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Jul 31 2012

I agree with Larry

They used to call us the Statler and Waldorf of talk.origins, so you just knew whose side I’d take in this discussion of civility. There’s a place for it, but not in a battle with malicious fools.

When I use the word “IDiot” I fully intend to bash the IDiots for their stupid ideas. Why? Because their ideas are stupid and they really are idiots.

Passion and anger are two of our weapons. I’m not going to let the ninny nannies disarm us.

59 comments

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  1. 1
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Ridicule is effective in discourse with those who won’t change their minds when confronted with real evidence. And all IDiots and creobots are presuppostionalists, who won’t listen to the evidence against them. The real target is the lurkers, who need to see the lack of engagement and obvious preaching by the IDiots/creobots, while scientists show evidence and only insult those refusing to acknowledge the evidence.

  2. 2
    birgerjohansson

    Klansmen are ridicilous, creationists are ridicilous, religous or political bigots provide a buffet of ridicilousness.
    Let’s point and laugh at them very loudly.

  3. 3
    baal

    Just make sure you have Chauchescu in your sights before firing and remember that gibbing splatters.

  4. 4
    hexidecima

    I do get disgusted at those atheists and agnostics who pee themselves in fear when a theist claims to be “offended” or “hurt” by being called out for their baseless nonsense. No one is forcing them to make ridiculous claims and their hypocrisy is rank when they consider any nonsense other than theirs to be just as ripe for ridicule. There is no dishonor in calling someone who is willfully maliciously ignorant just that. It is indeed stupid for someone to be such a thing.

  5. 5
    Glen Davidson

    The one thing I’d say is that “IDiots” or other demeaning epithets were not appropriate when they first proposed their “ideas,” no matter how hackneyed and long-discredited they were. It was proper to give them a hearing and an answer, even though they never were serious nor honest, and even though they were always accusing us of hanging on to evolution merely for (anti)religious reasons. For, despite their constant lying, ideas need to be considered on their merit, not on the despicable actions of their proponents.

    The time to refrain from calling them the IDiots that they are is long past, however, as they were given answers far more decent than the proponents (the bystanders were the ones deserving respectful replies) themselves deserved. You have to be stupid, mendacious (intellectually dishonest anyhow), or both to maintain the selective “skepticism” and disregard of many of the best answers that they received, only to pound on the residual questions.

    Stupid liars will do, too.

    Glen Davidson

  6. 6
    Mike

    I get the same horrified responses when I say “Jehovah’s Witless”. I feel quite strongly that we have just as much right to be as insulting towards people of faith directly as they are, toward us, indirectly. I’ll just let them have the direct insults for free since it makes them look so foolish and it’s not nice to kick a moron for being stupid. When it stops being insulting to them for someone to say Happy Holidays or to say the name Darwin I’ll be happy to treat them in an adult manner but for now they get contempt with a healthy side of derision.

  7. 7
    aleph squared

    All these calls for civility always seem to end up in the same place: chastising rightfully angry and upset minorities/marginalized groups for using insults and bad language while allowing manipulative and dehumanizing but ostensibly “polite” comments go unchallenged. I’ve seen this happen at countless websites that have instituted these policies: mostly because it is far easier for a mod to see a bad word and squash it than to follow along a conversation and detect subtler offenses.

    And then, of course, there’s this:

    [someone]:Do you believe that responding to a sexist slur by calling the speaker an asshole is bullying the person who made the slur?

    [dan fincke]: YES.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    aleph squared

    Sorry, that quote is from here.

  10. 10
    Keith Peterson

    I always found it amusing that people get mad if you call others stupid, even after those people have raised issues that’s been refuted a thousand times before.

    I can understand ignorance, but if you’re unable to learn, unwilling to learn, and you choose to ignore the facts for whatever petty reasons, even when it’s makes your life harder to live, then I’m sorry but I think you’re an idiot.

    If it bothers people that I say such things, well tough luck for them.

