Is David Steffen and elitist bigot?

David Steffen steffen at
Thu Dec 19 14:03:01 EST 1991

In article <9112191757.AA02256 at> MACRIDES at WFEB2.BITNET
                                                    (Foteos Macrides) writes:

[I have deleted the stuff about reorganization, as I have no comment
 on that.  I have also deleted a lot of friendly comments Fote made
 about and to me.  I appreciate these, and have responded to Fote by
 mail.  However, I DID want to comment on the following:]

>        When I posted my message making reference to David Steffen's use of
>the word 'outsider' many readers may have perceived that as a flame, despite
>the disclaimer in my signature.  I did not include his name (just in case
>someone read it in isolation), and posted that message after receive private
>e-mail of the sort Dave K. also receives.  Here is an exerpt:
>>There's one [message] there about "outsiders", well, that's just
>>like saying "ain't no niggers allowed here" _because_ you all are on
>>USENET feed and it's an all comers deal on USENET!

Hmm, I had to go back several messages to even figure out what this
was all about.  What I found was:

I said:
>John Nash (Nash at and
>Chris_Upton at
>ask why we don't make better use of  I think is a
>good group and I monitor it.  To a large extent it is used by
>non-biologists to ask questions about biology which biologists answer.
>This is NOT what I want to see on bionet.general, and I will argue for
>redirecting such topics to as they occur.  I strongly believe
>that all the bionet groups should be for discussions between
>professional biologists.

Then Fote said:
>Did you know that the first rigorous study of menstrual synchrony,
>published in a high quality journal, still heavily cited decades
>later, was done by an undergraduate at a then all-women's Boston-area
>college.  She just happened to be taking a rigorous statistics course
>together with a dynamic general course in biology.
>I wonder what would have happened if she had posted an "announcement"
>of her curiosity to bionet.general/BIONEWS, gotten private e-mail
>about it being insulting, read public discussion about whether her
>question was really serious, and about the triviality of discussion
>efforts in that forum, explained as predictable because the question
>came from an "outsider" ;-(.

My comments:

(1) I stand by my position.

(2) The abovementioned undergraduate probably not have received email
    from me, as from the description, the posting would have been
    professional in tone.  I say that because of the statement "published
    in a high quality journal".

(3) Of course this group uses usenet feed.  It also uses Internet,
    paid for by your tax dollars.  And I'm sure it uses lots of other more
    or less public facilities paid for by a variety of people for a
    variety of reasons.  Even if I wanted to, there is no way I could ever
    prevent anyone from posting to this group.  However, that does NOT
    mean that everybody should post about everything on every group.
    There are times I read alt.slack.  I enjoy it.  I do not want a
    discussion of the pinkness of republicans or the deity of Bob Dobbs
    on bionet.general.  These forums work because we all have (more
    or less) good manners and agree that certain kind of discussions take
    place in certain groups.  If you are not a biologist (i.e. you are not
    interested in doing professional level work in this area) but just
    have a question for biologists, I propose you post your question to  I propose that bionet.general be reserved as a matter of
    courtesy for discussions between people with a professional interest
    in biology.  As long as exists, this is not censorship.

I have to admit I am puzzled by the great concern with censorship in
this discussion.  If bionet.announce is moderated, and bionet.general
is opened up for wide ranging discussion, how is this censorship?
Post to bionet.general; it is more fun anyway!
David Steffen
Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston TX 77030
Telephone = (713) 798-6655, FAX = (713) 790-0545
Internet = steffen at

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