Creative Destruction

January 12, 2007

Tweaking Amanda

Filed under: Blogosphere,Current Events,Iraq — Robert @ 3:51 am

Amanda is in full end-of-democracy/imperial president/fascism on the march mode about Bush’s decision to start hitting Iranians who are supporting the insurgency in Iraq. Although her rhetoric is intemperate and her grasp of the issues on the table is, shall we say, less than comprehensive, I find myself smiling with warm recognition.

You see, the last time we were fighting wars in the Middle East, I was Amanda. Well, I didn’t have the whole vaginal apparatus thing going on, but I was her age. I was hanging in the same types of hip and liberal social circles. And I was a blame-America-first lefty. During the first Gulf War, I traded bitter denunciations of the fascist Bush machine with my other lefty friends. We talked about how democracy was dead, and the imperial evil was everywhere. We talked about Canada, and Sweden, the way Jews in the 1920s talked about the promise of Israel. We prayed for impeachment, and were sure that the independent counsel was going to find something – anything – on the warmongers and oil thieves who were corrupting the White House.

In fact, at the time, I was in a band. Not just any band – a progressive indie anti-war band. I sang, well, and fronted, badly. Here are the lyrics that I can remember from our best anti-war song. It was addressed to President Bush (Bush the First, as we certainly would have called him if we could see the future):

Driving down to war on a desert highway
People in your way cannot defy you
something something something

(Chorus, starts whispered, ends shouted:
No blood for oil, no blood for oil,
No blood for oil, No Blood For Oil!)

No, really. I swear to God, that’s what we sang. Well, what I sang. The guys behind me mainly just tried to remember how to play their instruments, except for our lead guitar player who was actually really good.

We also had a song about worms who came out after it rained.

Anyway, I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy about this. If history repeats itself, then in about ten to fifteen years Amanda’s going to get married, return to the church of her forefathers, start saying things like “the church of my forefathers” without a trace of irony, pop out some kids, and vote Republican. I can’t wait.

(Of course, by then I’ll probably be a hippie again. C’est la vie.)

38 Comments »

  1. I find it interesting that being wrong is a badge of honour on the Right. If I felt I had been wrong in my assessments as you do I would not brag about it. I certainly wouldn’t see it as a means to present myself as better informed or more reliable. “I was wrong so i must be right now”?

    Does this come from some sort of Christian hang up with the cool image of the penitent theif at Calvary? It’s cool to be a theif so you can pretend to have repented? A lot of comments recently about how on the Right the more wrong you are the more you are lauded.

    I find your “argument” above to be ad hominem. In general I don’t ask myself what kind of person is making an argument before deciding if the argument has merit, but to the extent that is inevitable I tend top think better of a position if someone very smart with a track record of getting it correct the first time is saying it.

    For example I predicted before the Iraq war that no WMDs would be found. Seems like a fair bet you didn’t. So who is more likely to be correct about Iran?

    Comment by DavidByron — January 12, 2007 @ 10:42 am | Reply

  2. It comes from an adult recognition that opinions change as we learn more about the world, David.

    Try it sometime. It only hurts for a little while.

    Comment by Robert — January 12, 2007 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

  3. Amanda is in full end-of-democracy/imperial president/fascism on the march mode about Bush’s decision to start hitting Iranians who are supporting the insurgency in Iraq.

    While I understand the tactical reasons why Bush is shifting from Iraq to Iran, one has to admit it is rather odd that this administration jumps from group to group when their efforts go horribly wrong. Iran should have been addressed some time ago, not treated as a follow-up to the mess that Iraq has become. At this point, even though Bush’s change in revenue makes logical sense, because of his previous bad decisions he will not be able to convince many people to support his efforts.

    Comment by toysoldier — January 12, 2007 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

  4. Although her rhetoric is intemperate and her grasp of the issues on the table is, shall we say, less than comprehensive, I find myself smiling with warm recognition.

    Your condescending tone would seem a little less ridiculous, Robert, if you hadn’t been completely, utterly wrong about Iraq for years; years during which Amanda was more often than not correct on the big questions.

    With all due respect, Robert, your track record over the past five years shows that you have horrible judgment regarding US wars in the middle east. Listening seriously to your opinions on the middle east would be like listening seriously to Al Gore’s opinions on how to win a vote count fight in Florida.