  11. 11
    karpad

    see, now I can’t help but giggle at hypothetical Statler and Waldorfian zings.

    “Dembski’s new book is pretty interesting. He seems to have given up on Intelligent Design.”
    “Really? He’s embraced evolution?”
    “No, the book just didn’t have an intelligent design.”

    “I think Deepak Chopra might be on to something in this lecture.”
    “I know what you mean. The audience fell into a collective unconscious.”

  12. 12
    Ophelia Benson

    Wull I agree with Larry too, and Larry doesn’t disagree with me as much as he thought he did. (At least I think so.)

    I said Dan had a point about interpersonal insults among people commenting on blog posts. I didn’t take him to be talking about people external to blog posts. I’m not about to stop calling the pope a shit, to take just one example.

  13. 13
    mnb0

    It has been said a zillion times before.
    Stupid ideas are stupid ideas. Creacrap is creacrap.
    It doesn’t mean the person who brings them up is stupid, though I’ll have some suspicions if that person repeats them over and over again. Still thinking creacrappers are stupid makes one underestimate them.

  14. 14
    Sastra

    The ‘civility’ debate can be looked at from many angles. Calling a creationist an idiot is an easy example. I think it gets harder when you’ve got a case of Comment Regular vs. Comment Regular, and we go after each other for opinions or stances which are less extreme and less obviously stupid than creationism.

    How brutal is it allowed to get? How many invectives can be hurled, and how personal can they be, before PZ can legitimately step in and tell people to cool it in the name of civility?

    I’d like to think there was a limit. Some of the people who haunt FTB have dealt with or are dealing with some serious personal issues — and we don’t always know who. I’ve seen it get very vicious and very personal, sometimes surprisingly so. In these cases we’re not talking about the principle wherein a despised minority has the valuable right to use full force of outrage to attack the sense of privilege of those in power. We’re dealing with individuals within “our community” who may or may not be able to let a barrage of insults roll off their backs and stay with the computer when they have to get up and do whatever they have to get up and do.

    Pharyngula has a reputation: it’s not for the faint of heart. But you can go too far with that. And where we draw that line comes under the topic as well.

  15. 15
    anteprepro

    Things I have learned from Camels with Hammer’s comment policy post:

    -Dan is still hurting over the fact that people didn’t care for his blog-buddy’s long, protacted, excessively charitable series about Wicca.
    -Asking somebody to address previous points they have made is bullying and hostile.
    -Trying to argue with someone you think is wrong is the same as trying to silence them.
    -You can’t make insulting insinuations, but can say that their beliefs are irrational and harmful or that their behavior is immoral, which apparently isn’t insulting because…
    -All abusive names are created equal, and racial and sexist epitaphs are just as bad as “stupid,” “jerk,” and “asshole”.
    -Insulters want to use emotional violence in order to get the poor victim to submit, to make the victim feel hated and to gain leverage in an argument. No, it’s not just an attempt to express frustration. It is a calculated attempt to coerce. Fincke must have recently got a degree in Psychoanalysis that he was too humble to advertise.
    -Insults don’t encourage philosophical FREEDOM!
    -Insults are dehumanizing and don’t respect people’s basic humanity!
    -It is fine to say someone is sexist, homophobic, racist, etc. because you can prove it one way or the other. Assholishness, however, can’t be proven or disproven! (Apparently, the problem with insults is that they aren’t specific enough [?])
    -Assume the best of people and give the benefit of the doubt. Also, assume people are ignorant/confused rather than malicious, because apparently assuming ignorance isn’t insulting.
    (Quoted from Fincke by Moran)
    -”Stupid” is as insulting and degrading as “tranny”.
    -Insult-free is equivalent to civil, insulting is equivalent to childish.
    -Insults provoke insults. Oh noes!
    -Calling an idea “stupid” is insulting, hurts feelings and provokes insults. Calling ideas “false, empirically refuted, fallacious, absurd, illogical, unsupported by evidence, irrational, rationally indefensible, superstitious, [or] biased” does nothing of the sort!
    (Quoted from above)
    -Responding to an insult with an insult is “sinking to their level”.

