Rumproast Leftovers

rumproast-greenA few weeks ago I got an email inviting me to dialog with the folks over at the blog Rumproast. One of the regulars there had seen some comments I made about Islam at PumaPAC.org and wanted to talk.

Sniffing around their blog, I found an odd mixture of  profanity, snarks,  politics, and grisly anatomical fantasies involving the women who blog at PumaPAC.  Instead of deleting the misogynist comments, or debating the assumptions behind them, the editors and other commenters compliment each other for every particularly vicious turn of phrase.  They seem to spend hours a day combing the pumapac blog  for something in the comments they can collect  for their complaining sessions.  What kind of “dialog” can you have with people like that?

If that sounds like an exaggeration, here are some examples of the type of comments I found over there (I have had to add some asterisks to keep my child-friendly rating):

Kevin
spanish-inquisition-demotivational-poster“Tell the PUMAs over at The. Best. Mexican. Soap. Opera. Ever. that we really appreciate the endless hours of entertainment you’ve provided us with in 2008 and we’re looking forward to a lot more of it in the new year.”

strangeapar8us:
“And, no, I don’t get my kicks out of “mocking” you. I get my kicks out of thwarting your purblind political agenda and actively campaigning against it in online forums and the media-at-large. I only post here for the regular check from Soros, which ain’t nearly enough.”

Kerry Reid:
“I have absolutely no problem quoting the late great Michael O’Donoghue to you disgraceful racist idiots and losers: “I’d give you all a swift kick in the c*nts to wake you up, but I wouldn’t want to ruin my shine.” Now go back to crying in the Giant Bowl o’ Fail that makes up your collective lives.”

Kerry Reid again:
“If I was really being crude, I would have suggested you f*ck yourself in the *ss with a rusty d*ldo (thereby avoiding congress with those nasty Rapist Oppressor Real P*nises) until you enlarge your *nus to the point where you can shove your head comfortably up the enhanced opening.”

yetanotherfreakingbrit:
“As for Guy PUMAs, they’ll no doubt have bled to death after you’ve shot all their p*nises off or whetever the next fantasy is.”

skillit:
“Armed with Rusty D*ldos
On Fantasies we Ride
We Dance with Pumas Left and Right
No P*nis by our Side
Up, up, up we scream
Rise, Hillary, Rise
Until the Day that We Can See [minus corneal transplants, cataracts, shingle-related eye-disease] NOBAMA on the outside
So up, up, up with people (but only if you’re GIRLZ)
And save yourself for all the pleasures of b*tt pl*gs and d*lderzz.”

Tom65
“We need to do some more pointing and laughing.”

Brad Mays
“Why do you feel that so many men feel justified in using sexual imagery and language as a way of demeaning women engaged in political discourse?”

Brad Mays, of course, is sort of a Puma, or at least used to hang around filming Pumas.

And who are the Pumas they hate so much? What is the “purblind political agenda” the Rumpsters are so desperate to thwart?  Here is the Puma mission statement Manifesto:

  • Passing the Equal Rights Amendment after 86 years of struggle
  • Monitoring the 111th Congress and advocating for legislation that supports our mission
  • Documenting and Protesting sexism in the mainstream media AND educating the public about its widespread and long term effects
  • Developing a national women’s rights curriculum for all American children
  • Researching and investigating voter fraud and campaign finance violations during the 2008 election
  • Protecting women’s lives by strengthening anti-femicide laws and drawing attention to the crisis of woman-lynching in the United States

How do you talk to someone who opposes that?

Ah, but they used the word “dialog”.   They had sucked me in.  So I opened a first thread thread for the Rumpsters, then a second thread and eventually 11 of them came to visit. Rumpster Guests in the order of their appearance: StrangeAppar8us, pumarubbernecker, kcindenver, Mrs. Polly, sean, Betty Cracker, Clownshoes the Clown, yetanotherfreakingbrit, johnd, Observer at PUMApac, zipperupus…. thank you all for your comments.

What with the new semester starting and everything, it took me more than two weeks to sort out all the comments and respond to them. Here is the final tally.

Total word count: 11071

Written by Nijma: 6172 words

Written by Rumpsters: 7450 words (average: 677 words/Rumpster)

Censorship:  15 Rumpster swear words and ethnic slurs edited.

