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(Salon)   Did 50 honorary doctorates give Maya Angelou the right to call herself "Dr. Angelou"? If you answered no, you're a racist   (salon.com ) divider line
    More: Interesting, poetic justice, cultural practice, doctoral dissertations, honorary degrees  
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7444 clicks; posted to Main » on 03 Jun 2014 at 10:38 AM (1 year ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-06-03 01:43:56 PM  

DROxINxTHExWIND: Oh, so people bought and studied the writing of this one black woman because they were scared of being labelled racist?


How did you deduce that from what I said?

As someone else said - Justin Bieber makes garbage. Some girls like it. But no-one hesitates to call Justin Bieber out for making garbage. No-one says that you're anti-Canadian for saying he makes garbage.

Well, how noble of you to be the first to fall on the sword for all of the wrongfully accused who WOULD stand up against this woman's tyranny if not for the protection given to her by guilty whites and blacks who play the race card.

When did I ever say her tyranny? It's nothing personal against her. I direct my wrath at the tyranny of people like you who try to shame people out of reasonable criticism by calling them racists because the work is by a black person.
 
2014-06-03 01:44:43 PM  

Kope: lamecomedian:
I think inventing the lightning rod/bifocals/a pretty rad stove, mapping the gulf stream, etc. outweighs writing Hallmark cards.

So, are you simply ignorant of her contribution to the body of liturature of the 20th century, the field in which she has been honored? Or are you that dismissive of all accomplished black women?

Her achievements in the context of her field are substantial.


I'm dismissive about her field.
 
2014-06-03 01:45:28 PM  

Z-clipped: CheapEngineer: This thread is f%cking *full* of people confusing "fact" for "opinion",on both sides of this stupid f%cking argument. If you don;t like her, you don;t like her. If you love her, that's wonderful for you as well.

Neither position is "right or wrong", but still true to each person.

Correct.  No opinion can be called "wrong" if the topic is subjective.  If you think something is crap that an overwhelming number of people who have made it their life's work to study, understand, and appreciate find enormous value in, your opinion isn't "wrong", just "completely insignificant".

Feel free to shout it from the rooftops as loud as you like, though.  It's a fact that Maya Angelou will be remembered as one of the great American writers, regardless.


In my opinion, I don't like her poetry, or poetry in general for that matter.  But, your statement IS a statement of fact: She will be remembered as one of the greats.
 
2014-06-03 01:45:36 PM  

DROxINxTHExWIND: lamecomedian: DROxINxTHExWIND:

Oh, I get it. Whatever you don't like is "low quality". That's pretty egotistical. And we thought Ms. Angelou had a big head.

I like plenty of stuff that's low-quality: Katy Perry, Taylor Swift.  Most of their stuff is fairly inoffensive and reasonably catchy.  I certainly wouldn't laud them the same way folks have lauded Maya Angelou.

So again, your beef is that people aren't doing things the way that you think they should. You have a right to like Katy Perry but its stupid for someone else to like Maya Angelou. What else do you think we should stop liking?


That's everyone's beef, all the time, everywhere.  Try being more specific to avoid making uselessly broad statements.

But I'm not up in arms or anything - I didn't write whatever article TFA was responding to.  All I did was say that I didn't think the woman's accomplishments amounted to a title.  You guys can do whatever you want, and I'll make little quips on the internet about it.  Seems like a pretty fair arrangement, and I won't think that you're idiots or lesser human beings or racists or whatever for having a different opinion.  We all win, right?
 
2014-06-03 01:48:55 PM  

stonicus: lamecomedian: DROxINxTHExWIND: farkeruk: ikanreed: And here's the evidence of racism.  Maya Angelou's accomplishments reduced to "greeting cards".  That's why we know.  It's not the details of the tradition, it's how how far out of your way you go to minimize the accomplishments of any black woman.

I've read some of Maya Angelou's poems, and I think Hallmark would send them back. They're terrible. Clunkingly terrible. And she got away with it for her whole life because of people like you - people who would call someone a racist or sexist as soon as anyone criticised them.


Oh, so people bought and studied the writing of this one black woman because they were scared of being labelled racist? Well, how noble of you to be the first to fall on the sword for all of the wrongfully accused who WOULD stand up against this woman's tyranny if not for the protection given to her by guilty whites and blacks who play the race card.

Lots of people buy Justin Bieber's music, too.  Popularity is not an indication of quality.

