Monthly Archives: September 2006

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee: What is bullying?

  • constant nit-picking, fault-finding and criticism of a trivial nature – the triviality, regularity and frequency betray bullying; often there is a grain of truth (but only a grain) in the criticism to fool you into believing the criticism has validity, which it does not; often, the criticism is based on distortion, misrepresentation or fabrication
  • simultaneous with the criticism, a constant refusal to acknowledge you and your contributions and achievements or to recognise your existence and value
  • constant attempts to undermine you and your position, status, worth, value and potential
  • where you are in a group (eg at work), being singled out and treated differently; for instance, everyone else can get away with murder but the moment you put a foot wrong – however trivial – action is taken against you
  • being isolated and separated from colleagues, excluded from what’s going on, marginalized, overruled, ignored, sidelined, frozen out, sent to Coventry
  • being belittled, demeaned and patronised, especially in front of others
  • being humiliated, shouted at and threatened, often in front of others
  • being overloaded with work, or having all your work taken away and replaced with either menial tasks (filing, photocopying, minute taking) or with no work at all
  • finding that your work – and the credit for it – is stolen and plagiarised
  • having your responsibility increased but your authority taken away
  • having annual leave, sickness leave, and – especially – compassionate leave refused
  • being denied training necessary for you to fulfil your duties
  • having unrealistic goals set, which change as you approach them
  • ditto deadlines which are changed at short notice – or no notice – and without you being informed until it’s too late
  • finding that everything you say and do is twisted, distorted and misrepresented
  • being subjected to disciplinary procedures with verbal or written warnings imposed for trivial or fabricated reasons and without proper investigation
  • being coerced into leaving through no fault of your own, constructive dismissal, early or ill-health retirement, etc

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee: Sabotage 2

Earlier in the month I wrote the draft of an article covering the last Human Rights Committee Conference, to be submitted to the UTLA newspaper, The United Teacher,  and posted it to the Human Rights Committee listserve, asking for revisions, corrections, suggestions,  and photographs.  A few corrections were suggested and revisions were made, and with the approval of the Chair of the Committee, Steve Seal I sent the article on, to UTLA  staff member K.T. for publication.  As we got closer to the submission deadline I contacted K.T. to make sure she had all the information she needed. She informed me that the UT was not going to use the article afterall, that  “Ethel” and “Gilroy” had provided another article on the upcoming HRC/CAMS conference instead.  No one had told me that a change had been determined. I was totally broadsided!  I immediately called Steve Seal, the Committee Chair, and he said he had heard nothing about this either, that Ethel and Gilroy, instead of engaging in democratic dialogue and suggesting changes to the proposed article, or even proposing a substitute article, silently and behind the scenes, went about replacing the article that had been approved by the Committee, including the Committee Chair, with one of their own.


As it was, the first article was challenged by a key concept in journalism: timeliness.  The conference had taken place last May and the article would be coming out in late September, early October.  The emphasis on the HRC/CAMS conference was more appropriate, with a reference to other Committee activities and previous conferences placed later in the article.  KT and I worked together to modify the CAMS conference article, adding  descriptions and photos of  the previous conference. The outcome was an article that was stronger than either of the two rival articles.   

So, what’s the problem?

Ethel and Gilroy KNEW they were subverting my work, which is classic bullying.  They had an opportunity to make changes to the article and even propose a different article or direction, when the matter was brought up on the listserve. They could have approached Steve with their concerns, if they had legitimate reasons for not working with me and the rest of the Committee, via the listserve, to revise the article. 

This matter was addressed at the first HRC Meeting, on September 27, 2006 and the revised article was presented, hot off the presses much to the surprise of Ms. Ethel and Mr. Gilroy who sat silently as both  Andy and I explained to the Committee what had happened and confronted E. and G. about what they had done.  There was nothing to say in their defense.    

This,   along with the strange emails from Gilroy regarding the names I sent him from the sign in sheets, and the  underhanded behavior of Camile, holding onto sign in sheets,  that were my responsibility to add to the listserve, is typical bullying behavior.

Steve was confronted with the unanswered phone call and emails regarding this underhanded behavior, and finally provides the  following email:

——– Original Message ——– 


Subject: Re: second post: : Re: [utla-hrc-discussion] re: HRC issues
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 20:19:05 -0700
From: steve seal <>
To: <>
References: <> <>

I have discussed the matters with Gilroy and Camille and have received assurances that we will all be able to work together on our committee priorities.  There should be no further personal attacks from anyone on the listserve or anywhere within this committee.  I feel that the situation with Clarence and his attire is one that I really have no say in.  It is not up to me to judge the attire of any person wherever they are.  This is an individual issue and I think that it has been blown out of proportion under the rubric of sexual harassment.  You are an important part of this committee and so are the others.  We need to be able to work together, period.  I think that much of the wording on the proposal that came out at the meeting will be useful to further our work, and I look forward to discussing it later at the next meeting.

