Random Politics Thread

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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-07-24, 14:53

Saim wrote:Although I'm not sure how much the Russian government is actually willing to compromise in Syria, regardless of how many concessions the US makes...

Spoiler alert: It's not.
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby Meera » 2017-07-26, 15:50

Asshole Drumpf just banned Trans people from serving in the military.
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-07-26, 17:12

Meera wrote:Asshole Drumpf just banned Trans people from serving in the military.

Well, that's what he's tweeted. It remains to be seen what actual policy will result from this. There's been a de facto ban on trans recruits for over a year while the Pentagon assesses the impact. Despite that, Secretary of Defense Mattis is widely thought to be in favour of lifting it. (He's currently on vacation and given how Trump operates, it's impossible to say whether or not he took that into account when making his announcement.)

Of course--as with LGBQ individuals--you can't ban trans people from serving, you can only ban them from serving openly. And there will be legal challenges. An advocacy organisation called OpenServe is preparing one and I expect they'll be joined by Lambda Legal.
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby Osias » 2017-07-26, 17:47

How do they enunciate something like this? People serving can't 'transition'? But how is transition legally defined?
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-07-26, 20:03

Dang, the more you look into this story the worse it gets. There's a very cogent summary here: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/26/trump-transgender-military-ban-behind-the-scenes-240990?cmpid=sf.

tl;dr: Republicans were fighting over a proposal in a defence spending bill that would have banned using DoD funds to pay for gender-transition surgery. The version with the ban failed, so the losers went running to the White House and Bannon told Trump to do something. So he did.

One White House aide was quoting as saying, "This is like someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire."
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby mōdgethanc » 2017-07-26, 20:39

1. Appealing to the cost of SRS is hilarious considering it's a drop in the bucket compared to the astronomical cost of medical care for all veterans who are wounded in combat.

2. The Freedom Caucus backed this move which proves that libertarians really don't care about freedom at all unless it's only for white male cishets.

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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby Yasna » 2017-07-26, 21:55

linguoboy wrote:tl;dr: Republicans were fighting over a proposal in a defence spending bill that would have banned using DoD funds to pay for gender-transition surgery. The version with the ban failed, so the losers went running to the White House and Bannon told Trump to do something. So he did.

I'm surprised that a ban on using DoD funds for gender-transition surgery wasn't a shoo-in with Republicans. That party can't agree on anything these days.
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-07-26, 23:31


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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby md0 » 2017-08-10, 20:13

That story about the "Google memo" and the immediate dismissal of the author reminded me of that background sense of anxiety I have that we forgot how to debate.

I don't want to comment on the Google memo itself, I haven't read it yet but I have some tabs pinned in my browser for future reference.

But yeah, this is the era of entrenched positions, and every political strand is guilty of this. "We'd rather fast-track you to the neo-nazi camp instead of debating your ideas from our progressive POV".

Not that I think we should be freeze peach fundamentalists and that the truth is always in the middle or anything like that.
There are political ideas that are plain wrong, and there are occasions were disrupting a propaganda opportunity of a certain figure is the right thing to do.
But there are other occasions were the right thing to do is to engage, and debate. Not necessarily politely - intellectual and ideological honesty are better than politeness.

I was talking with someone from Greece last night, and at one point I said to him that there's one positive about how few anarchists there are in Cyprus: it means that we can never create a bubble for ourselves. We are all forced to engage, even if many people I know would rather not to.
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-08-10, 22:53

I think you're creating a false dichotomy. Engaging people with opposing viewpoints in a debate does not require giving them free reign to create a hostile environment for their coworkers. We can still engage Damore and his supporters all we care to. He just won't be drawing a Google paycheck while we do this--and not for ideological reasons but for work-related ones.

This is one of the most thorough and reasonable responses I've seen to his manifesto from a former Google employee whose job it was to deal with the Damores of the world: https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788. It's worth reading in its entirety, but here are the paragraphs most directly relevant to the issue:
Yonatan Zunger wrote:I need to be very clear here: not only was nearly everything you said in that document wrong, the fact that you did that has caused significant harm to people across this company, and to the company’s entire ability to function. And being aware of that kind of consequence is also part of your job, as in fact it would be at pretty much any other job. I am no longer even at the company and I’ve had to spend half of the past day talking to people and cleaning up the mess you’ve made. I can’t even imagine how much time and emotional energy has been sunk into this, not to mention reputational harm more broadly.