Actually, you could make a case it's the only indication of quality.  Quality is subjective.  Except in a few gases of science, specifically geology where they rigidly define what quality means in terms of a mineral or gemstone.  But in the arts, it is totally subjective.  Popularity isn't a measure of some traits, like complexity.  The Star Wars Theme by John Williams is vastly more complex than When I Come Around by Green Day, but if more people like Green Day, then you could argue it is a more quality song.


Not at all.  It's (potentially) an objective and measurable gauge of quality, but if you're evaluating something, you can choose any criteria you want.  I mean, maybe Green Day is more popular because stores carry more Green Day albums than Star Wars soundtracks - that's a factor that skews the results, right?

If we agree upon a set of criteria before we judge, then our evaluative judgements aren't subjective.  Our criteria may be somewhat arbitrary, but all criteria are.
 
2014-06-03 01:49:14 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: Sybarite: Every use of Dr. before you're name when you are not an M.D. is pretentious.

^ This.  If you have a PhD and insist on being called "doctor", you are most likely a complete moron that wishes they were actually intelligent.


I don't understand the logic of this. A PhD is a doctorate. Why should the term be strictly limited to the medical profession?
 
2014-06-03 01:50:09 PM  

frunjer: pretentiousness is a way of life for some people... it demonstrates their sense of superiority.. or hides their feeling of inferiority.  Respect from someone directly knowledgeable of your character is one thing, but to demand some one show deference just because you're a twat is another.


Lena Horne had a famously regal demeanor that she adopted after she became famous. It grew out of the demeaning and racist treatment she experienced earlier in her life. She demanded and commanded respect. Women ... particularly African American women of a certain age ... do this sometimes as a way of protecting themselves from being bulldozed and as a way of making sure they aren't stripped of their dignity. It's the sort of thing, however, that gets them called "uppity."
 
2014-06-03 01:50:19 PM  
stonicus:

Feel free to shout it from the rooftops as loud as you like, though.  It's a fact that Maya Angelou will be remembered as one of the great American writers, regardless.

In my opinion, I don't like her poetry, or poetry in general for that matter.  But, your statement IS a statement of fact: She will be remembered as one of the greats.


A prediction about the future is not a fact.
 
2014-06-03 01:51:11 PM  

FLMountainMan: Sybarite: Every use of Dr. before you're name when you are not an M.D. is pretentious.

Yep.  So is signing "Esq." (unless you really need to emphasize or clarify that you are writing the letter as a legal representative for someone)


Not exactly.  The general etiquette is to put your title after your name in handwritten signatures.  What kills me is people who insist on both in letterhead, business cards, email sigs, etc., ie. "Dr. Larry Fine, M.D." - and of course their manifold list of job descriptions, additional degrees, tech qualifications and whatever.  The unreadable 5-point type overkill is, on occasion, breathtaking.
 
2014-06-03 01:51:23 PM  

lamecomedian: stonicus: lamecomedian: DROxINxTHExWIND: farkeruk: ikanreed: And here's the evidence of racism.  Maya Angelou's accomplishments reduced to "greeting cards".  That's why we know.  It's not the details of the tradition, it's how how far out of your way you go to minimize the accomplishments of any black woman.

I've read some of Maya Angelou's poems, and I think Hallmark would send them back. They're terrible. Clunkingly terrible. And she got away with it for her whole life because of people like you - people who would call someone a racist or sexist as soon as anyone criticised them.


Oh, so people bought and studied the writing of this one black woman because they were scared of being labelled racist? Well, how noble of you to be the first to fall on the sword for all of the wrongfully accused who WOULD stand up against this woman's tyranny if not for the protection given to her by guilty whites and blacks who play the race card.

Lots of people buy Justin Bieber's music, too.  Popularity is not an indication of quality.

Actually, you could make a case it's the only indication of quality.  Quality is subjective.  Except in a few gases of science, specifically geology where they rigidly define what quality means in terms of a mineral or gemstone.  But in the arts, it is totally subjective.  Popularity isn't a measure of some traits, like complexity.  The Star Wars Theme by John Williams is vastly more complex than When I Come Around by Green Day, but if more people like Green Day, then you could argue it is a more quality song.

Not at all.  It's (potentially) an objective and measurable gauge of quality, but if you're evaluating something, you can choose any criteria you want.  I mean, maybe Green Day is more popular because stores carry more Green Day albums than Star Wars soundtracks - that's a factor that skews the results, right?