    Comment by Ampersand — January 12, 2007 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

  5. You think I’m wrong; I don’t. History will decide.

    Comment by Robert — January 12, 2007 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  6. So, how did the dark side seduce you/what made you see the light? That is, what led to the change in attitude?

    Comment by Dianne — January 12, 2007 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  7. I don’t have time to write the long answer today, Dianne, although that would make an extensive series of blog posts that would be of immense interest to perhaps eight people worldwide.😛

    The short answer is that I spent my late twenties and early thirties reading. That isn’t intended as snark (“you would also see the light if you would just educate yourselves, foolish lefties!”); it’s just what happened. Having children and becoming an active capitalist put the nails in.

    Comment by Robert — January 12, 2007 @ 4:40 pm | Reply

  8. Having children and becoming an active capitalist put the nails in.

    Maybe it’s the active capitalist part I’m not doing…Reproducing made me more left wing. I don’t want this or any other war going on when my kid gets to draft age.

    If I might make a suggestion, perhaps a navel gazing open thread asking how people came to their political philosophies would be interesting. (Yeah, I know, get my own dam blog if I want to decide on post topics.)

    Comment by Dianne — January 12, 2007 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  9. It’s a good idea, even if you are a despicable hippie liberal communist. Here you go.

    Comment by Robert — January 12, 2007 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

  10. I don’t want this or any other war going on when my kid gets to draft age.

    Then you’re shit out of luck. There is no peace. There will never be peace, until Jesus returns and rolls up the whole carpet. We’re a fractious species, with real conflicts over resources and ideas.

    We could greatly reduce the quantity of conflict by greatly increasing the quantity of resources and greatly increasing the places where people can live, and their ability to sort themselves. That first part means space exploitation – and it’s a temporary fix, pushing the problem into future generations, not resolving it over the long term. (Still worth doing, of course.)

    Comment by Robert — January 12, 2007 @ 5:18 pm | Reply

  11. There is no peace.

    Costa Rica hasn’t had a war in over 50 years (ie since the last time the US attacked it.) It’s a nice country too: long life expectancy, decent health and educational systems, pretty forests, interesting cancer cluster problem to work on…no work for astrophysicists, though so my partner would be kind of unhappy with the move…

    Comment by Dianne — January 12, 2007 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  12. That first part means space exploitation –

    I’m not convinced that space exploration is going to lead to colonization in the near future. Though it’s worth doing for its own sake. Robots only for now, though.

    Education (especially education of women) and wealth greatly reduce family size so increasing the average person’s education and access to resources would reduce the population pressure much sooner than space exploration is likely to yield new habitats.

    Comment by Dianne — January 12, 2007 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

  13. Don’t need colonies; robotic mines’ll do the job for now. We’ll end up getting colonies as a byproduct – there’s a place to go and I want out of here, so let’s pack…

    Costa Rica hasn’t had a war in 50 years because it’s squarely in the orbit of the US – which has had lots. A bit like the wife of a boxer saying “my lifestyle isn’t based on violence” – OK, you’re not fighting, but somebody is.

    The problem with the population pressure reduction theory is that it looks very much as though populations which do so get crowded out by populations which don’t, if the population-reducers aren’t simultaneously vigorously militaristic about defending their property. LPG/ZPG/NPG and vigorous militarism don’t seem to go together very often. (Per the joke: What will be the first Arab country to get nuclear weapons? France.)

    Comment by Robert — January 12, 2007 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

  14. The problem with the population pressure reduction theory is that it looks very much as though populations which do so get crowded out by populations which don’t, if the population-reducers aren’t simultaneously vigorously militaristic about defending their property.

    Can you name any examples of this actually happening? More often the “invading” (that is, the group immigrating into the wealthy area) population starts to take on the characteristics of the native population as the immigrants gain wealth and are socialized to the new society’s standards. Most (not all) French Arabs are French first, Arab second.

