This blog is closed. For more recent content, visit Chris Clarke's new site Coyote Crossing.

Creek Running North

<< Bush simultaneously espouses, disproves "Intelligent Design" | Main | Beautiful downtown Cima, California >>


August 03, 2005

Outrage

Every once in a while, I post in haste about people who claim to be liberals - or even progressives - but who display what I find to be contempt for working people, or the poor, or the unprivileged.

And sometimes I write in intemperate fashion, and thoughtful online friends will take me to task for the venom in my words. And I listen to them, and am sometimes chastened at the depth of my anger. And I resolve to think things through more carefully before posting in anger.

And then I read something like this, and I decide that I have been too gentle in my condemnations.

I miss the old left. I miss the left whose lot was irrevocably cast with the poorest in our society, who did not stoop to inverted "Welfare Queen" arguments about big expensive trucks, whose fault was that they romanticized the poor unduly. I miss the privileged men and women, law students and doctors and journalists, who felt the best expression of their will was to work in clinics, organize unions, represent the indigent in court.

I miss the days when progressives read Foxfire, listened to Aunt Molly Jackson, sent money to Mary Harris Jones. I miss the days when the people in Gormania, WV were considered the salt of the earth instead of the scum of the earth.

I miss the left that could have won, that did not make snide comments about the poor eating brioche instead of bread.

This left sucks.

Posted by Chris Clarke at August 3, 2005 07:41 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.faultline.org/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/1230

0 blog(s) linking to this post:


decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Comments

Find West Virginia on this map (I found this version here at CRN, but there were a bunch of similar ones flying around after the election). You'll see a lot of purple, quite a bit of blue... and, um, not so much red. In 2004, Bush won WV with 56% of the vote, while the Democratic gubernatorial candidate and two of three Democratic candidates for the House comfortably won their races with percentages in the 60s. Not only is the "joke" here insulting and unfunny, the premise ("Oh, lets laugh at the Republican hillbillies!") is largely inaccurate.

This really upset me on a number of levels. I'll probably have more to say later, but I should step away from the keyboard for awhile.

Posted by: the_bone at August 3, 2005 09:08 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

That broke my heart. Have we really gone so far that the first response is to point and laugh, instead of feeling shame that the richest country in the world can't even adequately care for its citizens on the most basic of levels?

Does somewaterytart really imagine that guy doesn't know how he looks in the mirror?

The post says more about somewaterytart than it does about the underinsured in West Virginia. Sometimes I hate this country.

Posted by: space_kitty at August 3, 2005 10:16 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

America is a pickup truck. With George Bush at the wheel. It's dark out. The bridge up ahead has fallen in the river. George doesn't know how to turn on the lights. So he stomps on the gas. Hang on.

My point being that there's an excellent chance that civilization as we know it will cease to exist in the next 20 to 40 years. We can allow ourselves to get side-tracked by morons with computers - why, dear, look at that silly man with only one tooth! - or we can keep our eye on the ball and focus on getting through the gathering darkness.

Not that anger isn't appropriate in this instance, but in the long run it's a waste of time and energy.

Posted by: tost at August 3, 2005 10:25 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

I read that, and didn't think it was too funny either.

I think a lot of us have earned the "liberal elite" moniker, sadly. We've forgotten that we're liberals not because we like to win intellectual arguments but because we want to help the less fortunate, including those who have no money for dental care and who vote for faux rednecks.

Tommy Thompson called us "chablis-sipping volvo driving" liberals, but some of us are only one generation (or one paycheck) removed from that guy in the pickup. We'd best not forget that.

Posted by: KathyF at August 3, 2005 10:45 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

I'm particularly fascinated in a horrified way by the blog host darting about to defend it: "It's not about poverty, it's about ignorance (and if you'd just read the article, which most of us would have never seen [because CNN really flies below radar] you'd see that it's making fun of ignorance, not poverty) AND LOOK AT THOSE POOR PEOPLE WITH THEIR BAD PRIORITIES WE SHOULD BE KNOCKING THEIR TEETH OUT AND GETTING BLOOD ALL OVER THEIR HUMMERS. That'd show 'em. "

Well don't mind me in my comfortable blue state with my two fake teeth and massive medical debt. GAH.

