Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Backsassin' a Feminist

Note to readers: Before you read this post, and the one before, go read Time to Bring Back BACKSASS, which serves as an introduction to my comments about both Raven and Christine, who posted to/about me at the Civil War Memory blog.

Following The Raven's, um, pithy and cogent post (smirk) already dealt with here, Christine M. Smith posted:

I'm sorry, but I can't help but "throw my oar" in on this one. Let's hear it for "the pernicious fallout of the sexual revolution" and "the dark underbelly of of radical feminism".
By all means! Let's hear it for hating men. Let's hear it hating them, but wanting to be like them. Let's hear it for joining with Jessica Valenti in making sluthood respectable! Let's hear it for inventing the phony "rape culture" on college campuses. Let's hear it for mindless hookups and one-night-stands. Let's hear it for women moving into every aspect of the job market and taking jobs from men -- except for the dangerous ones (men still constitute 94% of workplace deaths and 97% of military combat deaths). Let's hear it for putting our college men into "re-education" classes to teach them to hate their masculinity and define themselves as dangerous rapists. Let's hear it for "title-nining" men's collegiate sports out of existence to accomodate women who aren't interested in sports.

Let's hear it for killing a million preborn babies every year -- just in the USA. Let's hear it for the fatherless family, which results in some of the worst social pathologies in our culture:

85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God's Children.)
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978)
70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)

These statistics translate to mean that children from a fatherless home are:
5 times more likely to commit suicide.
32 times more likely to run away.
20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
14 times more likely to commit rape
9 times more likely to drop out of high school.
10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances.
9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution.
20 times more likely to end up in prison.

Gimme a break.

Christine continues:

Look at all they have done for Connie. They have given her life meaning and purpose AND also, might I add, helped her to be able to do write what she writes. Sure we had women writers before the SR and RF, but we have many more now that we've had it and they are writing the gamut from "literary" fiction ( always hate to use that term because I'm never quite sure that all fiction isn't literary in some way) to erotica!
This is hilarious. First, my life was given meaning and purpose by God, and the meaning and purpose was given depth and richness by family, work and interests. Some godless, leftist philosophy with the hatred of men at its core doesn't impart meaning or purpose -- at least, not any worth having.

No feminist helped me to write what I write, except, perhaps, by providing the model for the antagonist in Southern Man.

If more women can write now, it's because men have made it possible. In the 20th Century, men invented labor-saving devices that freed housewives from the drugery of housework, freeing them up to go to school or take jobs and yes, write novels. So if you write -- thank a man for inventing everything that made it possible to write in the past -- machinery to harvest trees for paper, and the labor of the harvesting; the printing press (Thanks, Mr. Gutenberg), book-binding, typewriters, offset printers, vehicles for shipping books, and more... These were the work of men. M. E. N, men. And men make it possible to write the way we do today. Men invented computers, the Internet, industrial laser printers, Look around you; nearly everything you see was invented by a man or men. Women may write, thanks to men -- but they don't invent. Sorry, they just don't.

Somewhere in there Connie falls and she has a right to write what she does.
Yes, I do. I know that distresses folks like you. It really sticks in your craw for people you don't believe deserve praise or honor (for example, Southern white men, unless they're bleeding heart liberals) to be praised or honored. You know what? Tough.
However, this quote from her web page from her book pretty much says it all:
Quotables from Southern Man
“I know it hurts you to think there are people who believe you did what you’re accused of. But they’re not our people. ... They’re the people who hate you, anyway, because you’re a Christian man, and you have a family you love and take care of. They’re the people who want me to support myself, they want the government to raise the children, and they want you to disappear. Don’t give their opinions any weight, not any, for one second longer.”
Patty Stevenson to her husband, Troy
This quote, while taken out of context, perpetuates the ideas elsewhere on her page. She is always seeking to lay blame, couching it in the less than subtle terms as "the other".
Always? Really? Always? My, my. I do believe Christine has fallen into The Raven's habit of making judgments about huge things based on a tiny sampling that may not even be representative. Take, for example, this quote. Seventy-four words out of a 120,000-word novel that she hasn't even read. Thus, she doesn't know that the protagonist's wife is the one who "blames others" -- and vocalizes it only two or three times. The protagonist, Troy Stevenson, puts most of the blame on ... himself. It's called "personal responsibility" or "taking responsibility for your own actions". What a letdown, huh, Christine? I know that disappoints you.
And because this is still America, she has every right to do so. Others have the right to disagree. She makes it terribly hard for people who want to write substantive works of fiction about the south, to do so.
This is the funniest thing in her entire post, simply because I've been here before. You gotta hear this folks.