If we agree upon a set of criteria before we judge, then our evaluative judgements aren't subjective.  Our criteria may be somewhat ...


Ok, what set of non-subjective criteria are going to use to judge the quality of a poem, or a song, or a painting?
 
2014-06-03 01:51:37 PM  

someonelse: frunjer: pretentiousness is a way of life for some people... it demonstrates their sense of superiority.. or hides their feeling of inferiority.  Respect from someone directly knowledgeable of your character is one thing, but to demand some one show deference just because you're a twat is another.

Lena Horne had a famously regal demeanor that she adopted after she became famous. It grew out of the demeaning and racist treatment she experienced earlier in her life. She demanded and commanded respect. Women ... particularly African American women of a certain age ... do this sometimes as a way of protecting themselves from being bulldozed and as a way of making sure they aren't stripped of their dignity. It's the sort of thing, however, that gets them called "uppity."


Now that is an interesting, thoughtful, and compelling point in favor of her use of the title.
 
2014-06-03 01:52:40 PM  

lamecomedian: stonicus:

Feel free to shout it from the rooftops as loud as you like, though.  It's a fact that Maya Angelou will be remembered as one of the great American writers, regardless.

In my opinion, I don't like her poetry, or poetry in general for that matter.  But, your statement IS a statement of fact: She will be remembered as one of the greats.

A prediction about the future is not a fact.


You are correct... All I can say is that as of right now she is thought of as one of the greats, and most likely, for some time to come she will be as well.  Can't say for how long though.
 
2014-06-03 01:54:09 PM  

I Browse: Kope:

Seriously - you can name the most innocuous, nicest, classiest famous, accomplished black person you can, and someone out there is trying to tear them down.


Sadly, you're probably right. I've been sitting here for like five minutes trying to think of another famous black person who would be universally respected. I dunno...Crispus Attucks maybe?



Can you think of a universally respected person of any ethnicity? Any person at all that doesn't have someone out there tearing them down?
 
2014-06-03 01:55:49 PM  
As a pharmacist (with a clinical doctorate) who advises "real" doctors on treatment options, and intercepts and corrects their errors (and those of their nurses, assistants and patients) daily, I'm getting a kick out of the pretentiousness of everyone.
 
2014-06-03 01:55:52 PM  

lamecomedian: If we agree upon a set of criteria before we judge, then our evaluative judgements aren't subjective. Our criteria may be somewhat arbitrary, but all criteria are.


Which is one of the effects of academia, for better or worse.  Consistency of product.  You are being guided and judged by the establishment who was in turn guided and judged by those before them.  This tends, TENDS, to promote a certain uniformity throughout the establishment of any given field.  The wackos may be smart, but they will have to pursue their interests outside of academe.
 
2014-06-03 01:56:57 PM  

Rik01: IMO, it wasn't necessary to start a racist rant either mainly because racist rants from African-Americans have become far too common -- which means their effectiveness has diminished because folks get tired of reading them.

Rik01: Soon, arrests of black people started filling the news. Along came Ebonics, followed by Kwanzaa and then 'Strong Black Women'. I watched a black physician in an ER dress in African clothing and spout racist attitudes with impunity. Black co-workers in jobs I had, screamed racism over nearly anything, including being required to do jobs whites did. Old black men in Black communities, once respected for their age and wisdom became targets of younger black men, who ridiculed them. The family dynamic basically reversed. I started seeing welfare folks sporting $500 cars with $4000 worth of custom rims and $5000 booming stereo systems. When I worked in the health care field, I caught more black employees stealing company supplies than I had ever known whites do. I also worked with well educated nurses and administrators who were black and rabidly racist. Bring this up, and YOU were automatically racist.


Step off, people. We have a man who lived through the triple terror of Ebonics, Kwanzaa and 'Strong Black Women' in scare quotes. It can't be his fault that people keep singling him out for being racist.

Kwanzaa.  Every year it's like a combined slavery, Trail of Tears, Spanish Inquisition, and Benghazi for white people, except it can also include the oppression of people wearing African clothing.
 
2014-06-03 01:57:25 PM  

stonicus: Ok, what set of non-subjective criteria are going to use to judge the quality of a poem, or a song, or a painting?


Whatever you want, man.  Edgar Allen Poe thought length was important in poetry - he thought a poem needed to be digestible in one sitting (which is why he didn't care for epics).