    Comment by Dianne — January 12, 2007 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  15. That’s entirely true. I’m not worried overmuch about the cultural characteristics, but the evolutionary implications. The people who adapted the low-gro lifestyle are the ones who are gone or going, and the people who adapted the high-gro lifestyle are the ones who are present. A cultural adaptation to “let’s have one baby” leads to a reproductive disadvantage to one’s broad generational peers. Adapting a lo-gro lifestyle simply means a smaller stake in the future inheritance of the planet. “Good luck with that evolution thing – we’re sitting this one out.” Maybe they’ll stay “French”, whatever that means, maybe they won’t.

    As far as examples go, I named one: France. In the United States, we have the Mormons and Hispanics, both putting up a good demographic effort. I suspect Hispanics will win that one, because they have a big immigration influx that the Mormons can’t match right now.

    Comment by Robert — January 12, 2007 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  16. Yes opinions can change but the idea that someone who has to get smacked over the head by experience to change their mind is smarter than someone who could see it clearly from the beginning is false…. except among Conservatives it seems.

    I have noticed that conservatives are often very stupid and ignorant people. Not that it matters when discussing matters of course, since the argument is what matters, not the individual. However how do your theories about “experience” hold up against the statistics for how dumb conservatives are?

    For example if you look at which group of Americans were most easily fooled by the lies about WMDs and which even today still believe that Iraq was behind 9-11 or that the US found WMDs in Iraq, or that Iraq was linked to Al Qaeda … a majority of conservatives are this stupid. I think a majority of conservatives don’t believe in evolution too. These are just stupid people.

    Now if I get your drift you were trying to imply that the opposite was true in your taunting above. To do so you have to ignore the fact that the position you taunt is more or less always right whereas your position is more or less always stupidly wrong. This is why I remarked that among Conservatives being wrong is somehow a mark of honour. That is not the case among liberals I think.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 12, 2007 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  17. David, we’ve agreed as a little blog community to practice civility towards one another, and as much mutual respect as we can muster up. You are welcome to comment here, if you can do so on those terms. If you think someone’s ideas are stupid, please feel free to say so, in a constructive fashion. But please don’t call people stupid, or otherwise namecall, other than in a jesting fashion.

    Comment by Robert — January 12, 2007 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

  18. Ah this would be the famous Republican complete lack of irony. Or “It’s Ok If You’re A Republican” (and perhaps I should add, apparently “It’s Ok If You Are A Christian”?)

    Correct me if I am wrong but the entire purpose of your posting this thread was to insult lefties and one in particular, and do so with a complete absence of fact. I responded by deliberately saying my comment was not aimed at any individual (which it wasn’t; it was a statistical observation) and supplying some facts.

    Your response is to attack me for breaking rules. So you are a hypocrite, and by your own standards, a rule breaker. Should you remain unable to abide by the rules of this community, by your own standards, perhaps you should leave?

    Let me be clear that my statements here should be read in both a constructive and jesting fashion (isn’t that an oxymoron btw?) — just as you claimed yours were. Since that appears to be a magical phrase or ward that protects someone from the blog police in your view let’s just take it as read that applies to anything I might say on this board.

    At any rate going back to the closest thing I could find to a substantial point in the initial post, it is the conservative position that has been dead wrong on the war and repeatedly dead wrong to the point of glorifying ineptitude. It is the (majority of) conservatives who have accepted idiotic propaganda positions re. whether WMDs were found or not. Conservative leaders have deliberately spread those false statements. I’m not sure if it is worse to think they did so knowing they were lies — deliberately dumbing down their followers — or whether it’s worse to think Conservative leaders are so dumb as to beleive the nonsense themselves.

    Recently some studies on what makes people conservatives have been coming forward and it just isn’t pretty. I’m not saying — and the studies certainly do not say — that an individual cannot be smart and sincere and a conservative. Just that most conservatives are not. Just that most conservatives are tending to be ignorant racist and criminal. That they respond to fear and are deeply xenophobic. As a movement it represents the more animal side of human nature — of course most of it’s adherents don’t believe in evolution and science anyway, but do beleive in a big man in the sky or some nonsense (in the US that is — these comments are aimed at the US conservatives). A God of love that nevertheless commands them to go bomb foreigners with a different coloured skin.

    This of course says nothing about whether conservatism — to the extent that it has any actual principles or beliefs — which IMO it doesn’t — is “correct” or not. It says nothing about you Robert. Try not to take it personally when I respond in kind (better actually) to your original point that was attacking lefties.

