On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

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On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby LeftSidePositive » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:45 am

NOTE: I originally posted this on the "But didn't Atheism+...?" thread, but I decided it didn't exactly fit there. If anyone has any insight into this I'd really appreciate it, since I respect Natalie's opinions a great deal, but I am really having a lot of trouble seeing what the issue is with this one. Am I missing anything? Is there history I'm not understanding here? Am I just being defensive?

Original source:

Natalie Reed @nataliereed84 wrote:
@rhysmorgan A lot of it, for me, can be summed up by the fact that A+ debated the name, logo & merch before anything else.


I honestly just don't understand Natalie Reed's issue with how this came about. People were upset, people started venting their feelings, a nebulous idea was formed, and people felt it captured their imagination--what's wrong with that? I honestly don't get why you'd need to criticize that! It's not like people decided to start a club, marketed it, and then added substance--the substance had been talked about in a variety of ways, and the name people gave to it really got people inspired to rally around it. Is it the case that these people had, like, NO IDEA what they stood for before they actually drafted out specific terms? Or was that a question of specifics? And it's not like people said, "let's form a logo committee..." Rather, individual people felt enthused, and offered ideas. Is it now wrong to have an eager commentariat? Who exactly was going to corral all those kittens and make sure that no one suggested anything that took hold until they had decided on a formal mission statement (for this cause that, a priori, no one new anyone was going to rally around)? And what was up with Natalie's comment on "merch"? Does anything from A+ even have any "merch"? People mentioned Surly Amy, likely because she and her art have been under a lot of fire recently, and how they wanted her artwork to express what they all had in common. Did we have to have a mission statement before we got a "This is what a skeptic looks like" pendant? If not, why is an A+ Surly any different? What's more, she's donating proceeds to the SSA--is it really necessary to criticize people for having "merch" when you're donating half your proceeds to a group that *does* have an established mission statement and that is well-known to do a lot of good?

Seriously--I just don't get what the complaint is.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby ArgyleRoad » Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:06 am

I think she has the mistaken perspective that the group was formed like it was a clothing brand rather than a social justice movement.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby Hedonismbot » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:32 am

Yeah, I don't know. I really, really like Natalie Reed's writing and respect her a great deal, but she's being phenomenally silly here.

But so is everyone, occasionally.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby hyperdeath » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:05 am

I'm not sure how the "they decided on the logo first" meme gained traction. It may be another small propaganda victory for the haters. It is true that some people thought "ah yes we need a brand", but by no means all.

In fact, I'm not sure where the "they" came from. The movement is decentralized.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby ateisten » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:21 am

Mind you, it would be rather depressing if there was an actual decision in favor of this one:
http://atheismplus.com/wp-content/uploa ... der2sm.png
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby marinerachel » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:30 am

I'm not familiar with the idea that a brand was created for A+ above all else. I don't even know of any merch or an official logo. The only debate I hear re: the name is from the anti-A+ crowd screeching that A+ shouldn't be permitted to use the word atheist in the name.

I suppose I haven't paid close attention to the origins of A+.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby ateisten » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:33 am

I do find it sort of hilarious that people wanting to make the whole world atheist are complaining that there are feminists that call themselves atheist.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby SubMor » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:37 am

Tsch, well we do worship the Matriarchy, so obviously we can't believe in no gods.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby julian » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:39 am

Natalie Reed has been trying to remove herself from atheist arguments and arguing over atheism. I know she did make the comment in the OP but I'd rather not pull her into this if she doesn't want to be. Could we maybe generalize the thread? That criticism isn't uncommon so I'm sure we can find other examples out there.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby Skeptic_Analysis » Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:42 pm

I do find it sort of hilarious that people wanting to make the whole world atheist are complaining that there are feminists that call themselves atheist.


Have you examples of this?
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby SubMor » Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:50 pm

Skeptic_Analysis wrote:
I do find it sort of hilarious that people wanting to make the whole world atheist are complaining that there are feminists that call themselves atheist.


Have you examples of this?

Not linking directly to the source. You can find it if you search, I'm sure.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby Setar » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:51 pm

julian wrote:Natalie Reed has been trying to remove herself from atheist arguments and arguing over atheism.

...

Wow, seriously, julian? Natalie is talking about us, and we have no right to say anything about it?

That's fucking horrible.