And I think I get your implied point - "lyrical complexity" might be difficult to measure with the same precision as, say, the decibel level of a song, but we can pretty clearly make some measurements.  "I kissed a girl and I liked it" is not as complex as "I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride, but something touched me deep inside the day the music died."

As with most human value judgements, what matters is consistency, honesty, and belief - that's what turns the arbitrary into the not-quite-arbitrary.
 
2014-06-03 01:57:37 PM  

lennavan: Leonard Washington: I don't give a fark what they called people in the middle ages, you're not a doctor anymore. My dad is a doctor, nothing pissed me off more than some borderline competent to teach high school liberal arts professors insisting on me calling them doctors. You want to get called a doctor, get approved by the state to write a prescription.

Leonard Washington: You quit deserving to be called doctors the second someone else figured out how to help people better.

MDs write prescriptions for cures/treatments a team of PhDs spent decades developing.  Your MD didn't cure cancer, a whole crap load of PhDs did.

Do you also thank the waiter/waitress for the terrific job they personally did cooking your steak, while calling the chef in back a useless asshole?


MDs do a whole lot more than write prescriptions

And you're suggesting that the cook should be thanked for the excellent service...
 
2014-06-03 01:57:40 PM  

stonicus: Actually, you could make a case it's the only indication of quality.


"Quantity has a quality all of it's own"   -- Joseph Stalin (attributed)
 
2014-06-03 01:59:11 PM  

lamecomedian: stonicus: Ok, what set of non-subjective criteria are going to use to judge the quality of a poem, or a song, or a painting?

Whatever you want, man.  Edgar Allen Poe thought length was important in poetry - he thought a poem needed to be digestible in one sitting (which is why he didn't care for epics).


Ok, I choose "popularity".
 
2014-06-03 02:01:51 PM  

stonicus: ikanreed: I don't know why I bother.

I don't know either.  You're not making the slightest bit of sense.  Ooops, I must be racist.


Oh look, that guy accused someone of being racist, he must use that as an arbitrary attack and certainly isn't asking for a tiny bit of reflection on the count of actual racists in the vain hope that any of them ever reconsider.

I wouldn't be so annoyed about it if everyone weren't so blase about the accusation.  Like... "Racism isn't a real thing, jeez calm down about one histories major sources of injustice, guy."

The structure of his argument is specifically one steeped in racism.
 
2014-06-03 02:04:07 PM  

stonicus: In your mind, the ONLY reason someone doesn't like Maya Angelou's poetry is because they are racist.


Liking something, and recognizing that it has value are entirely different.  There are lots of reasons someone might not enjoy Maya Angelou's writing.  There are very few reasons to make the claim that her writing doesn't have the literary value that is commonly attributed to it.

You* might be a racist who wants to tear down black folks.  You might be young, obnoxious, and desperately trying to be edgy and different.  You might be an ignorant, poorly-read anti-snob, who thinks that all opinions are of equal merit and importance.  Or, you might be a highly educated, well-read literary expert who is able to articulate criticisms which are valid in the face of the overwhelming praise and adulation that her writing has received.  I'm pretty sure that none of the critics in this thread fall into the last category.

*not you personally
 
2014-06-03 02:07:35 PM  
Here's a simpler explanation:

If you're not going to raise your hand the next time a pilot on the flight you're on asks if there are any doctors available to help with an emergency, then I'm not going to call you one either.
 
2014-06-03 02:08:05 PM  

Pharmdawg: As a pharmacist (with a clinical doctorate) who advises "real" doctors on treatment options, and intercepts and corrects their errors (and those of their nurses, assistants and patients) daily, I'm getting a kick out of the pretentiousness of everyone.


So on a day-to-day basis while working with MDs and other medical professionals, do you refer to yourself as Dr. Pharmdog?  Just curious how that works.

While in nursing school one of my wife's professors was getting her doctorate in nursing.  I just can't imagine being in the medical profession and always having to add, "but not an MD" every time you are introduced.
 
2014-06-03 02:08:19 PM  

Z-clipped: stonicus: In your mind, the ONLY reason someone doesn't like Maya Angelou's poetry is because they are racist.

Liking something, and recognizing that it has value are entirely different.  There are lots of reasons someone might not enjoy Maya Angelou's writing.  There are very few reasons to make the claim that her writing doesn't have the literary value that is commonly attributed to it.

