Stop the Quotes!
by a LIFE member, July 2007
"Rule One for a writer, as far as I'm concerned,
is There Are No Rules."
-- Arundhati Roy, Power Politics, 2001
"We have free speech. Maybe. But do we have Really Free Speech? If what we have to say doesn't "sell," will we still say it? Can we? Or is everybody looking for Things That Sell to say?"
-- Arundhati Roy, Power Politics, 2001
"One of the most paralysing circumstances of university writing is the fact that your readers are also your instructors."
-- Janet Giltrow, Academic Writing: how to read and
write scholarly prose, 1990
"I suggest that all further messages sent to
PAR-L include an editorial comment and contain a maximum of five quotes."
-- PAR-L email list co-moderators writing to LIFE, July 27th, 2007
To LIFE from the PAR-L email list moderators to July 19, 2007:
Dear Life, Your message below contains a series of quotes on economics. I understand and support the goal that you are pursuing, but I find that your message does not convey your point very well. A series of quotes is not an argument. It is not a call for action. If offers very little information on your analysis of the situation and possible ways of addressing the problem. Several subscribers have mentioned this to us in the past. As a result, we have decided not to post this type of message to the list. You are welcome to send other types of messages, as long as you clearly identify the main point you wish to make. You should also be aware that PAR-L is not a single-issue list. We wish to foster discussion of a broad range of issues and we discourage any attempt to focus the attention on a specific topic. We thank you for your understanding.
To LIFE from the PAR-L email list moderators to July 24, 2007: PAR-L is run by two moderators on a volunteer basis. We receive no funding at all, except for infrastructure computer support of the University of New Brunswick which hosts the listserv. Our aim is to maintain a discussion list that is relevant to feminists in Canada. Moderating requires that we exercise our best judgment to determine what is relevant and what is not, what is feminist and what is not, what constitutes flaming, and what is acceptable according to guidelines posted on our Web site. Your messages containing series of quotes are not very informative. Usually a quote needs to be preceded or followed by a comment explaining why this particular quote matters. A quote should support an argument, not replace it altogether. In the absence of any analysis or comment, it is very difficult to know what to make of these quotes. We invite you to post again, but to include comments indicating why these quotes matter to the mandate of the list. Some people refer to discussion lists as "printed conversations." Far from censoring you, we are asking that you rewrite so that we hear your own point of view, your
To LIFE from the PAR-L email list moderators to July 26, 2007:Dear LIFE, Your message still largely consists of a series of quotes. Please express
your point more clearly and succintly and we'll post your message to the
To LIFE from the PAR-L email list moderators to July 27, 2007: The links between the quotes may be clear to you, but they are not clear
to the two moderators of the list, and I suspect to many subscribers. I
suggest that all further messages sent to PAR-L include an editorial
comment and contain a maximum of five quotes. And blanket attacks against "feminism" are not very helpful. Quoting LIFE: "In fact, staggering amounts of money and time have been squandering paying for list serves such as Par-l and for paying the salaries of 'progressives' who then write many millions of useless words during their careers many of which end on list serves such as Par-l where they accomplish nothing whatsoever.
PAR-L is run on a volunteer basis with no monetary support whatsoever.
Poverty has been a priority for many feminist organizations for years,
e.g. the World March of Women initiated in Quebec, CRIAW and many others. Lots of people on the list are in education, which is one way to help
women keep out of poverty. Lots on the list provide services through
grassroots groups to all kinds of women and children in need of various
kinds of assistance. Hammering the same message over and over and
disregarding the tremendous work accomplished by feminists from a range
of locations on a range of issues, is disrespectful of others and borders
Unsent email to PAR-L moderators from LIFE July 30, 2007:
The PAR-L moderators wrote, "Hammering the same message over and over and disregarding the tremendous work accomplished by feminists from a range of locations on a range of issues, is disrespectful of others and borders on harrassment."
1) The historic record proves otherwise for it is only because courageous social justice activists hammered away -- day after day, year after year -- for political rights ("It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world." -- Mary Wollstonecraft, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman) and ("I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves." -- Harriet Tubman) that Canadians and a other world citizens have a constitutional guarantee of rights and freedoms including,‘the right to vote’ and ‘the right to life, liberty and security of the person’ and 'equality before and under the law’ and "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication" (Canadian charter of rights and freedoms Constitution Act, 1982). http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/
2) The overwhelming evidence is that social justice activists are routinely imprisoned for ‘harassing’ their undemocratically elected political leaders simply for demanding that their constitutional rights be enshrined in constitutional law and enforced.
Therefore, if courageous activists were not willing to hammer away at the unlawful ‘leaders’ unconstitutional declarations, more world citizens would not have the right to vote, nor would we have public services such as universal health care and publicly funded nonprofit universities where professors have academic freedom protected by the constitutional laws consented to by all of us when we vote in democratic elections.