If anyone is to be scolded for bringing Natalie into this -- if she did not simply make the comment herself -- it would be Rhys, or if not Rhys then whomever else decided to initially contact her. Not us for responding when she decided to say something about us.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby quietmarc » Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:00 pm

I'm kind of with julian here, in that I would very strongly consider Natalie an ally in spirit - what she writes about and fights for align very closely with my own views and probably many of us here. I disagree with her objection to A+, and feel it's unfounded, but I'd prefer to leave her out of this. I kind of expect that if we're doing our job right, she'll eventually come to see us as a positive force. It may take some time, because she has more to deal with than what some atheist internet group is doing (like, say, living her life), but she'll come around.

She's one of the few people that if she had a serious objection to what we're doing here, I'd listen to her first before getting argumentative.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby Pteryxx » Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:50 pm

I don't really get why Natalie's logo-merch *tweet* needs to be discussed in depth either. She had much more significant and serious critiques which she's written about, and I'd guess they inform the context. Most folks criticizing the name, logo, "branding" or other such crap don't even have substantive criticisms.

Going back to August 10, this is a long discussion of whether atheism, as a movement, is *inherently* hostile to marginalized people: http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed ... 10/all-in/

The creepy thought that the reason a lot of outspoken, committed, passionate atheists are choosing this as their arena is because they’re too selfish, too entitled, or too sheltered, to allow any other issues to really matter to them. That they choose this ONE civil rights issue to dedicate themselves to, because it’s the ONLY legitimate civil rights issue that actually effects them, secure in their absence of ovaries, melanin, exogenous hormones, medical devices/supports, welfare checks, track scars and rainbow flags.


If this is what it’s really about, what politics are perceived as being the politics of The Atheist Movement… if it’s just a squabble over that brand… I’m cool with just letting them fucking have it. The Atheist Movement doesn’t have a monopoly on atheism. Anyone can simply come to the conclusion that religion is kind of silly and dangerous. The Movement doesn’t have a monopoly on secularism. Anyone can pitch in and help fight to keep religion from influencing legislation. The Movement doesn’t have a monopoly on skepticism. It barely practices it.


This from the follow-up clarification post:

I do not wish to be a participant in Atheism+ either, so please do not continue adding me to Facebook groups, inviting me to social networking things, etc. While I share many of the core values, I have a number of concerns about Atheism+, and the manner in which those values are being approached, presented or pursued, and do not at this time see it as something that resolves my concerns about organized atheism/skepticism.


Some of this has been discussed between then and now, and I'd say that this forum community is shaping up to be a mix of, hm, self-identified atheists and atheism supporters who focus on social justice, and atheists who are willing to learn about social justice to inform their actions as atheists. However, Natalie and other marginalized people who have been treated like absolute shit by privileged social justice warriors (which most of us are, it must be said) have absolutely no reason to trust that THIS bunch of PSJs will do any better at not throwing them under the bus than any previous bunch. She's got every right to diss us as another nascent Komen Race for the Cure, hoping to go around plussifying everything and thinking that means the job's done. (I'd be thrilled if date rape alone, never mind A+, ever got THAT level of public exposure, but anyway...) I happen to think that's not what folks here want either, but MY optimism doesn't prove shit to her. We're Schroedinger's Privileged SJ Warriors. The only way to address this is to actually become a movement worthy of the freely accorded respect of folks like Natalie.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby ischemgeek » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:30 pm

I agree with Pterryx here. There's a difference between the haters and those who are unwilling to extend the benefit of the doubt. If we require others to prove themselves here before we trust them, how can we take umbrage with those who want us to prove our activism and social justice chops before they trust us?

Crommunist's post on the Benefit of the Doubt goes both ways, after all: People who are affected by these things have been burned in the past and might not be able or willing to be charitable in their assumptions. It's our job to earn their goodwill. And, once we earn some goodwill, it will be our job to maintain that goodwill.

To expect any less of ourselves would be hypocrisy.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby Grimalkin » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:38 pm

My only problem with Natalie's A+ comment is that it gives fuel to the people who hate us and come here to try to hurt us. And I don't know if she's aware of it- I don't see why she would be since she wouldn't have reason to visit the forums- but she did turn another cannon at a group of people who are just trying to do good, and getting absolute shit for it.

But, besides that, *Seconds all of what Pterryx said*

Besides, she said she didn't want to be involved in organized Atheism, full stop, whether it had a + by it or not.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby Pteryxx » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:48 pm

My only problem with Natalie's A+ comment is that it gives fuel to the people who hate us and come here to try to hurt us.


*rolleyes* IMHO they're going to seize anything anyway and flat-out make shit up otherwise. "Demonstrate you're about more than a name" is a valid criticism. "You're attention-[hounds] trying to hijack the honorable word Atheism" is not.

