In which I eat crow


A bit of housekeeping. I asked Chris Stedman about that whole business of my doing something not 100% unlike what Booly Wumblebee did the other day in the matter of Jen and her father. He replied honestly that he thought my self-repudiation should have been more public than comments. Fair enough!

It was June last year. The title was Helicopter parents. It was not my finest hour. I hadn’t even remembered it when I wrote the post about Kristina Hansen’s version. That’s one time when the obsessed haters who monitor my every word actually did get something right, and taught me something.

There are a lot of comments on the Helicopter parents post, but never mind that; they wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t written the post, and the blame is all mine.

Sorry, this all looks a bit self-obsessed and vain – you know, making a display of one’s scruples and so on. Ew. I hate that kind of thing. That’s not it – it’s because of what Chris very fairly and honestly said when I asked him.

I apologized to Toni Stedman at the time, and it didn’t occur to me that I should make that public. Now it’s public.

Now…if the pope starts getting family members to stick up for him when I go after him, I’ll be super-critical of them and I won’t apologize. But he’s the pope. I think that’s fair. Strict, but fair.

Comments

  1. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Ophelia:
    Apologizing like this is commendable.
    .
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    (why do I think some of your haters will try to twist this so they can criticize you?)

  2. Aratina Cage says

    It’s also what you didn’t say that sets your helicopter post apart from Booly Wumblebees. :) I don’t think I need to list what I am talking about.

    As for me, I’d be happy to have my parents on my side, especially in a political battle. And it works the other way around, too. I would not for one second hold my tongue if I saw my mother being disparaged as Jen has been, or if it was my father who was the target.

  3. jenniferphillips says

    Accountability and honor from an #FTBully–who’da thunk it?
    Well, me. I have read enough B&W over the years to know that Ophelia owns her mistakes much more forthrightly than many. Thanks for that, OB!

  4. Josh Slocum says

    Well, that does bear some re-thinking (“that” meaning my many comments on that post). With the distance of time and Jen’s recent experience I wouldn’t be nearly so persistently critical, so, yeah.

    On the other hand, I do think there’s a potential for false equivalence. I haven’t gone back to read the original non-BW thread where Toni Stedman stepped in, mind you. But was anyone abusing Chris the way people were abusing Jen? Was anyone calling him a FAGGOTY FAG FAGGOT to his mother? I don’t think that happened.

    Anyone being abused in that way should be supported. Full stop. Any parent would do what Mike McCreight did.

    It’s notthat Chris was being outrageously abused by bigots and threateners. He was being harshly called out for his political positions and actions. Yes, I think it’s totally normal for a parent to want to jump in to that. But that does not make Chris a victim of unhinged violent bigotry the way Jen was.

  5. says

    I asked Chris Stedman about that whole business of my doing something not 100% unlike what Booly Wumblebee did the other day in the matter of Jen and her father

    …There are a lot of comments on the Helicopter parents post, but never mind that; they wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t written the post, and the blame is all mine.

    Well, “not 100% unlike” is a fairly extreme concession. Insulting someone on a blog is not 100% unlike beating them up, but it’s substantially and meaningfully unlike it.

    As I said in the comments there, I don’t think parents – unless they’re independently involved in the debates – should join in to “defend” their children in heated disputes. It’s all too easy to think your child is being treated unfairly. (And on an occasion in which I thought people might be moving in the direction of meeanness toward Stedman, I made a point of saying something complimentary – which was true, but I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it otherwise. And I’m not related to him.) I also said that part of the problem in that case was that it was on FB, which merges public, professional, and private. The defense was understandable, but counterproductive and not recommended. Same thing for PZ and that other woman and her mother I mentioned there.

    That is not the situation here. The situation here is sickening. If people had been relentlessly attacking Stedman using homophobic slurs, calling him ugly, and so on, I would not only have supported his mother defending him but done so myself. We and Stedman/Croft/gang have flung some charges, but I don’t think the line between that and what women have faced over the past year is fine at all. That hasn’t been about harassment. Frankly, I’m annoyed that Stedman wouldn’t want to call attention to that qualitative difference between the two.

    It’s great that you apologized to Toni Stedman (for posting about it, but not really for the content). I do wish you’d be as generous and charitable with yourself as you are with people who just want to exploit those great qualities.

  6. Josh Slocum says

    But yes (and I should have said this above), I’ve learned a lesson about playing the “parental defense” card. I wouldn’t do it again and I’m sorry I did it last year.