Years ago, I was in an internet chatroom with a bunch of critics of the Confederacy and disapprovers of Southern heritage. This was back when I was publishing my original 180 Degrees True South e-zine. One day a young fellow who was a member there (who, incidently, hated my guts) -- I'll refer to him as X -- posted:

You know, I'd have a lot more respect for the neo-Confederates if they would just be honest about the Confederacy and stop with the "happy darkie" stories and the ole " the north had slavery too" argument. It's all shallow and historically dishonest.

It seems to me they could take the moral high ground and admit to the negatives while still honoring the common soldier, but that's just me. I think the League of the South and other neo-confederate groups are making it very hard for people like me to be proud of our confederate ancestors. I think there is a big difference between honoring the common solider (sic) and worshiping (sic) at the alter of the League of the South.

Well, that just begged for commentary in One-Eighty, so here's what I wrote:

... don'tcha really, really wonder how the League "makes it hard" for X to honor his Confederate ancestors? I'm trying to picture how they do that. I'm trying real hard. Do you suppose, every time he starts to feel a little Confederate pride creeping up on him, a couple of dudes from the League, wrapped in trenchcoats with the collars turned up and fedoras pulled down over their eyes, come to his house and break his thumbs? No? Then how do you suppose they do it?

If X wants to honor his Confederate ancestors, there's nothing stopping him. Nothing, zero, zilch, nada. He can do it, if he wants to, no matter what the League does -- or doesn't do. He can do it whether the League even exists or not. Pardon me for stating the obvious like this, but some folks have blinded themselves to the obvious and you sometimes have to point it out.

Any proSoutherners out there amongst my readership who "worship at the altar of the League of the South"? Well, tell me about it, will ya? I wasn't even aware that the League HAD an altar....

I find myself in the same hilarious situation with Christine. Now, would anybody out there care to venture a guess as to how I make it hard for people who want to write substantive works of fiction about the south, to do so? Does Southern Man give off some kind of vibration that causes people's hands to swell up, like Chris Pine in Star Trek, so that they can't type? Maybe she thinks *I* use a crystal ball, chicken bones or Miss Cleo, to determine who is contemplating writing "substantive works of fiction about the south" -- and then call 'em, write 'em or email 'em with the dire warning, "If youse knows what's good for youse, youse'll stop tinking about writin' that "substantive work of fiction about the sout'." Or... "You write-a substantive work-a fiction about-a the south, I break-a you face..."

No, the fact is, this claim of hers is utterly risible. I am not making it "terribly hard for people who want to write substantive works of fiction about the south, to do so," or for anyone to write anything about anything.

What this is, ladies and gentlemen, is a very transparent (and totally ineffective) attempt to put the chill on make me feel guilty about preventing the writing of "substantive fiction" about the South; to bring on pretzelizing attacks of guilt and remorse so I'll stop this glorification of Southern men, stop being so pleased with my region, its history and culture, and don the race-and-slavery hairshirt liberals think is the proper attire for generational Southerners. The answer is no.

Backsass -- Quoth the Raven

ThERAven writes

(Quoting me) "There probably wouldn’t be any links to Southern Unionists on my page...."

And why is that?

Well, The Raven, I probably wouldn't put links to Southern Unionists on my page because I'm not interested. There are lots and lots of causes I'm just not interested in, and that's one of 'em. Capisci?

