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The trouble with Indymedia

These comments are in regard to an article from the "feature" section of the site, where the heading was listed as "THE TROUBLE WITH LIBERALS, PART XXXI." I think that making such a derogatory judgment in the heading is a fairly immature act on the part of whichever Indymedia volunteer posted this feature.
These comments are in regard to an article from the "feature" section of the site, where the heading was listed as "THE TROUBLE WITH LIBERALS, PART XXXI." I think that making such a derogatory judgment in the heading is a fairly immature act on the part of whichever Indymedia volunteer moved this article to the "feature" section.

I'm not taking sides in the whole liberal/radical debate, which I think is counter-productive to begin with. But if an Indymedia volunteer openly editorializes and posts headings such as that (which basically state "liberals are not welcome on this site") then they're rendering the whole concept pointless. Portland Indymedia is an important communication and information hub for the entire community, regardless of your political label. It's a forum where debates (like the one generated by the relevant article) can occur because there are a variety of people reading the content. Whichever individual wrote that heading apparently wants Indymedia to degenerate into a site for radicals to only preach to their choir or be annoyed by trolls. That would be kinda useless, don't you think?

Obviously Indymedia volunteers should be entitled to their opinions and beliefs, and feel free to express those. But I feel it's wrong for one of them to create headings (which should be non-judgmental) to use their bias to blatantly attack people whom they should be trying to educate. Indymedia volunteers perform a very valuable service for our community, but shouldn't abuse the power that they've been given.

I recommend 01.Oct.2003 15:54


Scoop-style user moderation of newswire stories for the center column. It works well for Kuro5hin :P

the trouble with one's own biases and assumptions 01.Oct.2003 16:03


I'm not saying I can't see how you could interpret the heading that way but I certainly didn't interpret it that way. I wonder if your interpretation stems from an already accepted notion that indymedia is a "radical" organization. The way I read it was that this is the latest in a long running debate between the "liberal" and "activist" or "radical" communalities. If anything, it could be seen as condescending toward the "radical" perspective. Was I alone in interpreting it this way? And for those who interpreted it as the author of this post did, did you already have notions that indymedia was run by a bunch of "radicals"?

communalities = communities, damn spellchecker 01.Oct.2003 16:07


that is all...

Thanks... 01.Oct.2003 19:03

a damn radical

I just wanted to say really quickly that I really appreciate you writing all that. It needed to be said. I may be considered a "radical," but I still see no reason why a media center like this should feel it's ok to be so judgemental like that.

reader 01.Oct.2003 19:06

radical writer

No, I think Indymedia is run by a bunch of people who think they are more "radical" than the rest of us, who they like to call the derogatory term "liberal" because we differ with their strategy (or lack of).

too radical? 01.Oct.2003 19:17

not radical or liberal

If this site is too radical for someone maybe they would be happier just reading cnn or fox.

But please, what is the "liberal strategy"? Go along with everything the neo-conservative republicans want but bitch about how things were and would have been so much better under a democrat president?

Indymedia is obviously an effective strategy or there wouldn't be people reading and posting here.

The real trouble with IndyMedia 01.Oct.2003 19:49


...is that IMC, especially the is a comfortable group of young white middle-class males, for the most part. And content bears this out. There are exceptions, but much of the information is recreational/comfortable in nature. When EMMA GOLDWOMAN comes here to discuss male privilege, she is treated as some kind of attacker-of-men. I don't blame her for not returning for so long. When women call out rapists, using the IMC for the stated purpose it claims to fulfill, "the purpose of sharing information and views that are blocked out or misrepresented by the corporate media; that is, to stand with the oppressed against the oppressors."
...then they are also treated much as rape survivors are treated in police departments. It's hard to believe that this is IMC sometimes. Apparently, women aren't oppressed. Who knew? Although such stories are incredibly important to the safety of the activist community and also are original compositions dealing with Portland specifically, none of the rapist-calling-out stories were ever featured.

In order to make the editorial positions more attractive to women, women would have to want to come here and find/write articles that *relate to them.* This is a real problem that many females I know have brought up independantly. The same goes for people of color. There is a huge number of african-americans in Portland that can relate personally to many issues here in IndyMedia, but the concerns here are often so "white"; like electoral politics or what michael moore says. Or stupid poems that push real articles off the front page. Yes, I said "stupid poems." Not that I hate poetry, but I believe that IndyMedia isn't an art collective (am I wrong?)

The democrats have mass media to share with the republicans. Let them have it. To spew what they do here is redundant. Let them learn a real alternative here, both politically and socially.

I think for IndyMedia to be truly useful, the commentors and especially the editors must look to themselves and reckon with their class privilege, gender privilege, sexual privilege and racial privilege. Because how truly different are things here when the editors look precisely like the editors at CNN (almost entirely white males)?

Well, GRINGO 01.Oct.2003 20:46


This IMC lost a female because of its affection for you-and-yours' quasi-religious ravings on the whole "rape" topic. But, I assume my opinion doesn't count because I'm a female with the wrong opinions. And I don't quote books or write 3 paragraphs for what's conveyed better in one sentence. Wanna talk about elitest, academic, male white privilege? I consider all your "rapist-culture" shout-downs of my perspective as a female living in this society the same as if you went to North Portland and condescended to lecture Black people on the fine points about how they should view their oppression. Fuck you and my previous friends who'll probably hide this post.

so you "Kiss the whip," as they say... 01.Oct.2003 23:25


...Some people learn to accept and even love their own oppression, out of sheer necessity. I don't blame you and I certainly won't try to dissuade you. Happily, it seems this IMC hasn't lost you since here you are commenting. I was a bit heavy-handed in some of my comments and that was wrong. My intent was to tell *men* about their gender privilege, something I can identify with them about. And no, I would never tell black people how to view their own oppression. But I would (for example) question why the white folks at the Liberty Hall choose to, in a predominately and historically black neighborhood, teach classes on banjo and Irish dancing, which I do consider a bit weird and condescending, and directly related to white privilege. Just my opinion.

My point is that I am dealing with my privilege the best I can, and I believe it is a progressive's duty to do that, yet I see precious little of that where it is most needed; white males. I think reaching out to ALL people is the best strategy. Perhaps I'm wrong - other people feel the need to keep it insular, keep it white, keep it punk, keep it folk, whatever. Maybe they're on to something. I respectfully disagree.

Gringo=White Male 01.Oct.2003 23:57


Gringo, why don't you get involved with the local IMC to solve all the problem that you attribute to it. I know that you don't participate in any of the actual volunteer work that makes Portland IndyMedia what it is. Maybe you could become a feature editor and promote your pet stories. Of course, you'd only add another "privileged white male" to the mix. I think you're losing your edge and turning from a quasi-luminary into a whiner.

My point is that I am dealing with my privilege the best I can 02.Oct.2003 04:57


From over here, it looks like you put a lot of effort into trying to make *other* people deal with your privilege the best way you can.

Many of them seem to think that the best way *they* can might be better than the best way you can.

For example, your attempts to tell men about their gender-privilege came across more like demands to renounce and to atone in manners satisfactory to you.

Your first mistake was to assume, against clear and persistent evidence, that men are unaware of their privilege.

The second was (apparently) to assume that men would recognize your divine authority and obey witthout hesitation.

The third was to assume that women like '--' would defer to your male-privilege.

I, too, am pleased to see '--' return.

btw Gringo 02.Oct.2003 05:32


You have a good little neo-liberal attitude toward art.

spices 02.Oct.2003 10:04


hey, do you know what's really "radical"? this morning while make up some breakfast for my girlfriend and i, i put quite a "liberal" amount of paprika on the onions and garlic before adding the potatoes. WHOA! it gave it a nice little zing. i said "these sure are some G.rand O.ld P.otatoes" i ate everything on my plate, my girlfriend was a little more "conservative" by saving half or hers to take to work for lunch. it was awesome. we also made some smoothies using some raspberries we got from the farmer's market near our house. anyways, the key to yummy cooking is all about spices ya know. bon apetit!

