My personal tipping-point: “I’ve better things to do with my time then worry how many votes it gets over a trivial matter such as this.” [emphasis added]
That’s Scott Tribe, ProgBlog admin. He’s talking about a woman’s right to choose. He’s referring specifically to a condescending post on the subject by one of his mods, and the handful of votes it received.
Let’s get a couple of things out of the way to begin with. First, no one ever called upon Tribe and his six moderators to ban anyone. We wanted the moderators to speak up for the values progressives supposedly hold—the values that made us congregate at Progressive Bloggers in the first place.
Second, the two bloggers in question want to put human rights up for debate. No one in charge seems to grasp that progressives don’t debate whether any group should or should not have human rights. Other people do that. They’re called conservatives.
The response of Tribe and his moderators to legitimate concerns has been shocking, and I’m not easily shocked these days. This is 2012, and they still don’t get it. Their scorn, smugness and arrogance, with which they appear to be plentifully endowed, have been directed at the pro-rights crowd, not at those who want to debate whether those rights should even exist.
The caricatures they’ve been pushing are drearily familiar to anyone following the feminist conversations over the past two or three decades. The goodly folks at DAMMIT JANET! who reacted to their rights being put up for debate have been stereotyped and lampooned. Fern Hill is an “idiot,” avers a prominent Liberal. Those concerned about a progressive aggregator offering safe harbour to those who want to debate human rights for women are, in Tribe’s words, “screaming banschees” [sic].
Shrill, right, Scott?*
And let’s get something else straight, while we’re at it. No one on our side of this discussion want a “line” aggregator run by heavy-footed mods enforcing political conformity. None of us is a narrow political “purist,” another insult that has been flung our way. We think for ourselves, don’t go out of our way to adopt “correct” positions, and frequently disagree with each other. If we were afraid of debate, we wouldn’t be bloggers in the first place.
But there are limits to everything, including wide-angle tolerance. If someone wants to argue that racial equality is good but only up to a point; or that the Holocaust was an historical fable; or that life was so much better when gays were in the closet—well, there are well-known internet venues for that sort of thing. No aggregator calling itself “progressive” should offer another one.
The problem with women’s right to choose, though, is that for some folks it just doesn’t seem important enough to get all riled up about, unlike racism, for example, or Islamophobia. So when women, under direct political threat at the moment both federally and in Alberta, react to self-styled “progressives” adding incrementally to that threat, they simply aren’t taken seriously. Instead, they’re ridiculed and dismissed.
We asked the moderators and the admin of Progressive Bloggers to take a stand, and they have. Now it’s our turn to do so as well.
Ultimately, aggregators are just voluntary groupings of bloggers who have some sort of common cause. If that cause evaporates, then bloggers leave.
And that’s no big deal. We don’t stop blogging; we don’t disengage from the various struggles we’re involved in, both on the internet and in meatspace. We don’t lose our commitment, or relegate it to solitary confinement. We just stop hanging out on a daily basis with people who are opposed to our values. We’ll engage and confront them, but not as members of their group.
So this is my own statement of exit from Progressive Bloggers.
There’s nothing here for the Right to crow over, by the way. The struggle continues, and we’re in the thick of it, as ever. We’re just moving to higher ground.
Now: back to our regular programming.
UPDATE: *Well, well. Sure didn’t take long for the open misogyny to pour out, did it?