It seems like we're moving in the opposite direction these days, with the internet as a means to control, oppress, and indoctrinate. Giant tech corps effectively taking over most means of communication and using their powers to openly censor things are part of the problem. IMO, a bigger part of the problem is the trend among activists that anyone with an improper opinion must be destroyed, along with anyone who allows them to express that opinion, and anyone marginally associated with anyone who allowed them to express their opinion, etc.
It seems like a well-honed process now. Cherry-pick the worst things anyone has said or posted. If nothing sufficiently bad has been posted, then make some fake accounts and post something bad yourself. Write hit pieces on the owner or author and highlight those cherry-picked things. Spread those pieces far and wide, and keep writing new ones with the same theme. Direct them at anyone associated with the target. Repeat and keep spreading the net until somebody breaks.
Is this what we created the internet to be?
- smaller, by many orders of magnitude
- from a highly homogeneous distribution of cultural backgrounds
- mostly of comfortable material means
These are, and have probably always been, prerequisites for the kind of civil discourse you're talking about.
The "heavy-handedness" of tech companies is IMO less a cause than it is a reaction to the inevitable degeneration of discourse as the Internet grew up.
The techno-libertarian-utopian ideals of the early internet were always a pipe dream because they failed to recognize the role of these factors in their culture, and attributed it all to the medium itself. Which is not to say that the Internet doesn't change our communication, just that it's not necessarily in the ways they wanted.
It wasn't that homogeneous, nor always comfortably off. Certainly some groups were hugely over-represented. A lot of the early non-tech groups, and BBS's before them, had a surprisingly wide distribution. You could have a civil discussion on uk.politics with diametrically opposing views. Most didn't degenerate into a flame war, of course some did. Occasionally actual politicians would show up. Or authors in writing groups. Try that today on /r/politics.
The largest change was losing netiquette. Every new join, whether techie, scientist or whatever, was expected to read and abide. Once people started arriving in volume those basic "rules of the club" rapidly became meaningless. No one cared to listen. As people moved through forums, to the social networks the idea of moderation or self accountability at all, died stone dead. Everyone apparently now expects to be just as crass and offensive as they like, because "free speech".
I don't think much of that change could have been avoided. I do think the social networks could have decided to enable moderation far more than they have.
Yep, still September.
To a social network, moderation is a cost center that limits engagement and lowers impressions, while making many of their products get upset at their censorship. Sure they could have done more, but there were a lot of economic reasons not to do so.
What degraded conversation the most IMO is that people can just slink away. Someone makes a claim, you refute them, they don't respond, or just answer with a total non-sequitur, or ignore 80% of what you said but have 5 new straw men you're supposed to deal with before they acknowledge that. You can't pull that shit in a forum with 100-200 people, you can't make it a habit, people will remember. Now people much sooner just retreat into some echo chamber to lick their wounds, instead of dealing with the other, for better or worse, and one-on-one, not group-on-group. As persons, not via stereotypes, and in our case over 6-7 years.
Yes, we all had in common that we lived on a street, but otherwise it was kinda random and diverse. Musicians, painters, gamers, authors, druggies, age 20 to 50, with most being probably in their 20s. We even had a member we always mocked for being kinda racist, and after years of that he wrote us a thank you post because he slowly had come around and we had played a role in that. We kicked spambots and were cruel to human spammers, but anyone else, we weren't whimps about, first and foremost. George Carlin was still alive, things were good. We weren't "civil", we called each other stupid fucks where applicable, not "disingenuous". But we also responded when called out, civil or not.
Come to think of it, last year one of our sister forums reopened its doors, after 10 years of downtime. The posts go back to the year 2000, and the admin made a sticky saying if anyone wants to delete their old posts, they're totally fine to. I said I'm less ashamed of all the (no doubt super cringy) things that are on that forum by me, than I would be of giving even one inch to anyone holding it against me. If that anti-intellectualism armband lifestyle wins out, the future is dead anyway, and I don't care how successful I am in it. But if it doesn't, then I'll be glad I never gave in, never even considered it ^^
Whoops, that's a leftover from what that was a reference to; in the previous paragraph I at first wrote "we had to deal with the other kids on the street we lived on" but that sounded too much like standing up to bullies, it really wasn't like that, we were outspoken, but not super mean to each other.
I remember posting some nasty rant, either about Christianity or God, and how another member was totally taken aback at the words I had "made show up on his screen". He was genuinely hurt, and I felt genuinely sorry about that, and we genuinely talked about it. I don't recall any of the content, but still remember my shock at realizing I had made "words show up" on the screen of a person which hurt them. I can't say I learned a lot from that, because I can still be caustic sadly, but in that instance I had hurt that other person and they said ouch, I knew they weren't "playing a card", and I knew they weren't calling me out so the others or the mods might take action. They just replied as their vulnerable self, with their actual thoughts, and maybe because I would have been totally free to double down and be a complete jerk, I felt no impulse to do that at all, since they didn't come at me "sideways" at all.
There's bound to be some nostalgia, sure, but it really was like we were "forum members" first and foremost, and actually did accept being different, instead of trying to make each other "fit". I'm sure I don't grossly misremember that. We treated each other like wild dogs.. no muzzles, no leashes, but also no tricks, and no dog catchers with words on their lips which their eyes and pheromones didn't match. So we barked and peed a lot and bit some, but only ever to defend our own boundaries, assert our own aliveness, not ever to hurt or even destroy someone else.
I saw this discussion with Camilla Paglia yesterday, and I felt weirdly nostalgic for a time I never knew.
Paglia having a lovely chat with a lovely conservative lady, callers with a separate number for "Democrats" and "Republicans", yet I couldn't stop listening, not even because I cared about the subject so much, just because it's just so edifying to see people agree to disagree without getting stomach ulcers, and happy to find common ground when they do.
Just check out this caller in the same video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPlXO0G3Qzc&t=20m26s
I can think of so many points where I would have expected that caller to be cut off for "seeming too angry", and everybody just rolling their eyes and moving on. Instead, stay in the line, we're gonna talk about this shit. Makes my head spin, makes me homesick. But also makes me confident in not giving up to people who never even knew that, who never had the opportunity to enjoy it. They've been ripped off, and if I gave in I'd be ripping them off, too.
> I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don't be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time.
-- John J. Chapman, Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of Hobart College, 1900
The naivete of everyone is somewhat understandable because each generation lets new technology (e.g. telegraph, airplanes, internet, etc) seduce them into thinking its capabilities will help humans understand each other.
Some examples of previous naive forecasts:
>"telegraph [...] would end international hostilities [...] the telegraph wire, the nerve of international life, transmitting knowledge of events, removing causes of misunderstanding, and promoting peace and harmony throughout the world."
>"With the perfect development of the airplane, wars will be only an incident of past ages."; "The Wright Brothers Invention Should Prevent Further Wars And Insure Peace"
>"the internet will help us connect with each other and let us discuss our differing viewpoints!"
And no doubt that if some future 22nd-century technology of brainwave-telepathic device is invented, those future people will think that magical thought-communicator will enable peace and harmony. Why would there be any wars if 10 billion of us could just magically send thoughts with universal language translation without even speaking or writing?!? (Don't worry, humanity will figure out a way to use the device for spreading hate.)
 today's internet users
Find something that has a proven track record of yielding to intervention, and then intervene there. It’s not sexy to prevent parasitic worm infections, but it does more good than all of SV combined. It’s not sexy to sit in rooms with a bunch of politicians and diplomats and struggle to make microscopic improvements, but it adds up.
The problem is that people in places like this don’t just want to save the world. They want to save the world in their lifetimes, while getting filthy rich, and in no way compromising their ideals. Nobody wants to sacrifice anything, they want improvements to be universally beneficial and personally gratifying. They don’t talk about carbon taxation or cutting down consumerism, regulation or compromise; it’s talk of self-driving electric cars and fusion plants and living on Mars. The only seriously entertained notions are the ones that somehow make the world a better place without making you miss a beat in your lifestyle.
I think it’s more likely that violent conflict arises from actual conflicts of interest or belief. Closer contact might exacerbate those problems instead of fixing them...
Another example would be "Nation shall speak peace unto nation", the BBC motto from 1927, round about the time Dr. Goebbels was using radio to speak a distinctly unpeaceful message.
Take HN, gaming forums and so on - they work decently.
Here’s my rules of the network from a moderators perspective
1) politics and religion are about maximally polarizing. If your forum/topic has no need for these topics, exclude them with great prejudice.
2) there are 2 types of forums. Some forums are built around goal driven topics. Like vectors units, they have both intensity and a direction.
Scalar topics, tend to gather opinions.
Of the two, vectored forums are easier to manage. When people have a goal and progress to make, it naturally reduces a lot of non-specific wool gathering.
3) the web is the best and worst of books and phones. Like a book, you can always revisit what was written. Like a phone you can always interact with what was said.
This means that if something is incendiary, it stays up for days, and people respond to it as if it was spoken aloud a few seconds ago.
Removing incendiary content early is better!
Community cohesion can happen by content, more than demographics.
In my experience, it's a matter of focus and moderation. Unfocused groups turn quickly into toxic cesspools, whether the groups are made of nerds (e.g. 4chan) or genpop (Facebook threads, or comment sections in those publications who didn't yet turn them off).
As long as the game has some effort barrier which needs to be overcomed to be enjoyed, the community will be healthy and civil. (All things held equal)
I know one forum where all such topics are banned, which seems to be effective. And another of that section of the forum is closed to only visible to accounts older than one one year.
It seems the internet is a good example of what humanity actually is, given free reign (-ish) to its individuals. In short, there are the lovers and there are the haters. It seems that our fascination with the latter is enough to add fuel to the fire, despite declaring that we're 'a lover'.
In no way in the "idyll of the early internet" I was part of, did I consider fewer people of "homogeneous cultural background" and not poor, as the "prerequisite" for open discussion.
