Don’t Be a Tellarite


Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past inactive to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.

Related Post Roulette

194 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Please, please, please don’t let this become troll chum….Report

  2. Avatar sonmi451 says:

    You’re annoying and you don’t argue a point. You just argue for the sake of arguing and you’re a pig face.

    What a GENTLEMAN indeed. Don’t worry, I’m noty going to bother YOU, you’re not really worth my time.Report

  3. Avatar sonmi451 says:

    You’re annoying and you don’t argue a point. You just argue for the sake of arguing and you’re a pig face.

    What a GENTLEMAN indeed. Don’t worry, I’m noty going to bother YOU, you’re not really worth my time.Report

  4. Avatar wardsmith says:

    Just think how different things would have been if they’d been from Tellawrong instead of Tellarite? And wasn’t there Tellarian brandy? I thought they messed up some aliens with that in another episode. Or maybe I just imagined it.Report

  5. Avatar Murali says:

    I’m actually reluctant to overly police comment sections though sometimes I do get sorely tempted.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      There used to be a commenting policy posted that basically said (original gentlemen should correct me if I misremember): argue long, argue much, argue for no damn good reason – maybe we’ll stumble across something worthwhile.  Basically: be a Tellarite. Just be respectful of one another.

      I don’t see it anywhere anymore.Report

      • I don’t know what happened to the comment policy link, but your memory of it is not entirely correct, though it’s reasonably close.  The policy was originally that accusations of intents that an author or commenter had not otherwise disclosed was grounds for deletion and/or banning.  There was also always an unspoken (but not relevant after the banning of matoko) rule requiring capitalization of sentences.

        As a practical matter, the policy that I at least have been using for the last year and a half or so is that as long as the subject comment attempts to engage the OP/another comment on substance in some loose way, it is permissible.  If it does not, and contains accusations of intent, ad hominems, or slurs, it is not permissible.   There is, however, no rule that says I alone have the ability to delete comments.  I also don’t know what comments were deleted in this case, so I can’t say whether the deletion was consistent with the policy I’ve been following; that said, Blaise’s stated justifications for the deletion are indeed consistent with that policy.Report

  6. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    I do trust TVD appreciates that this delightful post, written by a thoughtful moderate, moves this librul-liberaltarian blog further left-progressivist and increases the tension directed toward people of his interesting and curious inclinations. Sometimes the oft observed self-congratulatory back-patting can be wearisome, other times amusing, but still the LoOG continues on! Why then is this little voice telling me that Sonmi’s greatest sin was not in  his critique but to whom it was directed?Report

  7. Avatar sonmi451 says:

    Why then is this little voice telling me that Sonmi’s greatest sin was not in  his critique but to whom it was directed?

    Okay, call me stupid, but ….  I don’t get it. I’ve been rude to a lot of bloggers here (hey, I have some self-awareness). Are you saying it’s a bigger deal this time because BlaiseP is the target? Why? What’s so special about him?Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Have you not read Blaise? Nothing’s so special to Blaise as Blaise. That Tom, who throws plenty of insults himself, chimes in is more about Tom than anything else.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        I’m not sure if Tom was ‘chiming in’, whatever that may mean, or simply moving toward Bp in some, very strange, conciliatory effort. And, I say ‘verly strange’ not as an insult rather to point out to our ‘conservative’ friend that Bp often brags of his derailed leftist-progressivist ideological preferences.Report

        • Avatar sonmi451 says:

          Now this is just silly. Far be it for me to defend Tom van Dyke, but if he wants to defend a co-blogger from what he considers rude comments, that doesn’t mean he is automatically agreeing with that co-blogger’s political ideology. The one thing has nothing to do with the other.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Tom Van Dyke and I have this tacit understanding.   He speaks from his side of the fence, as honestly and forthrightly as he can.  For my part, I’m obliged to respect that viewpoint, especially if I do not agree with it.   If we chunk rocks at each other, and we do, we don’t throw grenades or thermonuclear weapons.

          You see, I like Tom.  I have this theory about knowledge which says no opinion is worth having until it’s survived the crucible of honest criticism.  Facts, well, they don’t take sides but then they’re not opinions.   What’s more, justifying an opinion requires some soul-searching.   “Fairness” is an illusion.   Our -isms are the result of the forces which shaped us.

          We do not shape the world.  The world shapes us.  If we are to Know Ourselves, gnothi seauton, this knowledge doesn’t come cheap.   Often it’s terribly painful or embarrassing.   And we don’t gain that knowledge by self-examination:  only when we stick our necks out, unfair and recondite, with a little spinach in our teeth can we see ourselves as we are seen.Report

    • Avatar Murali says:

      I’ve been rude to a lot of bloggers here (hey, I have some self-awareness).

      I was worried for a moment, because honestly for a while I thought you didnt. Now I know to interpret the stuff you say at least in part as performance art.Report

      • Avatar LarryM says:

        As someone who is often rude when I contribute – which is rare these days for real life reasons, and because I realize at some level at least that letting the Robert Cheeks of the world get to me is my problem, not his (though don’t worry Robert, I still think you are a monster), I know very well when I am being rude. And sometimes regret it, in the rare intance when it is misdirected.

        Why do I do it? As a way, I guess, of expressing my opinion that certain points of view aren’t just “wrong” but should be beyond the pale in a sane society. We wouldn’t have a civil, logical discussion with a Nazi – or a committed Stalinist – so we shouldn’t have a sane civil discussion with the Robert Cheeks of this world.  Is that a form of performance art? Maybe.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          I disagree LarryM. I think that rudeness and discourtesy is an impediment to the advancement of one’s ideas. If you make a telling point against a deplorable idea then rudeness and discourtesy serve only as smoke that impedes that success. Your opponent can (and will) seize upon such behavior to cloud the situation. Even absent that situation discourtesy and rudeness swiftly push conversation levels down to emotionalism, insult and hindbrain thinking. It is in these realms that the truly deplorable examples you cite flourish and thrive. Why would you voluntarily cede the advantage to Stalinists or Nazi’s by arguing the way they want you to? Additionally courtesy and manners generally prolong the conversation and make it considerably harder to squirm away from telling lines of argument or facts.

          I argue and debate politely not because I necessarily love or even like the person I’m debating with (though I sometimes do) but because I hate their ideas and arguments. The more I hate an idea the more polite I try to be.

          We are all ships passing briefly on this ocean of the internet, flying the colors of our competing philosophies. The rude and the crass may be content to rake a deplorable poster with blistering noisy insults, singe the rigging a bit and sail on complacently telling themselves they’ve done virtuous work. Feh, I am not satisfied with such empty displays. No, I want to come about my opponent; grapple him in iron lines of courtesy to prevent him slipping away and perform a boarding action with logic and debate. I wish to tear up the planks of his delusions; deconstruct the very fabric of his hull to expose the flaws and the dark pits in his ideology to the pitiless light of reason for all to see as he writhes bereft of an excuse to escape or obfuscate and then finally, with the contradictions and vacuity of his position broken open and demolished leave him to sink foolishly beneath the waves without a trace.

           I’m polite because that’s how you win.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            “Why would you voluntarily cede the advantage to Stalinists or Nazi’s by arguing the way they want you to?”

            Why would you pretend that people care about whether you’re polite?

            The kind of people who claim to be put off by rudeness are the kind of people who’re grasping at straws for some reason to disagree with your argument.  Saying “you might be right but I disagree with your argument because it’s rude” is the rankest sort of conservative anti-intellectualism, an insistence that form trumps substance.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              They’d never say anything about one being right, they’d simply screech about the rudeness. Besides, the person you’re arguing with on the internet is only a fraction of the audience. The silent readers are the main target and they can tell when someone is wriggling out. Rudeness and incivility just clouds the issue and makes it harder to persuade the undecided.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                It also chases some people out of the conversation. Both lurkers, who will stop reading, and commenters, who would rather stay out of the mud.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Because the most important thing in the world is to worry about whether potential readers might have their feelings hurt.

                You know why McDonalds’ cheeseburgers are such bland mush?  Because they want to appeal to the widest possible audience.