Holy Shit, Gringo 02.Oct.2003 10:22


I've never found myself on the other side of Gringo Stars before, but here I am. Gringo, you just accused a woman who didn't agree with you of kissing the whip. When, in fact, all she did was express her own thoughts. I guess those thoughts are better interpreted by you, though, than by her. I guess you are a better judge than she is about how she should respond to her own experiences. Yeh, she shouldn't be worrying her pretty little head, she's just an oppressed woman after all.

For the record, your assessment of indymedia as "a group of young, middle class white males" also offends me. It shows that you, like the men you accuse so readily of oppressing women, are ignoring the contributions of so many women to this site and this movement. Do you ever attend any indy meetings? Because I've never seen you at any of them, though admittedly I don't make them all. When I do attend, I see women and men, old and young, working side by side. Often, I see more women than men. You were quick to silence the first woman to respond to you, and you were quick to make assumptions about who is contributing to this site and who is not. Perhaps you need to spend a little more time examining your own need to ignore and oppress women and a little less railing at other people.

As for your accusations about how women are treated on this site, I beg to differ. People come here to tell their stories, and as with any commons, their contributions are scrutinized openly. We all feel free to respond to each other here, sometimes not as nicely as we might, but that's why we're here. We want to tell the stories that have been silenced, we want to hear other people's stories. We want people to listen to us, and we freely disagree when we need to. It's a healthy system. We don't always agree, and I certainly don't always like reading the nastier things people say to me here. But when I read them, I know people are listening. I know they are thinking about what I have to say. Sometimes, I learn from their comments, other times I dismiss them as the trolls they are. But I never feel oppressed as a woman here. Regarding whether women can come here and "find stories that relate to them," again I beg to differ. I'm here all the time, specifically because it's a place where I FINALLY find things that relate to me, as a human being. Not a bunch of pointless weight loss stories, stories about sports and weather and how great the King is. But our stories.

Finally, about the rape thing. I know, this is a big issue for you. I admire you for standing by the women in your life who have had this awful experience. I hurt for the obvious pain you express every time you write about this. I haven't said much in the past regarding these articles, but I'm just going to come out and say it. They make me feel uncomfortable too. I cringe when I read them, because I don't understand what you're doing with them. It really feels uncomfortable for me to read these lengthy diatribes about something I know nothing about. It seems like a really personal issue, with a personal vendetta, and you seem to be asking readers here to join you in denouncing the people you call out. When people question whether this is appropriate, you call them all oppressors, compare them to the cop who won't take seriously the story of a woman who is raped.

I call bullshit on that, at last. This is hard to do, because I really do empathize with you, I really appreciate your willingness to take on this subject and stand up for the women who have experienced this, and I usually admire your writing. But it just feels like you are asking us all to unquestioningly jump in and start beating someone we don't even know on the word of someone most of us have never even met. You're certainly free to express yourself here, tell your story. But understand this is no place to bear your naked soul if you're gonna be thin skinned about it. People think critically here, it' s one of the strengths of this site. And frankly, I don't care what someone is accused of, I'm not gonna just blindly follow the crowd with the torches and the pitchforks for anyone, not even you Gringo.

In short, I love your writing and I want you to keep contributing to this site. But you need to be straightened out with regard to your belief that you are speaking for women when you attack indymedia. Especially when the basis of your attack seems to be that not enough of us picked up the stone when you started naming names.

Don't make "oppressor" as irrelevant as "anti-semite", Gringo 02.Oct.2003 10:31

another woman

You, yourself have pointed out, Gringo, that too many people sling the label "anti-semite" out at people criticizing the atrocities committed by the state of Israel. It's robbed the term of all meaning. Please don't do the same to the "oppressor" label. People do oppress others. Men do oppress women. When it happens, it does need to be called out. But don't just sling it haphazardly at anyone who crosses your path. It's a really awful thing to accuse someone of, because it's a really awful thing to be. Be a little more careful before you use it on people who don't deserve it. That way, when we hear the term oppressor, we will know what you mean, and we won't have to doubt it.

For my part, I'm a woman who reads indymedia all the time. I love this site, and I don't feel alienated by it.

