I Don't Blame The Twisty

I posted last week about why I consider the common anti-trans arguments invalid. My comment was inspired by a thread on I Blame The Patriarchy, Twisty’s blog.

One thing I didn’t talk about was the issue of Twisty’s culpability for the thread. I didn’t discuss that because I wanted to separate out the issue of anti-trans arguments — which I consider an important issue — from the issue of blog moderation techniques, which is an issue that I consider extremely petty.

It appears that Twisty wasn’t paying attention to the thread when the anti-trans hatefest exploded. She posted twice without, apparently, having actually read the thread in any detail at all. The third time she posted about the thread, she described herself as having just read the thread for the first time; she then condemned the transphobia and (if I followed events correctly) banned the disgusting hatemonger Luckynkl from her blog.

It would be one thing if IBTP was a constant hive of anti-trans hatred in the comments, in the way a blog like Little Green Footballs is a constant hive of anti-muslim hatred. If the problem goes on constantly for years, and the moderator never makes any attempt to address it, it’s fair to assume that the blog is that way because the moderator finds that acceptable. But that’s not what happened in this case. What happened is that Twisty didn’t pay attention 24/7, one thread exploded and got out of hand, and it took Twisty a while to correctly observe how fucked up the thread was and react.

Especially for those bloggers with busy comments sections, it’s not always possible to monitor what’s going on closely1, and it’s guaranteed that we’ll sometimes fail to react as well to situations as we should have. To blame bloggers for everything that people post in our comments is unfair. And people who think that there’s only one politically valid approach to running a comments section are overpoliticizing what shouldn’t be a political issue, and practicing the politics of personal denunciation.

I don’t agree with that. Twisty didn’t react as well as she should have, and she didn’t initially understand the situation — but who does, all of the time? Twisty didn’t herself say anything hateful about transsexuals, and the condemnations of her are in my opinion unfair and misplaced.

Along similar lines, I recommend this post at Tiny Cat Pants.

  1. There are sometimes days at a time when I can’t look at “Alas” comments, or can’t do more than skim. And the comments on “Alas” aren’t as busy at the comments on IBTP. []
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14 Responses to I Don't Blame The Twisty

  1. Pingback: Egotistical Whining

  2. 2
    piny says:

    I’m kind of tired of “monitor closely.” No one is arguing that she was obligated to do that, because that wouldn’t have been necessary. It was not a few commenters or a few comments, not a little thing. It was an uninterrupted spew of extreme and obvious vitriol that went on for a couple of days. You don’t have to drink the entire carton of milk to know whether or not it’s sour. It would have taken less time than it took to type the first response comment to figure out the tone of the thread and close off the comments section. No one thinks Twisty should have chained herself to her computer.

  3. 3
    Decnavda says:

    Can I blame Twisty for posting with total approval a quote that attacks as a human-rights violation the necessary proceedures of menal health professionals? Here is the quote:

    Some hospital psychologists understand the maintenance of feminine beauty practices to signify “mental health” and enforce makeovers for women they consider recalcitrant. Resistance by women to these practices is seen as a symptom of ill health. Thus Michael Pertschuk says that the first thing medical students are taught is to observe the patient: “How is he dressed? Hair neat? Hands clean? If the patient is a woman, is she wearing makeup? How well is it applied? Has she attended to her hair and nails?”

    To suggest that this advice to medical students equates resistance to makeup with mental illness is an almost intentional misreading that can do great damage to people, specifically women, who need mental health treatment. What is being asked of the medical students is to notice how well groomed the patient is, and for most women in our society, for good, ill, or indifferent, grooming includes make-up. To suggest that medical students NOT be trained to notice these things is to suggest that they ignor signs that women need help. I would agree that the professors need to be more careful about pointing out that it is not any specific grooming proceedure, such as applying lipstick, or any make-up at all, that is important, but rather the entire grroming picture, although the professors should also be able to assume that the students are not idiots and have been well-trained on these issues in their classes on sexuality and gender.

    In my case, what no health care professionals apparently noticed for years was that I sported a big, scraggerly, untrimmed beard. I hope it was not the case that some health care professionals did notice my unkempt beard but assumed that I was resisting society’s expectation that I shave and did not want to offend me by asking about it. It is not women who actively resist make-up that they are looking for – it is women who are letting themselves go. Critiquing HOW medical students are taught this is very constructive criticism. Suggesting that they should not be taught this at all potentially harms women who are in the most need of help.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Piny, maybe you never have taken two days off, or (more to the point) had a couple of days or more where you didn’t feel able, for whatever reason, to do a good job moderating comments or to engage intelligently with a flame war going on. But I have. And I doubt me and Twisty are the only ones.