She continues:

That's right, Connie Chastain writes romance and "southern fiction", such as "southern Man", which "reveals the pernicious fallout of the sexual revolution, the dark underbelly of radical feminism". An anti-feminist, middle-aged woman living in rural Alabama? I'm shocked.

You're shocked? Well, no, actually, what you are, The Raven, is a bigot. A triple bigot, actually. You're prejudiced against (1) middle aged women, (2) rural folk and (3) Alabamians. It's always people who are quickest to point fingers and call others bigots who turn out to be the biggest bigots of them all. Although I have to wonder what this has to do with me, my novel and my website. I'm not middle-aged; I'm a Boomer. And I don't live in rural Alabama. I haven't lived in the Heart of Dixie since Nixon was in the White House. I live in west Florida, in an MSA with a population of roughly 500,000. Hardly rural.... And while I am adamantly opposed to radical feminism (that's the phrase on my website, The Raven -- radical feminism), I support women's rights. Betcha didn't know there's a difference, didja? Perhaps you need to have you reading comprehension skills tested and bolstered....

Folks, when you are dealing with critics, like The Raven here, who just make crap up as they go along, you have to realize, they don't care about truth and reality. They have talking points they must push...

She sez:

This is how you describe yourself: I'm a ninth-generation Southerner. Born in Georgia, I grew up a preacher's kid in Alabama, attended Alabama Christian College (now Faulkner University) and married a Louisiana boy....I'm a culturally conservative Christian but I don't write Christian romances, per se. I do write from a Christian worldview and with the motives of undergirding traditional morals and advancing noble and virtuous ideals.....the reason I write is to honor such men; in fact, to glorify them ... particularly Southern men, who are so often unfairly maligned in popular culture.

Looks like there's generations of fundamentalist Christian denialism running through your family tree, and all over your website. Charitably, I'd call that "marketing". You write pablum for nitwits. It ain't illegal, but don't confuse Levin's blog, or Andy Hall's or any other contentious provider of historical inquiry with "pop culture".

Oh, my -- to paraphrase Fritz Hollings, "There's too much assumin' going on heah!" -- not to mention a whole lot more bigot-ing. Folks, don'tcha just gotta wonder how she knows there's "generations of fundamentalist Christian denialism" running through my family tree -- based on reading sixty-one words? How do you suppose she knows that? Crystal ball? Chicken bones? Collect call to Miss Cleo? Or did she put her hands on her computer monitor and the "knowledge" just flowed up her arms and into her brain? In any case, she is claiming knowledge she can't possibly have -- claiming to know the religious beliefs of nine generations of a family, most of whom are long since deceased....

And exactly how does she conceptualize "fundamentalist Christian denialism"? Does she really have a problem with traditional morals? Does she find noble, virtuous ideals offensive? If morality, nobility and virtue is "pablum for nitwits," then what does she approve of? Meatier stuff for lofty intellects... like iniquity? Exploitation? Baseness? Hedonism?

And where did she get the notion that I was confusing "Levin's blog, or Andy Hall's or any other contentious provider of historical inquiry with 'pop culture'"? Maybe The Raven's concept of "pop culture" is confined to civil war blogs, but that's just more erroneous "assumin'." (She seems to have an unlimited capacity for assumin', doesn't she, folks?) According to Wikipedia, the current meaning of "popular culture" is "culture for mass consumption, especially originating in the United States." Currently, blogs are too new to be more than a blip on the pop-culture radar screen, although that will likely change as the digital era progresses. However, when I say "pop culture" I'm talking about TV, movies, books, music, magazines, etc. And in those segments of the popular culture, Southern men -- Southern white men, anyway -- have indeed been disproportionally and unfairly maligned.

The Raven continues:

You want a real southern man? A man who exemplifies (your words)....real men who struggle not with imaginary foes, but the real demons that plague the human family. Give me heroes who are the flesh and blood sons of Adam struggling to live up to the nobility of human nature and harness their less noble components. The best heroes are tough, sweet, loving men who take their responsibilities seriously -- men of principle, men of courage...