    Consider this a vigorous defence.🙂

    Comment by DavidByron — January 13, 2007 @ 11:15 am | Reply

  19. I’m not going to engage with you on this, David. You’ve been informed of the ground rules of this little space. Please follow them.

    Comment by Robert — January 13, 2007 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  20. Yeah, Robert. I think that we ought to be mocking Amanda on other grounds today, such as the lack of a mea culpa post over the Duke-Nifong scandal.

    Comment by Dan Collins — January 13, 2007 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

  21. I wasn’t mocking Amanda (although I have and will in other contexts) – if anything, I see something of myself in her.

    Comment by Robert — January 13, 2007 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

  22. Well Robert, you outrank me in the moderation stakes, both as site admin, and as thread starter, but I think you’re calling this one wrong. David’s post #16 looks satirical to me, and you’re the target of the satire.

    Moreover the last sentence of your post #2 was pretty snarky itself. We all agree (at least I think we do) that what we want courteous discussion free from stark and personal attack, and we all fall short of that standard ourselves from time to time. But I honestly don’t see that David has done anything in this thread to deserve a warning.

    Comment by Daran — January 13, 2007 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

  23. Well Robert, you outrank me in the moderation stakes, both as site admin, and as thread starter…

    I’m also much better looking.

    David’s post doesn’t look ironical or satirical to me; it looks like boilerplate “conservatives are stupid/ignorant/dumb/racist/criminal/animal” cant. It’s wearying, and counterproductive.

    It’s also the case that David has a history on blogs, and possibly I’m reacting to that history more than any immediate stimulus.

    Comment by Robert — January 13, 2007 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  24. I think both Robert’s comment #2 and David’s comment #16 were very insulting in tone and content, but #16 was more egregious.

    Although everyone slips up now and then, an occasional slip up from someone trying to be civil is less damaging to conversation than is someone who has contempt for civility, or who mocks the idea.

    Comment by Ampersand — January 14, 2007 @ 1:02 am | Reply

  25. Amp is right that my #2 was insulting. I don’t like DavidByron and never have. That’s not an excuse for being rude, of course, and I apologize for the incivility, David. But you should consider yourself on notice that I don’t much like you, and any joke/irony/sarcasm you choose to deploy is a lot more likely to be taken as a serious statement by me, than interpreted generously and with an assumption of your initial good faith.

    Comment by Robert — January 14, 2007 @ 1:34 am | Reply

  26. As I said before people who are in favour of censoring others because they cannot defend their views make very poor moderators. Especially on a board which is supposed to be encouraging a clash of different perspectives, even on some hot topics. Such a person simply cannot help abusing their position of trust.

    Robert has just confessed that he is abusing his position of trust. He admits he was at fault in this thread and in the same breath continues to threaten me. He declares that he has a personal animosity against me (I really don’t care; have we ever met?) His apology is therefore insincere.

    He should resign that position of trust.

    Let’s put it this way: an honourable person would resign that position or at the very least recuse themselves from any decision which calls for judgement about the person they just admited to having animosity towards. Robert relishes the idea of abusing his position it seems.

    Now I’m new here. Every board says they want people to play nice but you have to take your queue from the other posters to figure out what that means, and especially the moderators own behaviour. Robert has admited, (only after several others pointed it out to him), that he started it here. I am not at any fault for simply reading his tone back at him. That’s just me trying to figure out the standard by example. As far as I can see neither of us did wrong, but if that’s not the case I expect a reprimand to be directed at Robert — not me.

    I’m happy to play it either way.

    But what I won’t accept is a hypocritical abusive moderator who thinks it just fine to attack others and can’t take what he dishes out. Or for that matter partiality from others towards Robert when as a moderator he ought to be on his best behaviour acting as a model for others.

    Now as I say for my part I don’t care which way this goes as long as there is consistency. However I would prefer to be able to discuss a topic such as whether and to what extent a certain political group’s behaviour or beliefs are immoral and if someone is going to say that’s too mean then how do you expect this board to function? Most issues have a moral element. I don’t mind if I’m called a killer by a pro-life advocate for example because that’s specific to the issue. If they just call me an asshole that’s different (although it seems trivial to me).