  7. says

    SC @ 5 – Oh well Chris did say that when he replied to me – that the Bumblebee post was horrendous.

    No, I’m not saying what I did was comparable. But…looking back with the last few days for perspective, I don’t like it. I don’t like my doing a blog post about it. A dissenting comment on the relevant Facebook thread, fine, but a blog post – no. It was mean.

  8. julian says

    Ermahgerd!

    Shun the disbeliever! Shun!

    And then shun me because I think SC has a decent point about parents and how their perception of the situation may be warped when their child is distressed.

    But a blog, however private some moments should be kept, is still someone’s personal space (As is facebook) and if they wish to vent there I don’t see how you can fault them.

  9. says

    No, I’m not saying what I did was comparable. But…looking back with the last few days for perspective, I don’t like it. I don’t like my doing a blog post about it. A dissenting comment on the relevant Facebook thread, fine, but a blog post – no. It was mean.

    As I said, I do think it was good for you to apologize for that. (I don’t think I need to apologize since I’m not on FB and that was my only forum. I addressed PZ and – oh, that’s right – Christie Wilcox in context. But maybe it was a sort of fruit-of-the-meanness-tree thing and I shouldn’t have commented on the post at all…. Hmm. OK, I apologize to Toni and Chris Stedman, not for the content of what I wrote but for commenting in that context.)

  10. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    That’s one of the biggest differences between those who genuinely share the values of A+, even if they don’t necessarily identify as such: that we apologise. I can’t see Booly Wumblebee or any of her cronies admitting fault for anything they’ve done; it requires a level of empathy they’ve demonstrated they don’t possess.

  11. Stacy says

    (why do I think some of your haters will try to twist this so they can criticize you?

    They’ll be deeply upset, as the aptly named oh brother was with the other day’s Dawkins Disses Mormonism post, wherein Ophelia had the temerity to agree with Richard Dawkins about something and foolishly neglected to mention how she disagrees with him on other, unrelated, things.

    “How dare you people not behave like the hateful caricatures of you in my head!”

    Poor lad. Won’t somebody please think of the Hogglers?

  12. says

    To object to a parent defending a child is to define oneself as living in the playground where grownups taking sides is seen as unfair. There’s no need to apologize for something that diminished only your own dignity, but withdrawing the complaint does help to restore your position in the adult world.

  13. says

    No no no! That’s not the way you argue on the Internet. You’re meant obsessively defend every point, twist the meaning of your previous comments, and if necessary, redefine every word in the dictionary. This mea culpa business will get you nowhere.

  14. onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork says

    The willingness to apologize and admit you’ve made a mistake is a good thing*, but I wholeheartedly agree with Josh & SC that there is false equivalence here.

    Chris didn’t receive rape threats or death threats and a concerted effort to daily harass him, let alone cheer with delight when the harassment succeeded in driving a person offline, or mocking the person’s depression.

    Fierce opposition and public disagreement ≠ death threats

    *Totally somewhat tangentially-relevant anecdote: I was at court almost all of this week and when I finally got on the stand, the non-custodial parent’s attorney grilled me for 2 hours on paperwork errors in order to discredit my program. He was a little upset that I kept calmly stating: “No, that’s a mistake. That’s correct, that was a typo. I believe the paperwork was misplaced. No, that was a mistake on our part.” He did everything he could to make me get upset and defensive, but all I did was keep calmly admitting when there was an error. Of course, I run my program on a shoestring budget with less than 10 volunteers that could be anything from a college student to a retired engineer, so yeah, there will be errors. And our primary purpose is to keep kids safe, not to provide documentation for custody cases…but anyway. We DO make mistakes. And the adult thing is to admit that, attempt to rectify it, LEARN from it–and MOVE on.

    And in this case, again–I think the situations are much less than 100% identical, but good on you for admitting an error. Would that others could learn from your example.

    (…that was a little snarky, wasn’t it? :))

  15. Lyanna says

    Not familiar with the Chris Stedman thing, but that’s not really the point–I think you’re right to apologize if you said or implied that a parent sticking up for their grown offspring is necessarily “helicoptering.”

    I don’t think there are any special rules about when parents should defend their adult children. The situation need not rise to the Jen McCreight level before parents can say anything.

  16. birdterrifier says

    I understand why you wouldn’t want us to pay attention to the comments on that post and taking full blame. Those comments are full of sneering and posturing and it’s ugly to read. One year ago, everyone had picked sides against the accommodationists and that shows up in this thread.

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