Take care

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee

The Elephant in the Livingroom– if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist
“Ethel” posts a message to the list regarding an event at the Southern California Library.  “Mildred”  posts a response to the list that goes on to discuss the upcoming HRC meeting scheduled for September 27.
So, while a previous post of hers states:
“It is better to talk together face to face.respectfully and treat each other as comrades. No one has a monopoly on suffering or militancy. None of us disagrees with becoming more sensitive and ending of all descrimination, but we have yet to arrive at a process of respect and humanity and not pidgeonhole each other in ways that show we really do not know each other at all.”
below, she suggests an all together different approach.  It would appear that both admonitions, not to discuss on line and not to discuss in a meeting face to face, are two sides to the same coin:  a stonewalling of any real discussion and debate and a real accounting of the issues and demands facing this committee on the issues of disability rights, assertions and on sexual harassment and sexism.
But then, given the silence on “Clarence’s” choice to wear a sexist and sexually explicit t-shirt  to a HRC meeting, with the expressed purpose of provoking and upsetting me, it would appear that we are operating under the sexist double standard that there are good girls and bad girls: where good girls are seen as innocent, and bad girls, like those who interrupt a meeting to assert their rights (albeit gracelessly) get what they deserve.
Underlined and in bold text; emphasis, mine.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: [utla-hrc-discussion] Fwd: So. Cal. Library: New documentary on Victor Jara this SaturdayDate: Wed, 13 Sep 2006 11:58:41 -0700 (PDT) “Ethel”-  The So Ca library has an uncanny habit of scheduling events when I could not go!  This Sat evening at 6:00 at the 1st Unitarian Church on 8th St just east of Vermont is an event that I’m committed to (Do come), Rosemary is coming . A highly honored former Pres of Costa Rica is speaking after a  typical Cent Amer. dinner. I’ll forward a flier. That same evening at Immanuel Church 5 min away is Amy Goodman.I don’t know if I explained why  I couldn’t make it to the CAMS event -ill.
I’ve got the book and will read it during my vacation. Since Iw won’t be at the 27th HRC committee meeting, hope some sane people will go and insist on not discussing the retreat and its aftermath at that ocassion.  If they insist, then  “Camile” has said there should be a mass exit. Let them deal with the destruction of the committee.

Ableism in the Human Rights Community- Continued: Sabotage

Making the Case
When this conflict began, It was hoped that through dialogue we could resolve these issues and at least find a way to work together.  It is clear to me now, that this is going to be an ongoing battle, that will need at the very least, the interference of other Committees, UTLA officers.  I still hope that this can be achieved without going outside of the internal mechanisms of the Union.
To view this series from the beginning, go to:
Yesterday I submitted the following message to Committee Chair, Steve Seal, off list, in response to his suggestion that a meeting be held to discuss the problems in the Committee.
Emma_——– Original Message ——–
Subject: : Re: [utla-hrc-discussion] re: HRC issuesDate: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 06:49:14 -0700From: Emma Rosenthal Reply-To: emmarosenthal@earthlink.netOrganization: earthlinkTo: Steve Seal
CC: Andy Griggs
I appreciate your support on the ongoing issues of discrimination and disability rights that seem to be the source of resentment focused on my and my assertion of those rights, and I really empathize with the difficult position you find yourself in as Committee Chair.   But I am inclined to agree with Linda that a meeting to discuss the situation would perpetuate the hostility and abuse that I have had to endure and that has devastated me emotionally and physically.
These are not merely issues of the past, but ongoing attempts to marginalize me and prevent my participate in the Committee on any level and a more unequivocal and assertive response to these attacks is needed from you and other leaders in the union.
It is my understanding that posting the email addresses collected at La Quinta, to the listserve and forwarding the contact info of those interested in working on the upcoming  “joint” HRC/CAMS  conference on to “Ethel” and “Gilroy”,  were well within my responsibilities as moderator of the list. Am I not correct?  If so,  how is that an imposition on the group or the upcoming conference, as stated by “Gilroy” in two emails to me that I have since forwarded to you?   It would appear that “Gilroy” seems to feel that any participation on my part, even carrying out my assigned tasks in maintaining a listserve, is an imposition.  Not having received any clarification from “Gilroy” or “Ethel” on any of my inquiries or Andy’s as well, on these accusations leads me to assume that this position is official CAMS policy and that CAMS feels it is within its rights as the leadership of the upcoming “joint” conference  (as WAS clarified by “Ethel”)  to impose these value on our committee as well.   “Gilroy’s” emails, with no supporting evidence of the accusations seem like a deliberate attempt to intimidate me and shut me out. Without clear, repeated and assertive contradictions to his assertions, I am afraid their bullying may  prevail.  Already, in order to de-escalate the conflict and to avoid further embarrassment, harassment and ridicule, I have found myself pulling back from full Committee participation.
A response from you to “Gilroy”, letting him know that he is out of order is necessary, and I hope that a similar message has been conveyed to “Camille” for her refusal to return to me the sign in sheets at La Quinta; another example of a refusal on the part of members of this Committee to work with me, to acknowledge the right of the committee itself to assign tasks to members, and to sabotage and undermine my efforts and membership.    It is not enough that she finally returned the sign-in sheets to you after four other committee members  told her to turn them over.  As I am the one responsible for the lists, these sheets should have been returned to me as I requested them at the meeting at La Quinta, in which “Camille” was in attendance.  There was no reason for her to hold on to the lists in the first place.  She had expressed no interest, provided no input in any discussion regarding recruitment and is not one of the list moderators.
Additionally, “Clarence’s” behavior at La Quinta, and his intentional attempt to disrupt our meeting by wearing a sexually offensive, sexist T-shirt with the expressed intention of provoking a reaction from me, (as documented by Linda)  is not only sexual harassment but an attempt to sabotage the Committee’s efforts to conduct business and hold a scheduled meeting. “Clarence’s” behavior , along with that of “Gilroy’s,” “Ethel’s” and “Camille’s” at La Quinta, along with the ongoing support of “Mildred”,  are consistent with a campaign of discrimination and the imposition of a hostile working environment towards me because of my disability and my assertion of my rights.
You said to me that you see me as an integral and important part of this Committee. If so, then you need to make  it  known that this Committee will not support this type of bigotry and discrimination and their actions and emails are out of order.  Enforcing established laws and policy regarding disability, civil rights and discrimination does not need a vote, a meeting or a discussion.  They require action.

