Eff You! Pay Me: #IStandWithDNLee

Dr. Danielle Lee, aka The Urban Scientist, was asked by Biology Online to write for them. After she politely declined, Biology Online said this:

Because we don’t pay for blog entries?
Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?

In lieu of flying middle fingers or simply a blank stare, Dr. Lee made this thoughtful response:

Clap back, Dr. Lee!

Also on today’s #TWiBRadio, #TeamBlackness discussed running President Obama out of town on a rail, the state punishing citizens for doing the right thing, and I write a firmly worded memo.

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And this morning on #amTWiB, The Morning Crew discussed how apparently everyone wants a white Republican for president, virginity certificates, and how brothers in the ‘hood are hustling Banksy.

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And finally, in case you missed it, we had Jasiri X to drop some knowledge about President Obama and impact of the Affordable Care Act on working poor families:

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(Cross-posted)






69 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Looks like evolution passed Biology Online by.

  2. 2
    RaflW says:

    Wait, I thought rude, insulting right wing trolls didn’t believe in science.
    They have a Bio blog??

  3. 3
    Felanius Kootea says:

    Biology Online has fired the editor who made that nasty, unprofessional remark to Dr. Lee, and issued her an apology. Apparently he (the former editor) was a new hire. Their vetting process leaves a lot to be desired but I’m glad they did the right thing.

  4. 4
    piratedan says:

    who knew that politeness would be considered to be so uppity?

  5. 5
    Jeff Spender says:

    Well, this asshole is up to his old bullshit. It’s comforting to know some things never change.

    A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/th.....r=yahootix

  6. 6
    Poopyman says:

    Who the fuck is Biology Online? And why would anybody want to write for a bunch of wankers?

  7. 7
    suzanne says:

    WOW.

    You know, I should be used to sexism by now, but it still comes as a surprise.

  8. 8
    Felanius Kootea says:

    My comment (stating that Biology Online has fired the editor in question) appears to be in moderation. Please rescue :).

  9. 9
    Gex says:

    They are partners with Scientific American blogs. SciAm pulled her post, tweeted that it was pulled because it was not science related, and then blogged that it was pulled because of legal concerns.

    Meanwhile, other SciAm bloggers noted that they were told their blogs were their space to play with, had posted many off topic blogs without trouble. And of course, this was a online publication soliciting science writing work from a professional in a scientific field, which is science adjacent enough.

    Biology online has purportedly fired the person responsible for that response, but never having been identified beyond the nym Ofek, it is hard to say. SciAm, at least at my last check, has put the blog post back up but hasn’t answered:

    How they could remove the post but couldn’t email the author? (They actually claim they couldn’t notify the author ahead of time.)

    Was it pulled for being off topic or was it pulled for legal reasons? Many a blog posts on this incident pointed out the legal framework that protects online organizations from liability for content a contributor provides. Seems like a blog site like SciAm should know these things. Which leads to…

    Was the post pulled because they have a financial arrangement with the organization involved?

    As a minority woman in a STEM field, SciAm has lost a lot of respect. Over and over and over again, women and minorities see institutions like this instinctively protect the people abusing us. We see that what happens when we speak up in defense of ourselves. It would have been their preference to wipe out the DNLee’s post and pretend nothing happened.

    A science organization that deletes information so things look the way they want them to. That’s just pathetic.

    (I have been following this all weekend long as you can tell, but not so much today. Perhaps SciAm has found something not completely insulting to our intelligence to add.)

  10. 10
    dmsilev says:

    @Gex: Yeah. I was just about to say that stopping with Dr. Lee’s post is cutting off half of the story (at least) and probably the more important half. What that nameless idiot did was incredibly offensive, but it was one person being offensive. What SciAm did was an institutional response, and IMO considerably worse.

  11. 11
    jackmac says:

    Words to live by from Dr. Lee: “How you behave matters.”

    Bravo!

