Laura (tavella) wrote,
Laura
tavella

damn, I should post about something else at some point

I've just had another example of why I think 'social justice' as done on Livejournal and Dreamwidth is in such terrible shape: the chief practitioners. ithiliana posted a comment about one of her classes... okay, I tried to rephrase this, but I'm going to quote the one line directly because I don't want to mangle her presentation: "the students all try to avoid even mentioning race/ethnicity or anything related to the internet and oppression and dominant cultural issues in the context of the internet." Yes, this will likely result into a derailing about quoting locked posts, but it was the particular phrasing that made me sag my head to the keyboard and say "oh, god, if I were them I would do the same thing."

I'll note that ithiliana has posted several times about anon memes and how they are bad; I actually considered going over to one to make the original comment, but felt it would be a) wrong to do so in regards to a locked post b) show a lack of courage to not be willing to discuss it face to face. I thought about it seriously, left the tab open for a day because we share a common interest in Tolkien and I have found her commentary on other subjects good at times. Easiest just to let it go by. Then I felt like a raging coward twice over: I was staying silent half because there's fic I didn't want to be locked out of _and_ I was prejudging her reaction and assuming she couldn't take a critical comment at all -- and posted a comment.

"There may be entirely different causes, but given you aren't terribly friendly towards people you view as 'doing it wrong' on those subject, I think I'd be very inclined as a student to stay far away from them when you had some power over me (ie, a grade.)"

(yes, there's a typo, I suck that way)

She then replied that only one in a thousand of her students gets anything but an A or a B, and that if she failed students who made "sexist, racist, and homophobic" comments that she'd fail most of them. And that I had insulted her, she now did not trust me, and thus I was deleted.

Of course, it's rather hard to actually _discuss_ when you've been locked out of the entry, but this is what I'd have said if I was able, in reply:

"The problems here are several: first, that you instantly conflate "doing it wrong" with "sexist, racist, and homophobic". Which is where I saw the problem: you tend to conflate disagreeing with you ("doing it wrong") on the subject of sex, race, or sexuality as sexism, racism, or homophobia. There is no space for honest and just disagreement.

And the second and more important issue is, it doesn't matter what you actually do in the sanctity of your grading book,_nor did I ever criticize your grading_ ; you may in fact be able to utterly separate your opinions and grade someone entirely on the quality of their writing, even if you believe they come to wrong conclusions and use basises that you find abhorrent. The problem is, that if you speak and react as you do in your journal, with very little tolerance for people of differing views, they are likely to _think_ you will have equally little tolerance in their submitted work, and look for safe ground where they can write on subjects that upset you less or where they agree with you wholly. Certainly as a student, I sometimes found professors who genuinely enjoyed students with vastly different views, loved to engage them, and didn't react badly if they didn't change their views. But they were a rare exception, and if you care about your grades, you move to safe topics.

And third, I'm not talking about outright failing people for it, often it's just the difference between an A and a B or a B and C. An essay that is adequately written but cossets your sensibilities is, if you are human, is very easy to see as higher quality than one where you are glaring and going "no! I disagree! That's --ist!" And there are students to which a grade letter or two makes a great deal of difference.


Now, ithiliana has every right to lock me out; it is her journal and no obligation to share, but I just felt very sad that my prejudgment, that even the slightest honest critique would be met with furious anger, was right.

ETA: I had screening of anonymous comments on due to the spammers that were going about a while back, have turned it off now.

ETA2: Anyone coming from Ithiliana's post, I have no problem with you commenting here, feel free. Anonymous personal attacks may get screened at my discretion, but honestly, I have pretty thick skin.
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