                Meanwhile, not everyone likes habanero chili.  Lots of people find it too spicy to tolerate.  But there are plenty of people who do like it–and you’ll certainly never confuse it with a McDonald’s cheeseburger.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “You know why McDonalds’ cheeseburgers are such bland mush? Because they want to appeal to the widest possible audience.

                Meanwhile, not everyone likes habanero chili. Lots of people find it too spicy to tolerate. But there are plenty of people who do like it–and you’ll certainly never confuse it with a McDonald’s cheeseburger.”

                There’s is a difference between eating a burger that has habanero and eating a burger someone has just taken a dump on.

                Don’t confuse being dickish with being edgy.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Why not?  Confusing “dick” and “edgy” is such a convenient escape.  If my argument gets destroyed and I run away, I look like an idiot, but who can blame me for not wasting my time talking to some jerk?Report

              • Avatar ~trumwill says:

                It’s not about hurt feelings. It’s about which conversation we’re having. Are we discussing which group of people is superior or are we discussing which ideas are superior? Insults lead to the former discussion, which I find neither productive nor interesting.

                McDonalds is not just successful because it is bland. It is also successful because it is cheap and easy. So are insults.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Since when is an extreme emotional response supposed to be a justification for refusing to engage in conversation?  If someone said that filthy hippie stoners drove them crazy, would we say that it was incumbent on the stoners to act differently (when, by our standards, they weren’t doing anything reprehensible at all)?Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville says:

                These are the same people who argue that the burden is on atheists to prove the non-existence of God. Sometimes, you have to call an idiot an idiot, because that’s one of the stupidest things ever uttered by anyone in all of history.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Let’s analogize conversations to sex.

                If two (or more! Why not!) people are in the conversation and enjoying it, that’s part of the point of the conversation. If someone jumps in and starts flailing about in such a way that makes it unpleasant for everyone else, then they’re doing it wrong.

                Standing and thrusting one’s hips at everyone yelling “I THOUGHT THIS WAS AN ORGY!!!” misunderstands what sex, at its best, actually is.

                If you’re doing it without engaging with other people, without caring about other people, and making it so that the other people are practically extraneous, you’re no longer having sex.

                You’re masturbating.

                There’s nothing wrong with that, of course… but I don’t understand the feeling of entitlement to an audience. “BUT I THOUGHT THIS WAS AN ORGY!” is not a particularly strong counter-argument to a bunch of people averting their eyes and very much wanting to go back to the pleasant interactions they were having mere moments before.Report

              • Avatar ~trumwill says:

                Duck, it’s a “justification” in the sense that I choose not to waste my time on it. That I view it as a waste of time more generally. I used to participate in such conversations. It was… not intellectually stimulating. It was not enjoyable. I was not a better person for participating.

                Why should I want to participate in conversations that I get nothing out of? Why should I want to feed conversations going in that direction?

                There are lots of people who do, for whatever reason, love those conversations. There are lots of sites for them to go to. I like for there to be places (at least some) that are different. LoOG has historically been one of those places.Report

              • Avatar ~trumwill says:

                Ryan, to my knowledge TVD is the only one who has really argued that. I certainly haven’t. We are not “the same people” in that context.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville says:

                I believe Blaise also argued that (or something very similar). As they are the two captains of the thought police (insofar as this post is concerned), I mean for it to apply to them in particular.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville says:

                As for Jay’s analogy, if you don’t want people doing that, then for Pete’s sake, don’t have sex in public!Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Jaybird:  “If someone jumps in and starts flailing about in such a way that makes it unpleasant for everyone else, then they’re doing it wrong.”

                I guess that’s one of the risks you run when you put the bed on the front lawn and invite anyone to join in if they want.

                And, y’know, not everyone likes anal, but that doesn’t mean it’s an inherent signifier of Doing It Wrong.

                trimwill: “Why should I want to participate in conversations that I get nothing out of? Why should I want to feed conversations going in that direction?”

                You know, you have the option of not replying to posts, or replying to only the parts you consider worthy of reply.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Curse you, Red Bonneville!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I see it as more of a “walled garden that is open to the public”.

                One should not read “open to the public” as being identical to “access is a Human Right”.

                To a lesser extent, one should recognize the difference between going for a particular something prior to people saying “nope, don’t do that” and going for a particular something after people have said “nope, don’t do that”.

                If you’re still going for it after they have said “nope, don’t do that”, the “well, you shouldn’t have been doing it in a walled garden open to the public!” counter-argument seriously misunderstands the underlying dynamic.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I guess that’s one of the risks you run when you put the bed on the front lawn and invite anyone to join in if they want.

                I think you’re making a couple of fundamental errors.  There’s something deuced odd about assuming that anything anywhere is explicitly your playground unless there are signs and fences and doors and locks and curtains.

                Just because there is no explicit barrier to entry doesn’t mean that anybody is “invited”.  In fact, there is an actual comment policy and generally speaking I think it’s been pretty clear what the mission of the League is, even as it has changed.  “Nobody is throwing me out, so I must be acceptable” is a self-centered approach to group activity, isn’t it?

                Here’s a question: if a particular visitor was asked to leave, would you regard that as an explicit dis-invitation… or is active attempts to keep them out necessary to revoke their (in your mind) implicit invitation to show up and say whatever they like?

                But hey, maybe that’s just me.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                If you’ve got a comment system that makes no effort to verify email addresses, then you’ve got a bed on the front lawn.  The best I think this place can manage is an IP ban.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              Why would you pretend that people care about whether you’re polite?

              The kind of people who claim to be put off by rudeness are the kind of people who’re grasping at straws for some reason to disagree with your argument.

              Is this a serious comment, DD?  Do you really believe that people that want polite and respectful conversation are just “pretending,” and that the only reason people don’t want to deal with dickish behavior is that they are afraid their arguments are poor?

              If this is something your truly believe, and weren’t just typing off the cuff without thinking, you should know that you’re ability to get inside your opponents mind needs some work.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                There’s a difference between “I don’t wanna talk to mean people” and “you’re wrong because you’re rude”.  The former is a valid choice–something of a childish one, but one based on aesthetics and therefore no less valid than any other subjective decision.  The latter is an example of ad hominem reasoning.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                OK.  Show me someone arguing that you’re wrong because you’re being rude and I’ll agree.  I just don’t see where you’re getting that.

                “You’re perfectly capable to writing points that present a dissenting opinion without resorting to being snide. So long as that continues to be the case, there won’t be any problem. If I have to squeegee the sarcasm off my screen to see your point, that’s when the problem begins.”

                I think you have to leap through a whole lot of verbal gymnastics to get that passage to translate to: “You’re rude so your argument is wrong.”Report

              • Avatar BSK says:


                While maybe not saying it quite so explictly, one blogger, TVD, is known to play the civility card when the tideof a conversation seems to be turning against him.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                That makes no sense. People get uncivil toward me when they’re losing, silly. Tellarites do not argue for reasons, they simply argue. If they were winning, they wouldn’t turn uncivil.

                This post has been an interesting Rorschach test [as is the author], and has smoked the Tellarites out from the woodwork.

                Imagine people defending rudeness and incivility. Yet some have.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Look, as anyone who reads the exchanges between TVD & I already know, Tom and I disagree on a whole, whole bunch o’ stuff.  And as you will also know, sometimes he and I have to talk past one anther for a while to figure out what the other is saying.  That being said…

                I also realize that I don’t have to put up with a tenth of the s**t Tom does by the commentariat.  Tom’s language can be quite formal and (at times) brusque, and perhaps that’s off putting to some.  But in my last thread he didn’t even show up to be part of the discussion, save for one quick and late olive branch, and people were banging on him anyway.

                Which is all to say that those that get into those long, bitter threads with him are part of that tango as well.  I wouldn’t want to see folks from other side of those fights walk away form the League, because all the above (as JB would say) embiggen us as a whole.

                If you don’t like the way your conversations with TVD goes these days, then (to use another JB phrase) I would beg of you: be part of the solution you look to find.  If you just don’t see common ground to build from with TVD, try to find some.  If you think there’s none to be found, then don’t engage.

