Conventions

“Sea lion, you’re in my house”

I’m not one to do this sort of thing – in fact, I don’t think I ever have. However, there are those times when you must plant a flag and not just “nod” politely. I feel doing that is especially necessary when you are faced with another writer who drops in to “sea lion” IN YOUR COMMENTS under the pretext of carrying on a “discussion.”

This deserves the bright light of blog day. First, what is “sealioning?” It’s an expression to describe a type of commenting misbehavior, which Wikipedia defines this way:

Sealioning (also spelled sea-lioning and sea lioning) is a type of trolling or harassment which consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions. The harasser who uses this tactic also uses fake civility so as to discredit their target. The term arises from a 2014 edition of the webcomic Wondermark, where a character expresses a dislike of sea lions and a passing sea lion repeatedly asks the character to explain.

Here is how it works, as that cartoon suggested:

Keep that in mind as you read on. This exchange stems from this post of mine last week that included a bit on author Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) and charges of racism hurled at her for some things she wrote in her Little House books. I have screen captured the entire “conversation”:

I “like” that opening comment from that author as a courtesy – because it had gotten caught in my spam for “24 hours” and at its face her opinion there does not seem wholly unreasonable. I do not yet know how to address it, or even if I will. I decide first to read the link she supplies as justification.

Note, however, that she holds there that Wilder wrote nothing that promoted racism. “NOTHING.” It is vital not to forget that.

Reading her supplied link, I am appalled by it. But I don’t want to reveal that. I respond to it this way:

That should have been the end of this. But I sense it won’t be.

I do not expect or anticipate this reaction, though. She replies several hours later by pointing to an unrelated 1916 former US President Theodore Roosevelt speech on immigrants’ needing to assimiliate:

Incredulous at the pointing to a speech that makes NO direct mention of the status of African-Americans (which is then pretty bad) and isn’t even about them anyway, I reply:

Again, that should be the end. I insist “d-rkies” is, and was, racist. I am done discussing this.

Silly me to think it will end there. A day later, she reappears. Evidently she’s decided to try another tack:

These two points are particularly important. Offering up the opinion “…anything that others may have considered racist…” indicates to me that she believes there’s some room to doubt that “d-rkies” is a racist word. In fact, in demeaning someone based on a darker skin tone as compared to a lighter, it is BOTTOM LINE racist. Moreover she doesn’t even acknowledge my preceding lengthy comments on African-Americans having been largely sidelined in US history and treated as 2nd Class citizens and worse – they had been literally enslaved for over two centuries; that despite that background being a necessary context to bear in mind when it comes to the “d-rkies” slur. It is as if I had never bothered to remind her of that latter ugly historical reality.

Instead she drifts elsewhere. It started with “d-rkies” – a slur directed almost exclusively at African-Americans – but aside from her raising the issue that an illustrator’s drawing of people in “blackface” may have attracted more attention to the “vocabulary” (and she doesn’t even there outright condemn the “blackface” either), we’ve mostly switched now to Native Americans? And she also offers a “question” about negative portrayals of children??????

Huh? I’ve answered her, but I feel now that she’s just talking AT ME. I sense I’m banging my head against an inanimate object, so I respond:

Apparently she doesn’t like my drawing a line under this in that summarizing manner. Remember SHE opened this so-called “discussion” by just dropping the assertion that Wilder wrote “NOTHING” that is racist. I have since demonstrated that is incorrect.

Yet she comes back at me once again and this time no longer even pretends to stay on the topic and/or correct me in case I have indeed mischaracterized her stance (“I do see your point there, however…”), but instead turns personal and tries feigning a fainting spell and to belittle me:

A misunderstanding? Only perhaps to someone such as she had disparaged in her initial comment as possessing poor reading comprehension. I had made it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR more than once to anyone WHO CAN READ English that I consider “d-rkies” a racist word and that I could understand it being objected to by educators and by parents in its appearing in a children’s book in 2018. From her side, insofar as I could discern she held to the very end that “d-rkies” is apparently “mild, period-specific vocabulary” and would not recede from that view.

It hit me that I am dealing with a version of a “sea lion” when I saw the “I apologize for having offended you…” line rolled out. She can’t read my mind. She tries ducking my summation by asserting her opinions have somehow offended me?

Actually, I didn’t want to tell her outright – obviously I was being too subtle – that I had just wanted her to CEASE with this dopey “discussion” for her own good, and for her not to be appearing to defend the use of “d-rkies” in a children’s book in 2018. For based on what I was seeing of her replies, if this continued she seemed on the way to writing something SCARILY STUPID on the internet and EMBARRASSING HERSELF as an author. Then again, if she is so determined perhaps to do that, why the heck should I care?

