How People Rationalize Being Close-minded: A Case Study


For “close-minded,” you can substitute ignorant, knee-jerk partisan, misguided, arrogant, stupid, reckless,naive, easily-manipulated, or just stubbornly wrong.

I owe Ethics Alarms expatriate Barry Deutsch for pointing me to this; on weekends I often check out the blogs and websites, and sure enough, on his own blog Alas! Barry was once again discussing the issue that was in part responsible for his contentious departure here—the issue of how comfortable on-line forums should be for participants. Though Barry has his own—typically nuanced, too-equivocal for my tastes—views on the topic, the post I want to feature is one he linked to, a blog called Apophemi. In a post about why the blogger avoids participating on the so-called “rationalist” forum “Less Wrong,” which appears to be a major source for the writers of “Big Bang Theory,” he argues for, as translated by Barry and others—he needs a translator—“safe places,” meaning web forums where certain ideas, topics and positions will not or cannot be discussed. He writes (I warned you, remember);

“I am reasonably confident (insert p value here) that this attitude is self-replicating among people who are accustomed to being at risk in a specific way that generally occurs to marginalized populations. (I cannot speak for people who may have a similar rhetorical roadblock without it being yoked to a line of social marginalization, other than that I suspect they happen.) This would mean that rewarding the “ability” to entertain any argument “no matter how ‘politically incorrect’” (to break out of some jargon, “no matter how likely to hurt people”) results in a system that prizes people who have not been socially marginalized or who have been socially marginalized less than a given other person in the discussion, since they will have (in general) less inbuilt safeguards limiting the topics they can discuss comfortably. In other words, prizing discourse without limitations (I tried to find a convenient analogy for said limitations and failed. Fenders? Safety belts?) will result in an environment in which people are more comfortable speaking the more social privilege they hold. (If you prefer to not have any truck with the word ‘privilege’, substitute ‘the less likelihood of having to anticipate culturally-permissible threats to their personhood they have lived with’, since that’s the specific manifestation of privilege I mean. Sadly, that is a long and unwieldy phrase.) Environments for discourse which do not allow/encourage what I’m calling “discourse without limitations” are frequently (that I have seen) trash-talked in the context of environments which do allow/encourage that type of discourse.”

I guess this would be “trash-talk,” then: Apophemi is rationalizing echo chambers, close-minds and intellectual laziness.

Essentially what the post says is that there are some beliefs so treasured by individuals that any challenges to those beliefs, even incorporating powerful and persuasive facts, constitute violence to those individuals’ belief systems and self-esteem, and thus can and should be avoided. As I noted in the post about a majority of Republicans choosing to ignore the reality of evolution, everyone in a democratic form of government has an ethical obligation to be as objective, educated, rational and competent in dealing with the world and its problems as possible, or they are a detriment to the system and society. This obligation means, obviously (and perhaps primarily) engaging in the difficult ongoing inquiry of trying to determine what is right, what is wrong, what works in society, and what doesn’t.

What Apophemi, and by extension, Alas!, are endorsing are stress-free opinions that never have to confront the painful, jarring, guilt-inducing and emotionally unpleasant experience of being proven dead wrong. Yes, human beings are programmed to automatically protect themselves against this trauma, as indicated by the confirmation bias that is such a foe of rational thought, and the cognitive dissonance that warps our values daily. It is our shared ethical duty, however, to fight against that tendency which inevitably makes us rigid, wrong, and destructive. It is impossible to be right about everything, but we must never stop trying to be right, which means taking a big gulp and testing our beliefs– half-baked, hastily assembled or passed along to us fully-formed by parents and role-models—against contrary conclusions arrived at be others who just might be better informed, clearer, less biased and more astute about the topic than our cherished beliefs can withstand.

Of course, this is why ideologies are so popular, and why they are so destructive. These are pre-packaged templates to explain a world too random, chaotic and complex to be competently explained by any ideology, but having a belief system with lots of adherents that permits us  to reach opinions on a variety of dilemmas and problems without thinking too hard is convenient and comforting. It also can make us immune to learning, and encourage us to avoid the perceived peril of encountering someone who understands things better than we do.

When someone is in this mindset—and I am beginning to think that 95% of America is either in this mindset or completely apathetic—facts and persuasion often aren’t enough to dislodge it, even on the rare occasions that the belief-holder allows himself or herself to be exposed to them. David Horowitz is a smart, doctrinaire, extreme, outspoken and abrasive conservative. He used to be a a smart, doctrinaire, extreme, outspoken and abrasive Sixties liberal—indeed, he was a Marxist. What caused him to swing from one extreme of the political spectrum to the other? It wasn’t a the result of his careful consideration of ideas, facts and arguments from a balanced and objective perspective. No, Horowitz became a conservative because a woman he cared about was murdered by the Black Panthers, and then Horowitz was ready to read and listen to reasoned criticism of leftist ideology. It took a measure of shock, anger and hate to make such ideas that challenged his long-held ideology endurable…”safe.”

The marketplace of ideas in a pluralistic, democratic society shouldn’t be safe, as in immune to sudden enlightenment, slaps in the face, disillusionment and nasty surprises. The internet has hardened ideology, abetted intellectual laziness and facilitated those with like biases reinforcing them together without benefit of articulate dissent. We are most valuable to our culture and society when we are wise, and wisdom is not achieved easily, quickly, or pleasantly. If there are safe places to hide our cherished biases and half-baked beliefs in a womb of guaranteed agreement, the natural human instinct is to go to them.

The ethical instinct is for us to assemble the courage and fortitude to go some place where we can discover we are wrong, or perhaps convince others that we are right. The former isn’t pleasant, and the latter isn’t popular. But if you are not willing to meet your obligation to objectively seek the truth, whatever nasty places it leads you to or where you have to go to find it, no one should care what your opinion is.


Graphic: g3argr1nders

173 thoughts on “How People Rationalize Being Close-minded: A Case Study

  1. I think you meant “Black Panthers.” [But it is Monday.]

    That said, it takes a lot to realize that one’s beliefs are wrong and to change them. I was raised in the South of the ’50’s, and thus had some incredibly naive and wrong ideas about race in general, I think, largely due to my lack of exposure to persons of another race, except those in positions of servitude. Was I wrong? Oh, yes. Have I learned and changed my views? Quite so, but it was not an easy process,

  2. “But if you are not willing to meet your obligation to objectively seek the truth, whatever nasty places it leads you to or where you have to go to find it, no one should care what your opinion is.”

    This is getting repeated.

    (will full citation)

  3. All work requires occasional rest, and the work of being a citizen needs punctuation by chilling in environments of people known to be friendly.

    A society needs both its agora and its drawing rooms (I believe the etymology is from “withdrawing”, in fact).

    Some vital discussions can only be held in controlled, even segregated spaces. Imagine, for example, feminists doing a searching self-examination of their goals and tactics. Socially useful, but it would come to an end if the discussion area were open to the kind of people who comment on Spearhead.

    Some forums will be special-purpose for emotional support. I would endorse a forum banning Woody Allen preemptively if it were a support forum for survivors of child sexual abuse.

    A question of “how comfortable online forums should be” lumps together all online forums. They can and should be all over the map in their policies and tone.

    • That’s true, as long as you can resist going only to comfortable places where group conventional wisdom and biases are constantly reinforced. Most people can’t.

      Is it a coincidence that nearly all the reflexive defenders of the Obama Administration and progressive ideologies suddenly went AWOL from this blog as soon as I began fairly, accurately and objectively covering the dishonesty and incompetence, as well as the biased media attempts to whitewash same, surrounding the ACA roll-out? I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think so: They had no good defenses; those who offered pathetic rationalizations (“Yeah, but why don’t you talk about how Bush lied about WMD’s?”) were properly and bluntly chastised, and voila! No progressives (or almost none). Why no commenters saying, “I’ve argued that your assessment of the President’s leadership was too harsh, but you know what? You were right, and I was fooled.” Many of them don’t want to change their minds…too painful, too humiliating. And yet being proved wrong, especially when it involves trusting someone whose duty it is to be trustworthy, shouldn’t be humiliating. And better to be set right than to maintain gullibility.

      • Hogwash. True progressives hate Obamacare because it was set up to fail — the only winners are the insurance companies. We stopped commenting because we’re sick of the subject, and we became sick of the subject the moment single payor came off the table. I’m not trying to start a debate about the merits of single payor here, just explaining our distaste for the whole subject.

        • “No true Scotsman” fallacy! Moreover…

          When the President of the United States is uncategorically shown to have knowingly lied about his “signature program” over four years both to pass it and to gain re-election is no time to decide that you are “sick of the subject.” You think I’m not sick of the subject? Or wish there WAS no such subject?

          • Obama lied? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you! He’s lied about a ton of policies — Gitmo, “transparency,” wars, “no lobbyists in the White House, etc. And then there’s that tiny, insignificant matter of him killing Americans without due process. That’s why I’m bored with your coverage of Obamacare Jack. You’re covering lies about a program that was doomed to fail. It’s low on my list his lies that piss me off. But it’s high on the list of people who would hate Obamacare even if it had the best website in the history of the internet.

            • ???THAT”s a weird comment coming from a…well, anybody. So lies about programs doomed to fail are meh, but lies about…what, effective programs are worse somehow? All I care about is the duration, motive and audacity of the lie, and how many victims were affected by it.

              • I hope you are more outraged about the fact that he is killing US citizens without due process — or his collection of our personal data without a warrant. These are constitutional violations after all. His lies are just the proverbial icing on the cupcake.

                • I think the due process argument is complex ethically and legally, especially regarding modern warfare. I’d say that the US action of killing Bin Laden on foreign soil, without a declared war, and no trial, was ethically defensible, less so legally. Ditto the drone killings of American citizens traitorously planning terrorist activities. The slippery slope has proven active, however, which is the danger of utilitarianism.

                  Lying to the public in a democracy to mislead it into supporting programs it otherwise would not, and withholding information that would allow informed voting, is indefensible and a threat to freedom. If leaders at least tell us the truth about their unconstitutional acts, as they are obligated to, there is accountability.

                  • I don’t know how you can consider the planned execution of an American citizen with no due process anything like ethically defensible. It strikes at the very basis of the American system of rule of law.

                    • An American citizen actively engaged in WAR against his nation?

                      I suppose Lincoln was obligated to arrest all the Confederates and not actually send army after army after army after army down south to kill them?

                      I suppose FDR was obligated to piece through, one by one, each uniformed German soldier to figure out which one’s were Bundist (American citizens turned traitor) and arrest those, then proceed with killing the rest of the Germans in battle?

                      I suppose President Polk ought to have ensured that his General’s whilst marching towards Mexico City, ought to have stopped the battle of Monterey or Buena Vista to ensure the members of the San Patricio battalion were read their rights as American citizens, never mind the bullets whizzing around?

                    • Sorry, but the “War on Terror” is more complicated than that. Was he fighting in an army? Had he set foot on a battlefield? Or did the government just decide that he was up to an sufficient amount of no good to warrant summary execution? Because sure, the Confederates on the battlefield were enemy combatants, but even foreign spies get trials.

                    • Unless they are shot first. Planning long range terrorist acts in one’s country doesn’t fit traditional models. I’m pretty confident that a US citizen who had the knowledge and capability to do this in a foreign nation during the cold war would mysteriously turn up dead, if there was a way to accomplish it, and ethically I think that’s just fine on utilitarian grounds. And the US ban on assassinations must have exceptions, and you know the one. Would assassinating Hitler have been ethical? Of course it would. Even Pete would have said so, I bet.

                    • 1, Hitler isn’t a US citizen, and 2, he was the leader of a power we were at war with. Forgive me, but I don’t put sufficient trust in the omniscience of the government’s intelligence to trust their judgement of “no, he totally had plans. Bad plans. Like, so bad he was an immediate threat. No, of course he was guilty. Trust us.” followed by summary execution.

                    • The point was that he would still be a beneficiary of the supposed US ban on assassination, war or not.
                      Were we at war with Al Qida (Kida? Qaeda?) Are we? I think the Bush definition makes more sense than “No, but we’ll kill ’em anyway.”

                    • I will clarify:

                      American citizen or not, our way of war is designed around giving people an out, either through giving up their designs, surrendering, or being captured, prior to application of lethal methods. And that should (and IS) the norm.

                      However, the moment capture is not an option (such as the individual actively engaged in resistance, or the individual cannot be ‘gotten to’ without serious expenditure of manpower and materiel yet is still engaged in war against us) then blow the bugger up.

                    • I think our disagreement here, then, is in the definition of “war.” The nebulous concept of the “war on terror” seems to have given the government license to declare various groups hostile enough that helping them is an automatic death sentence, based on non-public evidence. It’s not a legitimate “war” any more than the “war on drugs.” If we have intelligence about a citizen who participates in drug smuggling, they are doing something harmful to the nation while working with a foreign group and on the wrong side of one of our wars on a concept. Do we execute him too?

                    • Even if an individual has moved to a foreign nation and has declared that his goal is to kill the president, you do not get to order air strikes to kill him. You get to arrest him if and when he commits a crime against us — assuming he sets foot on US soil or you can convince the country holding him to turn him over. If the other country refuses, then you can declare war and drone him. (Tip – it’s best to invade the right country.) Otherwise you are violating US and International law. Imagine if other countries sent flying robots to kill foreign nationals residing here? My guess is that we would view that as an invasion. Not to mention the civilian casualties that always accompany these strikes.

                    • Here is how I see the killing of Americans abroad…

                      If they are in the uniform of the enemy, then off them.

                      If they are hanging around a known group of the enemy, people who are known to plan and engage in attacks on US citizens and locations, then a strike that kills them and the American is not something I will get too worked up over.

                      If he is alone, or just around normal civilians, or people that only might be terrorists? Well, killing him is a mistake and you ought not do it.

            • Beth, since you are going there…
              Or, it might cause people who hate the program to at least say how amazing it is that government got something about it right, so maybe it’s not excruciatingly horrible and people forced into it at least have something they didn’t have before. Which would have been a triumph for progressives. Had it been handled well. It might have, in fact, been a notable refutation of those people who think government should stay out of people’s lives.
              But as it turns out it is none of the things it was promised to be and is everything it was feared it was. And as such is legitimate as a topic on an ethics forum along with other egregious lies told by politicians and news media.

      • There you’re discussing a duty of citizens to seek a variety of points of view, rather than a duty of forum owners to keep things uncomfortable. I’m much more in agreement there.

        • I’m saying that when “keeping things safe and comfortable” means “censoring stuff people don’t like to hear,” it’s in the furtherance of ignorance and polarization. All forums should be as comfortable as possible. Ampersand’s definitiuon of that on Alas!, at least in my case, was “Don’t bluntly call my commenters on their naked bias and willingness to distort the truth and law for ideological comfort.”

      • “And yet being proved wrong, especially when it involves trusting someone whose duty it is to be trustworthy, shouldn’t be humiliating.”

        That thought leads to another one, about what some people disparagingly call “tone policing”.

        There are people who argue that anyone in a public debate should be “tough” and accept being insulted. There are people who argue that being asked to keep things civil puts oppressed groups at a disadvantage.

        The practical problem with those attitudes is that it’s a rare human who is willing to lose face by retreating in the face of abuse. It’s easier to change someone’s mind if they’re being treated as respected discussion partners who may need more information or perspective.

        In other words, proving someone wrong has to be done without setting out to humiliate them.

        On top of which, public debate is impoverished if it loses the contributions of quiet and sensitive people. Some of them are pretty smart and observant. They need debate spaces that are more like the UK Parliament and less like the Knesset.

        • The problem is that civility can be expanded to mean anything. Barry, for example, felt that my sarcasm was uncivil. Ashleigh Banfield on CNN argued that one should never say that the President lied, even if he did. If someone in a policy debate says something untrue, pointing that it’s not true isn’t uncivil. If they say something idiotic, “That’s idiotic” is appropriate. Ignorance is ignorance, hate is hate, biased is biased, dumb is dumb. Tactics are a different matter. Civility is a sub-section of respect, but not all words and opinions, like not all conduct, deserves respect, and indeed according it respect gives it credibility it doesn’t deserve. This is like the “two sides” trick: “Hey, the fair thing is to respectfully listen to virulent racists argue that African-Americans are subhuman. That’s balance.” No, it’s not. This is why I unleashed Scott on the last racist to post here. Why should an opinion like that be “safe”?

      • I stopped commenting for a while around then because you had certain commenters who I felt were rather abusive in their replies to dissenters, and you seemed to allow and approve this behavior. The forum was no longer was no longer a good place to debate much of anything, just a place to hurl over the top insults at each other. Once that faded down some, I felt it worthwhile to comment every once in a while..

            • In case you didn’t quite get my meaning. I don’t quite think one careless word selection, one insult and one metaphorical death threat with attached violent imagery and mocking reference to your own self restraint in only going that far, qualify as non-abusive. If you think you can argue that it does, do so.

              And I’m getting really, really tired of saying this. Debate me properly or don’t keep pushing it. Apply the Golden Rule and benificence and non-malificence at least. Especially to your critics and people who have a different view on your use of offensiveness. If my tone sounds too authorititative to you. Tough. It’s my natural tone when I’m angry. Cope, suck it up, be a man, like you keep telling other people to do. If you can’t live by the comment policy and ethics then at least obey your own rules. If those are not generalisable then I demand you drop them. On principile.

              Until you debate me, properly, you have no credible right to speak at all, by the rules of common sense and natural society. Get your self a champion or do the job yourself.

    • Imagine, for example, feminists doing a searching self-examination of their goals and tactics.

      Sorry, but I’m only able tot suspend disbelief to a point.

      Can you suggest a more plausible scenario? 🙂

    • Honestly I cannot see why a blog cannot be both things at the same time. There are times when sensitve eyes should look away and others when harsher voices shoud give way to the quiet people. It is matter of sensing what others are thinking, of reading more than you write. Possibly of the noisy and assertive speaking first and the quiet coming in later.

  4. Could you imagine if this was applied to say… peer review? Our precious little scientists and doctors are too fragile and timid to have their hypothesis tested by their colleagues, so we just let them publish what they want.

    Oh wait. That happens.

    • In defense of my field, it DOES happen- but science at least makes an effort to hold itself to standards, and there are always other scientists gunning for your comfortable conclusions. Contrast with, say, politics (demonize your opponent til anyone who dares to agree with them is automatically a racist/sexist/socialist!) or academia (carve out a fiefdom and say anyone who disagrees with you hates academic freedom!)

  5. Fred makes some interesting points. However, I think his point about “chilling in environments of people known to be friendly” is the root of the problem Jack described; people tend to aggregate in areas of comfort indefinitely. I agree with Jack that changing positions, understanding, or evolving on issues requires that countervailing points of view be heard, otherwise there can be no learning.

    The discomfort of changing positions can be mitigated when both sides accept the fact that neither side is the holder of all truth and that accepting and integrating an alternative point does not necessarily lessen the validity of one’s ideas. Perhaps the reason that many surveyed Republicans and, to a lesser degree, Democrats object to evolution is that it is often framed in an either/or argument. If you believe in evolution then you cannot believe in a god and vice versa. It is perfectly reasonable and rational to reject evolution in favor of a deity because the untestable downside risk is mitigated. There is no potential damnation for rejecting evolution and having faith in a higher power.

    It is the terra-centric view of the universe that underlies both side’s arguments. The evolutionist’s argument is that the Earth is proven to be far older than that of the record depicted in the Book of Genesis. I accept that. Does that, in and of itself, destroy the Old Testament account? It does only if you believe that one day equals 24 hours of measured Earth time. It seems to me unlikely that we are the only intelligent life forms in the universe so why should we hold to the belief that one day of Biblical time is equal 24 hours. Scientists have estimated the age of the universe using very sophisticated measurement devices – based on Earth’s recorded time. Yet none have offered an explanation on the what existed before the Big Bang or what precipitated it.

