From our point of the view one of the worst aspects of the current social and political climate is that people will be inclined to mistake us for a mouth breathing knuckle dragging conservative.
Nothing dear reader, could be further from the truth. However, the methods and patois of what passes for what we charitably call the left has become so shallow that sarcasm runs the risk of sounding like an end-user agreement instead of satire let alone righteous contempt.
We refer you to the Slow-Motion Bad Theatre Production of The Public Burning of Junot Diaz.
Diaz is a winner of the Pulitzer, the award William Gass described as the yearly prize for most outstanding work of literary mediocrity and then went on to explain how that particular literary sausage was made.
Needless to say, like most other things in the corporate gulag and economic thunderdome that is contemporary America, you don’t want to know unless you have a thing for pig anus and literary reputations made from the finest pseudo-intellectual composte.
But, we digress.
Diaz was accused by the Zadie Smith 2.0 Zinzi Clemmons (winner of the Let’s find a Young Reasonably Attractive African American Woman Who Writes Award – Because Zadie Smith is Getting Old) of trying to kiss her. Or as the Guardian puts it:
“The Pulitzer prize-winning Dominican American novelist was accused last month of forcibly kissing the author Zinzi Clemmons”
Notice that the accusation makes it seem as if Diaz just decided to push Clemmons against a wall and take advantage of her being, as Clemmons archly describes herself – “a wide eyed 26 year old.”
Right, because 26 year olds are all just wide eyed naifs from the country who don’t understand the ways of the big city and even if she was as innocent as she claims, how the hell do we know that she didn’t invite the pass? The answer, obviously is that we don’t know and none of the “reporting” has bothered to raise the issue of how we are to know who is or isn’t telling the truth.
Perhaps Diaz is a pig. Perhaps Clemmons is a seductive narcissist. Perhaps he’s a pig and she’s a seductive narcissist. Perhaps something else is true? Perhaps more than one thing, even contradictory things, are true?
As a real writer (and thus distinct from both Diaz and Clemmons) phrased it:
The facts and the truth seldom have much to do with each other.
In the current climate making a (bad) pass at someone – i.e. misreading the signs – is a punishable offense. The crime, as such, is failure to ask permission and of course this is accompanied by absolutely zero effort to ask whether or not Daiz didn’t misread the signs and were there in fact signs given that indicated he should try and kiss the woman in question.
Of course for all we know Diaz is a letch and a pig and Clemmons was not giving any indication whatsoever that she wanted a physical relationship with Diaz.
That of course is part of the equation. And therefore we are certain of two things: We don’t know the truth but we sure as fuck do know the media doesn’t know either.
This in turn brings us to the next issue. Cries of injustice to the side, there is a reason we don’t run our society on the basis of he said she said. We demand evidence and evidence is not three people repeating an unverified story nor is it a dozen people repeating an unverified story. And if there are “enough” people making the same claim then by all means go to the police and take your chances with the completely imperfect system of lawyers and judges and juries. And we say unjust to highlight the fact that obviously the system is not without defects and in most cases is utterly corrupt. And that’s corrupt as in – poor people can’t afford lawyers but they can afford guns.
The legal system is designed by the ruling class to protect the ruling class and to ensure the ongoing submission of everyone else. The truth is that the secret sauce in capitalism is poverty because if (to offer one example) everyone could afford a house the housing market would collapse. Therefore every facet of the system is designed (or if you prefer, rigged) to ensure scarcity of goods which creates inflated value of those goods at the expense of everyone who is prevented from making enough money to buy into the ruling class.
That in turn is the ugly truth behind “trickle down economics.” And trickle down economics is not especially different from off the shelf capitalism.
And as a result the economic thunderdome pits all against all – Black against White and Hispanic against Black and White and men against women and so on.
And the Diaz narrative is a byproduct of that truth.
But the idea that we are now going to start sending people into internal exile – strip them of their jobs, ostracise them and essentially ruin them – because some people made a claim is no different than any other cult or tyrannical system. And of course it is exactly what the system wants.
But wait, there’s more. Diaz is one of the editors for The Boston Review. The other staff members conducted some sort of an “investigation” into Diaz’ reputation and concluded that either he hasn’t done anything wrong or he’s bad at making passes but in either case it does not rise to the level of dismissing him from the magazine.
However three other editors at the magazine found this unacceptable and resigned. Again, The Guardian:
“The Boston Review, which has been running since 1975, announced on Tuesday that Díaz would remain its fiction editor, a position he has held for 15 years. Editors-in-chief Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen said in a statement that they had conducted their own investigation with women writers of colour, and had found no pattern of abuse.”
“The objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement,” they wrote, and after a “careful review of the public complaints”, they concluded that there is not a “larger pattern of abusing power”.
