Tales of Woe
Mutant Aperture

Borrowed Shame

Via a reader, JuliaM, here’s a footnote to yesterday’s adventure with Amanda Marcotte and the Hysterical Sisterhood. Faced with the aforementioned disapproval, Ms Marcotte’s publishers, Seal Press, distinguish themselves with this:

We do not believe it is appropriate for a book about feminism, albeit a book of humor, to have any images or illustrations that are offensive to anyone… As an organisation, we need to look seriously at the effects of white privilege. We will be looking for anti-racist trainings [sic] offered here in the Bay Area.

Perhaps Shakti Butler and Peggy McIntosh will be willing to screw in the mental braces.

In the meantime, please know that all involved in the publishing of It’s a Jungle Out There, from editorial to production were not trying to send a message to anyone about our feelings regarding race. If taken seriously as a representation of our intentions, these images are also not very feminist. By putting the big blonde in the skimpy bathing suit with the big breasts, the tiny waist, and the weapon on our cover, we are also not asserting that she is any kind of standard that anyone should aspire to. This 1950s Marvel comic is not an accurate reflection of our beauty standards, our beliefs regarding one’s right to bear arms, nor our perspectives on race relations, foreign policy, or environmental policy.

Beauty standards, gun laws, race relations, foreign policy, the environment… Heavens. That covers everything, surely?



Please note that, upon reflection, we realise that the second to the last paragraph of this post doesn’t do a good job of conveying our intended meaning… We apologise that this paragraph undermines our apology. We acknowledge that the images are racist and not okay under any circumstances. We are wholeheartedly sincere in our apology, and the actions we’ve laid out above will be acted upon immediately.

As I mentioned in the comments yesterday, there’s a farcical through-the-looking-glass quality to outpourings of this kind. But it strikes me as more than just absurdity. It’s disabling too, and more than a little malign. One of the surest ways to erode a person’s probity is to make them repeat in public, among their peers, things that are unrealistic and absurd; things they know, or suspect, to be untrue. The more incoherent and ridiculous the claim - or apology - and the greater the mismatch with reality, the larger the effect. Bad medicine.


Mark the Evil Patriachal Oppressor

Two words...

Beyond. Parody.

This made my day - thanks for the laugh :)

mr shifter

Why does all this nonsense bring to mind Aldous Huxley/Ken Russell's "The Devils of Loudon"....
No-one else can see the *crime*, but if you are sensitized to these matters, its just so obvious. And its everywhere.
Call in the Grand Inquisitor!
You must recant.

One can easily imagine how, in more brutal times-gone-by, innocent people came to be tortured and mutilated at the hands of these Identity Dogmatists.


Ah, clearly you haven’t yet discovered the extent of your privilege and collusion with the oppressor. You must embrace your Secret Inner Shame™. These people will help you find it. They have special tools.

Spies, Brigands, and Pirates

"We apologise that this paragraph undermines our apology."

Python: Those responsible for sacking those responsible for the previous apology have been sacked.


"We do not believe it is appropriate for a book about feminism, albeit a book of humor, to have any images or illustrations that are offensive to anyone"

The logical consequence of this belief is that they should cease publication of anything forthwith. Inasmuch as anything they publish is bound to offend someone. But of course, they don't mean "offensive to anyone", now do they? They are referring to a specific subset of anyone.


Well, it did cross my mind that Seal Press also publishes this fine work. Fucking Daphne, by Daphne Gottlieb.


Kasper Hasuer

Wow Seal Press, why don't you shut up already? You just go on and on like a bunch of teenage girls!

The Thin Man


I think the interpretation of what they are saying is not that they don't want to offend anyone, but that they don't want to appear to themselves and their own political constituency as being offensive to those groups whom they appear to support. (10 minutes on Marcottes blog affords ample evidence that she positively relishes attacking christians and men, so any idea that she strives against offensiveness in general is a nonsense.)

If the Seal Press apology had been written for some specific transgression, the original version would have been self consistent and self contained and would not have required the rhetorical "padding" that comprised the final paragraph with its apologia side-dish on gun control et al. It was the absence of actual feelings of "sorryness" (because how can you be sincerely sorry for something that has not actually occurred) that lead to the confabulatory nature of the apology and created the need for the apology for the apology

Indeed, the fact that they discovered this "offensivity" themselves, before anyone was actually "offended" makes the whole ferago that much more delicious to them - because they can indulge in this pantomime of piety and, in the thread on Marcottes blog, what I can only describe as a mea-culpa "pissing contest".