  12. 12
    kc says:

    Biology Online has at least fired the editor who sent that appalling email. http://abcnews.go.com/US/biolo.....d=20564772

  13. 13
    Howard Beale IV says:

    The asshole who made the initial response to Dr. Lee was fired.

  14. 14
    Gex says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Or given a new screen name. Hopefully he was really fired.

  15. 15
    Amir Khalid says:

    Maybe Biology Online‘s editor was just having a bad day. One would hate to think this was his normal operating style. When you solicit unpaid submissions you’re imposing on people for a favour. Some people take offence at being asked to give away what they sell for a living, like their professional writings — in their eyes, you’re trying to bum a meal in their restaurant.

  16. 16
    Darkrose says:

    @dmsilev: Agreed. And when I checked this afternoon, SciAm hasn’t addressed why they pulled Dr. Lee’s original post on the matter, or, you know, apologized.

  17. 17
    MikeJ says:

    @Gex:

    Or given a new screen name. Hopefully he was really fired.

    From the look of the site I’d be surprised if the guy who wrote the email wasn’t the owner.

  18. 18

    @Gex:

    As a minority woman in a STEM field, SciAm has lost a lot of respect. Over and over and over again, women and minorities see institutions like this instinctively protect the people abusing us. We see that what happens when we speak up in defense of ourselves. It would have been their preference to wipe out the DNLee’s post and pretend nothing happened.

    I think the problem is bigger than SciAm or similar institutions. The problem is that our society at large treats revealing a private conversation or correspondence as a serious offense, while this kind of insult is just personal rudeness. Until lawyers are as afraid of letting employees be insulted as they are of revealing private conversations, people who keep their insults behind closed doors will continue to be protected.

  19. 19
    Bruuuuce says:

    A link in this article indicates that Biology-Online has apologized for the offensive comment and fired the employee who sent it.

    Update: 5:24 am, 14 October – Alan Weisleder of Keebali, the company that operates Biology-Online.org, sent an apology (JPEG screenshot) to Danielle Lee overnight. On their discussion board, a slightly extended apology is directed to the community. Weisleder notes that Ofek was a new employee and has since been terminated.

    That’s good news. Now if only SciAm would admit that its policy which led to deletion of the dispute was in error and correct it, we’ll have seen real progress.

    By contrast, note that while there’s “debate among authors” when a white male declines to write for free, there was no racial or misogynistic insult as a result. A single anecdote is not anecdata; still, it fails to disprove the contention that there’s a long way to go.

  20. 20
    Gex says:

    @Roger Moore: One thing that amazed me was that the science blogging community descended upon them. There was a huge storm of supporting posts, reposts, etc. going on. The machinery was in place because the atheist community has been having ugly wars over misogyny.

    So what I did see was real pressure coming down on the two organizations. That biology-online.org felt they needed to say they fired Ofek (even if they didn’t) tells me we brought a lot of pressure.

    I’m curious what you mean by private correspondence, though, because this was a online blog soliciting work product from a science blogger.

  21. 21
    Gex says:

    Post in moderation needing rescue, please.

  22. 22
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @Gex:

    As a minority woman in a STEM field, SciAm has lost a lot of respect.

    /
    SciAm is a minority woman? Who knew?

  23. 23
    MikeJ says:

    @Roger Moore: There’s no expectation of privacy when writing to strangers. The only reason to cite “legal reasons” is if you don’t believe what your employee is telling you.

  24. 24
    scav says:

    @Roger Moore: It was a professional correspondence on behalf of a supposed professional entity, not some high school chum razzing a chum.

  25. 25
    Gex says:

    @Comrade Scrutinizer: From me. I’d be frustrated about the pickiness, but I see your nym so should not be surprised. :)

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Dr. Lee is a treasure, seriously…very well reasoned, very (ahem!) articulate, and OVERWHELMINGLY intelligent!

    Bravo, Dr. Lee. That is the way to do it!

