Monday, December 31, 2007

Dissent vs. Decent, or, "Why can't we all just get along?"

Can dissent be decent?

Comments made to my post, "Liberty!" got, in my opinion, WAY off-topic. Therefore, in an attempt to save the theme of that post, I'm starting a new thread on the commenters' topic. I'd post the comments and then move them if I could figure out how (I'm new at this), but lacking that, I've pasted the new comments to Liberty! into this post instead, and have included a couple of lines from other comments (each source labeled). I'm hoping this will work better, and that readers who wish to read, and possibly comment upon the subject of "Liberty!" will be able to do so.
Background for this present post:
Phritz, posted Dec 25 to "More on unfair bias"
Anon, posted Dec 26 to "Liberty!"
Dooz, posted Dec 26 to "Liberty!"
Max, Dec 27, sent to "Liberty!", not posted until now:
I'll sign my name and second anon's comments. I don't see the personal attack. I see an intelligent person who's become lost and depairing. Anon's comments are spot on. Democracy requires healthy citizens, not despairing preachers. You've started with that hammer and nails by building this blog- as have I at New Worlds. One of the best things you can you for yourself after building a content infrastructure is to open it up to other voices from whom you can gain insight. Try not to make it an echo chamber- easier said than done. Don't ban dissenters unless they're really obnoxious and only seek to poison the atmosphere.

When I built my blog I invited several close friends to partake and post articles of their own. Some of these were very challenging to me philosophically and artistically. One of my closest friends since college turned out to have deep personal views antithetical to my own in many respects. We railed at each other and left wounds from our sparring, but over time we came to have a better sense of what drives us as human beings. The poster is still my close personal friend, indeed closer in many ways than before the blog began.

As for the ideological divide, I try to stay away from an Us vs. Them mindset, realizing this is often very difficult. I prefer to focus on positive principles of what I believe in and seek allies to help drive towards accomplishing these goals. Often this leads back to the trap of identifying obstructors of my ideal and attacking them as an enemy. The process requires constant vigilance. I could advise you to stay away from right wing media, but I often make the error of indulging in the echo chamber of my side. I do, however, gravitate towards those who speak to my heart with their own positive visions and who give me inspiration to build a better future- not to defeat an enemy as much as to leave them in the dust as I find and build a new world.

I truly hope this is taken well. It's given in good spirit (though without the guidance of God I'm afraid).

Peace, Max
Dr. Zaius, Dec 28, sent to "Liberty!", not posted until now:

I said I'd return the favor of a visit. Here it is (and don't be a stranger to Infinite Monkeys).

Love this post. Well done. And maybe you shouldn't be so hard on Anon. I think his/her heart is in the right place.

[Balance was on-topic for "Liberty!" and thus is posted there.]
My response to the latter two comments:
Max and Dr. Z: Sorry your comments didn't get up sooner, but I've been away, both to finally get my Christmas cards in the mail and to let the first- and second-degree burns I sustained at the New Worlds blog heal some.

I've also spent time considering Matt Crash's farewell post, where he asserts "Blogs have started to make my head hurt.", and deciding whether he was right and I'm trying to enter where everyone else is leaving and I should just give it up. I really don't need the abuse.

Here's the history (not all apparent here): I happened upon a thread at New Worlds re equal pay for equal work, and jumped into the dialog. 3 things happened:

1. There was a pleasant, on-topic interchange for a while.

2. Somebody who read that thread posted a comment (under the name of Phritz) regarding what was being said on that blog over on my blog, on a sort-of-related topic, and after I accepted his comment, he sent 3 more which, shall I say, didn't exactly fit my limits.

3. At least one of the regulars on New Worlds read my blog and flamed me--nay, napalmed me--back on New Worlds, under the thread on equal pay (definitely off-topic!), and his/her friends jumped on me as well.

Having given that background, I'll reply to both Max and Dr. Z at the same time (if I can make that coherent--which, according to byronius I can't simply because I'm too conservative to ever be coherent).

