to start (just not the one I would).

          And I do think that this particular conversation went meta. But the shitfests where folks (myself included) argue over just what part of Tom’s personality is the worstest? That is neither meta nor constructive and something I will pledge to do my damnest to not only no longer be a part of, but to cease it through constructive means (be the target Tom or anyone else).Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

            ” But I can’t help but think that at least some of that tendency is couched in the libertarian bent here. Banning folks is coercive; making them uncomfortable is not.”

            As someone who agrees that banning should be seldom used (and never because of their political stripes), reads the arguments of the behind the scenes meta discussions, and is in no way a libertarian I can tell you that this is entirely wrong.Report

            • Erik Kain in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              Well, to be fair I think that the hands-off approach was simply held from the get-go, from the earliest days of the blog. We wanted to create an organic community and it was pretty easy when we were so much smaller. I’ve actually long been the one to push for bans and many, many times I’ve faced a veto of some sort. I’m far more aggressive when it comes to kicking people off the island than some others, but I don’t think it falls along ideological lines. I think the resistance to be “coercive” is simply because of the belief that the community itself should be able to hammer things out on its own.Report

              • It’s interesting to note though – and I mean no disrespect towards anyone here – that when we were smaller there was far less navel gazing.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                Well, there were fewer navels to gaze at…Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Erik Kain says:

                I am happy to be wrong on that point. Perhaps “coercive” was the wrong word and linking this to libertarianism was clearly wrong. And, for the record, it wasn’t a potshot at libertarianism; just an observation and a poorly thought out conclusion.

                What I meant is that there is always going to be a balancing act between maintaining a diversity of opinions and maintaining a diversity of opinions. Allowing some opinions in is going to push some opinions out. Keeping some opinions out keeps those opinions out. No matter what you do, opinions are absent. It seems the mindset here is that, if opinions must be missed, it would prefer they were missed because people voluntarily exclude themselves than because folks were involuntarily barred from participating. And, if that is the case, I fully understand the rationale behind that; it is a reasonable position to hold. I just don’t know that it is the one that I hold. And I wonder to what extent a lack of awareness of how that process of voluntary self-exclusion plays into the ease with which we accept that as a limiting factor on our ideological diversity.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

            But I can’t help but think that at least some of that tendency is couched in the libertarian bent here. Banning folks is coercive; making them uncomfortable is not.

            Banning isn’t coercive, as we typically use the term. Libertarians believe that people have the right to do as they choose with their own property, and that includes the right to enforce standards of conduct and excluding people for failure to abide by them, or for any other reason or none at all. Private exercise of editorial control is not the same as censorship.

            That said, my personal experience has been that while almost all libertarian bloggers and most left-wing bloggers are very restrained in the use of editorial control, there’s a minority of left-wing bloggers who are somewhat more aggressive in the use of editorial control, often in a viewpoint-biased manner.

            I’m not sure that this is related to the explicit content of either ideology. It may just be that some leftists are used to living in an ideological bubble, whereas virtually all libertarians are used to being in the minority.Report

            • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              I was as annoyed by Bob Cheeks as anyone here, but was distressed to see that when he was finally run off, it was not because of his adversarial trollery (my word), but because of the ideological content of one of his comments (sexist and offensive though it might have been).Report

              • I felt the same way. Chasing someone off for threatening people, or doing nothing but insulting people personally, is one thing. Chasing someone off for their ideas is another, and it’s a bad idea, even if you find those ideas offensive.

                I’ve heard it argued many times that if certain ideas expressed in comments are not censored on a blog, that implies some sort of tacit acceptance of them by the bloggers. I find that notion absurd. Every time Cheeks waxed genocidal or played the Confederate apologist, he was called on it by pretty much everyone who wasn’t just automatically ignoring Bob Cheeks. That seemed like enough to me.

                Besides, I really wanted to see what Cheeks made of the Sokal-like hoax in theology, and now I can’t. And that makes me sad.Report

              • Christopher Carr in reply to Chris says:

                Was Bob banned, or does he just not show up anymore?Report

              • Chris in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                He was effectively banned. If I remember correctly, Erik said he was going to moderate all of Bob’s comments, to which Bob said he’d rather just not comment, and so he hasn’t.Report

              • He was told his comments would be placed in moderation and then approved or not approved based on their content, so he left.Report

              • He was told that his comments would be held in moderation, to be released into the wild if they met the barest minimum of something or other.

                To the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t bothered to comment since. (I have looked in the spam for him to no avail.)

                I tell myself it’s because he’s still on dial-up that he hasn’t tried to get back into moderate graces. Maybe he’ll come back when he upgrades. That helps me deal with the lingering suspicion that it’s my fault on this or that level that he doesn’t show up anymore and pushed it to a head before he reached that point.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                I miss him too, but Bob had been on a run of bad behavior for a while there and he did cross the line a lot (possibly because he’d finally pushed so far that he’d found a line to cross).
                I miss him terribly, quick Jay, call me a Commiedem.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                You’re all pinkos as far as I’m concerned, North.

                But you Cananadidians expecially.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

                “I’ve heard it argued many times that if certain ideas expressed in comments are not censored on a blog, that implies some sort of tacit acceptance of them by the bloggers. I find that notion absurd.”

                Chris it may be wrong to assume a tacit acceptance, but it is far from an absurd notion. I have moved around a lot in my career and, as a result, have entered a lot of new professional communities and cultures which I was largely oblivious about. Naturally, in each place, there were things that stood out to me as weird or crazy or wrong or batshit crazy. When these batshit crazy things went on and I wanted to jump up and say, “Holy crap, this is batshit crazy!” but everyone was sitting there, nodding along, I couldn’t help but assume that they were all or at least mostly just okay with the batshit crazy. Over time, as I got to know the community better, I often learned that many folks (not necessarily a majority, but a critical mass) felt similarly but assumed they were the only one because, again, no one spoke up. On some occasions, I was able to bring these folks together, point out that they weren’t the only ones bothered by what went on and, often, we could seek change.

                Now, this doesn’t parallel perfectly with a blog. There are far greater consequences for questioning the status quo in the work place than there are on the internet. And there sure as hell isn’t the anonymity that many of us enjoy. Which says to me that calling stuff out ought to be *easier* here than elsewhere. So when stuff is not called out, I don’t think it is unreasonable for newcomers to assume that that tacit acceptance is very much there. They might be wrong… we might be ignoring a troll or working on things behind the scenes or whathaveyou… but it isn’t absurd. And that was the point of all that I did here recently… I didn’t want to sit on my hands and imply a tacit acceptance of that which I disapprove of.Report

              • FWIW, my memory is somewhat different. Had Bob not succeeded, through trolling, in us having to shut a thread down hours prior to his sexist comment, *and* if he hadn’t mouthed off to Erik the way he did right after his sexist comments, I do not believe the moderation tag would have come.

                In other words: yeah, he was being pretty sexist, but that’s not what really got him in the place he got.Report

              • greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Yeah he kept pushing it and blatantly thumbing his cyber nose as i remember aside from his typical trolling.Report

    • Jeffrey Straszheim in reply to greginak says:

      I read a lot more than I comment around here. Anyway, when I am scrolling down a thread, I just skip TVD. When I see the comments turn into that inevitable TVD-crapstorm, I scroll faster. I might stop if I see a commenter who is often funny. But other than that I get past the TVD section as quickly as possible.Report

  5. Glyph says:

    Hi Erik, this is a minor thing all things considered, but I would like to see clearer navigation back to the FP from the sub-blogs.

    When on the sub-blogs, it would be nice to have the sub-blog’s name in the page header – currently, seeing the LoOG logo there instead causes me to either A.) forget that I am on a sub-blog rather than main blog, and/or B.) click on that LoOG logo in an attempt to return to the main page (and of course that click only brings me back to the sub-blog, since I didn’t use the smaller ‘Return to the LoOG’ box link below). I am sure you are trying to keep a uniform look, and don’t want to lose the parent ‘brand’ on the sub-blogs but maybe there are ways to page design to meet those goals, and still have clean navigation so the user knows where he is and where to go.

    It would be nice to use the Disqus functionality for on-screen notification of comment replies, but I am guessing to make that work, you probably have to require registration/login for commenters, which I am not a fan of (when they did that on AV Club, the intent was to effect a reduction in trolling/drive-bys etc., but I felt a lot of spontaneity in the comment culture was sadly lost, since fewer lurkers will do the occasional ‘drop in’ to a thread).Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    I want to personally apologize for my role in some of the ugliness lately. My intention was never to isolate or crucify anyone, but that happened as a direct result of my post and I take full responsibility for that. I want to offer a direct apology to Mr. Van Dyke, who bore many undue attacks motivated by my writings. I also want to apologize to Mike Farmer. In attempting to take a stand, I made a bad situation worse and was not fully prepared to deal with the fallout. I still disagree vehemently with what he said but there are better ways to handle that disagreement. I also want to apologize to my co-bloggers here, many of whom did and continue to clean up the mess caused by my actions and inactions. Lastly, I want to apologize to the community as a whole. My goal has always ben to make this a better place for all. I hope to continue those efforts more effectively and constructively.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

      I think it’s a very Gentlemanly thing to do when one apologizes for one’s own mistakes. Kudos, sir.Report

    • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

      Dude, I honestly don’t think you have anything to apologize for. It wasn’t your fault that the thread got out of hand. And one person was clearly dealing with some stuff that had nothing to do with you.

      As long as Tom is here (and I’m not calling for him to be banned or anything), the conversation will occasionally, if not frequently, become about Tom. As I said before, I think that’s the way he likes it. So it doesn’t really matter what you post, so you might as well get stuff out that you need to get out, let the conversation go where it goes, and hope that someone isn’t having a really bad day that day.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        I could have been, done, and known better. For that, I apologize.Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kazzy says:

          I accept, Kazzy. I’m always ready to clean the slate with any person of good will.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


            I’m not one to hold grudges, though I fully acknowledge that my behavior here likely indicates otherwise.

            I’m going to work hard to make this a better place. I hope and trust that you, and everyone else, will as well. The extent to which I didn’t give you that particular benefit of the doubt, I’m happy to walk backwards on that and extend it again. If I may ask anything of you, it is that you do the same for me.

            Speaking a bit more broadly, a “community norm” for a number of organizations I’ve been a part of has been to assume positive intent. It is something I preach but don’t always practice. I need to be better at that.Report

      • MFarmer in reply to Chris says:

        “And one person was clearly dealing with some stuff that had nothing to do with you.”

        That’s true. Lately I’ve had a recurring dream that I’m a weiner travelling through the Lincoln Tunnel and I’m seeking therapy to clarify the angst. I misdirected my sexual insecurities and felt hopelessly confused later as a I rubbed old lady Hendrick’s feet and dreamed of Rosie O’Donnell.Report

    • MFarmer in reply to Kazzy says:

      I apologize to you Kazzy and anyone else I offended. I first thought my humor would be understood, then it seemed it was deliberately misunderstood, then I misunderstood myself. I’ve gone through three changes here — at first I thought the FPers were intelligent and the commenters were full of shit, then I realized the commenters were intelligent and the FPers were full of shit, and now I realize I’m full of shit.Report

      • Erik Kain in reply to MFarmer says:

        Mike, I’m not sure if you’re joking or being sincere. Much is lost in translation when attempting to speak with one another online. You’ve been a valuable member of this community for a long time, and I hope it stays that way. Just try to think of this as my house. Don’t shit in my house, k? Unless you aim for the toilet.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to Erik Kain says:

          I’m sincerely apologizing, if that’s what you mean. It’s hard for me to see this as your house, but, since you own the site, I will be straightforward and much duller from now on. My humor isn’t easy to understand, especially by people who’ve made up their minds what they think I am, then when I mention homosexuals or females I must be homophobic or sexist, because why would I even mention either if it’s not to denigrate? If they only knew me, they would feel silly. One person called me a conservative here just the other day. After all this time and some think I’m a conservative. Incredible. But, yes, I sincerely apologize to all I offended. When I get riled I have flashbacks of acid trips and wind up muttering to my cat how people aren’t worth the time and effort.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to MFarmer says:

            *nods* I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: j/k is a joke tag. is a joke tag.
            If your humor MIGHT be construed as something else, please Use Them!
            Saves time, if nothing else.Report

      • Chris in reply to MFarmer says:

        Farmer, I think you’re being sincere here, and I think this was mighty big of you. I’d shake your hand if you weren’t just a giant head on a screen.Report

  7. MikeSchilling says:

    The need to constantly refresh to see the latest comments seems relatively new to me (say, in the last few months). I find it a real pain in the butt. If it can be fixed on the server side, go for it. If not, I’d be glad to put together a client-side cookbook with recipes for different browsers/OSs that could, perhaps, be linked to from the title bar.Report

  8. dhex says:

    clearly you guys want to diversify your gender portfolio as far as authors and commenters go. outside of pay for play schemes – if the name really dissuades that many women, change it.

    go for “the league of ordinary gentlefolk”or some variation thereof. gentlepersons. etc. you don’t have to toss out the entire theme, though edwardian clip art is gonna skew heavily gendered regardless.

    go buy and keep live. see what happens. if in a year it’s still a festive gathering hosted by jimmy dean, then you’re gonna need to try something else. but since most folk seem to point to the name as a major roadblock, it seems like the most obvious place to start.Report

  9. Miss Mary says:

    This is a small corner of the world. Will there be men who say not so nice things and treat women like a lesser species? Yes. Are there more men interested in discussing politics (and video games, philosophy, and every other topic that arises here)? Yes. That is just the world we live in so I’m not sure how much you can do about it other than to be who you are and speak up if you don’t like it.

    Anecdotally, when I came here it took a while to get past the name. It was not in any way welcoming and caused me to second guess whether I should be here at all. I like the sound and understand the reasoning behind it, but it would be nice to be included. The message the site’s title sends about the culture you are building and maintaining is only telling half the story, right? You want the opinion of ladies and gentlemen?Report

  10. Ryan Noonan says:

    The masthead could use a little cleaning up (and I don’t mean by removing people from it!).Report

  11. Ryan Noonan says:

    As for actual substantive stuff, I’m pretty stymied. I think my position on the tone of this place is well known at this point. I also know that people don’t want to wield any kind of censorship powers to enforce comity or even any bare minimums of respect or debate, which makes it very hard to figure out how to make the comment section here a welcoming or non-hostile environment. The laissez faire approach, as you note, doesn’t work for a lot of people we want to have more of.

    My approach, in the face of this reality, has been an increasingly sharp rebuke to those (especially FPers) who I think aren’t creating the kind of environment we want here. I have gotten in some pretty epic throw-downs with Tom, and I went after Mike Dwyer quite a bit on his abortion post as well. If we aren’t going to enforce community standards using the law of the ban hammer or the censor, then the establishment of norms is all we have left.Report

    • kenB in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

      How do you go about determining that a given standard that you personally wish to enforce is actually a “community standard”? If most of the FP’ers are declining to enforce it, isn’t that prima facie evidence that it’s not really the whole community’s standard?Report

  12. Plinko says:

    Lately the comment threads on political posts are just too much for me. The comments fill with aggressive nastiness rather quickly and I often choose to just stay out of them rather than comment as much as I used to. I could do without the meta stuff entirely. But I know that it’s necessary to an extent.

    Regarding improving appeal to more females, I think this place is moving along, maybe a little too slowly but definitely moving in the right direction. There are far more female commenters whose stuff I enjoy than there’s ever been. As I’ve said elsewhere, Internet socio-political comment boards are overwhelmingly male-dominated, so the fact that there’s a real and growing feminine presence here’s a great start, but I really have no template for how to do it better. The only thing I can suggest, is to keep the social stuff going as much as possible – the less politically chaed spaces are great for getting those less comfortable with jumping into the age old political arguments to get their feet wet (female or male).

    The posts themselves have been great lately, as the site gets more popular dit’s just harder to feel like one can make a positive contribution to the commentary.

    Lastly, am I the only one for whom comment subscriptions no longer work? I really love them, but they’ve stopped coming entirely now. I stills get my subscriptions to posts via e-mail, just not the comment sections of posts that I sign up for.Report

  13. Patrick Cahalan says:


    You never texted me the mailman password. Just a reminder.Report

  14. Michelle says:

    I’ve noticed the typo problem with my iPad as well. iPad has a pretty bizarre auto-correct function.Report

  15. DensityDuck says:

    I remember when it was a big deal that they said “Mister Savvik” in Star Trek 2, because that showed how the enlightened future would no longer insist that forms of respectful address depend on gender.


    “[T]he concern that women are being discussed rather callously in the comments by both writers and commenters has become an issue, especially recently.”

    I think the issue might be that attempts to avoid preferential or disparate treatment wind up looking like callousness. Like the old joke about how so-and-so isn’t a misogynist, he hates everyone just the same.Report

  16. joey jo jo says:

    I don’t see the question as to ban or not to ban. I see it as whether or not to continue to provide institutional support and deference.Report

  17. ktward says:

    Fwiw, my two cents.

    The issue of this blog’s name has come up before.
    Iirc, at that time it seemed like the gals (including myself) weren’t largely concerned about the name. The Good Ol’ Boys Club aura, for me, emanates from the comment threads: y’all have a longstanding, tight camaraderie and style of pithy (très entertaining!) banter that sometimes I simply don’t wish to intrude upon. It’s not ever left me feeling unwelcome: if I have the time and feel I’ve something worthwhile to add to the mix, I’ll comment. In any event, I genuinely enjoy the manner in which this blog affords me wider and fresh insights on weighty issues.

    Whether you keep the name or change it will have zero effect on my lurking or commenting.

    On Mr. Van Dyke:
    Yeah, I’ve witnessed a lot of the drama and blood-letting of late. I must admit that I’m usually in agreement with his sharpest critics regarding some his more offensive points of view. And as DRS aptly noted, he does have an extraordinary knack for combining victimhood and condescension which makes it extra challenging to take him seriously. Personally, his victimhood shtick probably gets under my skin more than any of his, er, controversial perspectives, but that’s my button.

    In the main, however, TVD’s presence on the masthead does not in any way reduce the esteem in which I hold this blog. Mostly I simply skip over his stuff. It occurs to me that newcomers aren’t likely to know TVD from a hole in the ground, and regulars surely know that he is not in any way a reflection of the greater League community’s sensibilities. Rather than go to the trouble of officially removing him as a FPer, perhaps the League environment is proving uncomfortable enough that he will simply self-deport.Report

    • Johanna in reply to ktward says:

      Pretty much ditto to all of the above except for the final paragraph where I think that those on the Masthead set the tone for the site. If someone on the Masthead is blogging or commenting in a way that consistently draws negative attention, it reflects poorly on the site. It may not reflect individual bloggers but the League presents as a group blog so it impacts the opinion of the blog as a whole to outsiders.Report

      • ktward in reply to Johanna says:

        I don’t know. It seems to me that our more prolific FPers are a much more obvious reflection of the overall League community and have an exponentially greater impact on the opinions of any outsiders than does little TVD.

        That said, the TVD flame wars of late might certainly give the wrong impression to a casual passerby, but no one’s suggesting he be banned from commenting on posts not his own. If we’re talking about appearances or impressions, TVD’s presence on the masthead seems much less problematic than the havoc he seems to incite on the comment threads.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to ktward says:

      In the main, however, TVD’s presence on the masthead does not in any way reduce the esteem in which I hold this blog. Mostly I simply skip over his stuff. It occurs to me that newcomers aren’t likely to know TVD from a hole in the ground, and regulars surely know that he is not in any way a reflection of the greater League community’s sensibilities.

      This pretty much sums up what I think is the appropriate response for those who don’t like Tom. When Blaise goes all Ayn Rand with one of his bizarre anti-libertarian rants, I don’t call for his ouster. I just roll my eyes and move on. Because whatever. No one’s forcing me to read it, and its presence doesn’t diminish the value of the other material here.Report

    • Michelle in reply to ktward says:

      The Good Ol’ Boys Club aura, for me, emanates from the comment threads: y’all have a longstanding, tight camaraderie and style of pithy (très entertaining!) banter that sometimes I simply don’t wish to intrude upon.

      This. It’s clear that a lot of the folks around here have been around for quite a while and have a number of in-jokes (as well as being wicked funny). I found it to be intimidating at first and sometimes still do, but I think that’s pretty much a factor of trying to break into any new community.

      I never found the name of the place to be a factor and it would seem kind of strange to change it now.Report

      • ktward in reply to Michelle says:

        I never found the name of the place to be a factor and it would seem kind of strange to change it now.

        Indeed. League of Ordinary Gentleman is clever. League of Ordinary Gentlefolk? Not so much. It’s like we’re talking about tweaking the title to a literary classic for the sake of PC. Just feels wrong.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to ktward says:

          That’s my take. It just seems that pandering to women is inauthentic. I liked the idea of George Sand smoking cigars with the guys.Report

        • Miss Mary in reply to ktward says:

          I respectfully disagree. It may be that kt and Michelle have been here long enough that they are expressing an entirely different perspective, but it seems like they have developed their character to a point where they are now widely accepted. I don’t disagree in the asthetics of the name, just the message it sends to women who don’t already have a foot in the door.Report

          • ktward in reply to Miss Mary says:

            I’m not entirely sure why my own foot-in-door experience here –which is presuming my foot is, actually, in any door– is any different from any other commenter, guy or gal.

            But I am genuinely sympathetic to your take, Miss Mary.
            The blog’s name seems to be of greater concern to you than the change of it’s name is of concern to me, so I’m totally okay with ceding the point.Report

  18. Cermet says:

    Where is TVD? This thread concerns him and I am a little surprised he hasn’t commented (I guess he feels it would be improper since his name has been raised and he feels that everyone should feel free to express themselves without his by-line.) Still, he at least adds some rather far out views. While he spend too much time defending his points or attacking others in the threads he does try and following topic – to some extent. Wish I had a bit more time to do that type of nonsense.

    He is troll-like but I think isn’t a real troll since he appears to believe much (but not all) of what he says. He is more a fake news … I mean fox news talking head – all the same nonsense, fluff, and no valid points based on facts. Still, he gives a good take on the thinking of the out-in-left field type. I have noticed that any expression of support for President Obama drives him out into the open so I won’t do that here.

    Still, if you aren’t interested, just skip 90% of his posts and he can be fun. He does (mostly keep his posts short.)Report

  19. BlaiseP says:

    The odds of flaming varies with the subject of the post. I, for one, am heartily sick of any variant of Gawd, Gunz or Bortion.

    As for TVD et. al. I am only glad nobody’s calling for my head on a platter, though I strongly suspect there are folks hereabouts who would be pleased enough to see it on one.

    Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
    And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
    Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

    I should have been a pair of ragged claws
    Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
    . . . . . . . .

    And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
    Smoothed by long fingers,
    Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
    Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
    Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
    Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
    But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
    Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
    I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
    I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
    And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
    And in short, I was afraid.

    And would it have been worth it, after all,
    After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
    Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
    Would it have been worth while,
    To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
    To have squeezed the universe into a ball
    To roll it toward some overwhelming question,

  20. Rose says:

    Here are my meta-thoughts:

    – The name should go, as I think we’re all agreed.

    – Miss Mary is right, the topics skew male. I think that’s fine, myself. I don’t really care if there’s a mostly male readership, as long as the place isn’t directly unwelcoming. Which I think, on the whole, it isn’t, and I’m happy to write here.

    – There are probably more female commenters on BT than on the FP. That makes sense. I write about stuff there that is more interesting to women, e.g., parenting, being a woman in a male field, parent of kids with special needs (I need to come up with an acronym for that). I have in the past refrained from putting much of that sort of stuff on the main page because it feels out of character for the blog. If you guys are interested in a more welcoming space for women, I’d be happy to post more woman-friendly stuff on the main page.

    – If comment threads devolve into annoying nonsense, I stop reading them. Even on my own posts. So I don’t really think it’s much of a big deal whether TVD stays or posts pictures of hotties. If all that was going on here was hottie-picture-posting, I would go elsewhere. But it isn’t, so I don’t.

    – I don’t buy this thing about “women don’t like arguing.” I like arguing. Women now make up a majority of law students. Maybe not all women do, but some of my most forceful comments are from women.

    – On LeagueCasts. I didn’t realize Murali was moderating and thought it was a free-for-all. So I may have been partially responsible for the anarchic character. Some ideas: limit it to 4 people and have a time cut-off ahead of time.Report

    • Erik Kain in reply to Rose says:

      The 4-person limit is a good idea, but I think we will also find that with practice our moderators will gain organizational skills, and that with more accessible topics we’ll have an easier time keeping pace.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Rose says:

      Yeah, I think number of participants should stay low, < 5 certainly. An appointed parliamentarian is probably a good idea.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Rose says:

      “If you guys are interested in a more welcoming space for women, I’d be happy to post more woman-friendly stuff on the main page.”

      Yes please.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Rose says:

      ” I don’t buy this thing about “women don’t like arguing.” I like arguing. Women now make up a majority of law students. Maybe not all women do, but some of my most forceful comments are from women.”

      Most law students (of all major genders) have an absolute loathing for litigation. I can’t tell you how many law students I met who just want to do transactional law (liking filing patents and trademarks and other government stuff) because it means not really interacting with people. Most lawyers can have entire careers without stepping into courtrooms.

      There are a lot of people who do want to do trial work but there is still a faint air of stigma around it because the best ways to get trial work are through criminal defense and/or plaintiff’s law. Not the most respected parts of the legal profession.Report

      • Rose in reply to NewDealer says:

        Yeah, maybe that’s not the best datum. But I’ve heard philosophers argue that that’s why there aren’t women in philosophy. Meanwhile, over in an English department, it’s 60% female. And they are not all sitting around giving each other group hugs.Report

        • NewDealer in reply to Rose says:

          I did not mean to imply that women were not argumentative. Any miscommunication on this my bad and I am sorry.

          My main point is that a lot of people think that law students all want to be litigators and love trial stuff and this is not true. There are a lot of people in law school who love litigation but they are more of a good-sized minority. Most of my classmates, male and female, hated litigation and the required moot court work.

          This was probably an unnecessary point to make but I’m one of the people who want to do trial work from my class, so I wanted to argue. 🙂Report

      • zic in reply to NewDealer says:

        Comfort for women, I think, depends more in the way the argument’s conducted. I certainly don’t think women lack of want or willing when it comes to debate.

        Yesterday, a thread declined so with the posturing on who was the bigger jerk that I pointed it out. And was called full of BS, because plenty of women can take hits and throw them on the internets. I’m sure that’s true. Yet those women are, proportionally, a much smaller pie-slice of womanhood then the men they’re arguing with are of man-hood.