>The techno-libertarian-utopian ideals of the early internet were always a pipe dream because they failed to recognize the role of these factors in their culture, and attributed it all to the medium itself.
Sorry, but part of my techno-libertarian-utopian ideal was open discussion period. Not some version of "civilized" discussion that should follow some specific form and decorum.
Trolling, flame wars, controversial opinions (all of which were part of the BBS culture and Usenet), were totally fine too.
If we just wanted fewer people of middle/upper middle class homogeneous cultural background, we could just talked to our friends face to face.
Come to think of it, what's described did exist, in communities like The Well. But I didn't then, and don't now, consider them as the model of discussion.
You can find diamonds in the most open (and rougher) discussion. In fact, TFA mentions that much, that in their expected to be a hellish everything-goes Reddit thread, they found pockets of great discussion.
I too have nostalgia for the old days of the internet where there were lots of niche sites about specialist interests and things were easier to find, but I don't think the internet was ever really an idyllic garden of rational discourse. It was from nearly the beginning a manifestation of humanity's id.
> What we forgot is that technology magnifies power in both directions. When the powerless found the Internet, suddenly they had power. But while the unorganized and nimble were the first to make use of the new technologies, eventually the powerful behemoths woke up to the potential -- and they have more power to magnify. And not only does the Internet change power balances, but the powerful can also change the Internet.
Internet is just a force multiplier.
I really don't know how to fix the human empathy problem, though.
For example, the person whose video about questionable YouTube comments set off an advertiser backlash ended up getting involved in a bunch of stories themselves for making the exact same kind of content (as mentioned by Keemstar, Review Tech USA, etc). The GamerGate controversy had dozens of examples of people getting doxed or revealed as hypocrites, and certain entire forums exist pretty much to dig every bit of random people's personal backgrounds.
You're right in that everyone has said something they regetted/should regret, and that people should be more forgiving and understanding, but it's not due to people not looking up the histories of the attackers. It's because everyone even remotely involved in a controversy will basically get doxed to hell and everything they've ever done or said used against them, accused and accuser alike.
We could do with a lot more empathy from everyone.
And I think it's fair in a certain way to get extra-annoyed at this type of behavior from those who preach inclusiveness. Like, at least the judgmental a-holes are consistent.
Not just online. Everywhere in life.
To truly have empathy for all is indeed a hard problem though.
That sounds nicely quotable.
Maybe I had a late start, but as far as I remember the internet has never been like that. So much of the forums and comment sections I used to read were mountains of junk, starting with the way people would write "First!" as a comment on nearly anything. The best didn't rise to the top - things that generated the most interest did, and the two were often completely divergent.
> It seems like we're moving in the opposite direction these days, with the internet as a means to control, oppress, and indoctrinate. Giant tech corps effectively taking over most means of communication and using their powers to openly censor things are part of the problem.
Feels like the reverse to me. Giant tech corps are failing to take measures against actively harmful memetic material - antivax, MLM, conspiracy theories, racism/white supremacy, extremism, etc. because these things drive their primary metric: engagement.
Generally, it feels to me like large tech companies only take action on these issues after significant public outcry or advertiser action. The problem of censorship has little to do with them and everything to do with opposing groups that harass or threaten individuals (Scott's post being a prime example).
Did you ever actually read newsgroups like soc.culture.yugoslavia in the early 90s?
I just went to take a quick peek to refresh my memory, and yes, it was quite awful - https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!searchin/soc.culture.yug...
Small numbers of highly motivated activists are part of the problem, but also part of how things are - pretty much by definition, change is led by activists who commit to an idea before it becomes mainstream. I find even for movements that I agree with the person pushing for change is often someone who I consider unhealthily dedicated to that particular topic. To say nothing of movements I disagree with. I'll pick on Stallman as a well known figurehead for this sort of thing. Activists attempting to shut people down when they can is (a) not going away and (b) going to be a tradition dating back to time immemorial.
We should look to politics for examples of the forces at play and the organic solutions that are found. Political debate in a government setting swiftly degenerates into a shouting match if it is not absurdly ritualised. Technical discovery and discussions is done by small committees and with a few chosen representatives of the major ideologies to keep the signal-noise ratio acceptable. Executive power is embedded in an apparatus of precedent, ritual and respect that protects it from activism, even if it looks like the executive is misbehaving.
I'd suggest the last sentence is key to the problems emerging on the internet - infrastructure controllers (Google, SSC, etc) aren't emerging from large agglomerations of people and don't have the unbreakable support network enjoyed by political leaders allowing them to fight back against unreasonable activists (eg, think Trump - the structures that protect him from activists must be world-class). I found this post enlightening to just how damaging the N-to-1 relationship between the weakest link in the system and activists can be, even when the weak link isn't a creator and is obviously committed to free speech and moderate ideals. The implications are profound.
This isn't right. Compare the legalization of divorce. It's often given credit for America's current sky-high divorce rate. But it happened right in the middle of a long increasing trend in the divorce rate, without appearing to affect that trend in the slightest.
Most change just happens, without being led by anyone at all.
* what was the idea for combating Sybil if hundreds of thousands, millions, or billions of people arrived?
* what was the idea for combating disinformation campaigns?
* if you thought it best to maximize for globally readable and reachable ideas, what was the idea for dealing with garden variety abuse and viral content of a defamatory nature?
I've never heard of this happening - was there specific instances of this you were thinking of? I'd like to read more, if possible.
I'm a person who likes to read, and rarely comment. This experience is completely broken for me, as there no longer seems to exist 'neutral' places for discussion. Is it that people value 'samethink' above all else? People getting more easily offended? I honestly have no idea, but it wasn't always this way...
I was made aware of the Smollet case via reddit frontpage. I recall the majority of comments from the get-go were very skeptical of the story.
Make of that what you will.
>with the internet as a means to control, oppress, and indoctrinate.
No, we're just not allowing "information anarchy." Not all information is beneficial, useful, or constructive. Some of it has net negatives.
Stop assuming there are enough rational/good actors to counter act the bad/ignorant actors who propagate bad information. We don't have the public education infrastructure in a good enough place to assume that. So stop assuming it, because the data is telling you you're wrong. We're seeing the opposite of what everyone claimed would happen if everyone had access to as much information from as many different sources as possible. And we've just tip toed into this era and we're already seeing bad effects.
The internet of yesteryear (and I mean decades ago) was largely populated by well educated people. Most of them were educated in a fairly structured environment, and knew how to qualify credible sources and credible information against information that was most likely incorrect or uncredible. That's not indoctrination. That's not "oppressive." The exact opposite paradigm you want for the internet created a populace that allowed the internet to be a great place to have civil, intellectual, and life altering conversations. Someone saying something absurd/incorrect/dangerous never could go far. It was always beaten or it was ignored, left to die because there wasn't an audience for those ideas.
Now you can present almost any idea, no matter how ridiculous, harmful, or "bad" it may be and there will most likely be audience. And that's a problem. The idea that again, we can just let ideas fly off the wall and it'll slowly get filtered out is not tenable and has every ounce of data loudly saying this perspective is not true.
You might be well educated enough, or even just have the intelligence, to discuss certain topics in an intellectually curious manner from a distance. But others, a lot of others, are going to take them at face value and run with them.
It's information anarchy. Anarchy always results in new power structures that are less suitable to civil existence.
It took me a few minutes to think of what really bothered me about this line of thinking, and I think it comes down to this sentence. If you believe that this is true, why should it stop with just the internet? Why not all of life? This is exactly the line of thinking that, when applied to real life, translates to "We must have a dictatorship of the enlightened because people are not smart enough to function in a Democracy".
This philosophy has been put forth a great many times by a great many people. The end result of it is typically not very pleasant for anyone. Particularly for those who thought that they were one of the smarter ones who were too well-educated and enlightened to fall for anything really bad.
It is true of "all of life" but the social dynamics (coupled with bog-standard H. sapiens cognitive foibles) in play when you aren't interacting with a "real person", but merely a name on a screen, empowers the bad/ignorant actors far moreso than it does the good/rational ones.
Even the most reprehensible forum troll knows that if he behaved that way to someone's face, he'd get punched.
Honestly, in my experience, this isn't true. "Troll"-type demonstrators and protesters behave like, well, trolls to people's face all the time, and it's generally considered part of Good Public Decorum and Free Speech not to punch them.
You realize say, peer review is a thing. You can't just publish whatever on a news site. Or in scientific journals, or your community bulltein board.
So I'm a bit confused.
By the way, I note that you have been downvoted/flagged to oblivion. I only see your comment because I prefer to browse with 'showdead' enabled. So, you presumably post here because you like this forum, yet your peers think your comment was not worth anyone even _viewing_.
I think your comment was a coherent, good faith attempt to express a view. While I disagree with your view, I'd prefer people debate it with you rather than flag it away.
But how do you feel knowing that your view has been deemed to be net negative and harmful enough that no one should even view it?
How do I feel about my comment being flagged? It's totally expected. This is a heavy technolibertarian site.
The idea that "things will just sort themselves out" in any field can never be questioned. Saying that maybe things should be a little bit controlled is always met with extreme cult like fervor. The current effects of status quo paradigms are never taken into consideration.
And because of this the term "free speech" has become a thought terminating cliche.
You apparently can't ever know what's right or wrong, or say what's good or bad.
What a terrible way to think.
The same logic applies to both of them except information is a way more useful tool with less potential for abuse and has censorship has proven full of more bads. You complain of status quos and norms not being taken into consideration yet never think of the downsides of your "careful" approach which is actually recklessness driven by fear.
You can always attempt to validate claims that you hear that may be false. There is nothing that can be done to claims not heard and spread. And that is one hell of a camel's nose under the tent.
Abuse is all about the wielder anyway. To give up potential and put oneself in the position of much worse abusers because of "bad people might abuse it".
Leaving aside the issue of pre-judging which ideas fall into that bucket, what about the fallible targeting mechanisms of the mob? Do you think that what happened to the culture war thread was good and justified?
Feels like a bad faith question.
