Comment Of The Day (2): “Comment Of The Day: ‘Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria,VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too’”

This is the second Comment of the Day on the post about the Alexandria, VA gym that kicked white supremacist, aka “Nazi”, Richard Spencer out because a Georgetown professor found his presence there, in town, in the universe, offensive.

Here is Extradimensional Cephalopod’s Comment of the Day on the post, Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria,VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too”:

Stipulated: This person believes things that we think are wrong, and we want him, ideally, to stop believing them.

I assert that shunning him is counterproductive with regards to getting him to stop believing these things. He is almost certainly aware of the public opinion of Nazis, and he evidently doesn’t care, so peer pressure is already shown not to work. Besides, truth is not determined by a majority vote, so if we act like our numbers are the major argument against the Nazi ideology, or whatever similar ideology this person subscribes to, it not only weakens our position in his eyes, but also leads us to forget the real reasons for what we believe.

We have at least four options:


1) We can make rules prohibiting certain beliefs. That prevents free, nuanced thought and truth-seeking, and prompts resentment.
2) We can shun people with those beliefs. That leads to a fractured society and more resentment.
3) We can do nothing. People will still do business with each other, but the culture will be fractured and no one will learn anything.
4) We can communicate respectfully with everyone. I had to learn how from scratch, because I would never merely tolerate a difference of perspective that I couldn’t understand. Most other people just ignore or avoid differences, until they can no longer afford to and panic because they don’t know how to resolve political or ideological conflicts.

All we really need to do is set a good example for the person, provide information on our own beliefs (sometimes unsolicited, but always accompanied by empathy rather than force), and chide him when his beliefs lead him to disrespect people (though he is likely to be less disrespectful than how he is treated by liberals).

Nazi is as Nazi does. The same goes for social justice warriors.

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Rights, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

7 responses to “Comment Of The Day (2): “Comment Of The Day: ‘Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria,VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too’”

  1. Wayne

    I have often wondered why people become members of fringe groups like the Neo Nazis or the Klan. I think a certain percentage, especially in their leadership are just sociopaths who take advantage of people’s ignorance. They are sort of like cult leaders who want power over their gullible followers. I really don’t think dialoging with them is likely to charge their minds as there is a payoff for their inflammatory viewpoints and rhetoric. As far as the rank and file members, probably many of them can be reasoned with and should not be treated as pariahs.

    • Isaac

      It doesn’t matter if you change their minds or not. What matters is that all points and counterpoints are out in the open, respectfully and honestly, so that those on the fence can make up their minds.

      For all we know the harpy at the gym just recruited 20 new people to white supremacy with her grandstanding stunt. We’re making legitimate martyrs out of these people.

  2. Congrats, EC.
    It is never okay to confront someone for political views in a social situation, unless that is the topic of conversation and they are involved. Confront, not scold, not castigate, not yell at, and certainly not to destroy their life over a difference in opinion

  3. wyogranny

    #4 communicate respectfully.
    Exactly.
    Why do we have to confront? Why not just do what you are there to do and let it go. If the Nazi is in your face then, of course, you have to respond appropriately. Nazi’s (of every persuasion) want a confrontation. But, assuming there are two people in a gym each minding his own business what is there to confront? Just shut up and work out.

    As for demanding that a person be removed from a public place simply because his views (which are public, but not under discussion at the time) don’t line up with your own. That’s just nuts. If you are bothered by someone’s opinions there are appropriate times and places to discuss it.
    The gym is not one of them.

  4. Thanks, Jack.

    It looks like the value of free speech is going the way of the right to bear arms. It was originally intended to protect people from the government, but people are growing more afraid of each other and the power that they collectively wield. The problem with restricting these freedoms is that it makes society as a whole more mentally and physically vulnerable, not less.

    Instead of fearing democratized power, we should be learning to use it productively and responsibly, and to counter its misuse by others.

  5. [My BF recently switched the coffee-brand and I have noticed a certain caffeinated intensity when after the first cup I write immediately in the morning!]

    EC has written: I assert that shunning him is counterproductive with regards to getting him to stop believing these things. He is almost certainly aware of the public opinion of Nazis, and he evidently doesn’t care, so peer pressure is already shown not to work.

    I start with some predicates: that to achieve an ethical result requires more than just going along with a crowd and will necessarily involve profound thought, even of the kind that may lead to intellectual and moral crisis, profound revisions, and then real changes in how one perceives things, people and situations. If I take these predicates seriously, and if you do too, then we can both be said to at least have established a platform of interchange.

    You start with a supreme and a very wrong-headed — I will go further and I will say ‘bad’ (but not wicked nor yet evil) — false-designation, which evidently you believe is a valid perception. You start immediately with the term ‘Nazi’, and like others (who I will not name yet who are known), you get off on a bad foot and one that must be condemned ethically. Your use of that designation is unethical. It is a lie. It is stating an untruth and establishing it as a truth. It is a rhetorical ploy as well: You start with the false term, establish it as a foundation, and anyone who engages you must use that term. I think that one could stop here and cite many different situations and areas where this technique is used. I am thinking of the use of such designations-of-evil that have come up in American politics, such as labeling a country or nation an Empire of Evil, or implied that others are ‘satanic’. I am not going to bother to fill out a laundry list for you. I know that this rhetorical scam is used by all people all over the planet but I am not concerned for that. I am concerned in my present argument to talk about what is going on in American culture, in American letters, in American journalism, and then at the *lower* levels of American discourse, and then — and I say this directly — by those who put out their opinions on this and similar blogs.