        This thread, on the other hand, has a much more ‘feminine’ feel; one working toward some sort of consensus instead of last-man-standing.

        For that reason, I really dislike the ideological name calling. Righty, lefty, glibetarian, wingnut, etc. etc. etc., when applied to a large group, as in ‘you wingnuts all wear pancake make-up.” And most particularly when there are respectful terms, ‘conservative,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘libertarian,’ etc., readily available. The diminutives seem to blast, “Na na ne boo boo, I can’t hear you,” into the ether, crowding out the room for consensus.

        Exceptions made, of course, for comedy and humor.

        But that’s just my 2¢.Report

        • NewDealer in reply to zic says:

          This raises the question about what happens when consensus cannot be reached.

          There are probably a lot of issues on which we can reach consensus but do not. However, there are also a lot of issues like gay marriage on which there is no middle ground. You are either for gay marriage or against it. I think half-way measures like domestic partnerships are really just piss-poor stop gap measures that do not give homosexuals full civil rights.

          The same is true for a lot of hot-button culture issues: evolution and sex ed in schools, etc.

          Now this raises the question of whether men are more likely to be hardline ideological (on the left and the right) and see fewer avenues or areas where consensus is possible.Report

          • zic in reply to NewDealer says:

            Yes, but I don’t think I meant consensus in terms of a result, but in the process of argument. Perhaps not the best choice of words? Feel free to supply a better.

            Your reply is a good example, a question probing, not, “you’re an ignorant ass who doesn’t know the word for the process used in consensus decision making.”Report

    • Michelle in reply to Rose says:

      – The name should go, as I think we’re all agreed.

      Are we agreed? It seems to me that quite a few people are either opposed or indifferent.Report

    • Miss Mary in reply to Rose says:

      As much as I adore you Rose, and I do, I wish you weren’t the league’s token female. Don’t get me wrong, you represent well, but I would prefer not needing you to provide a woman’s touch by posting more female friendly things on the FP.Report

  21. Roger says:

    I think the community should just change its name to “The League of Ordinary Ladies and Gentlemen,” or something related yet more inclusive.

    I think Tom is a valuable asset to the league and I feel he is being railroaded, and in many cases by people with substantially worse rhetorical style than his.

    If Tom goes, I am moving to Canada.Report

  22. BlaiseP says:

    I rather like League of Ordinary Gentlemen. If we must do any sausag-ectomies here, I propose Gentlefolk and leave the rest intact, including the bowler hat motif, perhaps tending toward a Victor Victoria theme, something vaguely demi-monde and Berlin-esque. Such a move would be good for business, I feel. Attract more weirdos.Report

  23. Brandon Berg says:

    I’m probably the only one still using it, but in Internet Explorer the recent comments (Gifts of Gab) section is partially obscured by an ad. I see the first comment, then the first line of the second, then two or three are covered by the ad, and I can see the last two. This started happening fairly recently, probably a week or two ago.Report

  24. Mary G says:

    I have commented before about finding the name off-putting, and the “comment more, please” response was very gratifying. Changing to the “League of Ordinary Gentlefolk” would take care of that.

    I don’t see anything that off-putting about the theme or logo, although I’d love to see a female figure added, maybe something like a Victorian suffragette, or something like:,r:18,s:0,i:196&tx=62&ty=77

    When the comments get nasty, which isn’t really all that often, I just stop reading them. I support closing a thread that gets out of hand, rather than banning someone, though I must confess that as soon as I see TVD’s giant glasses, I tend to go on to the the next thing automatically rather than keep reading.Report

  25. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    I’ve noticed that we seem to have a few (quite a few?) more female commentators over the past few weeks or so (DRS, Miss Mary, zic and a few others to whom I apologize for not remembering). I don’t know if I’m just now spotting names that have been here all along, or if some set of circumstances have prompted more women to comment. Whatever the cause, I’m all for it.

    I think that one thing we can ALL agree on is that the folks who make this place run are double-plus space awesome [sauce].Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      Miss Mary has been present for a while, though seemed a bit quieter recently. For a while she was a pretty regular participant over at MD.

      I believe that both sic and DRS are new and I really love what they’ve offered in their short time here. It might be worthwhile to ask them what drew them here (or out of the woodwork if they were lurkers).Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

        I believe that both sic [sic] and DRS are new and I really love what they’ve offered in their short time here.Report

        • zic in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          I tried a couple of years ago. One Bob Cheeks (I’d forgotten the name; Patrick mentioned it yesterday; we forget our misery), drove me away with the continued feeling of taking a slime bath. Recently, I noticed Cheeks had checked out, but many other fine voices remained. So I decided to try again; felt invited to try again.

          Thank you.Report

          • zic in reply to zic says:

            Also: Zic are the first three letters of my last name; the handle I’ve used on-line to be un-gendered since forever. My first name is Rebecca. If you see ‘zic’ elsewhere, it’s likely me, I’ve not found another yet.Report

      • Miss Mary in reply to Kazzy says:

        Pesky work. I miss you too, Kaz ;).Report

      • DRS in reply to Kazzy says:

        Like Zic, I’ve been here off and on pretty much since the beginning, but with a wide interruption of years because of Bob Cheeks and the enabling he got from regulars because he was seen as some kind of “performance artist”, as I believe someone referred to him. Having googled BC’s name and seen some of the other places he infested and the comments he left, I was horrified. And I left. Since he’s gone, I came back. That’s all.Report

  26. Diablo says:

    Semi-lurker and rare commenter here. I honestly only check in and read up about once a week. I frankly can’t keep any of you folks separate from each other…

    With the exception of Tom. Generally whenever I stumble along his comments, the thread seems to get completely derailed, and usually I duck out of the site for a while. I fully admit that as not a regular reader or commenter, my opinion clearly should not matter as much as a regular, but I’m being completely honest…when the egos fly on all sides, its off putting.

    As per getting different perspectives (women content providers and the like) I’m all for it as long as its organic and not forced. I think its a major problem in the US today where people tend to only get content from sources that reenforce their preconceived political/social views. I think it would be fun…Report

  27. Kazzy says:

    For the record, I don’t think we should limit attempts at increasing diversity here to sex/gender diversity. It’d be great to increase diversity on any and all fronts (e.g., racial, ideological, religious, sexual orientation, class, geographic, etc.).Report

  28. BobbyC says:

    My 2 cents:

    1) As several people noted, the site is called The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. I don’t know if that is some clever reference that I don’t get. But I do know that my wife thinks it downright hilarious that such a self-titled blog frets about why women don’t comment. In her view, the site declares itself an online bachelor party with such a name. She is not however surprised that I would participate.

    2) I will never be able to read the full articles and comments. The comments are nice, but I got interested based on the quality of a few posts, not the comments. When the discussion breaks down (bete noire: it doesn’t devolve people, look up “devolve”, really pls), it doesn’t bother me. It’s actually sometimes interesting, or at least I find people getting all offended to be humorous. I can understand why the folks in charge ’round here want to curtail such episodes.

    3) If not comments, then more front-page? Yes! I think a really interesting prospect from my limited experience consuming LoOG content is when thoughtful authors go back and forth on a topic of some depth, and get to flesh out their views in an iterative way. It’s like reading letters between thoughtful people challenging each other’s ideas. That’s good stuff, eg Conor Williams and Tim Kowal on Progressivism.

    4) There’s too many people for the content to be great. It can be high volume, but less voices would make for better conversation / debate. One man’s view!Report

  29. Nob Akimoto says:

    Personally I often struggle with the underlying assumptions when the term “diversity of views” or “ideological diversity” is thrown around.

    Because of the dynamics of American culture and society, this essentially has the unstated assumption of diversity of white, male, Christian views. The assumption underlies a lot of what turns into acceptable discourse, when it tends to be “white, male” versions of: libertarianism, conservatism and liberalism.

    All of these have a tendency to be somewhat oblivious to the racial and gender implications of their policy preferences. When they are aware of it, some of them go too far in trying to be blase about it (libertarian), pretend to be concerned (liberals) or even go around and deny it’s not even a concern (conservative). In fact I think it’s sometimes easy to underestimate the degree to which the absolute refusal of American conservatism to engage on these topics can be alienating to people who don’t share the basic assumptions that the parameters must be things acceptable to white men.Report

    • James K in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

      This of course is why getting gender / ethnic / religious diversity is an important part of diversity of views. Having a particular nationality, ethnicity, social status etc. comes bundled with a bunch of preconceptions it is very hard to see past.Report

  30. tarylcabot says:

    Not sure if this has been mentioned in the previous 229 comments, but would be nice if there’s an easy way to see if one of the sub-blog has a new posting. One of the gentlemen sometimes starts a post & then states “cross listed at Jubilee”. Sometimes it’s a bit of a hassle to try & click on all 10 sub-sites to see what else might have been posted. Sometimes a “Gifts of Gab” will make me realize that some posting on a sub-blog might be interesting, but if there’s some way of have either a short intro or a side-bar with the sub-blog posting that would be an improvement.

    Perhaps because I don’t read the comments each time, my overall impression has been more positive, e.g. the comments for the meta-bloggingheads i thought was quite respectful. Perhaps it was the subject matter, so trolling hasn’t eaten much into my enjoyment of the site.Report

    • Plinko in reply to tarylcabot says:

      Tarylcabot, you can subscribe to posts as well whenever you comment, there’s a checkbox under ‘submit’ button that says ‘notify me of new posts by e-mail’ – if you have that checked when submitting a comment, you’ll get an e-mail notification to confirm and, after that, you’ll get an e-mail whenever that sub-blog gets a new post.Report

  31. Aaron W says:

    I don’t really comment here often at all, but I generally find the comments to be much more intelligent than are otherwise found on the Internet. Even with the trolls.Report

  32. Maribou says:

    I love the name, but would survive a change just fine. (And agree with those who like “League of Ordinary Gentlefolk” best of other names suggested.) FWIW, of all the political sites Jay ever posted to, this was the *only* one that ever intrigued me enough to become interested in reading it myself – and it was because I liked the name.

    I feel strongly that this site is much more welcoming to me, as a woman, than it used to be. For one thing, when I comment, it is more likely than not that people will respond positively & interestingly to the comment (eye of the beholder & all that, but eye of the beholder is what we’re talking about here, right?). In the early days of the site, on FP posts, even when people *asked* for “the female perspective,” I felt that my comments were likely to be ignored or, at best, condescended to, unless I made a conscious effort to “defeminize” them. It’s been at least a couple of years since I felt that way, maybe longer.

    I am deeply bothered by the idea that we “need” to do X or Y or Z so more people who aren’t white middle class men will show up and stick around. Absent actual data about what changes would help (and it sure seems to me like the existing data are mixed, rather than clearly pointing in the direction of any particular change), I find it really frustrating, and to some degree othering, when a male commenter asserts that “women” would like some other way of doing things better than how they work now. Because “women” have a diverse set of opinions, you know? Just the comments in this thread by women make that clear enough.

    This is a wonderful site. Whether or not I have time to comment, I like it the way it is and I am dubious about many of the proposed changes. I have seen many strong internet (and real-life) communities wither under overly heavy policing. I think letting FP posters exert their own level of freeze control over comments on their own posts, and regularly discussing norms, and coming to messy consensuses about rare bannings, is fine. Heck, making mistakes is fine – human beings do that. Deleting comments (other than egregious hate speech) creeps me out, although I usually write it off to the whole “human beings sometimes screw things up” problem and don’t obsess over it. As far as signalling goes, I would be far *less* likely to read and to comment if I felt like I would be subject to censorship. I am less likely to appreciate a site if I feel like its owners are more concerned with “how things look” than with their roots, history, and common humanity. If I came to feel that way here, I would stop showing up (or go back to only ever reading the sub blogs). I can’t imagine that actually happening, but I suppose it could. It has before, in other communities I once greatly appreciated.

    I don’t know that this is a particularly helpful piece of advice, but I also suspect STRONGLY that the way to really change “the face of culture” (and concomitantly the makeup of this site) is to work toward societal change. Women work longer hours than men in this country *and* do more of the housework. Ethnic minorities here (and in most countries) are also far more likely to worker longer hours at more unpleasant jobs for less money. As long as white upper middle class males are the leisure class, you will get more of ’em on the site than of anyone else, just for economic reasons. Of course, many of you *are* working toward that kind of change, or embodying it, and I don’t mean to suggest otherwise. I just think it’s a lot easier to freak out over internet trolls than to face the real problems in society head-on, when it comes to pinpointing the cause of all kinds of stuff we wish were otherwise.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Maribou says:

      Women work longer hours than men in this country *and* do more of the housework. Ethnic minorities here (and in most countries) are also far more likely to worker longer hours at more unpleasant jobs for less money. As long as white upper middle class males are the leisure class, you will get more of ‘em on the site than of anyone else, just for economic reasons.

      What are you basing this on? The sources I’ve seen disagree with this on every dimension. According to the BLS, men spend more hours per week on paid work than women, and whites work more hours than any other race except Asian*. Moreover, people with high incomes work more hours than people with low incomes.

      It’s possible that women spend more hours than men on paid work plus housework plus child care than men do, but you said that women work longer hours and do more housework, which strongly implies that they spend more time on paid work, which simply isn’t true. The American Time Use Survey says that men spend slightly more time on these activites than women, but the difference is close enough that it could be explained by the fact that more women than men are retired.

