Re: Black goo: Never mind.

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 3 Sep 1997 17:08:02 -0700 (PDT)

> > Tolerance is an obligation /only/ of listeners, not speakers.
> I think this overstates things a bit; I certainly feel no obligation
> to tolerate anything anyone cares to say to me. If someone is
> spewing offensive speech at me, I have zero obligation to listen
> to it: I'll get right up and walk away without a shred of remorse.
> (It's called plonking.) If tolerance is an obligation at all, it
> is an obligation of human beings regardless of their speaking or
> listening roles.

Perhaps it is a simplification. The kind of "tolerance" I mean is
that you not only must refrain from punching him in the nose for his
choice of speech (an obligation, you correctly point out, of all
speakers and listeners), but that you further should not allow the
offensive style of speech, or one's perceived motives of the
speaker, or one's personal opinion of things or people outside the
explicit meaning of the speech itself, to cloud one's judgment of
the value of the ideas, and most importantly, to influence the
availability of the ideas to others. One is free to use speech to
label another speaker a crackpot, but if one goes beyond that and
tries to silence unpopular speech, or judge the ideas of speech
based on the speaker's other beliefs, then one is being an intolerant
(and thereby ineffective) listener.

I do have mixed feelings about plonking individuals; even those
with whom I constantly disagree or share no interest I generally
read cursorily on the chance that an interesting idea may pop up.
After many years on the net without a kill-file of any kind, I must
admit that I now use them. I block spam to my site when I can,
and I have two people whose postings I kill. These latter two
decisions were difficult for me, and I only undertook them with
serious consideration.

> > The obligations of a speaker are clarity and honesty above all else.
> Yes, but a clear and honest speaker who fails to communicate with
> anyone because he drives away his target audience with implicit
> insults before they've really listened to his message isn't
> accomplishing much. I don't think there's anything particularly
> extropic about futile and self-defeating activity.

True enough, but if you only piss off a few intolerant listeners
as a fair price for better communication to the rest, it may be a
good bargain.

[For recent list members, Eric and I have had this particular
discussion before, and you will find it in the archives (I think
the thread title was "Plea")]

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC