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Currently I’m in the process of reading for my comprehensive exams. Admittedly it is a little unusual for a two-year MA to have both a thesis and comps, but I am actually pretty excited to have the opportunity to do both; it’s good preparation for a PhD program and also just good academic practice in general. Today’s article is “From Public Sphere to Public Screen: Democracy, Activism, and the ‘Violence’ of Seattle” by Kevin Deluca & Jennifer Peeples. This work expands on DeLuca’s book Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism by utilizing the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle as a site of analysis. DeLuca & Peeples state:

Image events are dense surfaces meant to provoke in an instant the shock of the familiar made strange. They suggest a Benjaminian sense of time, where any moment can open up on eternity, any moment can be the moment that changes everything, the moment that redeems the past and the future.

While I have not read Walter Benjamin (much to my chagrin), the ability to conceptualize of a moment in time, particularly a image-laden performative moment, as a potential site of intervention strikes me as a frame that ties into the ways in which activists articulate goals. My immediate thoughts on this quotation relate to the many times that I have seen activists engage in spectacle, and many times that those activists have been told they are being too confrontational or distracting. But those spectacles allow access to the corporate controlled public screen. The failing that activists risk, though, is engaging in spectacle without meaning; of demanding attention when there is no other substance to be seen.

Changing it Up

So this blog has been abandoned by me recently which I feel bad about. But I’m coming back to it! I’m currently in the second year of my MA program and hope to go on to a PhD program. So I’ll be using this space to post quotations from articles, books, etc; to reflect on academic-y things; and to maybe go on a few rants. More updates to come!

This post is in response to a recently published article which quotes me regarding the current situation regarding sexual assault at JMU. Below is a longer response, but in case you don’t want to read it/just want the essentials this is where you can see it.

Per the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics I have told the author of the article and her editor that I expect my quotation to be removed from the article, as well as any information relating to me, any information from/about our interview, and any information relating to my correspondence with the author. I also have informed the author that they do not have my permission to publish any other information from the interview or from our correspondence as they were given under false pretenses and are not valid for use in an article.

I was lied to about the content of the article, my words were misrepresented, and the author very clearly failed to do some fact checking. The quoted statement is in reference to a larger system. Indeed directly before the sentence the author chose to quote, we were talking about the larger failures in a system that allow for things like this to occur. I simply chose to reference a specific situation and specific person in the administration because it had already been reported on, and was an appropriate example for what I feel is a larger systemic failure to address sexual assault on college campuses—in short it was an example appropriate for a larger audience, appropriate for an article that I was told would focus on that systemic failure.

To the author of that article: I am severely disappointed. This is a serious issue that requires serious work. Lifting quotations out of context and ignoring the wishes of those who you interview  just so you can get a headline is, at the best, problematic and, at the worst, entirely unethical. To those of you who may have seen the article I am referring to and been upset, confused, or hurt by my statement: I am sorry. It truly was taken out of context. I would be happy to talk to you more about it if you have questions.

I hope that we continue to #StandWithButters, to make our voices heard, and to ensure that JMU becomes a safe place for its students.

*******

If you have been following news updates regarding sexual assault here at JMU, and the handling of Sarah Butters’ case in particular, then you may have seen an article pop up where I am quoted. If you haven’t I don’t suggest you do (for reasons I am about to talk about). But if you have I want to clear up some things about that article, and about my quotation in particular.

The author of this article reached out to alumni via twitter, asking for interviews. Katie Lese, who began JMU Alumni Against Sexual Assault, and myself both responded; hoping to present ways that alumni are beginning to make our voices heard. After the reported contacted me, I responded by cc’ing Katie in to the conversation. I made it very clear throughout the process that I did not feel comfortable being the only person interviewed. Initially both Katie and I were supposed to be interviewed together on Thursday, but due to communication issues weren’t able to. Because we were available at different times on Friday, I did not think much of agreeing to be interviewed earlier in the day. Both Katie and I expected that she would be interviewed later in the afternoon.

9:30 Friday morning rolled around, the author of this article called me, and I sat around drinking coffee thinking that the interview was going rather well. Before the interview I asked what the article would be focused on and was told that it would be addressing the larger issue of sexual assault on college campuses and community response. A perfect chance to talk about what JMU AASA hopes to accomplish.

After the interview I was told by the reporter that I would receive a copy of it before it was posted, to ensure that my words were captured correctly, that I was okay with it, standard journalistic procedure. At about 11 o’cock Friday evening I began to feel like something was up. Even if the reporter was on the West Coast that is only 3 hours behind us. I went to the website and saw that the article was, indeed, posted. It was not on the systemic problem of violence against women on campus, it was about JMU; it was not about community response, it was about the daily show.

Not only was I lied to about the content of the article, my words were misrepresented (also the author very clearly failed to do some fact checking, but that may not be the biggest issue here). Those who know me will know that I am not afraid to call people out and I will admit that sometimes I can be confrontational with those I feel have perpetuated an injustice. That is what my statement may look like. If you read the quotation it may seem like I am pointing fingers and calling people out, and yes I am questioning a single person. But it is also important to recognize that I am doing so in reference to a larger system. Indeed directly before the sentence the author chose to quote, we were talking about the larger failures in a system that allow for things like this to occur. I simply chose to reference a specific situation and specific person in the administration because it had already been reported on, and was an appropriate example for what I feel is a larger systemic failure to address sexual assault on college campuses—in short it was an example appropriate for a larger audience, appropriate for an article that I was told would focus on that systemic failure.

This issue requires us to talk about some uncomfortable things, it requires us to call each other out for actions big and small, it requires growth that may be painful for some. Part of holding each other accountable, though, is also holding accountable those who attempt to tell our story, and that is what I am attempting to do here. To the author of that article: I am severely disappointed. This is a serious issue that requires serious work. Lifting quotations out of context and ignoring the wishes of those who you interview  just so you can get a headline is, at the best, problematic and, at the worst, entirely unethical. Per the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics I have told the author of the article and her editor that I expect my quotation to be removed from the article, as well as any information relating to me, any information from/about our interview, and any information relating to my correspondence with the author. I also have informed the author that they do not have my permission to publish any other information from the interview or from our correspondence as they were given under false pretenses and are not valid for use in an article.

To those of you who may have seen the article I am referring to and been upset, confused, or hurt by my statement: I am sorry. It truly was taken out of context. I would be happy to talk to you more about it if you have questions.

I hope that we continue to #StandWithButters, to make our voices heard, and to ensure that JMU becomes a safe place for its students.


Alex Davenport

feminism, Sarah Butters, response, daily show, USA Today College, interview, sexual assault, JMU, Alex Davenport

But actually…what’s going on?

sixtyforty:

I did not even know that Macklemore used the word “faggot” in that disgusting song until I saw that the Grammys actually broadcast him saying it, and yet they censor Beyoncé‘s line “how the hell did this shit happen” by replacing all of it with complete. silence.

Straight…

#lategram

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