      It does say that men have slightly more leisure time than women, but that’s because women spend slightly more time on a variety of other non-work activities, not because they work more.

      *That’s for non-agricultural workers. I’ll grant that it’s theoretically possible that when you average in farm workers it turns out that Hispanics work more than whites, but it doesn’t look like it from what I’m finding.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Full disclosure: I, personally, have a lot of leisure time at the moment because I’m currently unemployed. And am totally mooching off public goods, but have at no point taken any sort of private benefits from the government, including unemployment insurance.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Thanks, Brandon. After a bit of research by poking around, I like your stats better than my stats. I cheerfully retract the claim that women spend more hours at “official work” – my sources are muddy. My personal experience is that the women I know who would enjoy this community have less leisure time than the men I know who would enjoy this community, and they happen to also spend more hours at work than those men, but I shouldn’t have gone wild pulling together all the half-remembered studies I’d read if I didn’t have the time/interest to research them properly first.

        As I said in my comment to Glyph below, I should’ve just stuck with “I think working for social change on a micro or macro scale will make more of a difference to the dearth of women on this site, in the long run, and more of a difference to the underlying problems we still face, than any of the proposed changes will.”Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Agricultural workers include Amusement park employees in my state.
        They work 12 or more hours a day, flat rate no overtime.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:


      Speaking on women specifically, my hunch is the best things we could do to encourage their participation here is: 1) avoid and denounce sexism and misogyny when it rears its ugly head, 2) treat women as equally valued members of our little society here, 3) recognize the various privileges we each bring to the table and how that informs our perspectives.

      Does this seem accurate? While I am a proponent of a name change and of getting more posts from Rose on the FP and a number of other things, my hunch is that those steps are going to be the most likely to result in any real change. Do you agree?Report

      • DRS in reply to Kazzy says:

        Actually, Kazzy, with the greatest of respect – no. Personally I’d prefer to see “Well, that was truly a rude comment, dude” rather than “That was sexist!” in the comments. By focussing on the particular comment, we can avoid the resulting comment-fracas about “So-and-so is NOT sexist, he’s actually a nice guy who pets kittens”, which I think would lose more potential women readers than an occasional denunciation would.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to DRS says:

          Hey DRS,

          Thanks! That makes perfect sense. I think there is a fine line there… as I could quickly see an exchange going as such…
          “Dude, that was rude.”
          “Because it was offensive.”
          “What made it offensive?”
          “It played on stereotypes about women/disregarded the viewpoints of a woman because she was a woman/was sexist.”
          “BUT I PET KITTENS!”

          But I suppose that will just be a bridge we have to cross when we get there. Not all conversations will take that turn. Appealing to basic civility, respect, and decency is preferable to appealing to anti-sexism. Am I getting that right?Report

          • DRS in reply to Kazzy says:

            Appealing to basic civility, respect, and decency is preferable to appealing to anti-sexism. Am I getting that right?

            Ideally. If nothing else, it gives the offender less room to wiggle. For instance:

            “Dude, that was rude.”
            “Because you didn’t address my comment but referred to my gender/ethnicity/whatever. Can’t you get past outward appearance here?”Report

      • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

        Just going from your comments and my own perspective, I would actually suggest that 2) and 3), focused on one’s own statements and behavior rather than that of the group, are far more important and more useful than 1).

        I agree with DRS that commenting about rude comments rather than sexism works better for me. YMMV. (And if I’m ever careless toward someone because of my own privilege, in a comment, I certainly wouldn’t want to tell the person I’ve insulted *how* to tell me to step off.)Report

    • Glyph in reply to Maribou says:

      Maribou – women…do more of the housework

      This probably isn’t the place for this discussion, but this claim always bugs me. It seems to me that ‘housework’ is always defined in such a way that it excludes all of the household maintenance tasks that men typically do; and those tasks are generally outdoors, more physically dangerous and taxing, and arguably equal in hours to what *is* defined as ‘housework’ (laundry, vacuuming, dusting, dishes) anyway.

      I refer of course to mowing, edging, hedge-trimming, weed-whacking, fertilizing, pesticiding, snow-blowing, carwashing/maintenance, getting up on a tall ladder to clean out gutters, hanging off the edge of a hot roof to nail that shingle back down, and the like.

      In this context, I see coming indoors and doing the vacuuming as something like a *break*.

      It’s my impression that these mostly-outdoor household maintenance tasks, that typically (not always) fall to men, should be included if we want to fairly evaluate this claim.

      Anytime my wife wants to trade 100% of the air-conditoned vacuuming and laundry (which I semi-split with her -I do the bulk of the vacuuming, she does the bulk of the laundry), for being outside on a roof in the hot sun and 90% humidity, working with heavy materials and electric power tools that could actually kill me as I am in the process of falling off the roof (which is basically 100% me), I am game.

      Somehow I don’t think she’d take the trade.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Glyph says:

        You’re right that it’s probably not a good place to get into a long argument about this, and I should’ve just stated that I believe societal changes will have more effect on the gender diversity political internet sites than internal changes in any one site, and left it at that, without getting into specifics that people would then focus on instead of focusing on the larger issues.

        However, now that we’ve gone there: I don’t agree that typically male household jobs are equal in hours to typically female ones. The BLS American Time Use Surveythat Brandon cites above specifically includes outdoor & other household maintenance tasks in their breakdown, and still comes out with a significant difference in average time spent: 2.16 vs 1.37 avg hrs/day, for a difference of 5.5 hours a day, or ~287 hours spent. A ratio of about 63% male householding hours to female householding hours. Adding in caretaking (which is also done more on average by women, albeit less so) does somewhat ameliorate the difference, raising male not-at-work working hours to about 70% those of women.

        I’m quite comfortable agreeing with you that both men and women tend to perceive outdoor, physically intense tasks as more important and more challenging, thus “worth more” per hour, but I think that’s based on social consensus that “men’s work” is more valuable than “women’s work” (which I think we could and should change) rather than on fact. I say this as someone who has spent plenty of hours mowing lawns, chopping wood, digging post holes, weeding yards, fixing sinks, dragging trash bins, etc. And if you don’t feel like it’s a fair situation, and you’d be happy to trade places with your wife or meet somewhere in the middle … well, it sounds to me like social change would benefit you too.

        Really, I’m not saying anyone (and didn’t say above) in particular needs to change their own household (as long as two people are happy in a relationship, who am I to say what they should do?). And I wasn’t casting aspersions on anyone’s personal lives in my comment above anyway. Merely answering the question of what I thought people should do if they want more women in their internet conversations about politics and culture.

        Most of the women I personally know who would be amazing contributors here, who get really fired up about politics and culture, are way too busy with work, housework, childcare, and oftentimes school, to even keep a blog or browse websites every day. And in those households, by my observation, the total hours that the female head of household has free to spend on private activities is much lower than the total hours the male head of household has free. I was speaking from my experience and shouldn’t have bothered with the freewheeling generalities… serves me right for posting after I should’ve been in bed.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Maribou says:

          Maribou, thx for responding, this is the first time I have ever seen hard numbers, that did include these other tasks, so thanks. Where I would disagree is with yr theory that these tasks are seen as ‘worth more’ because they are seen as ‘men’s work’ – IMO they are seen as ‘worth more’ because they are more physically demanding and dangerous, no matter who does them.

          I literally *cannot* do hard physical outdoor labor (I live in a hot humid climate) for as many hours as I can work indoors in the A/C. Heatstroke is real, yet the work must get done and someone has to do it, and it will generally be the physically stronger person. I personally have known several people sent to hospital in the course of completing their outdoor housework (plenty of saw/tool accidents; 2 guys falling off roofs; one guy got electrocuted). This is pretty common. The ER doesn’t see a lot of vacuuming accidents.

          This doesn’t mean vacuuming is ‘women’s work’ or unneeded, it just means that it should be ‘worth less’ if you are taking into account ‘difficulty/risk’, not just ‘hours’ when making comparisons. Not all tasks are equal in physical effort demanded or risk, and they should get ‘priced’ accordingly.

          Hypothetically, you pay the guy who climbs way up yr oak with a chainsaw to trim it, more per hour than you pay the kid who mows the lawn, even if they work equal hours. There’s no gender discrepancy at work there; one job is simply more physically demanding and dangerous than the other.

          *I* don’t claim this system is unfair to me; it is what it is, and everyone does the best they can. I am instead responding to claims of unfairness from the other side. I don’t really ask for or expect much help (she has her hands full and I understand that, and I have more upper-body strength).

          All I ask is the same understanding and credit in return, and I feel that is often lacking in these discussions (that the difficult and downright dangerous things men do for the household, after work and every freakin’ weekend, often get taken for granted).

          Of course, you don’t seem to be doing that, so thanks for the info / clarification and I hope I have also clarified.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Glyph says:

            Yes, you have, thank you.

            It’s completely obnoxious of me, and please understand that I am doing this with a mischievous smirk on my face about how point-missing I probably sound. I simply cannot resist sharing my own hierarchy of chores:

            The main reason Jay does all the vacuuming in our house is because there was, no joke, a tramautic and ER-requiring vacuuming accident in our house when I was a little kid. So I really really really really hate vacuuming. In the Maribou List of Dangerous Chores, it comes right after repairing decks. (I fell through a see-through-able floor once, y’see…) Meanwhile, things I have done happily, at one time or another? Fixed a roof, wielded a chainsaw, moved heavy furniture on stairs.

            I think perceptions of risk are a lot more personal and existential than most of us think about most of the time. Otherwise, wouldn’t the metaphorical “hazard pay” in a relationship go to whomever spends the most time in a car?Report

            • Glyph in reply to Maribou says:

              Holy cow, now I really want to hear this vacuuming story if it is not too personal nor traumatic.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Glyph says:

                Well, I hadn’t mentioned it because it’s incredibly embarrassing and rather shameful, but what the hell.

                I was goofing off with my younger sister and I accidentally vacuumed her fingers. One of them was broken and the others sprained. I was 7 or 8, she was 4 or 5? Small enough for her fingers to be fragile. The worst part is that she had been taunting me and messing with me when I was supposed to be doing chores, but rather than get mad or go tell on her, I turned it into a game, and we were both having fun until everything went wrong. We were too young and I was too stupid to realize how idiotic we were being. And then all of a sudden she was hurt worse than either of us had ever been hurt before.

                Her fingers healed up just fine, but she and I were both pretty shaken up for a long time afterward, and I developed some kind of hypochondriac aversion to vacuums that I’ve never been able to get past.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Maribou says:

                That is terrible! He didn’t end up in hospital, but I injured my younger brother once under what sounds like somewhat similar circumstances when we were playing what sounds like a similar game (we were in the garage, supposedly cleaning it, with a fairly heavy old wooden pushbroom – the kind The Little Tramp would push – but instead we were trying to ‘sweep’ the other guy’s feet, which he could evade by climbing on top of objects/boxes etc.)

                Anyway, we got really into it, and excited and determined to ‘get’ him as he quickly dodged to the side, I swung the (heavy) broom at speed in a circle (instead of ‘pushing’ it as we had been up until then), so the top left end of the pushbroom’s ‘T’ caught him with full momentum right in the ankle, with a sick-sounding ‘whack/crack’.

                Think a much larger/heavier ‘croquet mallet’ hitting a much more fragile ankle ‘ball’.

                No permanent injury thank god but lots of pain/tears, and I obviously had to clean the garage myself. I felt terrible, but luckily neither of us have any broom-related psychological scarring 🙂

                Though you have given me an idea for a horror movie.

                The Roomba That Kills

                INTERIOR: The Maribird Household, Christmas morning. Wrapping paper everywhere.

                The ‘charging’ indicator on the brand-new Roomba 5000 received as a mysterious gift, pulses ominously…Report

  33. DRS says:

    If you want more women and more foreigners to post:

    1. Don’t fuss with cosmetic changes like the name. The next thing, you’ll be suggesting changing the background colour to pink. That will not be a step forward, people.

    2. Accept that more commenters of any gender means that certain things will change. You can’t assume that your little in-jokes honed over years of talking to each other are going to be appreciated or even “got” by newcomers. What seems to you to be a witty aside or terribly cunning dig will likely result in newcomers thinking “WTF?” or “Huh?” or in responding as if it were serious. Few things are more off-putting to newcomers than running into subculture jargon and being expected to grok it immediately. Most of you have been doing it so long you’re not even aware anymore when you’re doing it.

    And waving a dismissive hand in the direction of people like TVD or MFarmer or DensityDuck when they say something that is offensive and saying “Oh, well, he’s just a scallywag and much different when you get to know him” isn’t really conducive to inspiring people to want to get to know him.

    3. Accept that on some issues – like abortion and birth control – women are going to have different perspectives. For most of us these are not abstract issues; they potentially affect our bodies in a way that can only be theoretical for guys. This is not claiming “bonus points” or “elevated status”. We should be able to put forward views incorporating our perspectives without having to justify the legitimacy of those perspectives, especially when male perspectives are apparently accepted without demur.