Ableism in the Human Rights Community- Continued…

Linda Responds to Steve’s Suggestion to Hold a Special Meeting
<>To view this series from the beginning, go to:
_ ——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: [utla-hrc-discussion] _re: HRC issues_Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2006 22:12:19 -0700 (PDT)_From: LINDA BAUGHN
Dear Steve:
Sorry it took me so long to reply– I really wanted to think before I responded. I mean this with the utmost respect for you, the work you do, and the difficult position you are in as chair of this committee, but I think I disagree with the premise of your post. It’s too “evenhanded”–as if discrimination and getting pissed off at discrimination were moral equivalents and there was right and wrong on both sides. I don’t think that’s actually true. Emma was denied access to the retreat, and has been treated in a demeaning, marginalizing and hostile manner in well documented instances since then by more than one member of this committee. No-one else has been subjected to abuse. Where are the “two sides?”  I think the committee and the union leadership as a whole have to take a stand on the question of the rights of disabled members of our union. Until we have done so, a meeting based on the premise that both sides have a point of view and we need a neutral mediator would be an opportunity for abuse of a valued member of this committee. In unity and struggle

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee Part XVI

September 08 2006 (14:55:00) US/Pacific

This meesage was posted to the HRC list by Committee Chair, Steve Seal
To view this series from the beginning, go to:
Julie and Josh are two officers within the Union.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: [utla-hrc-discussion]re: HRC issuesDate: Sat, 2 Sep 2006 20:54:02 -0700From: steve seal
Hello all,
I feel it is time to come together and discuss all of the negativity that has been lingering around our committee since the summer.  I would like to have a meeting with our core group to address some of the issues and try to come to an understanding about what we need to do to survive as a committee.  It is important for us to come to a consensus about what we need to do to focus on the future and to stop dwelling in the past.  There have been a series of allegations and responses that need to be addressed. I am looking to have a meeting in the next couple of weeks to try and deal with what is going on in a positive and supportive manner.  I am going to ask Julie and Josh to moderate if they are available.  I will give some dates once I have a conversation with them.  It will be important for all of you to be present so that we can succeed and move on together.
si se puede

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee Part XV

September 05 2006 (11:05:00) US/Pacific

Andy Responds to “Gilroy’s Emails
To view this series from the beginning, go to:

Strange formatting:  Blogsource is having technical trouble and there are formatting problems.  One problem is the placing of question marks where they don’t belong, in the place of spaces.  I have tried to remove all of the erroneous question marks, but may have missed a few.  If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t supposed to be there.  -emma