    So, we have to be above it all by not using direct insults and instead relying entirely on indirect insults. That’s the real true route to civility and rationality!

  16. 16
    anteprepro

    I didn’t take him to be talking about people external to blog posts.

    Dan’s post:

    That will be the standard I will explicitly hold you to on this blog. With fellow commenters and even when discussing public figures , let’s denounce in ways that are substantiated, subject to proof using evidence, and which at their core are respectful of other people’s basic humanity and their right to disagree without being insulted.

  17. 17
    Keith Peterson

    @Sastra

    I would say the limit is when the person is given objective, straight forward, easy to understand facts, and still wont even contend that they sorta kinda might be wrong and just continue to talk past people.

    It’s part of the reason Thunderf00t was booted out.

  18. 18
    Matt Penfold

    Does Fincke really think that people who make arguments for creationism (or anything else) that have been made and refuted many many times is being any less insulting that someone who calls that person an idiot ?

  19. 19
    Pteryxx

    So, we have to be above it all by not using direct insults and instead relying entirely on indirect insults. That’s the real true route to civility and rationality!

    …well, as one of those socially awkward people that can’t always *detect* indirect insults, much less respond to them, the hell with that. IMHO, according benefit-of-the-doubt to everyone
    ALSO means that when someone says “You’re a fucking asshole” I consider the possibility that they might be justified.

  20. 20
    anteprepro

    How brutal is it allowed to get? How many invectives can be hurled, and how personal can they be, before PZ can legitimately step in and tell people to cool it in the name of civility?

    In my opinion, that should be the real focus. No surprise that Sastra is the one to hit the nail on the head. Though it is a hell of a lot more subjective to say that there is a vague, situational limit to just how much venom and insult is allowed, it is an infinitely better approach than just outright banning (direct) insults.

    IMHO, according benefit-of-the-doubt to everyone
    ALSO means that when someone says “You’re a fucking asshole” I consider the possibility that they might be justified.

    lol. Maybe that’s why insults are forbidden. Perhaps the real goal was to institute a principle of charity, and he realized that if he allowed people to fling insults around, several people would have to spend a heartwrenching, dismaying half-hour contemplating the possibility that they really do have a head made out of feces or that they are, in fact, fornicating with their own maternal parental figure. Imagine the widespread existential crises!

  21. 21
    Glen Davidson

    Eventually, it becomes outright dishonest to treat these frauds and scammers as if they were at all respectable.

    It’s a disservice and deception to the naive fence-straddler to pretend that long-refuted liars for Jeebus/Ahmanson have anything honest or scientifically meaningful to relate to the public (that isn’t at least contextually fraudulent).

    Glen Davidson

  22. 22
    Pteryxx

    *rolleyes* Obviously “direct” isn’t the same thing as “literal”. Past that, I can tell that this is mockery:

    Perhaps the real goal was to institute a principle of charity, and he realized that if he allowed people to fling insults around, several people would have to spend a heartwrenching, dismaying half-hour contemplating the possibility that they really do have a head made out of feces or that they are, in fact, fornicating with their own maternal parental figure. Imagine the widespread existential crises!

    but not whether it’s aimed at me, Fincke, or some other purpose entirely.

  23. 23
    jehk

    Passion and anger are two of our weapons. I’m not going to let the ninny nannies disarm us.

    I don’t really see it that way. I think its useful to have different bloggers that use a different set of weapons. Pharyngula and Camels with Hammers occupy different ends of the spectrum. A blog like JT’s would be a more middle ground. IIRC his policy is you can insult someone but you damn well better back it up with why.

  24. 24
    aleph squared

    A blog like JT’s would be a more middle ground. IIRC his policy is you can insult someone but you damn well better back it up with why.

    And we’ve already seen how that went down at JT’s: a bunch of people who made arguments and used insults got banned, and the people who failed to make any arguments but were at least more subtle about their insults and bullying weren’t.