Real demons, you say? Look no farther than Robert Smalls, whose life is practically beyond imagination. Smalls is a real southern hero. Confederate traitors, starting with Lee, only deserved the end of a rope. Smalls fought hard, beat the odds, demonstrated courage under fire and went on to show great, almost saintly levels of compassion towards former oppressors. Smalls, like the 44th President of the United States, was a genuine Christian. Far more so than those who brandish the label.

This part was really fun to read. It's another example of this woman running off at her mouth about somthing she knows nothing about -- although, if she had checked out my website a bit more thoroughly, and watched the second video on the page for Southern Man, perhaps she would have caught on. (Or not.) My comments about men who struggle with real demons rather than imaginary foes is a reference to the sub-genre of paranormal romance, for which I have limited patience. You know, the novels featuring a were-wolf hero, or a vampire-hero or a space-alien hero or a demon-hero... I even read once about a hero who was a "were-python." No joke. It completely escapes me how these imaginary monstrosities could be considered romantic...

In any case, the "real demons that plague the human family" that I'm talking about on my website, and write about in my novels, are human frailties and weaknesses. In the case of Troy Stevenson, the protagonist of Southern Man, the demon is alcohol, and he faces it down and overcomes it, with the help of God, his faith, his family and his friends. This is the kind of pablum for nitwits that I write -- overcoming personal weaknesses and failings. Obviously, The Raven doesn't recognize the demons that plague humanity-- unless they have an element of racial oppression to them.

More from The Raven:

This is truth vs. lies. Robert Smalls ain't exactly in the SVC honor roll. Your so-called "traditional morals" were used to sanction slavery and here you are, ten years into the 21st century, a volunteer SVC propagandist. You've got a vested interest in ignorance. I understand you've got to earn a living, so go write your pulp nonsense.

Once again, I have to wonder how she knows what MY traditional morals are -- but does she really think a man and wife committed to each other in love, and committed to raising good, decent children is a sanctioning of slavery? Because that's partly what I mean by traditional morals. Is a man committed to making his community better somehow "sanctioning slavery"? Because that's also part of my concept of traditional morals. How about living up to the principles of honesty, integrity, and personal responsibility? Is that sanctioning slavery? I'll freely admit it -- I'm completely mystified by what The Raven would consider "traditional morals." However she may conceptualize it, though, she needs to realize that she cannot mind-read what this term means to others and stop projecting her erroneous concept onto them.

Her parting shot:

Just don't expect anyone who thinks for a living to take you seriously.

Obviously, I don't have to worry about being taken seriously by The Raven. Anybody who lets their runaway emotions bounce them off the wall from one knee-jerk assumption to another -- as we have seen demonstrated here in her post to me -- is not thinking for a living.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time to bring back BACKSASS!

There's a fellow from New Jersey who has come South to teach Southern children their history.

He seems to have a special interest in the so-called "civil war," because he has a blog about it titled Civil War Memory, with the tagline, Reflections of a Civil War Historian & High School History Teacher.

I don't remember what first brought his blog to my attention a few months ago, but since then, I've visited there perhaps four or five times and commented in four or five threads. Based solely on those few visits, I have made some observations and drawn some tentative conclusions, to wit, that Mr. Levin, the blogger, is extremely biased against the Confederacy -- and against anyone today who does not hold views about the war and the Confederacy that he approves of.

He has a handful of sycophants posting in his comment threads that he is nice to, but dissenters are met with thinly veiled hostility and demands for "proof" of their comments (some of which are simply opinion) -- demands that Mr. Levin usually doesn't require of himself or his satellites.

Recently, I participated in a thread about a commemoration of Jefferson Davis's inaugural in Montgomery sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, relating to the sesquicentennial of the war. I was met with the usual (erroneous) charges from the blogger -- that I was "adding nothing of substance" to the discussion -- and demanding that I provide proof of my opinions...