On Saturday Andy responds to “Gilroy” in an email to “Ethel” and “Gilroy” who are both leaders of CAMS and members of HRC.  To date, there has been no response from either “Ethel or “Gilroy.”
——– Original Message ——–_Subject: HRC–from the Leadership conference on_Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2006 19:04:16 EDT_From:
“Ethel” and “Gilroy”:
This is my letter in response to the messages that have been exchanged (some on list, some off) since the leadership conference.  I am, quite frankly, amazed at “Gilroy’s” vitriol at Emma providing the names of those who signed up to assist in the conference (and “Ethel’s” apparent acceptance of it, when it was she who requested the information at the HRC meeting at La Quinta).  When a conference is a joint HRC/CAMS conference, which is what “Ethel” told me when she proposed it as a possibility in May and in Vancouver, as well as what was printed in the minutes from the retreat, “Ethel’s” draft proposal about the conference, and on the flyer passed out at La Quinta, it suggests equal input and work.  Emma quite rightly provided the names of those who signed up to assist (and only one day after the conference, despite “Camille’s” reluctance to give up the names of those who had signed in at the reception.  “Ethel.” you later (after the exchange between Emma and “Gilroy”) posted ‚”a clarification,” which changed the order of the names (to CAMS/HRC), and a different understanding of what was in the minutes.  I can accept that perhaps the minutes did not accurately reflect the proposal, but since no one asked for them to be changed, I assumed it to be a joint conference with equal input and support from each group, and this change seems to suggest that it is CAMS who can dictate who can participate.
Imagine my surprise when I (as a member of the HRC AND a member of the CAMS Advisory Board) was told by you at the leadership conference that neither I (nor anyone else I assume) could submit a proposal for a workshop because you had already chosen the workshops. Your original post did not ask for ideas for workshops, but rather the format, and assistance you needed.  In a joint conference, priority should be given to HRC and CAMS members where there are competing proposals, as has always been done at past conferences (for example, we had at least one other workshop proposed on Cuba last year which was rejected, because we wanted “Camille” and “Mildred’s” included).
I am also quite concerned that no one (except Linda) has responded to “Clarence’s” wearing of a sexist T-shirt at our meeting and subsequently saying he did it to ‚”piss off Emma.”  “Ethel”, in an earlier note, you said that “Clarence” should be made aware of how his action was offensive (the retreat), and if it continues should be dealt with-or are you condoning his action of wearing the T-shirt and justifying his teasing because it is “understandable” because he does not believe that Emma has a disability?
Below is my line by line response to “Gilroy’s” posts:
8/22, early AM_”Gilroy” wrote:_I thought this was a CAMs conference!__See first 2 paragraphs above. Funding has been committed to the conference by HRC, including funding “Ethel” to come to the Leadership conference. A joint conference suggests just that–that we are working on this together.
I think setting up any more list serves will just confuse the issue. Emma, I do not how comfortable I feel that you are imposing your influence of this.
Confuse what issue? She said you‚”will probably be setting up a planning committee discussion list.” This is in keeping with past practice, so the conference committee’s internal planning conversations and dealings would not have to be read by the entire list. At the Human Rights Ctte meeting at La Quinta, “Ethel” asked for support for the conference, and, at “Clarence’s” suggestion, the HRC sign in sheet was sent around again for people to add in a separate box if they wanted to assist at the conference. Those names are the ones that Emma sent you, to help in the recruitment of these volunteers. How is that “imposing her influence?”
It seems in the past for conferences that you have grumbled and complained a lot, made many cavalier decisions, and then taken credit for other peoples work.
I have heard Emma express concern and complain, as I and others have also done, about the fact that we needed more help in order to pull off the past two conferences, and that people had made commitments that were not being met without letting us know that they were unable to.  There were also problems in getting bios in a timely fashion for applying for salary points and program printing.  In one case, a committee member only turned in bios and workshop/plenary descriptions she had proposed after I intervened and only after asking me why Emma could not write the committee members’ own bio and workshop descriptions!__Next, the cavalier decisions!? Emma has made sure that all of the conference proposals and decisions have been brought to the entire committee for approval-even when she was too ill to attend the meeting. In last year’s conference the committee was given authority to proceed a little more rapidly and make certain decisions due to the shorter time frame.  She and I made sure that programming of times and workshops were sent out to the presenters (including you, “Gilroy”) and the committee for input and concerns-including the unfortunate mistake that was made about scheduling the two global warming workshops at the same time-but you did not respond to those posts, “Gilroy”! You only complained at the conference itself, when it was too late to change things!  _And finally, taking credit for other peoples work? I have seen Emma walk around the conference with a pad of paper making notes, so she would not forget to thank anyone!_Emma has also asked you to provide instances of the two above accusations (TWICE!)-and you have been silent-as you apparently were if and when the alleged offenses happened-instead of addressing them when they occurred._Does this mean that you cannot give specifics, or that your accusations are totally unfounded, presented in order to intimidate her? And how do you know that she lacks “self-reflection” if you have never provided her with feed back in what may have been a sincere oversight on her part, in time for her to correct it?
CAMs has to plan this conference, not you! HRC has already helped us but that does not mean that you are being put in charge of anything. Please do not assume that your are able to delegate further roles for HRC or HRC members._G.__As pointed out above, she was working under the assumption that this was a joint conference. Where does it say anywhere in her communication to you, or what actions have occurred that suggests Emma wants to plan this conference or have charge of anything about it, or to delegate roles? Two years ago, at the request of the HRC Emma put together the two list serves and set up a web page (if I remember correctly, you said you did not have time to do it, because of your work with CAMS) with the discussion list being unmoderated and the announcement list being moderated by Steve, Emma, and me. And where did she attempt to delegate roles???
8/22, late morning
I am very busy right now at work but I do need to respond to this.
Glad you felt the necessity of replying-I do wish you had taken the time to actually reply to her questions and requests-and maybe taken the time to think out your reply.__Let me repeat:_Emma, I do not feel comfortable in your self-appointed role as a conference planner.__The only thing I can figure out about this is that in the context of the past two conferences she was referred to as chair of the conference sub-committee, a title that was not self-appointed but granted by HRC, as no one else expressed interest.
If you want to give input fine than give it through the normal channels of meetings.__Are you saying you would prefer she not send you the names and contacts of people who offered to help in the conference until the September 27 meeting, less than 6 weeks before it is to occur? “Ethel’s” initial draft proposal requested that those interested in assisting do so by responding to her email. Isn’t email, including our listserve an appropriate channel for input into Committee process, especially for a member whose health does not always allow her to get to meetings?  If not for input and inter-meeting decision making and dialogue, why else have a listserve?
We do not need a separate list serve for the conference. I don’t think we need a another committee either. CAMS has been busy planning this conference for quite awhile and we have a vision for the conference that is appropriate and focused.__Again, no new committee or list serve is proposed-other than sharing what was done in the past. If the work can be done without it, wonderful! Also, if CAMS wanted to do a conference without HRC input and full participation, they could have asked for us just to use the HRC name to get the room, as has been done in the past, and even have requested funding for it. We have also done this for other groups, such as the Immigration Conference just this last June. Perhaps you would feel better if we went back to that model!
I think Emma, that you take way too much credit for other peoples work. If you think this is an extreme comment than I guess your idea of internal self-reflection is limited only to other people.__See above – provide instances as twice requested.
Frankly, I do not know what if any role you should take in this conference given your past bizarre behavior.
Now, we get to perhaps what might be the heart of your bizarre letters! Is it that you do not like the way she blew up at the retreat? Or that she explained and apologized about her actions and continues to assert her rights?__I would then have to ask about your and others’ “bizarre behavior,” as follows:_- “Gilroy’s” letters and “Ethel’s” tacit agreement of them_- Saying “Clarence’s” teasing and abuse at the retreat was understandable because “Ethel” and “Mildred” had “seen others react with discomfort when Emma asked for help due to her illness?” (I must ask you here, “Ethel”, if you noticed this before why not try to follow your suggestion of talking it out when it occurred instead of letting it build to this)?_- “Clarence’s” apology in Boston to Emma for his behavior at the retreat (which included grabbing her arm unexpectedly and a smarmy kissing of her hand – and saying that he would make his home accessible because there were some who were committed to having future retreats at his home), and then wearing a sexist T-shirt to a meeting (an HRC meeting, no less!) in order to upset Emma- as he admitted to three people at La Quinta? Or is that still allowable because he thinks she is not disabled? _- No one responding to Linda’s description of that incident at La Quinta-do you condone what he did?_-justifying the teasing and ridicule of a disabled person on the subjective basis of disbelief in her disability, while simultaneously suggesting that she explain her condition while condemning her for doing so, characterizing such explanations as a plea for pity.__I am quite saddened and angered by what has happened at the retreat -and subsequently-among what seems to be a handful of people. “Ethel” and “Mildred” suggested this be handled internally and not in email, but no attempt has been made to do so – and it appears that there is no desire to do so.
The work of the Human Rights Committee is very important to me and to many in the union. But if our group cannot be a model of how to deal with internal disagreement, discomfort, and yes, discrimination, then I have to wonder about what is going on.
We need to deal with this-and before the September 27 meeting. I would like to see “Gilroy’s” accusations about cavalier decision making and not giving appropriate credit, or an apology for making unfounded accusations. Perhaps Steve needs to step in as chair here as well-certainly for “Gilroy’s” accusations and in response to Linda’s posting about “Clarence’s” actions at La Quinta.
If we do not, I do believe the leadership of the union will need to be called in to deal with a situation where a member of the HRC committee cannot feel safe going to meetings without being abused, ridiculed, or baited because of her disability, the belief that she does not have a disability, or some set of rules (as yet not defined-or is it that an angry outburst is never allowed?) on how someone should request their assistance or demand their rights.