What's she supposed to say? "Privileged SJ warriors, don't do that" ?
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby Grimalkin » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:53 pm

Pteryxx wrote:
My only problem with Natalie's A+ comment is that it gives fuel to the people who hate us and come here to try to hurt us.


*rolleyes* IMHO they're going to seize anything anyway and flat-out make shit up otherwise. "Demonstrate you're about more than a name" is a valid criticism. "You're attention-[hounds] trying to hijack the honorable word Atheism" is not.

What's she supposed to say? "Privileged SJ warriors, don't do that" ?


Yeah, that's a good point. I think I'm just kind of reflexively upset about seeing her comment in light of the current situations.

But, yeah, I suppose she couldn't say much else if she wants to voice criticism at all.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby ischemgeek » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:56 pm

Yeah, Natalie isn't to blame for what the Jerk Squad does. If she'd said it nicer, like, "I'm waiting to see if they've got substance under their style," the Jerk Squad would be all, "ZOMG NATALIE SAYZ A+ IS ALL STYLE AND NO SUBSTANCE!"

They've quote-mined our posts, too. I don't think it'd be fair to start blaming someone for what others might be able to do with their words. Natalie has valid concerns about us, and we shouldn't blame her for what the Jerk Squad does with her wording. We should address her concerns by trying to match action to our big talk in the past few months, and we should blame the Jerk Squad for being jerks. :P
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby GreatBlueHeron » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:00 pm

However, Natalie and other marginalized people who have been treated like absolute shit by privileged social justice warriors (which most of us are, it must be said) have absolutely no reason to trust that THIS bunch of PSJs will do any better at not throwing them under the bus than any previous bunch. She's got every right to diss us as another nascent Komen Race for the Cure, hoping to go around plussifying everything and thinking that means the job's done. (I'd be thrilled if date rape alone, never mind A+, ever got THAT level of public exposure, but anyway...) I happen to think that's not what folks here want either, but MY optimism doesn't prove shit to her. We're Schroedinger's Privileged SJ Warriors. The only way to address this is to actually become a movement worthy of the freely accorded respect of folks like Natalie.


Pay attention, general critics of A+. This is a 100% valid concern. I have it myself. But I am comforted that there are SEVERAL people who are marginalized who speak here. I choose to stay here and contribute. I do not expect all marginalized people to embrace this space. A+ has a lot to prove to marginalized people.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby LeftSidePositive » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:21 pm

quietmarc wrote:I'm kind of with julian here, in that I would very strongly consider Natalie an ally in spirit


That doesn't prevent her from being wrong in this case, and if she makes a public criticism, then, like the rest of the world, people can publicly question what's behind it.

Also, I feel this kind of attitude is getting into Dillahunty territory. Yes, she's an ally. Yes, she says great stuff. But that does not prevent her from saying things that are wrong or unfounded, and I don't see why she should be insulated from criticism if she's wrong. Moreover, she chose to do this to validate a person who wants our movement to "fuck off and die." This is hurtful and I think we have a right--and a need--to talk about it.

I disagree with her objection to A+, and feel it's unfounded,


And that's why I think it needs to be discussed. I WANT to see if there's any merit to it. I really do--I tried and tried to give her objections the benefit of the doubt, but I'm stumped.

but I'd prefer to leave her out of this.


She chose to speak out against us in a public forum. She chose to validate the opinions of someone who "hates" us, who calls us "a pity party," and who wants us to "fuck off and die."

And, she did this AFTER she did her whole "I'm done with movement atheism" thing. If she wants to be left out of it, why is she throwing herself in it of her own volition? Moreover, I'm not demanding she answer, and I have made no attempt to contact her in any way because I don't feel that's my place. But if she can make a public criticism of us, why the fuck can't we address that criticism publicly?

I kind of expect that if we're doing our job right, she'll eventually come to see us as a positive force.


But why is she convinced that how the group happened to start (and the fact that we have a logo--oh, no wait, we don't! We have like four different ones that people use as appeals to them and there has not, to my knowledge, been any official decision) is NOT "doing our job right"? What actual merit does she have with this particular criticism? If she's actively refusing to see us as a positive force because we didn't get started to her liking, I'm sorry but I have a problem with that.

She's one of the few people that if she had a serious objection to what we're doing here, I'd listen to her first before getting argumentative.