Posted by: CMD at August 4, 2005 12:08 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

KathyF said: Tommy Thompson called us "chablis-sipping volvo driving" liberals, but some of us are only one generation (or one paycheck) removed from that guy in the pickup. We'd best not forget that.

Dingdingding. Exactly.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 4, 2005 05:18 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

I took advantage of the bats theme running around recently to write here of only a portion of our experience living amongst those with no buffers and being with no buffers ourselves, knowing too many people with no buffers or only marginal buffers who have had the bad luck to go through catastrophic experience, an accident or illness that sets them back for not only a few years but a lifetime. I learned early as an adult what it's like to go without good food because good food was too expensive, the desperation that accompanies that, and how gardens are too expensive to start and keep if you don't have the money to purchase fresh vegetables. I learned through unfortunate and catastrophic circumstance, and have had the misfortune to be in that position several times. Once you've had one bad set-back with no buffer, if you happen to have another major illness or job loss then you are in that much deeper. That's why the bankruptcy act was one that tore me up over the democrats not fighting and going with it. It's why I'm pretty desperate over the state of health care in this country. My compassion factor and refusal to judge on appearances is pretty high due to all this. I've known the innocent people hit by speeding police cars who could not sue because it was police, whose lives were entirely derailed, who with the hope and faith of youth struggled to keep going and decades later had to aknowledge they were never able to recover financially or career-wise. Have known the vets who came home from Nam with problems that meant a derailed life. I've lived in the neighborhoods next to the crack houses and been among renters who are part of community in those areas and take care of each other and do the community garden and known what it's like when yuppies then move in and taxes go up and renters and home-owners driven out because they can no longer afford what they worked to make a safer place. I've worked with those on Reserves where unemployment is 75 percent. I know plenty of people who should have a voice in important forums, have even been invited to have a voice but don't have the simple travel funds it takes for the ticket. I live surrounded by homeless and used to write of the severely epileptic homeless man who stored his belongings in the trash bins behind our apartment. But now we have the half million dollar condos on the corner that will make the area safer but will also eventually, likely drive us out of another home. And I do have to admit that sometimes when I go around and see all the talk of lifestyles where people have managed to do well for themselves, who can afford rennovations and vacations and health care, can leave me feeling a little like the poor kid in the corner who doesn't measure up and I don't judge over that because some people just don't know and man I wouldn't wish hard times on anyone. But I worry when financial hardship and the inability to afford the overseas trips and health care and opportunities and better neighborhoods is equated with parochial views, inbreeding, and lack of social conscience. Especially when, hell, it's corporate lack of conscience and greed that has driven generations of individuals into the ground. It scares me that valuable experience and knowledge may be shut out because of appearances. It gets damned depressing. And I hate artificial class divides which have only to do with circumstance. Hate them. And it's a reason I love the scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail, you probably can guess which one. "I'm 37, I'm not old..." I should reread this before hitting post and make sure it makes sense but I won't. I'm too knotted up.

Posted by: Idyllopus at August 4, 2005 05:52 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Idyllopus, I'm related to some of those people. My mom has Huntington's Disease, and if you met her you'd think she was mentally retarded or drunk, as many with HD have been mistaken for.

One man in our support group went to the store and was refused service because they thought he was drunk. That night he slipped on the ice and froze to death. Horrible that his last human interaction was with someone who mistook him for a drunk.

My mom would have been homeless, too, except for the last vestiges of the safety net.

Anyway, compassionate comments. No need to reread.

Posted by: KathyF at August 4, 2005 08:11 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

I dearly love my commenters. Each and every one of you. Even tost.

When did snark become an acceptable substitute for compassion? I think it was during the Reagan years that it first began, though the dot-com ethos that pervades blogging certainly plays a role.

The saddest thing about this is the venue. That blog is the last place I would have expected to read something like the linked-to post.


