February 08, 2006

Once Again, The Crimson...

Check out this article from today's Crimson: http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=511113

It's an interesting article titled "The Gay Old Party" in which the author describes how the Harvard Republican Club has grown increasingly like the groups it critiques. In particular, the author targets the HRC's President and his quote that homosexuals are "giving a victory to an ideology of evil that will probably eventually spawn the Antichrist." And this is just one, among other quotes. (And be sure to join the facebook group, "Probably spawning the Antichrist.")

The author's response begins with: "Apart from the faulty theology—the Antichrist is supposed to be a sea-beast, not a fairy..."

Albeit a little offensive, I actually think that's quite hilarious. :)

But what got me a little was the last paragraph: "Belligerence, hyperbole, gracelessness, flamboyance, and uninformed rhetoric. I expect this from other, more traditionally “martyr complex” groups on campus, like members of the BGLTSA (Harvard’s Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance) or the Harvard College Democrats for example."

The author feels that the Harvard Republican Club is now mimicking the Harvard BGLTSA for using belligerence, hyperbole, gracelessness, flamboyance, and uninformed rhetoric. To a certain degree, I have to agree, but only very slightly. Outburts such as the controversial Jada Pinkett Smith confusion, as well as much of the outcry against Larry Summers, seems to me to be graceless and belligerent. The criticism is militant, sometimes hyperbolic, and somewhat uninformed. But my views on those two events are, I'm sure, very different than many of this blog's readers, and this is not the place for me to debate them right now.

Rather I want to agree with the general point: outburts like the HRC President's comments are not constructive or informed. I think the BGLTSA and the Harvard Dems, on the whole, are not like the way this self-proclaimed member of the HRC describes them. But I just think, in general, it's an interesting article insomuch as it points out the state of our current discourse. Perhaps we need to rethink hyperbole and deconstruction and see if there is a way to think beyond both modernism and postmodernism.


JSmithua said...

Heh. Yeah... I completely disagree with your assertion about the jada pinkett smith explosion and the larry summers debacle. Your assertion that these two events demonstrate that the BGLTSA is "graceless and belligerent" shows a lack of understanding and a skewed perspective on your part. It was not the BGLTSA who made the Pinkett Smith thing into an "explosion", it was the Crimson and other media, and the anger caused by Summers' comments was completely justified. I know you didn't want to debate this, or whatever, but your view of the BGLTSA falls pretty well in line with Sahil's article. Personal differences aside, I think your comments against the BGLTSA are just a perpetuation of the idea that queers are whiney and like to lie a lot and that we have a "martyr complex" of some sort. Anyways, I thought the article was correct about Dewey's statements (as they are obviously heinous), but the parallel it--and to a certain extent your post--draws to the BGLTSA's and Dems' practices lacks evidence. I do, however, agree with what you said about the present state of discourse, but I only agree (on the whole) with this analysis in terms of the conservative political machine. I would also like to point out that you could have made your point about the "state of our current discourse" without citing the BGLTSA... if you had truly wished to avoid a blog debate. Anyways. You made me mad, as you have tended to do in the past. No hard feelings, but I think your analysis is just as uninformed as you claim our discourse is. Toodles!

The Mirrorball Man said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
maudite entendante said...

Oh, for the love of ... am I gonna have to separate you two?

krzrt: that electric crackle that goes through the air when exes meet up in the same social space

The Mirrorball Man said...

By the way, I'd also like to point out your use of a strategy called "hyperbole" and "uninformed". You accused me of having a "lack of understanding" about the Jada Pinkett Smith thing, saying "It was not the BGLTSA who made the Pinkett Smith thing into an "explosion", it was the Crimson and other media..."

Um, my comment was "Outburts such as the controversial Jada Pinkett Smith confusion". The word 'explosion' was never used. And I PURPOSELY wrote about "confusion" because I AM informed about what happened.

And yes, I personally think a lot of the political rhetoric that has come from the BGLTSA is often very denunciative and belligerent. As for your assertion that the response to Larry Summers is "completely justified", I think that's very much a personal decision people not to make. I, personally, do not think what Summers has been subjected to since then has been "completely justified." That doesn't make me uninformed; it makes me different than you.