True, I speak only for myself... 03.Oct.2003 20:22


...and the women I speak on behalf of (because IndyMedia makes them uncomfortable now) are only a small handful of females. And I have only heard of IndyMedia meetings from those who have attended, and the gender lop-sidedness is something I have only heard about from trusted friends, not experienced personally. I'm just calling them like I see them, as always. And when I say something as callously descriptive as "kissing the whip" it should be noted that not all classes experience sexism the same. All things are relative, and it is common for non-working class women to enjoy true equality these days, and that is an excellent thing. I wish such thoughts as "--"'s were universal.

My point is that this is a progressive newswire, and I count on it (perhaps unrealistically) to act differently than a corporate news outfit (especially where rape is concerned, for example). And many reactions I have seen here were very corporate in nature. My point is that activism is not at all about being comfortable. It is about facing problems and ignorances within *yourself* as well as people with power. Yes, Bill, I force other people to deal with *their* privilege. As long as the activist community remains cop-free it will demand another system of enforcing tenets of basic human decency, or it will remain the playground wonderland for rapists that it now is.

Bill, many men here know of their privilege, but not all men know how it manifests itself, and how their actions affect others. I tell them. I know; I'm an asshole usually. My apologies. I should let people stew in their confortable sexism I suppose, while they proclaim their lack of sexism? Should people let others be comfortably oppressive? btw, what is a "neoliberal attitude about art" - Truthfully, I am not quite smart enough to know what you even mean by that. As for your list of my mistakes, you jumped to illogical and untrue conclusions. Either that or it was just ad hominem, I can't tell.

Males are oppressors - It is socially ingrained. Sometimes activists are better at recognizing and checking their own oppressive nature, sometimes not. I am obviously an overbearing type, used to running things, etc. I try to check my own such behaviour. I often do - sometimes I don't. I apologise for that and truly feel bad about it. But I have used the word "oppressor" as it pertains to gender almost entirely when talking about *rapists,* which I don't think is pushing anything too far, do you? Even when used to describe non-rape behaviour, my use of the word "oppressor" still means precisely what it does before I was born;
"1.to crush or burden by abuse of power or authority
2 : to burden spiritually or mentally : weigh heavily upon"

I don't think IndyMedia needs any more opinionated white males in editorial spots. The quota is more than filled. I appreciate that in the last call for meetings, women were specifically invited, but actions speak louder than words, and according to trusted friends of mine (and no, not myself personally) there is a lot more that could be done to encourage more female involvement than there already is.

In the threads discussing rape, not I nor anyone else (to my knowledge) ever asked anyone to "start beating someone" or follow anyone "with pitchforks and torches" as CatWoman said. They were announcements from some women to all others about their personal experiences. It was a "look out for this guy" that will be the difference (for women now and in the future) between getting raped or not, depending on whether the reader takes it seriously or not and chooses not to heed warnings borne out of hard experience. IndyMedia is the ALTERNATIVE - It is PROGRESSIVE - It is ACTIVE. So when it gets used thusly, and people get uncomfortable, so be it. This is the price of being different from the comfortable consumerist oppressive world that most people who frequent this site seem to strive to live apart from. When someone acts *precisely* like cops, is it bad to mention as much? Why should a person remain ignorant of their cop-like tendencies when we have established how harmful such a mentality is?

Finally; I am a whiner certainly. All I've ever done is whine about rape, war, genocide, corporatism, racism, etc. I don't differ much from many others who post here in that regard. And I greatly respect a alot of you here for that, CatWoman, etc. I learn the most when I start feeling uncomortable, and I hope when other people start feeling that way they then question themselves as well as others.

another indy activist reply 03.Oct.2003 21:36

indy activist

hey gringo -- i, too, often appreciate your writing on this site and the radical perspective you bring to things. i'm a white guy who helps out with the indymedia website, but i've stopped attending meetings, and no longer do organizing for indymedia. this was partially because i wanted to do other things, but partially because i wanted to take emma goldwoman's advice and "step aside" to help unlopside the gender imbalance that has sometimes existed with indymedia.