And as for its impact on you: Do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you? I certainly couldn’t assign any women to deal with this, a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face, and even if there were a group of like-minded individuals I could put you with, nobody would be able to collaborate with them. You have just created a textbook hostile workplace environment.

Just this week, we had to deal with one of my direct reports for speaking out of turn. He's free to disagree with anyone he wants to, but because he used his work e-mail account to do so on work time, it's become a full-blown incident involving two deans and the provost. He's not being disciplined for having ideological differences. He's being disciplined for sucking at his job (which requires using communication channels properly and having a rudimentary understanding of organisational politics).
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby md0 » 2017-08-11, 6:31

I already said that I'm not commenting on the Google Memo because I haven't read it and any discussions about it yet.
And I was careful not to rule out actions like that.

Not that I think we should be freeze peach fundamentalists and that the truth is always in the middle or anything like that.
There are political ideas that are plain wrong, and there are occasions were disrupting a propaganda opportunity of a certain figure is the right thing to do.


It's worrying when this is the only tactic we ever use though.
Because we want to win people over to our cause, we want to transform the society. We don't just want to get the racists and the sexists out of our own (algorithmically curated) reality but leave them continue to be bigots out of our field of view.
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-08-11, 15:46

md0 wrote:It's worrying when this is the only tactic we ever use though.

It's not the only tactic we ever use. Plenty of people took to the Internet to respectfully (or disrespectfully) refute Damore's (or MY's or Spencer's or whoever else's) views before Google fired him (or Simon & Schuster dropped him or some dude punched him). Like I said, false dichotomy.

You'd be right at home with the editorial board of the Economist, though. They wrote today that instead of firing Damore, Google should have kept him on staff and asked the CEO to author a counter-manifesto explaining why he was wrong. My reaction to that is:

No, fuck this guy. This is every entitled white man on the Internet demanding that his ignorant hateful views be given the same careful consideration as the work of experts. This guy isn't worth two minutes of Sundar Pichai's time. Debating his ideas lends them a legitimacy which they don't deserve. The world is going to give him a platform to air them anyway--he'll be the new darling of MRA circuit. Let's the rest of us move on actually focus on real problems that need fixing.
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby razlem » 2017-08-11, 17:40

linguoboy wrote:No, fuck this guy. This is every entitled white man on the Internet demanding that his ignorant hateful views be given the same careful consideration as the work of experts. This guy isn't worth two minutes of Sundar Pichai's time. Debating his ideas lends them a legitimacy which they don't deserve. The world is going to give him a platform to air them anyway--he'll be the new darling of MRA circuit. Let's the rest of us move on actually focus on real problems that need fixing.


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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby md0 » 2017-08-11, 22:12

linguoboy wrote:You'd be right at home with the editorial board of the Economist, though. They wrote today that instead of firing Damore, Google should have kept him on staff and asked the CEO to author a counter-manifesto explaining why he was wrong. My reaction to that is:

No, fuck this guy. This is every entitled white man on the Internet demanding that his ignorant hateful views be given the same careful consideration as the work of experts. This guy isn't worth two minutes of Sundar Pichai's time. Debating his ideas lends them a legitimacy which they don't deserve. The world is going to give him a platform to air them anyway--he'll be the new darling of MRA circuit. Let's the rest of us move on actually focus on real problems that need fixing.


Ok, you are just strawmanning now.

This is the third time I have to state that I am not commenting on that case, because I haven't read the memo, or any other article on the topic.

I don't want to comment on the Google memo itself, I haven't read it yet but I have some tabs pinned in my browser for future reference.


I already said that I'm not commenting on the Google Memo because I haven't read it and any discussions about it yet.
And I was careful not to rule out actions like that.


From the very beginning I said that reading that headline reminded me of something I always have in the background, especially drawing from discussions I have in the political spaces I am in. And those discussions aren't about Google, they are about local issues.
I was talking with someone from Greece last night, and at one point I said to him that there's one positive about how few anarchists there are in Cyprus: it means that we can never create a bubble for ourselves. We are all forced to engage, even if many people I know would rather not to.
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-08-11, 23:08

md0 wrote:But yeah, this is the era of entrenched positions, and every political strand is guilty of this. "We'd rather fast-track you to the neo-nazi camp instead of debating your ideas from our progressive POV".