  27. 27
    Drexciya says:

    The gendered component of racism and the way gender determines the kind of racism you face is an integral component of this incident. If your analysis begins and ends at the “whore” part of the comment, you ignore the way race informed not only what to say, but who to say it to. We reside in a society that sees black bodies – and particularly black female bodies – as de facto available, and they see them as such because they view those bodies – often rendered in offensive stereotypes and sickeningly racialized caricatures – as de facto sexualized. There’s a powerlessness implicit, even if there’s a racially patriarchal determination that a black woman is well equipped to tolerate the material effects of that powerlessness without consequence. When she was defined as an “urban whore,” she wasn’t merely being penalized for being a woman, she was penalized, specifically, for being a black woman and for asserting an agency that she was neither expected to possess or expected to believe she possessed.

    Focusing exclusively on the sexism of this ignores the particularly racialized danger that race provides for existing patriarchal expressions. Black women are expected to bend, expected to do more for less and expected to be available in ways that have no real analogues with white women. If this issue is to be discussed, I think the fullness of the offense should be identified and I think the dynamics we seek to analyze should relate to the very structural inequities that we perpetuate by ignoring. Particularly since they’re the subtextual dynamics that comprise the social expectations and thus, the microaggressions and macroaggressions that POC’s – and particularly black people – consistently face in American society. We marginalize the experiences of black women by not recognizing the entirety of the oppression black women are forced to endure.

    If you’re interested in reading more about this from the perspective of a black woman, I think Gradient Lair’s posts have been insightful and informative:

    Recognize The Role of Both Race and Gender (Together) In D.N. Lee’s Experience


    Black Women Do Not Need “Coaching” On How To Discuss Black Women’s Lives


    Biology-Online Editor Fired, They Apologize, Scientific American Mind Still Playing Games

    She has more posts than this there. You should read her.

  28. 28
    Drexciya says:

    @Myself

    There’s a presumed powerlessness implicit there, even as there’s a racially patriarchal determination that a black woman is well equipped to tolerate the material effects of that powerlessness without consequence.*

    My apologies for the mistake.

  29. 29
    Shakezula says:

    I don’t care if she called him names and demanded a million squillion dollars and a pony. Only a massive pile of assorted assholes would think any response other than “Thank you for your time,” was appropriate.

    Legal concerns? My guess is other people have complained about this creep in the past and they weren’t taken seriously.

  30. 30
    MikeJ says:

    @Shakezula:

    My guess is other people have complained about this creep in the past and they weren’t taken seriously.

    But that wouldn’t be SciAm’s problem.

  31. 31
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Gex:

    The machinery was in place because the atheist community has been having ugly wars over misogyny.

    Ayyep. Richard Dawkins has managed to shred every last iota of respect I ever had for him. And the folks on the forums just reinforce my notion that most atheist/freethinker groups are just another church of self-righteous twatwaffles who only dispensed with the most visible justification for their assholery. And I say that as an atheist.

    So yes most of them are nice, but so are most religious folks. If my soup is only 5% shit, I’ll still pass on the soup, thanks, and probably the whole restaurant.

  32. 32
    Randy P says:

    What did she say in the video? It appears to have been pulled.

    Edit: Never mind, it appears it was my browser. In some weird state where it wouldn’t show any YouTubes.

  33. 33
    shelly says:

    Even for NewsMax, one of their headlines reaches new heights of inanity.
    “Thatcher Worried About Obama” Article asserts Margaret Thatcher had concerns in 2009 about what Obama would do in his administration.
    Lordy, the woman had several strokes in 2002. In 2005 it was revealed she had dementia: she had trouble remembering that her husband was dead.

  34. 34
    Drexciya says:

    As an aside, it would be generally productive if we moved away from demanding exhaustive evidence before we deride people and institutions as either racist or sexist. What makes this incident notable isn’t merely that it occurred – I’m rather certain such conversations have taken place without traceable evidence before – but that it was posted in such a direct fashion, in ways that are open to public sanction. The nature of the way institutional power orients its way around and through whiteness is perfectly demonstrated by the fact that if he merely had the thought, used that thought as a rationale for his behavior, never expressed it and never sent an email expressing it, the thought and the effect would be just as stark and he would keep his job, while she would be forced to contend with not getting one.

