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An Open Letter to Mark Barnes

Dear Mr. Barnes,

You are a bully. I know that in your recent blog post, you equated Doug Robertson to “the popular student” who gets others to yell without thinking about intent, but sir, that’s you. You have nearly 10 times the followers as Doug, and yet you continue to insist that you, head of a publishing company and former administrator, and Danny Steele, a principal, again with twice as many followers as Doug, are the outsiders in this situation. That you two are personally being attacked by a “poisonous” leader of a “mob” of thoughtless lemmings.

I take exception to this in many ways, but first, let’s explore why I italicized followers. Because, Mark, that’s what you see people as. You look at this number on social media and see yourself as a leader and all of us as followers. I don’t follow Doug Robertson, I am his friend. I’m lucky enough to know him and his family in real life: we’ve eaten meals together, I’ve played with his kids, and stayed in his spare room. He’s a generous person who just happens to be exhausted by people who don’t think about the impact of their words.

And yet, when we tried to explain to you that people can read things differently - the basis for this entire hoo-hah - you very literally called him a dog:

That’s a pretty personal attack, don’t you think? And yet, you publish a piece about teacher bashing and neglect to mention that, in this case, you are the one with personally critical comments.

You’re also a misogynist. Anne Delgado called attention to the fact that in addition to the original post creating a dichotomy between “good” and “bad” teachers, it was also gender biased because the makeup of the teaching profession is undeniable majority female. Like many men of a certain age you don’t even realize that you’re sexist, but comments like this are remarkably telling:

In your mind, you’re being a good ally, but the problem is - in ALL of these situations - that you have placed yourself at the center. The original tweet wasn’t about you, but you jumped in to defend Danny Steele. As dialogue about having deep discussions on Twitter continues, you centralize yourself in the narrative time and time again. I know that we’re all the main character in our stories, but Mark, this is not your story. To many of us, it looks like you are invested in a power structure that deserves questioning and you simply can’t abide that.

So you bully. You dismiss women, call people names, and set up metaphorical classroom scenarios that again, are so open to interpretations that you didn’t expect that you are “attacked” again. With all of your followers, not to mention that you’re an Old White Dude™, you have so much power, and not only do you want people to know it, you try to use it to intimidate those you don’t agree with. You're the very definition of a bully:

You say in this tweet that the reaction caused by the original post that perhaps the people who take issue with word choice need to look hard at their practice:

I hope that your personal vendetta towards Doug (because this isn’t the first time you’ve patronizingly wagged your finger in his face like, well, like he’s a Bad Dog), and the responses towards it - from people with so many different types of umbrage toward Mr. Steele’s original tweet and its word choice - coupled with this open letter, in which I hope I was clear enough about what this pushback is really about, help you take a look at your comments with the eyes of those you consider followers.

Good luck,

Sarah Windisch


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