Posted by: Chris Clarke at August 4, 2005 11:44 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

My impressions upon rereading the comments on that post, as well as the comments at the guest blogger's main site:

Someone makes an initial post that is both ill-informed and mean. When called on it, neither the guest blogger or the site owner apologize (outside of tepid statements that could be interpreted as "I'm sorry if you were offended by my droll wit"). Instead, they parse (badly) the original post, trying to show A) that they've just been misunderstood, and B) that those West Virginians really are ignorant. People holding contrary opinions to the bloggers are unacknowledged outside of being told why they are wrong.

It all sounds so very, I dont know... Republican.

Posted by: the_bone at August 4, 2005 12:37 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

It gets even better. Watery Drip comes from San Diego.

If you know *anything* about San Diego, sneering at "Red Staters" for being stupid enough to elect Bush is funny. Even funnier than someone from NY or Washington State doing so.

And I haven't done California, but I did do a town-by-town graph of my own state in Nov, and with certain predictable exceptions (university towns) both higher income and higher levels of advanced degrees were visibly linked to significantly higher Republican voting levels. While the towns with rural (real rural not gentlman farmers playing) and depressed urban economies (some in the process of recovering, fortunately) were the ones that went strongest Democratic. I saw plenty of scruffy people in oily coverals waiting to vote at 0600h before going off to their blue-collar jobs, (statistically likely to have voted D) and I'll bet that plenty of them were missing a few teeth...

...just like me. Because I haven't been able to afford dental care on $20k a year for the past ten years.

Don't worry, I'm working on a mega-post about this problem, and its flip side, which phila at Bouphonia dealt with some too, the patronizing snide we-can't-expect-anything-progressive-of-the-poor-dears, stereotypical liberal elitism displayed by mainstream media and certain privileged young bloggers alike...

Posted by: bellatrys at August 4, 2005 02:32 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

If you know *anything* about San Diego, sneering at "Red Staters" for being stupid enough to elect Bush is funny.

Hmm. Anyone here know anything about San Diego?

with certain predictable exceptions (university towns) both higher income and higher levels of advanced degrees were visibly linked to significantly higher Republican voting levels. While the towns with rural (real rural not gentleman farmers playing) and depressed urban economies (some in the process of recovering, fortunately) were the ones that went strongest Democratic.

I would love to see some of your number-crunching, bellatrys.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at August 4, 2005 02:42 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

I was born and raised in San Diego, and now live only a couple hours away. It's actually a fairly conservative town; there's a huge naval station and a major Marine base, and the county has spawned some of the most hawkish US Reps imaginable (such as Duncan Hunter and the ethically-challenged Randy "Duke" Cunningham). Bush won the county, albeit narrowly (53%). So yeah... a San Diegan making fun of those wacky red-staters is tres goofy.

If somewaterytart had spent some time in conservative-ish areas in San Diego's "east county" prior to the election, trying to get out the vote in communities such as El Cajon and Lakeside and persuading the working-class conservatives there that voting for Bush was voting against their better interests, then maybe that win could have been narrowed even futher. But then, going out and actually doing something is hard. It's so much easier to sit in front of a computer monitor, making fun of the very people you need to get on your side for the fact that they've been screwed over by the system vis-a-vis dental care.

Now that I think about it, we're probably better off that SWT wasn't out agitating for Kerry in East County. Folks like my childhood friend Travis, a construction worker with two kids and ambiguous politics who lives in El Cajon, would likely have been so turned off by her elitism that they would have broken Republican out of spite.

Posted by: the_bone at August 4, 2005 03:23 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

For whatever it’s worth, I thought I would clear up some assumptions that have been made about me here.

My statements were not of the “welfare queen” ilk. I am, as Kathy F wrote, “only one generation (or one paycheck) removed from that guy in the pickup.” The town in which I was born, raised, and now live in again is a poor town, made even poorer by the closing of the mills in the 80s. When I drive to work every day, I drive past farms, not skyscrapers. I’m in one of the reddest states in the union, and even though it’s in the north, my neighbor flies a confederate flag. My mother ripped down KKK posters from telephone polls on a recent walk. I spent the lead-up to the election last year trying to convince people who still call the Democrats “the party of niggers and spics” to vote for Kerry, and listening to coworkers scapegoating those “niggers and spics” for their inability to earn as much money as they wanted. I’m not a blue state elite looking down my nose at an imaginary situation; I’m living in the circumstances of which I spoke. People with Hummers and bad teeth aren’t straw people to me; they are people I see every day.