You* might be a racist who wants to tear down black folks.  You might be young, obnoxious, and desperately trying to be edgy and different.  You might be an ignorant, poorly-read anti-snob, who thinks that all opinions are of equal merit and importance.  Or, you might be a highly educated, well-read literary expert who is able to articulate criticisms which are valid in the face of the overwhelming praise and adulation that her writing has received.  I'm pretty sure that none of the critics in this thread fall into the last category.

*not you personally


I've got an MA in English lit - does that count?
 
2014-06-03 02:08:47 PM  

lamecomedian: DROxINxTHExWIND: lamecomedian: DROxINxTHExWIND:

Oh, I get it. Whatever you don't like is "low quality". That's pretty egotistical. And we thought Ms. Angelou had a big head.

I like plenty of stuff that's low-quality: Katy Perry, Taylor Swift.  Most of their stuff is fairly inoffensive and reasonably catchy.  I certainly wouldn't laud them the same way folks have lauded Maya Angelou.

So again, your beef is that people aren't doing things the way that you think they should. You have a right to like Katy Perry but its stupid for someone else to like Maya Angelou. What else do you think we should stop liking?

That's everyone's beef, all the time, everywhere.  Try being more specific to avoid making uselessly broad statements.

But I'm not up in arms or anything - I didn't write whatever article TFA was responding to.  All I did was say that I didn't think the woman's accomplishments amounted to a title.  You guys can do whatever you want, and I'll make little quips on the internet about it.  Seems like a pretty fair arrangement, and I won't think that you're idiots or lesser human beings or racists or whatever for having a different opinion.  We all win, right?


Sounds fair to me.
 
2014-06-03 02:09:42 PM  

Sybarite: Every use of Dr. before you're name when you are not an M.D. is pretentious.


You do know that MD's were the ones that were late to the "Doctor" party, right? They were known as Physicians and Surgeons until relatively recently. Most medical societies, such as the AMA, still refer to their members as physicians and not doctors.

In any case, the actual usage of Dr. for a PhD has a little more etiquette. If you're putting your name to an official piece of correspondence that relies on your educational station, then you should use the honorific. If you're putting your name to something that doesn't rely on your degree, then you don't. For example, people who write academic research papers (in my field, at least) don't use the honorific, which is the most scholarly thing they do. But they will use it when they're doing day-to-day departmental business, such as certifying students and whatnot. You don't use your degree to claim a position of superiority or correctness, but you can and should use it claim a position of authority.

In another vein, there are differences between academic and non-academic environments. If you are introducing a PhD in a non-academic or public environment, and their degree bears some relevance to whatever is going on, it's polite and practical to let the audience know that this person has some authority. Conversely, it's silly to introduce someone with a PhD as such to another crowd of PhDs, especially when they're giving technical talks that are expected to stand on their own merit. Of course, it's a major faux pas for anyone to stand up and say, "By the way, I have a doctorate! You forgot to mention!", but they can and do say things like, "I've been doing research in this field for ten years now."
 
2014-06-03 02:10:26 PM  
give me doughnuts:


Can you think of a universally respected person of any ethnicity? Any person at all that doesn't have someone out there tearing them down?

Nope, I can't. But we live in the "everything sucks, everyone's overrated" era, so I guess that's to be expected.
 
2014-06-03 02:10:42 PM  

stonicus: lamecomedian: stonicus: Ok, what set of non-subjective criteria are going to use to judge the quality of a poem, or a song, or a painting?

Whatever you want, man.  Edgar Allen Poe thought length was important in poetry - he thought a poem needed to be digestible in one sitting (which is why he didn't care for epics).

Ok, I choose "popularity".


Totally legit.  How do you factor in changes over time?
 
2014-06-03 02:11:28 PM  

Z-clipped: You* might be a racist who wants to tear down black folks. You might be young, obnoxious, and desperately trying to be edgy and different. You might be an ignorant, poorly-read anti-snob, who thinks that all opinions are of equal merit and importance. Or, you might be a highly educated, well-read literary expert who is able to articulate criticisms which are valid in the face of the overwhelming praise and adulation that her writing has received. I'm pretty sure that none of the critics in this thread fall into the last category.


I can't help but notice that you led with racist.
 
2014-06-03 02:12:03 PM  

Z-clipped: stonicus: In your mind, the ONLY reason someone doesn't like Maya Angelou's poetry is because they are racist.

Liking something, and recognizing that it has value are entirely different.