for the record, there has been more than one call for volunteers for indymedia over the last year that has specifically invited women. that was one of the main points when forming the video group last year, for example, and it worked. the videos produced for the public video showings has not been dominated by men at all, as a result.

also for the record, the problems with patriarchy, abuse, etc., that have plagued other activist circles in portland have not visited indymedia. for one thing, indymedia is a tactic, not an organization, and so is only a loose confederation of people, some of whom know each other, but for another, there's always been a mix of genders and ages and sexual preferences that has kept things from getting too dominated by any one mindset. the youngest person with a press pass is 10. the oldest is 50+ (maybe 60 -- i never asked).

as for the writing on the site, most of the time the gender of the person writing can only be assumed. many names used in the "author" blank are non gender-specific and there's not always enough clues/cues in the writing to make an assumption. portland indymedia is the only indymedia site that has featured commentary such as emma goldwoman wrote, and there were many many complaints about that from the readership. other features have addressed specifically female issues or sexism, too.

among the people, over time and currently, who upload features to the center column, there is no ideological aggreement, except that indymedia should be a free-flowing place where the readers provide the writing for the center column, not a select group of editors/writers(such as is the case at nearly all the other indymedia sites). there are female activists working with IMC who disagree strongly with your views on sexism and how accusations of rape should be handled in the community. there are men whose beliefs are close to yours. there are some of us who approach things from different directions entirely.

there's much more that could be said about how this indymedia works that is converse to your cliams, but that oughta be enough for now.

anyway, gringo -- all this was an attempt to be polite about the fact that you're basically talking out of your ass when you talk about indymedia, and you're being called out on it. keep up the good work and contributions onother topics,though -- i'm one of many people who enjoy your contributions.

It's good to hear that things have changed 03.Oct.2003 22:22


Glad to hear that women volunteer more than they used to. I also hope that people of color and working-class volunteers are also as prevalent as you say women now are in PDX IMC volunteer ranks. Reaching out to ALL people is the best single way to spread the word(s) that don't get any play in corporate media. There are concrete reasons why anti-state african-americans and anti-state european-americans do not work together, and I think they should also be addressed.

IndyMedia is a good resource and has vast potential, no matter where things stand. *Indy Activist,* please do not hold back; I would like to hear how Indymedia works converse to my claims. I was raised with a radical feminist point of view, and say nothing new that many females haven't already said (and they said it much better, obviously) - and my disappointment with the usual reaction here to radical feminist points of view is something that I never expected, given the intent of IndyMedia; "the purpose of sharing information and views that are blocked out or misrepresented by the corporate media; that is, to stand with the oppressed against the oppressors." I do uphold radical viewpoints at the expense of liberal and conservative viewpoints, but I consider that to be a productive thing.

Hello Again, GRINGO 03.Oct.2003 23:24


By all means, continue sharing radical feminist viewpoints. And yes, sometimes people need to feel uncomfortable before they start thinking. So keep making people uncomfortable when you need to. As will I....

Seriously, your contributions are appreciated even if your assumptions about indymedia aren't correct.

Looks like this is a Gringo thread 04.Oct.2003 05:29


Sometimes Gringo is a bit heavyhanded, but women need men to really be involved in this issue. Some of us used to have men in our lives who would take a gun to anyone who would harm us. Say what you will about that, but it was something. Now we have nothing. Everytime a woman is abused or raped, someone's mother, sister, wife, daughter, girlfriend or friend is treated like trash, and traumatized. For the most part, we handle it alone. It is difficult to do what Gringo is trying to do. If it weren't, more men would be up to the task. Thanks for trying.

well, Gringo 04.Oct.2003 05:54


If you can't see it, you can't see it. Nobody can work another's recovery.

You know, you keep saying you are trying to push people (for example) left. People keep moving right. People keep telling you that you are pushing right. The solution is not to push harder; but stop and figure out how you are pushing wrong.

The fact is you do not "force other people to deal with *their* privilege". You try to force them to deal with your issues. People end up dealing with you.