    If you understand Einstein’s theories on time then you know that time dilation causes ticks on a moving clock to tick more slowly than a stationary one. Thus, if a deity is positioned in the center of the universe then fast moving objects very far away, created by the deity, will age more slowly than the time elapsed at the center of the universe. Because the universe is thought (by scientists) to spin, irrespective of an axis, then one day could be the length of time needed to return to original point of departure in that universe. Therefore, “one day” could be measured in eons the further it is away from the point of origin. It is also somewhat interesting that the “days” depicted in Genesis correlate somewhat to the evolution of life in our own geological time periods.

    As much as I abhor Marx and Engel’s theories on capital and its destructive power, I must give them their due on the dialectic approach used: Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The search for truth must go on unabated but if we continue to ridicule ideas and otherwise impugn the mental capacities or character of others whose ideas do not comport with our own, people will seek the solace of the like minded. What little progress we achieve toward what is correct and true will be in spite of ourselves and not because of our own actions.

  6. Jack is good at bringing up important issues and this is one of the better ones. Lots of forums are wrestling with these questions and our host is absolutely right to bring up the social impact.

    Here’s one concrete issue and example that comes up. What if one group is greatly outnumbered? It’s harder to shout someone down online than offline, but still possible. The example I’m thinking of is transgender people. On a general-purpose forum, they may easily be outnumbered a thousand to one. One result is that discussions could easily turn into impenetrable mingle groups of non-trans people talking to each other about trans people’s issues. Next, generously assume that 90% of the cis people are up to speed on gender dysphoria (in real life it will be far less). Then each transgender person has to deal with a hundred painfully ignorant and often hateful people. That’s a lot to ask of someone. I wouldn’t blame the one who says “If I want to encounter hostility I’ll go to the grocery store. This forum is a bad use of my time and energy.”.

    I toss that out for discussion because I don’t know the best answer.

      • Latin, opposite of “trans”. Neutral description (“cislunar space”, “cisgender”, “cis fats”). Some people have tried to take offense at it. I believe they are just trying to make trouble.

        • I know WHERE “cis” comes from, but I have never heard anyone use it seriously who was not an utter tool. It is almost universally used as a pejorative (“cisgender people don’t know [insert radfem idealist bullshit here]”).

          I’ve never been able to take seriously anyone who uses it in anything like normal conversation.

          • I had occasion to look into the matter and found it being used neutrally by angry trans activists.

            People saying “White people suck” would not make “white” a slur. “Cis” is a parallel case.

            If I have to use something as unwieldy as “hypothalamus-gonad congruent” instead then I will, but I’ll have to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.

            • Here is my view of it….

              “Trans” is used to denote a deviation from the norm…

              So “cis” is an effort to, essentially, denormalize normal.

              It is a way to marginalize and dismiss the societal norm, and we can see this if we replace “cis” with “normal” – the meaning of the sentence does not change.

              And that pisses me off. It is something that came about because some gender studies jackass needed a special word to talk about society without society realizing that they were being blamed for every societal ill.

              And I say this as someone with, frankly, maybe more gay, lesbian, cross and transgender friends than straight friends. I have taken verbally violent stands in favor of gays (google my name, the ACU, and “The Jury Talks Back” if you want to see how balls-out I am willing to go).

              But using “cis” without irony just tells me that you are an idiot.

              And you aren’t an idiot Fred.

              So stop. 🙂

              • It is a way to marginalize and dismiss the societal norm, and we can see this if we replace “cis” with “normal” – the meaning of the sentence does not change.


                As in “Normal” vs “Filthy JEW”.
                “Normal” vs “Jungle Bunny”
                “Normal” vs “Freak”
                “Normal” vs “Pervert”

                “Normal” vs “Abnormal”

                Cis is an attempt to make it more like
                “Gentile” vs :”Jew”
                “White” vs “Black”
                “Usual” vs “Unusual”

                To remove the perjorative imputations that are “normal”, or at least “extremely common” that Trans people deserve persecution and even extermination – as long as that doesn’t get publicised, they’re supposed to just disappear and not cause anyone any discomfort by their existence, or transition from existence to nonexistence. No blood on the carpet, they’re supposed to bleed elsewhere where their filthy abnormal presence can’t pollute the lives of normal people.

                See the problems with using “normal” as the opposite in this instance?

                That there’s been so much resistance to the term from The Usual Suspects says a lot about them. The most amazing, fantastic and fanciful etiologies for the term “Cis” have been invented by them, all showing just how loathsome, foetid and deserving of decontamination these Trans things are.

                It actually dates back to the 1920’s, as a technical term in psychology.. It’s just that it’s not been used much.until recently.

                I’m sorry the situation pisses you off, and I can understand your view, which has much merit. I just think the competing one has more.

                • I generally spot a cup of coffe (or a redbull).

                  You think I’ve vicious during the day, try catching me before I’ve had either.

                  It is the 8th wonder of the world that I’ve not killed someone while I was between the states of “waking” and “caffeinated”.

                    • Thank you Scott, for showing that your responses to me in constant bad language are a sign of your contemptuous belief in your intellectual superiority to me rather than an actual sense of offence at being disagreed with. I now feel not the slightest degree of hesitancy in dealing with you. In identifying yourself as not only a tyrant and bully but also a snob and a very particular kind of snob at that, you have removed a burden from my shoulders, thank you.

                      As you have made a space for this kind of language I’ll classify you (i was going to say king sized cunt but I realsed there’s something worse) you are an ‘inheritor’. By which I mean the kind of specifically American parasite that has silver spoon in its mouth, bile on it’s breath and arrogance beyond measure. The kind of worm that wll live in mockery of all that greater and better men and women have built and sacrificed for. Yours are the hands that are tipping everything I value in your country straight down the toilet. That’s you, an inheritor, as base as a traitor. I hope you enjoy the look of youself in a mirror.

                      No matter how you deal with me, that’s irrelevant, every four letter word you use is a vivid insult to free speech and anyone who fought for it. That you are apparently willing to ante up for your ‘art;’ shows immaturiity of judgement to be in exact proportion to the stunted growth of your soul.

                      In the most basic kindergarten language: To abuse a person of lower rank is a crime to do it with disdain is a sin. To use force of any kind for sport rather than need is infamous. You were clearly brought up to know better than you act.

                      I have no idea why Jack tolerates you. I did think your bad language and offensiveness was bringing the blog into dangerous territory. I see now that I was wrong. Your every beath and punctuation stand in stark opposition to any core value this blog might legitimately represent. You and the structure of the blog, the kind of material it uses and your art together could not be more suited to entrap and flame, abuse and destroy victims if it had been deliberately calculated to do so.

                      This blog is an unruly house while your presence and policy persist in it.

                      I will not withdraw from the blog site, but I will fight. Not just you but every member who acquiesces in your continued misconduct. and Jack who permits it.

                      Ill done, Ethics Allams folk, Ill done indeed.

                      Jack what were you thinking. I don’t wish to be ungrateful but what else can I say, but the truth as I see it.

                    • TYRANT? What the actual… you know what? I can’t top Scott, so I won’t try. But for serious… tyrant? Is he exerting some dictatorial power here? Stamp your feet and threaten to fight in the beaches and the trenches all you want, but watch my lips. Speech. Is. Not. Tyranny. A Nazi marching through a Jewish community is hateful and evil, but not tyranny, and is accepted as the price of admission. A man calling you a fuckhead on a web site doesn’t even register on the scale.

                      By all means, argue with Scott. Tell him his incessant profanity makes his arguments look ignorant. Tell him that when his snap response is “fuck you twat” it ensures that anyone who sees that first won’t bother reading anything else he has to say. But spare us the bullying sob story.

                    • He called me a tyrant?

                      This is what I get for just skipping everything he posts.

                      You ever find yourself wondering how the fuck the UK managed to not get wiped out by the Nazis? Because I do, every time I read one of Bruce’s mewling little bitch-fests…

                      I mean, whining that he wasn’t sufficiently warned that people might be mean? How the fuck does such a person survive going out in public?

                    • Luke G If have to call someone a tyrant in order to pick a fight they keep ducking i’ll do it 10 imes a day and twice on Sunday. I have no doubt there is but one Scott on site and I’ll prove it to you. Engarde, Fight me. More abuse. Pick a champion. Scott purports to be passionate about his offensivenessas ‘art’ and o this subject I challenged but he didn’t once engage me.insults and rhetorical tricks only.-You on he othe hand will. Instantly I know it. I meant what I said, Scott from his response to Fred above does not consider me to be his equal but a lower grade of mind and you never beat up the litle guy. I agree Scott’s a snob a bully a coward and a liar But to use the word tyrant was to give him too much credit. And to diminish the word which was an error bourne of passion. If you want to further understand the level of the man you might be misunderstod to be defending read lower then tell me what you think. If I’m wrong he’ll have an apology.

                      And I’m sorry ladies but when you cant type well you neded a champion. Until one of these great minds steps up to do the decent thing i’m afraid Im all youve got. It’s not that i:m protecting you personlly but I’m protecting the castle because there’s slimy worm within the door who’s having you all on.

                      I was going to keep my peace about this but the llittle tit keeps on ragging me and picking on others. Never persistently never picking on a victim too much always on the fly. Now i’ve got him fighting in a public place he won’t back out again.

                    • Jesus, you have an ego that puts Obama’s to the test.

                      You are a nobody, Brucie, and we aren’t fighting. I would have to give a fuck to fight with some pathetic lickspittle like you.

                      You have no authority, and yet make grand proclamations and demands of others like you have some kind of say.

                      You sent posted like 7 comments while I was asleep, and I ignored them all. You would think that at some point, you would realize I won’t be engaging you.

                      Go harass some who thinks you are worth the effort. At this point you are just wasting bandwidth.

                    • I wouldn’t presume to defend him, I don’t think he needs help and vaguely fear what would happen if I presumed to insert myself as his champion or guardian. I just have a love of language and hate to see it twisted. Bully? Perhaps, although I’ve made my doubts clear that you can “bully” someone in a voluntary participation web forum. Coward? I don’t see it. Liar? I haven’t known him to lie, just swear. Jerk? Mayhap. Rude? Doubtless. The things I said about his language weakening the impact of his arguments are things I believe- I do my best to argue politely and with judicious language out of the belief that if I come across as angry or vulgar I’ll be ignored wholesale. But none of that equates to Scott being… whatever it is that you seem to think he is.

                    • You are not strong without emotion but weak and have lost your principle but do not know it- that is your tragedy.

                  • Parkinsons, damn! So come on Scott, fight me! You do the home work for once – go back on our conversations and pick our best argument where you say gratuitous offense is justified. The burden of proof is on you and extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

                    • And in case anyone wondered about how we fought the Nazis on our own for three years while America looked on… only this particular vandal is cleverer than the average – He won’t rouse the sleeping giant. He’ll play both ends against the middle, suckering you on your weak point – freedom of speech.

                    • Have to disagree there, Bruce: freedom of speech is only a weakness to those not strong or principled enough to use and respect it.The same could be said, and in fact has, of freedom of thought.

          • I wonder what’s given the two of us such divergent experiences.

            There are about half a dozen trans people I interact with regularly, with occasional forays to advocacy and information sites like Zoe’s. They’re in an environment that selects for decent people, so there’s some sample bias, but they’re a diverse lot and don’t shrink from passionate argument.

            Scott, you will reject web references as not authoritative, and will be right to do so, but for whatever it’s worth the top Google results for “transgender glossary” are links like, a pitiless advocacy site (,, and All define “cisgender” matter of factly.

            This is not “appeal to authority”, but does suggest that advocates and medical people widely intend the word neutrally.

            All of which turns out to be on topic, because it illustrates how hard it is to make a space “safe”. If people can’t even agree on what’s offensive, then minimizing offense becomes a fool’s game.

                    • Communication only requires a common meaning. Meaning is not power. You can’t be hurt by words unless you choose to let them. It’s hard to choose otherwise sometimes, but the choice is always there.

                    • He’s not saying words don’t have power. He only said that they only have the power we give them. Not recognizing that we give words power to affects us all the time would be a denial of reality.

                    • To make matters more plain I’ve looked at the comments you have submtted. At risk of pointing out the obvious to those I assume will take responsibility, no true libertarian would be caught dead being this careless. ‘Words have only the power you give them….’ Which ‘you’ would that be exactly? What, you mean all words or only insults or only particular insults? Do the words ‘because’ and ‘therefore’ and ‘in order to’ have no compulsory power in logic’?

                      Scott can either play by the rules or live with the consequences. If he calls himself a Libertarian he must act like one He claimed to be a Libertariain.The guy treated me like I was scum on the bottom of his shoe. He used every privelege a Libertarian could possibly claim, including that of my automatic discretion. And then he doesn’t even have the common courtesy to mind his language at all. Not even a little bit. Just to spell it out : Therefore he claimed to be Libertarian while not beng a Libertarian. That is an illogical claim, and in our shared world I would think in natural justice it is a crime of infinte magnitude.

                      According to my creed I make no charge, lay no claim. I am humble before my leige lord/comrade/brother boss/Jack. But likewise I am my own man. And god fuck everyone of you if I don’t receive justice.

                      Without looking, Scott’s word crimes seem to be plentiful. A Libertarian would never use the word ‘tool’ when referrring to a person. Not without qualifying that he didn’t mean the category that includes ‘screwdriver’. He can’t say he wasn’t warned, there is ruling on the use of language and logic in policy and in any case a Libertarian is always a man of his word. Always.

                      He can’t claim any priveleges under the comment policy, I claim all mine, according to my faith in humanity and natural justice but including all words in the way I empower them, forever.

                      I have no intention of inflicting any use of power that any of the foregong statement may give me over any Libertarian, at any time (loosely) in the future, claimed or otherwise. You have my cast iron word on that (in the figurative sense) I have followed the rule of natural justice as it appiies to me with thorough good intent. If I say I wept or I’m all in or whatever, It’s because I was (in the loose sense of time , but very very genuinely otherwise).. I have put real skin into this game (figuratively as to skin and game), balls to the wall (again figuratively speaking) I don’t take these matters lightly, in the figurative sense of the word light.

                      (That’s the way you do it.on an open website, I think. Nobility of soul on my part, I think you have an entitlemet to that. Exactitude on yours. You always come 10 miles over the other guys line to keep him happy. You never, ever, take the fucking piss out of another guy’s religion. If any further concesssions are needed I’m more than willing. That is, any more than Calon Lan and the comments policy. I’ll stand any examination according to my creed that a Libertarian (a proper one), an American (a proper one) or a liberal (a proper one) wants. There has been no entrapment, no tricks, I have never been more nor less than an honest leftie/nice guy/knight of the heart (if you will, in the loose sense). Nor Ever will be)

                      I just thoght I’d say that outright in case anyone was actually worried about my intentions or motivations or in case any logcal flaw in Scott’s statements gives me a hold I don’t understand on anyone. i can’t imagine why anyone would be worried, with a true blue Brit no one who isn’t very persisent should ever get hurt.

                      To mistreat anyone of lower rank is a crime, to do it with disdain is a sin. You never ever pick on the little guy. Lessons we all earned at our mothers knee. And free speech for all not just the strong would be my respecful advice.

                      But Scott fucking Jacobs can go and fuck himself. No one else, just hiim. I don’t want that cocksucker anywhere near me. If he’s onsite because of services previoudsly rendered I’m off. He’s the kind of cunt that holds a grudge and he’s not entitled to one. Nor is anyone else. Liberals stood back and did nothing (and they came for the fuckwits and i did nothing because I am not a fuckwit – jeepers guy’s were you asleep?!) This is America for Chrst’s fucking sake – what happened to you guys? If Jack says open doors policy that’s great by me (raise the stars and stripes hoorah!) Just don’t do that and tolerate bullying. it’s contrary to every stripe in the flag. If you then tell me to do battle, against my principles, remember that in battles people get hurt. Again for none of you do I give apology.If you admit a sensitive caring poetical guy I guess this is the result. Again no entrapment no tricks my reactions have been those of a true man. On my honour, I told no lies, I have paid disrespect to no one. I have suffered all, bourne all with every strength I posess.. But I don’t like bullles.

                      Those are my thoughts looking back, on the last two days play.

                      I apologise for any bad langauge in the foregoing (in the literal and the figurative sense of the words ‘bad language’) and I claim no duty from others.

                      That’s.all folks.

                    • Behold, ladies and gentleman: The no true Libertarian fallacy. Because Scott doesn’t act in ways Bruce imagines pure libertarians do, he’s not a libertarian. Here’s a hint Bruce: Being a libertarian only indicates a strong belief in the value of personal liberty, regardless of the underlying philosophy. There is nothing in that about avoiding the use of english as it’s commonly understood, or that indicates that we will always 100% follow our principles. People are still people even when they aspire to be rational. Many of us think in similar, but not identical fashions, but I have little in common with the so called libertarian socialists such as Noam Chomsky. It’s incredibly difficult to get a collection of committed individualists to all act in the same fashion in all circumstances.

                      There’s quite a bit more in Bruce’s comment that I lack the time and energy to deal with.

                    • That link is hardly proof of your assertion.

                      If I call myself a “Happy Angry” man, it doesn’t make it so – you can’t *simultaneously* be conflicting qualities.

                      Reading anything called Libertarian (desire for less state imposition in their PERSONAL AND ECONOMIC lives) Socialism (inevitably compels state imposition on all aspects of life to achieve desired reforms), is utterly laughable.

                      If you want Voluntary Socialism friend, you’d better read Acts 2-4. And just like all small communities that willingly accept communal ownership: IT DOESN’T LAST LONG, not as soon as the hard workers realize the not so hard workers get the same reward.

                      A libertarian abhors collections of power: political or economic.

                      A socialist cannot achieve their vision without A COLLECTION OF POWER, regardless of how much they say “well if everyone would just get on board for sharing their efforts with people who put forth no effort”.

                      Please tell me you see the utter idiocy of the self-made title that juxtaposes two opposite definitions?

                      To save you time and effort, since I’ve seen these arguments before, you’ll inevitably use “the No True Scotsman Fallacy” as well as the “Etymological Fallacy” which I can debunk if you’d like.

                    • Texagg04 of February 7, 2014 at 11:57 am wrote:-

                      That link [] is hardly proof of your assertion.

                      If I call myself a “Happy Angry” man, it doesn’t make it so – you can’t *simultaneously* be conflicting qualities.

                      Socialism (inevitably compels state imposition on all aspects of life to achieve desired reforms) … A socialist cannot achieve their vision without A COLLECTION OF POWER, regardless of how much they say “well if everyone would just get on board for sharing their efforts with people who put forth no effort”.

                      Ah, no. That is just the kind of socialism around these days that has mostly captured people’s ideas of what it is. But there are other kinds, e.g. nothing in Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man under Socialism necessarily requires that it be achieved that way. Saying it does is like saying that if you want space travel you must want government space projects, when it’s only that if you don’t see any downside to government action you are likely to try to work through a government to get what you are after – as it’s quicker and easier for you. If the presence of governments makes any other methods impossible, say because a government that wasn’t socialist would deliberately prevent socialism or because nobody else would have the resources for it after taxes etc., well, that either makes the ambitions a pipe dream or … drum roll … the dreamers fold winding back governments into their plans too, precisely in order to clear that blockage as a tactical matter, quite apart from any value they set on doing it anyway.

                      But even if the link I provided had been to a bunch of people whose ideas were inconsistent, that would only make the ideas unattainable; it would not mean the people did not exist, as it’s not like being big and small at the same time, it’s more like wanting to have your cake and eat it – impossible to do, very possible to want (though not possible to want realistically). So that link, to people who really are like that, is quite enough to show that they are out there.

            • It certainly isn’t helped when the majority of people using it in normal conversation also say things like “Every problem the black community has IS THE FAULT OF WHITE PEOPLE.”

              Yes, that was actually said to me by someone who was apparently not trying to be ironic or sarcastic in any way.

              You know, the people who got all kinds of pissed at Macklemore (whatever the fuck a Macklemore is) when he did a song about homophobia in hip-hop, as though his song somehow was actually attacking gays or something.

              I’ll be honest, I started thinking about kitties about 20 seconds into that discussion, so for all I know they cited instances of the dude setting gays of fire – the world may never know.

              Look, if you go on Twitter, or most places where gender identity is discussed in public, you will find “cisgender” and “cismale” used like a dirty-fucking-word.

              And I don’t really care if being considered “not normal” offends the gay and/or transgender community – when they are the statistical majority, they can be the new normal all the life-long day. Until such time, they diverge from the norm, and I’m not going to help invent words and introduce them into the common lexicon just because that fact makes them feel double-plus ungood.

    • Any person who is in a majority of one or an isolated opinion will feel this sensitivity. That is why self discipline, empathy, an ‘ear for the truth’, a good bullshit detector and deference to the guy who is hurting most for the truth is important. If he hurts most he may have had ab insight which others lack, a new idea is always worth considering. The work the citizens do in a forum should not be easy.

  7. OK, let’s drop the euphemisms and abstractions, and squarely face what this is about.

    The “safe space” argument is about racial politics. Secondarily it’s about other frequently mistreated groups but it’s primarily about race.

    If a forum doesn’t ban people with a point of view about “the lack of ethics in the negro animal” (as Jack banned whats-his-name), then that forum is putting out a “Not Welcome” sign to African-Americans.

    A harder judgement call comes up when someone with racist motivation makes a superficially reasonable statement, but one that’s common among racists. Does the forum owner kick that person out to show respect for the AA guests, or leave him in place in the name of open mindedness?

    • “Safe space” also gets tossed around feminist sites, and more than a few that deal with LGBT issues.

      As a straight white male, there are a LOT of places I get told my opinion is not only unwelcome, but attacked for daring to speak against orthodoxy.

      • Ah, I’ll never forget my first day of college classes. A professor read an article from the paper and asked if anyone had an opinion on it. When I volunteered mine, the following occurred:

        “Well, Mr. G, that is a very white middle class male point of view, isn’t it?”

        “Um, probably? Uh… I am a white middle class male.”

        “And I bet you’re just every so PROUD of that, aren’t you?”

        And then I made eye contact with the other guys, and saw the horror.

        • Not surprisingly, I had something somewhat like that in a class…

          My reaction was not what the professor expected, and I think I pissed her off with it.

          “Yes. Yes I am proud of who and what I am. Are you suggesting that I should be ashamed of my race, or gender? Are you suggesting that I or my opinions are less valuable because of them? Please, tell me how I am not allowed my own opinion because I am a white male. Please. We have all class…”

          I dropped soon after, which is a shame. I suspect I could have scared a B outta her without even attending class.

          • I was a freshman and new at the game, so I just sort of mumbled something. By senior year when I had a similar professor, a humanities guy they had teaching “enrichment” courses to scientists while making ludicrously non-scientific statements, I was willing to go to the mats with him over everything he got wrong. That one ended with a meeting wherein we agreed that I would get full credit for all in-class work if I’d just shut up in class. Since the rest of the class were lost causes following his lunacy and unable to be reasoned with (with a couple of other real scientists that I suspect he made the same deal with) I took that in a heartbeat and spent my time reading.

            • My second semester of college, I took a university-required class titled “Women in contemporary society.” Arriving the first day, I found I was one of four males in a class of 60. Once I got back my third paper with an “F”, I hot-footed it out of there as fast as the registrar’s office would see me.

    • I think it depends on context. The personal vs the impersonal.

      Someone whose child has just been killed in some random act of violence will not feel “safe” in a forum discussing stopping power of various bullets, even if that site is about the science of exterior ballistics or treating wound trauma, rather than a religious site excoriating the 3-letter “G” word that Cannot Be Named Lest The World End, or worshiping at the Shrine of The Holy Second Amendment.

      A woman who has to wear a colostomy bag as the result of internal injuries sustained in an horrific sexual assault cannot feel “safe” in even the most respectful forum dealing with the injustices visited on those falsely accused of rape.

      I choose those extreme examples to illustrate the point, they’re not typical, more usually it’s too many people with too much time on their hands looking for trivialities to object to to validate their existence.

      But those deeply traumatised – as I have been recently, I’m now classed as disabled from it, incapable of doing much and getting panic attacks even from writing this – have a duty to realise that not everyone is like them. That freedom of discourse requires that there be places where they are not safe, where things will be written that will have measurable, detrimental effects on their mental health.

      Those running sites also ethical, if not legal, “duty of care” to give “trigger warnings” and in extreme cases, to SHUT UP postings whose only purpose is to cause such harm, deliberate malice with no redeeming features.

      Where the bar should be put is a matter for judgment. I tend to err on the side of Freedom, and place the bar highly, with warnings of “enter at your own risk”. Civility is required, as is respect for other people. Respect for their views is emphatically not.

      • Would the word traditional be acceptable to the community that thinks there needs to be a different term? I don’t see the problem with normal, a norm is average, usual, expected. It has a meaning. Most people identify with the sexual organs they’re born with. Certainly it’s the average, expected orientation. The only reason to change it seems to be to make the average person feel uncomfortable. Why is that necessary?

        • It would be great to be able to use “normal” in its value-free statistical meaning. There is too much baggage attached to calling someone abnormal, however.

          For an example, see the response LAPD chief Daryl Gates got when he said the reason his department killed so many blacks using choke holds was that “they” had a different neck structure from that of “normal people”.

          • I get that normal used that way reveals racial bias. But if we change the discussion to sexual orientation people like Mr. Gates are not going to use a term like sis and the people who would use it would not use normal in a way that means other orientations are abnormal. It just complicates the language. I could have been accused of gender bias because I had never heard the term before. Accusations like that are harmful and destructive as well. We don’t need more language police.

            • > Accusations like that are harmful and destructive as well

              Yes! Yes! They are wrenches tossed into the gears of the discussion as well as being insults when they’re false. Sometimes I think it’s deliberate sabotage and not personal sensitivity.

              It’s still courtesy to put reasonable effort into non-offensive language. If I knew how to define “reasonable” I could give useful advice.

              There’s _some_ duty, not sure how much, to research how to interact with people before jumping in. For example, you should know before going not to pat Thai people on the head and not to call American blacks “articulate”.

              • There is nothing wrong with calling American blacks articulate when you would call an American White the same, just as we can call an American black boy a boy, since he is, in fact, a boy. The problem is not in the word, but when the speaker makes it clear that he doesn’t expect any black individual to be able to communicate clearly. Since I don’t labor under that racist assumption, I object to having my own ability to communicate constrained.

                Separate acceptable words for each race, creed and nationality is madness, and permits the rules to be changed in a flash at the whim of victim-mongers and race-baiters. Somewhere there’s a looooong list of all the words Chris Matthews has declared code for “nigger”…one of them is “urban.” I refused to play when the absurd “person of color” was decreed to be “correct” and “black” was disrespectful (as I predicted, “POC” was so awkward, imprecise and arch that it never caught on except in black studies classes—I have an instant bias against anyone who uses it. I refuse to play now. Richard Sherman is articulate, which is useful to point out when wondering why he decided to play a street thug on TV. My college classmate Alan Keyes is incredibly articulate, and its a shame he uses his articulation to utter such nonsense. Kanye West is articulate when he’s rapping, annoying when he’s not. Barack Obama is NOT especially articulate unless he’s speaking from a teleprompter, in which case he’s remarkably so. Do I really have to use “well-spoken”? Baloney.

          • I struggle with that as a scientist. I was chastened for referring to a (hypthetical) child as “normal” because what if they had a disability? From the scientific POV, a child with Down’s, or a non-developed arm, or any other thing, IS abnormal. Natural, valuable, and lovable, sure, but also abnormal. It’s a shame that scientifically accurate words get used to hurt and become taboo because of it.

      • But those deeply traumatised – as I have been recently

        Whoa whoa whoa…

        No one is allowed to traumatize any of you jackholes on this blog but me, by buggery.

        I want names, addresses, and a list of their top 3 phobias…

        • No can do, legal reasons.

          I post under my real name. Finding what I say, or have said any time in the last 12 years, is possible. He goes after commenters on my posts too, even from 5 years ago. I forward their desperate requests for help to my lawyers.

          The last Trans woman involved in this issue ended up going off a balcony after being beaten semiconscious first. But I think she was just collateral damage,

          • I don’t know who you are, Anne, but this is a coherent and productive comment. Please find a nom de plume that isn’t a riff on “Anonymous”—my objection to comments so headed is a matter of record (in the rules here.) And I really, really object to fake e-mail addresses, which are an insult to me (I do not sell, distribute or use them in any way, other than to contact you off-site to ask you to tone the rhetoric down, or to ask what your real name is, which I also insist on knowing.) Nor am I so stupid as to believe that “” is a real address. I have said that I need a genuine name and address, and you can call yourself what you want, as long as it isn’t Anonymous. So ou give me that e-mail, no name and call yourself Anne ONamous. Gee, thanks for the respect and cooperation.

            I’m giving you a second chance to make a first impression here. Don’t blow it.

            • (Wasn’t me by the way).

              Would you make an exception for someone facing an abusive defamation suit, in a jurisdiction that has the oppressive Commonwealth libel law?

              • I second a case-specific waiver of this specific portion of the comment policy.

                I am fairly certain who Anne is, and fully understand why the person might use the name and address they used.


                  GOOGLE has been given 28 days to unmask bloggers who allegedly defamed a former footballer – and lawyers say the move serves as a warning to all internet users.

                  The District Court yesterday ordered the $38 billion corporation to reveal the identities of those who set up websites critical of former Sturt player Shane Radbone so he can sue them.

