Monday, June 25, 2007

A Response to 'Considering Difference'

Eric over at Eric Stoller's Blog asked me to comment on a recent post/incident. Given the length of my response, I've decided to respond with a post rather than a comment. Go here for the post that inspired this.

First, a question: By 'outing' did Eric mean telling someone at Iowa State about Radar's writings? Maybe I missed it, but that wasn't clear to me. It's also possible - probable, even - that Radar has been effectively outed; given the information that Eric did post, I could probably follow the trail and out them myself at this point.

Second, wow. Just wow.

I agree with a lot of what's been said already in the comments to the post, but I want to point out one thing, something that Tanya said:
"What is unfortunate here is that Radar thinks he must be anonymous because of the liberal bias in academia not because his behavior as a student affairs professional is wrong."
I think this gets at something important here, namely an idea that all viewpoints are valid perhaps even regardless of context or factual accuracy. That is, Radar (obviously) believes that their personal views are equally valid when held up to anyone else's, especially yours, Eric. On the one hand, I want to agree with him; that's what my lefty social justice background tells me: Do not invalidate someone else's experiences. This leads to marginalization, oppression, etc.

However, I am concerned (and this is a point I think needs made in a larger context than just this case) that there is a serious miscommunication here, perhaps intentional, perhaps not. What I see is lefty folks challenging Radar's beliefs about LGBT folks, not Radar's identity.

(I know, I know - are those even separate? Can we separate them? How? If we can't, then you might as well discard the rest of this post.)

I hope it goes without saying that it's OK to challenge someone's beliefs. Yes, it depends on context, but if we've got any hope left for either an intellectual life and/or positive social change, then I think we've got to believe that it's OK to question the factual basis (and moral basis, for that matter) of the beliefs of other people. If you are not sure this is OK, I have one word for you: Iraq.

Therefore, I can say "Radar, your belief that LGBT folks' lifestyles is immoral is incorrect because its based on false assumptions and/or reasoning." However, I cannot say "Radar, your beliefs make you a bad person." I worry that somewhere those two sentiments get mixed up.

I also worry that sometimes conservative folks don't get the whole debate around difference and/or diversity (probably due to some very, very different underlying assumptions about human nature - see Radar's comment on personal responsibility and how leftists 'don't believe in it' or something - but that's another post), and as a result get mad when their beliefs are challenged, precisely because it's seen as an attack on identity, something us 'liberals' aren't supposed to do. So leftists get called hypocrites based on a misunderstanding, one that allows conservatives to declare victory in their own minds.

Getting back to the question at hand, I am inclined to 'out' Radar as well, on the grounds that his personal beliefs seem to contradict the requirements of his job. This reminds me of some recent news stories I've read in which pharmacists refuse to hand out birth control, emergency contraception, the morning after pill, etc. based on their personal beliefs. My take on that is that those folks are not doing their jobs, and should leave the pharmacy business if they refuse to fulfill the requirements of the job. I feel the same way about Radar; ergo, I think outing that person to their boss(es) is probably ethical, since Radar has (tacitly?) admitted to being unable to do the job at hand.

Whew.

Thoughts?

11 comments:

radar said...

Thoughts: simple - I am not unable to do my job. Didn't you just talk about the difficulty in separating identity and opinions? Do you not disapprove of my opinions and possibly my lifestyle? Are you then unable to support a conservative student that holds similar beliefs? How is that different than my situation?

And yes - I consider my conservative ideology part of my identity. If you tell me that I'm "wrong" it is exactly as you say - hypocritical. If my identity is "wrong" then what kind of sense are you making of this predicament?

Sorry - since I'm not blogging anymore I have plenty of time to comment...

Eric Stoller said...

Dennis -- "By 'outing' did Eric mean telling someone at Iowa State about Radar's writings?"
-no.

You're correct that the trail was posted. I have removed the URL's that "out" Radar.

Whoa. I self-identify as someone who is an anti-racist, feminist, ally, and activist. I do not identify as a "lefty" or a liberal. Just wanted to clarify :-)

Radar -- I think that there is a huge difference between saying that you disagree with someone's opinions versus saying that you "disapprove" of someone's lifestyle and acts. That difference is how I believe that I can support a conservative student at my job. I do not "disapprove" of people who identify as conservative.

The "lifestyle," as you (Radar) have labeled it, of LGBT folks does not affect your existence. LGBT folks' sexual orientation and actions do not improve or diminish your (Radar) existence. However, your anti-LGBT views (see Radar's blog archives) do affect the lives of LGBT folks. Words that strip away the dignity of LGBT folks and that seek to limit their freedoms/happiness are hurtful.

radar said...