^^This!
I personally agree with the people who don't like her writing. I find it boring and generally dislike reading her. However, I understand why her writing is important and what other people see in it. I feel the same way, btw, about folks like Kate Chopin.

But I would never suggest that she doesn't deserve the praise she has received, including be granted numerous honorary doctorates, and being referred to as "Doctor" by the university at which she taught:

http://news.wfu.edu/2014/06/02/media-advisory-memorial-service-arran ge ments-for-dr-maya-angelou/

And frankly, I think that if her employer, a university as respected as Wake Forest, is going to refer to her as "Doctor" then I really see no real space to argue against it beyond pure hubris on the part of those who think what they have to say in anyway raises to the same level of authority.
 
2014-06-03 02:13:17 PM  

ikanreed: stonicus: ikanreed: I don't know why I bother.

I don't know either.  You're not making the slightest bit of sense.  Ooops, I must be racist.

Oh look, that guy accused someone of being racist, he must use that as an arbitrary attack and certainly isn't asking for a tiny bit of reflection on the count of actual racists in the vain hope that any of them ever reconsider.

I wouldn't be so annoyed about it if everyone weren't so blase about the accusation.  Like... "Racism isn't a real thing, jeez calm down about one histories major sources of injustice, guy."

The structure of his argument is specifically one steeped in racism.


Oh, good.  I was afraid you'd left to use your time to actually help the people you that you imply you care about so much.
 
2014-06-03 02:14:05 PM  

lamecomedian: A prediction about the future is not a fact.


You're going to die someday.  Gravity will continue to make objects fall toward the center of the earth today.  Ice will melt in a hot cup of tea.

Are these facts, or opinion?  Just trying to set the bar for this silly semantic distinction you're trying to make.
 
2014-06-03 02:14:54 PM  

lamecomedian: All I did was say that I didn't think the woman's accomplishments amounted to a title.


She has a Pulitzer, three Grammys, a Tony, the National Medal of Arts, and a pile of other awards.  She wrote seven books (plus several children's books), published hundreds of poems, and wrote eight plays.  She's been an actress, a screenwriter, and a director.  Her works are part of university curricula around the world.

She's been successful in all of these endeavors, starting in the 1960s when America was even more racist.  Why her, then?  Did America just pick a woman of color at random to pile awards on?
 
2014-06-03 02:15:25 PM  

lamecomedian: stonicus: lamecomedian: stonicus: Ok, what set of non-subjective criteria are going to use to judge the quality of a poem, or a song, or a painting?

Whatever you want, man.  Edgar Allen Poe thought length was important in poetry - he thought a poem needed to be digestible in one sitting (which is why he didn't care for epics).

Ok, I choose "popularity".

Totally legit.  How do you factor in changes over time?


I just go by total record sales and let the winner of "quality" be dynamic and change over time.  So a song may have the highest quality one month, then not for a year, then take it back again at a later date.  And we've now just defined quality to be the exact opposite of what you stated earlier.
 
2014-06-03 02:15:58 PM  

fireclown: I can't help but notice that you led with racist.


It was reasonable, given that it was central in the context of the post I was replying to.
 
2014-06-03 02:16:08 PM  

ikanreed: stonicus: ikanreed: I don't know why I bother.

I don't know either.  You're not making the slightest bit of sense.  Ooops, I must be racist.

Oh look, that guy accused someone of being racist, he must use that as an arbitrary attack and certainly isn't asking for a tiny bit of reflection on the count of actual racists in the vain hope that any of them ever reconsider.

I wouldn't be so annoyed about it if everyone weren't so blase about the accusation.  Like... "Racism isn't a real thing, jeez calm down about one histories major sources of injustice, guy."

The structure of his argument is specifically one steeped in racism.


I don't think Mike Tyson was a very good boxer.  Is that racist?
 
2014-06-03 02:17:18 PM  

chimp_ninja: lamecomedian: All I did was say that I didn't think the woman's accomplishments amounted to a title.

She has a Pulitzer, three Grammys, a Tony, the National Medal of Arts, and a pile of other awards.  She wrote seven books (plus several children's books), published hundreds of poems, and wrote eight plays.  She's been an actress, a screenwriter, and a director.  Her works are part of university curricula around the world.

She's been successful in all of these endeavors, starting in the 1960s when America was even more racist.  Why her, then?  Did America just pick a woman of color at random to pile awards on?


If you listen to any of the opponnants of affirmative action programs, they'll insist that is precisely what we did.
 
