Re: Plea (was ExI: Cognitive Extropians)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 14:19:50 -0800 (PST)

> I believe that we may be talking about different types of offense here.
> My concern centers around power dynamics and the ways in which
> persons are belittled and controlled through intimidation and verbal
> bashing. Language as a primary mechanism of social control.

Language /can/ be used to manipulate instead of to learn. But from
that fact to deduce that the appropriate response is to ban manipulative
speech is the same old fallacy that gave us prohibition and gun control.
The remedy to that problem is to make ourselves less susceptible to
being manipulated. Empowerment, not repression.

> Your statement regarding generalizations is telling. Most minorities
> do NOT consider generalizations to be 'just' generalizations, and
> most conflict theorists consider them to be legitimate causes of anger.
> After all, these generalizations were used to hold people back all these
> years, and minorities are sick of hearing them. They certainly have
> no place in advanced intelligent discussion. As I write this, I
> wonder why this isn't a completely obvious point to persons like us...

Because it's wrong. Generalizations /are/ appropriate tools of reason.
When I say "generalization", you hear "stereotype", which is a specific
class of generalization that has additional features: it is usually false,
it serves to denegrate a group or to justify mistreatment of them, and
they are usually held dogmatically rather than rationally. They should
be fought because they are irrational. "Blacks are mentally inferior"
is a hateful thing not because it is a generalization, but because it
is clearly at odds with the observed facts, and was used to justify
policies that were plainly unjust and harmful. "Whites are athletically
inferior" is just a generalization. It is not offered to justify not
inviting whites to a team tryout, or to justify laws against them, or
to personally denegrate whites; it's just an observation from the plain
facts like membership of the NFL and NBA, and is a proper tool to use
for investigating what might cause this effect. Is it because many
blacks in the US are descendents of the hardy survivors of the slave
trade? Is it because black culture encourages athletics more in young
children? Can we look at the exceptions to the rule (say, the Boston
Celtics) and find any parallels or differences that are suggestive?

The proper weapon to attack hateful speech is not supression, but
rational argument.