I’ve now decided I’m not giving an inch. I’m finished. From here on she may address this issue on HER OWN SITE, not in my comments:

She had long been dropping comments on my blog here. But matters never took this sort of a turn. I suppose they hadn’t simply because I had never before flatly disagreed with her.

At last, so we’ve reached the end?

Of course not. Do you honestly think that could have been the end? She is back at me a scant five minutes later:

A “sea lion” fights always to get in the last word ON YOUR SITE; you can’t end an exchange, the “sea lion” must. Watch out also in comments for versions of the magic words: “But I thought we were just talking?” Also keep an eye out for “threats” to unfollow you, “polite” sneers at how unreasonable you suddenly are, and/or how certainly no offense has been intended (implying how hypersensitive you must be). The “sea lion” may also blather on about how he/she is, in fact, hurt by this coming from you because, gosh, he/she had always liked you…

With that last the “sea lion” here did get in the last comment in this “exchange,” but it’s a hollow accomplishment because I’ve left her last one there dangling deliberately. What stays up ON MY SITE is MY DECISION; I do get THE FINAL word. All of those comments from her are going to remain visible, as are my replies. (I have now also closed the comments on that post.)

No blog owner is obliged to provide a platform for every dimwit individual with an internet connection to spew whatever rubbish they want in YOUR comments. My novels are meant for all readers; I won’t have visitors to MY SITE stumbling on what I consider insensitive and even bigoted c-ap that I have allowed to go unchallenged. If I lose a follower or two, or twenty, or one hundred, because of that resolve on my part… well, I couldn’t care less because it’s not a follower, or followers, I want to have.

To conclude: PLEASE DO NOT VISIT THAT AUTHOR’S BLOG to “troll” her over this. I’m glad she wrote that she unfollowed me and that she’s no longer going to be “trolling” in my comments. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I highlight that “exchange” here just to serve as a real-life example to you of such pestering and passive-aggressive nonsense in case you see something like it yourself, and to make it ABSOLUTELY clear that you should NEVER put up with it if you host a blog.

Still, for a couple of hours on Friday evening, I was irritated I had allowed that “exchange” to go on that long. I felt even a bit “dirtied” by it. I’d actually been drawn by that person into debating if the blindingly obvious – the word “d-rkies” – is racist?

Then, somewhat later also Friday, suddenly I forgot about that waste of time “exchange” and recalled WHY I WRITE NOVELS…

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After U.S independence, twenty- one year old Robert travels to Europe to expand family business. The unexpected onset of the French Revolution challenges young American and brings experiences that he had never expected. During his long trip to Europe, he falls in love twice, loses his mother, gets into fight with Jacobins and kills Irishman in a duel! The book has so much to offer: interesting and developed characters, love drama and historical events. Very well written! I really enjoyed how easily this book was to follow. Visit my blog to read whole review- link in bio. Check out the author's profile @rjnello to end up as character in "1797" because he is "always holding "auditions" 😉😊 . . . . . . #rjnello #convenstionsthegardenatparis #bookreview #bookrecommendations #bookblogger #historicalfiction #bibliophile #booknerd #booknerdigans #bookworm #instabooks #booksofinstagram #bookish #bookphotography

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…when I found that nice review of Conventions: The Garden At Paris posted by that Polish PhD politics student. She offered on Instagram how much she had loved the book. I could only smile: My “magnum opus:”

“You read my blog,” I began to detail [to my wife]. “I joke about this next being a ‘magnum opus,’ but I do mean it. It’s the sort of book I’ve really wanted to write and hope readers love. I’m trying to take real historical people and weave them into a tale about fictional characters, using the real historical characters’ contours of their real lives as guidance…”

Have a good online week, wherever you may be. 🙂

3 replies »

  1. You poor man! I was exhausted just reading such an exchange! Sadly, anything children come into contact with—books, advertising, and television, any form of media, and most especially parents and family—will influence them. It is clear that young children, toddler age, have the ability to love one another—play with one another—without recognizing skin color or culture. They are innocent. It is only when society leaves an indelible mark of hatred that racism is born. Leaving a child free to love all without regular infusions of racist words, comments, opinions, and hatred is essential in my humble opinion. Sorry for the long comment, and I agree with you about that word. Loved the cartoon by the way! 🙂

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    • Thanks. It was bizarre. And just ridiculous really. Like debating “day is day.” But, you know, it’s the sort of thing that just creeps up on you as its happening… until you begin to think, “Why can’t I get my point across? I am writing in English?” Most all of us make a point or two in a comment, and then maybe we go back and forth a few times and even if we disagree we can sort of see each other’s point of view at least. Then there are those times like that one, when it all goes really weird…

      Liked by 1 person