    4. Accept that on many issues the normal American level of intercourse comes across as needlessly and ridiculously combative, insulting and almost toxic, and is not an attractive way to communicate for those whose political cultures put more value on working our way through things. Many countries face the same issues America does – immigration, accomodating religious minorities, educational issues, defense, war, access to adequate stores of energy, declining manufacturing, fill-in-the-blank – and there are a lot of good (and bad) examples out there on the policy front that Americans might find interesting. But throwing insults around is not the way to approach issues seriously. I thought the Progressivism thread of last week had potential to be interesting: the same impulses that fed the Progressive Movement existed in Canada and the UK too and resulted in similar policies and much different ones. It could have been interesting to compare and contrast, and also to pick apart the different movements that came together in the Progressive Movement and see where they went after Progressivism declined. But it turned out to be just another excuse to bash liberals. So I bailed.

    I am not a liberal – I am a conservative. But my intelligence is insulted when TVD makes another silly post about how CNN doesn’t include people pre-programmed to say nice things about Mitt Romney. If American politicians are so personally fragile that they can’t face hostile media then how the *bleep* are they supposed to face real problems? (And from what I can see, Romney would be a stronger candidate today if he had faces more adverse media and learned to deal with it. As a citizen of a country where members of parliament whale on each other in Question Period, it looks to me like American politicians are pussies.)Report

    • MFarmer in reply to DRS says:

      “(And from what I can see, Romney would be a stronger candidate today if he had faces more adverse media and learned to deal with it. As a citizen of a country where members of parliament whale on each other in Question Period, it looks to me like American politicians are pussies.)”

      Exactly, and this is why I thought the Obama administration’s and the Left’s whining about Fox was pitiful when they have so much support from other media outlets. This also applies to all political discussions in which participants complain about heated exchanges and sharp criticisms. Politics ain’t beanbags, as they say.Report

    • Michelle in reply to DRS says:

      Great comment. Wish I’d written it as I whole-heartedly agree with it.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to DRS says:

      The next thing, you’ll be suggesting changing the background colour to pink.

      My understanding is that they were considering lavender, as the least exclusive color.Report

      • Plinko in reply to James Hanley says:

        Lavender would be a very relaxing choice, I believe purple is the color that takes the least brainpower to process (yellow takes the most), but I’m partial to the classic black text on a white background, myself so I can impulsively highlight whatever section I am currently reading. Yes, I have the highlight color scheme set to purple.

        Regarding DRS comment, I also love it, especially points 2 and 3.Report

        • Chris in reply to Plinko says:

          I believe purple is the color that takes the least brainpower to process (yellow takes the most)

          Hmm… I don’t think I’ve ever seen the same “easiest color to process” claim twice. This is the first time I’ve seen purple (I recall seeing blue, green, and red previously). Given the way the brain processes color, I’m not sure it makes much sense to say that a color is easier to process than another, but if it is, then it certainly wouldn’t be purple (and yellow would also be easier, right, since it’s one of the basic colors in opponent process theory?).Report

          • Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

            My friend the dyslexic hates black on white, claims it causes more stress (likes white on dark blue, I think).

            If you aren’t thinking of foreground + background, you aren’t really asking the right question.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to James Hanley says:

        I think some college football team painted the visitor’s locker room pink, under the notion that pink is a calming color, the impact of which might give the home team an on-field advantage. There was all sorts of craziness that came out of that “controversy”.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to James Hanley says:

        Really, the background should be parchment.Report

    • NoPublic in reply to DRS says:

      […] it looks to me like American politicians are pussies

      I really don’t know how anyone gets the idea that general discourse here is hostile to women…Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to NoPublic says:

        It’s a safe place where women can use the word pussy without fear of reprisal.Report

      • Erik Kain in reply to NoPublic says:

        Well if a woman says it, I think it’s permissible, no?

        Funny story, I was in a creative writing class once and a guy read his short story to the class, and it was just awful, and one reason was the protagonist. He was supposed to be tough, but he just wasn’t. He was exactly the opposite of what the guy was trying to do with the story. I was…19 I think. When it was my turn to critique the story I said that the protagonist was kind of a pussy. Oh the looks of horror and disdain! Oh how I’d crossed the politically correct line! I half expected to be tarred and feathered on the spot.

        I do think that a welcome place/space for women is very important. I don’t think that the use of words such as “pussy” necessarily make this an unsafe place for women, any more than using the word “dick” does. But I could be wrong. I’m a guy and I admit to being largely ignorant about everything.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Erik Kain says:

          That’s because you’re a dick.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Erik Kain says:

          I don’t think dick and pussy are wholly analogous because the conflation of “pussy” with “weak” seems to be a conflation of “women” with “weak”. I don’t know how “dick” came to possess the alternative meaning shown here. I tend to think of “dick” as “asshole” or, more precisely, someone who is just mean and nasty. If that is based a similar conflation of “man” with “mean and nasty” than it is likely similarly concerning. Of course, another layer is that men don’t quite have to fight off a broader societal perception of their meanness and nastiness the way women have to with regards to weakness. So the use of “pussy” can contribute to a broader societal stereotype that “dick” might not.

          So, yea, pussies and dicks are complicated, in a nutshell.Report

          • Erik Kain in reply to Kazzy says:

            It’s tricky, I agree, but of course both these words are typically used to describe men.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Erik Kain says:

              Well, yea. A man is called a “pussy” to identify him as something less than man. Weakness isn’t something MEN show, it is something WOMEN show. It is still conflating “women” with “weakness”.

              I should also say that it is detrimental to men. Not the word “pussy” in and of itself, but the broader gender norms that it reinforces. As a teacher of young children, I see firsthand the struggles that boys face when they are pressured to not show weakness or vulnerability or emotion. It stunts their growth and development.Report

          • James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:

            So, yea, pussies and dicks are complicated, in a nutshell.

            Wow, I’ve never even considered trying that.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

            Putting aside the etymological error, that’s one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is that the range of socially accepted behaviors is much more constrained for men.

            Feminism has successfully eroded much of the stigma associated with women doing traditionally masculine things, but the stigma associated with men doing traditionally feminine things remains. Feminists explain this with a narrative about misogyny—we hate women so much that we even hate men who act like women—but it seems to me that what we’re actually seeing is a form of female privilege: Women are given much more leeway regarding conformance to gender roles.

            For example, women working outside of the home is normal and accepted. Male homemakers are still looked at somewhat askance by many. No one has a problem with women wearing pants, but a man who wears a dress is perceived as a freak. A woman may be strong, but a man must not be weak.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:


              I think you are spot on. I had a colleague who had a son. He demonstrated a handful of traits that were more typically associated with female gender roles. She was concerned about this in large part because she felt that society accepts “Tom Boys” just fine but they don’t accept the male equivalent. And she, and you, are right about this.

              Where I might disagree is how this dynamic has come to be. I don’t know that men are wholly innocent in this structure. The feminist movement was intended to open doors for women. Why has there not been a parallel movement by men designed to open doors for them? As a preschool teacher, I work in a field that is traditionally female-dominated and get my fair share of crap about it, which is highly frustrating.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

                Well, for one, there’s a first-mover problem. A man who starts such a movement is essentially saying, “I have low status under the status quo.” Which lowers his status further.

                And honestly, I just don’t think it’s as much of a problem as the problem feminism arose to address. Making it possible for women to own property and work as doctors was much more important than making it acceptable for men to wear dresses is.

                Also, there’s a problem which I suspect is largely intractable, which is that by and large women aren’t attracted to unmasculine men. They don’t have any obligation to feel otherwise, of course, but the bottom line is that a heterosexual man will pay a heavy social price for being insufficiently masculine, even if we’re all totally cool about it in every other way. The “don’t be a dick” approach to anti-sexism goes a long way, but it doesn’t solve this problem.

                Of course, this isn’t so much a problem for gay men. Perhaps not coincidentally, we’ve had a gay liberation movement, but not a straight-but-insufficiently-masculine liberation movement.

                I don’t know that men are wholly innocent in this structure.

                Some are, but many very obviously aren’t. A subset of men and boys play a major role in enforcing male conformance to gender roles. Bullying is the most blatant example, of course.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                There actually are some folks making a more concerted push on the “men in dresses” movement. Google “Princess boys”.

                By and large, I agree with you here.

                In my classroom, I eschew the notion of “gender neutrality”. There are differences between the sexes, physiological differences, that are often the basis for many of our traditional gender norms. These are often the vestiges off now defunct evolutionary distinctions that were quite necessary to our survival. For instance, the notion that boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls is not a wholly social construct. The eyes of boys develop differently from the eyes of girls. Going back to our hunter-gatherer days, where men did the hunting and women did the gathering, they needed different skill sets to be successful. As such, boys eyes are better at tracking movement; girls are better at noticing detail (something having to do with the inner and outer eye, or something). So boys are attracted to things that move (trucks) and girls to things with lots of detail (dolls). Another way to see this is to give two 3-year-olds, one a boy and one a girl, some crayons and asking them to draw. The boy will often race his crayon around the paper. “I’m drawing a car!” he’ll say. But he’s not actually drawing the car… he’s drawing the movement of the car. On the other side, the girl will often draw a more detailed image of a flower or a dog or a cat and appropriately identify it as such.

                Neither is better or worse than the other, they just are. So, in my class, if a boy wants to play with a truck and a girl wants to play with the dolls, I don’t deny them this on some notion of gender neutrality or equality. But because these differences aren’t binary and are not hard and fast rules, I also ensure that if a girl wants to play with a truck, she damn sure will. And if a boy wants to play with dolls, by all means, he will. And I model this myself, making sure all the kids see me in a variety of areas of the room.

                This is a long way of saying that I see it as a both/and. There are always going to be gender norms, some of them natural and some of them social constructs. But we should always allow the individual to carve his own path free of derision and shame.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to NoPublic says:

        “Pussy” in the sense in which it’s a synonym for “wimp,” has nothing to do with women.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          I should elaborate on that a bit. It’s definitely not related to the sense in which it refers to female genitalia. There appears to be some controversy regarding the exact etymology, though. Wikipedia claims that it’s related to an older adjective, “pussy” or “pursy,” meaning fat or short of breath. Merriam-Webster claims that it’s from association with “pussycat.”Report

          • The preferred pejorative is “wuss.” I haven’t used the “p” word in a coon’s age. ;-PReport

          • Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:


            If that is indeed the case, that certainly changes things.

            But there is something deeper there… why do we consider a man who is unwilling to fight to be a wuss or a wimp? Why is that something worthy of derision? It still comes back to failing to uphold traditional gender norms. We don’t call girls who are afraid to fight wimps or wusses. Why?Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kazzy says:

              I don’t fight on other peoples’ terms. On the other hand, if I ever had to fight on my own terms, you’d be looking at part of me that doesn’t come out very often and with which I’m not particularly enamored.

              That makes me a coward, all right, but not the way most people mean the term.Report

            • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

              Just guessing here, but men are much better equipped for physical combat than women are. This was even more true before guns were invented. So fighting is traditionally a job that has been taken up by men, and the ability to fight well came to be seen as desirable. This much is clearly not a purely social construct; we see it in animals as well.

              A man afraid to engage in confrontation would be unable to fight off potential threats, and thus make a bad mate. A man can say that he’s not afraid of confrontation, but doesn’t think it’s a good strategy in the current situation, and sometimes may be able to pull that off, but actually fighting is a costly signal, and therefore a credible one, while explaining why he’s choosing to avoid confrontation is a cheap, and therefore dubious, signal.

              Nowadays, physical and verbal confrontations tend to be reasonably cleanly separated, but I suspect that that has historically not been the case—that in the past, verbal confrontations were much more likely to escalate to physical violence, so willingness to engage in verbal confrontations retains some of the signalling value of willingness to engage in physical confrontations.Report

              • ktward in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Just guessing here, but men are much better equipped for physical combat than women are. This was even more only true before guns were invented.

                Fixed that bit for you. There’s still plenty that remains to be fixed.

                This is the internet. I’m pretty sure we all understand that physical confrontations aren’t even remotely an issue. On the internet, gender is not only irrelevant in terms of confrontation and argument, it’s a largely unknown factor.

                To both you and Kazzy: when folks talk about navel-gazing here, this is a prime example.

                One’s use of the terms “dick” and “pussy” aren’t remotely indicative of one’s gender or willingness to get physically scrappy.

                Today, it’s common for girls who wish to be confrontational to exclaim, “Suck my dick!” I mean, no one takes that as a literal invitation, everyone involved is well aware they don’t actually have one of those.

                In common, modern-day parlance, anyone who’s spineless is a pussy, regardless of gender. Anyone who’s an exceptionally clueless asshat is a dick, regardless of gender.

                No question, there remain some particularly sensitive women and men who read into those terms some personal, gender-specific invective, and so I’m generally not inclined to use those terms unless I’m pushed to the edge. But you’d have to have been living under a rock to still believe that pussy and dick are, today, gender-directed pejoratives.Report

              • Chris in reply to ktward says:

                This is never going to be a feminist blog. I don’t think it has to be in order to attract more female participants. So a certain level of navel gazing probably is counterproductive.

                That said, anytime I hear someone call someone else a “pussy,” I assume the person doing the calling is a bit of a child.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to ktward says:


                I don’t really doubt anything you say here. Most adults understand what you wrote. As a teacher, I tend to view these things differently, because children (even older children) don’t necessarily have that understanding. They might well think that to be called a pussy is to be called a woman. So,if I am overstating the case, it is likely because of this.

                More broadly, I think we’d better served to not confine ourselves to such narrow understandings of what it means to be a man or a woman. I have encountered parents who have told their 4- or 5-year-old boys that “boys don’t cry… crying is for girls”. I’d venture to guess that kids who hear that growing up and internalize that mindset. So, yea, there is still some knuckle-dragging going on.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to ktward says:

                “This was only true before guns were invented.”