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee Part XIV

September 03 2006 (07:35:00) US/Pacific

To view this series from the beginning, go to:
“Gilroy,” to date has not responded to my request for examples of my “cavalier” decision making or his assertion that I took credit for the work of others, begging the question, does he have examples, or is he simply trying to intimidate me.
it’s working.
<>I’m torn; to stay and fight, or to move on, or perhaps, some composite of the two. I am so amazed at the incredible anger, resentment and cruelty that disability provokes in ordinary people and, apparently even in those who dedicate much of their lives to social justice.

There is an important fight here, this is not about status within a small group, but access to an enormous labor apparatus. I do not feel safe within the Union hall. Since standing up to “Clarence” however clumsily, I have been attacked for doing those tasks the Committee assigned me to do. Projects and commitments I have made seem in limbo, unsure if I will be allowed to continue on them, unsure if I will want to or will be able to. I have been deeply depressed and distraught and my health has suffered greatly over the course of these events. My emotional composition is not as strong as my ability to weave words may imply and my physical health has suffered greatly from the stress and pressure of these events. We mythologize the strong woman archetype, never grasping that behind their strength is the same fear and self doubt with which we all grapple. Perhaps that’s why I love Frida so much: her honest expression of her most vulnerable thoughts and pain, so beautifully, graphically, and nakedly portrayed. Throughout this ordeal, I have endured all of the physical symptoms of one who is being harassed and discriminated against, whether they suffer in silence or dare to speak out. For the victim, silence equals death. For the perpetrators and observers, silence is complicity.
I too have other options for my limited time and limited strength. I have much to do elsewhere: there’s my reiki practice that needs building, my writing that begs me for greater attention and promotion, an endless list of social justice work than cries out to be done, my relationship with Andy, my son, Leon and a few close friends, my health, building community, working in my garden, maybe even going back to school.
I could even be happy.
But it nags at me:
This isn’t right.
This just isn’t right.

Ableism in the Human Rights Community Part XIII

Since La Quinta:

To view this series from the beginning, go to:

On Monday after the Conference I entered the new email addresses  from the sign in sheets, to the listserve.
At the Conference, some individuals had expressed on the HRC sign in sheet, an interest in working on the HRC/CAMS Conference, so I sent to “Ethel” and “Gilroy” (members of HRC, and leaders of CAMS) the names and contact information for these individuals. I suggested that, as these names were from an HRC list, that CAMS not add the names to a CAMS listserve without getting permission first; a rather simple and legal suggestion. As I had provided both phone numbers and email addresses, this was hardly an unreasonable or meddlesome suggestion. Additionally, I intentionally got them the information as quickly as possible so as not to replicate the type of petty sabotage that “Camile” has been carrying out. I supported HRC/CAMS Conference and didn’t feel that personal differences should be any reason to withhold material or make life difficult to these otherwise adversarial activists.  It is also important to state that up until this point, at least in the minutes (remember, I wasn’t able to stay at the retreat!) the conference on all proposals and leaflets, is billed as an HRC/CAMS Conference.  In the past, all decisions of conferences sub-committees, were subjected to approval by the HRC Committee before the suggestions and plans of the sub-committee could be implemented – a procedure I support and followed.
Here are portions of the email exchange that ensued.  All emphasis have been added after posting, to provide emphasis to this blog’s discourse:

To the two HRC members who are also leaders in CAMS (Coalition Against Militarism in the Schools) I sent this post:

——– Original Message ——–_Subject: hrc/cams conference contacts_Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 21:50:01 -0700_From: Emma Rosenthal
at the hrc meeting at the leadership conference, the following people _indicated on the sign up sheet their interest in working on the hrc/cams _conference, of course, i also added them to the hrc newsletter list so _anything that goes out about that conference, will go to these folks, _but i figured you would want the contact info too, and will probably be _setting up a planning committee discussion list.  what is listed below _is exactly the information provided. people who are already on our lists _may not have provided all the necessary info.  if you don’t have contact _info for some of these folks and you need it,  i’m sure we can all piece _it together.
(names and contact info were provided, but of course are not included in this blog.)