Like anti-vax, or AGW denialism, or white supremacy, or flat-eartherism, or creationism, or trickle down economics . . .
Need I go on?
He seemed kind of angry at other people for bringing it up as a way to demonstrate what he was doing was wrong but then turned around used those topics as an example of why his moderation and general platform were so great. Guess he can just have it both ways because.
It's nothing but pseudo-intellectual masturbation. The idea of meaningful debate is apparently more important than actually meaningfully debating something to people like the author of the article being linked. Anyone who apparently brings attention to the absurdity and uselessness (or sometimes harmfulness) of what he's doing is "just against him" or is just too morally disgusted to actually think about the topics. Which is actually kind of a funny view point when you think about it; he truly believes other people just don't "get it" which is the summary of the entire article.
It's arrogance and foolishness masquerading as an enterprise in advancing knowledge.
WTF? Those were not the "best arguments he had for debate," he made it pretty clear that those were in fact his softest targets that his detractors could use to shut down debate. Which they accomplished.
I'm not saying I agree with Alexander's position, I usually have a lot of problems with anything he tags "things I will regret writing." But the one thing that's patently obvious about him from his writing, is his commitment to arguing the point even if it means straying into taboo topics that are much more easily avoided. As far as I can tell, that's sorta "the rationalists" _thing_. It's not my thing, but that doesn't mean I don't get what they're going for.
To characterize "allowing Nazi view points and pedophiles" as the _point_, rather than _an unfortunate consequence_ is an uncharitable take on their thing.
There was a thread specifically for politics, loosely associated with his name, and he didn't proactively ban enough people who you don't agree with?
(If you read the article, he didn't defend any Nazis. He said that he never saw any specifically Nazi content, yet a bunch of people, yourself now included, accused him of enabling it.)
Tolerance goes for people you disagree with, too. In fact, it's only actually tolerance when it applies to those you disagree with or don't like.
(meaning: this isn't a super new account, why is it dead? I think I've been the one vouching for quite a few of the comments)
You're upset that the SSC guy didn't aggressively moderate others, after all, when it wasn't even his job.. maybe there's a lesson here.
It's two separate things. Sorry to confuse the issues.
I know some of you desperately want there to be some moralistic lesson here. But it will never happen.
And to be perfectly clear, I'm never upset about moderation as long as it can be discussed. So don't get confused with generic talking points that no one is presenting.
I'm not even libertarian and I'm definitely not technolibertarian. I don't even know what that is, it sounds like "combine how dumb libertarians and tech people are about politics and economics".
Get out in your community if you really care. Prove your tolerance and appreciation of diversity by actually mixing with different kinds of people.
We were mistaken about humanity and the internet.
The process you describe is not necessarily how it happens either, simple error can recreate this scenario.
It is clear that the only tool moderators have at hand are variants of censorship - and thats because not all ideas are equal, and some ideas are better evolved to travel through the currents and dark gyres of the sea of human thoughts.
Who is “we?” Who envisioned that? And who gave those people the right to speak for the rest of us?
Free speech exists within the framework of social norms. You can think and say what you want, but that doesn’t mean that you get to think and say what you want in your places of work, community, etc., without social consequences from other people. That’s a central part of the freedom of association—nobody has to let you say what you want in their spaces. Ostracizarion, shaming, and exclusion over speech, actions, and beliefs is a central and important part of constructing and maintaining the social fabric.
All that happened to the Internet is that it became civilized. And like every other area of civilized society, people imposed their social norms on it. Free speech still exists. Nothing is stopping you from setting up a web server and posting whatever (legal) thing you want. But nobody has to accommodate you and your thoughts in their spaces. And they are free to ostracize you for the things you believe or say.
If the answer is “never” we are going to see a lot of pedophilia, Nazism, and spam. If the answer is “whenever people disagree” then we are going to be a world of mutually unintelligible and isolated factions. The correct setpoint is an interesting and non-obvious question, and the limited scope of the First Amendment doesn’t answer it.
My point is that the folks that founded the Internet, even if they believed in techno libertarian ideas like that mentioned by OP (which I’m not sure is true—the Internet was built by a bunch of defense contractors at a very mainstream company), have no say in what the Internet should be like. It belongs to my mom and my six year old as much as anyone.
SSC is basically hosting a grown-up, text based debate club. Even the version that 16-year-olds encounter will ask questions like affirmative action, immigration, abortion, church & state. Kids are required not only to listen quietly through, but to competently articulate opposing views on such topics.
The social norm proposed for the internet in campaigns like this is a narrower range of acceptable opinion than in officially sanctioned activities of regional federations of public high schools. There is more going on here than "sorry, no techno-anarchist utopia for you."
His analysis is value-neutral. He's not saying the SSC culture war thread, in its previous state, was good or bad. He's that the Internet itself doesn't require it to be one way or the other, and on that point he's obviously right.
You had some weird people, with weird ideas, who found this to be a nice home. Often they were very smart, but had strange ideas on humanity, race, religion, politics, and knew they couldn't share them anywhere else. I, personally, enjoy trying to look through the world of all different types of filters.
In fact, I think it's important. While the mistakes of history are so obvious now, at the time plenty of smart and good people supported terrifying and cruel policies. The first step, in my opinion, to not making those mistakes, is to formulate a deep empathy for why they made them. For why you might have made the same mistake without the benefit of hindsight.
My best defense against this is to inoculate myself by reading and understanding a wide variety of strange ideas on the world.
> I acknowledge many people’s lived experience that the thread felt right-wing; my working theory is that most of the people I talk to about this kind of thing are Bay Area liberals for whom the thread was their first/only exposure to a space with any substantial right-wing presence at all, which must have made it feel scarily conservative.
I moved from Western Washington where I grew up to the Bay area. I lived in a liberal area in WA, but conservatives existed and more importantly were visible. The congressional district I lived in flipped between Republican and Democrat twice while I was a kid. Some of my parents friends made cases for conservative viewpoints, and in retrospect I really respect my father encouraging me to listen even if I didn't agree.
When I moved to the Bay area it felt like I stepped into a world where conservatives might as well be foreigners, or even a different species given the way some people talk about them. Even though I usually agree with the positions they hold, I've become alienated from much of my co workers by the way they openly express disdain for conservatives in a way that demonstrates a clear lack of experience in talking with people on a different end of the political spectrum as normal people. It's jarring to see people simultaneously patting themselves on the back for being inclusive and welcoming at the same time as they exhibit disdain for half the country.
I also worry that this is a positive feedback loop of exclusion. Fewer non-left people join Bay area tech companies because of the liberal monoculture. Then the liberal monoculture becomes stronger as there are fewer people calling out ways in which the company is being exclusive towards non-liberals, this leading to an even bigger monoculture, and so forth.
It's probably the second biggest thing that is makinge consider moving away from the Bay Area, after cost of living. Sure, I prefer to hav mostly like-minded (liberal) friends, but consider this: in close to a decade of living and about 6 years working in the Bay area I have met exactly one co-worker that openly expressed conservative views. I just don't think that kind of extreme political segregation is healthy.
The feedback loop of exclusion works for a lot of monocultures. They just have to be offensively fanatic about something, and the zeal will drive out anyone foolishly moderate enough to disagree.
If you wouldn't enjoy assigning the Christian apostles to football team positions, you will feel like an alien somewhere. If you think veganism is nonsense from both ethical and nutritional stances, you will feel like an alien somewhere.
The ideological monocultures have to be intentionally upset, or they progress into self-reinforcing shielded bubbles, that are even tougher to crack.
I'd like to be able to live somewhere that I might hear people discussing open borders at the gun range, or misogyny at the gym, or military budgets at the coffee shop. I'm sick of people suffering "downvoted for disagreement" in real life. It's like the awful clique-caste system from high school has metastasized into (un)civil adult society, and no one can eat at anyone else's lunch table anymore.
There's a gun range in the Santa Cruz mountains that's about a 20 minute drive from downtown Mountain View where I've had just those types of conversations. I had a discussion on military budgets, with sailors, in a bar in SF months back during Fleet Week. I literally had a conversation about misogyny at the gym with my friend today, because for once we were outnumbered by women there.
I think SF is an ideological monoculture in that you aren't really allowed to be racist or misogynistic or homophobic here, sure. But you're certainly allowed to be conservative in the "old" sense of the word. Tons of the new rich here are.
What I've noticed the most about SF are it's inhabitants being shocked (shocked!) to learn that people have views different than them. It's as if their entire world ends at the city limits.
You should remember that we're not all from the Bay Area.
For example many people in my workplace will genuinely call you racist if you say "employment decisions should not be made on the basis of race or gender." Threats of violence towards Trump voters varying degrees of subtlety are made on public channels with no apparent repercussions, and these were positively received by much of the company.
Are these views and behavior that you agree with? Sure most liberals probably agree with Bay area liberals on national issues, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I also dispute that people are free to be conservative in an "old" sense - whatever that is meant to mean. The majority of conservatives have and continue to believe in:
* Opposition to same sex marriage.
* Opposition to abortion.
* Support for more rigorous immigration enforcement.
* Oppose affirmative action.
Among other things. All of these things are things that would be socially unacceptable in much of the Bay Area, and employees are probably committing career suicide if they do espouse these views. Sure, people can rationalize this by saying that these political views are misogynistic or racist. But if a group constructs a definition of racism, homophobia, or misogyny that categorizes mainstream conservative views as such, then saying "you aren't allowed to be misogynistic or homophobic" is functionally the same thing as saying "you aren't allowed to be conservative."
All of these are traditionally conservative views. In fact today's conservatives are actually more accepting of gay marriage and other things than they were in the past, so I'm especially confused at what you meant by conservative "in the 'old' sense of the word."
As a bonus, a lot of the people are actually involved in the process somehow, so the discussion is a lot less abstract and theoretical than usual.
Modern life actually seems to be driving people into micro-cultures, rather than bringing people with different beliefs together.
