12 October 2013

Today in “What the hell is wrong with people?”: Danielle Lee’s story

Danielle Lee is someone the blogosphere, and science, and science writing, needs a lot more of: smart, passionate, articulate. Can never have too much of that.

She doesn’t deserve the treatment she got in the story she described below.

She also doesn’t deserve this post being taken down by Scientific American, on which blog network this was originally posted. I am grateful to Dr. Isis for archiving it, and giving us a chance to spread this story far and wide.

Because the treatment that she got deserves to be called out and condemned. I almost hope I get asked to blog by this site so I can say in no uncertain terms, “No. I haven’t forgotten how you treated Danielle Lee.”

Update, 14 October 2013: I posted this before I realized how much of an Internet shitstorm was raging about this. Since then...

The person who asked Dr. Lee the insulting question was fired by Biology-Online. Both Biology-Online and Scientific American have issued apologies (varying in their explanations, and which are not satisfactory to many readers).

Despite Scientific American’s editor-in-chief apologizing, Dr. Lee’s post still cannot be found at  her Scientific American blog, The Urban Scientist.

Have I mentioned I’m not a big fan of words without deeds?

More update, 14 October  2013: And within less than an hour of writing the text above, Dr. Lee’s post is back up, with an explanation of why it vanished. Do I consider this particular matter settled? I’m not sure. Regardless, the issues raised by it are a long way from being resolved.

Wachemshe hao hao kwangu mtapoa

I got this wrap cloth from Tanzania. It’s a khanga. It was the first khanga I purchased while I was in Africa for my nearly 3 month stay for field research last year. Everyone giggled when they saw me wear it and then gave a nod to suggest, “Well, okay”. I later learned that it translates to “Give trouble to others, but not me”. I laughed, thinking how appropriate it was. I was never a trouble-starter as a kid and I’m no fan of drama, but I always took this 21st century ghetto proverb most seriously:

Don’t start none. Won’t be none.

For those not familiar with inner city anthropology – it is simply a variation of the Golden Rule. Be nice and respectful to me and I will do the same. Everyone doesn’t live by the Golden Rule it seems. (Click to embiggen.)

The Blog editor of Biology-Online dot org asked me if I would like to blog for them. I asked the conditions. He explained. I said no. He then called me out of my name.

My initial reaction was not civil, I can assure you. I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult. I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, “Aww hell nawl!” In my gut I felt so passionately: “Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!”

This is my official response:

It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand.What? Now, I’m so immoral and wrong to inquire about compensation? Plus, it was obvious me that I was supposed to be honored by the request..

After all, Dr. Important Person does it for free so what’s my problem? Listen, I ain’t him and he ain’t me. Folks have reasons – finances, time, energy, aligned missions, whatever – for doing or not doing things. Seriously, all anger aside…this rationalization of working for free and you’ll get exposure is wrong-headed. This is work. I am a professional. Professionals get paid. End of story. Even if I decide to do it pro bono (because I support your mission or I know you, whatevs) – it is still worth something. I’m simply choosing to waive that fee. But the fact is I told ol’ boy No; and he got all up in his feelings. So, go sit on a soft internet cushion, Ofek, ‘cause you are obviously all butt-hurt over my rejection. And take heed of the advice on my khanga.

You don’t want none of this

Thanks to everyone who helped me focus my righteous anger on these less-celebrated equines. I appreciate your support, words of encouragement, and offers to ride down on his *$$.

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