    Have I said anything unreasonable? Outrageous? Unverifiable? Counter-obvious, counter-intuitive, counter- factual? No. What I have said here is 100% fair, objective and true.

    Your use of that term — Nazi — is part of a group-think assertion and is, in this, questionable and I will say unethical. It could quite easily become evil and very harmful if it is not stopped in its tracks. In this we can stop and examine the Harpie-lady who, like you and others here, engages herself with reprehensible and unethical actions because of an internal mistake. Yes, but to speak of that internal mistake is not easy because it is complex. The answer to that question is not easy because, and this is how it seems to me, her platform-of-perception is also bound up with her sense of personal identity. That is, she sees herself as ‘the good’ acting against ‘the evil’. It is in a sense that simple. She has ‘constructed her self’ or has had her self constructed for her, on and within the perception that she is *right*. She gets up in the morning with this self-view and *operates* it all day long.

    And what is the difference with what you do? What is the ground that you stand on that convinces you that you are right? That you can make this sort of judgment? Now, I have a sense about these things and much of what I write touches on these questions in one form or another.

    What if it is you and people like you (to take an abstract) who needs to completely review and revision how you see this situation? That is, Spencer and what he does and thinks? What if the *real message* here is that it is this vast Group of group-thinking people who needs to stop applying their judgmentalism, so off-the-cuff, to others and needs to stop, go inside, and restructure how they see things? Self-righteous people, like the Harpie-Lady, don’t need to do that of course. Because they know they are right. I don’t think I need to keep filling out the basic idea. It should be pretty obvious.

    Besides, truth is not determined by a majority vote, so if we act like our numbers are the major argument against the Nazi ideology, or whatever similar ideology this person subscribes to, it not only weakens our position in his eyes, but also leads us to forget the real reasons for what we believe.

    Yet truth is, in a sense, in a very really sense, determined by ‘majority vote’. Just examine how readily you have determined a truth by the designation of Nazi. Here, on this blog, not one person has ever questioned the use of that term. Not one. So if I am to come up with a truthful label for this sort of group-action and devious rhetoric, what shall call it in truth? What is the truth of it? Where does truth lie? We might start by saying: You do not know the truth! You do not have a method that can avail you to truth. If you did you would have caught yourself with the first grotesque lie. And a lie is by nature non-truth, is it not?

    Now, I will say this: Richard Spencer and many others like him see directly and very clearly your essential hypocrisy. I repeat They see your essential hypocrisy. And they write about it, they communicate back and forth about it, and they work to understand on what set of falsehoods it is established and from what sources it is nourished. They turn back toward deep historical analysis, philosophical and political, to uncover certain *truths* about social programming and social engineering and the intervention of elite factions in the manipulation of people and their perceptions. Have I lost you? Is this too much *truth* for you? Well then, I think it is best for The Group if you opt to live within your lies, to recite lies back and fourth, to hold to a platform of lies, and naturally call them Truths.

    I assume that you are getting the point I wish to bring forward.

    1) We can make rules prohibiting certain beliefs. That prevents free, nuanced thought and truth-seeking, and prompts resentment.
    2) We can shun people with those beliefs. That leads to a fractured society and more resentment.
    3) We can do nothing. People will still do business with each other, but the culture will be fractured and no one will learn anything.
    4) We can communicate respectfully with everyone. I had to learn how from scratch, because I would never merely tolerate a difference of perspective that I couldn’t understand. Most other people just ignore or avoid differences, until they can no longer afford to and panic because they don’t know how to resolve political or ideological conflicts.

    To this I wish, humbly and respectfully, add a 5th!

    TURN THE CRITICAL LENS AROUND AND FOCUS IT ON YOURSELF.

    Then, once some critical self-examination is done, at that point an honest conversation on the things that actually concern and move Richard Spencer et all can begin. Not until then though. Fact!

    • Sorry, it apparently wasn’t clear that I claimed no knowledge of Spencer or his beliefs or the validity thereof. I also wasn’t assuming that he was wrong, but I was trying to sell the respectful approach to an audience who was assuming he was wrong, by describing the benefits they would expect it to confer upon them (e.g. changing Spencer’s mind). Spencer was never the point for me, but he was what other people were talking about, so I was referring to him in order to draw attention to the idea of respectful communication and make it more concrete.

      Respectful communication, when done correctly, should involve focusing a critical lens on oneself, as you suggest. The goal is to arrive at the truth no matter who starts out wrong. However, the “what if you’re wrong?” question, while always valid and vitally important, doesn’t have as much selling power when you’re trying to get someone to converse with a white nationalist, or however he would describe his beliefs.

      Sometimes when you want to communicate with people and have them listen to you, you have to briefly borrow a few of their assumptions. I’d give Spencer the exact same courtesy.

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