In my experience in the bay area, it's very rare for co-workers to express political views at all. In fact, I find the bay area to be very politically reserved compared to the open embrace of conservative viewpoints where I'm from (I probably lean more conservative than liberal, so I don't think I'm simply being more sensitive to it).
I have encountered people that aggressively espouse liberal positions every now and then, but in my experience, this makes most other people around them (including me) uncomfortable, and the conversation usually stops quickly. While it is maybe more rare for a conservative to do this, I find it to be met with the same response.
I had the same experiences in Western Washington, but I get the feeling that much fewer people feel empowered to step in and stop the situation where people espouse controversial viewpoints in a manner denigrating to those that believe differently. So people who do aggressively espouse controversial viewpoints think this behavior is acceptable. This does have tangible impact beyond slack and email lists. Our company has made several decisions that many would regard unethical or at least unsavory, and I think there's a strong probability that if there was less of a mono culture someone would have pointed out that these things went beyond the realm of mainstream morals.
Granted, I'm totally complicit in this bystander effect. I don't want to risk any damage to career or network opportunities. The concerning takeaway, though, is that fact that this is an environment that engenders fear in people who try to
I agree that SF is a special kind of bubble, but I do think there's been an explosion of shockingly extreme right-wing thinking on the Internet in recent years... really since about 2008-2012 as near as I can tell.
Take this one that has two relative high voted threads and was at the top for a while: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/at8cuq/the_orches...
I am completely amazed that from there you interpret biological determinism, leading to red pill, leading to nazi worship, and finally landing at the far-right. I guess that answer my question why people think it is far-right, while my own definition of far-right is no where near that.
I question the motives of anyone who invests a lot of their time in the debate and discussion of the merits of various metrics for ranking the value of human beings unless they are on the skeptic side. Generally those who argue for even tangentially defend stereotypes or or metrics that can be used to a priori rank people by quality of meat are at the very least flirting with some kind of totalitarian elitism.
Perhaps this is hypersensitivity and overreaction, but I am not sure. I have studied human history. The instant the camel of a priori anonymous judgement of other people gets its nose under the tent, literal hell on Earth follows. Every single time.
I do not believe humans are all (physically) equal, but I do believe that it is important to treat people that way by default and to absolutely reject the aggregates-to-individuals fallacy here. That kind of reverse projection of statistics is always problematic or downright erroneous, but here it is also toxic and evil. Save biases from MTBF statistics for hard drives or other inanimate objects. (Even there it is problematic!)
Since you can't go from aggregate to individual with humans, what is the value of defending potential means of doing so?
Judging a community based on perceived motives rather than words and action is prime ground for problem. For example the Feminism movement is often being accused of misandry, while men's right movement is accused of misogyny. This make it is impossible for those two groups to have a conversation about eliminating stereotypes or that people should be treated as if all was equal, even if both groups share the exact same goal and only differ on how to reach it.
Going back to this study however, from a practical perspective all that a bad p value means is that there is a need to replicate the study if we still want to reference it. That is what the null hypothesis means. The data is indistinguishable from a random processes. The theory that blind auditioning is beneficial to women could still be valid, but this study doesn't really say anything to make it true or false.
If its not clear, I do very much believe that humans are all equal. Even from a gene perspective the difference are tiny and influence only a few minor traits. From listening to professors in neuro science and primatologists, it is a repeating pattern that where we thought there were biological difference between men and women that caused specific behavior, when tested it usually show that it almost always is caused by cultural factors. For example, men are not more prone to violence then women. Their higher physical strength and cultural preference to using their hands results in statistically higher damage, but the incident rates when studies tend to show identical numbers for men and women. While I have not seen a study to show it, I would expect to see the same result in regard to nursing and parenting. Breastfeeding causes a initial bias where women will statistically spend more time with the child, but beyond that it is all cultural.
I do believe that differences between groups of people and genders exist. The science is quite strong, though obviously there is quite a lot of debate possible around just how strong these effects are and how malleable these characteristics can be.
Unfortunately I have also come to believe (based on observing trends like those I listed above) that our society is absolutely not ready to discuss this openly. Not even close. Research in this area should be borderline encrypted in dense absolutely clinical and neutral rhetoric, should be discussed in private scientist-only forums, and should never be given a "pop science" treatment. (Most pop science gets everything wrong anyway regardless of the subject.) Any repeatable study reliably showing evidence for some systematic group difference among humans that has any strong social, political, or economic implication should be treated the way we treat exact buildable plans for a hydrogen bomb. Such things are classified for a reason. The destructive yield could be similar.
As I said I was once more optimistic. Recent trends (and not just in the United States) have changed my mind. Some individual people can face these things and discuss them rationally, but society as a whole is not ready and exposing everyone to this discussion is tantamount to posting a simple recipe for a biological WMD to Facebook. That too would be just fine if we as a human race were much saner, wiser, and more mature.
I think the ultimate reason this issue is so hard is that inequality is in my opinion the darkest aspect of the human condition. Inequality is worse than death. Death is something we all face and it only happens once, but the inequality is by definition unequal and those cursed by a bad hand from the genetic lottery die every day. The placement of sentient consciousness by nature into unequal vessels is such a horror that it triggers us all and inspires every kind of defensive emotional reaction, including of course a desire to hate and discriminate against those that might seem less fit than ourselves to hide from ourselves knowledge of the bad cards in our own genetic poker hand. The majority of the human race can face death, but it seems that the majority of the human race is not emotionally ready to face the greater horror of inequality.
...Consider that the orchestra post that triggered these last couple replies is the skeptic side.
> Since you can't go from aggregate to individual with humans, what is the value of defending potential means of doing so?
I'm not sure this is going to follow, since I'm not sure this more-general question is still based on the orchestra study, but if so: That's not the point of focusing on stuff like it. The point is specifically to debunk claims of institutionalized sexism/etc that get taken at face value.
Take for example the disparity in prison populations between women and men. If we believe that there are no differences in behavior or tendencies between the sexes (and a large number of people do), then it would be fair to conclude that our justice system is exhibiting blatant sexism against men. Around 80-90% of prisoners are men. This is very far from equality of outcome; one sex is around an order of magnitude more likely to be a prisoner.
But there is a strong body of evidence to suggest that even absent any discrimination differences such as these will likely exist. Men exhibit higher levels of aggression and risk tolerance. These patterns exhibit themselves relatively uniformly throughout all societies regardless of development levels, cultural trends, etc. If we did not perform this kind of population level analysis then society may have tried to balance our prison population with bad policy that tries to engineer an equality of outcome when there is no reason to expect equality of outcome.
Is the above "flirting with some idea of totalitarian elitism"? Are we "ranking the value of human beings" by concluding that men are more likely to get incarcerated even in non-discriminatory systems? I think it'd be ridiculous to say yes. And if using population level analysis to justify a 10 to one disparity in prisoners is justified, then it's also justified to use population level analysis to reach the conclusion that, say, a 5 to 1 disparity in tech jobs can be reached without discrimination.
On the note of "ranking the value of human beings", plenty of people in my workplace would agree with your statements. But then they'd turn around and engage in the very practice you describe. For instance, at our recruiting events we give each candidate a star if they're black, Hispanic, or female. If they're an Asian male they get an "ND" which stands for "negative diversity". Whether a resume has two, one, zero starts, or an "ND" is used when determining which to include in our candidate search. We're ranking the value of human beings explicitly, on the basis of our own political ideology.
If you don't normally talk to very right wing folks in your normal life (I certainly don't), you are going to read things you would consider shocking. They don't appear to me to be anywhere near a majority.
For those who would like to form their own opinion, here is a link to the current thread:
Regardless of people's opinions of the threads, there's still the discrepancy between most people characterizing the thread as right wing when in reality the majority of participants were left leaning.
There's studies that show that people on either extremes of the political spectrum are more likely to see centrist or even moderates on the same side as being on the opposite side of the political spectrum. I see a lot of that happening in the Bay Area. Things like setting up more restrictive hiring flows for white and Asian men is taken for granted in much of the Bay Area when such policies are pretty controversial in much of the country. On the flip side, mainstream conservative views like support for restrictions on abortion is essentially unheard of.
I'm sure there are conservative places that are analogues to the Bay area on the other end of the political scale. But that doesn't make it any less of a concern to me.
As far as I can tell, the explosion in extreme right-wing ideology on the internet has come from the "special kind of bubble". The San Francisco Bay and the Boston activist-academic sphere breed ultra-reactionaries like pretty much nothing else, because they teach you to take Poe's Law as a standard of politics: no matter how much it sounds like a parody by the enemy tribe, you really can find someone purporting to be at the ideological vanguard of your tribe going to exactly the extremes you think would be a step too far.
In a related matter, as a matter of fact, today the noted Marxist journal Teen Vogue printed an article explaining that Bernie Sanders is overtly reactionary on identity politics, including an accusation that Sanders supports "settler-colonialism" (it's a tweet, of course), and Vox pulled a damn similar move on Elizabeth Warren a week or two ago.
The far-right bases itself on agreeing to many of the most toxic frames the far-left has, and then taking the other side. The far-left does exactly the inverse. It mostly just depends which side has "their" mainstream party in office at the moment -- the one out of power, builds a new extremist ideology based on their opposite. It would be easy to say, oh, that's ridiculous, I reject those premises and those frames, but then you find your own fellow-travelers affirming them.
I think you can attribute that seeming explosion (at least in part) to people suppressing moderate conservatives, who then have a choice between becoming enlightened classical liberals and bearing the cost of that path in social isolation, or joining the more extreme people where they've been banished to (which, for its moral hazards, is a hell of a lot more fun, and a lot less depressing).
These people are not beyond help, but if you keep suppressing them, they will become more entrenched in the underground and the fringes, and they will become as fragile and bigoted as the academic marxists and intersectionalists who inhabit the same sorts of places on the far left.
The high road takes a lot of fortitude when you are a social progressive who is seen as willing to hear and integrate good conservative arguments. Libel, vandalism, and assault are rampant against people visibly associated with conservatives, at least, they have been where I've lived (in southern Ontario).