I'm curious; where are you getting this impression from? I'm not sure whether
a) it's something specific to Cyprus you're referring to or
b) it's world politics in general that you're referring to, and the only reason why I'm confused by what you mean is because I don't read the news often enough,
but either way, I honestly have no idea what you're talking about. Sorry. (Actually, I didn't have any idea what this whole "Google memo" thing was, either, until linguoboy posted a relevant link).
There are political ideas that are plain wrong, and there are occasions were disrupting a propaganda opportunity of a certain figure is the right thing to do.
But there are other occasions were the right thing to do is to engage, and debate. Not necessarily politely - intellectual and ideological honesty are better than politeness.

I feel that sometimes, even if you're talking with someone who has political ideas that are just plain wrong, it still can help to engage if you're feeling up to it. Not often, but sometimes. Not all of us are stubborn. At least not always. :P
Ok, you are just strawmanning now.

This is the third time I have to state that I am not commenting on that case, because I haven't read the memo, or any other article on the topic.

I'm sorry to hear you feel that way, but no, this is the first time you're saying that you're not commenting on any part of the case at all (if I understood you correctly this time?). Until now, you only said you weren't commenting on the memo itself. I'm sure you can see that's not quite the same thing. So maybe linguoboy was confused about what you were talking about, too.

Also, if you never read any articles about this Google memo thing, then how did it manage to remind you of anything at all? How did you even know there is a Google memo thing?
From the very beginning I said that reading that headline reminded me of something I always have in the background, especially drawing from discussions I have in the political spaces I am in. And those discussions aren't about Google, they are about local issues.

Okay but what local issues? I mean, what's the connection between the issues, the discussions, and entrenched positions?

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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby md0 » 2017-08-12, 9:43

I'm curious; where are you getting this impression from? ... a) it's something specific to Cyprus you're referring to or
b) it's world politics in general that you're referring to


It's definitely something general. And as I wrote before, it's not something that only progressives are guilty of either.
There's so many things contributing to this feeling is pointless to list them. I see how news media create parallel realities for each topic, I see how people allow algorithms to curate their experience of the world so that they only see the points of view they either like, or love to hate.
There's topics in Cyprus that are very affected by this, and they aren't necessary the same as the topics getting the same treatment in the US or elsewhere in the world. For example in Cyprus the parallel realities correlate with the different views on the partition or division of Cyprus, where the narratives are so different you have to wonder if pro-reunification GCs and pro-partition GCs even lived on the same island for the past 60 years. Internationally, when participating in discussions about gender and sexuality issues I get the same feeling, that we have built a wall around our entrenched positions and that we want no-one coming in to ask us questions, nor we feel like going out and challenging other people's views.

It reminds me of a questionnaire a researcher gave me to fill as well, it was about hate-speech online, and I had to rate several statements with positive and negative stereotypes on a scale of "This should be allowed in social media" to "This should not be allowed in social media".
None of the statements where about a specific people, they where general stereotypes. Well, I couldn't just say that statements like "I wouldn't want a gay neighbour" should be removed by social media moderators. It would change no-one's view, and it would just push some of those people to ideological currents who believe there's an anti-white conspiracy against them or whatnot. It's ridiculous how the "alt-right" successfully plays the "we are the counterculture" card - same with Golden Down in Greece, despite their proven links to big capital and the police which are revealed time and time again.

I'm sorry to hear you feel that way, but no, this is the first time you're saying that you're not commenting on any part of the case at all (if I understood you correctly this time?). Until now, you only said you weren't commenting on the memo itself.

No, I won't accept the narrow semantics defence.
I'm not the first person in the world to use metonymy.
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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-08-12, 16:28

md0 wrote:I see how news media create parallel realities for each topic

You do mean different news media, right? Because news media in general have been contradicting each other since forever. That's why it helps to read as wide a variety of news media as possible. (I know, kind of hypocritical coming from the guy who doesn't read any, but)
I see how people allow algorithms to curate their experience of the world so that they only see the points of view they either like, or love to hate.

