December 18, 2007

The Casualties of Casual Dismissal

Let's see if we can walk through this one more time for clarity. Even if it's just my OWN clarity.

The problem with the Lane Hartwell sub-drama, where Mike Arrington cast Shelley Powers as a woman's-issue-obsessed fascist, is that his comment, if true -- which it isn't (Shelley will rail a woman as soon as she will a man) -- would mean Shelley is "a sexist." That's a silly and careless portrayal of Shelley's role in this space. Mike later gets to the crux of his problem with Shelley, that he finds her unpleasant. Those are two pretty different things.

There were many exchanges about whether Mike's remarks were sexist or careless or wrong or what. Especially on Twitter. All well and good.

Then, Eric Rice took Mike's comment and determined that it makes Mike "a sexist," which for the record, I do not believe it does. Characterizing someone else as sexist -- which is what Mike did with Shelley -- does not make him a sexist. Do you follow me?

The other problem is that now, Mike is looking at this whole sub-drama as Shelley and Company calling him a Sexist, which again, is turning the situation around and losing track of where the "hold-on-a-minute" began.

The other other problem is that Eric Rice did call mike a sexist in his video about what boycotting TechCrunch sponsors over this, and extrapolating from there larger questions on how we show our distaste to a Web 2.0 privately-held company that steps over the line ethically. It's a good question. But it also serves to take THIS PARTICULAR discussion, which started with Lane, into the stratosphere of open-ended meandering.

Apparently Eric twittered that a boycott was in order. I was not following Eric until after all of this started, but that's a mighty serious gauntlet to be throwing down on Twitter.

During the Kathy Sierra mess, I got emails from people who were contacting MY advertisers telling them not to advertise with me because I made de*a*th thr*e*ats (forgive me for not wanting to add more to my google cache). SO I have a sensitive spot there -- You don't do that shit unless you are ready to bring in the law with all of its force.

Besides, what would a web 2.o boycott look like -- oooo i'm not using idrive oooo. Boo!

I think a boycott would be useless anyway. Because the Larger Problem is not about Mike Arrington's gender concepts. It's that the web 2.0 and tech industries are littered with isms. Tell me there's anyone who doesn't get that yet.

And the larger LARGER problem for the blogosphere and twitterspehere is that a culture is developing -- thanks in part to time-saving, fragment-tossing platforms like twitter, that by design silence dissenting voices -- we have all become easy targets for extinction, the casualties of casual dismissal.

THAT's what bothered me about this situation, about what Mike said to Shelley, about what Mike and others said about Lane without asking Lane anything, and STILL DOES bother me.

The "you're just" mantra is getting way out of hand.

It is cultish and thought canceling.

Any voice that isn't Techmeme-vetted is so easily dismissed with the wave of the hand: She always takes the woman's side; he always piles on; she's just negative; he's just a troll; she's a suck-up, he's just a fascist.

READ: Stop being unpleasant. Stop being negative. Get with the program.

What that means is that the next conversation you take part in, your role has already been assigned, and you better fit it, or you will be reminded how you are supposed to behave.

That Shit Is Wrong. It's passive aggressive game playing, and those who execute it well to exclude differing opinions and critical thought ought not wonder why their victims get pissed off.

That's what's wrong with this thing for me.