PZ Myers vs. David Smalley: Maybe They’re Both Right?


Being both a 4th Listener and a Freethought Blogger, I knew I had to listen to PZ Myers’ conversation with David Smalley this morning on Dogma Debate. I wasn’t able to take notes because I listened to it while I was driving to work, but I made some mental notes. Overall I think they were both right.

First, here’s a little context to the conversation. Last week, as readers may remember, Joey Lee Kirkman publicly bashed Callie Wright and Ari Stillman of The Gaytheist Manifesto for no reason other than the fact they are both social justice activists (or as Kirkman likes to call us, PSJWs—pseudo social justice warriors). This led Smalley to both write a blog post and upload a short episode of Dogma Debate about the need to handle disagreements privately before they escalate into ugly public spats. Myers responded by writing about how Smalley’s statement was the same old “Let’s be nice to one another” silencing technique people use to brush harmful behavior under the proverbial rug. So Smalley invited Myers on his show to talk about it.

Smalley began the conversation with a story about how he settled a disagreement between Justin Schieber and Peter Boghossian by having them call each other. They still disagree with each other about social issues, but according to Smalley, they’ve learned to disagree respectfully. Myers responded that if someone has a history of being an abusive asshole, you should cut off ties with that person, and Smalley agreed. Smalley also said publicly fat-shaming and misgendering people goes way beyond a petty disagreement (a reference to the Kirkman situation).

After the break, Smalley gave an example of what he means by a petty disagreement. When he first saw the picture of Ellen DeGeneres riding Usian Bolt, he thought it was funny, but then after learning about how white people used to ride slaves, he realized why it was so controversial. Myers then called Smalley out for brushing over the controversy since DeGeneres didn’t intend it to be racist. Smalley then made the mistake of asking Myers if it would be okay if DeGeneres photoshopped a picture of her riding the back of a white sprinter, and Myers said yes because there’s no history of white people being used as animals in America. Myers then said if you want to know if something is racist or not, it’s best to ask an actual person of color instead of discuss it with another white person. The podcast lasted just for an hour, but if you’re a 4th Listener, you can hear the extended show here.

Now maybe I’m being too nicey-nice, but I think both Smalley and Myers made valid points. I used to be all “If you disagree with me, I want nothing to do with you,” but the more involved get with the atheist movement, the more I realize we’re a pretty complex group of people. We all have our blind spots, so it’s not unusual for two skeptics to look at the same piece of empirical data and come up with two completely different interpretations. For example, Smalley once said he thought Black Lives Matter protesters blocking the road was “going too far,” but Alix Jules explained to him why that wasn’t the case. At least they had that conversation so that Smalley could understand where Jules was coming from.

Which brings me to my next point: sometimes dialogue actually does help. In his discussion with Myers, Smalley shared a story about how, after talking to an anti-feminist woman, he was able to change her mind. Likewise, when I wrote about trigger warnings for The Humanist last fall, a lot of people told me it helped them see the issue differently than just the same old YouTube talking points.

As far as whether to discuss these things privately or publicly, I think it depends. I think private conversations are a good way to prevent things from escalating. It was a private conversation that helped me realize I handled the controversy over my “toxic feminists” post badly. Without that conversation, the whole thing might have blown up to something worse.

However, let’s be honest: Trying to have a civil conversation with some people is like casting pearls before swine. I recently tried doing some Street Epistemology on an anti-feminist guy on a friend’s Facebook wall. Maybe I didn’t do it right, but to me it was obvious the other guy only knew YouTube talking points, so we weren’t able to get anywhere. Also, Myers is right when he said intent doesn’t mean anything. You may have accidentally stepped on someone’s toe on a crowded bus, but you still stepped on that toe. You don’t have to do penance for it; just say you’re sorry and be more careful so you don’t step on anyone else’s toes.

