Re: _The Apology_, Part II

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Mon Jun 26 2000 - 00:26:08 MDT

>From: Brian Manning Delaney <>

FWIW, I appreciate your attempt to rebuild a thoroughly obliterated bridge.
For that reason, I offer these thoughts:

>I had a long, painful, but ultimately productive and interesting
>discussion with friends today about this. Although I remain extremely
>disturbed and angry about many aspects of these proceedings, something
>fruitful might be nonetheless be salvaged if we reflect on a number of
>important issues. One is how this example can be analyzed as a case of
>clearly (in my view) decent people coming into conflict over relatively
>Far more importantly, and interestingly, is how this can shed light on
>group dynamics, above all the social psychology of opinion-formation.
>What needs explanation is: EVERYRONE I talked with who knows me thought
>I was entirely in the right (while noting that I at times wasn't turning
>the other cheek where some people might -- but I have strong convictions
>about that, which I'm also currently questioning), yet virtually
>EVERYONE on Extropians thought pretty much the opposite.

First, you should not be surprised when people who know you tell you that
you are "in the right." Particularly while you are engaged in a long,
painful discussion with them. People who know you have a much broader
contextual background against which to measure your behavior. Their history
with you likely has already persuaded them that you are a person of
intelligence and integrity. They are invested in their relationship with
you, and therefore have reason to protect that investment by "being there"
for you when you need it. Does this mean that they are blowing smoke when
they tell you that you are "in the right" or that they are so biased as to
be incapable of objectively evaluating the situation? Not necessarily, but

Second, you have again made one of the same mistakes that got this whole
mess going. You have assumed that the people on this list are of one mind
on this (or any) issue. Your earlier comments about anti-semitism painted
all the participants on this list with the same broad brush. You are doing
it again by saying that we all thought you were in the wrong. I personally
never thought you were wrong to express your opinions. In fact I'm not so
sure that all the opinions you expressed were completely in error. I have a
feeling I'm not alone. Yet, as a participant on this list, I am painted
with the same broad brush as every other fungible Extropian.

Where I thought you were in error is: (1) your tendency to make a mountain
out of a mole hill; and, especially, (2) the beligerent and insensitive way
in which you expressed yourself while constructing that mountain.

My suggestions:

(1) When posting online, consider the audience. If you are communicating
with strangers, don't make the mistake that they will assume you to be a
person of intelligence and integrity like your old friends will. If you
think there is any reasonable chance that unwarranted offense might be taken
by your post, take every measure to avoid the possibly offensive language.

(2) When disagreements flare up (as they inevitably will), do not respond
while your emotions are flaring. Walk away from the computer, go for a bike
ride, drink a beer, whatever, and come back to the keyboard with an open and
clear-thinking mind.

(3) Always remember: whatever the topic is, its not *that* important.
There's no need to feel that your integrity rides on every exchange you have
on the list. 90% of what goes on here could probably qualify as mental
masturbation anyway. If its enjoyable, go with it. If its a pain, its
simply not worth it. If you really come across a jerk online, there is
nothing you can do to stop him from (a) being a jerk, (b) acting like a
jerk, or (c) realizing that he is a jerk. That's simply the nature of


"I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
--Thomas Jefferson

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