I mean, to some extent, I'm not sure what we're supposed to do about that, but I do think that some people do this more than others and most people aren't aware of where the news they see is actually coming from.
There's topics in Cyprus that are very affected by this, and they aren't necessary the same as the topics getting the same treatment in the US or elsewhere in the world. For example in Cyprus the parallel realities correlate with the different views on the partition or division of Cyprus, where the narratives are so different you have to wonder if pro-reunification GCs and pro-partition GCs even lived on the same island for the past 60 years.

That's too bad, but well, a lot of things are like that, I think (which is kind of your point, right?). I think Indians for example have pretty wildly differing ideas about what Pakistan, the Indian army, a Bangladeshi person, or even northeastern (or perhaps southern) India is like. I remember someone insisting to me that women in Iran have no rights and talking about their situation there as if the government of Iran was literally the Taliban next door in Afghanistan. AFAICT, though, that's just because a lot of people are ignorant. It doesn't mean we've given up on debate or anything.
Internationally, when participating in discussions about gender and sexuality issues I get the same feeling, that we have built a wall around our entrenched positions and that we want no-one coming in to ask us questions, nor we feel like going out and challenging other people's views.

I disagree; I don't think we're so entrenched at all regarding gender and sexuality. I remember you used to have very different notions of sexuality from what you think of it now, just four years ago or so. I used to have very different notions of both gender and sexuality around the same time. I changed my views pretty drastically after talking a bit with other users here and observing what they said about what they thought and why. You changed yours pretty drastically as well. I don't know how that happened, but obviously, if you'd just been repeating the same messages to yourself over and over again and never listening to anyone else, it wouldn't have.
It reminds me of a questionnaire a researcher gave me to fill as well, it was about hate-speech online, and I had to rate several statements with positive and negative stereotypes on a scale of "This should be allowed in social media" to "This should not be allowed in social media".
None of the statements where about a specific people, they where general stereotypes. Well, I couldn't just say that statements like "I wouldn't want a gay neighbour" should be removed by social media moderators. It would change no-one's view, and it would just push some of those people to ideological currents who believe there's an anti-white conspiracy against them or whatnot. It's ridiculous how the "alt-right" successfully plays the "we are the counterculture" card - same with Golden Down in Greece, despite their proven links to big capital and the police which are revealed time and time again.

I'm not so sure about that. Personally, I think the fact that social media moderators would overtly refuse to tolerate what formerly would have been considered normal discourse sends a pretty strong message. I think that's true of what linguoboy was saying, too.
No, I won't accept the narrow semantics defence.
I'm not the first person in the world to use metonymy.

No, of course you're not, but that doesn't mean everyone else is guaranteed to automatically understand that's what you were trying to do. This is the Internet. Simple misunderstandings happen here every now and then.

I mean, again, why even bother specifically mentioning this one item of news you didn't even read anything about if it's pretty much completely irrelevant? Why not just say "Reading the news reminded me" etc., or even just "I think..."?

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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby mōdgethanc » 2017-08-13, 1:33

This is the third time I have to state that I am not commenting on that case, because I haven't read the memo, or any other article on the topic.
I read his whole manifesto so you don't have to. It was a typical example of a reactionary white male, who was clearly far out of his depth when it comes to the subject, trying to use a flawed understanding of psychometrics and evobabble to justify his regressive worldview.

But he's a biologist!! cry the Jordan Peterson fan brigade. I don't give a fuck. That gives him no special insight into what he's talking about here. He's not a geneticist, neurobiologist or anything else relevant to the subject; he's a systems biologist (which could mean anything, but most likely refers to some kind of computational modeling, which is probably why he was hired by Google) and he doesn't have a PhD as was reported; he has a master's. But even if he did, having a doctorate in some random subject doesn't give you expertise in everything; it's kind of the point of having a doctorate that you are an expert on one specific thing. Sutor, ne ultra crepidam.

I don't know what he hoped to achieve by this other than proselytizing the Social Darwinist gospel, but whatever it was, it was unprofessional and I don't care if he got fired for it. As linguoboy said:

No, fuck this guy.

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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-08-13, 3:11

mōdgethanc wrote:But he's a biologist!! cry the Jordan Peterson fan brigade.