Eric: "Words that strip away the dignity of LGBT folks and that seek to limit their freedoms/happiness are hurtful."

Exchange "LGBT" with "conservative."

Remember that I am not blogging because of you.

Look up "hypocrisy" in the dictionary.

That's all I think I can do for you to help you understand my point - which is still apparently escaping your grasp.

Dennis said...

Radar,

I finally think you're missing a whole lot of the point with Eric's original post and subsequent comments. I have seen no evidence that Eric (or for that matter "liberal academia") seeks to take away 'conservative' freedoms and/or happiness.

I'd love to see evidence, especially since most of the evidence mustered up for this argument is often some form of taking away people's freedom to oppress others. Please find an example where the "oppression" of conservatives isn't somehow linked to the ability of LGBT folks to live fear-free lives. Because I'm completely happy working against the 'rights' and abilities of some people to oppress others. Also, I don't think we're in an either-or situation: conservatives should be able to be free and happy at the same time as LGBT folks. If that's not the case, we need to think carefully about what the conflict is and where it lies. Thanks.

Eric Stoller said...

Radar - I do not think that calling you out on your anti-LGBT or anti-Muslim blog posts strips away your dignity or seeks to limit your freedoms/happiness. My blog post may have upset you because I'm sure it was unsettling to have your privilege shield temporarily removed.

Remember that I am blogging because of you.

Look up "hypocrisy" in the dictionary and you might just find an entry about student affairs practitioners who disapprove of their students.

radar said...

Ha! Dennis:

"I have seen no evidence that Eric (or for that matter "liberal academia") seeks to take away 'conservative' freedoms and/or happiness."

Actually, I rather enjoyed blogging and it is Eric's actions that have caused me to stop. In what way is that evidence insufficient?

"Because I'm completely happy working against the 'rights' and abilities of some people to oppress others."

A typical liberal stance. Why is it impossible for oppression to be combated without oppressing others? Shouldn't you be combating the oppression of everyone?

Finally, Eric:

"My blog post may have upset you because I'm sure it was unsettling to have your privilege shield temporarily removed."

Don't flatter yourself - your posts have only been upsetting to me in that they were designed to stop me from sharing my opinions on my website - and you achieved your goal (and you have yet to deny that it was your goal). If I couldn't handle people that disapproved of my conservative identity I would never have entered higher education.

"Remember that I am blogging because of you."

And I was blogging because of you - until you silenced my blog by outing me. I have already explored the irony of this in my final post - I'm sure you've read it (in the seven or so times you've been to my site since.)

"Look up "hypocrisy" in the dictionary and you might just find an entry about student affairs practitioners who disapprove of their students."

And since you have yet failed to provide any evidence to explain your similar disapproval of my conservative identity, I will assume that this statement is an ironic misstatement on your part. You are committing that which you accuse me of.

And apparently, it is you who must find my posts unsettling - since you have conveniently stopped new comments from being posted on your blog post. Does it remove some of the guilt, or are you just tired of listening to a diverse opinion?

Eric Stoller said...

"Don't flatter yourself - your posts have only been upsetting to me in that they were designed to stop me from sharing my opinions on my website - and you achieved your goal (and you have yet to deny that it was your goal). If I couldn't handle people that disapproved of my conservative identity I would never have entered higher education."

Then why did you immediately close up shop when I quasi-outed you. It should not have mattered that your cloak of anonymity had been lifted. Perhaps it was the fact that your blog was riddled with carefully crafted and constructed hate speech that might have alarmed the good people of Iowa State University? and yes, some of your posts definitely contained "fighting words." (See legal issues in higher education for reference)

Oh and I don't disapprove of people who identify as conservatives. I disapprove of people who say that their personal identity is contingent upon the denigration and dismissal of the freedoms of people in marginalized groups.

Dennis said...

Oh and I don't disapprove of people who identify as conservatives. I disapprove of people who say that their personal identity is contingent upon the denigration and dismissal of the freedoms of people in marginalized groups.

I think that is the best I've ever heard it said. What scares me is that so many conservative self-identify into the latter category, especially in the last several years.

radar said...

I commented a number of days ago on this post - are you no longer approving further comments?

Dennis said...

Radar, Blogger tells me I have no unmoderated comment. And thus far, I have never rejected a comment. I don't know what to tell you.

radar said...

No worries...

 
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