                Let’s play a game. It’s called “I just grabbed your wrists.” Your gun might as well be on the Moon for all the good it’s going to do you now.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to DensityDuck says:

                If only there were a place males were especially vulnerable to being kicked.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                “If only there were a place males were especially vulnerable to being kicked.”

                It’s called “turn sideways”, bro. Look into it. PS a pop in the box isn’t exactly fun for the ladies, either.Report

              • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to ktward says:

                Attributed to Betty White but actually from Sheng Wang:

                “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and
                sensitive! If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina. Those things take
                a pounding.”Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                There are both Male and Female fighting styles (thank you Japan and China who developed such). If the wrong gender tries to use them, they look stupid and don’t perform very well against trained opponents.

                It’s true that men tend to have more upper body strength, but women have a lower center of gravity.Report

  34. Rufus F. says:

    To address the main post, for whatever reason:
    1. TVD doesn’t bother me. I can relate to Chris’s five stages of TVD grief because I had the same reaction when he first came here, but it was over in about a day. I wish he’d spend more time trying to persuade than score zingers, but there’s something just sort of loopy about him, which I mean in the nicest way, that makes it hard for me to get upset about his comments. And sometimes he adds a perspective that I hadn’t thought of- again, I wish he’d do more of that and less zinging his supposed arch-enemies.

    2. The name is changing. I hope we do a post listing the dozens, if not hundreds of names we spiraled through. I also like that we’re trying to be more welcoming, but wonder if it’s not possible to be insulting in the other direction. There are times when people point out things here that are insulting and off-putting to “women” and I think well, my wife wouldn’t be offended by that, nor any of the women I’m friends with, and maybe they’d find that concern a bit patronizing.

    It reminds me of a time when my sister came over and took one look at the Cramps “Bikini Girls with Machine Guns” poster on my wall and said, in a very somber and patronizing voice, “How do you think Claire feels when she sees that picture?” and I couldn’t stop laughing because Claire loves the poster, was the one who put it up, and has frequently mentioned her keenness to have sex with Poison Ivy Rorschach, who’s on the poster in a bikini firing a machine gun.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that women are definitely not of a hive mind, so you need to be careful to object to the offensive stuff, but not overdo it in a way that treats the women among us as children.

    3. I’m not keen on deleting comments, but I have done it in the case of H-degger, who would post comments as responses to other comments which had fish-all to do with anything in the thread or post. I took that as a repeated attempt to derail threads and fairly disrespectful to the people he was ostensibly responding to. It’s not really an issue now that he’s gone, but I’m not sure if it falls under the category of obvious trolling or not.

    4. I like the idea of the subblogs covering certain topics in the way a magazine would have regular sections. I often think of this place as what the New Yorker used to be before Tina Brown. If you need a name, incidentally, “What the New Yorker Used to Be Like” would work for me!Report

  35. Johanna says:

    So… the question for the League Primaries – Have the almost 300 posts given you anymore clarity as to what to do (if anything)?Report

    • Glyph in reply to Johanna says:

      More importantly, what the heck is yr new gravatar? Is that some sort of meat-man?Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Johanna says:

      Did someone respond to the OP?

      JK. Yes, it’s all been very helpful. Thanks to everyone.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        As one more log to throw into the flame, I think the adoption of “Community Norms” would be a huge boon. They’re different from policies or rules because they are not necessarily formally enforceable but instead serve as something to strive for. Because of the size of the group here, it is probably ideally something created by the Powers-That-Be or some subset of the population, only because the conversation will grow unwieldy.Report

  36. Johanna says:

    It is a meat puppet I made on a scanner.Report

  37. Tod Kelly says:

    Regarding the name…

    Since there seems to be some (understandable) pushback on the thought of a change, as well as some (again, understandable) concern that it is a knee-jerk PC move, I thought I would add a quick note on the subject. (This will be old hat to the contributors that have been in the BTS name discussion emails. I believe we have now passed the eleventy gajillion mark on those, btw.)

    But so everyone knows, there are really two hopes regarding women on this site. One is certainly that more will come, read and participate in the discussions. To that end, I’m not entirely sold on the idea that our current name is so much of a show stopper. And in fact if you look at the threads here, I think more women have commented that they like to keep the name than have said they would appreciate a change.

    The other hope, however, is that as we continue to grow we’d like to attract more female contributors, and invite them to write about whatever types of things move them – including those things they see as being women’s issues.

    It is this second hope where the name has been providing a bit of an obstacle. If you’re a man reading this comment, ask yourself if you would feel the same being invited to write regularly for a site called, for example, The Atlantic, vs. being invited to write regularly for a sight called The Ladies Auxiliary. You might well take either gig, but you might not entirely 100% welcome, or part of the team, and upon being asked you might well wonder what the hell you’d be able to contribute to sight that called itself that. This, not surprisingly, has been the reaction many of us have gotten when we have approached some great writers who also happened to have two X chromosomes.

    I’m hoping that this clarification, even if it doesn’t change minds, at least sheds some additional light as to why we’re looking to change soon.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Regarding your hypothetical, if I was asked to write at “The Ladies Auxiliary”, I would think that I was being asked to serve as a representative of my gender in a way that I might not be comfortable with.
      “Now, for the male perspective, let’s go to Kazzy!”
      “Wait, what? Can’t I just be me?”Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

        I would think that I was being asked to serve as a representative of my gender in a way that I might not be comfortable with.

        Is that not in fact what’s being proposed here?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      “A person or thing providing supplementary or additional help and support.”

      I’d sell it like this: “You misunderstand. *I* am The Ladies’ Auxiliary.”Report

    • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      How about:

      The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, Ladies, Trans-gender and Asexual Individuals, Whites and Persons of Color, and Lots of Libertarians ?

      Honestly, it seems to me that anyone driven away by our current name is probably not someone who would much enjoy our community. We’re hanging quite a bit on this (in my opinion) trivial piece of signaling, after the League has built a brand–and reputation–over the years.

      So! At least you know how I feel about it.Report

    • Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      And in fact if you look at the threads here, I think more women have commented that they like to keep the name than have said they would appreciate a change.

      I just want to point out that the possibility of selection bias here is pretty obvious. Of course the women who weren’t turned off by the name are less likely to want to change the name; they weren’t turned off by it in the first place.

      This may not be what’s happening, but it is a very real possibility.Report

      • Michelle in reply to Chris says:

        I think you may be on to something, Chris.

        I can understand the desire to attract more women writers and will confess that it’s largely my own laziness and tendency toward procrastination that’s kept me from submitting guest posts. If the powers-that-be think changing the name will help, that’s fine with me. I find Tod’s explanation persuasive.Report

  38. MFarmer says:

    I think you should name the place Venue 21.Report

  39. KatherineMW says:

    On the TVD issue: it’s the League’s choice who you want to choose as front-pagers and as people on sub-blogs. Because it’s your choice, the people you choose is going to reflect upon you. When you choose someone, you are implicitly endorsing them: not necessarily stating that you agree with everything that say, but saying that you believe that, of all the opinions on this blog, theirs are among the best-argued, most worthwhile, and most worthy of consideration. Tom’s a bigot. Parse that any way you like, it’s a fact. It’s clear from the Trayvon Martin conversations, and it’s clear from most of the posts relating to women’s issues. And when that’s what you endorse, it makes this blog hostile to people who aren’t white males. In addition, when you endorse disingenuous argument, it detracts from the intellectual quality of this blog; and its intellectual quality is the League’s primary strength.

    On broader issues relating to women – I don’t object to the League’s name at all, it’s witty and memorable. When this blog feels unfriendly to women, it’s primarily because specific commenters – generally not drive-by trolls, but regulars – are being deliberately misogynist and hostile. I don’t feel comments of that sort add anything to the discussion, and I feel that repeated actions of that sort should result in medium-term bans to get across the message that it’s not acceptable behaviour. Call this censorship if you like, but knowing that your comments on women-related subjects are likely to receive misogynist responses is something that does – you can argue that it shouldn’t, but the fact is that it does – discourage female readers from wanting to discuss those subject here at all, and thus result in self-censorship of a different kind.

    On the second issue relating to women’s participation at the League, I do think having more women on the front page and sub-blogs is desirable.Report

    • This is as good a place as any to ask a question that’s been on my mind a lot of late, and which poses a very real dilemma for me, both in terms of site policy and in terms of political discourse more broadly.

      It’s very clear to me at this point that there is a strong current of thought amongst modern liberals that both the modern conservative movement and the modern GOP are inherently racist, sexist, and homophobic. I actually think there’s quite a bit to this, particularly with respect to racism and homophobia (the sexism I view as being more along the lines of “all too common” than “inherent”). It’s not generally characterized by a conscious belief in white straight male supremacy so much as it is by a lack of concern for the implications of conservative policy values on other groups. I think there are a number of conservative core principles that make this lack of concern inevitable, but for now I’ll just describe one particularly obvious such principle: a belief in the accumulated wisdom of our forebears and traditions. Such a principle means that even when a conservative recognizes a belief, practice, custom or policy of their forebears as being unacceptably bigoted, they are necessarily going to compartmentalize that recognition – they’re not going to ponder much how the bigotry underlying that abandoned belief, practice, or policy might have had impacts on other beliefs, practices, customs, or policies. This compartmentalization will inherently turn up in the phrases and expressions they use and the topics they choose to discuss, as well as the policies they tend to prefer. Some who are particularly politically astute might learn to be careful about their manner of speech and topics of discussion when they’re talking to outgroup members, but it’ll still be underlying their policy preferences; the majority who are not so politically astute will sound an awful lot worse than TVD, even if some will sound better.

      On the flip side, anti-racism/homophobia/sexism is increasingly a core liberal value and principle, particularly as nonwhites become ever-larger demographics both in the US and on the American Left. As anti-racism, etc. becomes more and more of a core liberal principle, racism, etc. in any form increasingly cannot be countenanced and must be rooted out and defeated whereever possible. It has not been uncommon around these parts to see liberal commenters talk about how anyone deemed a racist, etc. should be alienated and disowned, even if the racist in question is a close family member. What’s more, though, is that as the Left increasingly becomes dominated by minority groups, anti-racism, etc. become a political principle mixed with incredibly personal feelings that make it impossible to feel comfortable for members of those groups to feel comfortable in a community where racism, etc. are tolerated.

      Given the above, and given that a clear plurality of Americans are self-described conservatives (not to mention that there are surely a good number of bigots to be found amongst non-conservatives), how can one maintain an ideologically diverse public discourse? More pertinently, how can one build and maintain a politically-oriented community that is not only ideologically diverse (ie, recognizes that conservatives are a large plurality in the US that cannot be ignored in a democracy), but also diverse in ethnicity, race, and gender (ie, recognizes that white males no longer hold a near-monopoly on political power)? Is it even possible?Report

      • MFarmer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        You can’t have a relatively harmonious and diverse community if conservatives, and right-leaning libertarians, are seen as, by and large, racist and homophobic. You can only attempt diversity within the modern liberal worldview which politically recognizes the vital necessity of an interventionist government. Anyone calling for a free market or limited government will be accused of purposefully or by consquence supporting racism and homophobia.Report

        • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to MFarmer says:

          Diversity means people will disagree.

          Are you asking to not be disagreed with?Report

          • Huh? I’m talking about the questioning of motive and the dismissal of ideas out of hand. I thought that was clear, but I guess it’s worse than I thought.Report

            • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to MFarmer says:

              Rather ironic, given your missive below.Report

              • Explain. I have a feeling you are deliberately misunderstanding in order to defend your position that I want people to only agree with me.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

                This is how discussion gets shut down here. When someone who doesn’t hold the modern liberal worldview explains how assignation of bad motives to libertarians or conservatives shuts down discussion, they aren’t heard, and instead they are accused of narrow-mindedness or such. It’s incredible.Report

              • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Snarky McSnarkSnark says:

                Quoted from your comment below:

                … the statist/social democratic mindset can’t imagine anyway to deal with social problems outside government interventions. When libertarians like myself insist that private/economic means are still necessary to truly deal with social problems, I’m seen as naive or disingenuous…

                If you don’t consider the expressed opinion that one or more of your views are “naive” or “disingenuous,” then you don’t really want diversity of opinion. Simultaneously, you aver that liberals “cannot imagine” any response but “statism.”

                That leaves me pretty shaky on what you would consider “acceptable discourse.”Report

              • I don’t read any modern liberals calling for a limited government and free market. The broad consensus among liberals if that an interventionist government is necessary for social justice and avoidance of market coercion. This is not really something I think is questionable. You are deliberately misrepresenting what I wrote. It’s clear that the big disagreement in this coming election is the role of government in our lives and the economy. You might find a modern liberal who is anti-statist, but the person will be an anomaly. You think that I am denigrating modern liberals and that I’m using statism as a derogatory word. I’m merely stating the division. I think you know this. You could say that I think anti-statism is the only way and you’d be right, but I don’t accuse you, as a liberal, of bad motives — I simply think that private sector/economic means are necessary to get out of the crisis we find ourselves in. There is always room for compromise if each side can be convinced of the other’s ideas. But first you have to take the ideas seriously.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to MFarmer says:

                But first you have to take the ideas seriously.

                This is a fair point, but it runs both ways. If participants are going to take each others’ ideas seriously you have to start with the presumed notion on both sides that you might be wrong.