    I don’t really see it that way. I think its useful to have different bloggers that use a different set of weapons.

    I don’t think anyone disagrees with you on that.

  25. 25
    macallan

    Our chief weapon is passion…passion and anger…anger and passion…. Our two weapons are anger and passion…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are anger, passion, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to Richard Dawkins…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as anger, passion…. I’ll come in again.

    It had to be done.

  26. 26
    John Horstman

    Dan appears to think that social marginalization is intrinsically problematic to the point of being unacceptable (or something that he will not support and will not allow comments on his blog to support). I think that it’s only contextually problematic – it’s bad when people are marginalized for non-harmful behaviors or group memberships, but entirely appropriate to marginalize people whose behaviors or even ideas are harmful. Murderers and rapists (and Nazis and KKK members etc.) absolutely deserve to be marginalized (denied power to act through social hierarchies), because the law cannot (and should not) be used to address all problematic behaviors. It’s not JUST their behaviors that are problematic, either, because social context creates the framework through which agency is asserted and actions are interpreted; discourse bounds the range of possible and likely actions, and ideas can, in fact, have material consequences. Normative social pressure, enacted through denigration and marginalization of certain extremely harmful ideas is entirely appropriate (I have a similar objection to blanket condemnation of “bullying”: a more powerful group – or a member thereof – is entirely justified in using coercive tactics to shut down hate speech coming from a malignant minority e.g. racist Teabaggers). People holding such ideas should be shamed for holding those ideas – it’s entirely possible to use the human desire for social acceptance to pro-social ends (that’s probably why we evolved a predisposition to it in the first place).

    Before really getting involved with activism, I naively thought that if I just explained things well enough and presented by ideas clearly enough, backed with enough support, I could change people’s minds. However, we know that this doesn’t necessarily work; often, when confronted with new information that contradicts entrenched beliefs, people reject the information, and not the false beliefs. This should be obvious to any atheist who has ever debated a theist. Some people simply cannot be convinced – they must instead be disempowered, marginalized, and dismissed. To argue otherwise dismisses the last two decades of research cognitive science; it’s not an evidence-based position. We know people are universally plagued by cognitive biases and tend to, on average, be pretty bad at objectively and accurately evaluating ideas. An effective campaign to engineer social change (like not dehumanizing women, gay people, trans people, dark-skinned people, etc.) needs to take this into account; a campaign based on an imaginary abstracted model of how humans think and behave is doomed to failure (another example: capitalist market economics works in theory to reward people entirely based on merit; it fails in practice because accurate value-linked market prices are predicated on every consumer and producer and worker possessing complete and accurate knowledge about every purchasing and production and labor decision, rational evaluations of that information informing every consumer’s and producer’s and worker’s decisions, and a total lack of externalities in any prices – these things are fantasies that do not reflect the actual, evidence-based state of the world).

  27. 27
    hyperdeath

    I’d definitely like to see more adherence to the three-post rule. Unless someone is absolutely vile, the first line of approach should be polite engagement.

    Another problem, which contributes to Pharyngula’s reputation, is the carrying on of arguments between unrelated threads. If a previously obnoxious person makes a reasonable contribution to another thread, they should be left alone. Carrying on arguments between threads is a form of derailing, and can look terrible to onlookers: Someone says something perfectly sensible, and then gets set upon.

  28. 28
    Pteryxx

    If a previously obnoxious person makes a reasonable contribution to another thread, they should be left alone.

    caveat: I for one appreciate other commenters alerting me that someone’s been taking advantage of good-faith assumptions in other threads. The misogynists in particular tend to be experts in gaming good faith.

  29. 29
    jehk

    I don’t think anyone disagrees with you on that.

    Then I don’t really understand why PZ or anyone else is taking issue. I read Dan’s comments in those threads. He’s not advocating all bloggers at FtB follow his style and methods. Maybe I missed that part?