The thing I agree with Myers the most is when he said sometimes opinions are more than just mere disagreements. If someone has a history of saying racist and sexist things again and again, chances are that person really is just a racist and sexist asshole. If someone has a history of being abusive towards others, chances are that person is really just an abusive asshole. We don’t need any more abusive, racist, and sexist assholes in the atheist movement, so we shouldn’t have to tolerate them for the sake of “working together for a common goal.” Also, I think DeGeneres should have issued a public apology and explain that at the time, she was ignorant about the history of whites riding on the backs of slaves.

Overall it was an interesting discussion. Not a train wreck, but not perfect, either.

Comments

  1. says

    Based on what PZ said on his blog, the main point of disagreement between him and Smalley was whether to discuss these things privately or publicly. But you mentioned this point only briefly–was it not a big topic in the podcast?

    On the subject of private vs public, I disagree with the assumption private is always the “nicer” way to handle things. Speaking for myself, when people contact me privately I often find it to be very aggressive. They’re demanding that I devote time to respond to them, in such a way that only they could possibly benefit from. They’re demanding that, when I confront them, I do it without any support from my community.

  2. says

    It seemed to me that they were mostly talking past each other. David was generally careful to avoid naming names and drilling down into the details of the various unfriendings and public shamings that he had rolling around in the back of his head, and PZ seemed to be thinking he was being asked to phone up TJ Kirk for a friendly chat.

    The one time that they got down to a specific issue was on the question of whether Ellen Degeneres was performing racism by tweeting a photoshop of her and Usain Bolt, and on that issue neither man budged from their starting position.

  3. Kirklas says

    I could only listen to the one hou, but one thing that really struck me was David smalley constantly and consistently equating calling someone a racist or saying something was mysoginistic with insults. He says it over and over as if saying that someone is racist occupies the same space as saying someone is (Cn ableism) stupid or fat. And that is such an obvious false equivalence you could spend pages dissecting why white guys especially seem to think racist is just an insult rather than a conclusion. He’s like a theist talking about what atheists believe in. If he does really believe that, it doesn’t surprise me that he seems to think the rifts in the atheism can be solved over a beer. And it surprises me less how wrong he is.

  4. huntstoddard says

    Comparing what DeGeneres did to physical harm (whether stepping on a foot or shooting someone) is a false equivalence. Physical harm can’t be negated by understanding; it just is, while the perception of offense is something that can be modulated by the understanding that no offense was intended. Intent Isn’t Magic (IINM) is a pernicious philosophy, a prescription for endless human conflict, and really a meme that needs a stake driven through its heart. Just ask yourself, does the world really need MORE conflict, MORE controversy based on offense taken over often arcane, historically uninformed behavior, or speech? Before you answer, think about conflicts in the Middle-East and elsewhere, the lives lost though petty intolerance that will only be inflamed and exacerbated by a philosophy like IINM. And before you answer, realize that there is more that we individually don’t know than that we do, and all of it is fodder for potential offense. IINM invites us to forego human intelligence and ties us to an absolutism that will lead to human disaster.

    The IINM meme must die.

  5. huntstoddard says

    It has its place in all human conflict, tho of course there are other factor in ME violence. What do you think about the general point that IINM is bad doctrine?

  6. huntstoddard says

    Let’s try this the Socratic way. Why do you think DeGeneres should apologize? Given that it seems everyone can take for granted that she had no racist intent, and considering that even if whites road around on black men piggyback (which I haven’t actually been able to find any reference to on the web). If this has some racist reference, it’s an arcane one. On the other hand, maybe you think the mere depiction of a white woman riding on the back of a black man is racist, regardless of historical record and regardless of humorous content?

      • huntstoddard says

        I’m certainly familiar with sedan chairs (as, apparently is Milo Yiannopoulos). Your link does depict one apparently white woman riding one apparently brown man. The connection we’re trying to establish is one akin to from piggyback riding to wearing blackface. The latter is obviously offensive as established by numerous unfortunate instances (for instance, Ted Danson). The former is an obscure form of humiliation that I didn’t know about, if indeed it was widespread. I’m guess you didn’t either, and neither did 99% of people. The point is, you have to be digging to find offense, unless of course, you just find piggybacking another human being more offensive than any humor in it. You can simply say that, if that’s how you feel.