                Some degree of statism may indeed be necessary (I don’t think you’ve ever really clarified – to me, anyway – what level of anarchy is acceptable – not that you have a responsibility to do this).

                Generally, I see most (not all, but most) of your criticism of the left here on the blog as falling under the “this is statism and it’s inevitably going to fail”. I may be suffering from observer bias there, granted.Report

              • If participants are going to take each others’ ideas seriously you have to start with the presumed notion on both sides that you might be wrong.


                This is a different issue, I think, from what I’ve been driving at in my comments, but this is a point that just can’t be made frequently enough.Report

              • zic in reply to MFarmer says:

                MFarmer, for many liberals, attacks on what conservatives call ‘the welfare state,’ sound racist because historically, those attacks were rooted on outright racism. Do you think conservatives saw single, white mothers and carpenters who’d lost their jobs or inner-city blacks when Newt Gingrich called Obama the ‘food-stamp president?’

                I spoke with a conservative friend a few days ago, and she went on and on about how immigrants were driving up the price of health care. Immigrants; meaning latinos. Not even illegal immigrants.

                I know, and I think most liberals know, that not all conservatives are outwardly racist. In fact, I’d argue that Romney’s 47% comment is proof of that; in order to blow the dog whistle that used to be ‘lazy niggers,’ in the face of awareness of racism, the whistles get so abstracted that they now include nearly half the population. But there are those amongst us who heard 47%, and might just have figured that yes, with the blacks, the immigrants, and some white trash, there we are.

                I don’t think you’re racist or misogynist. But from reading many of your comments, I think you see a world where we all start from the same place, and where there aren’t assumed norms that leave a whole lot of individuals on the outside. I wish we lived in the world you see.

                But too many of us don’t.Report

              • Roger in reply to zic says:


                I am sure we can find racists in any large sub segment of the population. However, may I suggest you are finding them in the conservative tent and then lazily projecting this as the core of the ideology?

                This talk of “dog whistles” and psychoanalyzing what you want to believe a hundred million people thought when they heard the term “food stamp” is more telling of yourself than it is about others. I have no idea what the average person thinks when hearing the term food stamps, nor do I think it is healthy that liberals use their magic markers to highlight which terms can no longer be used because in their view of conservatives, this is some sort of dog whistle.

                Let me be crystal clear. The problem with this site is not the lone conservative. It is people that are too closed minded to listen and learn from him. May I suggest LoOOGies quit dismissing Tom’s arguments by conveniently categorizing them as an affront to humanity? Tom gives better arguments and more data to support his positions than the majority of commenters on this site.

                By the way, which norms leave people on the outside?Report

              • zic in reply to zic says:

                @Roger, I don’t recall ‘dismissing Tom’s points,’ (unless Tom = MFarmer?).

                I do recall offering up an explanation of why conservatives are often perceived as racist by liberals, because he sorta asked about that.

                If you like, I can go dig up the substantiating material; the direct progression of conservative propaganda from fearing blacks will just be sucking at the welfare teat during discussions of the ‘great society’ to the Food Stamp president.

                That you think my explanation is close minded pretty much indicates you’re close minded to understanding liberal thought process.

                So let me be crystal clear: the problem with this site is people who are not willing to listen and learn from others, no matter their political bent.Report

              • Roger in reply to zic says:

                Hi Zic,

                I was not accusing you of dismissing Tom. I am suggesting that a significant portion of LoOGies are doing so.

                Your response that you can find examples of racism just makes my point. Conservatives can do the same back at you too. All this shows is that a lot of people are racist. The logical error that I routinely see liberals do on this site is to use this to dismiss conservative thought. It may be easy to dismiss an ideology by projecting the weaknesses of individuals, but it is not sound… it is simply convenient.

                By the way, you never responded with examples of the cultural norms which are used to exclude people. Just asking…Report

              • zic in reply to zic says:

                @Roger, I’ll let Lee Atwater do the heavy lifting here:

                You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968, you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”


              • Roger in reply to zic says:


                I suggest you try to exercise your own lifting muscles on this one, Lee is dropping this one on his foot.

                Do you not see that this allows you to dismiss any and every argument where you can even surmise adverse impact on any potential “disadvantaged” group? This allows you to conveniently dismiss arguments ( in some cases both pro and con) on pretty much any social topic.

                Just about anything anyone you disagree with suggests can be dismissed as hidden racism. Thus you win the argument (in your own mind) by maligning their intentions.

                This style of argumentation is both disingenuous and lazy, but is also all too common on the league. I cry foul.Report

              • zic in reply to zic says:


                That’s the whole point of abstracting, isn’t it? The whistles still work for those tuned to the pitch, it slides by into plausible deniability for others.

                That’s exactly what Atwater’s saying. It’s like Akin saying McCaskill’s wasn’t ‘ladylike,’ she came out swinging. It’s foodstamp president, birtherism. The 47%? Commie socialist who will never vote for the real America.Report

              • Roger in reply to zic says:

                No, the point of abstracting is not to dismiss any position that forces you to consider another’s point of view.

                You can spin some narrative that anyone that disagrees with you is a racist or an idiot or a dog whistler. From that point on though, you have isolated yourself on the island of self confident dogma. It is an intellectual dead end.

                Most conservatives are not racists, and most of their positions stand up to intellectual scrutiny without maligning their motives. I say this even though I do not agree with them. I disagree, yet understand them. See the difference?Report

              • Shazbot2 in reply to MFarmer says:

                “I don’t read any modern liberals calling for a limited government and free market.”

                All liberals call for a limited government and a free market.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Shazbot2 says:

                But not too free, correct?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Shazbot2 says:

                But not too free, correct?

                Not necessarily any less free than a libertarian, I’d say. The differences seem to show up, to me anyway, in what constitutes necessary intervention. The two groups agree on the conditional claim that if government action of type G is necessary to ensure functioning markets, then government is justified in implementing G. Where the two sides differ is on the facts of the matter: that G is actually necessary.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Shazbot2 says:

                Okay. Let’s drop out of the realm of hypotheticals:
                What action if any is the government justified in doing to prevent industrial espionage?
                Given that it is in society’s best interest to prevent monopolies, and that industrial espionage is quite capable of ruining other businesses… (including ones that were merely customers…)Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Shazbot2 says:

                All liberals call for a limited government and a free market.

                Specifically, they believe that the goods and services produced by the market should be free.Report

              • The problem we have in discussion reagrding modern liberals and right-leaning libertarians is that liberals are overly defensive regarding the term statism, and they immediately try to show their market bona fides, but in other venues liberals certainly defend interventionist measures — you can’t have it both ways. Liberals should embrace interventionism if that is what they think is necessary in a complex society — then we can have a debate, but debate shuts down as soon as you think that statism is a derogatory term and that the libertarian is attacking you by questioning interventionist policies.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to MFarmer says:

                When it is unclear on a side where the other side sits, hearing “Your basic stance is (THIS)” is hard to take as non-pejorative when you see that other side also doing the thing you consider to be (THIS), but claiming that’s different.

                The charge of statism coming from a foreign policy hawk, for example, makes the gentleperson of the left assume that “spending government funds on welfare == bad (and statism), but spending government funds on a (bloated) defense industry == okay (and that’s not statism because of Special Pleading)”

                Note: I haven’t seen you let forth any full-throated defenses of defense spending; I’m not talking about you, MFarmer, specifically. But then, I don’t know what you actually *do* regard as the Right and Proper role of government, and so I’m not sure what sorts of statism you think are okay (if any) or necessary (or both).Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to MFarmer says:

                If this is your position, then it just as easily cuts both ways:

                “The problem we have in discussion regarding modern liberals and right-leaning libertarians/conservatives is that right-leaning libertarians/conservatives are overly defensive regarding the term racism, and they immediately try to show their anti-racist bona fides, but in other venues right-libertarians/conservatives certainly defend pro-discrimination measures – you can’t have it both ways. Right libertarians/conservatives should embrace discrimination if that is what they think is necessary in a complex societ – then we can have a debate, but debate shuts down as soon as you think that racism is a derogatory term and that the liberal is attacking you by questioning pro-discrimination policies.”Report

              • MFarmer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Bullshit. The charge of statism is true of most liberals, but the charge of racism is not true of most libertarians. Pitiful argument, pitiful. You are smarter that that. I can’t participate here anymore, not with you guys at the helm. This is indefensible.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I’m not sure what “the charge of statism” actually is, MFarmer.

                Most libertarians aren’t anarchists. Ergo, they believe in some level of statism. It’s not an on-off switch, it’s a continuum.

                Using it like it’s an on-off switch is handy shorthand.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                The charge of statism is true of most liberals,

                Because we libertarians say it is, so I can’t understand why liberals could possibly have any objections when we define them.

                I mean, it’s totally different than from when liberals say the charge of FYIGM is true of most libertarians. We’re totally justified in objecting to them defining us.Report

        • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to MFarmer says:

          A free market in a racist society perpetuates and, if anything, endorses racism. In so far as “interventionist government” is needed to diminish racism, I’m for it.

          I’m also in favor of “non-interventionist government” solutions, but those tend to drag behind government solutions.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

            Contrariwise, the government tends to lag the private sector. For example, it was quite common for private companies to acknowledge and grant benefits to same-sex domestic partners long before any state legalized same-sex marriage.

            A democratic government tends to mirror the preferences of the median voter. The median voter is, by definition, less progressive than half of the other voters. Consequently government tends to lag behind the private sector in terms of social progressivism.Report

      • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        An excellent question.

        As highlighted by Jonathan Haidt’s recent book, liberals, conservatives, and libertarians come from different moral frameworks. Part of what I’ve always liked about this site is the diversity of outlooks, coupled with a (mostly) civil and respectful conversational culture.

        I would like to understand the outlook of modern conservatives and libertarians (I feel like I have a reasonably good handle of traditional conservatives and liberals). Best way that I can see to do that is to, well, listen to them. So I don’t think we should do any ideological filtering at all here.

        What really derails threads (and the community) here, it seems, is not differing points of view, but incivility or bad faith. I want to see all points of view here, as long as their argued honestly and respectfully.

        If we encounter points of view that we cannot countenance, engage or disengage the author. But for God’s sake, don’t ban him.

        Banning and deleting posts are last-ditch remedies that should only be applied to those who flout the culture here–not the “consensus.”Report

        • McSnarkSnark,

          I think the biggest problem is ideological, and the political disagreements cause bad faith. I’ve written on my site about the politicization of America and how the statist/social democratic mindset can’t imagine anyway to deal with social problems outside government interventions. When libertarians like myself insist that private/economic means are still necessary to truly deal with social problems, I’m seen as naive or disingenuous — usually disingenuous, because we all know that the Koch brothers want to destroy government so that they can rule the world from the private sector. If we could accept that we all want the same ends, equality, fairness, prosperity for all, peace, community, etc, then the discussions could focus on means and innovative ways to accomplish the goals on which we all agree. But when modern liberals think they are alone in wanting economic advancement among the poor and powerless, or equality in the workplace for women, or the elimination of racism, or the open-minded acceptance of sexual preferences, then it shuts down communication across political divides.Report

        • Snarky,

          Thanks for the thoughts. I guess I’m trying to get at something a little bit more fundamental, though, that goes well beyond a question of policies, and more goes to a real disconnect that I think explains why it is that we simultaneously have very few actual conservatives around here (and the ones we have a actually less conservative than most) and very few nonwhites (and to a large extent, women). What we view as incivility around here isn’t necessarily viewed as incivility by those who choose not to hang around, but things we might casually view as being civil around here quite likely are viewed as uncivil, hurtful, and off-putting amongst groups that don’t hang out here as much.

          Racism/homophobia/etc. may well be inherent to conservatism, but conservatives’ understanding of racism/homophobia/sexism will always be so narrow as to make it impossible for them to see it in themselves, and they will experience accusations of racism as uncivil personal attacks warranting them shutting down debate, walking away, or just not participate; liberals in general may well be too quick to lay accusations of racism/homophobia/sexism and use those accusations to shut down debate or as an excuse to walk away from the discussion or just not participate, but the seemingly racist/homophobia/sexist statements will always be experienced as extremely painful attacks, particularly by nonwhite or female liberals.Report

          • Johanna in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            I’m not sure I buy the “not actual conservatives” claim. It sounds a lot like no true Scotsmanning to me. I’ve been accused by both liberals and libertarians of not being a “true” libertarian. By that standard, and by the standard I think you’re applying to conservatives, it seems we don’t have any true libertarians around here, either.

            If you want to add someone farther to the right than Tom, Mike or Tim, obviously y’all could do that. But I’d find it very strange to define that person as the “actual” conservative, and those three (and whomever else I’m unjustly forgetting) as…what pseudo-conservatives? RINOs? Dead skunks in the middle of the road?Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Johanna says:

              The problem with the argument of, “we just need better conservatives here who will uplift the conversation” is that I think, unlike a lot of other people here who make that claim, I actually read conservative blogs.

              Go look at posts on the Corner. Most of the posts aren’t that different from TVD at his worst. Weekly Standard has bought into the Unskewed polls narrative. Red State bans people who link to fact checkers.

