Political Correctness

The Nation Apologies for Publishing an 'Ableist' Poem

"Caused harm to members of several communities"

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Wee
Screenshot via Vimeo

The Nation's poetry editors have added a lengthy apology to a short poem published in its pages a week ago. The poem "contains disparaging and ableist language that has given offense and caused harm to members of several communities," for which they are very, very sorry.

Indeed, the apology is longer than the poem itself.

The poem's author, Anders Carlson-Wee, has apologized as well. "I am listening closely and I am reflecting deeply," he noted on Twitter. "The fact that I did not foresee this reading and the harm it could cause is humbling and eye-opening." The first reply to this post is from a Twitter user complaining that the use of the term "eye-opening" in the apology is ableist as well. This user does not appear to be a parody account, but the fact that it's quite difficult to tell is sort of the point.

As for the poem itself, please give it a read. I wouldn't call it my favorite poem ever, but it's clearly not trying to communicate anything nefarious. I read it as calling out the hypocrisy of people who claim to care about the poor, the homeless, and the disabled, but don't do anything meaningful to help them. ("It's about who they believe they is / you hardly even there.") You know, like people who relentlessly try to enforce politically correct language on social media, as if stopping people from using body metaphors will have an actual, tangible positive impact on the disabled community.

Others criticized Carlson-Wee for seemingly writing in the voice of a homeless person (possibly a person of color), even though he is an affluent white person. But this is the writer's task: to center oneself in the minds of other people, and make their desires and struggles seem genuine rather than imagined. I don't think anyone would have been able to tell that the author was white without looking at the name. This should be a credit to Carlson-Wee's work, not a thoughtcrime.

The editors' apology notes that the poem has not just "given offense," but also "caused harm to members of several communities." This seems in keeping with the view, increasingly popular in universities, that words do not just have the power to inspire violence, but are themselves equal to violence. No wonder so many observers of campus culture worry that formal policies intended to prevent emotional harm are making young people less resilient.

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108 responses to “The Nation Apologies for Publishing an 'Ableist' Poem

  1. The first reply to this post is from a Twitter user complaining that the use of the term “eye-opening” in the apology is ableist as well.

    The able-bodied appropriating outrage on behalf of the disabled is ableist.

    1. An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. Mahatma Ghandi

      I’m not sure which is worse, that they would nominally punch Mahatma Ghandi in the face or that they are neither culturally aware nor physically rigorous enough to do so. They are Jack’s intellectual dwarves.

  2. I hate everyone involved in this post. And now I hate poetry as well.

  3. I can’t wait to see what the world is like in ten years.

    1. Why? Got a premonition of death in the next, say, 9 years?

  4. The Nation should apologize for going from an anti-war publication to one that just spouts CIA talking points now

    1. War is great if it helps one Own the Cons.

  5. The editors’ apology notes that the poem has not just “given offense,” but also “caused harm to members of several communities.”

    Boy, somebody’s got a really deluded sense of the impact of how much a poetry page somewhere in the back pages of a print magazine impacts American society.

    1. “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”

      – Every English professor’s favorite quote.

  6. The first reply to this post is from a Twitter user complaining that the use of the term “eye-opening” in the apology is ableist as well.

    Kay we’re done here.

    1. Sigh. Stevie Wonder uses the word, “see”, in the first person quite a few times in his lyrics.

      1. So he’s disableist. So?

    2. “Why do people think we’re humorless scolds”, they might be asking.

      “Can’t figure out why nobody who isn’t totally on board with us wants to even look at us”, they might inquire.

      To make you a better person is the goal upon which they are tasking.

      But the only way for them to be better is if they decided to jump in a roaring fire.

    3. Well, humbling means “low to the ground,” so this is height-ist, to say the least.

  7. seemingly writing in the voice of a homeless person (possibly a person of color),

    It reads exactly like an affluent white person trying to imitate the speech patterns of a certain kind of “person of color” and failing miserably. Good for a chuckle and some ridicule, but nothing more.

    1. The more you listen to these people, the more you expect them to start pulling out the calipers and measuring everyone’s skull dimensions and nose width. You know, for wokeness.

      1. I bet you ten bucks you could go on DU or some other fever swamp and arguing for the validity of phrenology in predicting wokeness and at least some of these dumb asses would believe it.

        1. On the one hand, I want to see someone do this. On the other hand, I don’t particularly want to read one of those threads.

    2. Cue HRC in South Carolina. On more than one occasion, but I don’t recall anyone actually taking her to task for it. expect for some conservative pundits. And they got no credit for it.

      1. She ain’t in no way tired!

        1. Well, do zombies technically get tired?

        2. “I am so sorry, I meant to say that although a lesser person may have become exhausted by all the effort I’m making on behalf of you people, I on the other hand don’t get tired at all, you ingrates.”

    3. What exactly is the “voice” of a homeless person?

      1. Hopefully one that tells them to go to a new city. We have boatloads of homeless where I live, not a fan. They are all clearly strung out junkies, I won’t give them a nickel.

  8. I hate everyone in this story.

  9. I keep hoping this brand of stupidity is being caused by a slow-acting virus that’s going to eventually kill all of these idiots.

  10. “I wouldn’t call it my favorite poem ever, but it’s clearly not trying to communicate anything nefarious.”

    Oh Robbie, you big libertarian, free speech guru, you, why does it matter whether the poem was trying to communicate anything nefarious?

    1. You really are a pain in the ass.

      This isn’t a government story. There’s no first amendment “free speech” issue here. We’re mocking a magazine for self-censoring and apologizing for something harmless. If they had published something “nefarious” (like, say, a screed about how all Jews must die), I think we’d all understand if the magazine decided to pull it.

      1. And upon further reflection: It’s all subjective. I say we let people say whatever stupid shit they want, but if a company (magazine) thinks it’ll hurt their bottom line (because it might be “nefarious”), they have every right to pull it. The mockery really should be towards the folks who find this stuff so offensive that they think it needs to be pulled.

        1. If only those standards were applied consistently rather than haphazardly…..

      2. Try to grasp–Robbie’s comment implies that, if there were something ‘nefarious’ in the poem then outrage could have been justified Got that?

        Let’s continue.

        That implication is the source of the idea that people reading things into, or misunderstanding something said, or taking something out of context is a valid reason for outrage.

        And all of it aids in the undermining of a culture of free speech.

        There is no good side to what the Nation did–or to Robbie’s endless equivocation

        The only proper response to this ‘outrage’ is a statement like this–

        ‘The Nation is sorry that so many failed to comprehend this work. Please seek out a tutor, in Reading Comprehension, Third Grade Level, and learn to read. When finished, apologies and sincere self criticism will be accepted at The Nation’s post office box. Thank you.’

        1. Except as Ship of Theseus pointed out:

          If there was something that most (not completely idiotic) people would find hateful in the poem, such as the statement “Whitey must die” or “Jews must die”, then outrage would be justifiable. Your argument is that any “outrage” is pure idiocy?which, ironically, would make your outrage at their reaction pure idiocy.

          1. Your argument is that any “outrage” is pure idiocy?which, ironically, would make your outrage at their reaction pure idiocy.

            There’s a reason he named himself after a creature that literally has no brain.

          2. Your argument is that any “outrage” is pure idiocy?which, ironically, would make your outrage at their reaction pure idiocy.

            Thank you, Red Tony. He will never get it. My favorite type of comments are yokel outrage about proggie outrage.

          3. Your argument is that any “outrage” is pure idiocy?which, ironically, would make your outrage at their reaction pure idiocy.

            There is a difference between criticism and outrage, and one of the far too popular rhetorical tricks these days is to equate the two, and attempt to make the critic look foolish and hypocritical.

            1. SSSShhhh!

              (they think they got me!)

              And where in the infinite hells does it say that I’ve got no brain? I have ALL the brains. I can make more brains. I can have rotating brain types in dimensional variances that would make that knot at the top of your spine–that mass of fat that you ephemerals use as a brain pop like your mothers cherry when I used your grandfathers big toe to deflower her.

              Brains. Heh.

              And why did you think I was outraged?

              Oh! Because you think ‘outrage’ can be justified by a poem. How adorable!

              I just love interacting with the pre-sentient. It reminds me of when the spawn were…..hmmm…’young’ isn’t quite the right word. New! When the spawn were new!.

              1. “The last major reference in Lovecraft’s fiction to Azathoth was in 1935’s “The Haunter of the Dark”, which tells of “the ancient legends of Ultimate Chaos, at whose center sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demonic flute held in nameless paws”.”

                So aptly named.

                1. SEE?!!?

                  My HORDE is mindless.

                  I’m just a blind idiot god, I’m just the Lord of All Things.

                  (and, if you don’t think dealing with Things like you wouldn’t drive something to blind idiocy, well you might want to check your own skull–because it sounds like that lump of fat you think with has leaked out. Perhaps into your diaper.)

                  Now, I’m going to enjoy some piping……

                  1. (….and maybe some amorphous dancers, if you know what I mean. wink, wink, wink, wink, wink….damnable eyes–I get started and just can’t seem to stop. wink, wink, win…)

              2. Nascent spawn.

                1. ‘nascent’. I like that.

  11. This seems in keeping with the view, increasingly popular in universities, that words do not just have the power to inspire violence, but are themselves equal to violence.

    We should get Ken’s expert opinion here. When Trump threatened tariffs and trade wars, it was just words, harmless, wake me up when he actually does something. When Rand Paul said he didn’t know if would would vote to confirm Kavenaugh, Ken said that was horrible, harmful, dangerous, or words [sic] to that effect. When trump said something else about something else (he has said so much!), that too was suddenly dangerous and harmful.

    I’d like to know how I am supposed to think about this “words” stuff. Who invented them? Can we void the patent, take back the royalties, draw and quarter the inventor? Surely this much danger cannot be allowed to stand!

  12. From the editors apology: “When we read the poem we took it as a profane, over-the-top attack on the ways in which members of many groups are asked, or required, to perform the work of marginalization. We can no longer read the poem in that way.”.

    Huh? Are you referring to a different poem?

    1. That’s absolutely not what it’s about lmao. It’s about people performing in order to play into the narcissistic self-regard of people who might give them money.

      1. It’s about people performing in order to play into the narcissistic self-regard of people who might give them money

        Which, from another perspective, is them “performing the work of marginalization” – i.e. actively playing the role of the marginalized “Other” for the bourgeois to perform the act of “reaching out and helping.”

        It’s really a pretty banal, and almost cliched, theme going back at least as far as Blake’s “Mercy would be no more if we did not make somebody poor.” With a dose of black-face thrown in for that touch of authenticity.

    2. “You don’t know what it’s about, do you?”
      “… No. I just liked the picture of the kitty.”

  13. “Others criticized Carlson-Wee for seemingly writing in the voice of a homeless person (possibly a person of color), even though he is an affluent white person”

    I agree a writer should be allowed to write in any voice they want, but this particular poem sucks specifically because the voice he’s chosen is annoying as hell. “Don’t say homeless, they know you is” is so obviously an affluent white dude condescendingly trying to write in the voice of a poor black guy and completely failing. I actually think the point he’s trying to make about charitable narcissism is a good one, but the voice he writes in falls pretty flat

    1. Fair.

      People should be more outraged at the quality of the poem than the supposedly offensive use of “ableist” (what a stupid term) language.

      1. Most poems are terrible. And those are the ones that get published.

    2. I agree a writer should be allowed to write in any voice they want, but this particular poem sucks specifically because the voice he’s chosen is annoying as hell. “Don’t say homeless, they know you is” is so obviously an affluent white dude condescendingly trying to write in the voice of a poor black guy and completely failing.

      ^ This.

      I would never suggest he be de-platformed for it, but the attempt to write in Ebonics is just face-palm-worthy. That no one in his writing workshop picked it up is an added layer of depressing – you can just imagine all the bourgies sitting around saying “ooh, I like how authentic the voice sounds!”

      1. The progs desperately want to live a “real” life, just without any risk.

        I’d kill to stick any of the commenters in the bad parts of DC for a week. No lockable doors to boot.

    3. I’d ask why the homeless person might be a person of color? Sounds pretty racist, if you ask me.

      1. And home-ist.

    4. I thought the poem portrayed the Vogonity of the poet’s compassionate soul quit nicely.

    5. The virus concerns me more than a single symptom. Despite our education system’s best efforts, Maya Angelou is still a third rate poet. Carlson-Wee — exemplified here — is a third rate Angelou.

  14. They should apologize for even calling it a poem. Damn that is an awful woke word salad.

  15. I seriously doubt many homeless cripples are going to find their way to reading this poem.

    1. Censoring literature is a whole new level of stupid, but don’t sell homeless cripples short

      1. Being triggered by a poem is a luxury of the sheltered and ungimped, I would assume.

        1. Past Me making some good points on this thread. High five, Past Me.

          1. I think I’m falling in love with Tony. But, I know he’ll only break my heart

        2. Ok you’ve post two [2] things I agree with. WTF?

    2. That is really funny Tony. Well played.

  16. I got something useful out of this:

    “I am listening closely and I am reflecting deeply,” …” The fact that I did not foresee this…and the harm it could cause is humbling and eye-opening.”

    I will use these exact words the next time I have to apologize to my wife

    1. That’s mighty whipped bro.

      But we’ve all done it. Something something live to fight another day, or maybe just live.

    2. Hahahahaha.

  17. What category was the Twitstorm on this one?

  18. Fucking soulless progs,
    Poisoning all that is good,
    Selling #MAGA hats.

    1. Nice haiku but its one syllable short

      1. 5-7-5, right?

        1. Looks good to me.

          1. This is not a haiku. A haiku must contain a seasonal reference in order to be considered a haiku.

            I *will* die on this hill.

            1. Yeah, I’m looking forward to football season, too

            2. Yeah but your just a shitty op-ed writer so what would you know?

              Robby knows nothing
              About what makes good haikus,
              His writing is trash.

              HAHAHAHAHA! SUCK IT, SOAVE!

              1. I totally read this in Will Ferrel’s Sean Connery Jeopardy voice.

                Thanks Sparky

                1. Thanks Sparky

                  Robby knows I love him even when he makes me beat him.

            3. Season of Trump.

            4. That was not Haiku
              Haiku must contain seasons
              He died on that hill

  19. Others criticized Carlson-Wee for seemingly writing in the voice of a homeless person (possibly a person of color), even though he is an affluent white person.

    Henceforth, all writing must be autobiographical, opening with an appropriate-lengthed apology for all the types of privilege the writer has benefited from.

    1. You don’t wanna know Yellow Tony’s privilege.

    2. Sounds like you’re pretty full of privilege.

      OBVIOUSLY, minorities can still write about white folks. They know ALL about us, including how little we actually give a shit what they are doing (it’s true, minority friends. White people, generally, couldn’t give two shits about your life. We don’t give two shits about white folks’ lives, either)

      Whites, however, cannot understand the suffering and misery of not being white.

      Please note — this comment sounds like it’s from the Klan, but it is actually simple white privilege theory expressed.

  20. This ersatz “poet” sounds just about as dreadful as those criticizing him. It’s fine if they want to eat their own. Bring some popcorn next time.

  21. The fact that I did not foresee this reading and the harm it could cause is humbling and eye-opening.

    ^ This I think is one of the more pernicious ways in which people who think they understand Deconstruction and “Post-Modernism,” but don’t, have damaged intellectual and artistic culture.

    You start with the idea that the text has its own system of references apart from the “author,” such that the author’s “intent” doesn’t really matter for interpretation of a text – the author’s take is “just one more interpretation with no more authority than anyone else’s.”

    But then you say “my politically-outraged take on this is 100% objectively true, and now I’m going to hold the author accountable for the meaning that I’ve already acknowledged he didn’t intend.”

    And this poor fool has so internalized this that his response is “I’m sorry – I should have realized that my text could be twisted around to mean something completely different from how I intended it. Please forgive me.”

  22. The editors’ apology notes that the poem has not just “given offense,” but also “caused harm to members of several communities.”

    If the members “harmed” still live, clearly, they were not harmed enough.

    1. Seriously. The remedy is more ableist poetry.

      1. “Able-ism” is one of those terms I’ve just never been able to get comfortably with, and to me seems like one of the places where this way of thinking has to break down at some point.

        I mean, are we really going to dive nose-first into a society where it’s not okay for me to discriminate against someone for a job that they are literally unable to do?

        1. You know, that is the kind of thing Hitler would say.

          I eagerly await the first blind NASCAR driver.

          Or the first funny feminist comedian.

          1. Asking comedians to be funny is anti-woke now. Comedians are supposed to lecture you about all of their most scarring experiences, real or imagined, while you applaud them for their bravery.

          2. Arizona Game and Fish. 1995 or 6. Gave blind hunters a waiver for hunting/shooting from vehicles and roadways. Some feel good group had a mission to provide the blind with the joys of harvesting a deer.

        2. they are literally unable to do

          This just shows how you can’t even comprehend what makes you ableist. Smdh

          1. Maybe so, because I’m also having a hard time understanding how the Americans with Disabilities Act isn’t “able-ist.” : /

            1. We are an incredibly racist country, right?

        3. It is not that they are UNable to do something. It is relative… they are simply LESS able to do something as compared to others. Being LESS able still implies SOME ability. At least I think that’s how it works… but I’m a cis-genderes, white, male, hetero shitlord (also employed as fully abled… I dont want to devalue anyone else’s relative lack of privelage thereby forcing me into an existential questioning of my self worth as a human. Am I worth anything as a human? Did all my worth come from others privelaging me? Will the small fraction of my soul that is non-white get to heaven? How socialist do I have to be to make up for being straight?)

          The part they forget is that a blind man is infinitely less able than someone with eyes. A condition most of us familiar with the idea of dispassionate definitions would accurately and concisely (therefore more correctly) label as “unable.”

  23. This seems in keeping with the view, increasingly popular in universities, that words do not just have the power to inspire violence, but are themselves equal to violence.

    As a libertarian, I am willing to respect the rights we all have to interpret reality in our own way. As long as these people believe that words and violence are equivalent, they can’t very well argue that there’s any difference between a “fuck off, asshole” and a swift kick in the nuts, can they? Guess which response I’d go with if they violently assaulted me with their words?

    1. Yeah, they are only getting away with this speech-is-violence bullshit because most everyone else still plays by the old (read “civilized” or “Enlightened”) rules where speech is okay and physical force is a major escalation. If more people accept their line of thinking…well, there will be more actual violence.

      And of course, what these morons always fail to realize, is that if their view (violence is okay, unpopular speech should be silenced, etc.) is accepted, they will absolutely NOT be on the winning end of most conflicts.

  24. Today’s poets are our singer-songwriters and rock groups – rhyming lyrics set to music, now that’s real poetry.

    Try making out while listening to a reading from the poems in the Nation or the New Yorker.

    1. You know, if she gives it up while hearing that, she will probably do a lot of really, really filthy things if you suggest it.

    2. I agree – the “crisis” in poetry (which every poet knows about) started when lyrics got divorced from music in the late Renaissance. Poetry moved farther and farther into an esoteric realm of specialists who then would have to explain to initiates what the poems meant.

      Now “poetry” as a practice is focused around workshops where the idle classes sit around and blow smoke up each other’s asses while they all write in the same “community voice” about the same “community concerns.”

      I like some contemporary poetry, but 98% of it is garbage.

      1. I think it reached a peak in modernism. I can’t stand a lot of even classic romantic stuff, and most modern stuff is all about leaves and trees and shit and I don’t think it means anything. Writing a poem should be an intense exercise of infusing multiple meanings in as few words as possible while not neglecting musicality. If it’s not pretty, or if it doesn’t mean anything other than “my walk in the forest was pretty,” then I don’t see a point.

        1. I think it reached a peak in modernism. I can’t stand a lot of even classic romantic stuff, and most modern stuff is all about leaves and trees and shit and I don’t think it means anything.

          I’m shocked – you’ve said several things I agree with today!

          Back when I was teaching English lit 15 years ago, I was already carrying around an essay I liked a lot called “Enough Nature Writing Already!” The essay was an extended eyeroll on how much “poetry” today is just some over-privileged asthmatic thinking “if everyone just loved Nature as much as me, the World would be Saved!”

          I blame Wordsworth.

  25. There once was a poet from Nantucket
    Who told all the critics to suck it;
    I write what I feel,
    Don’t care how you squeal,
    And you know the last line ends in “fuck it”

    1. Well. No one’s getting invited to the MLA with that attitude.

    2. That was fantastic! A+++.

  26. The entire poem is an egregious example of homesplaining, wherein a person with a home condescends to the home-impaired by believing he is more knowledgeable about how the home-impaired should convince people to give them money. He’s also an affluent, able-bodied, white male. He may even be a cisgender heterosexual. Who does he think he is to offer such advice to marginalized people (and those who identify as something other than human)?

  27. Political correctness was good, back when it was about being nice to other people. Like saying disabled instead of crippled.
    Or trying to use the name White apologists thought Black people wanted to be called…This Month.

    It blew right past that to being a form of censorship, to being a club to use on anyone who said anything. Because no matter what you say, someone isn’t going to like it.

    Now you can’t even talk about arms and legs, because someone who doesn’t have them Might be offended. You can’t sound like you Might have a home, because someone who doesn’t might be offended. Or more likely some activist might think they might be offended.

    And OH Forbid using bad grammar because Blacks might be offended. All the while forgetting that Blacks should be offended by you for stereotyping bad grammar as a
    Black thing”.

    We have reached a point where being normal is considered a White Racist CIS Gender Male thing, and an offense to all who don’t fit that description. Oops, sorry the word “normal” is also offensive too. Oops, sorry I used bad grammar so I’m a racist, Oh, sorry, I stereotyped bad grammar as being a non-white thing.

    Maybe I need to repent, cut off a leg, paint my face a darker color and go live under a bridge. Oh wait….

  28. “My favourite poem is the one that starts ‘Thirty days hath September’ because it actually tells you something.”
    Groucho Marx

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