  30. 30
    aleph squared

    Then I don’t really understand why PZ or anyone else is taking issue.

    I think Dan has every right to run his blog the way he wants, and I think that the atheist movement needs a multitude of different approaches to conversation and debate to succeed.

    That’s not inconsistent with also thinking that Dan’s claims regarding the use of certain words are wrong, nor with predicting possible ways that his rules will be gamed by people comfortable with intellectually dishonest manipulations.

  31. 31
    PZ Myers

    Dan can run his blog any way he wants to. I’ve even called it an “interesting experiment”.

  32. 32
    jehk

    That’s not inconsistent with also thinking that Dan’s claims regarding the use of certain words are wrong, nor with predicting possible ways that his rules will be gamed by people comfortable with intellectually dishonest manipulations.

    That’s fair. Maybe I’m focusing too much on PZ’s last sentence. While the following is more to the point:

    There’s a place for it, but not in a battle with malicious fools.

    Its not wrong you throw insults at malicious fools.

  33. 33
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    All these calls for civility always seem to end up in the same place: chastising rightfully angry and upset minorities/marginalized groups for using insults and bad language while allowing manipulative and dehumanizing but ostensibly “polite” comments go unchallenged. I’ve seen this happen at countless websites that have instituted these policies: mostly because it is far easier for a mod to see a bad word and squash it than to follow along a conversation and detect subtler offenses.

    Yep. The *only* blogs I’ve seen this sort of policy enacted on are those run by a blog owner that isn’t part of the targetted group. Which is why it’s “bullying” to do anything that might upset the bigot. What the bigot does to you is, of course, going to minimized because he didn’t use a naughty word.

  34. 34
    anteprepro

    Pteryxx: It was more of a humorous riff on being overly “charitable”. At least I thought it was humorous. I didn’t write it with the intent of mocking anything actually said, either by you or Dan.

    Also, gotta concur with your number 28. Holding people accountable for their more egregious comments should be on the table, even if it is frowned upon in the 99% of cases when they aren’t deemed egregious enough.

  35. 35
    chigau (違う)

    hyperdeath

    …Carrying on arguments between threads is a form of derailing…

    At a big house party, if someone behaves badly in the living-room xe doesn’t get to move to the kitchen and start over.

  36. 36
    Pteryxx

    Oh, thanks for clarifying anteprepro! It didn’t occur to me at all that could’ve been *targetless* humor.

    *quasi-serious self-talk ahead*

    (…presuming you’re being honest about it, and didn’t just game me, and I wasn’t missing some context, and presuming good faith as a default, etc etc… heck with all this social-skills BS, give me a nice clear ‘fuck off’ every time. Sheesh!)

    ~;>

  37. 37
    anteprepro

    Yeah, I’m being honest. I think that it doesn’t help that I’m not a very good communicator, even IRL. So, don’t just blame your social skills if you didn’t get what I was talking about, feel free to blame mine as well. I won’t even count it as an insult :P

  38. 38
    Pteryxx

    anteprepro: np, I’m fine with you. IMHO, indirect offense in general is a dangerous game.

  39. 39
    hyperdeath

    Pteryxx:

    I for one appreciate other commenters alerting me that someone’s been taking advantage of good-faith assumptions in other threads.

    Chigau:

    At a big house party, if someone behaves badly in the living-room xe doesn’t get to move to the kitchen and start over.

    It depends on the context. The case that comes to mind, is when one of our visiting misogynists made an informative comment to a post about the Aurora shootings. His point, that perpetrator-focused news coverage risks encouraging further attacks, was a good one. Unfortunately, this got drowned out by a continuation of old arguments.

    I agree that if someone behaves badly in one thread, then it’s reasonable to carry arguments over to new threads about the same topic. It can look very petty however, when they are carried over into unrelated threads.

  40. 40
    bunkie

    Passion and anger are two of our weapons . . . and ruthless efficiency. Passion and anger and ruthless efficiency are three of our weapons . . . and an almost nonfanatical devotion to the pope.

