Archive for April, 2012

First a rant…

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

I actually had to make a list of all the bittering and ranting I need to do. There’s so much, I’m falling behind and I don’t want to forget to cover any of it.

So of course something completely trivial came up this morning and made me need to burst out a quick rant just for the sake of ranting.

I approve pretty much every comment that gets thrown at my postings. I think people should be able to say whatever they want to about my postings, right up close and personal, flattering or not. (One great thing about Daily Kos, where I’ve been doing still more ranting lately, is that you don’t have the option of saying no to comments. People can wander in and say whatever the heck they want to, provided they have an account.)

I say “pretty much” because there have been two comments I didn’t put through. One was an entry to the Let’s Talk Like That Extra Reading Guy contest. The writing was so nasty that either the entrant really is Mr. Extra Reading himself, in which case I’m not letting him post because he might give my blog the clap; or he’s so good at imitating him that he scares me.

The other comment came in just this morning. It was in response to “The Case Against Jesse Scaccia.”

Here’s most of the comment. I’m leaving out some pertinent information for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. I’m not leaving out capitalization and punctuation; they were never there to begin with.

“So worried he will be elected to Council what a horrific blow to homeschoolers everywhere that would be he will be at … on … come and share what you know/ask him questions/most people have NO CLUE about his stances”

Let me see if I have this straight.

I’m angry because Jesse Scaccia set about purposely and publicly insulting homeschoolers.

I’m more angry because he took great joy in how annoyed homeschoolers were by his words.

The closest he came to an apology was an article he wrote suggesting a “solution” to homeschooling.

He only expressed public regret regarding his posting when he decided to run for office and his words came back to bite him in the butt.

He only expressed this regret on other people’s blog postings. Though he’s one of two administrators for the blog in question, he hasn’t posted an apology there; nor has he said anything on his FB page or “I’m running for office!” web site.

I don’t like people who hurt other people because 1. they think it’s fun and 2. they can get away with it, so 3. why not.

I don’t like people who hurt other people because they think those people can never hurt them back so see above re why not.

Jesse Scaccia is guilty of all of the above.

I’m still on his mailing list, so he’s terminally stupid to boot.

These are perfectly important things to know about a political candidate.

I don’t live in Norfolk, VA. Even if I did, I wouldn’t be obligated to give a balanced view of any or all of the candidates in their election.

If it’s not pretty bloody obvious that I’m not here to give Scaccia ad space, someone tell me how to make it more so.

What if the abovementioned commenter had phrased things a little differently? Like this, for instance?

“I understand how angry Scaccia’s posting made you and the rest of the homeschooling community. That’s completely understandable, and I’m not excusing or condoning his behavior in any way. However, this election is about a lot of very important issues. I think it’s crucial for Norfolk voters to have a thorough understanding of what each candidate plans to do if elected. If you’d like to ask some questions, Jesse will be appearing at…”

I would have really hated it if someone had sent me something like that, because I don’t think I could have refused to post it even though it would mean some free advertising for his campaign.

It’s no good asking now, by the way. Let the record state that I’m now officially closed when it comes to positive publicity on Scaccia’s behalf.

But I’d just like Karin Asin, if that’s his or her real name, to know that her comment didn’t cast me into any ethical dilemma at all.

You started off sarcastic and bitchy. Which is my department on this blog, thank you.

You went on to insult my intelligence by assuming I’d fail to notice a blatant ad for your candidate’s event.

Weirdly enough, I’m not even remotely tempted to click “approve” on your comment.

But I think I deserve a few huzzah-for-free-speech points for letting you have most of your say anyway.

What Jesse Scaccia Meant To Say

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Two days ago, I got another email from Jesse Scaccia.

He wants to have a meaningful conversation on the subject of homeschooling. His words.

He’s sure we agree more than we disagree on the subject. Also his words.

He insists that his objection to homeschooling is purely philosophical — a point he’s made in comments on other blogs. He stands by the point he made in his blog post, but not the language he used to make it.

He closes by begging for my graciousness in giving him a moment of my time for the aforementioned meaningful conversation.

Three years ago, I asked for a moment of his time. Specifically, I asked him to read “The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List” and try to understand how it feels to hear the same criticisms masquerading as questions day after day after day. I briefly described a typical day in my homeschooling life and asked him to think about how I felt knowing that apparently I’m “pissing off” people like him just by getting up in the morning.

I received no reply.

I received a reply pretty darned quick later that day, when I emailed back asking if there was anything he wanted me to mention in the article I’d be writing about him.

Which told me that he wasn’t interested in meaningful conversation. He was interested in enjoying the feeling of power that went along with infuriating an entire community.

That’s not my interpretation of events, by the way. In a reply to a comment on his blog, he told a homeschooler named Tara, “I am delighted by your defensiveness!”

He had the power. When he was bored by the direction our conversation was going, he stopped replying.

Until he saw that I had some power in the writing department as well, and I intended to use it.

Even then, he wasn’t interested in graciousness or meaningful conversation. He was interested in trying to stop me from writing my piece.

When he couldn’t, he sent me one last email expressing his horror at the name-calling and insults homeschoolers had thrown his way in response to his blog posting. He didn’t understand why, if they thought he was misinformed, they hadn’t patiently tried to educate him on the subject. His words. This, he thought, definitely supported one of his points, which is that we homeschoolers are antisocial. Also his words.

That was three years ago.

Now he wants meaningful conversation.

I’m not interested in talking to someone who only wants to talk to me when he feels threatened by my behavior and wants to change it.

He insists that we should look past the language used in his blog posting and see the points he made instead.


So what does his “Case Against Homeschooling” look like, if you take away the abusive language?

#10: Because homeschoolers are a minority, they will be treated like outsiders when they go to college. Being an outsider is not a good feeling. Don’t do this to your child. (My aunt’s next-door neighbor makes this point against interracial marriage. He’s not racist, he insists; he just thinks that it’s not fair to the kids of such marriages, because they’ll be teased in school. By his kids, presumably.)

#9: Students should have a place dedicated specifically to learning. Homeschoolers don’t have that — they study at the kitchen or living room table. They should go to school instead.

#8: Homeschooling parents are wealthy and well educated. Their kids would do well in school, and they should go there.

#7: Instead of homeschooling, Christians should send their children to public school in order to proselytize.

#6: Homeschooling parents lack the training and education to teach their children as well as public school teachers can.

#5: Homeschooling as a concept is annoying to Jesse Scaccia.

#4: Homeschooling is a breeding ground for racism and other forms of intolerance.

#3: No matter what homeschooling parents say about how their children participate in plenty of outside activities — and what these parents say could be described as “garbage,” if we hadn’t already agreed to leave that sort of language out of this revised list — homeschooling leaves children socially unprepared.

#2: Homeschooling is a gamble, and a risky one at that. Again, if we hadn’t previously resolved not to talk like that, this would be the second time in this list that the word “arrogant” would be used to describe homeschooling parents.

#1: There’s no way of rephrasing this one, because it’s short and to the point in the original. Homeschooled kids are geeks.

Let the record state that Jesse Scaccia stands by the points made in his blog post — just not the language he used to make his point. All right. That’s the list sans language.

Feeling gracious yet?

The Case Against Jesse Scaccia

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

This morning, a political plea for funds showed up in my email-box. That isn’t unusual — I’m on a lot of mailing lists. What did surprise me was who wanted my money today. Why was I, a California resident, expected to care about who was running for city council in Norfolk, Virginia?

As I said, I’m on a lot of mailing lists. I ended up on this one because of a conversation I had three years ago with the candidate in question.

His name is Jesse Scaccia.

Scaccia is famous in the homeschooling community. Not in a name-recognition kind of way; but he’s definitely on our radar. All you have to say is, “Hey, remember that guy who wrote that blog post a few years ago? The one about his top ten reasons for hating homeschooling? He called us a bunch of self-aggrandizing society-phobes who are arrogant to the point of lunacy? And I quote?”

You probably won’t even have to say that much to get the memories flowing. I know from experience that writing in list form can be a good way to get the Internet’s attention.

Of course I wrote to him. I was angry, but that didn’t bother Jesse. He loved the attention he was getting. You can see my half of the correspondence in the article I wrote about our exchange.

Scaccia was angry by the end of the conversation — but apparently not angry enough to remove me from his email address book. Either that or he believes that old adage about all publicity being good publicity. Because when he decided to run for city council in Norfolk, Virginia, he dropped a line to the Bitter Homeschooler. He’d love a donation of either money or time.

My first thought was to write back asking him to take me off a mailing list I never should have been on. My second impulse was to email back a request for his home address so I could send him a check for a million dollars. I didn’t do either, but I did mention the incident on Facebook.

“Oh, great,” homeschooling activist and writer Tammy Takahashi responded. “Where’s he running for office?”

I told her. And then I realized I ought to be telling a lot of other people. Specifically, the homeschooling community of Norfolk, Virginia. And maybe as much of the rest of the homeschooling community as I could reach while I was at it.

In the last presidential election, I heard a lot of conversations about which candidate was more supportive of homeschooling. Which isn’t something to worry about in a presidential election. Homeschooling is legal in every state in America — but every state has its own laws about what constitutes a home education. Some states require testing; some don’t. Some require portfolios and government oversight; some think it’s enough that parents say, “Hey! Guess what? We’re homeschooling! See ya!” The president has nothing to do with any of this. It would be nice if he liked us, but it really isn’t necessary.

Local politicians, on the other hand, can have a real impact on homeschooling. They can work to implement truancy laws, testing requirements, and daytime curfews.

Jesse Scaccia is viciously anti-homeschooling. He’s made his views quite clear.

It might be a good idea for the homeschoolers in Norfolk to mobilize to keep Jesse Scaccia from getting into office — and to keep a sharp eye on him if he does get elected.

I wrote to the moderator of a Norfolk homeschooling support group letting her know who Scaccia is and what he’s running for. I got a lovely reply, telling me that she’d been thinking of supporting him since the incumbents really need booting out. However, she isn’t prepared to support someone like him.

Homeschoolers are always outstandingly generous when it comes to sharing information. It shouldn’t take long for this bit to get around.

Scaccia asked me for money and/or time. I really can’t afford the cash.

But now that he mentions it, I think I can spare a few minutes toward his campaign.