The revolution will not be on PLANET

I said my own piece a fair bit ago about why I left PLANET, which came down to: I got tired of getting yelled at via email for disagreeing with people. Disagreeing with people is this thing I do when, you know, people are wrong. People tell me I’m wrong all the time, and I have yet to die from it, but apparently others are more delicate.

Our latest blow-up on PLANET seems likely to be the death of the thing, if what people are forwarding me is any indicator of what’s going on.

This particular go around seems to be: A sexist joke gets posted (why? o why?), somebody says, hey, why is this on a professional, scholarly listserv, it bugs me that this stuff gets posted, and then the full-blown entitled-punish-the-woman internets: wuuuuuuuuh if you don’t like jokes about your gender on a professional listserv whynn’t ya jes leave then, ya party pooper meanies/oversensitive politically correct ninnies/feminazis. Because LIBERTY.

Habermas would be so proud.

WTH, people? Did I miss something about the American planning academy deciding to turn itself into 4chan while I was off reading a book or something? Huh? YOU KIDS DON’T MAKE ME TURN THIS CAR AROUND.


There have been many public goodbyes to the list, including good citizens who are much less likely than I am to use their middle finger to explain things. I regret my public exit–I should have just left rather than upsetting people–but this time, it’s good for the “it’s our party, you shaddup” crowd to come face-to-face with the reality of the Thing, and the Thing is: it’s not your party anymore. You don’t get to set the terms of the discussion if you aren’t going to treat other scholars with respect. The rest of us really, truly, would rather respect each other, and you know, talk about planning research. And there are a lot of the rest of us.

A big bunch of us were not happy with the way the PAB tried to back-door dismantle the language around diversity in planning education standards because wow, apparently, diversity is controversial instead of what it is (aka, the very least planning should do in the justice realm). And now a big bunch of people seem to be saying that we’re done with the Old Skool term-setting on PLANET.


Virtually all moderated listservs are boring, but I’m ready for content-oriented boring. The planning academy has, for too long, allowed itself to be an ad hoc field more centered on maintaining status hierarchies in the academy (and out) than helping young scholars–all of them, every single one of them, not just your little favorites who look just like you and talk just like you and defer to you, but all of ’em, even the ones that think you are wrong sometimes. We’re also supposed to be here for students to help them form and act on their visions to make cities better.

Being unwilling or unable to do those things in favor of status quo maintenance? That’s a sign of an intellectually moribund field.

Planners have got real work to do. The real problems in US cities are almost too terrifying for me to think about: our mass incarceration/public execution system that is killing Black Americans would be a good place to start any list of “things we should think about and work on” together. We got people trying to pass “no infill/no bike lanes” legislation. We don’t solve these problems by telling jokes that degrade each other or by bullying people when they try to tell you what’s wrong.

We solve them, I think, by creating a big, inclusive, powerful coalition of people who listen to each other, treat each other well, and who use our energies to do some good, at least, in a rotten world.