                  Law Society of SA president-elect Morry Bailes said the ruling proved anonymity provided no immunity from the law.

                  “This decision … may motivate some internet users to reconsider their own online activities,” Mr Bailes said.

                  “This order could further open the door for claimants who feel they have been defamed online to take action in our courts.”

                  Under Australian law, my drawing attention to the link appears to make me liable for publishing the contents. I am apparently separately liable for the quote from it too, however, I am not a lawyer, I merely quote the NSW Judicial Bench notes and other standard legal texts.

                  The courts may decide that I recklessly published it without sufficiently verifying it, so for the record, I deny that this article reflects my opinion, I merely state that it is my honest opinion that this article was put on the web, and make absolutely no warranty as to whether the contents are true or not. I do not know if it is true or false, and expressly deny that any defamatory imputations are true regarding any persons mentioned therein, should any be drawn. I deny that any should be drawn.

                  I also request an exemption based on exigent circumstances from the general rule for publication authentication. The only way,of avoiding search engines in archives many years hence is anonymity. The only way of preserving that is for the site proprietor not to know who the commenter is, absent an attorney-client relationship, .

                  • Granted, emailing Jack and telling him who you are (using a brand new email address you create at a local library) would be fine, since if the Aussies said “tell us who that is” I suspect he would do the ethical thing and tell them to pound sand.

                    But I would love more detail on this. Please feel free to email me information.

                    And if the Aussie courts come to me and demand I say who you are…

                    Well, you see how I am on here, right? Think like that, only imagine I was actually trying to cause physical pain with mg words.

                    I have a low opinion of such speech-chilling behavior by governments, even if they aren’t mine.

                    As an added bonus, US law prevents and judgments against me for such clear violations of the first amendment from being enforced – if I would be protected from saying it here, then they can’t make me pay if they sue in Australia.

                    The worthless, feckless thugs.

                  • Well, you have an exemption here, whoever you are. And a perfect instance of how unusual and unanticipated circumstances require ignoring an “absolute rule”—which still stands—except in an anomalous circumstance where it would have a terrible result. This is the Ethics Incompleteness Theory exemplified.

          • I’m posting this as Comment of the Day, Bruce, and may have some responses there.

            For those unfamiliar with the Welsh Fold Song canon, “Calon Lan” is one of the oldest, and one tranalation (not necessarily the one Bruce has in mind) is…

            I don’t ask for a luxurious life,
            the world’s gold or its fine pearls,
            I ask for a happy heart,
            an honest heart, a pure heart.

            A pure heart full of goodness
            Is fairer than the pretty lily,
            None but a pure heart can sing,
            Sing in the day and sing in the night.

            If I wished for worldly wealth,
            It would swiftly go to seed;
            The riches of a virtuous, pure heart
            Will bear eternal profit.


            Evening and morning, my wish
            Rising to heaven on the wing of song
            For God, for the sake of my Saviour,
            To give me a pure heart.


            • The translation is fair. And what I meant, Broadly. I think I should say no more on this until Jack says so. I am accountable and will make no apology.

      • That’s a very refreshing take, and like Mark said below- on the internet, it’s your duty to create your safe space. I understand how context can affect insult. In real life, one of my friends lost his mother a while back, and we all restrict “yo mama” comments around him out of respect. If he went to an online forum and someone said it, I doubt he’d be upset- it’s incidental, and they couldn’t know.

        Trigger warnings have always interested me. In, say, an Ethics blog, or a legal blog, or what have you, I think it’s fair that the writer make clear early on if a post will have to do with violent sexual assault, or domestic violence, or what have you. Not necessarily with a blinking “trigger warning” statement, but enough that it isn’t a surprise. The flip side is when the context is known- I don’t know if the show Game of Thrones is internationally popular yet, but it’s a medieval/fantasy drama full of violence, vulgarity, murder, executions, torture, nudity, sex, and rape.

        I remember a minor uproar when there was a reference to rapes following a city being taken, people arguing that there should have been a trigger warning, and all I could think was “you’re watching a show that depicts people being beheaded and stabbed and characters at work in a brothel, and it surprises you that they’d refer to rape?” When it can come as a surprise, fine. When it is clearly predictable, then the person with the specific sensitivity should take some measure of care to be observant of what might come up.

    • All citizens must be ble to particpate. It is ecessary in order for the forum to be legitimate. It is practices, not persons or points of vieew that must be banned. Practices such as ‘shouting down’. philibustring, obstuctive points of order. delibrately advancing false and confusing arguments, disguise, malevolence, grudge bearing….the usual rules. But free spech is absolute in a forum – imposing not only tolerant listnng but reactive action against verbal bullies. Passionate argunent for a case insults no one. Passonate attacks on persons should offend everyone all the time.

  8. I guess this would be “trash-talk,” then: Apophemi is rationalizing echo chambers, close-minds and intellectual laziness.
    To me it sounds like more of their sanctimonious drivel which loses its appeal after the first sentence and is hardly worth a second thought.

    The only reason I can come up with as to why anyone would write like this is because their overbearing, father-emasculating, shrew-like mothers analyzed every deposit little Sonny put in the potty and then discussed it over the evening meal.

    I’m going to boycott all additional posts on this topic.

  9. At the risk of being uncivil, but being drawn irresistibly to it…

    But if you are not willing to meet your obligation to objectively seek the truth, whatever nasty places it leads you to or where you have to go to find it, no one should care what your opinion is.

    You mean, like the way you came back with “Of course it’s rhetorical“, when at “Are you willing to stay for an answer, or is it rhetorical, like jesting Pilate’s question?” I offered to answer your earlier question “I was unemployed for four months after unemployment ran out—gee, why are today’s unemployed more desperate and deserving of continuing aid than I was?“? I took that as not wanting your original question answered, even though the area really could have been explored.

    • Your point eludes me completely. I can’t avoid receiving new input here even if I wanted to. Nobody has stopped you, or anyone, from making any argument you wish to. I’d love to explore that topic more, and have been considering raising it again. That I found the support for a program that provides inverse incentives, treats people differently according to when their misfortune of unemployment occurs—-they get more benefits because of how others are faring in the workplace?—rewards lack of industry and isn’t even means-tested (if you can live on your trust fund, your parents, by selling your baseball cared collection while looking for a job, DO IT!) lame doesn’t mean I wouldn’t applaud a persuasive rationale that is better than “how mean you are!” and “paying people to be unemployed helps the economy.” I’m waiting. I’ve BEEN waiting.

      The argument for extending unemployment benefits indefinitely—changing what was devised as a transitional assist into a permanent welfare program without proper debate, amendment or honesty—-remains as cynical and irresponsible as ever.

  10. How People Rationalize Being Close-minded: A Case Study: Ethics Alarm Blog.
    You make a space that is socially unsafe, don’t label it as such, let newcomers discover for themselves how the dangerous place works. You make a god of intellect and forget to be kind, or even civil.
    You indulge ego and restrict mercy, feed terror while compassion is a beggar.
    You put your awards on the top shelf and your sense of humour in a banana, up a goat, in a Humvee somewhere in the vicinity of ..Sorento. (NB this is called disarming humour or an attempt at it)
    You take yourself seriously, the issues and arguments even more so – but each other as just words on a screen
    You fail the empathy test – because you won’t take one that isn’t also an intelligence test.
    You forget that an idiot like me can say it’s raining and be right. And that the cleverest among you can argue logic, miss a step, and get a wildly wrong answer.
    Arrogance, ignorance, umbrage and error. Pride and aggression.
    In other words you are all 99% average everyday over-evolved apes. Passionate, dirty, squalid, vulnerable, hairy, sweaty, flatulent and innocent.

    You made a mistake that’s all. And thus made an echo chamber that is also a bully pit. What’s the quality you are looking for in members and in discussion. Humility, kindness, humour, fellowship would be my primary set. A bunch of dummies can debate issues to a successful end if they can get along together and follow rules. Clever people must work alone and talk only when they get results. Clever people invent new ideas, they can’t help it, they excrete novelty. New ideas can’t be exposed to critique when half formed and the blog formart of 4 posts a day more or less assures yours always will be. No wonder you bloggy fellas fall out. There’s no more exposed position than just after giving birth to an idea and just before lunch. You are attempting a feat way beyond journalism. Novel take on news items in real time? No one can research that fast and double check sufficiently to stop your friends snickering at your bad logic. And every snigger hurts like hell. Just what you don’t need when a comment is dumb. No wonder Jack gets snippy. And looks to the wrong people for allies. and some fairly booted tactics. And that’s what will always limit the blog.

    High intellect at this pace needs equally high human and social skills and wisdom and common sense, maturity, true resilience rather than willingness to suck up the stress. Many other things beside.

    Well that’s all so much guesswork from your resident dummy. Make the posts twice a week, if the world is stil up your bum, cut it to once a week. Well meant suggestions.

    Well meaning, pure intentions, Calon Lan. How else can you be safe to have an open mind than to keep good company? That’s good as in .. y’know good. You’re all ethicists … work it out.

    • The thing is, I don’t see how you’ve come to the impression that the blog is an echo chamber. Just in the last month or so I’ve been both fiercely arguing and in total agreement with Jack, Texagg, and… Phlinn, I think? I don’t recall, it was a while ago.

      Anyway, the point is, ideas get a rigorous workout here. There is an expectation that you (the general sense of you, not you specifically Bruce) will consider your comments, replies, and arguments before posting them. This is an intillecually demanding place to comment, and if you toss off a comment based on straight ideology or an obvious misreading of the facts, you’ll get ripped into. There are other places that support different kinds of argument and that’s fine, but this place is one where most of the regulars understand that a differing opinion will be attacked from all sides, its every defense tested- after all, they do the same when the tables are turned. If your argument is good and well thought out, sustain it against challenge. If not, be open to seeing its flaws.

