Friday, June 03, 2011

VideoGate, Day 7

Here's Jay Greene's initial take on it:

While this is a very positive development, it does not fully address the issue.  The main issue at this point is not Deborah Gist's hurt feelings for having been accused (apparently wrongly) of exceptional rudeness and incivility; the main issue is Diane Ravitch's credibility.  It is not enough for Ravitch to say that she is imperfect if the imperfection is about the very thing that makes everyone pay attention to her — her authority as an accurate chronicler of events.

To maintain her credibility Ravitch needs to give permission for the videotape of her meeting with Gist to be released.  Even if she is sorry or believes that she wrote in anger, she has still not spoken to the basic accuracy of her account.  If the video confirms her account, she could still be sorry but also be vindicated as a reliable source.  If the video does not confirm her account, she would be sorry and unreliable.  We still need to see the video and Ravitch should agree to release it.

In addition, there is something self-serving and potentially insincere about Ravitch's generic denunciation of "the spirit of meanness that now permeates so much of our public discourse" coming only after she is potentially caught in making inaccurate allegations against others.  Ravitch's meanness toward "the billionaire boys," Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, etc… has existed for some time without any concern from her about the nature of public discourse.

My concern about the sincerity of her newly expressed opposition to meanness is compounded by her use of the phrase:  "[t]hose of us who truly care about children…" by which I can only imagine that she includes herself and excludes her opponents.  Self-righteousness does not normally accompany contrition.

But perhaps Ravitch has turned a new leaf and is truly sorry for her own role in the meanness of public discourse.  The credibility of that contrition will have to be determined in light of her future writing and speaking, just as her credibility as a chronicler of events will have to be determined when she agrees to release the video.


VideoGate, Day 7

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