3) It is only because PAR-L moderators have been disrespecting and harassing Livable Income For Everyone society by refusing LIFE its constitutional right to free speech that we are having this exchange. Obviously, if PAR-L moderators had simply posted LIFE’s posts, then LIFE would not have been forced to defend its freedom of speech in futile, time wasting private email exchanges.
In other words, LIFE is justifiably angered by PAR-L moderators’ unconstitutional actions regarding censoring LIFE’s posts to PAR-L.
Therefore, PAR-L moderators have a lot of nerve quoting LIFE’s justifiably angry emails -- as if PAR-L moderators’ preemptive actions had nothing to do with LIFE's emails defend its rights!
In short, PAR-L moderators contravene LIFE’s freedom of speech then YOU claim that LIFE is disrespecting PAR-L moderators! Is this not the absurd argument that European imperialists made when they were conquering and colonizing "The New World" while complaining of "savagery" when their victims fought back?
Moreover, consider the fact that there are many social conservatives who are trying to privatize the ENTIRE public education system precisely to deny public institutions such as universities the capacity to spread feminism as a political and economic philosophy -- which must be based on scientific data and not on anyone’s subjective personal opinions.
SEE: "Can feminism be squared with the Bible? Mary Kassian meets this question head-on with a thorough inquiry into the history of feminism."
SEE: "John Hawkins: Do you think we need women's studies departments at colleges? After all, we don't have men's studies departments. | Kate O'Beirne: (laughs) Women’s studies departments prepare their graduates for one job, it seems to me, and that’s to be a professional aggrieved feminist."
4) In this regard, there are many other feminist 'sources' whose political statements might differ from PAR-L moderators'. For example, Wendy McElroy falls in the anarcho-capitalist individualist feminist tradition and she wrote an essay titled "Henry David Thoreau and ‘Civil Disobedience’" in which she quotes Thoreau at length 20 times.
Many anarcho-capitalist individualist feminists such as a McElroy seem to be opposed to paying taxes for universal public services such as health care and education.
Would PAR-L moderators censor anarcho-capitalist individualist feminists version of "feminism" and send them condescending emails telling how many quotes they can use of -- or call them "idiots" and "women haters" as one PAR-L subscribers did to LIFE?
5) Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Sommers say they are "equal opportunity feminists."
Hoff Sommers is the author of "Who Stole Feminism? : How Women Have Betrayed Women" and on an American National Public Radio show called "Think Tank" Hoff Sommers said: "The orthodox feminists are so carried away with victimology, with a rhetoric of male-bashing that it's full of female chauvinists, if you will. Also, women are quite eager to censor, to silence. And what concerns me most as a philosopher is it's become
very anti-intellectual, and I think it poses a serious risk to young women in the universities. Women's studies classes are increasingly a kind of initiation into the most radical wing, the most intolerant wing, of the feminist movement. And I consider myself a whistle-blower. I'm from inside the campus. I teach philosophy. I've seen what's been going on."
6) Would PAR-L moderators censor a Christina Hoff Sommers? Or would you post her version of "equality feminism" to PAR-L and post arguments proving her wrong?
7) On the same American National Public Radio show Camille Paglia said, "Well, I have been an ardent feminist since the rebirth of the current feminist movement. I'm on the record as being -- as rebelling against my gender-role, as being an open lesbian and so on. In the early 1960s I was researching Amelia Earhart, who for me symbolized the great period of feminism of the '20s and '30s just after women won the right to vote.
When this phase of feminism kicked back in the late '60s, it was very positive at first. Women drew the line against men and demanded equal rights. I am an equal opportunity feminist. But very soon it degenerated into a kind of totalitarian ‘group think’ that we are only now rectifying 20 years later."
8) Would PAR-L moderators censor a Camille Paglia? Or would you post her version of "equal opportunity feminism" to PAR-L and then post arguments proving her wrong if other PAR-L subscribers disagree?
9) The feminist constitutional scholar Nadine Strossen wrote a book titled "Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights," in which she opposes her views of freedom to feminists such as Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin.
Strossen said, "my book is an anti-censorship book concluding that, regardless of the content of pornography and regardless of whether women like it, hate it or are indifferent to it, that it still would do more harm than good to women's rights -- as well as to free speech values -- to censor it."
Would PAR-L moderators censor Strossen’s feminism or MacKinnon & Dworkin’s feminism or both?
10) In her book "Sisters outsiders," Audrey Lorde wrote "An Open Letter to Mary Daly" where Lorde wrote the words, "To dismiss our Black foremothers," which was echoed in "Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm" speech "For the Equal Rights Amendment" where she said, "The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white,
male citizens. As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers -- a great pity, on both counts. It is not too late to complete the work they left undone. Today, here, we should start to do so."
Lorde also said, "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house" and in her book "Women, Race and Class," Angela Davis quotes Sojourner Truth’s "Ain’t I a Woman" 4 times on two pages!:
"I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?"
. . .
"Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from?"
. . .
"Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him."
. . .
"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them."
12) In their book "Women, Money and Power," Phyllis Chesler & Emily Jane Goodman, wrote, "Why a book on money and power? Because women have neither, which was presaged by Sojourner Truth in 1867:
"What we want is a little money. You men know that you get as much again as women when you write, or for what you do. When we get our rights we shall not have to come to you for money, for then we shall have money enough in our own pockets; and maybe you will ask us for money. But help us now until we get it. It is a good consolation to know that when we have got this battle once fought we shall not be coming to you any more.
You have been having our rights so long, that you think, like a slaveholder, that you own us. I know that it is hard for one who has held the reins for so long to give up; it cuts like a knife. It will feel all the better when it closes up again" ("Keeping the Thing Going While Things Are Stirring | Address to the first annual meeting of the
American Equal Rights Association delivered by Sojourner Truth on May 9, 1867")
Truth’s axiomatic logic linking motherhood, money & power was echoed in the philosopher Peter Kroputkin’s essay "The Wage System" where he wrote, "It would be the extinction of the race if the mother did not expend her life to preserve her children. . . (Freedom Pamphlets No. 1. 1920).
It is merely an axiom of the scientific laws of biology that men can’t have babies; therefore, without motherhood none of us would exist. Yet all over the world mothers are living in absolute or relative poverty even while vast numbers of social scientists are public policy experts are being well-paid to ‘study’ why mothers and children are living in poverty.
13) In regard to poverty, Hillary Rodham Clinton said:
"[Women] are watching their children succumb to malnutrition caused by poverty and economic deprivation. . . I want to speak up for mothers who are fighting for good schools, safe neighborhoods, clean air, and clean airwaves; for older women, some of them widows, who have raised their families and now find their skills and life experiences are not valued in the workplace.
"Women comprise more than half the word’s population. Women are 70% of the world’s poor, and two-thirds of those are not taught to read and write.
"Women are the primary caretakers for most of the world’s children and elderly. Yet much of the work we do is not valued -- not by economists, not by historians, not by popular culture, not by government leaders." (Remarks to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session,delivered 5 September 1995, Beijing, China).
I ask you PAR-L moderators, was Hillary Rodham Clinton ‘harassing’ her audience of women by pointing that the obvious facts regarding poverty?
Clearly it is not just Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE) who has been hammering away at the issue of women's poverty for on the Internet anyone can finds many references to poverty.
From Internet sources we read: "Over one billion people or one fifth of humankind, lives in absolute poverty | Of the 1 billion people who live on less than $1 a day, 70 per cent are women."
We read: "single mothers are poor because they are women, which means that they experience significant sex discrimination in the labor market" ("Homeless Children and Youth: A New American Dilemma," 1991).
We read: "The gender gap in women’s earnings makes it clear that single mothers are poor because women’s work is not valued" (April 16, 2002)
There is a staggering amount of evidence proving conclusively that Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE) has not fabricated the global issue of women’s mass poverty to harass PAR-L moderators or PAR-L subscribers.
14) However, the email evidence is that PAR-L’s moderators and some PAR-L subscribers have been disrespecting Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE) both by denying our freedom of speech which is guaranteed by Canada’s Constitution and by calling us names such as "idiot" -- thus alluding to the idea that those of us with low IQs or who can’t write up to PAR-L’s moderators' standards cannot post to a PAR-L list serve.
Far more importantly, if Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE) did not oppose PAR-L’s moderators’ actions and statements and PAR-L subscribers’ statements in the wider court of public opinion, LIFE would be doing a disservice to all world citizens whose governments are not guaranteed their free speech rights so they can defend their political and economic rights.
Finally, it is mind-boggling to me that any activist would NOT demand that hard statistical evidence regarding the massive problem of world poverty providing by sources such as a Hillary Rodham Clinton be quoted daily on all social justice list serves.
Furthermore, what would be the point of weakening the words of a Mary Wollstonecraft or a Harriet Tubman by saying them in our own words -- as if WE were there when they were fighting for all of our freedoms!
so long and thanks for all the fish,
Livable Income For Everyone
ABOUT PAR-L: According to their website, PAR-L is "a bilingual, electronic network of individuals and organizations interested in women-centred policy issues in Canada". PAR-L stands for "Policy, Action, Research List" and their moderated email list has 1500 participants from across Canada.
"This bilingual (English/French) list is open to any individual or organization interested in discussing policy, action, and research on issues of concern to women in Canada. The scope is intentionally broad to provide an open forum where feminist activists, scholars, and researchers can come together, communicate, share, and disseminate information in a supportive environment."
PAR-L is funded by democracy (universities are publically funded). Because PAR-L is not private media beholden to advertisers, there should be a recognition that this is an important space to share crucial information that can challenge the current economic fallacies that harm peace, the planet and people - especially women who make up most of the world's poor.
Read second unsent email to PAR-L here