Poverty is not funny to me, nor is it outwith my personal experience; as I noted in the comments thread on that post, my husband had to wait two years to get one of his teeth fixed until we could afford it—although, in the interim, our computer died, for example, so we bought a new one. We don’t need a computer to survive, but that was the choice we made. And that’s what I’m talking about: choices. In our push against the revolting social Darwinism of the right, a total abdication of personal responsibility is not the answer, either. The people to whom I was referring (including myself, obviously) have choices about how to prioritize, and if someone chooses buying a Hummer (or a computer) over getting their teeth fixed, I don’t feel especially sorry for them.

And though your assumption seems to be it’s because I’m just cold-hearted and lacking some vaguely defined progressive credentials you feel I should have, it stems in reality from having studied with one of the sociologists who undertook a comprehensive study of homelessness—studying the lower Wacker Drive community of homeless in Chicago. I have interviewed, spent time with, and talked on a personal level (as in, not as part of the study) at length with people who are the true underclass of America, volunteered my time and my energy on their behalf, and got to know and care for them. For years afterward, I helped organize a crafts program to allow the poorest children in the area to make Christmas presents for their families. This is a kind of poverty that is simply not the same as a person who is afforded a choice between a new computer or fixing a tooth. Equating someone who has the option of choice with someone who does not, is to deny the reality of those who are truly the most in need.

Now, you may choose to continue to believe that I’m just a heartless bitch who doesn’t live up to your definitions of the “old left,” or you can take a moment to try to understand my perspective, and see that perhaps I’m speaking from a place that might not have been what you thought. You don’t have to agree with me, but you’re wrong to assume that I design strawmen to support an unsubstantiated view.

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister at August 4, 2005 04:08 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Now, you may choose to continue to believe that I’m just a heartless bitch who doesn’t live up to your definitions of the “old left,”

But in fact, I don't. Which is why I was very surprised to see that post on your site. I mean, given what you say here, and the almost uniformly wonderfully compassionate stuff you write, how can you defend a post that contains the line:

To put this in perspective, how many of us have ever lost a tooth due to hygienic neglect?

That is just the epitome of callous privilege, and it's the kind of thing I've seen you decry eloquently on other subjects.

My anger was with your co-blogger, and with some of the commenters who amplified her bigotry. I disagree strongly with your defense of her post, but my opinion of your worth - or of your leftist credentials - has not changed as a result. You got stuck with a bad situation here that you did not create. But your reaction to it has me puzzled. My hunch is - and it's a hunch, so feel free to tell me I'm wrong - that if that post had taken a similar tone with oh, I dunno, adult onset diabetes among Blacks or on Indian reservations, you'd have either deleted it or posted a strongly worded disclaimer. I seriously doubt you'd have suggested people who objected get a sense of humor.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at August 4, 2005 04:24 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Shake's Sis: Fair enough. For what it's worth, I occasionally read Shakespeare's Sister and enjoy it. And while I don't totally agree with your point re. priorities, I see where you're coming from. I felt that the comment I linked was a little flip, and I probably read too much into it. If I've mischaracterized you I am truly sorry.

That being said, I still think you're defending the indefensible here. It seems like people are jumping through hoops to justify a post that was both misinformed (the CNN article talks about "the consequences of sugary foods, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, a lack of fluoridated water, and simple neglect;" there's not a whole lot of stuff about "ignorance" explicitly stated) and just mean-spirited ("Revolting." "They don't know that if you just brush them, they last!" "So many red-state jokes, so little space").

My main objection is with the original post by SWT and her subsequent non-apologies ("Part two was a dose of cruel and insensitive humor. I can't apologize for that," "Violently resisting infantile knee-jerk urge to say something really offensive"). I understand that her defensiveness was largely a reaction to the virulent reaction she got... but then, what did she think was going to happen? If you're going to write an inflammatory piece, it's poor form to be surprised when folks call you on it.