        • says

          Let’s just reach a general consensus: If you do something problematic, you hear the person out, apologize for your ignorance (in the classic sense of the word), learn from your mistake, and move on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to moving into my new apartment.

  7. chris61 says

    Also, Myers is right when he said intent doesn’t mean anything. You may have accidentally stepped on someone’s toe on a crowded bus, but you still stepped on that toe. You don’t have to do penance for it; just say you’re sorry and be more careful so you don’t step on anyone else’s toes.

    What if someone accuses you of laughing at them on a crowded bus? They were doing something embarrassing and you laughed! But although you laughed, you weren’t laughing at them at all. You didn’t even see them. Should you apologize for their misunderstanding? Won’t an apology be further misconstrued as an acknowledgement that you did in fact laugh at them? Myers is wrong. Intent does matter.

  8. says

    I nominate David for sainthood for not telling PZ to go do something unnatural to himself. PZ was childishly belligerent while remaining willfully deaf to David’s reasonable position against needless flame wars. This was the first time I heard of PZ Myer and I wouldn’t mind if its the last.

  9. polishsalami says

    Even if Myers & Smalley have major disagreements, at least they were able to have a reasonably civil conversation about them.

    If you came across the Talib Kweli Greene-Tarek Fatah-Maajid Nawaz-Sarah Haider Twitter stoush the other day, then you would value civil discourse even more.

  10. says

    @huntstoddard

    Comparing what DeGeneres did to physical harm (whether stepping on a foot or shooting someone) is a false equivalence. Physical harm can’t be negated by understanding; it just is, while the perception of offense is something that can be modulated by the understanding that no offense was intended.

    1) This is not an accurate view of how I have seen people use this. Non-literal comparisons are meant to convey similarity on some of the characteristics and I have never seen anyone use the analogy who did not also know that physical and emotional sensation were different on that measure. The idea they were trying to get across is that offense just is. Offense is based on a person’s previous experiences and one does not have control over being offended.
    2) So what if offense can be modulated. Should it be modulated? If so why? What matters to me is if a particular expression of offense is reasonable or not.

    Intent Isn’t Magic (IINM) is a pernicious philosophy, a prescription for endless human conflict, and really a meme that needs a stake driven through its heart. Just ask yourself, does the world really need MORE conflict, MORE controversy based on offense taken over often arcane, historically uninformed behavior, or speech?

    That all depends on the kind of conflict. Some kinds of conflict should happen.

    Before you answer, think about conflicts in the Middle-East and elsewhere, the lives lost though petty intolerance that will only be inflamed and exacerbated by a philosophy like IINM.

    Seriously? Offense is not about physical conflict. Offense can lead to physical conflict if some of the parties in the initial social conflict choose to get physical. The party that chooses to get physical is responsible for that.

    In fact in the situations that are relevant to this particular debate it’s about social conflict. There are times when social conflicts should happen. How about you actually address the kind of conflict relevant to this situation? I’m hearing complaints about criticism which is at the social conflict level.

    And before you answer, realize that there is more that we individually don’t know than that we do, and all of it is fodder for potential offense. IINM invites us to forego human intelligence and ties us to an absolutism that will lead to human disaster.

    So we don’t know some stuff. Why should I care about that here? If someone is offended by something I’m more interested in why they are offended. For example, why are you specifically offended by Intent Isn’t Magic? You do realize that you are expressing offense right? Offense is a mixture of anger and disgust, a combination of a desire for something to go away by being rejected by society. It’s a social appeal as much as it is an individual expression. Just as in the example of the Photoshop a person wanted displays that suggest black people as beasts of burden to go away, you want Intent Isn’t Magic to go away. Maybe you should modulate your offense? On one hand we have people feeling burned by criticism, and on the other we have people experiencing racism who want to change social messages that can impact on that. I know whose offense I have more sympathy for.