But the aggrieved and outraged responded:
“Chasman and Cohen admit in their statement that “not everyone associated with Boston Review agrees with everything we say in this letter”. Shortly after it was published, the journal’s three poetry editors, Timothy Donnelly, BK Fischer and Stefania Heim resigned their positions. A joint statementfrom Donnelly, Fischer and Heim criticised the Boston Review’s “apparent arbitration of what constitutes inclusion in the #MeToo movement and its lack of attentiveness to power dynamics in a star-driven media and publishing landscape”.
And here we quote from the response at length:
“An open letter from Vida supported by authors including Jennifer Weiner, Byrne and Daniel José Older, as well as booksellers and literary journalists, also raised concerns about the decision. The statement from Cohen and Chasman, the Vida letter says, “reads like a template for rationalising inaction, laying out point by point the logic our culture uses in its continued failure to prioritise the safety of women and non-binary people”.
Vida, an organisation that champions women’s writing, goes on to describe as as troubling “the idea put forth in Boston Review’s statement that there is a baseline of bad acts that must be reached in order for the editors to respond, and that Díaz hasn’t reached it”. The letter voices fears that the statement “will silence women and non-binary writers, especially those of colour, who may no longer feel safe submitting their writing, especially their fiction, to the Boston Review”.
In other words the people who run the BR didn’t come to the correct conclusion and should have found Diaz guilty because he was accused and the exculpating statements should be ignored because they don’t support the accusation.
Or to put it another way: Show Trial 101.
Your guilty because you’ve been accused.
Anyone who disagrees is guilty of oppressing those who make the accusation.
Only statements given by accusers will have merit and all other statements will be igorned or considered hostile acts in support of the status quo.
And men, even men belonging to traditionally oppressed minorities are presumed to be guilty because they are men which is proven because “women of color and non-binary women” are by definition a distinct minority of oppressed people who require greater protection without recourse to evidence at the expense of anyone they define as a threat.
And then, consider that the criticism states that they find it troubling that the editors believe that there are gradations of offense – “goes on to describe as as troubling “the idea put forth in Boston Review’s statement that there is a baseline of bad acts that must be reached in order for the editors to respond, and that Díaz hasn’t reached it”.
In other words accusations shall be considered evidence of guilt and all accusations regardless of the content shall be considered grounds for punishment and there shall be no categories only one punishment for every offense.
Jay walking or touching someone shall be the same as rape or arson.
But lurking beneath all of this is another issue.
Misogyny is real and systemic. Corruption in the form of nepotism and a star driven media and publishing landscape is systemic.
But what’s missing is any attempt to couch the argument in terms of detailing these issues as the direct result of capitalism.
What you have instead is a complaint about a corrupt system that takes aim indiscriminately and nets (to borrow a phrase) a lot of dolphins among the canable tuna and adds as a bonus not a demand for justice but a demand to be given a share of the profits from the corrupt system.
Notice that the aggrieved are pisssed because the BR deferred to the “star system” and factored in its need to keep paying for things like a web page and paper and ink and a staff.
And then notcie the final cliam of injury:
“The letter voices fears that the statement “will silence women and non-binary writers, especially those of colour, who may no longer feel safe submitting their writing, especially their fiction, to the Boston Review”.
No longer feel safe submitting their writing? Since when has any writer felt safe submitting their writing anywhere?
An what exactly would a “safe” environment be for submitting one’s work to a fiction magazine look like?
If submissions are to be based on quality then the editors either can’t be bothered with the gender of the writer or biographical details must be withheld from the editors as they make their decisions.
Or, the editors must submit to the demands of the writers and base selections on gender or other matters that have nothing to do with the quality of the writing. Or the aggrieved can get together and start their own magazine devoted to women of color and non-binary writing.
But that’s a diversion from the real issue.
In other words the aggrieved aren’t demanding equal treatment under either the law or the subjective criteria of a privately owned business but are demanding control of the editorial process on the basis of wanting to muscle in on control of a corner of the market and are disguising their attempted extortion under the camouflage of #MeToo.
And there lies the ugly truth.
Utterly demoralized and disenfranchised from equitable participation in an unjust and systemically corrupt system that demands the existence of a permanent underclass of wage slaves, they have decided to turn their anger on an easy (ier) target.
This is analogous to the rejection of Google Glass.
Unable to do a damn thing about mass surveillance people who were outraged at the establishment of an Orwellian panopticon and devastated by the ugly truths revealed by Edward Snowden found an essay outlet in attacking Google Glass.
Unable to handle the risk inherent in attacking a federal agent, they would when encountering someone wearing Google Glass, knock the glasses off and demand that the user stop recording them.
This is the same ugly truth. Criminalizing a pass however badly attempted is itself criminal.
Making a pass cannot be the same as assault or rape and rape and assault cannot be turned into the one size fits all charge for everyone who makes a pass.
In the absence of evidence of assault or sexual harassment there is nothing but gossip and hearsay and no society can avoid tyranny if it conflates one with the other.
But the just cause of equality under and before the law is not going to be furthered by an army of harridans who are sounding unmistakably like caricatures of every right wing cliché of what a left wing fascist sounds like.