I never said queers like to "lie a lot" and are "whiney". I just think the rhetoric has gotten very belligerent. Plus I'm not sure I wholly understand (or believe) much of the militant rhetoric that comes from a group that is supposed to be a social alliance in addition to a political one. That's something that takes a little away from the social aspect when you don't feel comfortable in the group with your own view of the world.

Perhaps the reason my comments seem kind of crazy to you is that you don't fully understand my views on a variety of concepts. That makes you uninformed (about me), not me being uninformed. I would love to talk to you about it sometime, but seeing as all I seem to do is "Make you mad" and call me "uninformed", I'm not quite sure if that's in my best interest.

wannatakethisoutside said...

I don't mean to get involved in an unresolvable conflict but I guess that I often hear the arguement that BGLTSA is "beligerant" or "blows things out of proportion" but I have trouble understanding specific examples of when this happens. The complaint seems to be about public representation of queer communities, but I haven't seen people point to particular incidents (besides Pinkett Smith, which, is predominantly a set of lies).

If this is going to make drama, don't worry about it, but I guess I was hoping, if you have some time mirrorballman, I was hoping you might be able to point me to a couple of specific instances in which BGLTSA has done this.

I just want to understand better.

prince eric said...

on another note, the author of the crimson article totally just accepted an invite to the "Probably Spawning the Antichrist" facebook group.

The Mirrorball Man said...

Wannatakethisoutside: I would love to try to answer that question. Offhand, one thing comes to mind:

Trannys Talk Back RC Decoration. I think a lot of the work for transgender activism is definitely much-needed, and it was about time that these issues were finally addressed in a group that includes the "T" in the BGLTSA. But I think this was a very confrontational method to go about this.

To me, it seemed that some people were uninformed about transgender issues and made some comments on the BGLTSA Open List. This caused a HUGE amount of Open list warfare, which included name calling, personal attacks, and one person to leave the list citing that the presonal affronts had gotten too far. And regardless of whether or not some of us feel the e-mails were really that personal, for someone to be that offended takes a lot.

This got followed with a huge amount of postering in the RC with comments like "Transgendered women were here." and "Transgendered people wer ehere." I think it's hard to argue that these are not inherently confrontational.

It's possible that some people who asked questions on the Open List about transgender issues and were subsequently thought of as uninformed could have gone to the RC that day. Or somebody who ISN'T comfortable being around transgender people might have gone to the RC that day. It's possible.

That person would have been shocked and outraged by a display like this. It could have driven them away, made them uncomfortable in the RC, which is supposed to be a safe space, and unable to feel comfortable in the BGLTSA at large.

I think the group discussion sessions that were hosted were EXCELLENT ideas. People had the opportunity to say their piece and try to understand each other in something more conducive than a listserv. But I think the postering was a little belligerent, in my personal opinion.

I think this is all part of a larger problem. My comments were deemed by a person above to be uninformed and his reaction was pure emotional hate. When we see someone uninformed or with different political beliefs, we should discuss, educate, and try to find common ground. We should open the dialogue. We should not shut it with name calling and personal attacks. And anger should NEVER be a response to political differences or ignorance, whether perceived or true.

icarus said...


i think we all needa simmer down a little.

i also think that this discussion might not make much sense to our non-Harvard non-BGLTSA members, so maybe it might be better to continue in person?

that said, i would like to say that i did not find the Trannys Talk Back event to be at all offensive. the only thing that was confrontational was trans people asserting their presence in queer spaces, which i think queer people on campus do all the time. also, if you read the amazing Trannys Talk Back publication, it was clearly a thoughtful, educational and personally brave piece of writing created by trans/genderqueer students here.

ok, that's all i have to say.


spork said...

We just wanted to say that we found the donuts associated with Trannys Take Over the RC Day extremely friendly and not all confrontational. They were also sugary and delicious.

spork and raine

spork said...

Also, I think it's ok if people who come to the BGLTSA Resource Center encounter a trans person every now and the. I think that's good. I think that one of the causes of the open list drama was that many queer people at Harvard erroneously believe that they don't know any trans people. I think what the signs meant to do was let people know that there are trans people in the BGLTSA too, and that some of them hang out in the RC, and that some of them buy us donuts. I don't think they were meant to be confrontational, I think they were just supposed to be a heads up and make a not-very-visible part of the queer community a little more visible to other people in the queer community, if that makes any sense. I can see how the decorations might have been interpreted as confrontational, but I think that when you take into account the publication Trannys Talk Back, the donuts, the streamers, and the rubber duckies that accompanied the signs, the whole thing felt kind of playful (though also serious too), and not angry or anything like that. I thought it was a pretty cool piece of activism. Not to mention delicious. Mmm, donuts.