    Is it not possible to discuss the research on the Rightwing Authoritarian Personality type? Is it too nasty to talk about the links between conservatives and racism? Or between feminism and sexism?

    If that is true then it seems that Robert’s entire initial post ought to be considered against the rules.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 14, 2007 @ 3:15 am | Reply

  27. Wow, you’ve been here what – three weeks? And already you’re making demands that moderators resign. That’s impressive.

    As I said before people who are in favour of censoring others because they cannot defend their views make very poor moderators.

    Who, specifically, are you claiming is a poor moderator because they try to censor opposing views?

    Robert has just confessed that he is abusing his position of trust.

    No, he hasn’t. He admitted that he slipped up and was rude; but we all accept that everyone, including the moderators, slip up now and then. Since “100% civil, never a moment’s slippage” is not part of the requirements of being a moderator, he did not betray any trust. Furthermore, when Robert’s error was pointed out to him, he did the right thing – he apologized. He has behaved imperfectly but well, in my opinion. (Contrast that to your own belligerent and ungracious behavior on this thread.)

    I am not at any fault for simply reading his tone back at him.

    You didn’t just “read his tone back” — your response was a significant escalation of the abuse. (And besides, your comment #1 certainly had a contemptuous tone, so by the false “read his tone back” logic Roberts comment #2 would be justified.). That aside, however, the moral logic of “he started it!” is unpersuasive to me, and I hope unpersuasive to the other folks here. This isn’t your first day on CD, nor is this the first time you’ve had to be told by a moderator that we prefer civility here. You can’t claim ignorance as an excuse.

    * * *

    Finally, regarding what debatable topics are…

    I think that “feminists are wrong to say rape of women is a widespread problem” is a debatable topic. I think “conservatives are wrong to oppose French-style health care financing” is a debatable topic. These are narrow policy issues that we can talk about in terms of facts, data and studies; it is even possible that we’ll have some agreement over which published authorities are reasonable to cite and which are partisan hooey.

    I don’t think “conservatives are evil” is a debatable topic, nor is “feminism is a hate group.” I think these are excuses to act out aggression and abuse against those who disagree with the topic-starter, disguised as debates. And I don’t think they are fruitful topics for a group that wants to demonstrate that people who disagree ideologically can still discuss policy disagreements respectfully. (But I’m not sure that CD is such a group). At the very least, they could only be fruitfully discussed in a mixed-ideology group in which there was a strong and genuine mutual respect between all participants in the discussion. We don’t have that level of trust here, I don’t think.

    Something like the research on the Rightwing Authoritarian Personality type, or the question of if feminists are sexist, fall in a grey area between these two extremes. I think that one could have a reasonable debate over these topics; I also think these topics could be used as an excuse for acting out aggression. Given my knowledge of your history, David, I don’t believe that you would be able to debate these topics in a way that was fruitful and promoted mutual respect even while disagreeing. But someone else might be able to discuss these topics in a better way.

    * * *

    Of course, none of this represents official “Creative Destruction” policy — this is all just in my opinion. I’d like it if the other CD members — or at least, those of us who are still active on CD in some capacity — could discuss what we want CD to be. (Perhaps we should move this discussion to a private post?)

    Comment by Ampersand — January 14, 2007 @ 4:12 am | Reply

  28. I’m happy as long as there’s pie.

    Comment by Robert — January 14, 2007 @ 4:17 am | Reply

  29. Pie? Ooooh! Make mine two slices of triple chocolate silk and you can shave my head, wax my legs, and use me for a surfboard.

    Errrrrr. Wait.

    I’m in.

    Any-hoo, back to the topic at hand:

    Both of you were being bloody fools. One of you apologized for it. And the other demanded more without giving something up first.

    Sounds like the difference is obvious.

    You see, David, Amp hit the nail on the head with his last graf: there really IS no “official Creative Destruction policy” to cite and, therefore, there is no basis for removing a moderator for violating a policy that doesn’t exist in black-and-white. We have an unwritten policy of civility, a digital form of an oral agreement if you will, but there’s no Terms Of Service agreement we sign in order to have posting and/or moderation capabilities. (That is, aside from the WordPress TOS page, which has nothing to say about the matter at hand.)