The thing that disappoints me is that SWT could probably learn from this. I know that if I were to write something like this, I'd end up being thankful if a bunch of like-minded folks commented to say "What the fuck, Bone?" It appears that, rather than viewing this whole episode as something from which she can learn, SWT has used it as an opportunity to inject herself with near-intolerable levels of self-righteousness. I'd say I don't care, since I don't plan on ever encountering her again, but I do think it's kind of sad.

Posted by: the_bone at August 4, 2005 05:04 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Your hunch is correct.

Two things contribute to my reaction (or, as it may be, non-reaction) to the post. First, the article on which the post was based wasn't about people who are indigent; it was about people who work and make too much money to qualify for government-sponsored dental care. (They were described as living in the nooks and hollows of Appalachia, which I believe contributed to many responses assuming they were indigent.) I'm not suggesting they might not be poor; they probably are. And so are many of the local people about whom I was speaking. The distinction between working poor and indigent might not be one that others find especially compelling, but having personally experienced being in the position of making decisions about which bill to pay this month, or whether to fix a tooth or get the brakes on the car fixed, etc., as well as having worked with the indigent, it's a distinction that means something to me.

That part of it, however, really just informs the other, which is that the article was mainly talking about people not knowing that you're supposed to brush your teeth and floss etc. It really was about ignorance - for which I have very little tolerance (especially when it's something that's affecting the children of the ignorant). People who are gainfully employed, indicative of an active engagement with larger society (as opposed to the indigent with whom I worked), claiming true ignorance on this issue is unbelievable in its most literal sense. The reality is, in my experience, that it's much more likely to simply have been something that isn't prioritized. (Considering that some of the homeless I knew did whatever they could to take care of their teeth, the suggestion that working folks in Appalachia are somehow so societally dysfunctional as to not even be remotely acquainted with basic dental care seems more insulting to me than anything in the post.)

With that in mind, a line like "To put this in perspective, how many of us have ever lost a tooth due to hygienic neglect?" didn't read to me as a critique of the poverty-stricken, but a critique of the attitude of ignorance that was exposed in the article.

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister at August 4, 2005 05:19 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

That part of it, however, really just informs the other, which is that the article was mainly talking about people not knowing that you're supposed to brush your teeth and floss etc. It really was about ignorance

Here are the two excerpts from the article in question that mention anything that could be construed as ignorance:

"People have a mind-set that if your grandfather and father were in dentures, then you're going to be in dentures, too," the dentist said. "We need to break that attitude."

and

Organizers of the mobile dental offices said too many people in mountain communities have the mistaken notion that losing teeth is a normal part of growing old. Some do not seem to realize that teeth are intended to last a lifetime.

"People feel like they can do without teeth, or that they can always buy false ones," said David Aker, mountain missions director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

I undestand that you're interpreting these sentences as meaning people don't know how to brush their teeth properly. I don't think that's the only interpretation. (Always a problem when relying on a CNN story.) I read it as describing ignorance that making dental care a priority could actually make your teeth last. It's true the story mentions handing out toothpaste and brushes.

I do utterly agree with your refusal to give people slack on responsibility for their own decisions just because they're less privileged. This was something I greatly admired about the late Mitch Snyder from Communities for Creative Non Violence in DC, when I knew him briefly in the 1970s. Mitch worked with some of the lowliest of the low, people who were utterly at the end of their rope, insane and sporadically violent, as well as people who were just down on their luck, or drunk, or both. And he insisted that the people he worked with treat one another - and themselves - with respect, and it usually actually worked. (Imagine a raving crazy drunk person actually waiting his turn to speak in a consensus-based meeting.)

It looks like the only real difference between our positions here is that I was offended by SWT's post, and you weren't. I can live with that. But just to take a few more whacks at the roughly horse-shaped wet spot on the pavement, let me just say that the problem I had with that line wasn't the shock at the notion of tooth loss due to hygenic neglect. It was the "How many among us" asked, with the (to me) obvious rhetorical expectation that the answer would naturally be "few to none." This said to me that SWT:

- was quite young;
- had lived a sheltered life;
- knew few or no people who have been poor.