To the HRC list, I posted:

——– Original Message ——–_Subject: listserves_Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 22:55:40 -0700_From: Emma Rosenthal
i entered the email addresses of those who signed our sign in sheet at the leadership conference.  we now have over 200 contacts on our newsletter list. quite a few people signed in but didn’t give an email address, including a few that indicated that they wanted info about our events and/or wanted to work with us.  when i get a chance, i’ll call these folks and explain that we won’t be able to contact them by phone and if they really want info, we need an email address.  (unless anyone wants to make several phone calls before every meeting and event!  –i didn’t think so 🙂
a few email addresses were not legible, and if they also provided a phone number, i’ll call them and get the correct address.
it probably goes without saying, that when someone gives the hrc their contact info, that that info is for hrc use only, and should not be used to distribute info for any other group.
reminder: we have two primary lists:
a discussion list:
the discussion list has not been updated for a while. there are many people on the list who have not participated in the planning of hrc events or meetings.  after the first meeting of the coming year, unless there is an objection, i will redo the list to reflect the membership for this year.  to be a member of the committee, a utla member must attend either the first meeting of the school year, or two consecutive meetings.  so i’ll make sure we keep the list current, by cleaning it up in september and then maintaining it after that. the discussion list is an unmodified list of the hrc for organizational purposes only.
a newsletter list
<>the newsletter list provides information to the hrc contacts, as well as members, announcing events and meetings.  it is an advertising tool and a organizing tool.

steve, andy an i are the moderators of both lists.  to post to the discussion list, simply send an email to:
to post an hrc related announcement to the newsletter list, send it to:  or
all of the moderators will receive this email, and any of us can put it through, or you can email any of us directly, or post it to the discussion list.
additionally, it may be necessary to set up other lists to plan specific events.  for example, last year i set up a list of the conference sub committee, and another list so that i could communicate logistical info with all the presenters at the conference.  the same may be necessary for the hrc/cams conference, and chairs of those committees would set those up.
<>in addition to entering the new email addresses to our list, i have also sent to “ethel” and “gilroy” the info of those who indicated an interest in the hrc/cams conference planning. (one of the email addresses on that list is one of the email addresses that is not correct. i’ll resend the correct info when i get it.)


GILROY ATTACKS  -a message from a parallel universe……

And I respond….

“Gilroy”  who is both a CAMS leader and an HRC member, replies to me off list, ccing the message to “Ethel.”
——– Original Message ——–_Subject:  Re: hrc/cams conference contacts_Date:  Tue, 22 Aug 2006 06:04:16 -0700
I thought this was a CAMs conference! I think setting up any more list serves will just confuse the issue.
Emma, I do not how comfortable I feel that you are imposing your influence of this. It seems in the past for conferences that you have grumbled and complained a lot, made many cavalier decisions, and then taken credit for other peoples work.
CAMs has to plan this conference, not you! _HRC has already helped us but that does not mean that you are being put in charge of anything. Please do not assume that your are able to delegate further roles for HRC or HRC members.
My response, cc’d to “Ethel,” Steve and Andy.
——– Original Message ——–_Subject: Re: hrc/cams conference contacts_Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2006 07:56:40 -0700_From: Emma Rosenthal
what a strange email!
i took the time to send you the contact the day after the leadership conference. a thank you MIGHT have been in order.
you might want to reread my messages.  i don’t think you understood what was being said, because you totally ran the wrong way with this.  sometimes that happens when we react too quickly or let our feelings get in the way of our judgment. you obviously harbor long-standing resentments towards me that influence your judgment of anything i do.
according to the minutes from the retreat, conversations with steve and andy, and emails from “ethel,” this was to be a joint conference, jointly planned. if that’s not the case, i have no problem with that.  but it should be clarified, because it isn’t clear to quite a few people.  personally, though difficult, i was planning on working with anyone necessary, despite the chasms and resentments that are rampant within this committee, which is why i got the contact info to you as quickly as i did; but if CAMS wants to work on its own, i, personally am more than comfortable with that.
at the HRC meeting in la quinta,”clarence” added a column to the HRC sign in sheets for people to check off if they were interested in working on the CAMS conference. that’s the information i sent on to you.  but these lists were HRC lists, and so it’s very delicate when one group gives email contacts to another group.  that’s all i was saying.  if you are right, that this is essentially a CAMS conference that is not accountable to HRC and that it is not a joint conference, then you should have sent around your own list. ( if it is a joint conference though, then all members of HRC, including me, are entitled to give input.)
if it is part of HRC, then we would send announcements on HRC lists (and will probably send them out anyway, because the work of CAMS is very important to the HRC! and just as i did with the contact info, will make sure that the info gets out quickly, despite the internal politics and bad feelings going around.)  but it would not be appropriate for CAMS or any group to use email addresses from an HRC list without the permission of the people who signed up. (that’s easily taken care of with an email or phone call asking for permission. — and you have the information, because i gave it to you! and even if the conference is not an HRC conference, then i still think sending you the contact info was appropriate.  i just hope and trust that you will not use the contact info inappropriately. if it wasn’t appropriate to send the info to you,  then i owe those people and the HRC an apology.) on the other hand, if any sub-committee needs to set up a list to communicate among the organizers or presenters, they shouldn’t need to go through me or andy or steve or anybody. that was all i was saying.
so, to repeat!
HRC has two lists: one internal, one external.__subcommittees may want to set up separate lists and should be able to do so without needing approval of anyone but those on the lists themselves.  so i wasn’t imposing myself on this, but just the opposite.
nor was i delegating any work to anyone, just explaining what the role of the listserves are so that my own work, as one of the moderators of the list would be accountable.
that’s my position, which isn’t written in stone (but rather, was submitted digitally, and can be amended or opposed.)
and please, let me know who didn’t get appropriate credit for their work and which decisions were made without democratic process and HRC approval?
you might want to check the HRC minutes before making such extreme accusations.

<>Gilroy reasserts my marginalization:     <>again, cc’d only to “ethel.”