                As I say, TVD and I don’t agree on politics, religion, philosophy, education, cultural issues, or which LA basketball team to root for.  So if he & I can happily coexist, so can you all.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Also, when TVD offers the olive branches he so often does, for Pete’s sake take them.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                BSK, I agree. For all his self-righteousness, Tom has always been a below-the-belt hitter. That he thinks only his interlocutors do it, and then only when they’re “losing,” is a symptom of of his disease (another is an almost complete lack of self-reflection).Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                The point being, Tom’s calls for “civility,” and his calling others out for their lack thereof, are always something between hypocritical and downright dishonest. Which is not to say that civility isn’t something to towards which we should strive. Simply that, coming from Tom, calls for such striving are rich, to say the least.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                No, my point was that being that there are more than one person in that tango that perhaps others might look to be the change they want to see.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Tod, sorry, I was following up my own comment, which was a reply to BSK, and appears to be lost somewhere (deleted, I suspect).Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                The gist of that comment was that Tom is one of the worst offenders, even if he always does it with a clever turn of phrase. That he thinks it happens only to him, and only when his interlocutor is “losing,” is part and parcel of Tom’s utter lack of self-reflection. Which, again, is not to say that civility is something that we shouldn’t strive for. It’s just not something Tom himself is particularly wedded to. Rich, as I said.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                My complaint against Tom isn’t his hypocritical posturing around civility. It’s that he refuses to ever grant his interlocutor any credit for making good point or providing a legitimate challenge to the views he expresses. So the ‘discussion’ he thinks he’s having is only to present a picture of how he thinks to others, not to determine the truth or accuracy of those thoughts. And because of this, the olive branch isn’t an ‘agree to disagree’ gesture, but rather a ‘you’re wrong but I don’t want to discuss it further’ gesture. For the record, I enjoy Tom comments; I don’t enjoy his argument style.

                In contrast, I’ve gotten into heated discussions with Hanley where both of us are at least willing to concede when a good point has been made, if not revise our views to some extent in light of it.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Then Still & Chirs, I’d urge you to figure out how much of that you can take, and just not engage past that point.  (Even if it means just walking past TVD.)

                There is a guy here who, every time I have ever tried to comment on an article of his (even to say a positive thing) has gone out of his way to let me know his deep level of concept for me.  I could argue round and round with him about how I am in fact a big old plate of awesome with awesome sauce, but I don’t ever see me wining that argument with him.  So we just each never comment to one another.  It’s a big blog, and it’s not necessary for me to deal with his Tod-bashing for me to enjoy myself – so I don’t.

                The one thing I don’t ever want to do is open my browser one morning and see a comment from TVD, Chris or Still saying that it’s all just gotten too crappy feeling and they won’t be returning.  Cause that would suck rocks.  (Besides, if Still leaves, who will ever agree with me?)Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Tod, I suspect I have been interacting with Tom much, much longer than you, and on many more topics. If I still do it, after years (literally), while I generally ignore a whole host of regular commenters and even front pagers here, there must be a reason, eh?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Fair point.  But FWIW, I’m not so sure the Tom is having such a ball right now.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Tod, there are any number of reasons to engage in a discussion forum. One of them is to get a clearer picture of how the world works. That means getting clearer on how people with opposing views think about and justify their claims. So the discourse-terrain inherently includes challenging people on the reasons they believe what they do. At this forum, I don’t single out TVD in particular. If you said something I thought was false or unjustified, and it mattered in the context of the discussion, I’d challenge you on it too. And I would presume that insofar as you couldn’t answer the challenge you would revise your views to a certain extent. That’s how discussion works.

                So refraining from challenging another’s views is inconsistent with alot of what we do here.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                But FWIW, I’m not so sure the Tom is having such a ball right now.

                I can’t say that I care in the least, given who Tom is (or at least, who his internet personality is).Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Then I guess I don’t understand the point of this post, because if it’s not “you’re wrong because you’re rude”, then it’s “some people on the internet are, like, totally rude”, which, the Internet, you’re soaking in it.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Poisoning the well with the usual slanders, I see.  Excellent.  The guilty accuse themselves; all goes according to plan.


                Nyah ha ha.Report

            • Avatar Ryan Bonneville says:

              Good lord, I actually agree with Density Duck. The fainting couch is fine for some, I suppose, but I can’t remember the last time I expected to find someone lying on it that I would be willing to call an “ordinary gentleman”.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Ryan –

                OK.  But…

                Telling people to knock off behaving like a dick is not lying down on the fainting couch.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville says:

                I guess. It seems to me that people are substantially more trigger-happy than they need to be around here sometimes. I get that the appropriate policy response is that people have the right to delete any comments on their posts that they want, but we can criticize the speed of the trigger finger (as you did below).

                Also, my position on TVD is well known. I might not have even bothered to chime in on this post if it weren’t for the fact that he continually deploys “civility” as a smokescreen to avoid having honest engagements with other commenters.

                This is the internet. Rhetorical elbows will be thrown. I throw them myself, and I don’t apologize for it.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville says:

                Though it’s self-aggrandizing in the extreme, I feel like this is the perfect time to draw everyone’s attention to my Moore Award nomination.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I picture it a little, round gold statue of Michael Moore, sitting on your hearth.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville says:

                I keep it next to the bloody fetus, actually.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I’m going to Hell for laughing at that, aren’t I?Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Tod this is even funnier in context of the prize post:

                Moore Award Nominee“By all accounts, Barack Obama is a nice guy. He’s a good father, a good husband, a family man. To hear his supporters tell the story, he really is a liberal in his very heart who has just been constrained by the circumstances. Maybe that’s all true. Let’s, again, stipulate it. It still remains the case that he governs like a mass-murdering sociopath. He kills brown people on the other side of planet because he feels like it. He thinks there is nothing particularly problematic about ordering the execution of American citizens without a trial. And, lest we forget, he is responsible for more deportations than any other president. Ever. If salvation requires faith and good works, this is a man who will burn in hell,” – Ryan Bonneville.


              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I see the deleting of comments as being a fairly recent thing. Which I suppose means that it’s practice is on the rise – and maybe that’s a bad thing.

                But speaking for myself, I’ve only ever deleted a couple of comments on my posts.  Both were part of a blog post about Christmas, and were long, bizarre comments about rape and bloody fetuses.

                These did not seem like rhetorical elbows.  They seemed like very conscious efforts to shut down other people’s conversations.Report

  8. Avatar Liberty60 says:

    I’ve often argued that there is a difference between saying hateful things and saying things hatefully.

    Everyone here has seen them around the political/ cultural world: hateful vile ideas dressed up in the plumage of polite civil intellectual discourse, dripping with cheap costume jewelry of philosophical name-dropping and buzzwords, all for the purpose of advancing ideas that, if spoken bluntly would be repellent.

    I think of this everytime I hear calls for “civil” discourse. While I agree that intemperate words and ad hominem insults weaken arguments, still, there IS a time to argue sharply and forcefully without trying to feign cordiality.Report

    • Avatar North says:


      Yes Liberty, but sharp and forceful argumentation is weakened, not strengthened, by rudeness and incivility; it merely affords your opponent an opportunity to change the subject to your behavior rather than addressing your argument on its merits and offers an avenue of escape for them to end the discussion citing your rudeness. Better to be mercilessly polite while applying the blade of your points and your reason to strip away the obfuscation and lay their vile arguments bare. That hurts your typical peddler of such nasty ideas far more profoundly than name calling or incivility. Rudeness and the like is what they expect. They feed on it.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        “Better to be mercilessly polite while applying the blade of your points and your reason to strip away the obfuscation and lay their vile arguments bare.”

        I consider that sentiment to be rude, and therefore by your logic I can ignore it.