Just to give you an idea how slippery his demands are (follow along here, you'll see), I commented on his observation that "...the Sons of Confederate Veterans can muster little more than a few hundred people from its ranks to commemorate the inauguration of Jefferson Davis." You can read his entire post here:

Notice who he is talking about now. The Sons of Confederate Veterans -- people from the organizations ranks. Got that? File it away, we'll get back to it.

I expressed the opinion that,

"...what appears to be disinterest or distancing from events like this one, and from celebrations, commemorations and even positive or neutral acknowledgments of the Confederacy, are largely the result of an insidious encroachment on free thought and free expression in the United States that took hold in the latter decades of the previous century. It’s called political correctness. (Also note that the economy and the appalling unemployment rate are factors in keeping people from traveling to such events.)

Political correctness can cost a person their job, their livelihood. It can cause high school students public humilation, even when they’ve done nothing wrong, and intended — and caused — no harm to anyone. But it is most at home on the campuses of U.S. colleges and universities. I dunno, maybe there’s something about the academic mentality that cozies up to a mental/political/social/cultural Procrustean bed.

It’s kinda McCarthyism in reverse — but it’s amazing that some of the same people who’d get pretzelized over those victimized by McCarthyism are blasé, or even approving, of those McCarthied by political correctness…

His response:
You apparently don’t know the first thing about the First Amendment. I fail to see what any of this has to do with this post. Either say something relevant or go somewhere to post this nonsense. I am getting tired of your little rants. All you seem to do is criticize, but not once have you added anything substantive to the discussion. This is your final warning.
Oooooh, the big bad blogger had given me a "final warning!" (Gasp!)

A visitor chided him for the double standard he exhibited toward me and another commentor and he replied, "My response to Connie is based on a number of interactions on this site. On a number of occasions I had to delete comments that were personally insulting."

Well, this is not true, and I couldn't resist pointing out that since the posts were gone, "there’s no way to know now whether they were personally insulting or not. However, I contest the charge. I don’t deny they may have been insulting — I’d say justifiably so — but not personally insulting. You just don’t like being disagreed with."

I also defended my knowledge of the First Amendment, followed by:

To summarize — you mentioned that there isn’t much participation in SCV events, they’re falling short in their efforts of Confederate commemoration, and failing to make their case in the court of public opinion. I simply explained a huge part of the reason for that — the stranglehold political correctness has taken on this country in the past several decades.

Do you truly not see that I was offering an explanation for what you observed? How do you conclude that supplying an explanation for your observations is somehow irrelevant? You may not agree with the explanation, but that doesn’t make the explanation irrelevant.

Yes, I am adding something substantive to the discussion. That you may not like it doesn’t mean it isn’t substantive. And, I note, criticism when deserved certainly is substantive.

Now. Go ahead and wield that delete button.

Pay close attention, folks, because what I'm about to show you next is an example of how this fellow works. As is perfectly clear from my post (and indeed, from what he originally posted that I was responding to) he narrows the subject down to give it an entirely new meaning that it didn't have in his original post, or my subsequent response.

My comment was that the SCV and its supporters were few in number because of the possibility that political correctness could cause problems. Anyone who knows any thing about PC knows how that works. For example, getting mendaciously written up in the Southern Poverty Law Center's so-called "Intelligence Report" as a violent, inbred, scum-sucking racist can get you expelled from school, fired from your job, etc. That's just an example, though, and as another example, I included a link to The, ( an organization that defends against encroachments of free expression on college campuses.

So, Mr. Levin replies:

So, what evidence do you have that some some vague notion of PC is responsible for their lack of involvement in yesterday’s commemoration? Keep in mind that even if their absence was due to their concerns about the political consequences that does not imply PC. Politicians are always concerned about public perception. We don’t need the SCV to remind us of this. It’s also possible that some public officials white/black disagreed with the scope of the event. By the same token we could also argue that the overwhelming support by public officials in 1961 was also POLITICALLY CORRECT since they understood that their attendance would likely translate into votes.