——– Original Message ——–_Subject: My observations_Date:  Tue, 22 Aug 2006 09:45:14 -0700_From:  “Gilroy”
I am very busy right now at work but I do need to respond to this.
Let me repeat:
Emma, I do not feel comfortable in your self-appointed role as a conference planner.
If you want to give input fine than give it through the normal channels of meetings.
We do not need a seperate list serve for the conference. I don’t think we need a another committee either.
CAMS has been busy planning this conference for quite awhile and we have a vision for the conference that is appropritate and focused.
I think Emma, that you take way too much credit for other peoples work. If you think this is an extreme comment than I guess your idea of internal self-reflection is limited only to other people.
Frankly, I do not know what if any role you should take in this conference given your past bizarre behavior.__”Gilroy”____________________
Truly stunned by “Gilroy’s” assertions, and concerned that there may in fact have been an oversight on my part where I had not given credit to someone for the work they had done, or perhaps had made an undemocratic decision, searching my memory for an example to back up his accusation, and finding none, wrote to him, cc’d again, to Steve, Andy and “Ethel.”
——– Original Message ——–_Subject: Re: My observations_Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 14:45:38 -0700_From: Emma Rosenthal
dear “gilroy”_i have been reflecting very deeply upon the feedback you have given me, but can’t think of a single example of what it is you are accusing me of.  i would hate to think that i took credit for someone else’s work or didn’t follow democratic procedure in taking action that i thought was on behalf of the committee.  without examples of the behavior you refer to, my self evaluation stops short of simply believing you on faith or relying on my own memory of events to guide me.
while i understand that you harbor deep seated anger and resentments towards me, i would welcome any real and constructive feedback you might have.  sometimes the best information comes from the worst source, for who else can see our shortcomings quite as well as our adversaries.
i await you response with hesitant anticipation.
The only response by “Ethel” the (self-appointed) chair of this Conference, included in a larger conference planning update, posted to the HRC list, was the following”
“For clarification, CAMS is providing the leadership with input and support from HRC.”
in this post she refers for the first time to the conference as the CAMS/HRC conference, not the HRC/CAMS conference.

Ableism in the Human Rights Committee PartXII

At La Quinta:

After the brief exchange on line on the rights of disabled people to stand up for their rights, and all of the controversy and personal attacks used to obscure the issue, on line, the group changed focus toward the Leadership Conference at La Quinta. The Human Rights Committee had reserved two tables; one for CAMS (Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools) and one for t-shirt sales. I had hoped to work on recruiting teachers to the Committee, but not able to participate in the retreat, was a bit disenfranchised from the process, but was able, on line, through the list serve to have some say in the process. Another Committee member had taken charge of t-shirt sales, and I fashioned a sign-in sheet. I also made sure we had large table signs. We had one leaflet of upcoming events, but we really should have had a more impressive and informative table, including teacher resources.
Linda Baughn and I volunteered to help with the table and I committed to spend as much time helping out as my health allowed. By now I felt I was walking a tight rope; careful not to “complain” too much about my health, but also wanting to be “matter of fact” about my limitations so that I wasn’t held to commitments my health didn’t allow me to keep. –an interesting double standard.
When I got to La Quita, “Ethel,” “Mildred,””Clarence” and -yet to be introduced: “Camile” greeted me with huge grins that to anyone not in the know, could have been confused for deep friendship and warmth.
Choosing not to go the path of plastic smiles and air kisses, I gave a steel eyed “hello.”
There was definitely a chill in the 110 degree desert heat.
The first event was a reception of the keynote speaker, hosted by the Human Rights Committee. The event was MC’d by Committee member, “Camile,” who, though she hadn’t posted to the list on the current debate, has for two years now, been extremely uncooperative and unwilling to work with me, even to the detriment of her own programs. When “Ethel” and “Mildred” referred to observing people “reacting to Emma,” Camile was the only example I could thing of, otherwise the immense hatred and resentment toward me was totally unpredictable, not only by me but by Andy and Committee Chair: Steve Seal.
When I was Chairing the conference sub-committee, “Camile” repeatedly “neglected” to provide me with key materials needed to secure salary point and finish the program for portions of the conference that she herself proposed or was slated to lead. I had to repeatedly request basic information from her: bios, workshop descriptions. Now, lest we imagine that “Camile” is simply incompetent, it should be stated that having secured PhD, there is little doubt that she is capable of writing a simple workshop proposal. After weeks of this game, finally I would ask Andy to ask her for the necessary information and she, after grumbling and complaining, would provide the documentation requested. The second year she also neglected to provide her bio in her conference proposal so I used the one from the year before, but this last year her workshop was co-presented with “Mildred” and the workshop proposal “Camile” submitted did not include “Mildred’s” bio. When I wrote to “Mildred” requesting her bio, she wrote me that she had sent it to “Camile.” Upon “Mildred’s” request, “Camile” finally sent me “Mildred’s” bio, delaying the salary point project proposal submission to the district, by several weeks.
So it came to me as no surprise, at the Friday night reception, when, having introduced most of the Committee members, elucidating on the conferences they had participated in, “Camile” neglected to mention me, or the two conferences the Committee had held the last two years. I was not surprised, but rather prepared, and simply, introduced myself and announced that we would be having more conferences in the future as we had in the past.
<>When we looked at the Leadership Conference schedule, we noticed that each Committee had a meeting slot, which would have been an opportunity to introduce our Committee to prospective new members. We had no agenda. We were totally unprepared for this opportunity. We hadn’t even discussed the meeting as a committee. It was simply THERE, in the conference schedule. I suggested to Andy, at 11:30 pm the night before, that we develop a proposed agenda and get it to Steve. We were careful to construct an agenda that was sensitive to the conflicts ensuing in the Committee. We wanted to make sure that the agenda was consistent with the mission of the Committee and a showcase of our work. It was Andy’s idea that everyone in the room introduce themselves, with committee members explaining their Committee work. It was my suggestion that those responsible for projects within the Committee, present their programs: The upcoming HRC/CAMS Conference, UTLA House motions brought by the Committee and upcoming Conferences. Following this rubric, “Ethel” would present the upcoming conference, Andy would describe the Committee’s impact on UTLA policy and I would describe the Conferences we had done in the past, and plans for future. Andy handed Steve the agenda then next morning and it was the agenda used in that meeting. So while I am about to be accused of “taking credit for the work of others” (—tune in tomorrow, readers!) in reality, I am beginning to obscure my work, lest my intentions get lost in the vitriol hurled at me by “ladies” who hide behind silent innuendo, passive aggressive sabotage and the insistence in manners over all, while the men (“Clarence” and, tune in tomorrow; “Gilroy”) behave more openly hostile, without any insistence by my adversaries that the same rules of decorum be applied to them. –it’s all so 1950’s it’s hard to believe these people didn’t just step out of a time capsule, leave alone that they have been on the frontlines of human rights work and dialogue for the duration of that time.
White gloves anyone? Would you like two cubes of sugar or one, with your tea? Hold your pinkies up!
Our sign-up sheets circulated at the Friday night reception, and at our meeting the next day, we ran out of sheets because, having only collected two filled in sheets, I didn’t realized we needed more. I asked Steve who had the sheets and he indicated that “Camile” had them. When I asked, at the meeting, that all sign-in sheets be turned in to me so I could update the listserve, “Camile” quietly turned her back as I spoke. She never did give me the sign in sheets, and had to be told by Andy, Linda, Steve and another Committee member to turn over the sheets, before she finally gave them to Steve, at the very end of the conference.
<>Without those sheets, we would not be able to update our listserve in time to get word out of our upcoming meeting or the HRC/CAMS Conference. Any group needs to be able to perform its basic functions through its assigned functionaries without this childish, though “ladylike” conductt.
Simultaneously, contrary to his apology in Boston, “Clarence” conducted himself in ways the continued to contribute to a hostile working environment for me, making clear that he is not done with his abuse or resentments; his apology, as I predicted lacking sincerity was merely a political move. Having failed to gain my silence, he decided to go on the offensive.
Here is Linda Baughn’s post on her observations:
(she refers to Josh Peschtalt, a Vice President of UTLA) :
——– Original Message ——–_Subject: [utla-hrc-discussion] sexism and a hostile environment_Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 06:08:35 -0700 (PDT)_From: LINDA BAUGHN
Compañeros–_I went to La Quinta in a spirit of unity with those who struggle for social justice and hoped that we had learned some lessons about putting principles before personalities in the discussion in the committee this summer. I unfortunately arrived late to the conference–I had to meet with a lawyer concerning my husband’s arrest in a demonstration against the Minutemen which I will bring to the committee’s attention separately–and went directly to the committee meeting._I was happy to see several new faces and what appeared to be a spirit of solidarity and struggle, although I was somewhat taken aback by “Clarence’s” t-shirt with an image of a bikini-clad woman and the slogan “Eat Oysters, Get Lucky.” I shouldn’t have to explain this to anyone who defends human rights, but it is axiomatic that using a woman’s body to sell anything is sexist in that it objectifies the female body, let alone the more specific references on the t-shirt. Anyway, I commented to Andy and to “another Committee member” (name deleted by Emma for this blog) that I thought that men should take the leadership in educating other men about sexism and assumed that that would happen (and it may have)._Later at the pool, “Clarence” came up to me and told me that I shouldn’t have posted about the retreat; that he wasn’t the bad guy, and I wasn’t there. I responded that whatever the case was about the retreat that I was present at the pool-side with him, and that I was offended by his sexist t-shirt. He responded that I was the only person who had said anything to him, that several women had found it amusing (!) and that his purpose in wearing the shirt was to piss off Emma. I told him I didn’t know about Emma, but that I was pissed off. “Another union member” (name deleted for this blog ) was present and heard this exchange, which was quite shocking.
I shouldn’t be surprised when people on our committee, raised in a society in which sexism and racism are pervasive, exhibit reactionary ideas. We are all products of our environment, and it is a life-long struggle to rid ourselves of these ideas. It’s not the first or the last time that women have to struggle around sexist ideas held by men in the movement.
On the other hand, I was shocked by the pure malice that “Clarence” exhibited in saying that he was intentionally trying to offend Emma. This is harassment. I think we have to say, in the context of the previous discussions, that this is a deliberate attempt to create a hostile environment for a handicapped woman who is an important part of this committee and may give us insight into “Clarence’s” remarks at the retreat. This is a very serious matter and one which must be dealt with by this committee and the Board of Directors of the union. If an official committee of the union tolerates this kind of harassment we expose the union as a whole to serious liability and that is why I am forwarding this letter to Joshua Pechthalt as well as to the discussion list._I had hoped that we had all learned something from this discussion and we would be able to move on with the important work of fighting against imperialist war and racism that we all want to do–but I don’t think that this can be swept under the rug.
Linda Baughn
To date there have been no responses to this post. If the issue at the retreat was my explosive reaction, and the rationalization that “Clarence” was “just joking” then what is the excuse of my adversaries this time for the complicity of silence by members of the Committee to this attack against me, clearly made, by his own admission, not simply as a bad joke, but rather as a direct provocation?__Emma