        Prove that you aren’t being rude.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          How do you consider it rude? In what manner?Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            That’s a very rude response to my post.  I therefore don’t have to answer your question.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Duck just loves him some reducto.  You’re performance art like Bob, dude.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                u mad?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Only in the sense that I think you actually have a brain and could contribute in lots of interesting ways to the place, but instead you show up and run your schtick – pretty much indiscriminately, so it’s hard to tell what you actually think about anything.  I’ve been reading your comments for two years now, and I know less about what you think and why than just about everybody else who comments here.  That says something about how much information you transfer.

                We get it.  Every argument can be run to the ends of the earth if you stretch the underlying assumptions enough.  You can’t remove anything from all context and have it still possess meaning.  That’s a neat trick for challenging people’s assumptions, but around here I think everybody has put in *some* effort into not operating too much on unexamined assumptions.

                (edited to add) Maybe not some of the drive-by commentors (/edited).Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                You seem to have this assumption that some guy posting anonymously in the comments section of a website is interested in people figuring out “what he thinks about anything”.  What I think should be obvious from what I say, and if you can’t figure it out for yourself then I’m not interested in you. If I wanted to do more than dash off a random thought about whatever happens to pop in front of my face, I’d have a blog. And I don’t have a blog.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I find that when people hang around somewhere where there is a community for a period longer than a couple of days, they either have some desire to be part of the community, they have some other motivation that attracts them to that community in particular, or they have some pathological need for attention of some sort.

                If you don’t want to be a member of this community, why are you here?  Why did you pick the League over, say, any one of the other web sites in creation?  Browser inertia?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                 Everyone beat me to most of the punch here DD so I’ll just note in passing that you are either being very disingenuous or you badly undervalue your worth in this medium. Commenters and comments most assuredly sway opinion; sure we’re not quite in the blogging league of opinion shaping but we’re still doing it (personally because I can’t cut it as a blogger). People read your comments (a lot more read comments than reply to them) and opinions are shaped by what they read. If any person wants to pop off loutishly about a given subject (and many do) then there’s little preventing them from doing so. But they shouldn’t try to persuade themselves that their incivility is immaterial; they are harming the causes they support and helping the causes they oppose by behaving like buffoons. Sure every little comment is a tiny minute movement of the needle but the needle still moves and out of the sum of those tiny moves is popular opinion formed (and yes I believe in voting too).Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                P.S. -> “What I think should be obvious from what I say, and if you can’t figure it out for yourself then I’m not interested in you.”

                I’m parsing this as, “whenever there’s a communication problem between you and anybody else, it’s clearly on their head and you have no interest in exploring the possibility that you may be communicating ineffectively or you might just be wrong.”

                Is that uncharitable?  Is it… rude?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “[Y]ou are either being very disingenuous or you badly undervalue your worth in this medium.”

                My value in this medium is no more and no less than anyone else who posts here.

                “[Rude posters] are harming the causes they support and helping the causes they oppose by behaving like buffoons.”

                Here we see the rare Beige-Tipped Ad Hominem in its natural habitat. Its appearance of civil concern at first makes it difficult to distinguish from the background of rational argument; yet, by the shape of its hooves and snout, we can indeed discern that it is an attack upon the speaker rather than an attack upon his speech, and therefore not a valid entry in the debate.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “Here we see the rare Beige-Tipped Ad Hominem in its natural habitat.”

                I’m confused.  Is the ad hominem your penis in this metaphor?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                 Density, perhaps you should reread the comment thread immediately preceding my previous comment? You inquired as to why anyone should care if they’re being rude. My subsequent observations regarding the efficiency of rudeness and its effects on ones causes and arguments are not a clever ad hominem; the rudeness (or buffoonery) is not an accusation, it’s the subject of the conversation. I’ll note in passing though that the way you phrased it was cute.

                I would also like to thank you sincerely for able your demonstration of my point. Intentional rudeness allows people to spend entire posts kvetching about slights rather than addressing the subject at hand. When the danger of misreading or miswording presents the minefield of unintentional slights why on earth would one wish to intentionally trigger such unproductive exchanges?Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          That the use of terms such as “polite” or “rude” inherently involves rendering a subjective value judgment does not render them immune to consensus. It strikes me as overwhelmingly likely that the opinion…

          Better to be mercilessly polite while applying the blade of your points and your reason to strip away the obfuscation and lay their vile arguments bare.

          …would not trigger the consensus of most readers that it was a rude expression. By contrast:

          You’re an idiot who isn’t capable of arguing with a fifth-grader!

          is something that seems much more likely to generate a consensus of impolititude.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            As you point out, rudeness is in the eye of the beholder.  Some might consider it rude to continually focus on a speaker’s qualifications and refuse to debate his propositions on their own merits; others might say it only makes sense to ask why some jobber engineer who read about climatology on Wikipedia thinks he knows more than someone who has a Ph.D in the subject.  Some might consider it rude to insist on discussing present performance in light of past failures; others might say it only makes sense to point out that the economy was pretty rotten before Obama got anywhere near the Presidency.

            Arguments must be considered on their merits.  Sometimes those merits are nonexistent, and the argument is easily dismissed.  “but it’s ruuuuuuuuude” is not a discussion of the merits.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Burt, this is a good point, but an important one. I was struggling to write a response and luckily hit ‘refresh’ before ‘submit’ and saw that you tackled the problem with what DD says above.

            It goes back to a deeper point about language and the meanings of words. People can make up all sorts of private, subjective meanings for their words and how they understand them, but if so they won’t be speaking English. They’ll just be using English-looking words to argue for something else. Language is a public act, and language as an expressive act conveys meaning to others to the degree that words have fixed (even if fuzzy) semantics.

            But also, DD’s comment reverses North’s argument: he’s not saying that being polite is necessary for making an argument heard – he’s saying that often times being rude is sufficient for that argument to go unheard.

            One other thing – more to DD than you, Burt: rudeness isn’t the same thing as being offended. Someone can be offended by a statement even if that statement is expressed in the post polite terms possible.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Everyone here has seen them around the political/ cultural world: hateful vile ideas dressed up in the plumage of polite civil intellectual discourse, dripping with cheap costume jewelry of philosophical name-dropping and buzzwords, all for the purpose of advancing ideas that, if spoken bluntly would be repellent.

      This is an awesome paragraph.

      I have only one quibble, but it’s a big one.  Like Managementese, Politicalese is a higher-order language.  Information is deliberately masked to raise bandwidth; by communicating with lots of tacit understanding, you can push a lot of bits quickly.  Knowledge is compressed.

      This isn’t always distinguishable from people using those same terms to mask information that is being withheld precisely because it is disagreeable.

      If you always assume that your conversation partner is nefarious, you’re always reading between the wrong lines; you’ve made a signpost error and it’s a critical one.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Eh…I’m not sure what you’re talking about, exactly, but I’ve seen this prinicple invoked far more often in the service of shutting down discussion of valid (or at least arguable) ideas than to dismiss ideas that truly are too repugnant to bother with.

      Really, now that I think about it, the notion that an idea which I find offensive must therefore be wrong is utterly foreign to me. Recall that economics came to be called “the dismal science” because Carlyle found its rejection of slavery repugnant.Report

  9. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    I think we should point out that the commentor in question is hardly the only person disagreeing with BlaiseP in that post, and that if disagreement is inherently rude then some of the leading lights of this site are therefore rude.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      But disagreement is not inherently rude. Rudeness is inherently rude. One might rudely agree with an original point but still be rude about it. Consider this exchange I had at another blog, in which I believe I argued my point politely but others who disagreed with me could not restrain themselves from bad behavior.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        Maybe you should point out the “invalid-because-it-is-rude” response, because I’m not seeing it.  I do see you request a citation, which is presented.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          I think I see the problem. You’re looking for “invalid-because-it-is-rude.” That may very well not exist, since a rude expression of an argument may very well nevertheless contain a valid point. Rudeness and validity are different axes.

          That’s not what is being discussed here — at least, that’s not what I’m referring to. The problem with rudeness is rudeness itself. You can have a totally valid and maybe even argument-winning point, but if you make that point rudely, that’s still a problem. If nothing else, rudeness is noise obscuring the signal.