    Offense is a perfectly natural human emotion that has served us well. Like all the other emotions it has good and bad expressions. It’s simply not going anywhere no matter what you want. It’s far better and more mature to be able to learn how to successfully deal with offense and be able to understand why people get offended and what things are worth respecting in terms of why people might get offended.

    The IINM meme must die.

    As an expression of human instinct, the way that offense rises up in one’s mind upon seeing something that evokes it will simply not go away so suggesting that a saying that describes this “must die” is frankly ridiculous.

    • huntstoddard says

      Thanks for your lengthy reply.

      You say people have no control over being offended, that it’s an automatic response based on their experience. I disagree. Offense is an intellectual response that can be overridden, even where there was once knee jerk offense, especially when the offense is understood as unintended. You might say, why would someone want to overrule their own reflexive response; why not change the behavior of the person giving offense? Well, this is where things get complicated. If the threshold for offense is set so low that every individual or group is offended multiple times a day, demanding altered behavior, our society is going to grind to a halt. And in the twitter age it would take relatively few people to do it.

      Beyond that it’s really a philosophical position. If no offense was intended, was there ever any offense given? It depends on point of reference. If offense is decided by the receiver then IINM is true; if offense is determined by the giver then IINM is false. Society seems to have taken the middle road, as usual. It’s a combination of both. You can’t show up in blackface and simply plead ignorance, not at this point, after numerous unfortunate incidents.

      Why should some responses be modulated? In the interests of peace and goodwill, pretty much, that’s my entire argument. So you’re hitchhiking in a foreign country, sticking your thumb up, only to learn later that it has some ghastly connotation about having sex with a family member. Intent is magic? Perhaps, if the driver is an educated person, knowing that hand gesture probably means something else and there’s a high probability that you’re a foreign tourist. And this is another of my points: You might think that excusing intent caters to ignorance, but so does IINM! Once again, it’s a matter of reference point.

      Okay, the Middle East thing. It was probably unwise to mention it, since now two people have balked at it. The topic is already complicated without opening another can of worms. However I do believe IINM plays a part in all human conflict, the part of mixed signals and misunderstanding, and you’re right, offense doesn’t equal violence, but in reality of course, it often leads to it.

      You say offense isn’t going anywhere, well of course. Intended offense will always be intended offense; it’s part of our constitution. But the circumstances of UN-intended offense are much more complicated than that. It relies on the understanding–and intent–of the giver, and the understanding, and often intentions of the receiver. There are people who search for offense. In fact they seem to love it, for whatever reason it serves a purpose.

      Unfortunately I think that part of the human condition isn’t going away either.

  11. huntstoddard says

    One more point,

    As an expression of human instinct, the way that offense rises up in one’s mind upon seeing something that evokes it will simply not go away so suggesting that a saying that describes this “must die” is frankly ridiculous.

    It’s the meme that I mean, not instinctual response, and I note that more than likely anything evoking that kind of visceral response was probably intended, not the product of ignorance. E.g. Ellen piggybacking a black man is offensive to intellect for some people. They THINK about it. It is in no way instinctual. That which is thought can be overridden by thought. If you doubt that, then you’re not giving intellect enough credit.

  12. says

    @huntstoddard

    You say people have no control over being offended, that it’s an automatic response based on their experience. I disagree. Offense is an intellectual response that can be overridden, even where there was once knee jerk offense, especially when the offense is understood as unintended. You might say, why would someone want to overrule their own reflexive response; why not change the behavior of the person giving offense? Well, this is where things get complicated. If the threshold for offense is set so low that every individual or group is offended multiple times a day, demanding altered behavior, our society is going to grind to a halt. And in the twitter age it would take relatively few people to do it.

    You are still not describing things accurately, and you are attributing things to me that I did not say.

    1) At no time did I suggest that we “have no control over being offended”. Being offended is a felt state and all felt responses can be acted on based on how we were role-modeled or how we previously experienced the object of offense, or we can inhibit our response to feeling offended for various reasons (introspecting to determine if the response was appropriate or coming up with more than one response). The application of intellect is independent of the in the moment feeling and the learned responses that exist in a person feeling offense at a specific moment.