Being an asshole is not the same as challenging people's comforts. It is the same as being an asshole. And it usually confirms to them their righteous privileges.

As for the alleged rapist, if you are refering to the thread which I participated a few months ago, you said a lot more than, "look out for this guy". You said something closer to, revile and ostracise this guy.

On top of that, when people replied we can't do that without evidence, anymore than we can murder babies in Baghdad, you replied (just like Bush) with, I said so and I say there are people who said so.

You are still calling people names for disobeying you.

Above up there, you defend your own use of metaphor, and demand that people understand that metaphor the same way you do. You seem to have no conception that others' life-experiences might dictate a different understanding.

A little later, you disparage CatWoman's metaphors. Significantly, you misquote both her words and her meaning.

You don't understand art. What's more, you suspect (rightly) that other people do understand. Since you cannot profit from it, you think it should not exist.

The other day I was idling browsing a small bookshop. I saw a book called, 'Gringo Soup'. It is apparently about a Mexicana tour-guide who doesn't like her customers very much. I don't know. I opened it. But I was thinking about you.

Exactly! I thought. No, I won't explain that. I am writing a poem. If it ever works well, I shall post it. For now think, goulash.

You post stuff like the John Taylor Gatto thread. (An epiphany of sorts for me. The stone slid into place and the wall was suddenly stable. So? I mix metaphors.)

You managed to avoid getting caught up in the for-profit schools issue, too. And, yet, it is as if you truly do not experience the meaning of what you posted. As if it were for the rest of us. One would not expect the person who recommended Gatto to post your rapist thread.

But you did.

get it right, Bill 04.Oct.2003 11:33


Is it heavy-handed to point out facts in response to Bill's untruths, whether the untruths are intended or not? I don't personally think so.

No, I never called to revile or ostracise the rapists. I did, however, agree with Marshall, a perpetrator who has come to grips with his attacks against women - he only was forced to deal with his problematic, predatory behaviour after hitting rock bottom by being reviled and ostracised.

I differ from Bush in that I was not calling for an attack on innocents, I was calling for recognition of repeated predatory, violent behaviour within certain individuals. And whereas Bush has concrete sources, it is a severe breach of trust to relate specifics of a sexual assault without a survivors' express consent.

Bill, the fallacy you are (clumsily) using is called "Guilt By Association"

I quoted CatWoman's metaphors precisely, and her meaning was obvious. Scroll up again, Bill. Read it.

I do not understand where you even came up with my supposed beliefs concerning art. Not only are you incorrect, but I am confused about where you even got your ideas. I am still baffled by your statements concerning me and art.

I "avoided getting caught up in th efor-profit schools issue" because I have not reserached that and don't want to talk out of my ass. I have extensively researched how schools work NOW, in reality, yet I have not researched possible alternatives and effects of those alternatives. At least not enough to post publicly about such things. Why you would assume that someone who posts about Gatto's work would not speak out publicly against rapists is beyond me.

And as for "pushing people right" I don't see that. I see people subsequently questioning their previously-held beliefs in some of my posts, which makes doing so at all worthwhile for me. Often it is a case of corporate media control being broken with verifiable facts that readers have never come across.

Jeff: care to offer your own article? 04.Oct.2003 14:17

anonymous imcista

Jeff: instead of griping about other people who write articles running down "liberals," feel free to write an article running down "radicals." I'll be happy to make a feature of it. ;-)

Hey Gringo 04.Oct.2003 16:57


No, I won't kiss your whip. That's wishful thinking on your part. Glad to hear you respect women so much you denigrate them with such a misogyny-ridden insult when they don't agree with your assessment of their experiences. You're my champion.

No, Gringo 05.Oct.2003 02:00


I do not find you guilty by association with Bush. I find you guilty, first, then I associate you with Bush.

I said above that you demand people agree with a statement simply because it is your statement.

Also, you have misrepresented everything you claim I said. In two cases, you both misrepresent what I said, and present additional statements which support what I did say.

You even misrepresent the definition at Nizkor.

I said before, like CatWoman, that you post some very good material. I revise that : When you post other people's material it is usually very good.