I am shocked at the figures given by the article. That level of dental disease is abhorrent to me, and I say that knowing full well about cultures of poverty that instill defeatism in their members, so that people live for the moment (by buying trucks, joining street gangs, doing meth, whatever) rather than making rational choices to promote long-term health.

But who among us has lost a tooth due to hygienic neglect? Me. Back in 1984 when I was working a minimum wage job, one of my molars cracked due to the pressure from the wisdom teeth. After developing an abscess in that molar and trying to ignore it for a few weeks, my boss drove me to a dentist who did a cap and root canal. I then had to hide from the collection agents for about a year until I had paid his bill. That root canal was slipshod, and the tooth came out in pieces some time later.

I found that line in SWT's post offensive because it explicitly sought to contrast people who lose their teeth with normal people. When liberals define "insulation from the working poor" as normality, then we lose.

Anyway.

I'm grateful to you for coming over and speaking your piece. I hope the clarifications here have made you feel less attacked.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at August 4, 2005 05:57 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

That part of it, however, really just informs the other, which is that the article was mainly talking about people not knowing that you're supposed to brush your teeth and floss etc.

I didn't take that away from the article at all. I've just reread it, and nowhere does it say that people don't know enough to brush and floss their teeth. "Hygenic neglect" refers not only to daily maintainence, but to the preventative checkups and professional cleanings to which the article's subjects have no access. I think your perception of what the article was talking about is incorrect.

Plus, brushing and flossing are simply not enough for many people. I saw a dentist exactly twice between the ages of seven and twenty-five or so (both times in college, for a root canal that was very necessary and very expensive given my uninsured status even then). I brushed and flossed every day, but since I belonged to one of those families that "couldn't afford dental care but made too much money to qualify for Medicaid," there was a lot of dental work that should have been done, but wasn't... my parents made sure I brushed and flossed every day, and hoped that was enough.

I had three teeth pulled a month ago. Novocaine doesn't work on me and I can't have nitrous oxide, so it was cheaper to have the general anaesthetic (not covered by my plan) and just have those teeth yanked than to pay for the anaethesia, a couple of root canals (which are pricy even with insurance) and a filling. Those teeth were damaged due to nocturnal teeth-grinding and, yes, a lifetime of professional neglect. I didn't have dental insurance until landing my first teaching gig, and anything I do now short of getting crowns put on all my teeth is going to be too little, too late. And since there's no way I'll be able to afford that in a timely manner, I'll likely have dentures by age fifty. Much like my father, and grandfather, and a bunch of folks in the Appalachians.

But, let's say that your analysis of the article is correct, and that people in rural West Virginia don't brush their teeth. That still leaves us with the phrase "So many red-state jokes, so little space." Not only is that sentence factually incorrect (see my very first post in this thread), it reeks of bullshit elitism. I think Chris's point in this post, that the working poor are the people that lefties should be trying to help and that we are demeaned when we mock them, still stands.

Posted by: the_bone at August 4, 2005 05:58 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Heh. And, one minute prior to my post, Chris said what I would have said were I more eloquent and gracious.

OK, I'm dropping this now.

Posted by: the_bone at August 4, 2005 09:00 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Shakespeare's Sister, you're being a *weasel.*

This is like the weasel/workplace bully I worked with once who said at a meeting years ago that anyone who didn't know about the Windows NT Start Menu must have been living in a cave in the Himalayas, and then when charged with insulting people who had other things to do than read about the features of as yet unreleased software, tried to argue that it wasn't an insult or accusation of ignorance, after all monks lived in caves in the Himalayas! (He turned out to be embezzling the coffee money too, but that's a different story...)

You're behaving *exactly* like the guys who when called on their sexism, try like snakes in a vise to twist out of any responsibility for your being mad at them, while at the same time wanting to eat to their "but maybe there *are* some biological differences in intellect between males and females" cake too.

You sound, in short, like Larry Summers' defenders.

I expected better of you than this. At least be honest about your snobbery, and stand by your guns and your minion's snobbery - or else admit your error and say that you were wrong to pick Watery Drip as a guest poster based on her insults of poor people. You can't have it both bleeding ways.

Posted by: bellatrys at August 5, 2005 04:42 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

It looks like the only real difference between our positions here is that I was offended by SWT's post, and you weren't. I can live with that.