It already happens in right wing enclaves. I've been banned from multiple conservative subreddits for making reasonable centrist arguments that conservatives historically agreed with or asking questions that stir the pot in a gentle way. On Facebook and Twitter I get people responding with ad hominems to arguments which are not liberal but which do not toe the current Republican party line. Also, someone was arrested the other day for seriously plotting to murder a bunch of popular Democratic politicians. The grass is not greener, in other words.
I have not attempted to engage on many other forums but it seems to me that arguing outside the local groupthink is what makes people angry, more than any particular ideology being the driver. Angry people do stupid things. If you're in the minority party locally, you might feel oppressed even if you could go to the next town over and feel right at home.
One brings it out and up everywhere as self-justification as they aren't actually being persecuted haven't tweaked their behaviors from even negative receptions. One may call them drama llamas trenchantly but more charitably it is identity based instead of experience based.
The other is met with far more guarded pessimism and even with angry backlash tends to be in "friendlier" spaces or stressed. It is more confided than presented usually, more angry than righteous. Actually some degree of trauma territory.
These are individual situations based on experiences fundamentally. Ironic inversions of the typical and coexistence of "real" and "fake" persecution behaviors are possible.
Sure Modi is just an individual, but the BJP elected him to office.
>half the country.
I disagree that half the country is conservative. I was put onto this idea by Michael Moore actually, who argued that if you run the surveys, turns out most Americans support liberal values. This article is a good summary: https://prospect.org/article/most-americans-are-liberal-even...
> 82 percent of Americans think wealthy people have too much power and influence in Washington.
> 59 percent favor raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour.
> 78 percent of likely voters favor establishing a national fund that offers all workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
> 60 percent of Americans believe “it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage.”
> 60 percent of registered voters favor “expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American.”
> 58 percent of the public favors replacing Obamacare with “a federally funded healthcare program providing insurance for all Americans.”
> 63 percent of registered voters—including 47 percent of Republicans—of Americans favor making four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free.
> 76 percent of voters are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about climate change.
> 84 percent of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun buyers.
> 60 percent of Americans believe the recent killings of black men by police are part of a broader pattern of how police treat black Americans (compared with 39 percent who believe they are isolated incidents).
I could go on. The point is, a true conservative is somewhat of a minority in America, and also, a "conservative" isn't what one might think. There are probably a lot of people in the Bay Area that believe they are liberals but are actually conservatives - tons of self-described libertarians here, for example, whose opinions on the invisible hand and free market I would argue are conservative.
Then, there's the "modern conservative" - the MAGA hat wearer that thinks Mexicans are taking their jobs, but are also somehow draining tax money by illegally being on welfare. The racists, the homophobes the ones that believe bullying is a valid "treatment" for the "disease" of transgenderism. The ones for whom "conservatism" isn't so much a political belief as an ethical one - "we need a conservative judge to prevent abortions, and if he's a misogynist so be it, it's for the Greater Good." These people aren't necessarily "alien," but their thought process in 2019 is, especially compared to the rest of the world.
I think the world as a whole is becoming more rational. I think more people are getting good educations. In a rational world, racism and homophobia and all the things that are "scarily conservative" just don't jive. There's no good arguments for it. It's the Mexicans are taking our jobs and our tax money at the same time thinking - totally irrational, totally incompatible.
> I have met exactly one co-worker that openly expressed conservative views
If "conservative views" means "government should spend less," I think SF could use more people like that, for god's sake just look up the budget for Van Ness improvements. The existence of opposition would help cases like that.
But if "conservative views" means "gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry," fuck'm, why would you want someone like that around? How does that "help the public discourse?" How does exposure to that viewpoint help anyone? "Free speech?" I don't buy it.
What are morals is the obvious counterpoint and that's fine - I'm not arguing people should be jailed for it, or physically harmed. I'm saying the worse that should happen to a racist is that they are ignored. We aren't China, in that sense.
This is probably the biggest problem with our two-party system: Most people land similarly to you and I, as shown by the specific-issue poll earlier, but neither of the two major parties really fall that way, making people choose based on the issue(s) they deem most important.
According to most opinion polls I've seen that actually cluster people along these dimensions, about 3% of Americans are "socially liberal, fiscally conservative".
> In a 1997 work, Michael Walzer asked, "Should we tolerate the intolerant?" He notes that most minority religious groups who are the beneficiaries of tolerance are themselves intolerant, at least in some respects. In a tolerant regime, such people may learn to tolerate, or at least to behave "as if they possessed this virtue"
Substitute "religious group" with "political group", and the same applies. If you ostracize and reject people who hold views you find reprehensible then you're relinquishing your best opportunity to change them. If the surrounding community rejects them, then these rejected people will commiserate with like minded people and probably become more extreme and vengeful of society.
"Intolerant of intolerance" refers just as much to the intolerance for different worldviews and values that we harbor within ourselves as it does to the intolerance we sometimes witness in others.
for example: "i believe that wild bengal tiger will come lick my feet and cough up whole, live bunnies for me to cuddle." bad idea. doesn't deserve any tolerance whatsoever.
people, even those holding poor morals or beliefs, deserve tolerance, because they can change and adopt better morals or beliefs, particularly through experience.
That's true, but then you need to set up judicable public standards for how to rule on which ideas are good and which are bad. Since most of "liberal" or "free" society is based on refusing to institutionalize morality outside fairly specific civil guidelines, this kind of society is, well, as many people have pointed out, largely incompatible with and unprepared for the challenge of systematically and publicly telling the difference between right and wrong.
we already codify ideas, test them, rank them, and modify or discard them through academic, religious, political, commercial, and social organizations. it's a dynamic system, not a (slowly-built) static one.
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice". - MLK Jr. (paraphrasing theodore parker apparently, which i just learned =)
I can imagine how many discussions and people have been silenced in a similar manner, especially when things are more muddled.
(For anyone who's just learning about him, there's a "About/Top Posts" on the top menu. He's probably most well-known for writing on contentious political topics with unusual civility and insight, but he also has a ton of stuff on psychiatry (how various psychiatric drugs work, analyses of drug studies he does/doesn't agree with, etc) and on science generally that's quite useful, e.g. https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/12/beware-the-man-of-one-... )
Someone from the commentor community here should do a historical study on censorship like this (not exactly like this, of course, since the internet didn’t exist) under representative governments. Is it rare or unprecedented for voters to polarize into two tribes that will not communicate without the state falling into civil war? Or is it common and just feels like a coming civil war because we haven’t lived a large enough sample size?
The truth of the matter is there are more trolls these days - see especially "The Card Says Moops" (https://youtu.be/xMabpBvtXr4) as to one reason why. If you say "get your own website and post there" it raises the bar just enough that trolls won't do it. I think this is a good thing.
Note that I am firmly in favor of Net Neutrality and carriers (eg ISPs, registrars, etc) banned from having tiers or otherwise hampering access. What I oppose is people crying censorship when big name sites kick out the despicables. As I pointed out above, anyone can get a website and domain name.
I wish this were true, but I don't think it is anymore.
If you post or host anything remotely controversial, expect to have your site DoS'd off the internet. How can that be avoided? Well, mostly through the help of one of the big boys (Cloudflare, Google Project Shield, etc). What happens if they decide you're a despicable, e.g. Stormfront? You're pretty much SOL.
Sure, there are plenty of other mitigation services, but they generally get pricey - not only pricey, but asymmetrically pricey. When your detractors know that they can burn through your war chest by expending a fraction of what you lose, that's clearly an unsustainable position.
The same is true for DNS. When every registrar can be pressured into denying you service, you don't have a lot of recourse.
That's not to mention the well-worn argument that, in a hypothetical era where the vast majority of traffic is via one of the big name sites, going off on your own is basically analogous to having your soapbox relocated from Hyde Park to the industrial wastelands. Are you still technically able to speak publicly? Sure, but the original intent of protections on speech is nowhere to be found.
I don't have an answer to the subsequent question of what to do about it, beyond supporting decentralized technologies. That's a tough one. What I do know is that the idea that anyone is able to provide their own platform if deemed undesirable may be comforting, but doesn't really hold up.
As the DRM and content filtering noose tightens, it becomes more and more annoying to be a freely moving and freely acting person online. Encrypted channels on the current internet are only a stopgap measure, far too many people have their traffic sniffed by proxy servers and the like, if not outright spyware on their devices or in their routers.
I envision a global mesh network, built on open standards, fully encrypted, resilient against DDOSing and similar attacks, with no central control, no central points of failure, an uninhibited flow of information, for the people, by the people. Warts and all.
Otherwise I agree with worrying about the big platforms, though for I dont think stormfront would be the case to be upset about. We need net neutrality, then user controlled social media based on open source and probably federated. At that point users can decide what to let onto their feed.
Except they can't. The outrage brigades come after the registrars and the hosting services and the payment processors and anyone else they can coerce into compliance. A few platforms have survived this process (...so far...) and are thriving, but joe schmoe will get disappeared in no time at all.
The historical value of something like that would be really excellent, as time goes on. You could really capture the mood of each society for a given year or time period, in a very accessible way for future generations.
I'd read the everloving crap out of that.
I am submitting it because particularly the second section, about comment moderation, seems to have wide-reaching implications for tech and conversations.
Nowadays if I want a good debate or a debate on a truly controversial topic, I would only do so in a closed chat room with people I know. The internet is only for advertising my opinion rather than debating it, although I am as guilty as anyone of occasionally getting derailed into a full argument.
At least on the internet, the other party can just stop talking when they're done. They won't feel like they're cutting off or abandoning a friend.
I am friends with some people whom I wildly disagree with on a number of subjects, especially politics. But we have common ground in shared interests (music and whisky), and we use that as a basis for civilized discussion. We might disagree wildly and be political "enemies", but we are still more alike than we are different.