    As for me personally, I only moderate out comments that are obviously spam that snuck through the Akismet filter. And I actually click through the URL to prove it before clicking the “Spam” and “Edit” buttons (Don’t worry. I turn off JavaScript all the way before I click the link. I may be daring, but I ain’t that dumb.), and then completely delete the comment from the server. That’s my personal moderation policy, and I feel that it would be safe to call that liberal of a policy to be the norm here rather than the exception. And when you look at the rather hefty moderation over at Alas, the difference becomes particularly clear.

    And when it comes to your claim of Robert “abusing his position of trust” by overmoderating you, allegedly unfairly, then I must suggest that the burden of proof rests in the hands of the prosecution. Show us the comment(s) that he has removed from public view (We do have a queue of those backstage, so long as no one has flushed the Akismet cache since then.) and we’ll take the evidence as presented. Until then, all we see is you and he trading snarks back and forth with the obvious and inevitable escalation. Until then, all most of us can do is sit and wonder, to quote Tarol Hunt, “What’s the challenge rating of the bug up your ass?”

    Comment by Off Colfax — January 14, 2007 @ 5:54 am | Reply

  30. As he indicates Ampersand also has a history of animosity towards me. Ampersand also has history of censorship based on political views as is well known from his own blog. Again this should be completely obvious but if you want to encourage discussions with different points of view don’t take your most pro-censorship members and entrust them the task of moderation.

    This is the result: moderation abused as an excuse to threaten other members on the basis of their political views and even personal animosties.

    Show us the comment(s) that he has removed from public view

    I would do so, but they don’t appear to be in public view. Perhaps you’d prefer me to post alerting you that he has removed my posting priviledges?

    Your comment is silly. You cannot complain about that sort of moderator abuse after the fact nearly so well as before the fact. In any case the abuse I am talking about is the threats by Robert. Since he has admited his is at fault here, it is clear he has conceeded there are no grounds for a genuine warning.

    when Robert’s error was pointed out to him, he did the right thing – he apologized.

    No he made a fake apology while continuing to attack me in the same paragraph. Really Ampersand your owen bias is quite obvious here. Robert is clearly acting threateningly towards me with no reason. That’s moderator abuse and it’s especially bad on a board where openness is encouraged. But of course neither you nor Robert really get that whole concept do you? You’d both prefer to ban everyone who doesn’t agree with you and simply get to claim that everyone could speak freely — much as it is at Alas.

    So it’s hard for me to make the case here because you fundamentally don’t get it. Moderators who threaten people on the basis of their political views or personal animosities cause a chilling environment for free speech. That Robert apparently thinks it is a joke, or apparently thinks if he pretends it’s a joke then he is behaving well just compounds the issue.

    Contrast that to your own belligerent and ungracious behavior on this thread.

    Ah yes, blame the victim. Typical feminist. Could you please specify what exactly I did wrong here? To recap my position: Robert set the standards for this thread, both as a moderator and the one begining the thread. His standard — as you recognised in your own post before this blow up — was negative and personal. You said it was a “condescending tone”. Your words. Your words before you had an axe to grind (against me). That was not a comment of his, but the initial post.

    But in your analysis above your negative view of Robert’s initial post has disappeared. So when you made this statement (to me) you were being dishonest were you not Ampersand?

    your comment #1 certainly had a contemptuous tone, so by the false “read his tone back” logic Roberts comment #2 would be justified.

    Then you pretend that I was saying it was ok for me to be negative because Robert “started it” which I never said. You condescendingly pretend nobody but me thinks this way. In fact you are the only one saying that here:

    That aside, however, the moral logic of “he started it!” is unpersuasive to me, and I hope unpersuasive to the other folks here.

    Projection Ampersand? If you re-read what I said I was clear that it was a case of me reading what the standards are meant to be here by observing a moderator. That is quite different from what you just said but I expect you can’t tell the difference. So then if I am meant to ignore the behaviour of the moderators as indicative of the norms of behaviour here who the heck am I supposed to observe?

    I certainly wouldn’t be behaving too well if I observed your own behaviour for example.

    Given my knowledge of your history, David, I don’t believe that you would be able to debate these topics in a way that was fruitful and promoted mutual respect even while disagreeing.