          Often, a person attempting to argue in good faith will attempt to parse out the valid point from its impolite packaging. But at least as often, the rudeness will effect a flare of temper unrelated to the disputed point, and the merits of the dispute will fall by the wayside. I do not owe you a duty of unpacking your statements to weed out the valid from the rude.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            Rudeness is a problem…why?

            “I do not owe you a duty of unpacking your statements to weed out the valid from the rude.”

            So you argue based more on bellyfeel than on logic.  I guess I can’t say it’s an invalid mode of thought, but it seems to undercut any claim of intellectual superiority.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              You’re conflating someone’s desire to explore knowledge with someone’s desire to explore knowledge while someone’s crapping in their cornflakes, and stating that the true explorer of knowledge will eat the cornflakes in both conditions, because… dude!  Cornflakes!

              The person may not be claiming that the other person has nothing to say; they may instead say, “I have no longer any desire to seek truth with this jagoff, because he’s a jagoff and I can find other truthseekers who will present this guy’s arguments without the crap included.”Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko says:

              DD, I answered that question previously:

              The problem with rudeness is rudeness itself.

              If nothing else, rudeness is noise obscuring the signal.

              …rudeness will effect a flare of temper unrelated to the disputed point, and the merits of the dispute will fall by the wayside.

              The corollary to my final statement above is that you do owe me a duty to present your argument in as clear a manner as possible. Rudness is the enemy of clarity, because it triggers emotion (most often anger), and emotion is the enemy of logic. Therefore, the wise disputant will labor to eschew an impolite tone when framing arguments.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                I find your insistence that I lower the level of my communication to the level of your ability to comprehend it to be shockinglty impolite.  An anonymous comment box is an invitation to speak; if you find my speech distasteful or incomprehensible, then remember who asked who to step up to the mike.

                And yes, if you want to cut the mike, well, it’s your mike.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Oh, the great tragedy of discourse, a mighty rejoinder felled by an errant “t”.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                The title of this post is “Don’t be a Tellarite.” I intend to to follow that advice now. I have said all I need or wish to say on this subject.Report

  10. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    FWIW, I do have to say the three deleted comments weren’t all that rude. In fact, I didn’t find them rude at all.  And since I think even Sonmi himself (herself?) would be the first to admit that often times he (she?) can really be a bit of a jerk at times, I found it surprising that those ones in particular got the axe.Report

  11. Avatar joey jo jo says:

    i think you all are ignoring the tactic of proclaiming statements as “rude” to avoid discussing the merits of the point of a statement.  pearl clutching is effective in that way.

    just one man’s opinion, but the “rudeness” standard is usually applied based on tribalism.  it also serves to moderate views.  one could “go along to get along” so far that they end up taking the opposite position.  its sort of a self fulfilling prophecy here.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      So wouldn’t the wisest course be to deny your opponent any colorable reason to clutch at pearls?Report

      • Avatar joey jo jo says:

        not necessarily.  there isn’t a way to completely eliminate the possibility of pearl clutching.  for example, why do you hate america and the first amendment???  that’s a joke, people.

        also too, i’m of the opinion that the requirement of being a “gentleman” just serves to ensure the traditional tribal roles of the strong conservative v. defeatocrat.  that playing field ain’t so level but it is comfortable (for most).Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          Strange. Others seem to feel the exact opposite, that a requirement of politeness favors the PC liberals trying to practice mind control. I say, it doesn’t have a thing to do with where on the spectrum one falls.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      “just one man’s opinion, but the “rudeness” standard is usually applied based on tribalism. ”

      There’s certainly some truth to that, if one wants to carry it far enough.

      However, I think the kinds of comments that are being referred to here are ones such as – to pick one I edited last night –  “You’re a retard!”  Theses comments are absent of any actual opinion about the subject at hand.  (The one I edited last night wasn’t part of a longer string of comments; the comment just showed up, typed that, and left.) WIth these cases, I’m not sure that the objections are in any way tribal.  And I’m not sure I buy that trying to minimize such comments leads one to taking the opposite position.Report

      • Avatar joey jo jo says:

        i agree re: retard.  that’s a tree.  can we zoom out a bit?Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          Sure.  But as I say, I think when we zoom out past the type of comments the post refers to you are correct – or at least you are correct that these things can happen.

          But I don’t think it is a necessity.  For example, let’s take an issue that’s a non starter for me: gay marriage.  If I’m being honest, the truth of the matter is that there’s no argument anyone coming to this site is going to lay out that is going to change my opinion on this subject.  There just isn’t.  I know too many gay people to think that they are inherently deviant, or them getting married will destroy the very fabric of society, or whatever.  Does my being civil to those on the other side of the aisle put me in a position where eventually I’m anti-gau marriage?  No.

          Because this issue is important to me, I want to help us move more quickly down the inevitable path I think we’re already on.  Some people are very afraid of SSM.  Do they have a good reason to be afraid? No, but that doesn’t make their fear any less real.  So the question I ask myself is, do I have a better chance of having them be open to the fact that there is nothing to fear if I shout at them, belittle them, and make them feel stupid?  Or do I think I have a better chance by acknowledging that fear, letting know I’m not actually their enemy, and trying to as best I can let them know what the world looks like on my side of the fence?

          To me, the answer to that question is self evident; the next question I have to ask is this: Is it more important for me to do some small bit to advance a cause I feel to be just and righteous, or to walk away feeling superior to someone I just made feel like crap at the expense of having them dig their heels in that much farther with the next guy?

          Again, for me the answer is self evident.  Obviously, you may feel differently about SSM, but you can obviously put another issue in there of your choice.

          Do I expect everyone to think the way I do about this?  No, but since you asked… this is why I choose to try not to be rude to people here who are not being rude in kind.Report

          • Avatar joey jo jo says:

            yeah, i wanted to zoom out “a bit”, not to uranus (just a joke fellas).  using your example, can we both acknowledge that the anti-SSM can use a perceived “that is a rude argument” pearl clutching to effectively end debate?  something like, how dare you go against the word of our creator aka “i cite a part of leviticus, QED bitches!”.  those are the people that you admit won’t have their minds changed (unless tebow marries a dude).  i see some of that same behavior (albeit on a much much much smaller scale) at this esteemed blog and readily admit that its just my perception.

            also, i reject that making someone feel like crap always results in them digging their heels in.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              I agree that there’s a certain amount of that here; I would argue that it’s far more common in the comments section than the front page stuff, but even there it pops up.  To a certain extent, I think it’s a byproduct of having a blog who’s mission it to be open to any and all that want to discuss any and all.

              I haven’t been doing this long (next moth I’ll be hitting the 6 month mark), but I also have to confess it’s hard to unpack everything that comes in from folks, since we’re not a Progressive Blog or a Libertarian Blog or a Other Specific Thing Blog.  For instance, I now know that whatever I post on politics, I will have X number of people claiming I am a GOP shill and X number claiming I’m a DNC shill- for the same bloody post.  A lot of people who come here just see what they want to see.  (I’m never entirely sure that everyone that comments even bothers to read the actual posts.)

              As to you last point, I agree that it always makes someone dig their heels in.  But one has to err on one side of a fence, and that’s the side I choose.Report

              • Avatar joey jo jo says:

                agreed in general re: FP v. commentariat.

                i can see how it is hard to unpack comments and motives, but i would posit that the blog as a whole should benefit from the lack of a true label.  i don’t see LOOG as a “cheerleader” blog or echo chamber blog.  i see it as an “in play” blog that some commenters and FPers (but not all) want to turn into an echo chamber that mirrors their worldview.


              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Yeah, I think that sounds about right.

                Sometimes I think that what you’re describing isn’t even a conscious thing.  I have had several conversations with different folks here who will in one turn complain the site isn’t the echo chamber they want, and in the next gush about the “mission” E.D. shoots for.

                Humans we be, I guess, for better or worse.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      I think you all are ignoring the tactic of proclaiming statements as “rude” to avoid discussing the merits of the point of a statement. 

      Generally speaking, I don’t find this terribly common around here.  Do you?