First, to both Anon and Max: I do wish to have open dialog on this blog, but I won't let it become "Friday Night Smack-Down", so I'll continue to moderate. And Max, you know one reason why, since you have moderated in one case.

So Max, in your thankfully civil comment, you're saying I should have my blog open to varying opinions, not let it be or become an enclave of those who believe the same and merely pat each other on the back for being so smart? Are you saying it should be like your blog, where the regulars will hijack their own friend's thread to dehumanize, name-call, and rant at someone whose statements (not even on the same blog!) they disagree with? (And then everybody else will join in the clubbing, kicking, and beating?)

Dr. Z, you suggested I was too hard on Anon. Maybe so, but I looked back on his/her comment, and as I still read it, it's more rant than coherent assertion; I still don't know what's being said, and for the most part, I don't see how it addresses the topic (as opposed to condemning the whole post). Notice, Max, that I allowed it to be published anyway.

(BTW, from the writing style and content, I'm guessing anon = byronius, although at first I thought anon = Phritz.)

In a second (unpublished) comment (which was much more personal attack than the first), Anon asserted his/her right (s/he used the word "privilege" but with the tone of "right", as in "that's my privilege") to post anonymously. Sorry, anon, you do not have any such right; in fact, since it's my blog, you have no rights on it at all, only privileges as I allow. (In fact, to get technical, I don't have rights, only the privileges Blogspot allows me, and they in turn only have the privileges the Internet allows them.) Maybe, Anon, part of your problem with me is that you have some things mixed up, including this fallacy that you should have "rights" on my blog. (Seems to me an awful lot of people these days think they have rights that are not even rights, but privileges or rewards.)

I not only don't need to allow your rants, I don't even need to allow comments at all! Rights! Humph!

To all readers and commenters including those presently cited: It's my blog, and I'm responsible for its content, and I won't allow others to hijack it. As my disclaimer says, I won't allow personal or group attacks or off-topic (being the relevant issues to this post). I value on-topic input, of whatever perspective (which is more than I can say for byronius!). That is, input that is a part of a thoughtful dialog; rants don't meet my definition.

And, repeating, it's my definition that counts because it's my blog.

(And btw, if you don't like my blog, you don't have to read it.)

And now, one final comment to those who would categorize me:

1. Can't be done, because my beliefs are mine; I have thought them through and reached my own conclusions, and I do not simply fall into some defined group (and such groups may be largely mythical anyway).

2. Byronius, you say (on New Worlds) that what I wrote on my blog is "[p]athetic, anti-historical, freeperesque, backwards [expletive]." And you go on to show your intellectual openness: "You sound like you watch Fox News religiously. From now one[sic], I'll filter your semi-sexist, semi-racist 'reason' through the revelatory essence of this [cited] comment from your blog. At least you're honest, if ill-informed, inadvertently cruel, and half-insane."

Problem with your conclusion is that "Phritz" says (in a rant I blocked), "Hey Dooz---why not respond to my comment instead of simply reacting, and claiming this is "negative" or chiming in with the lame "xenophobic" accusations of one McDyslexic? You sound nearly as PC-liberal and bureaucratic as NW gals do."

So what am I? Am I a "semi-sexist, semi-racist" hopeless conservative? Or am I "PC-liberal and bureaucratic"?

I'll tell you what I think of all this: Neither Phritz nor byronius are doing any good. Neither of you are saying anything which will influence anybody. Both of you are giving all kinds of ammunition to "the other side" by living up to the stereotypes of "your group". My reaction is simply, shame on you both; come talk to me when you have something to say.

Desmond Tutu reports that his father gave him this advice: "Don't raise your voice. Improve your argument."

Good advice for all of us.

End of rant/lecture/sermon. I'll stick with blogging a little while longer and see if it can work.

Dissent welcome, but keep it decent.


Max said...

Hi Dooz,

Thanks for posting my comment. My response is here.

The Dooz said...

Well here it is, folks. I've posted this "comment" with its link. Read it. It says more than I could ever say--and you wouldn't believe me anyway.