    In honourable person would have started out by admiting this personal animosity (Ampersand hates me) and then saying “So I really shouldn’t try and judge any case involving David”.

    But you basically go ahead and assume my insincerity as a given on the basis of nothing I’ve said but only your own animosity. How is THAT compatible with or a good example of trying to trust people and assuming sincerity in the person you are debating with? Both you and Robert have attacked me personally in this thread and tried to undermine my reputation.

    Off Colfax,
    Until then, all we see is you and he trading snarks back and forth with the obvious and inevitable escalation. Until then, all most of us can do is sit and wonder, to quote Tarol Hunt, “What’s the challenge rating of the bug up your ass?”

    I would agree with that assessment however you are missing something. I was, would have been and am happy with a certain level of banter like that. I was not the one to start accusing people of breaking the rules. Robert was. I simply pointed out his hypocrisy — which you appear to agree with.

    Robert went beyond flame and threatened me. Let me tell you this is a real threat. If he said the same thing to some established member where he lacked the power to enforce the threat it would be different. Essentially Robert tried to bully me and I stood up to him. Bullying tactics by moderators have a chilling effect (not on me obviously — I’d just get banned by the bully when I refuse to kowtow).

    My prefered resolution here would be that Robert apologise properly, not for the trivial issue of participating in an argument, nor the less trivial sin of setting a bad example as a moderator, but for threatening me. Secondly I’d prefer a resolution where it is accepted that moderators have more of a responsibility to behave than non-moderators and that if a moderator gets into an argument with a non-moderator and then threatens them, that moderator needs to apologise. Thirdly that moderators should not threaten (or “warn”) people that they have admitied to having a personal animosity towards but leave it to someone neutral.

    Essentialy what happened here is that Robert saw an opportunity to carry on the argument by pretending to be enforcing “the rules”. While pretending to apologise he continued the fight. I don’t have an issue with normal flame but I think when moderators abuse their position to threaten people as a response to a personal tiff things can go downhill very rapidly.

    Comment by DavidByron — January 14, 2007 @ 11:49 am | Reply

  31. On the list of banned topics.

    Ampersand,
    I don’t think “conservatives are evil” is a debatable topic, nor is “feminism is a hate group.” I think these are excuses to act out aggression and abuse against those who disagree with the topic-starter, disguised as debates. And I don’t think they are fruitful topics for a group that wants to demonstrate that people who disagree ideologically can still discuss policy disagreements respectfully.

    The problem is that this is the basis for much of the fundamental disagreement and that naturally the conservative / feminist side of things will reach for censorship as a tool to prevent criticism.

    There just isn’t an equivalent for lefties. We don’t have a sore point where we have to censor data because we’re in the wrong and can’t stand it. It’s not that there are not topics where we are attacked by conservatives / feminists. In fact such moral attacks are a hallmark of conservativism of both types. It’s just that when you’re innocent of the charges it’s water off a duck’s back.

    Going back to the pro-life thing I would just laugh if a pro-lifer called me a murderer. When feminists constantly call me sexist, or a stalker, or a pedophile, it doesn’t bother me at all because it’s not true. When people like Robert accuse me of being rude I think it’s funny (because of the sheer hypocrisy). I just see such accusations as the price of doing business with a conservative type. I don’t try to blow it up into a victimology issue.

    I wonder if you can agree to that charge Amersand? That you conservatives (not you specifically) are just as guilty of making moral judgements against your opponents. The difference is that your side can dish it out but they can’t take it. I would say that’s a hallmark of the authoritarian mindset.

    I bet Daran there get’s all sorts of villification at Alas doesn’t he? And I bet you do nothing to stop it. Nor would I have you do so. However do you see such things as, “excuses to act out aggression and abuse”?

    Comment by DavidByron — January 14, 2007 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

  32. Robert:

    I’m also much better looking.

    I’ll grant you that.

    David’s post doesn’t look ironical or satirical to me; it looks like boilerplate “conservatives are stupid/ignorant/dumb/racist/criminal/animal” cant. It’s wearying, and counterproductive.