2014-06-03 02:17:51 PM  

lamecomedian: Oh, good. I was afraid you'd left to use your time to actually help the people you that you imply you care about so much.


Ah the good ol' "I can't be racist, because [ad-hominem]".  Let's say I am a tremendous racist.  Do you still want to be?
 
2014-06-03 02:19:15 PM  
Rex Talionis:
Ben Franklin was styled as Dr. Franklin after he received an honorary doctorate from the College of William and Mary. Of course, you recall, Franklin had little formal secondary education and was primarily a printer's apprentice during his adolescence. He was given the honorary doctorate because of his contributions to science and learning. Is Maya Angelou really that different? Is she somehow not worthy of the same honor for her contributions to literature?

Since the historical root of the title Doctor was that the person had been granted a license to teach in a university, and unlike most recipients of Honorary Doctorates, Maya Angelou was in fact a university professor, I'd say she is worthy of the honor.   I think that some of the farkers here who claim that only medical doctors are entitled to the use of the honorific err when they rely on Miss Manners and etiquette mavens on matters of academic titles.  Miss Manners may be correct in her assessment of social norms in polite society in the US, but it is a mistake to conflate that with academic tradition or practices outside the US.  In Germany, for example, all PhD's as well as MD's are referred to as "Herr Doktor" socially as well as academically. The German for medical doctor is "Artz" while the title is "Doktor" English  doesn't make that distinction which contributes to our confusion.  Professional doctorates- M.D., D.O., D.D.S. and J.D. are inventions of the late 20th century. Previously persons with degrees in medicine, dentistry and law were awarded Bachelor's degrees, but since those degrees required additional study beyond that required for a bachelor's degree, and were often awarded to persons already holding a bachelor's degree, schools wished to acknowledge that by awarding doctorates for the first professional degree instead of the traditional bachelor's degree.  My professor of Constitutional law was indeed a Doctor- he held both a BA in law as well as an S.J.D. a research doctorate in law.  To assert that because he was not a physician.he was not entitled to the title Doctor is quite frankly silly, since unlike an M.D. he had earned both the first professional degree and an advanced professional degree that required  him to demonstrate he had advanced the field of knowledge he studied.
 
2014-06-03 02:19:52 PM  
Z-clipped: lamecomedian: A prediction about the future is not a fact.

You're going to die someday.  Gravity will continue to make objects fall toward the center of the earth today.  Ice will melt in a hot cup of tea.

Are these facts, or opinion?  Just trying to set the bar for this silly semantic distinction you're trying to make.


These are true by definition; they are not predictions.  It's the same thing as saying "ice melts in a hot cup of tea," "human beings are mortal" or "gravity pulls objects to the center of the earth."

Saying that a person will be remembered in the future as fondly as she currently is remembered IS a prediction; a lot of people thought Rudyard Kipling was awesome back in the day, but his reputation has suffered since then.
 
2014-06-03 02:21:30 PM  

stonicus: I don't think Mike Tyson was a very good boxer. Is that racist?


no.  It's foolish. That dude was one of the all time greats.   Besides, he has an honorary PhD in Humane Letters, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Tyson. which makes him a scholar as well,
 
2014-06-03 02:22:23 PM  

stonicus: I don't think Mike Tyson was a very good boxer. Is that racist?


It's denial of fact, but no, it isn't.  Arguing that while accepting John Corbett as amazing, might give off the stink, though.
 
2014-06-03 02:22:54 PM  

doubled99: Wow. What a stupid waste of an article.
No, she's not a real doctor. There isn't even a decent argument and anyway she's dead.


Her employer, a university, saw fit to grant her that honorific.  It basically said "your life's work is your thesis and we have approved it".  Their opinion counts more than a bunch of morons in the internet does.

Once the first dozen or so major universities and colleges decide you're worthy of a doctorate, and it is in the field in which you ply your trade as an academic, then yeah, I think you can claim it pretty fairly.
 
2014-06-03 02:22:56 PM  

IrishBlunder: FLMountainMan: Sybarite: Every use of Dr. before you're name when you are not an M.D. is pretentious.

Yep.  So is signing "Esq." (unless you really need to emphasize or clarify that you are writing the letter as a legal representative for someone)

Not exactly.  The general etiquette is to put your title after your name in handwritten signatures.  What kills me is people who insist on both in letterhead, business cards, email sigs, etc., ie. "Dr. Larry Fine, M.D." - and of course their manifold list of job descriptions, additional degrees, tech qualifications and whatever.  The unreadable 5-point type overkill is, on occasion, breathtaking.