The fact that Diaz is given better treatment because he’s a whale who brings in the coinage is a genuine issue. That it speaks to the corruption of the publishing industry is a legitimate issue. That the publishing industry is a whore house and a wholly owned subsidiary of the entertainment empires is an issue. And that the entertainment empires are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Stock Market and that the Stock Market is king pimp and the world is its whore is an issue.
But the people attacking Diaz betray their class bias by twisting sexism into a pretzel and the pretzel into a cudgel to be used to beat a magazine over the head in order to get a cut of the green.
They don’t want justice in terms of gender they want a piece of the action and if that means using systemic mysogony as a dodge and a weapon they will use it.
But don’t buy the hype.
The issue is that America is an empire having a nervous breakdown and a symptom of that is the faux left acting like fascists.
The economic catastrophe that is unfolding is going to be the greatest collapse in history sucking the world into the maw of disaster.
The environment is in free fall and it is in free fall because of capitalism and when the system finally goes the resulting dystopia won’t be about gender – though god knows plenty of people will scream otherwise – and all that will matter is what you can do right now not who you were before or what your job was or if you won a Pulitzer or couldn’t get a seat at the table because the guy with the Pulitzer was waving his dick in your face.
For a look at The Guardian “reporting” see the following:
For a look at our previous examination of Google Glass, see the following:
We also wish to take notice of the specifics of the open letter from VIDA.
In particular the assertion by VIDA that Diaz is a “known abuser.”
“We fear Boston Review’s statement will silence women and non-binary writers, especially those of color, who may no longer feel safe submitting their writing, especially their fiction, to the Boston Review. What’s worse, if survivors want to be in the pages of the Boston Review, they will have to submit their fiction to a known abuser.”
Crucially we note that The Guardian edited out the rest of the paragraph no doubt for (legitimate) fear of libel. But, they were perfectly willing to print half a libelous statements in support of unproven and dangerous accusations just so long as they were safe and could ride two horses with one ass.
Thus, VIDA is allowed to make unfounded and damaging accusations that create an atmosphere of terror and The Guardian gets to profit from that atmosphere while maintaining the fiction that it is an objective new media source that won’t stoop to the level of the gutter press.
In addition we take note of the neo-fascist tone of the VIDA letter.
“Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen state that they have never received any complaints about Díaz. We ask: In what ways has Boston Review made a space for people to safely report incidents of harassment? Does the magazine have an email address that they give every single contributor or person who works for them to use if they have something to report? Does the Boston Review believe that incidents of harassment or abuse do not exist outside of their awareness, or that the victims who have come forward are not to be believed?”
First, again what is a safe space and clearly VIDA et al are attempting to extort a private business by demanding that they adhere to an external organizations definitions that are both hopelessly precise and dangerously vague.
Secondly, the VIDA letter completely ignores the law. By making itself available to complaints from contributors The Boston Review could open itself to legal jeopardy and we note that as an example of why an organization that might find itself at the wrong blunt end of a lawsuit for slander and libel, would avoid VIDA’s suggestion, VIDA might want to take note that The Guardian censored their open letter in order to protect itself from legal actions.
Opening itself to complaints by contributors would not just potentially lead to lawsuits but could easily lead to the Boston Review being bankrupted because of the cost of litigation and settlements.
Thirdly, take note of the threat inherent in asking if The Boston Review believes that “victims who have come forward are not to be believed.”
If there is a better example of putting the cart before the horse we can’t think of one.
“Victims” are people who have proof that they were assaulted. People who claim to have been assaulted are just that – people making a claim.
VIDA is clearly wrong in terms of the law, and is clearly wrong in the sense that it is acting like a bunch of thugs making threats against the legal system, against free speech, and against common sense and common decency.
Then consider this from VIDA:
“Also troubling is the idea put forth in Boston Review’s statement that there is a baseline of bad acts that must be reached in order for the editors to respond, and that Díaz hasn’t reached it. At what point is abusive behavior bad enough to merit corrective action? ”
This is essentially polishing the same turd twice.
The answer to the question, “at what point is abusive behavior bad enough…” is at the point where evidence is found to be sufficient to warrant a response.
The fact is that The Boston Review is absolutely correct – there must be a baseline that must be reached before the editors respond. Absent that baseline we enter the tyranny of the mob.
VIDA sounds like a gang and they are acting like thugs.
They are threatening the thin remnants of freedom by making use of the standard rhetorical weapons of fascists.
And finally note that VIDA doubles down on its unproven libel and slander:
“By giving an abuser a platform, Boston Review is widening a dangerous net. Silence and inaction also send a clear and terrible message to all of those in the community who have ever been a victim of harassment or violence.”
We do not know what Junot Diaz did and neither does VIDA. And if what he did was to insult someone and make a pass at someone that does not make him an abuser nor does it mean The Boston Review is guilty of providing an abuser with a platform.
It does mean that VIDA and it’s supporters are a gang of faux left wing fascists running a circular firing squad.
So, watch out for lethal stray rounds and ricochets.