The Aaronson-Laba convergence

Two dramatis personae of previous posts — Scott “thrown in prison for life” Aaronson and “Queen” Izabella Laba — have intersected out there in the interwebs. Their civil (though occasionally snarky) disagreement revolves around the question of whether the causes of social justice and in particular women’s rights are best served through plain language, avoiding specialized jargon (such as “privilege”; this is Aaronson’s position) or whether the specialized jargon is necessary to convey the subtle modes of oppression that modern first-world women are subjected to. [Indeed, when you can’t describe this as “she was stoned for adultery” or “she was whipped for driving a car”, what can you describe it as? Microaggression!]

Prison-for-life and Queen are both far more prolific writers than yours truly, and a meticulous dissection of their arguments is more punishment than I’m willing to subject the reader (or myself) to. However, it is often possible to size a person up in a given area based on brief, simple observations. Thus, I can claim with confidence that Profs. Aaronson and Laba are both well-respected scientists in their fields (especially Laba, who was invited to speak at ICM’2014 — though being a tenured MIT professor is nothing to scoff at either).

As for their political views: Aaronson’s “prison” quote (which I’ll keep repeating at every opportunity) seriously taints his otherwise reasonable arguments. For what it’s worth, I think he clearly has the upper hand in the aforementioned exchange. And Laba? She cites Ta-Nehisi “black bodies” Coates’s writing as an example of “plain, clear, beautiful language”. That really tells you everything, but you’ll be happy to know that she’s also perfectly happy to stifle certain uncomfortable conversations, invoking the arguments of DeNeil DeGrasse Tyson! [And all you need to know about the latter is that he lets the words “here I am, one of the most visible scientists in the land”  effortlessly roll off his lips.]

 

UPDATE 08-Jun-2016

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