Okay,  so the Rumpfest was exhausting. For me at least.  What did it accomplish? I don’t know.  But I remain firmly convinced that dialog is never wasted.  And what did the Rumpsters want to talk about? They wanted to repeat campaign talking points. They wanted to comment about my defense of Arabs and moderate Islam in  the comment threads.  They were troubled about the variety of opinions in the Puma website comment threads.  Some were thoughtful; some were bombastic.

And over and over again they mentioned one particular Puma commenter, JenniforHillary, who had been involved in a radio show (transcript here) and a video (transcript here) about the Pumas. Curious, I went back and looked.  If I was a Rumpster, I would not be too proud of this episode.  Wonkette and Rumproast posted photoshopped pictures of her in order to make fun of her weight.    Curiously they did nothing to refute the points she made in the interviews about election fraud in the primaries.  The posts were taken down quickly after both the Confluence and PumaPAC pointed out the difference between ridiculing powerful political figures and ridiculing private citizens because they take their civic responsibilities seriously.

What the Rumproast did to Jenni was tacky at the very least.  When Jenni first started writing at PumPAC she was just excited about Hillary, and her posts conveyed her thrill in being part of it all, but after she was baited, she started getting nasty and writing in ALL CAPS: what a surprise! And as someone once said, what fun it is to bait people until they turn nasty! If you did that to someone’s face, they would probably punch you, but since it’s on the internet all they can do is get angry.  What cowards to bait someone until they get angry and then write post after post ridiculing them for it.  Did I say coward?  No, comic! It’s funny to bait someone until they turn nasty, yeah, that’s the ticket. Bullying tactics are funny.

Rumproast Flame War (just kidding)

rumproast3Thanks to the RumpRoast for inviting my comments, and thanks to all the Rumpsters who commented here.  Actually, thanks to John D, specifically.  Now that he has identified himself as the one who sent me the super secret email, I guess it’s not a secret anymore. [Note: If you want to read the original email, he has added it to the comments at January 23, 2009 at 7:34 pm.]

I want to start to respond to all the comments by saying something general about Islam, since so may people commented about that specifically, then I’ll try to answer the rest of the individual commenters separately.  And there’s a final thought at the very end.

But first let me just repeat Answer #5 from my FAQ in the original thread:

Q: [X] person on [Y] website is not a nice person and said something I don’t agree with.

A: I don’t care.

rumproast1Several people have gone into detail about various Puma commenters, and to tell you the truth, I haven’t followed every single personality and every single ping pong among the many people who comment on various Puma websites.  I don’t necessarliy agree with 100% of what every commenter writes.  I do read all of Murphy’s posts at pumapac.org.

There are some 500 or more comments that come across my feedreader every day just from the pumapac.org  blog, and many more that are on the blog that for some reason never make it through the feedreader.  That’s a huge number of comments to read, even if that’s the only blog you look at.  It would be a huge number of comments for any moderator to keep track of and try to keep every person to a party line, if the Pumas did have a party line.

Perhaps some of the disappointment some of the Rumpsters have with the PumaPAC blog is that it isn’t a neatly prepackaged product and doesn’t fit any neat genre that they are used to.  The posters are of all types, all ethnic groups and income levels, and levels of education and internet experience. They don’t have a supreme dictator telling them what to believe. They do have a lively dialog, lots of points of view, and some disagreements. Some issues are getting worked out and some ideas are being kicked around for the first time. No one is having a single point of view crammed down their throat–there is a lot of educating going on, and a lot of times, education can’t happen until the person is ready for it.

It might not look tidy from the outside for someone who is used to receiving their talking points pre-digested, but maybe if you feel so strongly about some issue, instead of just sitting back and making smug remarks on a blog none of them will see, why don’t you enter the conversation–without the elitist snarks and repetitive Axelrod talking points–and ask them about what they think? If the only reason you interact with someone is to provoke some sort of reaction that you can use somewhere else to try to “prove” some predetermined negative opinion you’ve already formed, then go back to some other forum and make remarks that “prove” you are “superior”, they will sense your hostility, and I can guarantee you’re not going to have a dialog–or convince anyone of your own point of view.

Okay, about Islam.

Several people have pointed out some very extreme comments about the Middle East.  I wrote more about the Middle East internet thing yesterday here, and I posted the hate mail I received on the topic  here. (Scroll down to the screen shot of the email, then click on the NSFW image link to see it without the child-friendly asterisks, then read the rest of my comment about who may have written it.) If you’re going to point out the negative comments, you will also have to point out some of the long time Puma commenters who have responded very favorably and have left some positive, compassionate thoughts about Islam here as well.