I think they should probably ask themselves why the impulse to confess became so competitive, since my understanding of Marcottes philosophy is that competition is one of the markers of the evil patriarchy.


I'm offended by humorless sanctimony, hypocrisy, thoughtless intellectual posers, malign Marxist ideologues, straight-laced feministes seething with hatred at imagined persecutors... Also by diversity training.

I need apologies for these things, and I need them now.

Oh. Having just read The Thin Man's 16:20 comment, supra, I see that I shall need to have my Victim Class credentials thoroughly vetted before *my* cries du coeur can be entertained.

Never mind, then.


Oh man, read the comments. Apology most certainly not accepted.

And then, at 12:40 on 4/26, a man (A MAN?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!? How dare he!?!?!?!??!?!) named Ned Colletti comes in and tries to be the voice of reason.

That really sets them off. That's funny with a capital FUNNY.

The Thin Man


In the spirit in which Seal Press and Marcotte make their apologies:

"I unreservedly, grovellingly, prostratedly and with arms and legs akimbo, apologise without the possibility of my apology ever ending or fully encompassing the hurt and distress you feel for whatever you feel such feelings about and I guilt-shovellingly cringe-makingly, one might even say Uriah-Heepingly throw myself upon your good graces to forgive me for whatever it is that I might have done, am doing or may, at some future time, do that has offended you in this most greivous and heinous manner.

I shall, from this very second, engage in a heart-rendingly, stomach-churningly utterly utterly futile but life-long struggle, using blog posts, TV advertising and a megaphone, to expiate the guilt that I bear, as I now understand that my very existence is an affront to the dignity of people such as yourself who might be offended by my lack of awareness of my own offensiveness."



I notice Ned’s rejection of the “white privilege” meme is instantly equated with bigotry and, of course, lynchings. The thought that these harpies may have influence over children is not a comforting one.

If we assume poor Ned is pale-skinned, he’s in a no-win situation. By the logic of the “white privilege” peddlers, even if Ned is rapturously married to an African woman with skin the colour of jet, and has brown-skinned babies clutched in each arm, he still can’t prove to their satisfaction that he isn’t harbouring racist urges. And, of course, the idea is that he and every other pale fellah *must* stand trial and prove themselves – by admitting that, despite all evidence to the contrary, they *do* in fact harbour racist urges, for which they beg forgiveness…

mr shifter

now if only they'd offered this kind of apology....



Yeah David, it's not really funny.

But the way the world is going, if I don't laugh I'll get really, really, impotently angry.
And that's the worst angry there is. As the hard-left starting getting crazier and crazier I used to let it get to me and tried to reason with them.
Now, I just sit back and laugh and accept that we're all doomed.


“Arse biscuits!” Ah, the classics. Father Ted always lifts the spirits. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lESQ0ejN79I

wayne fontes

I think the apology should have been a little more sincere. John Cleese provides a good example of a proper apology here.



Thin Man,

Since you have *not* hied thyself to anti-racism training [sic], your apology is *not* acceptable.

(And so the regression continues, infinitely.)

This link - http://tinyurl.com/4ajx87 - should bring you to Ned Coletti's comment at the Seal Press's blog, though it doesn't work quite right for my machine.

Far more fascinating--nearly as gruesome as a multi-car pileup--is a browse of Amanda Marcotte's blog, Pandagon. http://pandagon.blogsome.com/

Pick a post, any post, and see who's running that particular asylum.


I always keep a few of these handy. http://www.bureauofcommunication.com/compose/apology


Change is good, change is critical, sometimes the only way to survive is to,, change. /sarc>

A poster for your boood-wah..


The Thin Man

AMac (or should that be "A-man")

Don't oppress me, you RACIST. Just because I is from Yarkshire, you think you can come in here with your colonial-maleocracy based ethno-bashing book-larnin and treat me like a second class citizen.

I shall be reporting you to the Canadian Human Rights Commission for using the word [sic] - I don't know what it means but it's use is obviously designed to undermine my self-esteem which - as any fule kno - is the worst crime wot can be done to a member of a group protected under lefty controlled quasi-judicial authority.

And you probably also violate EU regulations on Penis Size.