      Newcomers have full freedom to read into archives, as I did before beginning commenting, to see what level of discourse occurs here. They have full freedom to participate or not, but if a pop warner player runs out into the middle of a varsity football game and is knocked down he shouldn’t say that it wasn’t fair, that the field wasn’t a safe place for him. In much the same way, this blog has a group of intelligent, incisive regulars. As a whole they are open to logic and discussion but will be on you like a spider monkey if you argue poorly. That’s not always easy, and I’ve logged off of this site feeling angry or embarassed before, and probably will again. Still, I knew what I was getting into, and can always stop reading or commenting if it gets too much. As can you, or anyone.

      A bullied schoolchild can’t just stop going to school. A harassed employee may not have the financial ability to just quit their job. This is a voluntary place with an established way of discussing, and I find it hard to credit people who demand that it change on behalf of newcomers who leap in and decide that it’s “unsafe.”

  11. This almost-progressive went AWOL because I wasn’t willing to be insulted, not because I feared a challenge to any deeply held opinion. I think you’ve read my opinions on Facebook enough to know that I don’t place a huge value on being right if someone can convince me otherwise. I have accepted that your approach to things is far more brain-based (intellectual) than my heart-based (emotional) outlook and more often than not, what you have to say convinces me that the bottom line is better supported by an intellectual approach. I don’t always like it, but I get it and am grateful for the education.

    Then the comments start – beautifully written, coherent, complete with name calling (really nasty stuff on occasion) that you choose not to moderate. Your blog – your call. However, I’m not inclined to participate. Because of my somewhat emotional approach, forming a coherent response while also trying to defend myself doesn’t come easily and, frankly, your in-house bullies are really talented and I’m outclassed.

    I love your blog and I’m here almost every day. It is my responsibility to create safe space for myself, not yours. Carry on.

    • Your last bit says it beautifully, Mark. I’m sad to not read your comments any more but glad that you understand that it’s your call to comment or not, rather than demanding that things change to suit what you’d prefer. I hope you rejoin the fray some day.

      • Mark is an old friend whom I actually see about once a decade, if that. And yet he is one of the most decent, wise and kind people I know, and my existence is enriched for knowing him. And yes, something is deeply wrong when you don’t manage your life to spend more time with the best people in it.

    • Mark Cobb I couldn’t agree less. The Forum space and its rules are a vital public good and every citizen has an obligation to keep it. A bully in the forum is a threat to all. It is argument and not persons that must be picked apart whether by logic or Art or character,the argument is the target not the person.

  12. This comment is just to say thanks to Jack and many commenters, for certain things that Jack and they have said in the past couple of days, in the past couple of threads. I have collected the sayings as especially thoughtful, practical and cherished “quotables.” As I salute all who shared them, I am compelled to list them here according to their authors.

    These quotables are not in any particular intended order, just as my reading of the blog is not always in any particular order; when I found them, I copied them. When I used brackets [ ], I did so to facilitate my own understanding. So in some cases, I might have mis-read what I copied, and misunderstood what the commenter meant. In particular, I might have completely mangled my understanding of one of Zoe’s (zoebrain’s) statements; if so, my apologies to all, but especially to Zoe, and I blame my failure on my own confirmation bias.

    Jack (3):
    [W]hen “keeping things safe and comfortable” means “censoring stuff people don’t like to hear,” it’s in the furtherance of ignorance and polarization.

    The problem is that civility can be expanded to mean anything.

    [S]omething is deeply wrong when you don’t manage your life to spend more time with the best people in it.

    We don’t need more language police.

    Fred (2):
    If people can’t even agree on what’s offensive, then minimizing offense becomes a fool’s game.

    The problem with trying to make a space comfortable is that with enough people around there is always someone uncomfortable about something.

    Scott Jacobs (2):
    Words have only the power you give them – no more, no less.

    I’m not going to help invent words and introduce them into the common lexicon just because [certain words cause certain persons among certain minorities to] feel double-plus ungood.

    You can’t be hurt by words unless you choose to let them [be hurtful].

    Luke G (3):
    Speech. Is. Not. Tyranny.

    This is an intellectually demanding place to comment, and if you toss off a comment based on straight ideology or an obvious misreading of the facts, you’ll get ripped into.

    This is a voluntary place with an established way of discussing, and I find it hard to credit people who demand that it change on behalf of newcomers who leap in and decide that it’s “unsafe.”

    zoebrain (2)
    [M]ore usually [the narrow-mindedness that contrives self-blinding and self-defeating so-called standards of civility, and that propagates sometimes pathologically petty feelings of entitlement to take offense from what others say, results from] too many people with too much time on their hands looking for trivialities to object to to validate their existence.

    [F]reedom of discourse requires that there be places where [the deeply traumatized] are not safe, where things will be written that will have measurable, detrimental effects on their mental health.

    I find this blog, and its colorful crew of regulars, to be delightful fun, and a valuable resource in my own life. As iron sharpens iron, so, too does one man sharpen another. I can hardly complain if the process isn’t as gentle as I would prefer – and if it gets too rough for me, it’s my responsibility to withdraw to safer waters until I have recovered enough to resume play.

    Humble Talent:
    Having your arguments discussed vigorously is part of how your arguments grow…[B]y removing content you think might be hurtful, you are dumbing the conversation down.

    Mark Cobb:
    It is my responsibility to create safe space for myself, not yours.

    • Jack (3):
      [W]hen “keeping things safe and comfortable” means “censoring stuff people don’t like to hear,” it’s in the furtherance of ignorance and polarization. Agreed 100%

      The problem is that civility can be expanded to mean anything. No if it is not necessary it is not civil, if it is civil it is necssary. hat other definition of civil would you use ohr than the classic one>
      We don’t need more language police.: No just cops. Or a searjeant at arms. free speech is absolute and protests at ‘yeccchhh liberal’ statements are just as out of order as ‘you can’t say nigger here!’
      If people can’t even agree on what’s offensive, then minimizing offense becomes a fool’s game: Offensive – any word whatever aimed at a forum member,. Inoffensive any word whatever that is aimed at an argument, Problem, what problem?

      The problem with trying to make a space comfortable is that with enough people around there is always someone uncomfortable about something. Good and we need to keep those people in he group or the forum is an echo chamber, loosely to a degree – the same degree by which bullying is permitted

      Scott Jacobs (2):
      Words have only the power you give them – no more, no less. I beg to differ. Words aimed at a person can have any weight at all depending on the particular state of the recipient and the intent of the originator and the rapport betweeen the two persons who are talking. Word amed at arguments are always considred weights
      Luke G (3):
      Speech. Is. Not. Tyranny. : Oh yes it is. That’s why abuse and defamation are frowned on. Speech against argument is not.

      This is an intellectually demanding place to comment, and if you toss off a comment based on straight ideology or an obvious misreading of the facts, you’ll get ripped into. Not on a safe blog, there it is my argument that would be ripped into, not me

      This is a voluntary place with an established way of discussing, and I find it hard to credit people who demand that it change on behalf of newcomers who leap in and decide that it’s “unsafe.” I will if its’s unsafe
      Bruce you are an idiot: .Foul
      Bruceyour argument is idiotic Foul
      Bruce your argumemt contains so many flaws I can’t count them all please do your work more carefully next time Far commnent (just barely)

      [F]reedom of discourse requires that there be places where [the deeply traumatized] are not safe, where things will be written that will have measurable, detrimental effects on their mental health. Absoutely could not disagree more and am willing to fight to the death if necessary on this point. Any forum which acannot admit a traumatised ex-serviceman or an enthusiast for commonsense and good intnent without them suffering much to be heard has lost it’s way entirely, and is missing out badly.

      I find this blog, and its colorful crew of regulars, to be delightful fun, and a valuable resource in my own life. As iron sharpens iron, so, too does one man sharpen another. I can hardly complain if the process isn’t as gentle as I would prefer – and if it gets too rough for me, it’s my responsibility to withdraw to safer waters until I have recovered enough to resume play.
      A forum is not a playground nor a battleground nor a theatre nor a bullypit. There are ancient and modern examples enough. I should not need to say more.

      Humble Talent:
      Having your arguments discussed vigorously is part of how your arguments grow…[B]y removing content you think might be hurtful, you are dumbing the conversation down. Agreed by the same measure that you brutalise all arguments when any person is abused.

      Mark Cobb:
      It is my responsibility to create safe space for myself, not yours. Absolutely not. Action Please Jack, urgently.

  13. I told Jack and Scottt that I had big problems – so they knew I was a bit fraught about the ragging. The nub of my discussion offers with Scott was that there is no bias logically, preferring the freedom of the offensive to be offensive over the freedom of the sensitiive to be sensitive. Whatever you think of the argument I have never known a libertarian wallk away from a fight on such grounds. Never. And this is supposedly what Scottt was supposedly most into – his artform. And I had that briefing from Jack. Which Scott had read. to say Jack wanted battle – not my style but if I must – I’m game. En Garde! Libertarian! – No response not even I am ignoring you. Or even a Scott trademark drop dead.

    So, rather puzzled, through several stages of abortive discussion / insults Scott made the following moves, note I did not ever directly demanded he discussed things with me but I did pointedly challenge. And told him repeatedly that I was not amused by his language and ragging. The explanations he offered for not debating were
    1 I am an idiot – no problem, I’ve debated libertarians before, I know theyre odd, but i was expecting sometting a bit more, given the circumstances
    2 as a newcomer i have no right to speak – from a libertarian (?)
    3 I was speaking from a tone of authority: my tone, his rules, his problem (i was not expecing that objection)
    4 an answer to an obvious rhetorical question avoiding the main question – again, my understanding is that this is bad argument for a libertarian?
    5 Repeatedly and without notice silence/ignore: now I expect to be ignored here, frequently, but I would expect on a non-libertarian website to get some kind of hint that he had put me on ignore and ideally why so I could correct for whatever it was that bugged him
    6 (discovered reason) he is my intellectual superior – fine but what does that have to do with the subject, even if he doesnt want to discuss it, it’s an important subject, On a libertarian blog, that would be my problem but on Jack’s to some degree it’s a shared problem, I was I admit disappointed,

    Now all this ragging on a self declared leftie who had said cut it out, had left me pretty sore and with a dilemma, how to proceed I couldnt harrass Scott or keep doing open declarations into a void and I had a brief from Jack to brin the issue o battle or so I thought. What to do? I had just worked out that the right thing to do was regrettably go back to Jack and ask him to debate me directly. That’s was when the Dyal Farrow thing broke. And Scott did something that I thought was quite atrocious. Without announcing his intent he attacked mercy, not the particular item the concept, by means of the news item. Manipulatively I think. Without the knowledge of his libertarian cohorts, a thought crime in my book because libertarians are scared cows and must be protected. To a softie liberal Euro leftie that was too much baggage and I blubbed. And I wrote my heart out to Scott. And after that I cried for shame at the harm I had done to his libertarian sense of selfhood. At that time I thought he might have a spark of honour, some deeper purpose.