I forgot who this was, so I looked up his name, then tried to look for that post where you mentioned him to make sure this was the person I thought it was.

Yesterday, at dinner, my dad brought up this thing with Google but said nothing about that except "you know, that guy is a molecular biologist." Then I said, "No, he isn't!" (this is pretty much a reflexive reaction for me whenever my dad says anything about the world that surprises me), and he said, "Yeah, he is." Now I'm wondering whether that was why he said that. :? I also have no clue where he got the idea that he was specifically a molecular biologist.

EDIT: I guess his brain made it up. If he forgot Czechoslovakia doesn't exist anymore, I guess he could forget whether someone is a systems biologist or a molecular biologist.

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Re: Random Politics Thread

Postby md0 » 2017-08-13, 8:03

You do mean different news media, right?

Yes, of course. But what I've noticed is that
a) people do not read different news media
b) people do not even know what media they read because they let someone else do the curation for them
and especially (b) is a new development which makes everything an order of magnitude worse.
(which is kind of your point, right?)

Yes. With the value judgment that this is a problem.


I disagree; I don't think we're so entrenched at all regarding gender and sexuality. I remember you used to have very different notions of sexuality from what you think of it now, just four years ago or so. I used to have very different notions of both gender and sexuality around the same time. I changed my views pretty drastically after talking a bit with other users here and observing what they said about what they thought and why. You changed yours pretty drastically as well. I don't know how that happened, but obviously, if you'd just been repeating the same messages to yourself over and over again and never listening to anyone else, it wouldn't have.

On the flip side, when my views departed from what I believed around 2010~2012, in many occasions I was called homophobic and was shown the door out of forums for saying that we shouldn't use "biological destiny" arguments to support legalization and acceptance of gender and sexual identities, because those arguments also enable people who we do not want to enable and normalise, such as pedophiles (the subset of pedophiles who actually believe that pursuing their urges should be acceptable to be precise - not all pedophiles believe that). And in one such occasion recently, the answer I got was on the lines of "you're so wrong you don't even deserve an answer", even though my position was about 5 pages long and I believe reasonably nuanced - plus my POV was being part of this community myself, I wasn't some cis het dudebro with opinions about everything.

Similarly, I got the "you don't even deserve an answer" around the same time, when I was trying to understand political economy as a late teen, when I rejected totalitarianism and therefore the most widespread conception of communism. With the understanding I had at that point, there was an occasion I wrote something along the lines of "wtf is anarcho-communism if not an oxymorn?". People called be stupid for saying that, but they didn't try to change my mind. It would take 4~5 years before I follow my vague/generic libertarianism to its logical conclusion and realise that is right-libertarianism which is the oxymoron, and not left-libertarianism.


I'm not so sure about that. Personally, I think the fact that social media moderators would overtly refuse to tolerate what formerly would have been considered normal discourse sends a pretty strong message.

It also moves those discussions to private spaces where moderators cannot reach, and where you have no chance of intervening and countering their stereotypes and flawed reasoning.

Again, those were generic stereotypes with no direct threats either to a group or to a person. If those statements where even a bit more of a personal attack, of course I'd say remove them. But removing general statements out of sight doesn't mean bigotry goes away, it only becomes harder to track.
And also, I don't want social media moderators to have that power. It's a power that they can use against us as much as they can use against bigots.

[Edit: since I noticed mōdgethanc posted I got another flashback: I think 5 years ago I had a terrible argument with him among other users (terrible as in, my points where terrible and my tone was unreasonable) where I supported some kind of draconian hate speech law that doesn't even make sense to me anymore. And while it's true that I was going through some very difficult times back then, which explains my tone and temper, the views I held at that point were truly incoherent and I promoted them mostly through personal attacks, which was both unfair to the participants and ineffective in general.]

I mean, again, why even bother specifically mentioning this one item of news you didn't even read anything about if it's pretty much completely irrelevant? Why not just say "Reading the news reminded me" etc., or even just "I think..."?

I saw no harm in being honest at the time. The story showed up in my RSS feed and from the headlines and summary it reminded me of similar discussions over the years, including the one I had the night before, which I referenced.
"If you like your clause structure, you can keep your clause structure"


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