The Thin Man

I was just perusing the Dennis the Peasant site - and his wonderful collection of Amanda's worst sentences

Sentence 11 seemed all too appropriate in present circumstances

"I'd like to excuse people’s defensiveness on this as a matter of overreaction to the hippie P.C. patrol that does in fact exist, and is perfectly willing to pull out every guilt trip and patronizing tone in order to make you feel like a terrible person for something that didn’t actually hurt anyone and you can’t take back anyway."

Consistent isn't she......


Yes, Ms Marcotte is a, um, complicated woman. In one post she claims, “I’m definitely in the rationalist category of feminism,” yet she also doubts the existence of free will - which, if nothing else, seems to pose a problem for those who declare themselves “pro-choice”. She’s also fond of saying rather opaque and tendentious things, such as: “It’s true that we are awash in a culture where anxious men have a submissive relationship to The Phallus.”

wayne fontes

I was happy to see Dennis brought back his "Amanda's sentence of the week" posts. I would encourage readers here to peruse some of the archives.


Dennis actually purchased Marcotte's book and has promised to post a review of it. Gutsiest move I ever heard of.


I'm a feminist and thought I was a liberal. I don't know anymore. Why is intelligent discussion of the redefinition of racism only available at conservative sites? I am so glad I went to college before "diversity and sensitivity" training became compulsory.

The redefinition of racism is not offensive to me as a white person, but rather as a thinking person. I only encountered this redefinition recently and not only was astounded by the fallaciousness of it but also of its acceptance in certain circles as Universal Truth. Any attempt at debate is "blindness to privilege" and "latent racism." It's insulting and ridiculous.

I'll be reading your archives to see if you've addressed the term "people of color." If not, I'd love to see what you have to say. It's divisive and offensive to say anyone not white is a "POC." Hey, developing terminology that's not seen as demeaning (as "minority" and "nonwhite" are) is great, but setting up this ultimate Us Versus Them -- white people versus everyone else -- is awfully convenient and potentially very, very destructive.



Welcome aboard.

“Why is intelligent discussion of the redefinition of racism only available at conservative sites?”

I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case, though much of the left, perhaps most of it, is befuddled and censorious on this issue. Actually, I didn’t realise this was a “conservative” site as such. I tend to think of it as, if anything, classically liberal and inclined towards individual freedom and the testing of ideas. But, yes, it’s odd how the political territory changes. Obviously, I need a tribe of my own.

The following items may be of interest.


Please feel free to rummage through the archives and add comments. Feedback often inspires new posts.


Thanks, David! I actually did enjoy a couple of those posts last night.

And also, sorry. I didn't mean to say your site was conservative. I hadn't made that determination. I should have been clearer that I meant the few other sites I see addressing the redefinition of racism identify as conservative.

Horace Dunn

Surely this whole sorry affair proves that even good people can make mistakes.

Here we have a group of good – very very good – people who run a feminist publishing house.

One of the books that they put out contains racist imagery. Of course, being good people, they did not intend to circulate racist material – it was a mistake. We know it was a mistake because they owned up to it and apologised for it.

Well, if they can make mistakes, surely the rest of us can make mistakes.

If, for example, a senior academic were to make a remark about, say, the aptitude and inclination of women towards certain academic disciplines, we can only assume that the women of the Seal Press would take a thoughtful view of this. After all, it would be entirely possible that the academic in question was not a bigot and chauvinist. He or she could, in all likelihood, have made a mistake.

I think that from now on, the women of the Seal Press and their friends and families will be taking a much more nuanced and understanding approach to such things.



“I think that from now on, the women of the Seal Press and their friends and families will be taking a much more nuanced and understanding approach to such things.”

If honesty and probity were key motivators, that might be the case. But given the marked aversion to nuance – say, regarding the intention behind reproducing 50s comic book kitsch – I’m a little sceptical. Indeed, the opposite reaction seems more likely, and the descent into dishonesty and intolerance will probably become more strident, and more farcical.

Horace Dunn


I was of course employing a degree of sarcasm (!)

In fact I’m pretty certain that if anyone not of an approved victim group had made a similar “mistake” the ladies of the Seal Press would have been beside themselves with prissy foot-stamping rage. Even now that they know that “good” people like themselves are capable of transgressions I would think it unlikely that it will make them any more understanding of similar "weaknesses" in others.

But perhaps I’ll be proved wrong.


“I was of course employing a degree of sarcasm (!)”

See what I mean? No appreciation of nuance, some people. Ahem. I’ll get my coat.


Walter Williams gave me an Amnesty



I won't be happy until all those responsible for the outrage of those horrible, horrible pictures can see three lights, not two.

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