  41. 41
    Pteryxx

    hyperdeath: some of us also checked the link and asserted that it was in fact worth watching, in spite of the source. I think, if a bunch of folks say that X individual isn’t trustworthy, and others in this crowd still double-check, that it’s working as well as can be expected. I expect that somebody in this outspoken, argumentative bunch will speak up if a dismissal isn’t warranted in their view.

  42. 42
    nohellbelowus

    Parse an argument covered in insults just like removing scales from a fish. If all that’s left is a guppy or minnow, then don your cat claws and tear it to shreds.

    On the other hand, especially in PZ’s swimming pool, often there are real barracudas (solid arguments) lurking under the scales…

    Sticks and stones, fer chrissakes.

  43. 43
    Grimalkin

    Passion, anger, and snark. And they’re fantastic weapons.

    The ‘stupid’/'idiot’ argument has such massive flaws, and I’ve only ever seen it from cis/het/white males who don’t have experience with *real* slurs. Anyone- hell, everyone- can be stupid. Everyone is stupid at some points in their lives. Saying “That’s stupid” or “you’re stupid” is saying “hey, it’s one of those points in your life”. Words directed at specific groups are different. If someone calls me a cunt, it says (intent notwithstanding) “You are a woman and that is bad and it makes you bad”.

    Not to mention that stupid is an actually negative thing to be. Making someone not want to be stupid is good. The same is not true for minority based slurs, where the subject of the slur is a neutral-to-good thing that is being lowered to “This thing that is an intrinsic part of you is bad and you should stop”.

    But I don’t expect Dan “All issues are academic” Fincke to grasp that.

    Pharyngula has a reputation: it’s not for the faint of heart. But you can go too far with that. And where we draw that line comes under the topic as well.

    Honestly, I think the line is pretty well drawn. As far as I can tell people here will attack you relentlessly when it’s arguably deserved and when it’s constructive, but I’ve never seen someone explicitly just try to hurt someone, or try to get at someone’s weaknesses (past abuse, member of a minority group, etc.) just to harm them. That’s a pretty good line in my opinion. Fighting with both barrels, but never fighting dirty.

  44. 44
    jehk

    Grimalkin says:

    The ‘stupid’/’idiot’ argument has such massive flaws, and I’ve only ever seen it from cis/het/white males who don’t have experience with *real* slurs. Anyone- hell, everyone- can be stupid. Everyone is stupid at some points in their lives. Saying “That’s stupid” or “you’re stupid” is saying “hey, it’s one of those points in your life”. Words directed at specific groups are different. If someone calls me a cunt, it says (intent notwithstanding) “You are a woman and that is bad and it makes you bad”.

    While stupid doesn’t apply to a specific group its often used against specific groups of people. My cousin is partially deaf and she’s been called stupid (and similar names like idiot and retard) because of the way she behaves. She’s not stupid at all, brilliant even, but conversion with her is slow because she has difficulty hearing people if they aren’t talking directly to her.

    I understand what you’re saying and I’ve seen genuine pain caused by that word and can’t support it be more permissible than others.

  45. 45
    joed

    http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/w_k_clifford/ethics_of_belief.html

    W K Clifford makes an excellent case that belief without proper evidence is morally wrong:
    “To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

    “If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it–the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”

  46. 46
    katansi

    That’s exactly how I feel. These people don’t want to learn. If someone retains or defends an idiotic idea (or IDiotic) after evidence to the contrary, the only logical conclusion is that they are choosing to remain ignorant and what does that say about them? It says they like being stupid. That they value being stupid. The only polite way to call someone a fucking moron is not use the word fucking. The other term is accurate. I don’t give pass for “well they believe ONE dumb thing but look at what else they believe!” No. If you refuse to change a stance despite reality contradicting you, that makes you fucking stupid. If someone makes a cogent argument refuting whatever stupid claim you have and you refuse to do further research or just ignore anything sound that refutes you, and bring it up again with the same lack of evidence, that is voluntary and chronic stupidity and does not deserve respect.