      Even when it does happen, I think it’s due more to what Burt says, above: “I do not owe you a duty of unpacking your statements to weed out the valid from the rude.”

      If you have a terribly awesome point to make, but you also find the person to whom you are responding so utterly annoying that you feel it necessary to couch it in language pointing out their personal shortcomings… you can’t really expect them not to find you so utterly annoying that they roundfile your comment, right?

      I mean, shoot, I have lost me temper on occasion here, but when I do I at least expect predictable outcomes.Report

      • Avatar joey jo jo says:

        terribly common?  not really.  from time to time?  definitely.

        i think your example of “pointing out personal shortcomings” is a bit loaded and i don’t mind unpacking it because i’m interested in the conversation, not “winning” it.  unprompted personal attacks are one thing.  jabbing at a larger group (even stereotyping–which y’allz seem to think is ok) which is taken personally is a different matter.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:


          • Avatar joey jo jo says:

            emergency preparedness post?Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Is stereotyping when used for comedic effect to be conflated with stereotyping when used for constructing poor arguments?  Mike’s post was about putting together an emergency kit, with a gag at the end, not about FEMA and whether or not it should exist, policy-wise.

              Would you have found Mike’s post to be “stereotyping” if it was written by North?  Or do you find it stereotyping because Mike is a conservative and he’s using comedic language to hide a bunch of snide insults?

              Personally, reading what I read of disaster literature, I found it funny.Report

              • Avatar joey jo jo says:

                i knew this was coming.  no true scotsman alert.  did the stereotyping help or hurt the point he was trying to convey?  to you it helped.  to others it may hurt.  you assume that i am anti-stereotyping but if you read my post above, i’m not.  i’m against being personally offended by the stereotype and wanted to point out that these sorts of tactics are seemingly favored here (when done by the proper tribe).



              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I think one example == “seemingly favored (when done by the proper tribe)” is lifting a godawful amount of weight here.  Maybe I’m too close to it to see it, sure.

                Backing up a step.

                Lumping (anything together into a class) is (potentially stereotyping); the first thing is necessary to move beyond arguing an infinite number of cases, the second is bad if you’re hiding the wrong information in the class construction.

                There’s a *lot* of gray in that continuum.  Much more gray, generally, than either black or white.  If that’s your point, I agree with you.  If it’s not, I’m not sure what the next step in the conversation is…Report

              • There’s inherently a huge difference between expressing a stereotype as proven fact and prefacing it with “I think…..” or, in the case of Mike’s post “I guess….”

                That said, I’m not going to claim that this site doesn’t occasionally (or even fairly often) include expressions of the former variety – it is frankly difficult to avoid those expressions when arguing politics, even if they are generally quite lazy.  As for whether those expressions are acceptable only when they come from the “proper tribe,” though, I’m honestly not sure what you’re getting at.


              • Avatar joey jo jo says:

                that’s pretty thin, Mark.  we’re getting to incentivizing people to wordsmith around perpetuating stereotypes.  “i think” isn’t a magical clause.

                in my opinion, some stereotypes are cheered here (including heroic contortions to portray them not as stereotypes) while others are roundly rejected.  this is fine.  the issue is the unequal application of the rudeness standard.Report

              • It’s not that it’s magical, it’s that its use inherently and intentionally weakens the statement, turning it from expression of opinion as fact, requiring challenge, to an expression of a personal opinion.  It inherently acknowledges that the author may be wrong, and it invites dissent.  It is frankly impossible to completely avoid using stereotypes in political discourse – we all have them, and we all base our arguments in part upon them. How else does one address a group or speak about a group, after all?

                Speaking for me personally, I am just about never offended or induced into exasperated counterargument when someone writes “I think that libertarians are…..”  I cannot say the same when someone writes just “Libertarians are….” The former statement expresses what the author believes; the latter statement claims to tell me what I believe.

                in my opinion, some stereotypes are cheered here (including heroic contortions to portray them not as stereotypes) while others are roundly rejected.  this is fine.  the issue is the unequal application of the rudeness standard.

                Fair enough, and this is what I assumed.  I’m trying to understand what stereotypes you think are cheered versus what are roundly rejected, though.


              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Though I appreciate joey’s perspective and think we should consider it, on the stereotyping, I’m having a hard time thinking of where The League has frowned on stereotyping around political identity (obviously, stereotypes around unchangable personal traits are met with reproach).  In other words, Mike’s stereotyping was broadly accepted, but I don’t know of an example where someone else’s was met with any kind of quasi-official censure.  Individual commenters reacting for their own part alone isn’t in any way indicative of some overall League posture, though obviously looking at them in aggregate is part of what one has to do to characterize the site’s overall political leanings, since commenting is such a

                I do think that sometimes it’s more effective to air a stereotype in the stronger for, if one wants to air a political stereotype, because it forces the issue.  If you just say “I think,” then your point is likely to be quickly dismissed because, after all, you are just one person, but if you say “Liberals are”or “Liberals do this” or “Liberals have this flaw,” that amounts to a full-on truth claim, and the question is more likely to be addressed and get a full airing.  And that can be useful, because if the stereotype is a common one, it might be worth refuting. Also, from the perspective of the person doing the stereotyping, saying “I think” doesn’t get you off the hook for expressing a stereotyped view.

                Of course, if your (not you, Mark) main thing is to always talk about about ideas and arguments as a means to express you view about the deficiencies of a particular group, i.e. “Liberals are [depraved because they argue for reason X]”; “Conservatives are…[wicked because they argue Y]”, etc. and it starts to seem as if you are more interested in advancing your opinion of a particular group than actually exploring the ideas, that is rather a different matter, even if some of those statements are actually not stereotypes, or are accurate ones (i.e. based in a reasonably accurate estimation of what a large majority of said group does or says, rather that just extended from just a few experiences with the group).  To me, it seems like that practice is not aligned with the vision that originally obtained for this site, but what the hey, things change.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                “…commenting is such a…”: constitutive part of what the League itself is.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                That’s an interesting way of looking at it, MD.

                I almost always couch my posts & comments in terms of “i think,” “from where I sit,” etc.  Doing so feels deeply ingrained in who I am as a person.

                Just saying, “All conservatives are all X” … I’m realizing that doing so might fall outside my personal comfort zone.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                …I would say that he’s joey’s right that stereotyping libertarians is met with a more vocal response in comments (including by front pagers speaking for themselves, not the site – which to be fair, still to some extents creates a reality of preference for the site itself, of not an official one) than other (non-personal-trait-related) stereotyping, but again, I think that goes more to the de facto political leanings of the site than to an official view on frowning on or welcoming stereotyping. (Tod’s denials seem to be a bit in denial themselves to me, and also lacking full experience of the history here.) The libertarian viewpoint is functionally consecrated as a matter of expressed opinion here in a way that other views, conservative or liberal just aren’t. Stereotyping aside, people pretty happily trash liberalism and conservatism and their wellsprings here here, but by and large we respect libertarianism, even if we critique it.  Blanket trashing of liberalism or conservatism just isn’t responded to  as a matter of expressed opinion in the way that blanket trashing of libertarianism is.

                But my point is, that’s just the particular dance we tend do when we get in the hall – everyone’s allowed in, and you’re allowed to do a different dance.  It’s not like we’re deleting comments expressing stereotypes of libertarians or seeing editorial additions to such comments saying, “[eds. — Sir, this view is not welcome here.] and not seeing that for comments expressing other stereotypes.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For the record, *NOTHING* I *EVER* say in comments should be assumed to be speaking on behalf of the site unless I come out and say something like “on behalf of the site, allow me to say” first. (And if I’ve ever said something like that, it’s probably to say “write a goddamn guest post”.)

                I speak for me and me only.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Word.  I had to think for a moment to remember your officialness here before I even understood why you felt moved to clarify that at all.  I assume it goes for all the bloggers and editors, unless they are clearly adopting that “management” tone.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’ll chime in to say that when I first came to the league I was surprised at not only how trivially liberal views were dismissed, but also the caricature-like nature of the liberal position justifying those views. Maybe I’ve become desensitived to that, or maybe it’s changed to some degree. So on that score joey has a point.

