RE: META: Dishonest debate (was "cluster bombs")

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Jun 19 2003 - 19:19:43 MDT

  • Next message: Lee Corbin: "META: Free Speech on Extropians"

    Samantha writes

    (I have missed practically all the posts recently, but this one
    came to my attention by chance just now)

    > > > The attacks are baseless slander. They are based on these people
    > > > not jumping on the bandwagon to support the war and the president.
    > > > Any liberal, democratic or peaceful position is being lumped in as
    > > > being anti-American. This is incorrect.
    > >
    > > But doesn't it all depend on how you conceive of what your
    > > proper duties are as a citizen? Is it not also highly parameterized
    > > by circumstances? I'm sure that you can think of many historical
    > > situations (or simulations) in which sufficient danger would exist,
    > > or in which sufficient fealty would be the norm, that it would be
    > > true that "if you are not with us, then you are against us"?
    > No. It is baseless slander to accuse people of supporting persons and groups
    > there is no evidence, except trumped up questionable reading into statements
    > or absence of same, that there is any such support.

    Right. What you literally write here is absolutely correct.
    The particular question concerned the charge (against an
    American) of being "anti-American". It is an exaggeration
    to say that this is necessarily slanderous. It will depend
    on what "anti-American" means: for example, it may mean those
    who are always against American foreign policy. Still, I
    totally agree that such a charge, if not expressed as a possibility
    or phrased as a question, could turn out to be not only wrong,
    but insulting and inflammatory.

    > > I readily understand that you cannot take insults lying down,
    > > and that you need to defend what "anti-American" would mean to
    > > you (not that you and others have neglected this). I myself
    > > doubt the utility or the wisdom of such provocations---yet if
    > > you could (and I don't know---perhaps you've tried) get those
    > > people to explain more concretely what they mean when they use
    > > such terms, perhaps the disagreements would be loftier.
    > Why is the burden of effort on those who are the victims of the
    > slander? The slander itself is against the principles of this list.

    Because, Samantha, it cannot be so easily established that it
    *is* slander! In fact the charge of slander fits into this
    very same category: if it is not expressed as a possibility
    or phrased as a question, then it itself may turn out to be
    wrong, or at least insulting and inflammatory.

    You can't *automatically* declare something to be slander
    and thus make it so!

    > > > These are our friends being accused of war crimes. This is
    > > > excessive. What is going on here?
    > >
    > > What is going on is differing conceptions of what a country
    > > or a nation should be, and the proper amount of allegiance
    > > that is due. ;-) Your cries of "slander" are just as much an
    > > overreaction as theirs of "war-criminal", or "traitor", though
    > > perhaps they did start it. Sorry to keep beating on my theme
    > > here, but it's the underlying assumptions that need to be
    > > argued about, not the surface phenomena.
    > No, I do not believe that is what is going on. Actually real
    > slander is being done and the quotes are misplaced. [To] Point
    > out that it is slander to call any of us a "war criminal" and
    > so on is not in the least on the same level as using those
    > terms against those who oppose some of this country's recent
    > actions.

    "War criminal?" I'm sorry, but do you have a reference of someone
    on this list being called a "war criminal"? I can't find one.

    Anyway, you are absolutely right that to call someone a war criminal
    would qualify as slanderous because the meaning is so concrete, and
    cannot be dismissed.

    > In this country it is also not a matter of debate whether simply
    > disagreeing with the actions of the government and saying so makes
    > one anti_US or unpatriotic much less a "traitor". The freedom to
    > do so is one of the defining principles of this country.

    Absolutely. But in time of war (as in March), the specific meaning
    of traitor ("giving aid and comfort to a nation's enemy", see the
    definition of "treason") makes this less clear.

    The solution is to avoid charging people with this or that. Because
    there will always be counter-charges.


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