    2) The feeling of being offended is automatic and out of our control. It appears in one’s mind without conscious prompting and still exists in the person who chooses not to act on it. Would you suggest that offense at two male people kissing is an intellectual response? That shit is automatic in people who have been raised in a society that portrays such as disgusting and worthy of anger.

    3) Citation needed or I will simply consider this hyperbolic bullshit “… every individual or group is offended multiple times a day, demanding altered behavior, our society is going to grind to a halt.”

    Many groups are offended at specific things that can be discussed while society moves forward. I’ve been able to change my behavior on many of these things and I still participate in society successfully. I get criticism from people that want me to stop criticizing them and I still participate in society successfully. Inability to deal with the conflict that results from offending another is a human weakness because it leaves you unable to successfully deal with people that one offends (which may explain your unrealistic views of offense and desire to have people stop expressing that offense is something that is experienced independent of intent). It’s simply a matter of fact that we will offend someone at some point so we should be able to understand it realistically and deal with it constructively.

    4) You are still not giving me any good reason for why I should modulate my feelings of offense as #3 seems to merely be catastrophic thinking to me, society will simply not “grind to a halt”. This is especially important because I can simply assert that you modulate your negative feelings related to being criticized or seeing someone criticized and I would be meeting you at the same level. I’m fine with this because you are trying to convince me and those like me to change our behavior and we can simply tell you “NO” leaving you to deal with the reality of people getting criticized for their behavior.

    Beyond that it’s really a philosophical position. If no offense was intended, was there ever any offense given? It depends on point of reference. If offense is decided by the receiver then IINM is true; if offense is determined by the giver then IINM is false. Society seems to have taken the middle road, as usual. It’s a combination of both. You can’t show up in blackface and simply plead ignorance, not at this point, after numerous unfortunate incidents.

    Utter bullshit. That is not how emotions work. If someone was offended the feeling of offense simply exists independent of your feelings about it or any philosophical implications. Any philosophical implications exist outside of the reality of the feeling state. You might think that they should not feel offended but that does not make it go away. Yes, offense was still given because the feeling of offense was elicited. It exists. Period. End of subject. It’s time to move on to how one reacts to the person who is feeling offended unless you can actually demonstrate that intent somehow modifies feeling of offense as it is being experienced outside of situations where people have already chosen to modulate how they experience offense (which are a subset of ways of responding to feelings of offense and occurs after automatically feeling offended and introspecting about it).

    Why should some responses be modulated? In the interests of peace and goodwill, pretty much, that’s my entire argument. So you’re hitchhiking in a foreign country, sticking your thumb up, only to learn later that it has some ghastly connotation about having sex with a family member. Intent is magic? Perhaps, if the driver is an educated person, knowing that hand gesture probably means something else and there’s a high probability that you’re a foreign tourist. And this is another of my points: You might think that excusing intent caters to ignorance, but so does IINM! Once again, it’s a matter of reference point.

    This is way too polarized and shallow to accurately represent reality. There has to be a place in society for expressions of offense of any kind to be fairly considered. We don’t always get peace when things need to be changed in society, and constructively dealing with expressions of offense are not going to eliminate good will. Good will is not even a binary here as I do not have good will towards people like homophobes on the matter of homophobic expressions, yet I do have good will on other matters.

    I notice that you don’t even consider why the gesture is considered bad. Gestures also relate to political communication, communication and other communication related to group conflict, not just a shallow and insulting suggestions about sex.

    The idea that Intent Isn’t Magic caters to ignorance here is laughable. That is only true if the person offended by the criticism refuses to understand why someone is offended. In any social conflict understanding the reasons for the conflict are necessary to solving it unless one simply wants to end it through neglect or suppression of the offended person. You merely asserted that it caters to ignorance which is really fucking lazy.