                But joey, I disagree that a stereotype is necessarily rude. It can be rude, but more often than not – at least here at the league – stereotyping is based on either ignorance, an attempt to find a generalization solid enough for a larger point to be made, or – and this is worse but still not quite rude – a self-serving caricature which reaffirms the position already held by the writer/commenter. This last one can be rude, and it’s hard to argue that the person who finds it rude is wrong to think so.


              • Avatar joey jo jo says:

                i agree.  not necessarily rude.  stereotypes were just an example of something either to pearl clutch over or not, depending on the stereotyper.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Still, I’d observe that Liberalism has been somewhat ill served by the Leagues population. There are a lot of libertarians and a good collection of esoterics and some very cunning conservatives but up until Elias came round liberalism has been represented most by either very weak tea liberals like myself or very angry liberals (who don’t really sell it well). I wish we had a few more regular full on liberal bloggers here.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I personally am glad that Blaise is a front-pager, myself.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Ecch, frankly, I’m writhing in embarrassment about that harangue of TNC.   Dunno if you lot are aware of it but I suffer from bipolar condition and I’m having a particularly bad time of it just now.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                That took courage, and I respect you for it, Blaise.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                +2 to what Chris said.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                (bursts into tears)Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                Count me in the bipolar club.  That’s probably why we haven’t always hit it off well together. I hear what you’re saying about “a particularly bad time.”  It sucks in just about every way imaginable.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Let’s start over, James.  Clean slate.

                The opposite of love and agreement isn’t hatred or disagreement, but indifference.  I probably owe you an apology for how beastly I’ve been to you.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Well, the OP had an unintended effect.  All I had to do is endure more of the usual slander and well-poisoning. But it was worth it, fellas, this is a beautiful thing. Rock on.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                This is pretty good. Damn sure it’s better than the draama’s on TV and darn near as good as the Russina film, “The Return.”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Let’s start over, James.  Clean slate.

                Clean as a Swiss apartment!

                I probably owe you an apology for how beastly I’ve been to you.

                Ah, fish that.  Buy me a Leinie’s if I’m ever in your neck of the woods.  Preferably a Northwoods, which the sonsaguns won’t sell here in Michigan.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Well, the OP had an unintended effect.  All I had to do is endure more of the usual slander and well-poisoning.

                Can anyone say with certainty that this isn’t Tellaritism? Or it’s next of kin?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Tom, when it comes to slander and well poisoning, I am put in mind of Mithridates,

                “There was a king reigned in the East:
                There, when kings will sit to feast,
                They get their fill before they think
                With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
                He gathered all that springs to birth
                From the many-venomed earth;
                First a little, thence to more,
                He sampled all her killing store;
                And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
                Sate the king when healths went round.
                They put arsenic in his meat
                And stared aghast to watch him eat;
                They poured strychnine in his cup
                And shook to see him drink it up;
                They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
                Them it was their poison hurt.
                –I tell the tale that I heard told.
                Mithridates, he died old.”

                And so shall you, immune to the feeble cantankeries of the myrmidons.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Thx, mate.  It still hurts, though.  You never get used to that.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                and wanted to point out that these sorts of tactics are seemingly favored here (when done by the proper tribe)

                Can you give an example?  Don’t see this as a challenge so much as being curious.  I tend to think that we lack a tribe. (Or maybe that we are from a whole bunch of different tribes.  Kind of like a political/culurtal bloggy version of the Island of Misfit Toys.)Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                Instead of these squiggly monsters, those of us without defined gravatars should be assigned a random image of a misfit toy.  I totally want to be the train with square wheels.Report

              • Avatar Anne says:

                You can’t! its mine! bwahh hah hah (bad evil laugh)Report

              • Avatar Anne says:

                oops it didn’t change my gravitar image drats


              • Avatar joey jo jo says:

                sure, any sweeping generalization or stereotype against libertarian(ish) positions are dealt with swiftly and severely by people from across the spectrum.  outside of that band, cheered.  its just human nature.  let’s acknowledge it.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                While I get what you’re saying, FWIW hear me out – and mind you I speak now for no one here but myself:

                When people come and bash on libertarians, I often respond.  But when I do, it’s because someone has shown up from somewhere (I assume BJ, but who knows?) and assumes that everyone here is is libertarian – and is now bashing someone who isn’t a libertarian about the rightwing nuttery they assume is in the OP because they haven’t taken the time to read it.

                I suspect this shows up as the defense of libertarianism, but in my mind it isn’t.

                There are other times, though, when someone stops by and poses a serious challenge to libertarianism.  (Someone came be yesterday & asked a libertarian to discuss/defend libertarian views on foreign policy issues for countries that are usually off our radar screen.  It was a great series of questions, and I’m hoping some libertarian takes the time to respond.)  I can think of about 4 guys here that identify as libertarians that are good bets to engage in the more serious challenges.  For someone that doesn’t spend an unhealthy amount of time here, this must absolutely show up as “everyone getting up in arms.”  But for me, it always registers as 4 out of the 40 or so regs being glad that someone’s giving them an excuse to talk about libertarianism.Report

  12. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    The more I study US history of the 20th century (not enough really, sorry. That’s the other half of the department), the more I like Ike compared to pretty much every other President in that century.Report

  13. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    The missus has her Emily Dickinson; and I, my Rosenstock-Huessy!Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      #640 gets stuck in my head any time Dickinson is mentioned. Your wife will appreciate that, I imagine.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Chris, I don’t really understand why, but this thread leaves me with the impression that I’ve just experienced an episode of Twilight Zone. Care to provide an analysis of what’s transpired?Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          In short, Tom trolled in a main page post, then whined, some people talked about civility, Blaise admitted his most recent post was unfortunate, and you and I agreed for a moment.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Bob, I would explain, but Tom will delete it (as he’s already done one attempt). What a classy guy, that Tom.

          Short version: Tom is 12.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Robert, Tom’s now deleted two attempts, the second of which merely stated that he had deleted the first, and then speculated on his emotional age.

          On an unrelated topic, does your wife like Rilke? It’s been my experience that Dickinson fans tend to be Rilke fans, and vice versa.

          Dear Tom, a stand up guy, really.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            Wherever did you get the idea you have a right to call people names?  Yes, you certainly were Iked.

            WillT warned people about this being flypaper.  Yet the Tellarites couldn’t resist descending on it anyway and showing themselves for what they are.  This has been a very fruitful endeavor.Report

            • Avatar sonmi451 says:

              Oh come on, you linked to the comments you had a problem with, of course DensityDuck and myself know you’re referring to us. What flypaper are you talking about? It’s more like writing on the wall with great, big neon letters and then pretending that you’re being subtle. Newsflash, you weren’t subtle.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Flypaper with neon lights.

                You wrote:  I’ve been rude to a lot of bloggers here (hey, I have some self-awareness). 

                That was very cool of you to admit.  You are not a pigface.  Live long and prosper.


            • Avatar Chris says:

              Tom, I called you a troll, something you’ve called me and many others many times. I also said you were 12, because that’s how you’re acting. Do I have a right to say that? Not here, no, because this is a blog someone owns. But I speak the truth, and your desire to hide it in order to make yourself look better merely confirms that.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Yes, I rather enjoy his ‘comments’ and the ire he incites.

            Yes, Rilke as well…something about a collection of poems or something.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    A few years back, when reviewing “Lust, Caution”, Slate movie critic Dana Stevens had an observation that said:   Most on-screen sex scenes could be replaced by a title card reading, “And then they had sex.”

    My basic rule of thumb for my own posts is this:

    Don’t write a comment that could be replaced by a title card reading: “Jaybird communicated in this post that he did not like/agree with the previous poster” with no real loss of any underlying point.

    I’ve got no problem with folks not liking other posters. I’ve got no problem whatsoever with someone not agreeing with other posters.

    If, however, a comment can be replaced with a title card that said “so-and-so not only does not like but disagrees with the previous poster” without losing any nuance? You’ve screwed up.Report

  15. Avatar Liberty60 says:

    When I first began commenting on blogs years ago, I did imagine that I could argue people into submission with a clever jab or a carefully reasoned argument.