I've never heard the handwritten signatures thing.  Ever.  I have heard the "only other people should refer to you as esquire" thing.  In my own experience, I use the title about once a week.  NCSB -  I work for the government, practiced for the gov't for about 18 months and then got promoted out of the general counsel's office and into an executive position.  This being Florida state government, we are, of course,   understaffed very lean and efficient, so about once a week I have to draft up a legal document because the OGC is swamped. I refer to myself as esquire in these documents so that it's clear that I am, for the purposes of that document, representing the opinion of the general counsel's office.  I realize it's an artifice of my own design, but it works for me.
 
2014-06-03 02:22:57 PM  
stonicus:

I don't think Mike Tyson was a very good boxer.  Is that racist?

If you back it up with something like: he doesn't block well, he doesn't move his feet well. The only reason he wins so many fights is because he's throws such a heavy punch that it destroys most people -- but as soon as he ran into someone who could hit just as hard AND move he lost . .  then "no." If you think he's not a very good boxer because you don't like him, then maybe depending on why you don't like him.

But here's the thing: Thinking Angelou is not a very good poet simply because you don't like her poetry is sort of like saying you don't think Tyson is a good boxer just because you don't like Tyson. It is an insubstantiated opinion that demonstrates no understanding of what being a good boxer means.

And here's where it gets tricky: those who's expertise revolves around understanding what makes for good literature have spoken with near unaninimity in agreement that Angelou is a quality writer who is socially important. Which is vastly different from the Tyson parrallel because numerous boxing experts said from day one that Tyson was a bruiser who lacked many skills normally associated with quality boxers, but his strength and power made him nearly unbeatable. The difference of course being that Angelou didn't have to win some knock-out poetry reading contest in order to succeed, and Tyson didn't have to impress his peers. That difference is critical to the entire discussion and attempting to bypass it misses what is essential to the discussion.
 
2014-06-03 02:23:35 PM  

ikanreed: stonicus: I don't think Mike Tyson was a very good boxer. Is that racist?

It's denial of fact, but no, it isn't.  Arguing that while accepting John Corbett as amazing, might give off the stink, though.


So, saying I don't respect Mike Tyson's skills as a boxer isn't racist.  But saying I don't respect Maya Angelou's skills as a poet is.  You are a confusing person.
 
2014-06-03 02:23:37 PM  

stonicus: ikanreed: stonicus: ikanreed: I don't know why I bother.

I don't know either.  You're not making the slightest bit of sense.  Ooops, I must be racist.

Oh look, that guy accused someone of being racist, he must use that as an arbitrary attack and certainly isn't asking for a tiny bit of reflection on the count of actual racists in the vain hope that any of them ever reconsider.

I wouldn't be so annoyed about it if everyone weren't so blase about the accusation.  Like... "Racism isn't a real thing, jeez calm down about one histories major sources of injustice, guy."

The structure of his argument is specifically one steeped in racism.

I don't think Mike Tyson was a very good boxer.  Is that racist?



Well, he did squander his resistance for a pocketful of mumbles.
 
2014-06-03 02:24:16 PM  

lamecomedian: Not at all.  It's (potentially) an objective and measurable gauge of quality, but if you're evaluating something, you can choose any criteria you want.  I mean, maybe Green Day is more popular because stores carry more Green Day albums than Star Wars soundtracks - that's a factor that skews the results, right?


It's why "popularity" is a really tricky thing.

Music, movies and books can all sell in huge numbers, but sometimes it's quite fleeting. Sometimes it's about promotion over word-of-mouth, and the heavily promoted stuff fades fast, while the word-of-mouth stuff grows. And some work fits a particular time, or has novelty value, but loses its sheen over time. I re-watched The Artist the other day, and it's still OK, but it's a novelty movie. The Descendants and Hugo are better movies of the Oscar nominees. And according to 2 friends that watch even more movies than me, I should really watch the Iranian film A Separation which they said was incredible.
 
2014-06-03 02:25:28 PM  

lamecomedian: I've got an MA in English lit - does that count?


Well, it's a start.  Have you made any intelligent criticisms in this thread?

Her poetry is weak, treacly, greeting-card caliber pap.

Ahem. OK.  Any idea why so many respected scholars and writers would find enormous value in her work then?
 
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