    You say offense isn’t going anywhere, well of course. Intended offense will always be intended offense; it’s part of our constitution. But the circumstances of UN-intended offense are much more complicated than that. It relies on the understanding–and intent–of the giver, and the understanding, and often intentions of the receiver. There are people who search for offense. In fact they seem to love it, for whatever reason it serves a purpose.

    Why are you going on about intended offense? This is about unintended offense and in both cases the offended person feel offended as a rapid unconscious feeling, and they are both complicated as causing intentional offense is often a valid strategy in a social conflict. It’s perfectly appropriate to express one’s feeling of offense at unintended offence.

    Intent simply does nothing to change the fact that feelings of offense simply are when they are elicited. Intent only comes into play after the offense is elicited. We might have that conversation later if you want but your feelings about the matter do not change that reality. The existence of the offense and the intent of the person eliciting offense are separate things and the intent simply does no work in the moment that offense is elicited in the most general sense (more on that below).
    Your reference to people “searching for offense” makes no sense in this context. It’s nothing but a rhetorical twist of the actual perspective to suggest that some people are offended by things that you don’t consider to be worth feeling offended by. It has no basis in reality and outside of an insulting non-literalism that suggesting that a claim of offense be ignored. The only other possibility is that you think such people are lying about being offended.

    So either drop the strategic non-literalisms if you wish to have a reality based discussion, continue to use them and we can continue in a conflict posture where we are more interested in an audience than what the other person is really saying, or prove that such people are lying. Your choice.

    It’s the meme that I mean, not instinctual response, and I note that more than likely anything evoking that kind of visceral response was probably intended, not the product of ignorance. E.g. Ellen piggybacking a black man is offensive to intellect for some people. They THINK about it. It is in no way instinctual. That which is thought can be overridden by thought. If you doubt that, then you’re not giving intellect enough credit.

    The point is irrelevant. The meme refers to something that really exists, the fact that intent has no functional role in eliciting the feeling of offense. Dropping the meme is effectively a request that people stop using a communication device that effectively gets a point across and would simply be replaced by a new one for the associated emotions and instincts to attach to if somehow part of society were able to prevent its use. Such a thing has no value outside of a social conflict context and that value only benefits people who don’t want to be criticized for causing offense, so naturally I would refuse to cooperate with you there.

  13. huntstoddard says

    Let me say where I agree and disagree, summarize and recap. Maybe we’re not too far afield from each other, or maybe so.

    According to your numbering sheme:

    1 and 2) I agree that offense as more or less an instantaneous feeling exists regardless of the intent of the person causing it. The question is what happens next? An analogy might be a person startled by another coming around a corner. It’s an analogy, of course, the emotions are different, but it has some use. The startle response is instant. Is there fault with the startle-r, and should the startl-ee take offense? Well, first of all the startler almost always immediately proffers apology, but this I think is usually just a polite perfunctory apology. The fact is the startler has done nothing wrong. What if the startlee now demands apology? He was startled, damn it! No matter what the intent of the startler, he was startled. Does he get his forced apology? Should he?

    Ok, just an analogy, take it for what it’s worth. I note there are similarities to the DeGeneres case; she was no doubt mortified by the response she got. I don’t recall it exactly, but she likely offered perfunctory apology. Now what else do we demand of her?

    Well, if you’re PZ, quite a lot, actually. I was only privy to the first half of the Smalley interview, but PZ made plain that DeGeneres was guilty of at very least carelessness and hinted there might be other, more nefarious factors at play, implicit racism! DeGeneres, like all of us, was raised in a racist society, and no matter how much she pleaded innocence, or “that’s not who I am,” that was indeed who she was, she just didn’t know it! PZ seems to have stepped himself back a bit on this in the mean time. This is the type of reflexive paranoia IINM seems to generate. At minimum, it’s searching for offense, and people do it. It has utility for people, for whatever reason they might have. I don’t care to speculate or go into it.

    3) I don’t care if it’s hyperbole; so what if it is? Hyperbole is a perfectly valid form of rhetoric. So what if society won’t grind to a halt, that’s not the point. Being needlessly concerned with offense where none was intended is a phenomenal waste of time; it breaks relations; it spoils careers, and I’m not even being hyperbolic!