    A few commenters or a few comments, or a little thing, would for me be much easier to deal with and to handle. If I’m already feeling unable to deal on a day, I’m much more likely to throw my hands in the air and say “I can’t deal with Alas right now” and to go watch TV or play with Sydney or something if I see that there are 50 new comments in a couple of hours and demands in my inbox that I moderate.

    I’m not saying Twisty didn’t make mistakes. Clearly, she should have done things differently. But hindsight is easy, especially when we have no idea what else Twisty had on her plate while the hatefest was going on. Bottom line: I don’t think failing to be a good blog moderator is something that deserves the level of condemnation that Twisty has received from some folks. I saw someone post that not only was she (he?) delinking Twisty, but that they were also delinking anyone who failed to delink Twisty. That’s pretty ludicrous.

    Edited to add: You’re right to criticize the “monitor closely” language in my post. What I should have written is that bloggers should be able to take a day or two off from monitoring at all every now and then, and to screw up now and then, without being jumped on for it.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Decnavda, it’s perfectly fair to criticize Twisty for what she writes herself. But I think the particular road you’re going down here is off-topic for this post.

  6. 6
    Decnavda says:

    Umm, you’re right.

    My appologies.

  7. Frankly, I don’t see what all the hubbub is about. Not to say that it wasn’t hard for me to see such hate at one time, cause it was. As a reader, when the hate is directed at you it’s hard not to feel a pang of hurt. But really, I have to come to a debate ready to face just about anything. And once it’s personal, the person attacking has lost the debate. They lose all credibility. At the end of the day, it’s just the internet.

    As far as Twisty’s roll in all of it, I don’t blame her one bit. People can hate me if they choose. It’s not against the law or anything. Hell, on my personal blog, MartiAbernathey.com, someone said I was ugly and didn’t need makeup, but a paper bag. :) I believe in free speech…even speech I don’t really agree with.

  8. 8
    Amanda Marcotte says:

    Eh, said it before and will say it again. People were looking for a reason to get mad at her. That the best they could come up with was what commenters were saying and not her says something.

  9. 9
    Amanda Marcotte says:

    I’ll admit that I let people run wild on my threads. For instance, on that Ashley Treatment thread, people could be calling me a skank ass ho for all I know, but I don’t, because I tuned out after it got so irate and ideological that conversation broke down. I realized after awhile that it was hard for me to think about writing if I got bogged down in go-nowhere comment threads. Twisty is twice the writer I am, so I imagine she gets sucked into it even less. Too busy thinking of clever things to say, I’m sure.

  10. 10
    piny says:

    Eh, said it before and will say it again. People were looking for a reason to get mad at her. That the best they could come up with was what commenters were saying and not her says something.

    Whereas other people are looking for a reason to dismiss the whole thing.

    And again: it wasn’t just them, it was her response to them.

  11. 11
    KH says:

    This, of course, just repeats Twisty’s own self-exonerating account of the matter: that she didn’t know what was going on, & that unreasonable people demanded that she should have known, & unfairly blamed her for other people’s bigotry.

    All this was addressed at the time. Maybe you don’t accept the criticisms, but if you’ve read the relevant threads you must know this account of the incident is disputed. The problem wasn’t merely that Twisty, in an inevitable lapse of vigilance, simply had overlooked a spot of bigotry among her commenters. Piny is right. It was about how she responded to what she plainly did know. Shall we review the facts? Do Twisty’s friends really imagine they do her a service by returning to the subject? Better for her, & them, that it be forgotten.

    Amanda: Where there are just grounds for criticism, invidious speculation about the critics’ motives isn’t a fit response.

  12. 12
    ginmar says:

    Nice of you to link to a post doing nothing but bitching at her in terms of shit that MRA say then, Amp. Really nice. Laura’s post is nothing but MRA terms that we wouldn’t tolerate if they came from a man. How come it’s okay when it comes from a woman?

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    Ginmar, just because I think one particular criticism of IBTP is unfair or overstated, it doesn’t follow that I must oppose all other criticisms of IBTP.

    As for the rest, I’ve responded to you on the thread in question.

  14. 14
    ginmar says:

    Sorry, but any criticism of a feminist in MRA terms is always unfair.