I AM listening to her. I have specifically framed the post above to ask for advice on what I might be missing. The thing is I don't get it, and I can't fix any serious objections if I don't get them. No one has actually presented anything to communicate why her objection is serious--all I seem to be getting is variations of "But it's Natalie!"

ischemgeek: I have no objections to her simply not extending the benefit of the doubt, but frankly I don't think this is what's going on here. She is actively taking a stand that we are WRONG in this regard, this isn't just her not participating or not liking us--it is directly criticizing and I think we have a right to assess it. I'm not demanding her goodwill, just plain apathy would be fine. But making public criticisms that have dubious merit is an issue for me, no matter who they come from.

Grimalkin wrote:Besides, she said she didn't want to be involved in organized Atheism, full stop, whether it had a + by it or not.


But I don't think it's fair for her to say she doesn't want to be involved, and then take it upon herself to get involved by criticizing, and then we're supposed to ignore it because she claims not to be involved? Sorry, but no.

Pteryxx: Notice that I did not quibble about her criticisms of why she's distrustful of movement Atheism in general, and that she simply doesn't want to be involved in it. I completely accept that she has the right to be distrustful, but at a certain point that becomes just plain sniping--she has every right to worry that she's going to get burned by us and to treat us like we're Schrodinger's PSJWs, but the fact is I think she's getting to the point where she's misrepresenting, and pretty badly, in order to arrive at a label that we're PSJW, and that's why I have a problem with this tweet, because I really can't see ANY kernel to it, and I seriously want to consider valuable criticism and improve my outlook. At least with her complaints of a "with us or against us" mentality I could at least see where it was coming from.

slightly off-topic [ Show ]
Even then, though, I think she was taking the most misrepresented stance, and one that had been flogged by people intentionally trying to detract. I don't know how much more clear we could be that you don't have to join the group, but yes, you do have to agree with basic human decency. Is that too high a bar to set to label someone "against" us? Is it even POSSIBLE to have a lower bar?! Even fucking Carrier was trying to say "You have to have compassion, reasonableness, and personal integrity or you are against me" and he didn't seem to "get" that people were interpreting that to mean "if you don't join A+ you don't have compassion, reasonableness, and personal integrity," which kind of surprises me because he's usually a much better communicator! But what just gets my goat is if someone latches on to that, even though it is a known misrepresentation, it's like they're LOOKING for reasons not to like something, not just withholding judgment.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby ischemgeek » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:35 pm

I'm not saying she's not wrong in this case, I'm saying that I think she has legitimate concerns about our movement in general and that the best way to address the spirit of her complaint is to prove her wrong through our actions.

Furthermore, plain apathy requires her to assume that we're not going to hurt her. It requires her to extend the benefit of the doubt. I don't think she can, and I don't think it's right to ask her to. Frankly, I'm okay with her viewing us with suspicion for now - it's necessary because we are Schrodinger's PSJWs to her. She might be sniping but *shrug* We snipe, so how can we ask her not to?

I think the kernel of this tweet is that she's worried we're a lot of style without much substance. The answer to that is for us to get out there and do stuff.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby quietmarc » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:46 pm

Pteryxx wrote:Some of this has been discussed between then and now, and I'd say that this forum community is shaping up to be a mix of, hm, self-identified atheists and atheism supporters who focus on social justice, and atheists who are willing to learn about social justice to inform their actions as atheists. However, Natalie and other marginalized people who have been treated like absolute shit by privileged social justice warriors (which most of us are, it must be said) have absolutely no reason to trust that THIS bunch of PSJs will do any better at not throwing them under the bus than any previous bunch. She's got every right to diss us as another nascent Komen Race for the Cure, hoping to go around plussifying everything and thinking that means the job's done. (I'd be thrilled if date rape alone, never mind A+, ever got THAT level of public exposure, but anyway...) I happen to think that's not what folks here want either, but MY optimism doesn't prove shit to her. We're Schroedinger's Privileged SJ Warriors. The only way to address this is to actually become a movement worthy of the freely accorded respect of folks like Natalie.


Leftsidepositive: This articulates my feelings a lot better than I did. I feel very much that Natalie is not coming at us from a place of secure privilege (which makes it different, to me, than Dillahunty), and that should be taken into account.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby Pteryxx » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:51 pm

...she has every right to worry that she's going to get burned by us and to treat us like we're Schrodinger's PSJWs, but the fact is I think she's getting to the point where she's misrepresenting, and pretty badly, in order to arrive at a label that we're PSJW, and that's why I have a problem with this tweet...