    It looked to me as though he was satirising the post which started this thread. If that means your post looks like boilerplate “liberals are stupid/ignorant/dumb…” etc., cant, well…

    Moreover, that is what David said he was doing in comment #18. I think we should take him at his word.

    Ampersand:

    I think both Robert’s comment #2 and David’s comment #16 were very insulting in tone and content, but #16 was more egregious.

    Although everyone slips up now and then, an occasional slip up from someone trying to be civil is less damaging to conversation than is someone who has contempt for civility, or who mocks the idea.

    I don’t see David mocking the idea of being civil.

    Comment by Daran — January 14, 2007 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  33. I think we should take him at his word.

    Fair enough. But I really don’t see what’s so “liberals are so dumb” about my post; the only point I’m making is that someone who is now my enemy (ideologically speaking) is also the same person I was ten or twenty years ago. People change, in other words, and we shouldn’t identify folks as being equivalent to their views. Amanda isn’t an anti-war leftist, Amanda is Amanda. Consider it my blundering endorsement of E-Prime.😉

    Comment by Robert — January 14, 2007 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

  34. You think I’m wrong; I don’t. History will decide.

    History has already decided; you’re just in denial.

    Again, I have to ask: What, specifically, would have to happen in Iraq to convince you that invading Iraq was a mistake?

    Comment by Ampersand — January 17, 2007 @ 8:19 am | Reply

  35. Journalism has decided, not history. History has this irritating way of waiting for things to happen before it reaches its judgment.

    As for your question – if (say) ten years from now, Iraq is not a functioning country with no higher a violence rate than the regional norm, then it was a mistake.

    Comment by Robert — January 17, 2007 @ 11:46 am | Reply

  36. the only point I’m making is that someone who is now my enemy (ideologically speaking) is also the same person I was ten or twenty years ago. People change, in other words, and we shouldn’t identify folks as being equivalent to their views.

    If that’s what you meant, then that’s what you meant. I read it as suggesting that people start out as liberals, then they grow up. IOW I thought you were stereotyping liberals as immature in their thinking. I thought David read it the same way, and responded satirically by stereotyping conservatives in return.

    And you know, without intending to be insulting or disrespectful, but I have to say that the stereotype does seem to fit you. I find it frustratingly difficult to engage you on, well, anything at all.

    Your recent post on immigration is a case in point. As far as values are concerned, that’s one subject where I’m fairly conservative. I think a country should be run for the benefit of its citizens, and that the obligations of the state toward the citizens of other countries don’t include necessarily letting them in. Given that those appear to be your values, and that I have no view on the effect on American citizens of illegal immigration across the Mexican border, then it ought to be possible for you to make a fact-based argument that the effect is detrimental. Yet you make no attempt to do so.

    Your views on the war in Iraq appear to be similarly unencumbered by facts. And while I recall that you admitted you got “spanked” in the debate about global climate-change, it’s not clear if you actually changed your mind.

    As I said, this isn’t intended to insult. You’re a nice guy. I like you. You’ve got a great sense of humour. If you ever come to Scotland, I’d love to meet you. You’re the kind of person I’d have a beer with.

    Comment by Daran — January 17, 2007 @ 3:11 pm | Reply

  37. Journalism has decided, not history. History has this irritating way of waiting for things to happen before it reaches its judgment.

    Things have happened, Robert. According to the latest situation report, Thirty-four thousand civilians were murdered last year. That’s bodies counted, BTW, so it’s likely to be an underestimate. Even if it turns out that the cluster-sampling surveys were a gross estimate, that could still amount to hundreds of thousands of deaths over several years.

    As for your question – if (say) ten years from now, Iraq is not a functioning country with no higher a violence rate than the regional norm, then it was a mistake.

    Way to set a low bar, Robert. The war in Iraq wasn’t a mistake if the only difference between it and the other dictatorships in the area in ten years time is that its people have gone through thirteen years of sheer hell, and theirs haven’t.

    Comment by Daran — January 17, 2007 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

  38. Daran (and Amp), we’re in year 5 of a war that is likely to last 50 years or longer. If you want to judge Iraq as a failure, that’s fine, although I disagree with you. But Iraq is a battle in the war, not the war itself, and one that isn’t over yet.

    Comment by Robert — January 17, 2007 @ 4:40 pm | Reply


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