[Milton-L] Leaving the Milton listserv

Ryan Paul ryanspaul at gmail.com
Sat Nov 4 15:43:44 EDT 2017


Dear All,

This is a note to say that I am leaving the Milton listerv.

I'm not a Miltonist per se, and I don't contribute often to the discussion,
so my departure from the list probably won't mean much to many of you. But
I think I at least have to make a small statement about why I'm leaving.

This list could be a lively, fascinating, and educational venue for us to
share ideas. It is full of brilliant scholars with great minds. But, it has
been hijacked by a troll spouting thinly veiled white supremacist rhetoric
and self-promoting his two-bit, hack "artwork."

I appreciate the devotion to a Miltonic belief in the free exchange of
controversial ideas that many of you have espoused. It is admirable,
particularly in these days of acrimonious division. But I think your faith
in our troll's better nature is misplaced.

Perhaps if you haven't spent much time in the dark underbelly of the
internet, you don't recognize trolling for what it is. It is fairly clear,
to me at least, that Terrance Lindall has no abiding interest in Milton,
Milton studies, or in promoting collegial intellectual discourse. His only
interests are self-promotion and spreading hatred; maybe there's a third
rail there too: the sick pleasure trolls get from pushing people's buttons
and making the marginalized feel even more so.

It seems that at least 50% of the emails I get from this list are about
Lindall and his nonsense: whether to ban him, whether he's racist, whether
or not Milton would approve. This does nothing to improve my understanding
of Milton or 17th century poetry or any other related subject. All it does
is fill my inbox with more free advertising for a quasi-fascist of very,
very minor talents.

I know no one wants to play the role of Empson's God and moderate this
listserv, but chaos and racist nonsense is not conducive to the pursuit of
truth. As a Renaissance scholar and a person of color, I expected and hoped
for much better from an academic community. I hope that this community will
organize itself, bounce the alt right trolling with a permanent ban, and
turn its attention to important, meaningful matters related to Milton.
Until then, I'm out.

Peace and love to all of you,
And may Terrance Lindall one day be cured of the hatred that motivates him.

Ryan Paul
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