I've written before that my husband engages in vegan advocacy online by way of direct interaction with people and the issues they discuss around the topic. Often this approach works well, but as with all conversations on the Internet, sometimes it brings the bridge wardens out from underneath their charges, if you know what I mean.
Today's example of trollish ass-hattery comes from a Science-Based Medicine article about the use of fetal tissue and placenta in the production of pills for human consumption. All by itself, the article is a parade of the bizarre written by a man who, if he is an M.D., obviously skipped every English class he was ever forced to take. Halfway through the text, the author references an AlterNet article on the consumption of placenta and writes that 'it is the one meat OK with vegans'. (Yes, we all eat placenta. It's our primary source of protein. Didn't you know?)
Naturally, the conversation in the comments thread gravitates around this assertion like space garbage around the Death Star. So when a fellow Google Plusser alerts Sean to the article, he participates in the conversation to try and debunk a few myths around veganism. But his efforts are met with that particularly nasty sort of vitrol anonymous posters visit upon those they disagree with, and before long one contributer seeks out his profile on the Internet, finds me through him and writes the following post:
#SkepticalHealth on 19 May 2012 at 3:59 pm
Wow, condescension from a hypocritical cannibal who shares a house with a tattooed troll who writes poetry about goblins and witches. Congratulations on being an “ethical vegetarian.”
This is when my husband brought the article and comments to my attention. I'll admit I was a bit stung at first; after all, this comment delivers its punch by drawing on many of the disempowering narratives I've fought all my life. I wasn't going to respond to it at all, and then I realized I couldn't let that shit stand. So I signed up for an account on the web site and wrote the following reply:
#C.S. MacCath on 19 May 2012 at 4:53 pm
Well, I’m afraid I have no poetry about goblins or witches on offer, but I do have several well-reviewed pieces about climate change, sacred landscapes and other topics of interest to speculative fiction readers. And since all publicity is good publicity, you can find those two pieces here:
As for my tattoos, I wasn’t aware they were synonymous with a failing of moral character. Is it the ink itself that damns us or the art, I wonder? Is the long slide from virtue to vice instantaneous, or does it happen gradually as the ink-bearer wears the evidence of her damnation? Interesting questions, all.
And I assure you the only reason I charge a toll to cross my bridge is for the purpose of maintenance. It’s a tax, really, and nothing more! The only time I come out from beneath it is when I don’t hear the clink of coins in my collection jar. Then I’m positively unpleasant. >;)
There's been no response yet,
and I don't have anything more to add to the conversation, in any case. From my perspective, it's a weird article written by a guy who doesn't sound like any doctor I've ever met, which my husband only engaged to debunk the myths presented in it. But I'm relatively proud of the post I did make; both because I responded at all and because I thought I successfully drew attention to my humanity without descending into the muck.
And also because it the prose of it sparkled a little, which doesn't suck. =)
Addendum 05/20/2012 at 9:08 am.
Okay, so I did respond to a follow-up comment he made, but honest, he invited me to discuss my poetry! Here's the text:
# SkepticalHealth on 19 May 2012 at 11:41 pm
Just to clarify, this is your “well-reviewed” poetry?
“Lie down in my salt-spattered pine needles
and listen, your ear to the earth,
for the languages speaking in my bones;
Mi’kmaq, Gàidhlig, French, English,
these are the voices of your welcome.
Let me give this a go…
Speaking gibberish of giblets and game,
my husband he hyphenated his name,
it’s ok if I eat my placenta,
otherwise only carrots, er, I meant uh,
a cannibal? No! You’re insane!
Here's my response:
# C.S. MacCath on 20 May 2012 at 7:54 am
Those stanzas are from “When I Arrived, This Is What She Said”, which has been nominated for the 2012 Rhysling Award for excellence in speculative poetry. A full list of the nominees can be found here:
For those of you interested in poetry, you’re in luck! Many speculative poetry journals are online, so if you Google the nominees and their work, you’ll find a number of fine poems freely available for you to read. Enjoy!
I couldn't resist. But I'm stopping now, I really am, unless I'm invited to discuss my work again.