Re this... I'm really uncomfortable trying to make guesses about someone's motivations and state of mind here, so take this with a lot of salt. I gather that Natalie's NOT reading the forum or paying much attention, but on Twitter it's almost impossible to get away from this shit because the haters keep flooding everyone with it, so everyone has to navigate between getting trolled or saying nothing at all ever among a network of their friends (for personal values of 'friend'). I think that anyone with the impression "bunch of SJ warriors proud of a label" is going to find attacks on the A+ name more credible. Just like someone who assumes "bunch of atheists being atheisty now with less sexism" is going to find complaints of "they're banning me for expressing an opinion" serious and worth addressing. *cough*

Expecting Natalie to engage and educate herself about what nice folks we really are would come at a cost TO HER in having to deal directly with sorting through the trolling and arguing and subtle dismissals that I'm probably not even aware of because privilege. That's different than expecting someone who writes a critique, or someone who already joined the forum and starts arguing, or someone who steps up and STARTS a round of sniping, to do their freaking due diligence before getting involved.
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Re: On Natalie Reed's criticism of A+

Postby LeftSidePositive » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:52 pm

Pteryxx wrote:"Demonstrate you're about more than a name" is a valid criticism.


That is a totally valid concern, and one that I take to heart and sincerely want to live by. HOWEVER, saying that the way A+ came about is actually evidence that we're style over substance, which is what Natalie's tweet is doing, is NOT a valid criticism as far as I can tell, especially in light of the circumstances of how it did come about, as I mentioned in the OP.

Pteryxx wrote:What's she supposed to say? "Privileged SJ warriors, don't do that" ?


In all seriousness--WHY SHOULDN'T people in a forum offer a suggestion for what they'd like to call something? WHY SHOULDN'T people who like graphics get inspired and offer something? WHY SHOULDN'T an artist fill a need from people who want to identify their values and want to support her? I also simply don't understand how people in a forum who have no reason to think they would have access to any type of committee or whatever that would craft a mission statement should hold off on saying what they want on matters great or small.

This is what I'm getting at with why this attitude bugs me. If there is a genuine problem I want to know what it is. If it's just resistance since she was burned before, I'm disappointed, but I still think it's important to counter invalid criticism.

Grimalkin wrote:But, yeah, I suppose she couldn't say much else if she wants to voice criticism at all.


Isn't this backwards? Shouldn't you have something to say before you "want" to voice criticism?

ischemgeek wrote:Natalie has valid concerns about us,


But is this one of them?

ischemgeek wrote:and we shouldn't blame her for what the Jerk Squad does with her wording.


I don't think we necessarily were. I think I'm holding her to account for what she actually said. And, I'm not upset about her giving fodder to the Jerk Squad--they don't NEED any fodder, FFS! I'm upset that she's misrepresenting us to people who are not familiar with the backstory, and actually do share our values.

ischemgeek wrote:We should address her concerns by trying to match action to our big talk in the past few month


I totally agree with matching action and living up to our own standards. But will that actually address concerns if those concerns come from a place of finding a criticism first and then trying to attach it to something?

GreatBlueHeron wrote:I do not expect all marginalized people to embrace this space.


Neither do I. But I DO expect all people to have valid criticisms if they choose to publicly criticize, and if I disagree with the validity of the criticism I think it's important to say so.

ischemgeek wrote:I'm not saying she's not wrong in this case, I'm saying that I think she has legitimate concerns about our movement in general


That in no way prevents us from saying she's wrong here, and I think it is important to the integrity of the debate not to let bad reasoning slide just because we agree in general.

ischemgeek wrote:Furthermore, plain apathy requires her to assume that we're not going to hurt her. It requires her to extend the benefit of the doubt.


No. It does not require extending any benefit of any doubt to make sure public criticisms are well-founded. She can be as wary as she wants to be, but if she gives a reason publicly, we have the right to assess it.

ischemgeek wrote:She might be sniping but *shrug* We snipe,


I think we're defining "sniping" differently. I use sniping to mean making criticisms that are without merit and intentionally finding fault. This is not the same as making flippant, humorous, or snide criticisms that do have merit, and if an A+ person were to try to take something or someone down a peg solely for the sake of it, I would not tolerate it.

ischemgeek wrote:so how can we ask her not to?


Well, my respect for people is contingent on their reasoning being sound and their positions having merit, and I consider that fundamental. I can perfectly say that I do not respect a criticism that is sniping, and I do not necessarily "ask her not to"--I would like to point out that I have a problem with it.
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