Re: Herding Extropycats [was Shame on Australia]

Date: Fri Aug 31 2001 - 19:27:36 MDT

Russell Blackford, <>, writes:
> I have never claimed that anyone on the list is racist, but there is an
> unusually high level of impatience, lack of imagination (of all things!!),
> lack of empathy with racial issues, for example. Why is this? I can see
> nothing in the extropian principles that underpins it. Indeed, I don't even
> see how it follows from libertarianism.

I think it's a reasonably accurate observation, although to be fair I
suspect that if you looked closely you'd find a relatively small number
of vocal list members account for the majority of such statements.

IMO the reason does not have to do with extropianism or libertarianism
per se. Rather, it comes down to a sort of bluntness or rudeness, a
willingness to say things without much care about how it affects other
people's feelings.

I suspect that much of the difference you see from other forums is that
in this list people who have certain kinds of unpopular views feel freer
to speak their minds.

If someone came to another list with a sad story about being oppressed
or misjudged, they'd usually attract a lot of sympathy and concern.
If someone challenged their account or suggested that they were partially
responsible, the critic would probably be shouted down. Especially if
we imagine it to be a racial situation, in 99% of forums it would be
almost unthinkable to publicly say anything that could be construed as
the slightest bit intolerant.

However, chances are there are people in those lists who are thinking
such things. Rightly or wrongly, they look at these situations and they
think that the victim should take on a share of the responsibility.
They feel resentful towards the political correctness which seems to
force everyone to mouth pious slogans.

The difference, I believe, is that here on this list some of these
people speak up. It's not that we necessarily have more people who
believe that society has gone too far in feeling sorry for victims,
it's that here people feel that they can talk openly about it.

Why is this? I would suggest that it has to do more with the fact that
the other ideas that we share are already so unpopular and unaccepted.
People come to extropianism through paths that require them to reject
the common consensus on a number of moral issues. They tend to have a
certain quality of hard-headedness, emphasis on reason, and the will to
follow the facts wherever they go, whether the result is popular or not.

Given this, it is not too surprising that list members have a different
take on a number of social issues. Hard-headed can look like hard-hearted
when society's pendulum is swinging towards emotional concern for the
helpless, which I think is the case if you look at historical trends.

Again, I want to emphasize that I don't think all extropians have such
views but I think a significant percentage do. Here in this forum
people feel free to say things which are unpopular. They don't have
to mince words, they don't have to make careful obeisance to orthodox
views as is necessary in most public forums. People are frank and blunt.

In fact a number of list members pride themselves on rudeness. I've
even seen quasi mathematical arguments offered which try to show that
rude bluntness is the optimal form of social communication. I don't
particularly share such views, but I tolerate them. If you're going to
hang around here, it's a good idea to grow a thick skin.


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