Bloggers on the Yale art-project hoax.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
April 18 2008 5:55 PM

Artsy Shvarts-y

Artsy Shvarts-y: Yale University has described Aliza Shvarts' senior art project—in which she claims she inseminated herself and induced miscarriages repeatedly over nine months—as a hoax and a "creative fiction."But Shvarts, writing in the Yale Daily News, maintains that she indeed inseminated herself but took "abortifacients" at the end of her cycle, meaning she never knew if she was pregnant or not.

Look Back in Anger's John Barleycorn reverses on his original disgust with the project, writing, "I've thought this through and will retract my ire for Ms. Aliza Shvarts on the basis that her hoax, and the purpose behind it, is brilliant." He adds, "My sole contention with her campaign is that she insists on maintaining the lie after her cover has been blown. By holding on, she's stripping the purpose and integrity of the project."


Jill Stanek, a pro-life blogger, sees the project as a boon for the anti-abortion crowd. "Shvarts stated yesterday she wanted her project to spark 'conversation and debate.' The discourse it has indeed sparked has been helpful only to the pro-life side, however, I'm sure not what Shvarts intended. It is forcing pro-aborts to consider the humanity of the preborn and to remind them abortion is unpleasant for a reason." Others are disappointed that it's allegedly a fake. "It's a lot less provocative now," lamentsBecoming Somebody. "At the very least, when we all thought it was legit, it was something to talk about."

For a little historical perspective, see the Museum of Hoaxesblog: "There's a long history of hoaxes and 'art projects' involving reproduction," notes Alex. "The two that remind me most of Shvarts' project are Mary Toft, the woman who gave birth to rabbits, and Chrissy Caviar, the performance artist who claimed she harvested the eggs from her body and sold them as food."

Ann Althouse, who suspected a hoax on Thursday, inveighs against the campus culture that cultivates such projects: "If I was going to get livid and horrified about something it would be that a great university sucks so many young women into the into the intellectual graveyard of Women's Studies. Think what these women could be studying instead of this endlessly recycled drivel. If you care about women's bodies, study science and help us with the limitations of the body. But to imagine you are helping us by restating meager platitudes is just very sad."

Gawker applies its trademark snark: "It's nearly impossible to pick the most offensive aspect of this little project. That Shvartz maybe lied to create publicity, that maybe Yale lied to protect itself from a student, or what she actually claimed to do, which is to induce miscarriages to get people 'to think.' It's like we're caught between a world of The Hills and Abortion Art." And media and culture blog Guanabee calls readers' attention to a perhaps inevitable Shvarts-inspired line of jewelry.

Read more about Aliza Shvarts. Slate's XX Factor discusses Shvarts.

Blogger Power!An unlikely coalition that spanned from Web start-ups to the Christian Coalition implored the FCC on Thursday to step up regulations on Internet service providers, restricting what sort of control the ISPs can exercise over the content they deliver. This so-called "net neutrality" argument is a favorite topic for bloggers.

Judging by the reaction from Valleywag's Jackson West, the hearing got pretty torturous at times. "The people who should be most worried about the complex debate aren't free speech advocates or corporations, however, but big pharma," he writes. "Listening to arguments for and against were a more powerful soporific than Ambien."

Net-neutrality crusaders particularly hate Comcast, largely because of reportsthat the ISP was slowing or blocking traffic from the file-sharing application BitTorrent, and were quick to note the fact that no representative from the company showed up at the hearing. "Comcast may come to regret missing a regulatory hearing on Net neutrality," writes Xeno at Xenophilia. "Robb Topolski, the software engineer who ignited controversy around Comcast's disruption of BitTorrent peer-to-peer traffic, was in the spotlight here Thursday," he added, describing FCC commissioners as "piqued" by technical descriptions of how Comcast allegedly blocked certain kinds of traffic during peak hours of Internet use.

Others treated the topic with the kind of delicacy one expects from bloggers. "Meanwhile Rick Carnes of Songwriters Guild of America said that ISPs should be able to manage traffic on their networks and filter the transfer of pirated content," wrote the IT Nerd. "Gee. That sounds a bit like 'Big Brother' does it not?" Matthew Lasar of Ars Technica describes FCC Commissioner Kevin J. Martin as "sounding even more rushed and befuddled than usual," and p2pnet notes, "Arrogantly, Comcast didn't trouble itself to turn up at all  … which was more than passing strange given it was largely for the meeting being called in the first place.:

Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, a major champion of net neutrality, won his usual accolades from the blogging community. "Now we know why none of the major carriers showed up for Thursday's open FCC meeting at Stanford University," writesGigaOm's Paul Kapustka. "Who wants to take on Larry Lessig, the lion of Net Neutrality, in his own den?"

Read more about the net-neutrality hearing.

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.



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