The point I want to make is that no one knows who is making those comments. They seem to appear long after everyone  in a U.S. time zone has gone to bed, in fact, about 8 or 9 in the morning Tel Aviv time–or Gaza time. And the people who post them don’t seem to have any other comments to make about American politics or women’s rights.Anyone could write them.  In fact, I notice a few Rumpsters already have Puma accounts and  occasionally talk about posting comments at PumaPAC. So for all I know, the Rumpsters themselves could have written it.

That said, Murphy has also posted a few things about the Middle East, some of it not very complimentary about the treatment of women in those countries.  In particular, Murphy has published some photos of extreme acts against women that deserve to be more widely known–I only wish she had printed links to articles describing the scenes. Someone needs to do this–to hold extremist Moslems accountable for the acts they do in the name of their religion, that is giving Islam a bad name. You won’t find that here.  Remember my “about” page?  I’m the one who wants to suspend mistrust and look for common ground. But someone needs to do hold some feet over the fire when it comes to Islamic treatment of women, and do it in a responsible, accurate way.

Some of the over-the-top right wing  comments about “jihad” (it’s “struggle”, for Pete’s sake, and can be accomplished by studying the religious writings or by…housework!) only serves to mask some of the valid criticisms that can be made about the culture. Unfortunately, the right -wing bigots make responsible criticism very hard to tell apart from pure hate speech.  That’s another reason I go after them online.  They make valid criticism look like one more prejudicial smear job,  and set back the rights of women around the world.

~~~~~~~~~

Now, responses to some of the individual comments I haven’t already responded to.

kcindenver, thanks. With the war winding down in anticipation of the inauguration, I think we’ll see less boilerplate Middle East spam in the forums.

Mrs. Polly, I can’t answer for the structure of PumaPAC.  As with most new populist organizations, it is very ad hoc, and will probably evolve, but seems to be the only women’s organization involved in activism at this point, and the only women’s organization that crosses class boundaries, or has any patience for the blue collar/ union values and aspirations. I also can’t answer for the individual you are talking about, as I know nothing about the context of what happened or any of the underlying issues.  I did see the film and the tacky comments about appearance and voice, but AFAIK this is not someone who speaks for Puma. I don’t see the problem with the sidebar widgets you are talking about on any of the computers I use.  I wonder if you are using Internet Explorer? It’s notorious for stuff like that. Here’s the free Firefox download.

pumarubbernecker,

Who do you have back there

I’m glad you asked.  I have kat in your hat 01.18.09 at 8:55 pm

but you seem rational enough on the surface that I’m curious how you don’t see what a giant trainwreck of crazy the PUMAs are

That kind of comment is a prime example of why Rumpsters get called stuff like immature fratboiz. If you want to deconstruct it, it’s a bunch of non-specific adjectives that don’t really say anything, except that the writer has a negative opinion of something.

It’s like this.  Say you want to describe a car.  You say “A nice car.” Now everyone can visualize the car, right? Not at all.  Now you say “a green two door car with purple leather upholstery and a sun roof.”  Now people start to visualize the car.  You don’t have to say if it’s nice or not because people can see the car for themselves. Or you can just do like Kat in your Hat and wait until Murphy isn’t looking, then post a video that expresses your opinion about teh motivations of someone who would write a giant trainwreck of a crazy comment like that.

Sean, as I indicated elsewhere, I have no knowledge that the Pumas are the ones writing the anti-Palestinian spam.  In fact, several Pumas have commented favorably on some of the first-hand stuff I have written about Islam here. The people writing the offensive stuff don’t talk about American politics and they don’t come out in the daylight, at least when it’s daylight on this side of the globe. I suspect they don’t care about Puma at all but are just using the PumaPAC forum for their own purposes. I actually find it sort of interesting in a canary-in-the-mine sort of way.

Betty Cracker, the post I was referring to was  on the Rumproast,  not some other blog:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Dear Democrats
More like this, please.  Thank you.
Posted by Kevin K. on 01/13/09 at 05:52 PM

The link was to a blog with a photo of a fat person with a wheelbarrow.  Obviously I would like to see “less like this, please.” I have no problem with “the Daily Pig”.  It singles out people for their actions, which they are responsible for, and not their appearance,  which is an accident of birth. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for employers like Dov Charney. Since I don’t have a trust fund, I need to work in order to eat. American Apparel did the right thing in removing Charney from contact with employees , but they still are paying the price for his indiscretions. He was not just some jerk schmo lurking in the alley, he was the CEO.   Let’s hope there aren’t more like him still out there–waiting for your own daughters when they get old enough to look for work.

I notice, Betty Cracker, that your blog has the “b-word” in one of the titles–and linked with violence towards women no less. I see where violence against women has become slick and trendy these days. Looks like the Rumpsters are helping that trend  along just a little.

Clownshoes the Clown, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I have never written about those subjects. If you think something I have written is “racist”, do point out where specifically, and say why you think it is “racist” instead of making vague menacing  accusations. As far as “levels of trust and approval”,  although your statement seems a bit like unsupported assertion/adoration at this point, there are people who do measure this.  As might be expected, public trust in the government dropped sharply after Watergate, but rose slowly after that.  I doubt if you could collect statistically significant data at this point before a government is actually in office. Your “shooting fish in a barrel” comment doesn’t make any sense at all. Are you saying you want to shoot me? Kindest regards to you too. Oh, and this pretty much sums it up as far as mysogyny in the campaign.

yetanotherfreakingbrit, I would be curious as to which of Murphy’s posts you found offensive. Also I’m not quite sure which of Murphy’s posts contains the “conspiracy theories” you object to, but the mission statement is here. Looks to me like this is their program:

  • Passing the Equal Rights Amendment after 86 years of struggle
  • Monitoring the 111th Congress and advocating for legislation that supports our mission
  • Documenting and Protesting sexism in the mainstream media AND educating the public about its widespread and long term effects
  • Developing a national women’s rights curriculum for all American children
  • Researching and investigating voter fraud and campaign finance violations during the 2008 election
  • Protecting women’s lives by strengthening anti-femicide laws and drawing attention to the crisis of woman-lynching in the United States

John D, thanks again for the invitation.  As I’ve said before, I don’t think you can draw any inferences from something on one website linked to by one commenter late at night when the thread is pretty obviously unmoderated. As far as the “Kill them em all. Let God sort them out,” quotation, that’s often used by right wing blogs in reference to suicide bombers, but the old military proverb goes back much further than that, to at least Roman times–in Latin: neca eos omnes, deus suos agnoscet.