              Now, I’m not saying there aren’t smart conservatives. But, most of those people haven’t been associate with the broader conservative movement in forever (Daniel Larison), are attacking the current GOP for the idiocy despite having largely the same policies as they did four years previous (David Frum), or are attacked as RINO’s in the comments section of their own publication (Salam or Ponuru).Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to Johanna says:

              To be clear, I wasn’t trying to say that Tom, Tim, et al aren’t actual conservatives, just that there aren’t many of them, even though conservatives are a plurality of Americans.Report

            • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Johanna says:

              “Dead skunks in the middle of the road?”

              I will forbear from adding the next line…Report

          • James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Good grief. That’s me, no Johanna (again). The giveaway is the libertarian part. Twenty years of marriage and I still haven’t preached her into the true faith.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to Mark Thompson says:


        I don’t think that conservatism is inherently sexist or racist. However, it does have a greater tendency in that direction; we can’t reasonably deny that most to all major progress on race and gender issues has been made by progressive movements (abolitionism, women’s suffrage, gender equality, the civil rights movement) that opposed traditional conventional wisdom. Intelligent and intellectually honest conservatism requires coming to grips with ways their preferred policies can disadvantage people who aren’t rich straight white men, and finding ways to correct that.

        One of the values of this sites for me is the way it makes me take a typical progressive assumption (if it is necessary/highly beneficial for people in general for something to be done, then government should do it) and interrogate it – are there ways the desired good outcome can be achieved through action outside of government? Are they plausible, or likely to occur? What are the advantages and disadvantages of those methods compared to government action? In the same way, conservative biases need to be interrogated – how does something being done in the past make it more desirable than something new? What are the implications of a given policy for people for whom the past was a LOT worse than the present? Just because I would be better off under/prefer a certain policy, does that mean it’s better, taking into account how it would affect people who have different experiences and circumstances? So do libertarian biases – in particular, the tendency to look only at restrictions on freedom done by the government, or view those ones as worse. The site’s at its best when all those biases are examined and questioned.

        On conservatism specifically – in brief, you can’t just look at policy from a perspective of “how would this affect straight white males” any more. For most of history, you could. Conservatives need to come to terms with that if conservatism is going to continue to be a relevant, useful ideology. And in order to come to terms with that, it can’t be ahistorical. You can’t look at something like affirmative action and say “this is bad, it’s biased, we need to get rid of it” without first looking at the numerous ways in which the government and other institutions have implemented affirmative action for white people, and the impacts that has had. After looking at those things, you might still decide that the cons outweigh the pros, but you can’t simply ignore it.Report

        • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to KatherineMW says:

          I don’t think that conservatism is inherently sexist or racist.

          They are, in the sense that they don’t buy into the liberal cultural critique that informs the liberal understanding of these words. Both are pretty much artifacts of the cultural revolution of the 60s and 70s, of which the conservative movement has “issues.”

          I’m not trying to be offensive here: it’s just that liberals and conservatives have different understandings of those words.Report

          • KatherineMW in reply to Snarky McSnarkSnark says:

            Can you elaborate? I can’t tell from your post what you’re getting at.Report

            • Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to KatherineMW says:

              When a liberal says “racist” and a conservative says “racist,” they are not talking about the same concept. A conservative understands the word narrowly (“do I believe that blacks should be forced to sit at the back of the bus”), and a liberal understands the same word quite expansively (“do I acknowledge that there are any meaningful differences between a black people and white people, and should I extend particular deference to black people because of their cultural experience.”)

              Similarly, the conservative and liberal understand completely different things when they hear the word “sexism.”

              The liberal understanding of these words come directly from the very large cultural changes of the 60s and70s. The conservative understanding is much closer to what the words meant in the 50s and before (although I’m not sure “sexism” was really used then).Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        To add one more thing – there’s a difference between “policy positions where the implications for non-straight-white-males haven’t been thought through” and “just being a bigot”.

        Posting a picture of Trayvon Martin wearing a grill and thinking that’s an argument, for instance, is an example of the latter. Demeaning women commentators as “feminazis” is an example of that. I don’t think there should be a place for that on this site.

        This should be a place for discussion of conservative policy ideas. When those ideas contain implicit biases, this should be a place for discussion of those. And pointing out those biases, and pointing out things which are not intended to be offensive still can be offensive should not be taken as accusations meant to shut down dialogue.Report

    • MFarmer in reply to KatherineMW says:

      “When this blog feels unfriendly to women, it’s primarily because specific commenters – generally not drive-by trolls, but regulars – are being deliberately misogynist and hostile. ”

      Can you provide an example of this, because I just haven’t witnessed this in the few years I’ve been commenting.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to MFarmer says:

        Multiple people, when discussing the fact that Limbaugh decided that a woman expressing a political opinion with which he disagreed justified calling her a whore and telling her to show him her tits. But it’s come up in other discussions relating to women as well.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to KatherineMW says:

          That’s not really and example. I’m asking for an example of a regular being misogynist and hostile toward women.Report

          • Mark Thompson in reply to MFarmer says:

            Multiple regulars defended Limbaugh as being not merely exercising his right to free speech, but as absolutely correct. They did not understand why this was misogynistic.Report

            • Sure they did. They simply noted that unlike say, Ed Schultz, the use of “slut” was not gratuitous, but an admittedly disastrous attempt to make a witty point.

              Without once again restating the actual specifics, any attempt to re-litigate this matter is based on hearsay, a game of Telephone.

              See also


              • MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Ed Schultz apologized, immediately and abjectly. He was suspended for a week. Limbaugh, days later, after adding “porn actress” to “slut” and “prostitute”, gave a half-assed [1] “I didn’t mean to insult her” apology and paid no penalty of any kind. Yet we keep being told that Schultz is even worse than Limbaugh.

                1. Joke left as an exercise for the reader.Report

              • “Gratuitous” is key here. But fine, stipulated. Limbaugh or Schultz isn’t really at issue here. That it’s misogynistic to not agree that something’s misogynistic is getting just a bit too squinty in my view.Report

              • KatherineMW in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                “Calling someone a slut in response to their political positions is misogynist” is something sufficiently obvious that it shouldn’t require debate, just like “Darbyshire telling his kids to stay away from places where there’s lots of black people is racist” is sufficiently obvious that it shouldn’t need debate.

                If a person feels the need to defend such behaviour from an appellation which it is patently evident it deserves, it says something about that person.Report

              • Michelle in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Oh please. Limbaugh, who pretty much coined the phrase “feminazi,” knew exactly the audience to which he was playing and used the word “slut” deliberately not because he was making an attempt to be witty but because he knew it would play. That anybody could defend that pompous douche bag, other than to invoke his First Amendment right to sound off and say whatever offensive, false thing he wants to say, never ceases to amaze me.Report

              • Johanna in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                It isn’t as though this was a single instance with an apology. To ignore the long time pattern of behavior of Limbaugh is to argue in bad faith, so contrary to your assertion, Limbaugh was the issue. It is disingenuous to again act as though he was being unfairly attacked while simultaneously ignoring everything else that comes out of his mouth. Defending him with the claim that others are worse doesn’t change what Limbaugh said and as Katherine says, it says more about you.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Johanna says:

                There are drugs that, unlike birth control, do cost per sex act and are (generally without controversy) covered by insurance. And Limbaugh is quite familiar with them. So I’m merely being an accurate reporter when I call him and the other men whose jollies you and I are paying for man-whores.Report

            • MFarmer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              Those damn multiple regulars!Report

            • Brandon Berg in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              I maintain that Limbaugh’s original comment, while crude, made an entirely valid point about externalizing the cost of private benefits. What I did not know while offering a qualified defense of this comment was that he had later gone on to make several other comments about Fluke which were simply gratuitous smears.Report

          • DRS in reply to MFarmer says:

            I would certainly regard the accusation thrown in my direction on the recent Abortion thread that I was expecting extra/bonus points for my view because I was a woman to be hostile.Report

            • ktward in reply to DRS says:

              It is generally my view that women should get extra/bonus points (whatever that means) for their views on specific issues that, intrinsically, affect them more directly –both physiologically and psychologically– than men. Abortion certainly fits that bill.

              That must’ve been some thread.Report

        • wardsmith in reply to KatherineMW says:

          I’ve recently explained to Glyph (WAAAYYY at the bottom of the comments here) how to search on this site using Google. Doing same, I could find no instance of TVD using the term “feminazi”. Can you perchance put up or shut up?

          As for the “grill”, that was meant I believe as anodyne for the “alter boy” images of Mr. Martin from when he was only 14 that were handed to the press as if they represented his then current state. Now if you /like/ and prefer propaganda to truth, by all means continue in your bias. Please don’t be offended if I prefer a little more veritas to my truth.

          Even when I don’t agree with Tom, I find him a breth of fresh air after all the progressive back patting around here.Report

  40. Glyph says:

    OOOOOH, can’t believe I forgot this one – Erik, please please please provide a site search function, ideally filterable by post or comment author (and maybe other criteria like Category).

    Trying to go back and find half-remembered comments and posts to use for reference (or as weapons to use in accusations of YOU INCONSISTENT HYPOCRITE!) is just too difficult currently.Report

  41. ktward says:

    I’ve already spoken my mind. But after catching up on the thread, I hope you’ll forgive me a few extra thoughts.

    – One of our fab commenters* pointed out that women’s views are not monolithic. That such a basic truth was even deemed necessary to highlight is revealing. I mean, would it ever occur to anyone at all to point out that men’s views are not monolithic?

    – I’m on record already as to what I think about changing the site’s name. (Equally, there is a branding factor to be considered which I’m sure y’all are weighing.) But I’m left with the impression that the gals who feel strongly that the name should be changed will be much more adversely affected if that doesn’t happen, than I will be if it does. I’m genuinely happy to defer to those gals.`As much as I like the clever moniker, the site’s name matters way more to them than it does to me.

    – Seriously, my greatest concern remains that some number of dudes here might come to feel like they’re walking on eggshells; that they must scour their every response, especially the funniest off-the-cuffs over which I’ve ruined keyboards, in order to avoid any risk of offending the girls. Or that the Boys Club banter amongst you that I’ve long come to appreciate will suffer on some level. I could easily belabor this point, but do I need to?

    – Equally, it has been a source of genuine inspiration for me to witness the women of this blog altogether capably calling out both egregiously sexist remarks as well as engaging in good faith with perhaps clueless if well-intended and otherwise insightful and reflective dudes. Seriously instructive discourse is happening, even when it gets dicey. Arguing sometimes gets ugly. Also too, this community is exceptionally adept at self policing.

    My final cent’s worth, channeling Billy: Don’t go changing to try to please me.
    I have places to go for a collectively female take. But that’s, rather obviously, my comfort zone. I’ve lurked here at the League for many years because you fellas not only took me out of my comfort zone, you did it with both substance to engage my mind and style to engage my humors.

    I don’t want y’all to lose the very magic that has made your site what it is, all in the name of molding it into something more generically “inclusive” but what might very well end up being something much less stimulating and intriguing.

    * The thread’s too long. I’d link if I could.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to ktward says:

      Thanks and I totally agree- I am fab!

      Really what I was trying to point out, though, was more that some of the commentary around here about what sorts of things “women” are alienated by has verged on treating women, or at least their responses, as monolithic. Especially since some of the things that have been described as hostile or poisonous towards women have made my wife laugh when I showed them to her. I don’t know that she would agree that I’m fab though.Report

      • ktward in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I can’t emoticon my way into a Thank You that’s big enough. Honest to agnostic god (nod to Tod), I wanted to go back and find that [your] comment. Alas, the threads are becoming too dauntingly long. Not a bad thing, mind.

        You pointed out exactly what I was attempting to convey via my reference to your comment: there’s precious little daylight between treating women’s views as monolithic and seeing us as monolithic. This thread, perhaps, does a decent job of disabusing folks of that notion.

        I bet your wife thinks you’re fab. Most of the time, anyway. 🙂Report

      • Chris in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I’d just note that since folks started talking about getting more women’s voices in this place, women seem to have been commenting more. Correlation is not causation, but maybe sometimes it’s enough just to say to people, “You’re welcome here.”Report

    • Johanna in reply to ktward says:

      Perfectly said kt. I for the most part like the culture, the banter, the name. When I want a particularly “female” view, I don’t expect it here and that is OK because when I am here, that is not what I am interested in (although I appreciate the women who comment here). I too worry about a change in culture, there is so much more that I like than dislike.

      Calling out sexist remarks serves as a reminder of the higher standard of discourse that the League takes pride in, I don’t believe it is meant to stifle conversation and that those engaging in sexist rhetoric should recognize that both women and many men here will continue to challenge those perceptions like any other debate. That is a good thing.

      It has been nice to see that I am not alone. The frustrations I have with the League are have been articulated in this and other threads numerous times. I hope that they are addressed in a way that makes this a better place and not a totally different one.Report

  42. Elias Isquith says:

    I just want to say this thread has been rather substantive and well-tempered so far, and I’d like to thank all of you who have contributed to that for doing so. I’d also like to thank E.D. for this post, which I thought was, beyond on-point and tonally commendable, quite well-written (no surprise).

    I’ve made my position very clear in our behind the scenes discussions (and, yes, we do put on monocles and drink sherry while we’re behind the scenes) so I won’t subject everyone to another full rendition. I’ll merely say that I think the League’s persistent lack of gender diversity is a problem with more than one source; but that there’s ample reason to see a name change as a net positive. I can’t speak to a lot of the recent discord, but I can say that I’ve been lackadaisical at times in supervising my post’s comment threads. That’s something I can do better.Report