    Selfish reasoning… it doesn’t make me feel better to coddle idiocy either and I’m so past being polite at the expense of my own personal values of accuracy and searching for knowledge. I’m done using kid gloves for stupidity that can be avoided if some critical thought was used.

  47. 47
    nohellbelowus

    We are “lumbering” gene machines, correct?

    Then why, oh why, do we feel so “wronged” by dysfunctional machines that spew racist, homophobic, or sexist sound waves? Unless the machine is making a valid argument, who cares what crazy sound waves are uttered by it?

    That’s all these words are: just sound waves uttered by machines with several screws loose.

    Meh. So fucking what? So the machine with the broken brain spewed a racist insult. Bah. It’s just proven that it is a dumb machine making funny noises.

    This machine (me) doesn’t give a rat’s ass what sound waves emanate from broken machines.

  48. 48
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    How apathetic of you.

  49. 49
    anteprepro

    Then why, oh why, do we feel so “wronged” by dysfunctional machines that spew racist, homophobic, or sexist sound waves? Unless the machine is making a valid argument, who cares what crazy sound waves are uttered by it?

    That’s all these words are: just sound waves uttered by machines with several screws loose.

    Seriously. Does psychology and sociology just not fucking exist? Is it really that hard to understand that racist, homophobic, and sexist shit spewed reflects upon racist, homophobic, and sexist ideas that are used to justify racist, homophobic, and sexist behaviors and/or the support of racist, homophobic, and sexist laws? Is the idea of a culture just too abstract for people to grasp? Yeah, we humans are just meat robots. Meat robots that happen to interact with other meat robots in complex ways and are actively harmed when defective ones start to dictate those interactions. Apologies for being concerned when I hear the screeing and whirring of yet another bot intent on fucking selective other kinds of bots over.

  50. 50
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Ophelia:

    I said Dan had a point about interpersonal insults among people commenting on blog posts. I didn’t take him to be talking about people external to blog posts.

    I worry that Dan’s conflation of *stupid, jerk, or idiot* with *nigger, tranny, or cunt* is a false equivalence he carries with him IRL. While he’s talking about the rules on his blog, which he can control, does he genuinely believe that being called a jerk is the same as being called a cunt? Why on Earth would he think so? It seems indicative of someone with too much privilege. I also hope this doesn’t spill over in some way to his teaching.
    ****
    I’m curious about something else. Slurs or insults related to someone’s unalterable physical or mental characteristics are completely unacceptable in discourse. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Words like stupid, idiot, moron, do those refer to characteristics that are unchangeable? If someone says an ID believer is stupid, can that believer theoretically be able to change their mind? Would they then _not_ be stupid?
    I’ve been called a nigger a handful of times in my life. I can’t change my skin color.
    I’m a gay man. I can’t change that.
    I’ve made mistakes before and been called an idiot or stupid. After rectifying my mistake, I can no longer reasonably be called an idiot or stupid (specific to that mistake). I can change. I can be not stupid.
    Stupid strikes me as a term that some people treat as being equal to retard and I fail to see how that could be the case. The latter is an offensive slur that dehumanizes an individual by calling out their mental capacity that they are unable to alter. Moreover, it has been used towards a minority group of people to treat them as lesser beings. I fail to see how stupid can compare at all, beyond being an insult. I do acknowledge that it is a term that can be used to bully people, but so can many, many other terms (halfwit, idiot, douchebag)

  51. 51
    kassad

    While he’s talking about the rules on his blog, which he can control, does he genuinely believe that being called a jerk is the same as being called a cunt? Why on Earth would he think so? It seems indicative of someone with too much privilege. I also hope this doesn’t spill over in some way to his teaching.

    [Emphasis mine]

    I’ve read the whole thread over there, and maybe I still missed something, but Dan never said that calling someone a jerk is the same thing than calling someone a cunt. He said that they were both insulting someone, thus both bad in his book, but “cunt/tranny/nigger/…” were qualitatively infinitely worse. That is really not the same.

