Whither civility, eh? Dan Fincke has his Pledge. (His what? His pledge? What is he, Louisa May Alcott?) Chris Clarke has his sarcastic pledge. I like Chris Clarke’s better.
I pledge to keep a sense of perspective. Tossing basic civil rights under the bus in order to maintain a jury-rigged superficial peace in a single-issue movement is a bad bargain.
That. Fincke’s pledge (his pledge?) is all too reminiscent of Lee Moore’s attempt to jury-rig peace between harassers and the people they are harassing.
Fincke’s “civility” has resulted in mildew people posting lies about me in his comments, which are still sitting there uncontradicted because Fincke has wandered off somewhere, and new comments are held in moderation. I posted a correction yesterday morning – some 30 hours ago – and it still hasn’t appeared. Civil? Not so much.
“Pitchguest” – safe behind the mask – posted the lies. “Commander Tuvok” – safe behind the mask – repeated them.
Or if we should continue, why not Ophelia Benson, who called an AVfM contributor a ‘stupid bitch’ (despite how she doesn’t use such epithets)
No I didn’t. I called myself that, ironically, in a tweet. I’ve posted that correction before, and we all know “Pitchguest” and the rest of them have seen it because we know they leave nothing of mine unread unmonitored unstalked. They know they’re lying, but they go on lying, and Fincke doesn’t even curate his own comments responsibly. “Civil” ha.
Comments on Chris’s post took me back to one from March 2008. Gosh those were the days. Sheril Kirshenbaum ordering PZ to mind his manners. That in turn reminded me of one at ur-B&W from 2009, citing G Felis (the philosophical primate) quoting Mill.
So have some Mill again, courtesy of Bartleby.
Mill wrote in an age when paragraphs were long – our acquaintance Mr Paden would feel more at home there – and his paragraphs were long even for that age. I’ve made paragraphs where there were no paragraphs. Begging your pardon, Mr Mill.
Before quitting the subject of freedom of opinion, it is fit to take some notice of those who say, that the free expression of all opinions should be permitted, on condition that the manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair discussion. Much might be said on the impossibility of fixing where these supposed bounds are to be placed; for if the test be offence to those whose opinion is attacked, I think experience testifies that this offence is given whenever the attack is telling and powerful, and that every opponent who pushes them hard, and whom they find it difficult to answer, appears to them, if he shows any strong feeling on the subject, an intemperate opponent.
But this, though an important consideration in a practical point of view, merges in a more fundamental objection. Undoubtedly the manner of asserting an opinion, even though it be a true one, may be very objectionable, and may justly incur severe censure. But the principal offences of the kind are such as it is mostly impossible, unless by accidental self-betrayal, to bring home to conviction. The gravest of them is, to argue sophistically, to suppress facts or arguments, to misstate the elements of the case, or misrepresent the opposite opinion.
Skipping ahead a little.
With regard to what is commonly meant by intemperate discussion, namely invective, sarcasm, personality, and the like, the denunciation of these weapons would deserve more sympathy if it were ever proposed to interdict them equally to both sides; but it is only desired to restrain the employment of them against the prevailing opinion: against the unprevailing they may not only be used without general disapproval, but will be likely to obtain for him who uses them the praise of honest zeal and righteous indignation. Yet whatever mischief arises from their use, is greatest when they are employed against the comparatively defenceless; and whatever unfair advantage can be derived by any opinion from this mode of asserting it, accrues almost exclusively to received opinions.
Punching down, in other words.
In general, opinions contrary to those commonly received can only obtain a hearing by studied moderation of language, and the most cautious avoidance of unnecessary offence, from which they hardly ever deviate even in a slight degree without losing ground: while unmeasured vituperation employed on the side of the prevailing opinion, really does deter people from professing contrary opinions, and from listening to those who profess them. For the interest, therefore, of truth and justice, it is far more important to restrain this employment of vituperative language than the other; and, for example, if it were necessary to choose, there would be much more need to discourage offensive attacks on infidelity, than on religion.
And, for example, if it were necessary to choose, there would be much more need to discourage offensive attacks on feminism, than on ideological sexism.