~~~~~~~~~~

One final thought. Everyone posting here has a mother, a sister, a daughter, or is one themselves.  What do you see as the agenda for women during the next four to eight years?  What outcomes do you want to see in 2009? Then, as Bill Clinton would say “Tell me how, and be specific.”

Rumproast Wonkette Lurker Thread

Last week’s Weblog Awards voting frenzy is over, but apparently I’ve attracted attention on some blogs I don’t ordinarily read. The reason I know is that they make remarks about me on their blogs (but not remarks to me on the blogs where I comment) and sometimes they even send me emails. So if you’re one of the people who has commented about me, pasted remarks I made on another blog onto your own blog, emailed me with either lovemail or hatemail, or even just thought about the possibility of emailing me, here is your opportunity to say whatever it is you want to say.

For anyone who is not familiar with the earthshaking and intellectually stimulating commentary that goes on at these blogs, the last time I peeked in on them, they had posted a picture of a generic fat person and everyone was linking to it and making cutting remarks about the person’s weight. And no, I am not going to post a link.

FAQ:  Okay these aren’t necessarily real questions, (and they’re not necessarily not real questions), but they are questions you (or an anonymous secret person who may or may not have emailed me) might have asked if you had thought about asking them.

1. I sort of like you a little bit.
Thank you.

2. You are just like us.
No. I am just like me.

3. Can I make a comment on this thread?

Yes, that’s what it’s for. Questions are unmoderated, with no trigger words, but WordPress has a very aggressive new spam filter. For some reason I can’t figure out, genuine comments often go in the spam filter. WordPress claims their spam filter has the capacity to learn, but even my own remarks from the same IP always go in the spam filter if I am not signed in. I look in the spam filter about once a week. Okay, every day, as soon as I finish this syllabus project. If someone really want to have a discussion, I will really try to answer them.   Really.  I just don’t want to talk about some “issue” like whether myiq2xu is hawt, okay?

4. Can I use bad language in the comments?
Yes, but I will replace it with asterisks. I told WordPress this is a child-friendly site.

5. [X] person on [Y] website is not a nice person/said something I don’t agree with.
I don’t care.

6. Why don’t you come over and make comments on [X,Y, or Z] blog?
If you can make it worth my while, email me with the financial details.

7. Can we have a dialog?
For all you do, this thread’s for you.