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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele — last modified Feb 05, 2024 11:30 AM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included Dr. Monifa McKnight's departure from MCPS, a pregnancy after a breakup, an effort to recall Charles Allen, and an unwelcome encounter with a person knitting in the OBGYN waiting room.

The most active thread over the weekend is really the continuation of a previous most active thread. The earlier thread was the one about the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education asking for the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight. Friday afternoon, the board and Dr. McKnight mutually agreed to separate. As a result, a new thread titled, "Board Fires Dr. McKnight" and posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum became the most active over the weekend. The thread was originally titled, "Board Fires Monifa" but I changed it because, as I said when I discussed the earlier thread, the use of first names for women, especially Black women, is a means of diminishing them and is often tinged with racism and sexism. A number of other area school superintendents have recently left their positions in controversial circumstances and not a single one was routinely referred to by first name. I don't see why Dr. McKnight should be treated differently. Even the revised title was criticized as inaccurate because, strictly speaking, Dr. McKnight resigned rather than being fired. As for the thread itself, it mostly rehashed the substance of previous threads. Dr. McKnight has been a lightening rod of criticism on DCUM with posters blaming her for the many ills they see affecting MCPS. Most recently, Dr. McKnight has been criticized for the handling of complaints of harassment and bullying by Principal Joel Beidleman. Beidleman was was promoted despite being under investigation and subsequent investigations found that MCPS had not properly followed procedures. It is unclear how much knowledge Dr. McKnight had of the Beidleman situation, but the Board — which listed "ensuring compliance with internal policies" as its first priority going forward — seems to suggest that she was being held responsible. Many posters argued that replacing McKnight is not going far enough and that school board members should resign as well. There is also considerable discussion in the thread about Alexandra Robbins whose article in the Washington Post first shed light on the allegations against Beidleman and his promotion. Many posters were thankful for her reporting and credited her with precipitating Dr. McKnight's departure. On the other hand, Dr. McKnight had a strong contingent of supporters, many of whom believed that Dr. McKnight was being treated more harshly than male or White superintendents. Some posters were focused on looking forward rather than back and were more interested in discussing possible candidates to replace Dr. McKnight. The proposals for new superintendents were closely linked to opinions about the future direction of the school system. In particular, there seemed to be widespread hope that a new leader would clean house of a number of other administrators. One issue that may affect the choice of a new superintendent is that all large school systems, and even some smaller ones, seem to be facing the same sort of serious challenges. Many superintendents have left or been forced out. As such, the job may not be as desirable as some might think and, as a result, may not attract the best candidates.

The next most active thread over the weekend was the "Travis and Taylor" thread that I've already discussed and will, therefore, skip. After that was a thread posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum and titled, "Dated for 2 months, didn’t work out. Now…we’re expecting." The original poster says that after an ugly breakup, the couple is expecting. Both are financially stable and could afford to raise a child. They have had the "tough ‘do we keep it’ talk", though the outcome of that discussion was not disclosed. The original poster is "feeling a bit lost". Notable about this post is the circumspect way in which it is written. The original poster does not reveal whether the poster is male or female or, as noted, the outcome of the abortion discussion. On top of this, the original poster seems to have disappeared after the original post and did not post again. Most of those replying seem to believe the original poster is a woman and the responses are similar to those in many similar threads from the past. Several poster describe having been in similar situations and, while many chose to terminate the pregnancy, several went on to have the baby. Of those, all reported that the love the child but several wished they had made a different choice because relations with their former boyfriend had made things very difficult. But, the most noticeable aspect of this thread to me was the presence of a big time troll. I am fairly certain that the troll is not the original poster, but rather someone who just saw an opportunity to cause mayhem. The troll first started out by posting outrageous posts such as being about to have her 5th abortion. Obviously, this type of post is pure trolling simply meant to generate response. But, since the response was apparently not satisfactory, the troll then sock puppeted responses to her own posts. The troll eventually posted 39 times in this 15 page thread. Moreover, all but one of those posts were on Friday. The entire thread died in the early afternoon of Saturday, suggesting that the troll may have been responsible for keeping it alive after the original poster disappeared. The troll posted from both sides of the abortion debate, changed genders, and generally engaged in almost every inappropriate behavior you could imagine. The troll managed to confuse other posters about who was or was not the original poster with many spending more time discussing the troll posts rather than the original poster's post. The thread is a complete and utter dumpster fire, to put it mildly.

Next was a thread titled, "Charles Allen faces recall effort" and posted in the "Metropolitan DC Local Politics" forum. Charles Allen is a Member of the Council of District of Columbia and, years ago, chaired the "Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety". At that time, Allen offered legislation that has been blamed by some for the current rise in crime in the District. Personally, I think much of the legislation is misunderstood and wrongly blamed. Nevertheless, Allen has become a favorite punching bag for those upset about crime. Over the years I've noticed that some DCUM posters will fixate on a somewhat marginal topic and almost reflexively bring that topic up in practically any circumstance whether it is appropriate or not. One example might be LGBT-themed books that someone might mention in a thread about high school math, making a connection that is only comprehensible to themself. Charles Allen has reached that status, being an object of obsession for which no thread is off-limits to his being discussed. But, this fixation goes far beyond DCUM. Even the US Congress dragged Allen up to testify, despite his no longer chairing the relevant committee. So, I guess it comes as no surprise that a recall effort has been launched against the Council Member. Recalls in DC are difficult to conduct and, off the top of my head, I cannot think of one that has been successful. The most difficult aspect is collecting signatures. Signatures of 10% of registered voters must be gathered. But really much more than that are necessary. First, DC voter roles have not been cleaned in ages so there are a lot more registered voters on the roles than really exist. Also, extra signatures must be gathered to make up for errors and ineligible signatures. But, the effort appears to be well-funded, so perhaps the organizers will cross this hurdle. Despite the strong opposition of some, Allen has generally been a popular Council Member. In his last election, he was unopposed and won handily in two previous elections. In this thread, the anti-Allen posters are ecstatic and clearly expecting victory. Allen's supporters are sanguine, viewing his opponents as a small but vocal group. Crime is the type of issue that is complicated, but for which residents frequently expect easy solutions. Politically, DC is even more complicated than most places. For instance, most violent crime is prosecuted by a federal appointee who is not chosen by DC residents. In addition, the US Congress has significant influence and frequently involves itself in local governance. Rather than trying to address the complexity of the situation which does not lend itself to simple solutions, it is much easier to place the blame on a single individual. Hence, the animosity aimed at Allen. I don't know if the recall effort will be successful, but I am fairly certain that the Allen haters will not like anyone elected to replace him either. They should probably worry about getting what they are asking for.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Expectant and Postpartum Moms" forum. Titled, "You walk into an OB office and sit next to a couple crying...", the original poster continued in the body of the post writing, "...and decide to whip out a knitting set and knit baby clothing in front of them." Apparently, the original poster and her husband had just found out that her pregnancy would not be successful and the couple, while waiting for further meetings with doctors, were in the waiting room crying. Another patient entered the waiting room and, despite the presence of several open seats, sat directly next to them and began knitting baby clothes. This was triggering to the original poster, causing her to cry harder. She considered the other patient to be inconsiderate and "daft". This is a heartbreaking thread given that it is impossible not to feel sympathy for the original poster. At the same time, not everyone agrees that the other patient is necessarily at fault. As several posters pointed out, the other patient may have simply lacked awareness and not realized the circumstances. Others say that she may have been dealing with her own stress and using knitting as a comforting measure. Generally, those responding believe the original poster's anger is misplaced. But, there are some posters who agree that the knitting was insensitive. The original poster is, understandably given the circumstances, not receptive to responses suggesting the knitter did nothing wrong. But, the more she digs in her heels, the stronger other posters argue in favor of the other patient. Some posters argue fairly forcibly that the original poster can't expect the world to revolve around her. Even posters who report having had miscarriages join in defense of the knitter. To some extent, the discussion diverges to include the broader topic of miscarriages and what causes them. In my opinion, this thread is a classic of example of two things being true. On the one hand, the original poster is deserving of sympathy and her anger is understandable. On the other, the knitting patient seems to be a convenient target and the original poster's indignation is probably not warranted. Therefore, both the original poster's angry posts and those in defense of the knitter are understandable. But, several posts go well beyond simply supporting the right of someone to knit in the waiting room with some posters actually joking about and making fun of the original poster. These posts are entirely unnecessary. Whatever the original poster's transgressions — and they minor at worst — she does not deserve to be the butt of anyone's joke. If those posters are pregnant, as their participation the expectant moms forum might suggest, they might give a thought to karma.

Coco says:
Feb 05, 2024 07:13 PM
Your heading says sitting in obgyn office knitting not crying. Did you mean knitting? Maybe I missed that thread.
Jeff Steele says:
Feb 05, 2024 07:14 PM
The reason the original poster of the thread was crying is because another patient was knitting.
Coco says:
Feb 05, 2024 07:20 PM
I clearly missed the knitting part of this post. Forgive me.
Jeff Steele says:
Feb 05, 2024 07:24 PM
No worries. That is a tough thread to read.
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