    Then came yesterday and the closed minds farrago. About half way in I saw him rag a fellow (non-felllow) about the use of the word cis. And with my emotional muscles well in play I saw what I think others missed. Libertarians are supposed to be without public pity maybe but they are not supposed to mock and manouevre each other. That’s disrepectful.

    That was when it hit me like a bomb – Scott is not a Libertarian but a cyber bully what’s more a free speech ‘tyrant’. One of the things I’d written about before. He’s been using the blog and the Liberatrians in it as cover for his sport. He’s blind sided you because of your ‘hard’ hearts give no warning of danger. And been ragging on endless willing victims, bending the debate. I know a lot of responsibility is to members. But there is a chance a real vulnerable may come your way one day. The place isn’t marked toxic expect no mercy. What to do? You would think and write to Jack privately. I’m not built that way. I’m a passionate man, and when I see someone cheatting his mates, lieing and beating up the little guy I go ape.

    War cry|Calon Lan – Chaarge! Alarum Alarum Man the Barricades!

    After all what harm can I do? Maybe a false alarm. Who suffers. Words have no weight (by Scott’s rule). And if I act like a commie/leftie/anarcho/Brit nut for best of intentions I bear no guilt. Right or wrong. Whatever the outcome,

    A resident emotive leftie watchdog is either worth his keep, or not.

    the rest you know

    • And in case anyone wonders – I love libertarians. Love’em to bits. I’d go to hell in a handcart for any one them (they wouldn’t lift a finger for me, gotta love ’em). But anyone wearing the big hat of Librtarian had better be 10 miles high, covered in gold leaf, respectful of me – or never let me see you beating up the little guy or damn careful with exact logic and language on an open website.

      And if you think you are superior to a soocialist always tell them openly and early and gently – they can be funny about thngs too. And you would’t want to hurt theirs feelings, you really wouldn’t.

      Having said all that I will now be a perfect respectful guest. More tea Vicar?

      • If none of the libertarians you’ve met would lift a finger for you, then I think you have met only a shallow portion of the types of people who claim the term. I believe in helping my fellow man, I just don’t think it’s automatically justified to confiscate the wealth of others to do so.

          • Scott, I saw this first, tha very nearly counted as addrressing me direcctlly. And that allone is good enough to set matterrs entirly staright betwen us. i try to be as lenient as I can be with you as a librtarian. I have no real prevouus experience wiih the type, merre acquaintance. But yiou did not take care of a pure good man’s heart 9figuurativel yseakig) I”mm sorry I canot typecorrectly at the moment. myy pakinsn’s trmor istoo ad. But I will write more tomorrow. I willl do anythingnecessary torepair yousense of individaul pride or what have you. You did push thingsartther far, . disparagib neologism ‘feefees’ for feelings. No dedfinition off term visible. Tuttut. You cannot expect to mess with loosely defined erms like ‘tittyfuchknig’ while there is poetry around. Mercy is an emotionally laden concept. Please do not se emotive language t o me) I do think you might have been somewhat more cnsiderate. I feel completely wiithi my natural rights to punish you severely for taking such little care, And making me so angry. It has cost me a good deal in health. But I won’t.

            Do try to appear respctful. As you wish,

            And plesae use words of poets lightly.
            regards Bruce

            (all the above in a poetical sense only until otherwise avised by me. I am not yet calm.)

        • The Libertarian i knew always called himslf and his fellows Libertarians. I think they were all Objectivist (Randite) Libertarians. I forgot there were other types, thanks.

      • The last week was – intense. I’ve been — uuhhmmmm.’offline’ shall we say. I apologise to the blog for subjecting you all to a mind explosion. You are entitled to think what ever you like of me. But it did hurt. I think one solid thought that i found amongst the wreckage might be of interest. I hope you understand why I could not stop until I got to the end of my tether, or even further.

        The substantive matter was ‘closed minds’, echo chambers and how could sensitive minds stay here in conditions of Scott’s art of ‘zero power abuse’.

        My hunch is:The emotional charge of a word lies not in each one of us to decide alone. it is part of the process of communication. Power is the atitude, beliet or motive force that leads one to press the “post comment” button. That intent, or motive to send, as it were transfers to the words and is detected by the reciever as such. That is, it does so once a sound rapport has been established between participants. I think that power transferance arises because of the editing mind that fabricates the words into the proper form before pressing ‘Post Comment’.and the effort required to reach the opposing minnd in the act of reading. This is ‘theory of mind’ territory perhaps?

        Which ‘hunch’ in my most ‘strung out’ brainstorm led me straight to Ethos, Pathos and Logos. I’m too much the thickie to hasve heard of them before but my ‘brain fever’ led me straight there.

        So, in those terms if Scott says to a regular blogger “you are a cunt” that has one level of “Pathos” ie zero. If Scott says it to me … That’s another matter. The statements have similar Logos, similar Ethos and orders or magnitude difference in Pathos.

        Emotional power is all in the click.(‘Post Comment)’.

        I can’t find a reference quickly but the result for the Greeks I believe was that the speaker should give the argument in person rather than in writing. I could be wrong. A matter of the original voice, am I imagining that?

        And on the internet… Well I’ll stop there.

        My pevious posts should be disregarded as just evdence of a mind pushing itself to breakng point in a search for a vital truth.

  14. What Apophemi, and by extension, Alas!, are endorsing are stress-free opinions that never have to confront the painful, jarring, guilt-inducing and emotionally unpleasant experience of being proven dead wrong.

    The “by extension, Alas” is unfair. As my post clearly indicated, I am in partial agreement with “Apophemi” but also partial disagreement. Saying that Apophemi’s views are my own is incorrect.

    Jack, are there any views that you consider off-topic for discussion your blog? At one time you yourself banned comment-writers for extreme racist rhetoric; have you changed your view on this?

    If you haven’t changed your view, then you and I agree that some views can legitimately be put outside the bounds of acceptable debate on a blog.

    • I wasn’t intending to make that broad a statement. Your post was nuanced and tortured, as the topic requires, but if you were clearly rejecting the contention that comments that are trauma inducing should be nixed, I missed it. Not to be Clintoneque, but if one is in partial agreement, one is still in agreement, no?

      I allow the racists to get one shot each, on the principle that I don’t bar content on the basis of content. Since they have nothing to add past the racial animus, they don’t get a second shot. I’ll allow a Truther or a Birther to make an argument if its on point with the post, but I’m not going to waste the blog’s time with another thread on it. I’m not sure there is a topic that I would say is outside the bounds of acceptable debate on this blog, it it meets other criteria.

      The issue arose before the post in question, but it relates to trigger warnings, which I assume Apophemi would endorse. Would you? (By the way—I am indebted to Alas! for introducing me to Apophemi’s strange intellectual framework. Somehow i had missed it entirely.

      • I think that comments that are distressing should be allowed, and I said so pretty clearly in the post: “some debates are not closed in our society, even if they are distressing to have.[ …] Since there is no consensus, I think it’s important to be able to have these debates openly.”

        There are some closed debates that I think aren’t worth having; for instance, I won’t allow Holocaust revisionism on “Alas,” because that view is agreed to be discredited by virtually everyone in our society. There’s basically no real debate left, on either the left or the right, on whether or not the Holocaust happened.

        There are other debates that I won’t allow on my own blog because I don’t think my blog is the place to debate those topics – for instance, although I’ve hosted tons of debates about same-sex marriage, I’m not interested in hosting debates on whether or not homosexuality is a sin.

        However, just because I don’t think those debates should happen on my blog doesn’t mean I don’t think those debates should happen at all.

        The issue arose before the post in question, but it relates to trigger warnings, which I assume Apophemi would endorse. Would you?

        I’m not sure what “endorsing trigger warnings” means. Do I myself use trigger warnings on “Alas”? Almost never. Do I think it’s fine for other blogs to use TW if they want to? Of course I do.

        As I said in my post, there’s no limit on the number of forums we have online, so there’s no one right way to moderate a forum. The best situation for free speech is for a zillion different forums to do things a zillion different ways, so that many different kinds of forums have the opportunity to thrive. To want all forums to do the same thing, would be to want less variety in speech.

        • No, my question was more general than that, because trigger warnings go to the central issue of whether forums of any kind should be “safe,” or made safe. My view: “trigger warnings” imply a social obligation that doesn’t exist, just as the obligation to make sure my football team/rock band/ school/ book/song has a title that nobody finds offensive doesn’t exist. Dealing with uncomfortable ideas, positions and words is good for everyone, and developing the skill to push back—and actually listen while being open-minded without getting angry, emotional or irrational is also a crucial ability. Trigger warnings validate closed minds. I have no trouble at all saying that they don’t belong ob blogs, in books, or on college campuses. They are toxic to a healthy society.

  15. I really enjoy when you write about ethical obligations like this. I nodded in agreement the whole way through. If there is such a thing as objective truth, when people are actually looking for it, they should coalesce around some basic conclusions, such as the earth is round, the sun is 94 million miles from earth, or that humans need oxygen to live. Too often, emotions are the guide to truth. How did a proposition make me feel? If it makes me feel bad, I don’t like it, so I reject the truth. Instead of letting reality guide our emotions and beliefs, emotions now guide everything.

    It would be cool to see you write a piece like this aimed at our current environment. (Though you may already have and I just didn’t see it).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.