    I have come to realize not only is that impossible, but at the end of the day, once you cross swords with someone, there gets to be a point at which it is actually beneficial to our own argument to de-escalate the confrontation and just try to tease out their underlying assumptions and postulates.

    I am thinking of the morality thread where James Hanley and I argued at length, until finally we got to an understanding of his basic framework, based on his own postulates. At that point, since we were both speaking from an unarguable position of belief, no amount of logic could resolve it.

    But my argument and viewpoint was advanced and deepened by understanding his, leaving me in a better position to spot and argue against a similar argument by others in the future. I think my original understanding of how libertarians operate and think has been improved by arguing here; not that I buy it any more than I ever did, and I have certainly never “won” any argument here, but I have a better set of tools with which to engage them.

    Which for me is the purpose of the comments.


    • Avatar North says:

      That’s a laudible purpose to have in comments and I applaud you for it.Report

    • This.  Definitely this.  I’ve found that argument on the internet is not overly useful for trying to persuade people.  It can happen, I suppose, but persuasion is almost never a function of a single “A-HA!” moment, but rather a slow realization over time.

      What argument is useful for is narrowing the issues to understand what you’re really arguing about.  In other words, it’s useful for getting to the point where you’re at least both talking about the same thing and know what that thing is.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        It’s useful for trying to persuade yourself that you’re wrong… if you are in fact wrong, and you’re open minded about the fact that you might be wrong.

        It’s not terribly useful for trying to convince anyone else that you’re right, though.Report

  16. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    I think I need a rollup post down here.

    *I am not saying it’s impossible to be rude, or that rudeness does not exist, or that it cannot or should not provoke an emotional reaction.

    *I am saying that “you’re just being rude, you’re arguing for the sake of arguing so it’s okay to delete your posts” is a dangerous road to start following. 

    *Even more so the attitude in the comments thread of “an argument delivered in a rude manner invalidates itself”.  This is insupportable.

    *This is, in general, because “rudeness” is in the eye of the beholder.  It’s subjective, it’s aesthetic, it’s emotional.

    *And if you want to refuse communication for emotional reasons, there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s an emotional judgement, not a logical one.  But it’s important to understand what decision you are making, and why you are making it.  Inventing a justification for an emotional decision is a bad thing, because it makes it seem like a decision that’s not emotional after all, but rather logical and rational and worthy of extension to other actions.

    *None of this is intended to be construed in the childish “you can’t delete anything anywhere” manner.  You can delete anything you like, for any reason.  You can delete something because it’s complete gibberish, because it’s off topic, because you’re mad at the person, because the cat farted, the cafeteria ran out of bagels, your tux didn’t come back from the cleaners, a terrible flood, locusts, whatever.  What I’m asking is that you know why, instead of kidding yourself that you’re actually doing it for a reason you like better.  What I’m after is honesty.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      See!  This!Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Hmm #1 is fine, no arguement.

      #2 i actually agree. I was pretty uncomfortable about the original post, thus my #3 comment.

      #3 I agree but would add a caveat here that you have demolished a position that I do not believe anyone in the thread has taken. The closest has perhaps been me when I asserted that rudeness is self defeating and self destructive but certainly I would never say that a point delivered rudely is invalidated. Just that it’s unlikely to be communicated effectively.

      #4&5 is fine. No worries there.

      Good job.Report

  17. Avatar Chris says:

    The thing is (and while Tom might say he disagrees with me on this, in practice, he agrees with me 100%), how you talk to someone depends on who you’re talking to. If I want to convince the person with whom I’m conversing, or if I want to convince others who might be reading our exchange, then I should behave in a certain way. But these are hardly the only motives, or the only valid motives, for discussing something online, and it’d be weird to suggest that all or even most of what goes on here at the League is a result of such motives. And there are motives, valid ones I’d argue, that allow, and perhaps even call for, less civility.Report

    • Avatar Jon Rowe says:

      I think you are right.  Keep reverse psychology in mind.  If someone gently shows me my errors I’m far likelier to accept it than if someone is an obnoxious egotistical ass about it.  But the obnoxious egotistical ass might not care about convincing me but rather showing off to the choir.

      If you are really concerned about convincing someone you are right, the best way to do so is to so implicit, so non-personal attack oriented that you speak in the 3rd person and let someone see for themselves in an “aha” moment.

      So for instance, if you had a problem with your uncle and you knew your uncle read your blog and you began the post with “My Uncle Joe is so stupid because he did X,” that’s automatically a non-starter.

      But if instead you told a story about fictional European family, when in reality, you were speaking about your relationship with you and Uncle Joe, if Uncle Joe could read it and put 2 and 2 together, you are far likelier to bring him over to your side than being the obnoxious nephew who stands up to your Uncle because you are angry and aggrieved at him.Report

    • Avatar sonmi451 says:

      But these are hardly the only motives, or the only valid motives, for discussing something online, and it’d be weird to suggest that all or even most of what goes on here at the League is a result of such motives.

      Yup, sometimes people just want to vent. In the case of this blog, the emphasis on “civility” and behaving like a “gentleman” means sometimes certain posts that are clearly ridiculous and/or offensive are stil greeted with a chorus of “interesting point”, or “that’s a great read”, or whatnot. That reaction actually increases my ragey hate towards the post – how can people be falling for this BS?Report

  18. Avatar An Imprisoned Psychotic says:

    Chris is a Board-Certified genius.   And I am not kidding. Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Hey Heidi, how are you. There’s a board for such things?Report

      • Avatar An Imprisoned Psychotic says:

        I am well, thank-you. And yes, there is such a board, Chris.  And you’re among those rarefied Immortals who shall forevermore be ensconced within the Pantheon of very smart dudes.  Not quite up there with Newton, but probably higher than Copernicus.  However, if you can memorize every word of the Bible, both New and Old Testaments, as Newton did, I shall certainly reconsider your proper position on the Brainiac Totem Pole. Now if I could only figure out a way of extracting your leftist tendencies, you just might be a new version of a model Aryan. I’m getting closer and closer to successfully creating a synthetic neuron, but I keep running into dead ends because real, live, cortical neurons won’t speak to my synthetic ones–any solution? How can I get around that damn quantum channel resistance at those synaptic junctions? If anyone around here knows anything about floating point processors and floating point mathematics, give me a holler–I pay well. I’ll even share the Nobel prize money with you. You want a fun number? Chew on this one for awhile: a single neuron has about a 10/4 power of synaptic transmissive capacities and when you multiply that by 100 billion neurons, our brains do indeed have more synaptic transmission connections than the number of every star in this universe! And if you atheists can’t see the benevolent hand of God in the design of the human brain, then you’re just plain deaf, dumb, and blind. p.s. Chris, if my math is correct, it will take about an infusion of 9,577,453 of my synthetic neurons to liberate you from your leftist enslavement. Don’t y’all worry now–help is on the way! You’re at the top of my waiting list. All the best, HReport

  19. Avatar James Hanley says:

    I’ve been debating with myself whether to jump into this debate or not.  Perhaps I shouldn’t, but fools rush in, etc.

    I will admit to being irritated at this post by virtue of who wrote it.  There are many ways to be rude, and this author specializes in some particular types that he appears to not believe fall into the category of rude behaviors.  But saying, “I won, you lost, and you know it but just can’t admit it,” is a common type of on-line rudeness too often engaged in by our author.  And condemning your readers for misinterpreting you while refusing to clarify your meaning (because you “don’t want to get down in the weeds,”) and, frequently, claiming that those readers really do know just what you mean but are pretending not to just so they can attack you, is also a very rude behavior.

    Maybe those things aren’t Tellaritism, but they are not superior behaviors even though, as Chris notes above, they may be performed with a clever turn of phrase.  And it seems to me that much of what the author complains about, in relation to himself, is others responding negative to his own ill-mannered responses to them.Report

  20. Avatar Fish says:

    The Korean War by Max Hastings. Good stuff.Report