    By making direct evidence of individual behavior the standard through which we (similarly individually) punish racism/sexism, we not only place an unbelievable burden of proof on people who are consistent victims of sexist/racist circumstances that proceed exactly like this, we provide a cover for the imbalances inherent to modern American institutions and allow a pretext for them to behave in exclusionary ways as long as there’s a hint of deniability to their exclusion. There’s a certain sophistry to this game that inspires us to make a show of removing “one bad apple”, as it were, while ignoring that the institutions in question reflect biases that are direct consequences of racism and sexism. As such, firing the offending party is an insufficient demand that serves to punish neither the offense or the structures in question. They should be tasked with proactively purging those institutions of the effects of evident systemic biases.

    There comes a point when the demand for evidence and the need for evidence to react stops being a reasonable request and morphs into an excuse to say without saying that the attuned and experienced feelings of black people aren’t trustworthy enough to require broader cultural and political action that we’ve seen. It’s difficult to overlook the convenience embedded in that doubt, and the way such skepticism serves to retain a backdrop wherein white dominance is seen as the natural byproduct of existing and working in America.

  35. 35
    raven says:

    I’m thinking people around here need to use another term besides “blog whoring”

  36. 36
    RSA says:

    @dmsilev:

    What SciAm did was an institutional response, and IMO considerably worse.

    I agree, and I think SciAm has opened up a huge can of worms for itself. I haven’t seen a blogging contract, but as Gex writes, SciAm would presumably want legal protection from what their bloggers write, by keeping some distance. In this case, though, they pulled Lee’s article citing legal issues. (Not that I really believe that–I think it was a panic response.) The implication is that the organization has editorially approved everything else that other bloggers have written, because they didn’t take those blogs down. A stupid, stupid move.

  37. 37
    kc says:

    @raven:

    I’m thinking people around here need to use another term besides “blog whoring”

    Yes, clearly, “blog pimping” would be more apropos.

    Seriously, though, you do see the problem with someone soliciting an unpaid contribution from a respected professional and then calling her a “whore” when she declines?

  38. 38
  39. 39
    kc says:

    @Drexciya:

    The nature of the way institutional power orients its way around and through whiteness is perfectly demonstrated by the fact that if he merely had the thought, used that thought as a rationale for his behavior, never expressed it and never sent an email expressing it, the thought and the effect would be just as stark and he would keep his job,

    Umm . . .

  40. 40
    raven says:

    @kc: Sure I do. I was just commenting on the unfortunate use of that phrase.

  41. 41
    kc says:

    @raven:

    Hmm, I think it’s kind of a handy phrase, not that I would use it in a professional communication.

    Maybe I should re-think using it at all, though. [sigh]

  42. 42
  43. 43
    Keith G says:

    @raven: ‘Tis interesting that it still qualifies as acceptable usage when you think about it for more than a second. It seems to double dip as both misogynistic and racially problematic.

  44. 44
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Christ, when did scientists become such a bunch of shitheels?

    (I am one, so I get to say that.)

  45. 45
    Interrobang says:

    As someone who writes for a living, good for her. “Exposure” is overrated, and nothing spends like cash.

  46. 46
    raven says:

    @Keith G: Lecture at 11.

  47. 47
    Keith G says:

    @raven: With a power point.

  48. 48
    raven says:

    @Keith G: I was thinking soliloquy.

  49. 49
    MikeJ says:

    @Interrobang:

    As someone who writes for a living, good for her. “Exposure” is overrated, and nothing spends like cash.

    Hey Doc, want to take out my appendix? I won’t pay you, but I’ll tell all my friends how good you are. Think of the exposure!

  50. 50
    dmsilev says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    Christ, when did scientists become such a bunch of shitheels?

    Long, long time ago. Look up, for instance, the slap-fight between Newton and Liebniz, to pick just one example off the top of my head.

  51. 51

    Dr. Lee is the bees knees.

    Biology Online, not so much.

    @Felanius Kootea: Good to know, thank you.

  52. 52
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @dmsilev: Fair point. I guess maybe in recent years society has improved to the point that the shitheelery is in higher relief.

    Or maybe I’m just more sensitive to it now.

  53. 53
    El Caganer says:

    Just managed to get my computer working right – Dr. Lee’s response is one of the best things I’ve seen on the intertubes for a long time. Whoever she was dealing with got off easy, and that’s only because she’s obviously such a gracious person.

  54. 54
    sm*t cl*de says:

    Christ, when did scientists become such a bunch of shitheels?

    Popehat sez:

    But Ofek is currently in the business of spamming bloggers to ask them to contribute free content to a sordid little advertising-heavy aggregator site in order to increase traffic and thereby increase advertising revenue to Ofek and Ofek’s team. In other words, Ofek has ceased to be a scientist and begun a career as a marketeer.

  55. 55
    PurpleGirl says:

    @J.D. Rhoades: Agree 100% and Harlan sure has been a dynamo on the issue.

  56. 56
    Citizen_X says:

    @J.D. Rhoades: Thank you. I was just thinking that I should contact Biology Online and say, “Hey, maybe you should contact noted science fiction writer and social critic Harlan Ellison and ask him to write you some commentary for free. I’m sure he would make the experience most memorable.”

  57. 57
    sm*t cl*de says:

    The crucial point about Biology-Online is that the person who contacted Dr Lee asking for free contributions did so under a pseudonym. The pseudonym was retained when they announced the termination of his employment there.
    In other words, the level of integrity at B-O is such that when staff members have business dealings with you they’ll be using false names.

  58. 58
    fuckwit says:

    @Citizen_X: Oooooh, yessssss…. I can just imagine the 50-gal drum of whoop-ass Mr. Ellison would open up on those fuckers, considering what he’s already said and wrote on that topic.

  59. 59
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @fuckwit: Harlan screams a lot but DNLee dropkicked and disposed of Biology-Online with a smile–much more effective, I think.

  60. 60
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Elon, I may hate being in moderation but if you have decided to moderate and then whitelist commenters one by one–THANK YOU!! I am soooooooo fed up with the racist trolls that follow #TWIB threads around and this thread was troll bait par excellence.

  61. 61
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @sm*t cl*de: Word.

  62. 62
    Grammar Overlord says:

    @Comrade Scrutinizer: Thank you for noticing this! It was the first thing I noticed when I read the sentence, but I felt like a jerk for being a grammar-checking automaton.

  63. 63
    Paul in KY says:

    @kc: I think her (and for whatever reason, this entity seems to be female) point is that if he hadn’t fucked up & sent that slur, he would still be in that job with those thoughts & that (in long run) would probably be worse.

  64. 64
    Paul in KY says:

    @sm*t cl*de: Excellent point.

  65. 65
    Drexciya says:

    @Paul in KY

    You do realize that “person” and “entity” would have taken the same amount of effort to type. Is there any reason why you referred to me as one and not the other?

  66. 66
    VitaminC says:

    I believe Drexciya’s point (forgive the paraphrasing) is simply this: since we’ve chosen to prize process over outcome, this ass would have been free to discriminate to his heart’s content as long as he used happy talk. Whereas if we look at things the other way (a lack if diversity reflects de facto discrimination), then we can actually come to workable solutions without the need for telepathy.

  67. 67
    Paul in KY says:

    @Drexciya: Racist reasons, I’m sure…

    That was officially snark. Commenters who I haven’t really seen much posting from (like you) are usually ‘entities’. Once I develop some kind of online back & forth, they usually become ‘persons’.

    See, you’re on the way!

  68. 68

    […] right the ship.   I may/probably will have more to say about that whole story in a little bit.  (Elon posted on this, […]

  69. 69
    MomSense says:

    Wow. Thank you, Elon for posting the video from the Urban Scientist.

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