I have some friends that aren't capable of doing that, at least not with me. If I expect my friends to be perfect, I'm not a very good friend.
There is such a thing as discretion. It is healthy. Even with friends.
Having been a moderator in multiple communities, I know a sure way to burn out is to be one. It is also a perfect way to get rid of your opponent: suggest they become a moderator. I've been burned by that multiple times. I still moderate communities, and I'm good at it (also because of my background, e.g. technical; other people have other qualities), but only small ones. Even if it has exactly the same signal-to-noise ratio as a large community, you end up with less noise and therefore it takes less time. People know each other better.
A very good (but specific) analogy comes to my mind: World of Warcraft. Nowadays, you can swap your character to another server (called "realm") and faction (red being Horde, blue being Alliance), etc. Back in the days of early WoW (Vanilla and TBC) you invested in your character and were therefore bound to realm & faction. These were relatively small worlds where different guilds (akin to "clans" or "teams") existed. People knew each other because of the size; akin to a small town with communities. Fast forward post TBC and you had the later expansions where with the click of a button people were in a group of random players of the same faction (regardless of realm). Playing together with 4 or 24 strangers whom you will likely never meet again. This decreased the relevance of reputation among peers and allowed for so-called toxic behaviour.
WoW is just one simulation of that phenomenon (for which I don't know the name). I'd say the problem, summed up, is that people get away with harassment on the Internet because of the sheer anonymity/pseudonymity and physical distance.
The thread being mourned was continually full of really shockingly horrible stuff. Straight faced technobabble laden arguments for genocide and such. A reliable go-to for "oh-shit,-humanity-is-screwed" porn.
It was impossible to tell how much of it was actually awful people earnestly advancing awful ideas vs screwed up performance art with people intentionally posting the worst stuff they could think of just for shock value or to mock the fact that participants there responded so embarrassingly to so much of it. ... but I don't think that is a defense of it at all, it's an indictment.
I had previously believed (and people who knew Scott personally lead me to believe...) that the thread was created as a tarpit for trolls and people with absurdly repugnant views to waste each others time in a place where other people could ignore it-- rather than these discussions invading every other thread and making them useless to the majority of people who want nothing to do with that stuff-- who feel they morally can't just sit and pretend its okay to advance horrible policies but also don't want to waste their lives rehashing ethical arguments that most people considered settled a century ago. The "designated crap thread" approach is sometimes more effective than punting the sources outright (and also less harmful to false positives)...
This post strongly indicates otherwise and is causing me a vertigo inducing shift in how I perceive the author and his community.
I couldn't be more disappointed. And I'm only left hoping that the support of that toxicity expressed in Scott's post is an emotional retaliation to the despicable harassment he reported experiencing ... rather than an earnest position.
I feel like a lot of the HN commentary is essentially unrelated to the actual 'event' -- The 'deplatforming' trend is concerning... but that doesn't really tell us much about this particular venue. Especially since it continues to exist and hasn't in fact, been subject to deplatforming or anything similar. The connection only goes in so far as some of the same pressures probably exists, but I would be a lot more interested in hearing what went on behind some actual major deplatforming incidents. (Medium killing gab.ai's post explaining why they didn't believe their actions supported hate crimes would be an interesting candidate, since it was a meta-deplatforming, so doubly removed from most pragmatic tradeoffs...)
https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/9174vt/cult... is a 2-part comment advocating for
> Mandatory abortions of the congenitally ill.
> Removal of tax incentives for homosexual marriages
> Corporal or capital punishment for adultery.
> Mental illness/having mental health medication prescribed disqualifying voting.
> Paid sterilisation (i.e., trading your fecundity for a basic income).
> National genotyping and IQ scoring as part of using any sort of public health subsidisation and education.
> Allowing insurers more room to discriminate on any quality they wish, including genotype, education, and IQ (i.e., no more disparate impact or genetic discrimination laws at all).
> La Sierra-style physical education in whatever public schools there are.
> Removal of all protected classes/free segregation (as mentioned above).
> Restructuring of "Free Speech" rights to include the "Right to Hate."
And so on. Basically all of the most awful things a human being could compile into a bullet pointed list, with absolutely no explanation of why any of these things would have a positive impact on the world. The second part of the comment literally just contains these, verbatim, as bullets.
These are the kinds of things one would advocate for if he wanted racism to be allowed (with a couple of other weird random points that most certainly trample on the rights of other groups). You'd have to completely ignore the rights of so many people to think arguing for any of these even approximates rational thought.
One may argue that it is acceptable to merely permit this kind of thing, in the hopes that light may find it and disinfect it. But this particular comment is blessed as a "quality contribution" by the moderators here https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/9174vt/cult....
So I dunno. Is this objectionable enough for you?
No. Most of it is objectionable to me, but none is objectionable enough to ban discussions around it.
I'm saying the fact that the moderators have blessed this comment is objectionable for the many reasons I've put above.
By all means, talk about this. But promoting a laundry list of unsubstantiated ideas that are no more than a thin veneer around human rights abuses just strikes me as... irrational.
Where is "ban discussions" around it coming from, certainly it's not something I said. It's also not something that happened here. (The thread was moved to another subreddit with weeks notice, the participants voted on the name, the result was highly promoted, etc.)
My view is that there its material that few would want to be around or have their identity associated with. If guests at my home were carrying on about that, I'd politely try to get them to change the subject and failing that get them to leave. ... avoid inviting them in the future, and apologize discretely to my other gusts for having had to endure it. [And pray a fight didn't break out before I could intervene...]
Stuff like that.
2. It was the second part of said two part comment that advocated any of that, which was not well voted, and provided no support for anything in there.
3. The quality contribution round up ends up being anything that anyone reports to the moderators as a quality contribution, with little discrimination on the part of the moderators.
4. Sometimes it's not the post itself that's the quality, but the responses to it that provide the quality conversation.
And yes, I mentioned that it was bipartite, and the second part had 11 votes which is maybe not excitingly high but not extremely low either.
"Quality contributions" being barely moderated by moderators does not sound like a useful thing. How are we to know they're "quality" if the moderators don't actually test for their quality in some way?
The responses only barely disagreed, and mostly against the mandatory abortions of the mentally ill. There is maybe one comment that makes an actual attempt at most of the silly points, and the original poster of this "quality" contribution did not respond to it.
> There’s an unfortunate corollary to this, which is that if you try to create a libertarian paradise, you will attract three deeply virtuous people with a strong committment to the principle of universal freedom, plus millions of scoundrels.
I don't know what has caused the loss of that kind of insight now, but I hope its found again in the future.
I think this is worth drilling into. Scott's data shows the user base, but he slips into "I took some random surveys" when he addresses the question of comment frequency. That data is not as high quality.
If I had the survey data, I'd use the Reddit API to figure out comment frequency by respondent type, and see if there's anything interesting there.
IIRC the last survey also had an option for "yes, I know about that thread and stay the hell away from it for the love of god" (okay, the actual option was less extreme than that, but I would have picked my more colorful version if it had been offered and I think many people I know who read SSC would have also). I'm surprised to see that not mentioned in the discussion of those statistics.
Unfortunately with this post the possibility to neutrally poll his readership for their own opinions on that thread more directly is probably forever lost now. Any poll now on the subject would be read by too many users as a question on supporting/opposing harassment campaigns or the tenuous link to deplatforming.
So, drill away!
I don't understand how you can think that's a reasonable thing to ask for, given what this thread is about.
What's the relevance?
SSC had a fabulous post (years ago?) about Trump and the narrative that he is appealing to nazis or alt-right. And now to see the same tactic used against Scott here.
I wonder at what point a slur will be called a slur, regardless of who is targeted, even when it is deployed against a white cis-gendered male trying to speak his mind? At what point can we try to promote a specific subgroup but not at the expense of the perceived alt-group?
It frustrates me that these labels are cheapened and weaponized like this so pervasively. Why is it so convenient to label someone as a wrong-thinker and this is an acceptable shortcut to nullify rather than engage and grapple with their ideas?
I think there are a lot of people hoping Trump will be re-elected not even remotely because of any measure of competence or even particularly as a matter of policy, but just as a way to say, no, the culture war doesn’t get to disqualify a Presidential candidate by drawing him as a caricature of a nazi or a racist.
I’m sorry to read that Scott has been on the receiving end of this kind of information warfare. I don’t know what the defense is supposed to be in this age of doxxing and righteous indignation. I guess at least I’m glad his blog is still being hosted and his DNS still resolves.
Your mistake is to assume that almost everyone wants the Camp of Saints and the Bernie free stuff agenda. As someone who will end up paying for that agenda, I'm less enthused.
I'm less enthused that you're not paying your fair share for the current agenda.
See Sarte’s comments on Anti-Semitism; the holders of odious beliefs are generally not “playing the same game” as those who oppose them, and giving space to all ideas, no matter how awful, is actually conferring an advantage on the worst.
Defined by you? No thank you.
Defined by society? Twenty years ago, homosexual marriage was an odious belief by that standard. Today, it's not (instead, opposing it is now considered odious). Same with racism sixty years ago. Same with slavery 160 years ago. "Odious" is a moving target. But for your argument to have any force, "odious" has to have some real moral weight to it, not just be society's current consensus.
That leaves odious as defined by a group of right-thinking people. Problem is, there are many candidates proclaiming themselves as being the right-thinking group, and they all contradict each other. How are you going to pick one? By what you most agree with? Again, no thank you.
(Note well: This is not "no thank you" specifically to eschaton. It's "no thank you" to any individual who wants to set themself up as the arbiter of what is "odious". I don't want anybody to have that power - unless it's me, of course.)
Whenever you participate in a community you accept that there are going to be individuals controlling the discussion to an extent and cleaning up things that affect the site in a negative way. For example no matter how kindly you might argue or how much data you may provide on how the Jewish people should be eradicated, that sort of comment would get you rapidly flagged on HN.