Which means we are back to the starting point and that is why your argument lacks substance.

Well, duh. Who said anything about PUBLIC OFFICIALS (to borrow his use of screaming caps)? I didn't narrow my comments to them. Neither did he, in his original post. In fact, his point was all about the lack of a turn out on the part of SCV MEMBERS.

When I again attempted to point out the chilling effects of political correctness (which he evidently confines to the concept of politicians doing things to get votes), he again attempted to confine the lack of participation to public officials, or "civic leaders":

So, you don’t know that the lack of participation was the result of a disagreement with the day’s proceedings. Do you believe that the decision of African American civic leaders can also be explained by political correctness. I guess based on this reasoning that everything can be explained this way. What a revelation.
What I'm passingly curious about is whether he realizes he's attempting to manipulate the thread to misconstrue my point. This man is an academic. He ought to recognize what he's doing. On the other hand, it's possible he truly doesn't see what he's doing. In any case, when you are trying to communicate with someone who is determined to not only misunderstand and misconstrue, but to erroneously restrict the subject matter in order to score points, there's not much point in continuing the discussion.

So enough of the blogger. However, earlier in the comments thread, someone else posted something to me which lead the thread off into an area that, in the words of Bugs Bunny, "could pwoove to be fun!"

Someone named Robert Moore asked me,

"As an aside, I’m curious, Ms. Chastain, If there were an organization dedicated to the perpetuation of the memory of Southern Unionists, would you have a link to it under your “ProSouthern Links” section of your webpage? What about the simple “leave-aloners”… if there was an organization for them? What about Southerners who opted for the blue uniform?
I admit to being a bit surprised that someone who hangs out on such a "scholarly" blog (smirk) would check out the romance-author website of little ol' moi... But I replied:
There probably wouldn’t be any links to Southern Unionists on my page, but it would depend on what their website said. My people are from the mountains of north Georgia, which is said to have given a lot of support to the Union.

As for Southerners who opted for the blue uniform, you may include my GG-grandfather in that group. He was a Confederate soldier who was evidently captured, took the oath of allegiance to the Union and joined the Union Army. Family legend says he was sent “out west” to “fight Indians.” He is buried on a hillside in Gilmer County, Georgia; his headstone is carved with “A. J. Hensley, Lieutenent, 12 Tennessee Cavalry.” He was proud of his Union service and would wear his uniform to court day in Ellijay for years after the war. As a teenager, I joked about being more embarrassed by him than by the unwed mothers in my ancestry, but in fact, his descendants were proud of him.

Mr. Moore, I am proud of America’s men in uniform, even if I don’t agree with every imperial mission their government sends them on around the world. It is quite possible to honor soldiers without honoring every aspect of their mission.

And that's how it stood for over 24 hours, until I was notified by e-mail that there were new comments on the thread, one from "The Raven" and one from "Christine, " which included direct copy-pastes from my writer's website & blog, and I knew I'd have to comment on my CW Memory experiences here on One-Eighty. (The Raven? As in "Nevermore"? Christine? Red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury? I begin to feel like I'm in some kind of cockamamie horror flick, ha!)

Incidently, before I wrote this post, I checked several pages at Mr. Levin's blog for a copyright notice. I didn't see one, so I went ahead and copied-pasted here some of the comments from Mr. Levin, Mr. Moore and myself. If there is a copyright notice and I missed it, and if Mr. Levin wishes me to remove the copy-pastes here, I will be glad to do so and replace them with paraphrasing. All he has to do is send me the link to the page with the copyright notice on it.

However, everyone take note that MY webstite DOES have a notice on every page that reads, "Original Material © Copyright 2010 by Connie Chastain" and my blog shows, "Original Material Copyright 2008 - 2011 by Connie Chastain." Apparently, Ms. Raven (I assume her to be a woman based on her remarks) and Christine don't have a lot of respect for the concept of copyrights....

More to come, so stay tuned!

Backsass on the way!