July 30, 2006

In which Dawn Eden fancies herself a tyrant

Yes, it's a bit petty, but I feel the need to record the events that have transpired recently at Dawn Eden's.

The saga starts in this thread, where Dawn trots out a piece she wrote as `evidence' to support a claim about Planned Parenthood. I respond by pointing out that the piece -- among several other problems -- does not actually provide any citations that would allow me to check her assertions. In particular, Dawn claims that a Planned Parenthood website targetting teenagers includes `An animation to educate children about sexually transmitted diseases—which depicts a naked couple copulating with a cow' and `Another animation about sexual preferences, depicting a man taking a pig for his sexual partner—while a narrator explains that such behavior is “normal.”'

This prompts her to compose this post, in which she attempts to argue that Planned Parenthood promotes bestiality by linking to the animations in question. (Amanda mentioned this yesterday, as have a few other folks throughout the feminist blogosphere.) I quickly point out that, of her three pieces of evidence, only one supports her case, and then only vaguely and indirectly -- it's not clear what the intention is behind those few seconds of animation. Discussion ensues.

Another commenter and fellow socially liberal thorn in Dawn's side, Ledasmom, compares the cow animation to having a cat in the same room when she (Ledasmom) and her husband have sex. Dawn removes the comment because she doesn't `wish to see anyone pick up ... [that] particular hairball and run with it'. When Ledasmom calls her out -- pointing out that the comment was relevant and didn't contain anything obscene -- Dawn retaliates by removing all of Ledasmom's posts from the thread, `Because I'm the blogmommy, that's why.'

During this fiasco, commenter CJ contributes to the on-topic discussion by asking several (rhetorical) questions:

It's the contraceptive mentality run amok. If sex is no longer about reproduction, then what's wrong with doing it with your neighbor's wife? Your neighbor's kids? Your neighbor? Your neighbor's dog?

I respond, and pose two questions of my own in return:

Now, here are two questions for you:
1. If sex is only about reproduction, then why is it permissible for infertile people to have sex?
2. If sex is only about reproduction, then what is the purpose of the clitoris and other erogenous zones that are not fully stimulated by vaginal intercourse?

I believe these questions to be relevant to the discussion, and there's nothing obscene about them. Note that Dawn leaves them intact (or they were as of this writing).
Rather than answering, CJ asserts that he has been misquoted. I have, of course, quoted him verbatim, but I speculate that he thinks I'm making an unfair presumption about his own position. I rephrase my questions as follows:

1. If the possibility of reproduction is necessary for sex to be permissible, then why is it permissible for infertile people to have sex?
2. If the possibility of reproduction is necessary for sex to be permissible, then what is the purpose of the clitoris and other erogenous zones that are not fully stimulated by vaginal intercourse?

Note that the wording is virtually identical to those given before. If anything, these are more relevant (because they're more precise) and certainly aren't obscene. Dawn edits them out.

I object, asking for an explanation. Dawn removes my objection and scolds the naughty child:

Noumena, because I'm the blogmommy, that's why.

Here's my response, which I do not expect to last more than a couple of hours:

Dawn, you're not my mother. You're the owner of this blog, which, as per the preamble to your precious Harris protocol, is a place for `logical and respectful argumentation and discussion'. Certainly, in that capacity, you have the power and duty to steer debate and weed out disruptive comments.

However, twice in this thread (and three or four times in the past week), you have used this power to denude the arguments of those who disagree with you. Notably, you have also done so erratically -- preserving comments made by commentors you agree with while eliminating responses made by those you disagree with rather than killing the whole line of discussion, or removing refined versions of arguments that have been preserved earlier in the thread.

When asked for explanations, you have not cited Harris protocol violations, nor appealed to unwritten standards for civil discourse or a desire to restrict the scope of the discussion. Rather, you have simply assumed a position of unquestionable authority.

I finish with a quotation:

laws may be unjust ... by being contrary to human good ... --either in respect of the end, as when an authority imposes on his subjects burdensome laws, conducive, not to the common good, but rather to his own cupidity or vainglory--or in respect of the author, as when a man makes a law that goes beyond the power committed to him--or in respect of the form, as when burdens are imposed unequally on the community


Noumena said...

And Dawn has just banned me from her blog. I'm guessing telling someone to read my comments fully and ask for clarification before jumping to conclusions and wasting everyone's time violates her precious Harris protocol.

Except, of course, that she really just doesn't want intelligent, relevant, critical challenges to her worldview. The Harris protocol is just a smokescreen. I think the evidence I've presented here suffices to support that claim.

Noumena said...

And when a fellow conservative says something even ruder than anything I said, Dawn gently chastises him, letting the original comment stand.

evil_fizz said...

I think I would laugh it weren't so unspeakably pathetic.

Colleen said...

I do believe that Dawn is a little too quick to ban but I think I understand her reasons which are not unspeakably pathetic. They may well be overly idealistic. I believe Dawn is striving for a forum in which people can discuss hot button topics without rancor. the last thing any of us want is a sewer like Pandagon and others of that sort.

Having said that I am sorry that you have been banned, Noumena. While you were not always as diplomatic as you might have been while on "enemy" territory, you certainly do bring a needed perspective to the issues we typically discuss. I don't know if you will want to try again but I hope so.

I did try to write this message this a.m. but it never showed up. Don't know why.

Noumena said...

While the sympathy is appreciated, Colleen, I think the evidence is quite clear that Dawn is employing a double standard: friendly voices are indulged while critical voices are squelched for the same infraction (or even on her whim). While she pays lip-service to the ideal of a forum for civil discussion, it doesn't seem to be anything more than that. A just moderator doesn't give `because I said so' as a reason for kicking someone out.

Colleen said...

I cannot disagree with anything you have written here. Your description of what happened is quite persuasive (I didn't see any of it, because I have less and less time these days to read the blog.) And yet ... Dawn does put up with an amazing amount of vitriol on Pandagon and the like which are extremely intolerant of dissenting voices, and crudely so, as I know from experience.

I can't help but think that what you see as coming undeservedly from out of nowhere may well come from the larger context of what "dissenters" write on other blogs. I have seen such crude, disgusting comments about her that they make my skin crawl; likewise about us, Christians, conservatives, whoever deviates from the one right way of thinking.

People who write like that have wholly forgotten that there are real people on the other side of the screen. These are the same people who rest serene in their absolute certainty of their moral and intellectual superiority (we are not homophobic, sexist, ageist, classist, lookist, racist, ableist, etc.) They love the oppressed of the world, the brown, the yellow and black... but their love of humanity does not extend as far as tolerance and charity towards actual people.

Many of us who write on the Web are guilty of forgetting the humanity of the people we are addressing or talking about. I do not exempt myself from that charge. That is why I have started trying to conjure up images of people I actually know who hold views I disagree with. It helps me to envision talking to them and I find that it does change the way I write-- at least by improving the tone.

site said...

It's all wrong what you're writing.