The definition of odious does evolve over time according to a societies standards, and I don't think it's a particularly big leap to say calls for genocide are odious. Communities do eventually need to take a stand for what they represent, for allowing people with said beliefs on their platform means those people represent the platform.
Look, I'm glad that racism and genocide are banned on HN, and that I don't have to wade through the garbage. CW wasn't trying to be HN, though. It had moderators, but they had a different set of filters, and they let a lot more through. That was by intent and design.
Then some people decided that, because it allowed stuff from the far right, it was supporting the far right, and that wasn't OK - any forum that allowed it at all had to be shut down, even if they allowed it from the far left as well.
From what it sounds like from the article (not an unbiased source, I know), the CW moderators were doing pretty well at their intended task, and a pretty interesting community was flourishing there. But some outside people decided that their definition of "odious" should be the one enforced, and threw various increasingly dishonest hissy fits until CW shut down.
Is that really a good thing?
Is it really a good thing if more than one group figures out that they can do it?
The urge to censor viewpoints that we consider odious is strong, but I'm really not sure it's the most righteous course (especially as it was practiced here).
Communities have to have a baseline stance of things they don't support, otherwise you can rapidly turn into the flaming heap that is Voat and other various sites. As for the actual data relating to the CW thread, the data only tells us what people self-describe as, not necessarily the frequency of their posts, the content contained within or how closely the poll reflects the actual userbase. This is before going into issues of people potentially gaming the poll and other problems with online polling.
As for the urge to censor viewpoints, that is inherently part of human nature. The internet has only made it easier because the anonymity allows for zero consequence. To fix this problem requires either destroying human nature or tearing apart the internet as you and I know it. There's always going to be a disagreement with how far it should go; some people believe Reddit should've never banned FatPeopleHate. Other people believe Reddit still fosters far too many incredibly vile subcommunities. Everyone has a line eventually. And there's always going to be people that disagree with where the line is drawn.
FALSE. But you do in fact support censorship (or at least deplatforming, which I vehemently despise).
Here's what your position is like. Remember that baker in Colorado who wouldn't bake a cake for a gay wedding, because he felt that he would be participating in something he didn't think was morally right? You're agreeing with his position. In fact, his position is less extreme than yours, because he was willing to sell them any cake in the store, but wasn't willing to design a custom cake for them.
Yet I suspect (am I wrong?) that you think that the Colorado baker was in the wrong. But you're using his logic.
Your second and third paragraphs I think I agree with.
In the baker case, he decided that he would not support gay people. I believe gay people should be a protected group (as they are not harmful nor do they generally espouse harmful beliefs). You're right in that he felt that he would be supporting gay people, and my point is that he should support gay people, not that through some strange mental gymnastics I believe he's right to not support them (??). This is the reason why protected groups exist because if a person believes 'I refuse to offer service to women because I refuse to support women', we as a society believe that to be a net negative.
This is of course ignoring the context of the situation where we believe in free exercise of religion while also denying a man on death row access to his religion , which shows more the hypocrisy of the Supreme Court's decision on the baker case vs the Dunn v Ray case. But that's a whole 'nother can of worms.
Your argument is essentially saying people should have the right to discriminate on the basis of age, religion, gender etc because to not allow so is censorship. People should not be forced into supporting something they disagree with, correct? Which then ties back into my core argument in that everyone has a line; society has reason to try and shift that line (to avoid discrimination) and communities have reasons to draw their own line as well (to signal for causes they support or to limit the scope of discussion).
Publication does not mean endorsement of the view. You see this in the disclaimer in all the editorials: "The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of [publication]". They can publish, on their platform, views that they disagree with. On that point, you are simply wrong.
But your views here (that publication equals endorsement, and that communities should shut down views they don't accept) - I find those views to be odious. Contrary to the ideals of America, even. Should I be able to get you banned from HN? If they don't, should I say that HN endorses your views, and get a howling mob to shut HN down?
That's the fundamental issue here. It's not just those people out there. It's you. Your views offend people. It's going to happen to you. Think well whether you really want odious views removed.
And it's going to be me. That's why I'm so defensive here. I already hold views that some find odious; as society moves its position, I will hold more. Within the next ten years (and maybe a whole lot sooner), this is going to be me. That's why I'm opposed to societal censorship. If a mob can shut down the alt right for being too far outside society, they can shut down you and me when they decide that we're too far outside the new norm.
Should we just accept society's definition of what is right? No. Either there is a real right and wrong, or their isn't. If there is, why do we think society will converge on it? Why do we think that society's view evolves to ever-increasing correctness? (It has, in the past, evolved to ever-increasing conformity with the current view, but that doesn't say much.) Rwanda, for instance, abruptly decided that murdering one race was perfectly good. China decided that social pressure to conform to the party line was good. (You may say that was imposed on them by the party, and you'd be right. But it still became the way the society behaved.)
On the other hand, if there is no real right and wrong, why should we treat society's current views as if they had moral force?
About the baker: If you don't like that one, try this. A print shop prints flyers for a Richard Spencer rally. Is the print shop endorsing Richard Spencer's views? How about if they design the flyer? Where do you draw the lines between what happened on CW, the print shop, and the bake shop, and why do you draw them there?
Publication is, essentially, endorsement. Let's say I hosted a blog, and then I decided on my blog to constantly host people whom deny climate change. I can add a disclaimer to the end of all of their posts and say 'these represent views I personally do not endorse', but if the entirety of my blog consisted of those sort of views, people would naturally question what I really believe. At a certain point it is endorsement depending on how odious the behavior is. If the Washington Post decided to publish an article on how black people are responsible for all the evils in America, that would be a blemish on their reputation even if they added said disclaimer.
> Contrary to the ideals of America, even. Should I be able to get you banned from HN? If they don't, should I say that HN endorses your views, and get a howling mob to shut HN down?
If you haven't realized yet, this is why flagging and voting down posts exists on HN. It exists so that the users can self-curate content and remove things that are considered particularly odious. If you consider that contrary to American ideals, then why are you participating on a site contrary to your beliefs? Posters on HN can and do shut down people espousing alt-right beliefs.
>That's why I'm opposed to societal censorship. If a mob can shut down the alt right for being too far outside society, they can shut down you and me when they decide that we're too far outside the new norm.
This is the answer from someone scared of progress or change. This was the exact argument made during the Civil Rights era by people who were afraid of black people gaining rights: They were scared of mobs shutting them down, stopping them from being racist. Does this mean the mob is always right? No, but it does mean that you should strongly consider whether or not your beliefs are truly outdated.
Society as I mentioned evolves and changes over time. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. I would hope you would agree that society evolving to give more rights to people previous deprived of them to be a good thing. And I would also hope you realize that the reason why there's such a strong reaction against the alt-right is because they want to specifically take away those rights from minority populations.
And with regards to the baker thing, you managed to miss my point entirely. My point is that your concept of American ideals is flawed and broken: Because we have not and never applied those ideals equally. The baker case was never truly about endorsement or religious liberties: It was about entrenching the right to discriminate against minorities.
I hope you would realize that the reason there's such a strong reaction to the "alt-left" is because this kind of thinking leads people to such crazy places that they would defend Soviet gulags as "compassionate." https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/11/soviet-labour-ca...
The 20th century had horrors of Naziism and racism, yes, but it also had horrors perpetrated in the name of "progress" and "reeducation." If you have emotionally internalized the horrors of Germany and Jim Crow, but haven't done the same with the USSR, the Cultural Revolution, and the Khmer Rouge, then I can understand why ideologically-enforced progressivism might seem harmless and noble.
Considering how our president behaves and excuses members of the alt-right, I'll start worrying about the alt-left when and if they start holding positions of power. Before you start trying to point out further members of the alt-left: I'll just remind you that it was during that same speech that the alt-left term was invented.
Let's just go from the last week. Here is some left-wing violence:
Here is a weekly roundup of anti-semitism, and much of it is from the left (associated with Britain's Labour party):
And for hate crimes, the news is that Jussie Smolett has been arrested for staging the "modern-day lynching" against him that has captured national attention for the last few weeks:
I'm not saying the alt-right is nothing to worry about. I'm saying the left is capable of real harm too.
Edit: it looks like you've been using HN primarily for political battle. That's against the rules here, and we ban accounts that do it. More importantly it's against the spirit of this site, so please don't.
It also looks like you've been crossing repeatedly into incivility. Please don't do that either.
But, I am starting to see a serious issue with posters on HN engaging in bad faith arguments and spreading heavily anti-scientific nonsense. Not only have I seen posters here openly defending pedophilia , arguing in bad faith by making deliberately misleading arguments , people not even attempting to make an argument  and many more non-arguments . This is without even mentioning the posts I have seen being highly transphobic and comments/articles made by trans-people (with good arguments!) being voted down into the abyss, both of which I could find examples were it not 3AM. I have flagged many comments and tend to err towards only the most egregious and while I can understand that the moderation team can only do so much at a certain point the trend I'm noticing is deeply concerning. If you don't want HN to be a site with any sort of political battles, then HN needs to better define what kinds of things make up politics. I avoid making threads here and I generally don't stray from the topic of said threads. But ultimately if the goal of the site is to flag and move on when you see someone make a bad faith argument or make a political post: That's tacitly leaving bad arguments unchallenged, especially when the flagging system fails to work.
And I want to make it clear that this isn't an argument against you in particular dang; but rather the issues I see looming on the horizon for HN. Hence my increasing frustration.
If you just look at the speech by itself, who Trump was referring to was unclear. The protest was originally over whether some statues were to be torn down, and he could very well have been talking about those protestors.
But if you look at his presidency in total, the fact that he's never has appeared to expressed support to neo-nazis or murder(!) of people of the alt-left before or after should make it clear that he was supporting the people protesting the removal of the statues and not the alt-right.
CW has this. They are very clear about their guidelines: https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/a6wues/cult...
> As for the actual data relating to the CW thread, the data only tells us what people self-describe as, not necessarily the frequency of their posts, the content contained within or how closely the poll reflects the actual userbase.