Fair enough. I imagine it depends most on what one took away from the underlying article. I read "the consequences of sugary foods, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, a lack of fluoridated water, and simple neglect" as ignorance about dental care. (Not the lack of flouridated water, clearly, but the rest of it.) As I said, I found the suggestion that adults who have no knowledge that such things contribute to tooth decay is underestimating the knowledge with which most people, even very poor ones, generally reach adulthood.

If one disagrees with that reading, they're always going to think I'm "a weasel," but it was genuinely how I read it - it's not backpedaling. For that reason, I saw Tart's post as just a very snarky commentary on ignorance, differing very little from the probably hundreds of snarky posts I've read on liberal blogs of exactly the same tenor.

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister at August 5, 2005 08:40 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

In defense of the hygenic neglect--ignorance is not a crime. There are often perfectly reasonable explanations for why people don't know something, and it doesn't make them stupid and it doesn't make them willfully stupid at all. (The willfully stupid I hold in the highest contempt.)

For instance, where I grew up, there was a lot of flouride in the water and therefore people didn't really get plaque and they never got cavities. And I can attest, that there's no pressing threat to you health makes it easy to neglect your long term health. I am scrupulous about teeth-brushing because I'm vain and because I've had my teeth bleached and so I can smile without flashing the West Texas brown tooth, not that I ever had a strong case, but even if I wasn't, I wouldn't have to worry about getting cavities because my teeth are rock hard. That said, since people where I grew up had brown teeth and no cavities, it was easy to neglect teeth-brushing. And then they would develop gum disease later in life and lose their teeth.

Anyway, my stepfather was a dentist and spent all this time replacing teeth and barely ever did he drill a cavity. The moral of my rather pointless story is that it's hard to judge these things without knowing the whole story.

Posted by: Amanda at August 5, 2005 09:30 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Honestly, re-reading the post, a couple of changes in the sentences and not putting up the picture and it could easily be a post about how sorry it is that basic education doesn't reach certain populations and how this shows we need, as a nation, to be more diligent in preventing these problems.

Posted by: Amanda at August 5, 2005 09:33 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Anyway, my stepfather was a dentist and spent all this time replacing teeth and barely ever did he drill a cavity. The moral of my rather pointless story is that it's hard to judge these things without knowing the whole story.

Plus there's genetics involved - some people who live in the same house (thus using the same water supply) can brush & floss and pik 3x a day and still get cavities, while others do it haphazard and never get them. And then there's childhood nutrition - and maternal nutrition too, my grandmother lost teeth to that - and chronic illnesses (linked with poverty) making it all more complicated: the same conditions that create rickets etc also affect tooth development.

Honestly, re-reading the post, a couple of changes in the sentences and not putting up the picture and it could easily be a post about how sorry it is that basic education doesn't reach certain populations and how this shows we need, as a nation, to be more diligent in preventing these problems.

Yes, but unfortunately Watery Twit chose to make it a self-contratulatory post making fun of the most disadvantaged area of the country, thereby showing exactly what depths of ignorance - willful or not - a 22 year old college brat from Suburban SoCal can sink to instead...

Posted by: bellatrys at August 5, 2005 10:27 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

For that reason, I saw Tart's post as just a very snarky commentary on ignorance, differing very little from the probably hundreds of snarky posts I've read on liberal blogs of exactly the same tenor.

Ask yourself how it would have read if she had replaced "Appalachians" with "Inner City Blacks" - who probably also do in places like Cincy have similar rates of dental problems and similar lack of education - and be honest about it.

Or ask your husband how it would sound to him, if it were a piece about rural Scots, written by a girl just out of Uni from the English country set...given the historical relations between those two countries, which are both akin to and connected with, the poverty in rural Appalachia.

You can pretend that it wasn't a bit of regional bigotry, but since that was the whole point of her snark, it falls a bit thin.

"So many black/Scots/Irish jokes, so little time."

Posted by: bellatrys at August 5, 2005 10:31 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Big time genetics. Most people where I grew up never had cavities, but weirdly the ones that did tended to be related.

Posted by: Amanda at August 5, 2005 11:05 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs