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    Hot flashes

    Well, now, isn’t this nice. Susan Estrich decided to challenge Michael Kinsey on the dearth of women writing op-eds for the LAT, and things have escalated:

    As the controversy drags into a fourth week, Estrich continues to bounce from conciliation to confrontation. She seemed near tears in an interview, saying she never intended the fight to get so personal. She blamed the operators of her website for improperly posting comments about Kinsley’s mental health and contended she didn’t think e-mails to Drudge and others in the media would get into the public domain.

    Oh, super! Nothing like giving fuel to those who contend that chicks are too emotional and flighty and irrational for the world of ideas–though I’m not sure irrational is a sufficiently powerful word to cover the stupidity of sending e-mails to media figures (including MATT DRUDGE!!!!!) and assuming there was no way they’d be publicized. Nice blame-passing about the website thing, too, counselor. Way to help out those of us who want to see women who with a talent for public life have their shot at maximizing it!

    I found the story above through Virginia Postrel (emotional! flighty! irrational! NOT!), who addresses it with dry distaste and appends an experience of her own:

    The whole silly brouhaha reminds me of how the LAT used to handle this question: through rigid, numerical quotas. I remember visiting Bob Berger, the op-ed editor, back in the early ’90s. An old-style newspaperman, Bob didn’t like the paper’s demands that he demonstrate “diversity” on the op-ed pages. I especially remember his complaint that he not only had to find gay writers but gay writers who would mention that they were gay. No gay foreign policy experts need apply.

    When I was in high school and college, I always envisioned myself as a professor or journalist of some kind. This malarkey makes me more grateful than ever that my path changed and I ended up in the fulfilling but anonymous and artisanal job I have. How hard should it be to judge writers by whether they write well?

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to build a reputation based on your name, of course, or with using it as currency when you do. Nor is there anything bad about inviting commentary on feminism and gay issues from women and gays. Yeah, yeah, yeah–this issue’s been around for thirty years, and getting worked up over it just raises the blood pressure. It still boggles the mind that people who think this way can get their silly little hang-ups enforced–be sure to read the last paragraph of Virginia’s post.

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