    And stupid can hurt badly, especially if someone has always be called that hir whole life. It far less objectionable but can still hurt badly.

  52. 52
    Anri

    We are “lumbering” gene machines, correct?

    Then why, oh why, do we feel so “wronged” by dysfunctional machines that spew racist, homophobic, or sexist sound waves? Unless the machine is making a valid argument, who cares what crazy sound waves are uttered by it?

    That’s all these words are: just sound waves uttered by machines with several screws loose.

    Meh. So fucking what? So the machine with the broken brain spewed a racist insult. Bah. It’s just proven that it is a dumb machine making funny noises.

    This machine (me) doesn’t give a rat’s ass what sound waves emanate from broken machines.

    “Look, it doesn’t hurt me, so it shouldn’t be important to you, either – we did decide I’m the benchmark for emotional response, right? Or do I need to explain why people who feel more than I do are weak all over again?”

  53. 53
    Epinephrine

    It had to be done.

    Thank you. Thank you SO much, I did a quick search for the words “red” and “uniform”, and cried a little that nobody had gone in that direction. And then I searched for “ruthless,” and you had saved the day.

  54. 54
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    nohellbelowus – lemme guess, straight, white, middle class dude?

  55. 55
    Q.E.D

    It seems to me that Dan Fincke’s language policy is just another susbset of accomodationism. “Oh noes someone might be offended”; “you aren’t communicating properly, you’re not helping”; “we’will loose allies if we are seen to be mean or disrespectful or not subservient enough”. I support the right not to be oppressed by language, I don’t acknowledge a right not to be offended by language.

    Some speakers deserve insults because they are, against all evidence, willfully ignorant/lying/disengenuous/stupid.

    Sometimes offending people and institutions is a rational drawing a line in the sand and saying: I am calling you out on your wilful ignorance/undeserved privilege/assumption of authority/lack of evidence etc. I will not extend civil norms to you because you are an oppressive, dangerous, malignant person/institution. Particularly if that person/institution is actively doing harm.

    Ridicule and refusal to give deference are powerful tools against, for example, the Vatican which derives much of its power from ancient privilege and modern socio-political deference. It uses this power to do unspeakable evil and then demands to be “respected”. Calling Benedict a co-conspirator in a global paedophile ring is certainly offensive to many catholics but it is true and undermines the Vatican’s undeserved power.

    As for the word “stupid” at some point, willful ignorance is stupid and I don’t see the problem with calling it out.

  56. 56
    Quine

    Dr. Fincke has a philosophy blog. He wants to hold that to a specific standard. He has not stated that said standard is appropriate for any other. He has not made various insults “equivalent” any more than saying everyone shorter than six foot six is equivalent; he just does not want those used in his blog.

    Philosophical inquiry stands or falls on the validity of the chain of reason presented and the dept of thought that chain represents. Insults don’t add validity, neither does tone nor font choice nor length of posting, either.

  57. 57
    Michael

    Stupid strikes me as a term that some people treat as being equal to retard and I fail to see how that could be the case. The latter is an offensive slur that dehumanizes an individual by calling out their mental capacity that they are unable to alter. Moreover, it has been used towards a minority group of people to treat them as lesser beings. I fail to see how stupid can compare at all, beyond being an insult. I do acknowledge that it is a term that can be used to bully people, but so can many, many other terms (halfwit, idiot, douchebag)

    But stupid is used both ways. At least where I live. See post 44. I think there is a distinction between calling an action someone did stupid and calling a person stupid. So call a post stupid but don’t call a poster stupid. What’s so difficult about that.

    Michael

  58. 58
    ericatkinson

    Not that I disagree, but how is calling someone an Idiot different tha calling them an Retard. Look up the Binet-Simon concept.

    Hoisted by your own petard.

  59. 59
    ericatkinson

    Fucking typos.

    Stupid, on the other hand might be the proper word.

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