    4) Well I think I am giving you good reason, you just don’t agree. Keeping squabble and controversy to a minimum is a perfectly good reason. Isn’t there already plenty of 100% intended offense to keep us busy all by itself?

    By the way, turning the chairs around on me and suggesting that I modulate my response to “calling out” unintended offense doesn’t work, so you might as well quit. Calling out unintended offense in INTENDING offense, so it isn’t in the purview of IINM. Be that as it may, I’m quite willing to modulate my offense at IINM. I’ve already stated that there are certain cases, like showing up in blackface, where I’m perfectly OK with IINM. Here’s the thing, it’s Intent Isn’t Magic, not Intent Doesn’t Matter. I’m quite willing to say that IINM makes some sense when taken literally. The problem is that most people apply it as Intent Doesn’t Matter. At all. But intent is not magic, it doesn’t instantly heal all wounds. So I agree.

    4 after “Utter bullshit”) An as yet unspoken part of this discussion is blame and where to place it. Some of us seem to be conditioned to believe that if there is harm (offense) there must always be a party to blame. Someone has to pay up; someone must be punished. I consider this a vestige of authoritarianism in our society. It’s harmful, and what’s more, it’s not true! With regard to IINM this came to me rather pointedly a couple of years ago when I encountered what must have been IINM’s vile apotheosis.

    Likely you don’t recall, and there’s no way I can produce the links, so you’re just going to have to trust me, but a couple years ago the view was tentatively forwarded on some blogs and comments that even offense given my the mentally ill were not to be excused. Even a person undergoing a psychotic break who, say, exposed himself, was not to be excused. Being a person with a family member with serious mental illness, this hit me with full force. This is a vindictive philosophy. It invites vindictiveness and entices out base instincts to find blame, to punish,and to not understand.

    And it is counter to any worthy moral and ethical system. Honestly I don’t see how any decent, intelligent person can support it in any absolute form. Intent Does Matter! And, Sometimes there’s nobody to blame!

    Thankfully, this particularly radical form of IINM seems to have receded back to Hell, whence it came.

  14. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    One nit:

    Also, Myers is right when he said intent doesn’t mean anything. You may have accidentally stepped on someone’s toe on a crowded bus, but you still stepped on that toe. You don’t have to do penance for it; just say you’re sorry and be more careful so you don’t step on anyone else’s toes.

    Disagreed.

    I agree to the general statement that “intent is not magic”, which often means that intent does not completely absolve oneself of wrongdoing when one is morally responsible for that accidental mistake. However, intent does matter. Intent is mitigating. Intent is important. If someone accidentally stepped on my toe, and apologized, then that could be over quite quickly with no lasting problems. If someone purposefully stepped on my toe, and tried to give the same apology as the first case, then that’s probably not good enough, and there’s going to be some lasting problems unless better apologies or reparations are made, or something.

    • says

      Good point. Like I said, I’m sure Ellen didn’t mean anything by it, but she still accidentally stepped on some toes.

      BTW, when I saw your screen name, I immediately thought, “Oh great, another Classical Liberal who thinks criticizing YouTube talking points is censorship!” But you brought up a good point.

      • EnlightenmentLiberal says

        To Trav
        Yea, sorry about that. I understand the difference between free speech and freeze peach, and I often cite that great xkcd on free speech.
        https://xkcd.com/1357/
        I’m still a classical liberal at heart ala John Stuart Mill, which means I will have some unorthodox positions sometimes. However, the term “classical liberal” is a term that is often appropriated wrongly by modern-day libertarians, and I am no libertarian. I call myself “a card-carrying Marxist”; “Marxist” in the academic sense of the word as someone who subscribes to a certain kind of critic and analysis of capitalism, and not the meaning “communist”. Generally, I swing social-democrat.

        I’m sure I have many detractors around here, but I shouldn’t have any legitimate complaints for being a freeze peach fool nor being a libertarian.

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