RE: racism & uncomfortable discussions

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 23:49:06 MDT

Miriam writes

> Molloy and Lorrey didn't discuss racism. And it really has little to do
> with uncomfortable ideas. If the discussion was about ways to solve the
> problem of racial inequality, noting that many of the poorest segments of
> society are predominantly black, then yes it would have been something
> people would have felt uncomfortable about, but discussion may have been a
> heck of a lot more profitable.

In what way would people have felt threatened by a discussion
about how to "solve" the problem of racial inequality. Perhaps
you mean that some would be uncomfortable at the thought of
using government to do it? Yes, I think you are right about that.

I note your use of their last names. Do I infer correctly that
if you agreed with them, you would refer to them differently?
If so, do you approve of the general principle of referring to
people differently based upon whether we agree with them or not?

> But some of the puke that Lorrey and Molloy came up with did
> not amount to discussion and it is no wonder it was pounced
> upon by many here.

Puke? Can you honestly defend the use of such language? You
know, you are supporting the contention that many liberals
(or whatever they're called where you come from) really are
less capable of being fair and objective in discussion. (I
have not seen enough evidence of that, but you are adding
to what evidence there is.)

>> First, do you know that "plonked" means that someone
>> has engaged an automatic process by which (roughly speaking)
>> a certain person's posts never even get to his mailbox?
>> If this isn't a frightened tactic of self-censorship, then
>> I don't know what is. (I hasten to add, that quite often
>> experienced discussion list members employ plonking not to
>> prevent their eyes from meeting disagreeable points of view,
>> but rather because someone's posts over a great deal of time
>> have shown themselves to be without content, or too long, or
>> some other non-partisan cause.)
> ...yes, I understand "plonk".
> And no, it wasn't a "frightened tactic" at all. I found Lorrey's posts to
> be of no use to me, and his aggressiveness was tainting my email
> experience... I was almost coming to dread reading the list. Molloy didn't
> seem to have anything worthwhile either. This list is very active, and I
> found this a way to bring it back within manageable size. Both are
> extremely frequent posters, and I get about 100 emails a day (mostly
> computing & VR lists) without the extropians list. As someone else here
> said: time is the most precious resource.
> It took me a fair while for me to come to the decision to filter them out.
> I didn't want to lose the possibility of useful thoughts from someone who
> was just having a bad day... or a bad week.
> I was considering starting a thread on plonking as I do consider it a
> potentially dangerous thing to do. Being a tech nerd, I am very aware of
> the dangers of positive feedback loops.

I'm sorry, but I don't entirely believe that you plonked
them because of the frequency of their posts, and the fact
that they had nothing "worthwhile" to say. You can refute
me by saying how many other people you have plonked, oh,
say in the last year---*who were not ideological adversaries
of yours*!

If you can say that during the last year there have been
quite a number---and it wasn't just because you disagreed
with them---then I will know that the size of your mailbox
and the quality of posts actually is the reason for your

>> Second, what that person said "I'm not racist. I can't
>> help that blacks are stupid." is *not* necessarily absurd,
>> as you claim. It may be entirely wrong; it may be a gross
>> over-generalization; it may be so utterly an unqualified
>> assertion that it absolutely demands refutation---but it's
>> not absurd.

> Oh, come on Lee. You don't seriously think that, surely. :-)
> Of *course* it is absurd. The first statement, that he was
> not racist, is clearly contradicted by the second, a racist
> statement if ever there was one.

Um, yes, I do. It is possible that he isn't a racist, but
is extremely careless in qualifying his statements. See my
other criticisms of his statement above.

>>As Jerry Mitchell has written,
>>we must very precisely face square-on those assertions with which
>>we disagree, if we are not to simply paper them over, and let
>>their inaccuracy fester.
> Jerry Mitchell doesn't make a lot of sense if you ask me.
> The words sound noble, that we face up to contrary opinions, but practical
> considerations intrude. Endlessly debating racism as a potentially valid
> viewpoint every time it reared its ugly head might be OK if we were already
> immortal, but who has the time? You only need to show it is a mistake once
> then move on. Avoid wrestling with a pig -- the pig enjoys it and you get
> covered in mud.

It sounds to me as if you underestimate the deepness of ideological
disagreements. You cannot expect to "show some view is a mistake"
only once, as if it were an exercise in algebra. Here, you also
equate some people, by metaphor, to pigs---I am certain that you
don't really mean that. But the carelessness of your remarks (e.g.,
"pig" and "puke") show that you have little worry about negative
emotions affecting your rational decisions and statements.


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