The Mirrorball Man said...

I will agree there, and I made note of that to Icarus over AIM. I think Trannys Talk Back was one of the redeeming qualities because it was really awesome and educational. And the playful objects and donuts did have that kind of feel.

Honestly, if it were donuts, Trannys Talk Back, and some rubber duckies and streamers I would have been fine. It was the signs, which were everywhere, that I felt were very "We're fucking here. Accept it or get out."

You're right to say that it was an attempt to make the space more trans inclusive. But it just seemed, to me, to be a little overboard if only because of those signs.

Does that make any sense? Lol, wow, I REALLY hope nobody hates me or gets angry at me personally about this. Honestly, if you think any less of me after this conversation, talk to me in person because I PROMISE it's a miscommunication due to communicating over a blog (and not in a conversation).

JSmithua said...

:-D No hard feelings. And I'm sorry for misquoting you about the "explosion" vs. "confusion" thing. However, I stand by what I said. You were hating on an organization that deserves more than the typical mainstream critique. It was almost like you were saying "oh those queers, they sure know how to cause a rucous" when that really isn't what we're about... and the rucouses created over our organization, in general, are misquotations and the same hyperbole that you say you hate. I was just trying to point out that it seemed that what you wrote agrees with the assertion that queers do have a "martyr complex". To be honest, I think we could have made a bigger deal out these issues if we had truly wanted to. Anyways, sorry for being mean. Maybe it's because I'm "graceless and belligerent" by nature... lol.

wannatakethisoutside said...

I am sorry if you responded to my post as one where I implied that you were ignorant. That was not the intent at all. I was, in fact, trying to say that I was ignorant and not understanding.

I appreciated your explanation of an event that seemed like going too far, however, in this case, I disagree for several reasons.

First of all, TTB was not run by the BGLTSA. The BGLTSA co-chairs and RC chairs did not know about it until the day that it happenned. Therefore, it's hard to say that it was BGLTSA.

Secondly, and maybe this is because I am partial to food, I guess I found that anything that contained free donuts, rubber duckies, streamers, lights, etc. didn't seem like it was angry or mean to me. I guess I thought the "we are here" message was appropriate given the situation that who a lot of people I knew saw as their closest friends writing things like "I don't 'get' people like you" and/or "I don't know any people like you."

I know one person specificly who was planning to come out as genderqueer and start using non-gendered pronouns that week but decided it was unsafe for hir because people ze was close to were all very involved in a discussion that ze saw as invalidating. Email is a crappy mode of communication, and there was no positive response to the bravery of the anonymous posts.

I think that taking over physical space was great.

Finally, I was hoping to understand how BGLTSA was beligerant in a way that made it perceived that way to the campus or larger community as a whole. There was not a single news story about TTB in the Crimson (I have no idea why). I don't think that it is going crazy far to have a message "we are here" (and, as I interpret it, "we like you" which is communicated through food and ducks.)

In fact, "we are here and we like you" seems like the least radical possible message.

If the only way people can make themselves visible is in the middle of the night, I'm fine with that. The RC already always has "signs" that gay and lesbian people are there all the time, and often bi people too. Take a look at the books, movies and magazines, and realize how easily people say the word "gay" in the room, and it will be clear.

Given that people on an email list seemed to be unclear as to whether or not trans people were there (again, no one was unclear over whetehr or not gay people were there. why not?), a "we are here" response seemed like a good one.

Incidentally, the event received no bad press. Its only press was on Gender Talk in the National Coalition for Transgender Equality and on trans lists and in trans groups accross the country. The physical packet has spread and been used in dozens of trainings and events, and seems to have been a big hit.

Even though TTB wasn't done by BGLTSA, it seems to be something that harvard students have really contributed to the national community.

Also, I would love to talk in person about TTB, but also about the "beligerant" politics of BGLTSA in general because it's something I'm really interested in.