Over the weekend, I received a letter from Howard Rheingold, who founded Brainstorms,
apologizing for the pain my ouster from his group caused me. The following is
my response to his letter.
I can not forgive you for the pain caused by my ouster from Brainstorms for several reasons. First, you were not directly at fault for my expulsion. The open due process part of the proceedings occured largely while you were out of town. Quite simply, you weren't there.
As for the second part of the proceedings, the part that occured after I was locked out, I was not privy to that. I was never one of those members who quibbled about Brainstorms' internal politics. I was just too new a member for that. Now that I am a nonmember, I care about Brainstorms internal politics even less.
Last, the pain of my expulsion was an excellent gift. It taught me that I value personal expression over community. Even without a Brainstorms Life Story thread, I continued to post to my blog and transcribe what I could to the LOTH Region Seven Board. I also made my blog public and came out to most of my email lists about my avatars. I realize I treasured my avatars more than my Brainstorms membership and it was worth it to lose my membership over them.
Haldis is still with the Webleagues along with Thadea. The Webleagues underwent a coup d'etat/reorganization in early June (Just as Haldis was having finals), but Haldis and her aunt survived the transition. Thadea for a while ran two teams, both the Antarcticans and Oceanics, while creating the design for the New Southern Hemisphere, into which the two teams merged in late June http://www.thewebleagues.com/teams/southern
My avatars now have a joint web board of their own and talk to each other every day along with Thadea's husband, Jacob, and Haldis' boyfriend, Ithamar joining in. I have a great time writing their voices, and watching them interact. I love my avatars and I will feel no shame over them. I have not yet come out about them to either RAOK or LOTH, but that is because in those groups, identity is considered a private affair and discussion of it taboo unless problems with it create public embarassment. RAOK and LOTH work on a different paradigm than Brainstorms.
And yes, my expulsion and the pain taught me who my real friends online are and it gave me a new appreciation for both RAOK http://www.theraokgroup.com and Ladies of the Heart http://www.ladies-of-
the-heart.com Yes, I chafed under their conversational restrictions in the past, but now I know that those restrictions, the up front rules instead of fuzzy norms, and the simple hierarchy make for order and a group where any one can feel at home, not just those with social capital.
I have also developed an appreciation for the commercial side of the net, particularly MSN Communities that let any one, even those who are not exceptionally glib or tech savvy start a community. Advertising support is a wonderful thing and Bill Gates really did something right. MSN groups also allow internal storage of graphical sig-files, something important for those who respect craftmaship as I do.
Last but not least, my frequent postings to the LOTH Region 7 Board, which replaced my Brainstorms Life Stories Thread made me one of the Ladies of the Heart's most active members. A few days ago, I became LOTH's State Director for Georgia. I hope as State Director that I can give my gift of self expression (within the conversational limits of LOTH of course) to the twenty or so ladies in my state. I want to teach them that they are important even without social capital. This is a great challenge, and I hope that I am up to the task.
I will probably never join another intellectual discussion group that is not in some way work related. In this way my ouster from Brainstorms was an ending, but it was also the beginning of something wonderful. I am among people I care about and whose values I share, and I am ready to help my friends defend their ideas, find their voice, and deal with third parties who get in the way of their self expression and community. I am still too angry to believe it yet, but I know that some day I'll look upon my expulsion from Brainstorms as one of the best things that ever happened to me. It is a priceless treasure to know where you belong and what is worth defending.
Woo-hoo. Shout it out loud and proud. That letter is better than the mother of all mast heads. What more can I say.
Tonight Lou and I made tuna casserole together. He loved it. I made cheddar dill bread Sunday evening and there is still plenty of that left. Lou won't eat prune plums, also known as little blue plums, because he fears they will give him the trots. Poor Lou.
He was in a good mood today. His employment search is going a bit better and that makes him happy. A friend of mine suggested a new strategy to motivate me for work. I think I need to apply it a bit better. It might work.
I work two second shifts starting tomorrow. I get to sleep in in the morning or I would if I did not have errands to run. BMG music sent me a CD I did not want. They advertised it in email but I did not head it off at the pass. I threw the email out along with a lot of other spam. Oh well....I hope that third class mail is not that expensive. They said to enclose a note with it. I told them simply I did not want the CD I did not order. I do have to order a regular price CD from them but I still got two cheap ones earlier this summer. I think I get money off on the next one after the full price one. I do want to build up my CD collection and I believe in copyright so buying CD's online makes sense. In some ways though, I like Tower Records a lot better than BMG. I think Tower has a better selection.
Jeanne turned all the grass green. There are mystery lillies blooming everywhere. They look like reddish orange spiders on stalks. They are very pretty. I'm sure Lou does not notice them. I have to pay the rent and think I will have to do that by mail. When I get some quiet time I need to check the checking account balance and cut some checks for assorted bills. September is such a short month and bill time comes around before you know it.
It was good to see the sun again. I got to watch a banned book read out on the library porch around noon. Banned Book Week is in large part BS. The reason is simple. I work in a college. We usually don't get calls to ban books, or challenges as they are known. Now we did get an order to destroy some government documents post 9/11 but no one mentioned this at the read out.
Where challenges occur, there is often a cultural conflict. A parent does not want his or her child to read something for English or finds a book he detests has made its way home from the school library in junior's backpack. It does not help that the parent has been fed propaganda like Chick Tracts and Foucs on Family which tell him that there is some kind of a plot against Christian values. The other side has been fedding its propgaganda too that there are a bunch of yahoos out there wanting to decide what everyone wants to read.
Now I'm not saying that the parents issuing the challenges are correct. They've got no business dictating what everyone else reads but for their own child... Teachers should have alternate selections if a child has already read the book, objects to the book on moral grounds etc... Having two or three selections for a class is not a bad idea or a reading list where students can pick and choose. If a sizeable portion of a community has certain values, than books that respect those values can be on teh list. This is not teaching intelligent design or creationism. Students can learn literature just as well from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe series as from Harry Potter. There is a wide selection of fiction out there. Letting students choose a more palateable title won't hurt. By the way, it might be nice for those conservative folks who want to ban books to come up with a list of books they recommend so that teachers can have an easy time suggesting alternatives.
When my mother thought I was reading too much science fiction and fantasy (She called it an intellectual diet of chocolate chip cookies) she got me to read other
stuff. She had me reading the Jungle at age nine, but she didn't ask for the school
to pull its fantasy books from the library shelves. I soon had the habit of getting into my parents' reading matter. It probably wasn't that bad a habit.
What is more insidious than banning books is when libraries, school, academic, or public don't have the money for more and newer materials. Students can't read it if the library can't buy it and put it on the shelves. Say that three times fast. No one ever mentions this during banned books week.
Then we have the easiest way to ban a book. Don't challenge it. Just let it sit on the shelf and gather dust. It happens all the time. My library is full of excellent literature that is never taught and so students don't go searching for it. I'm a big Zola fan but nobody reads him except this poor Francophilic northerner. Let it go out of fashion. Let it disappear. Take it off the required reading list and it's gone just as if you banned it. All that is left is for some overzealous librarian to weed it. Fiction like math does not really age. The books wear out long before the language becomes unreadable.
Again nobody talks about this during banned book week. And yes, school libraries (like public libraries) should practice some cultural sensitivity. If they stock Harry Potter, they should stock CS Lewis and the Left Behind Children's Series. Why not provide something for everyone. This whole culture war thing has me boggled.