Scott did a random sample of comments from CW:
> During the last few years of Culture War thread, a consensus grew up that it was heavily right-wing. This isn’t what these data show, and on the few times I looked at it myself, it wasn’t what I saw either. After being challenged to back this up, I analyzed ten randomly chosen comments on the thread; four seemed neutral, three left/liberal, and three conservative. When someone else objected that it was a more specific “blatant” anti-transgender bias, I counted up all the mentions of transgender on three weeks worth of Culture War threads: of five references, two were celebrating how exciting/historic a transgender person recently winning an election was, a third was neutrally referring to the election, a fourth was a trans person talking about their experiences, and a fifth was someone else neutrally mentioning that they were transgender. This sort of thing happened enough times that I stopped being interested in arguing the point.
This is why all the claims of "odious views", "how the Jewish people should be eradicated", and other things you've mentioned in this thread fall so flat to me. People claim stuff like that is flying around to justify their call for greater censorship and shunning. But when you dig into the details about what people are actually saying, it virtually never lives up to the labels that have been put on it.
Today’s dogma was yesterday’s odious belief. If we feel that the correctness of consensus opinion is on the rise, shouldn’t we be hesitant to freeze out future changes? If we feel it is falling, shouldn’t we want some protection for today’s correct ideas when they become odious again?
I can really only imagine subscribing to this viewpoint from within a long-term stable utopia whose primary threat is that someone will spoil it.
>What it does is normalize those beliefs and enable them to propagate while simultaneously exhausting those who oppose them.
I think this is is simply a mistaken view of human nature. Nothing confirms a conspiracy theory quite like jack-booted thugs who are actually out to get you for saying it. Nothing galvanizes a cause quite like official suppression. See the Streisand Effect or, for that matter, Christianity.
The point is not to convince the person you are talking to, which is very difficult given how much people stick to their political beliefs, but to convince the lurking third party, who has weakly held opinions. If they can see in the debate that one person has the stronger argument, you can convince that third person. If they see one side refuse to debate, angrily yell, and banish the other to places like the_donald, well, maybe the undecided lurkers will wonder if perhaps the person got angry because they had no good counter-argument, decide to go explore a place like the_donald, or some other echo chamber where they just become more convinced, that also has no counter-acting voices of reason. The people in the_donald agree with you by the way, and don't give space or respect to people with odious blue tribe beliefs.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
By condoning silencing there is the risk you will be silenced - and the article demonstrates how the same means of suppression may be applied when your norms are judged unacceptable and it is intolerable for another to not censor.
Both have valid points and the precise answer is likely nuanced and/or a matter of opinion.
> Because I was not a socialist.
> Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
> Because I was not a trade unionist.
> Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
> Because I was not a Jew.
> Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
A translation of the German poem by pastor Martin Niemöller 
Kill Nazis before they kill you.
They censor blood in games, too.
The quote is from a German pastor, not a representative of the German government or its people.
Maybe a few years ago I would have found this argument convincing. But here is the current state of the Internet (from the article):
> it was always that the the thread was “dominated by” or “only had” or “was an echo chamber for” homophobic transphobic alt-right neo-Nazis, which always grew into the claim that the subreddit was dominated by homophobic etc neo-Nazis, which always grew into the claim that the SSC community was dominated by homophobic etc neo-Nazis, which always grew into the claim that I personally was a homophobic etc neo-Nazi of them all. I am a pro-gay Jew who has dated trans people and votes pretty much straight Democrat. I lost distant family in the Holocaust. You can imagine how much fun this was for me.
I think it's hard to claim that even people with truly Anti-Semitic beliefs are somehow playing a more deceptive game than this, or appealing more to people's biases and irrationality.
I await my turn for making this observation.
These questions don't just manifest in a vacuum. And if they are worthwhile asking, then IMO (and stressing IMO) it doesn't matter if they're rhetorical or directly interrogative in delivery or purpose.
Asserting otherwise feels like an excercise in projecting.
Norms like "people shouldn't be silenced even if their speech is despicable" are the Geneva convention in the war of the words. They're social technologies which allow people who disagree to coexist peacefully. These are the insights of the enlightenment, and liberalism as the word originally meant.
I'm skeptical of this - I've never seen a polite racist argument, for example, or a polite homophobic one. The closest I've seen is a post riddled with condescension - something along the lines of "you don't understand, I'm trying to save your soul from the sin of homosexuality."
Conversely I've also been called a racist/bigot for claiming white people didn't invent racism/slavery, or that statistical differences in social groups shouldn't automatically be attributed to oppression, or that Frederick Douglass is evidence of how someone can free themselves from oppression.
They obviously had never studied MLK, Frederick Douglass, or world history, though I'd bet they had spent plenty of time watching cable news and shallow mass media.
The reason they called me those things was not because I was actually espousing hatred, but rather because I was suggesting something antithetical to their ideology.
Ideological differences are a major source of arguments turning ugly and lots of downvotes, if you disagree with whatever majority in that particular forum.
Hmm. That sounds like it can be frustrating, but I can see how it can happen. For example - what's the point of claiming "white people didn't invent slavery?" I can't think of any reason that doesn't involve a blanket statement about either white people or some other race, which would be prejudgement/prejudice by definition. Hence, smacks of racism. Similar for statistical differences in social groups - dangerous territory as it is what "rational racists" try to do all the time. I use those statistics all the time though to demonstrate that it's impossible to prove that a group of people have a certain average IQ or some other grab bag trait because of race, due to noise from other variables like socioeconomic status, local culture, local healthcare availability, local government policy, etc.
I could easily say that in response to a claim that white people invented slavery, in total innocence that somebody would read me as racist. I am somewhat naive, in my defense.
It is impossible to respectfully argue for a racist or homophobic position. The very nature of what you’re arguing for is that some people are inherently less than others, which is the opposite of respect.
But if you state such an argument without using naughty words, a lot of people will misinterpret that as respectful and demand that it be given respect in turn.
For example, what if I argued in favour of racial segregation of schools because it would give a better environment for children to learn in, being around role models they could easily identify with and not get sucked into cultural traps like thinking being academically excellent means you're acting white.
I think this is a racist position. It explicitly discriminates on the basis of race. I also think it could be an honest argument. Is it respectful? I personally think it is.
(To be clear, I'm not in favour of racial segregation of schools. The "acting white" thing is overdone and normalizing a binary division isn't good.)
This is part of why a racist argument can’t be respectful: it’s fundamentally opposed to basic reality.
Is it possible that such an argument could be made honestly? Sure, by an ignorant nimrod. Does that make it respectful? No, part of respect in an argument is making sure you have a grasp of the basic facts before you spout off. Is it bad to block ignorant but honest nimrods in an attempt to block racist shitheads who have learned to cloak their arguments in polite-sounding language? No, for every ignorant nimrod there are a hundred racist shitheads, and you’re not going to educate the ignorant nimrods by giving equal footing to the racist shitheads.
Have a listen to this if you can find the time:
It was enlightening to learn the subtleties of segregation at the time, from black people in the period. It might not change your mind, but it would lead you to be less hasty to descend to namecalling, not least because you'd learn who you risk calling ignorant racist shitheads.
The argument against giving racist shitheads a platform does involve namecalling, and I don’t much care.
My point is that in 2019 this statement has no meaning because there are wide swaths of the audience (not just fringe elements) that will label nearly everything "racist". The main point of contention in this thread is whether you should ban unpopular opinions or let them stand on their own. Racist comments are and should be unpopular but when the definition racism is widened to include half the population then censoring "racists" and hitting a bunch of false positives becomes much more damaging that not censoring "racists" and letting actual racists expose their own ignorant thinking.
Half the population didn't vote for Trump.
I think that's what we're supposed to be reading between the lines here, that half the population voted for Trump and have now been unfairly demonized as racists and homophobes and that, because of this, the terms "racist" and "homophobic" have no meaning... but no. Those terms still have a definite meaning, and half the population didn't vote for Trump.
Also, the demonization isn't entirely unfair. At least, it's not entirely arbitrary and without merit. There was a definite and overt narrative of racial identity and struggle behind the populism of Trump's campaign, and its appeal to white supremacists was well documented by mainstream media, and the narrative of Trump's success as a revolution of white cultural identity was even defended here on Hacker News a few times.
Trump supporters can't have their anti-establishment cake and eat it too. They can't support a campaign which galvanized right-wing extremists and xenophobes and then complain that people think they might be racist.
Half the population didn't vote for Trump.
Then again, Trump got over 40% more votes than Bill Clinton did for his first term.
Consider, for a moment, homophobia, not as a trained fear, but a usefull emotional reaction. One party hates a third party, the second party can controll that emotional reaction, by sanctioning this behaviour (lets call this sanctioning/ controlling religion).
Thus, without saying anything disrespectfull to anyone, just stating that we are a sad, retarded species in full blown denial of what we where and are - and the state of economic surplus keeps civil peace afloat, i took your concept of homophobia for a ride.
PS: I predict, that the love of your life will check on your emotional inner workings regularly, by telling you little stories about a gay co-worker. If you don not show a emotional reaction, i predict increasingly hostile reactions and worries.
Turing and Haber-Bosch did more for gay rights then all those processions (catholic back then - rainbow now) combined.
It's only a small step from there to get to viewing innocent videos turns children into victims if the interest is sexual; if, one day, the children (possibly now adult) find out about the creepy people on the internet, they will suffer the harm.
I won't bother repeating them here, but the point is that those arguments are rarely made in good faith. Usually it's someone making a hateful argument cleverly to make it more palatable.
Tone of voice does not carry on the internet.
Worse, Good moderation is simply a better training environment for the next generation of harassers and bad users.
From my experience - basic rules got rid of the dumbest type of harasser currently active on the forum, but then created a medium for a more evolved and trained harasser to arise. What used to be obvious hate speech, misogyny and so on was exchanged for veiled abuse and dog whistles.
The rule of moderation is that your attackers keep moving up a Turing-like scale, till inevitably their arguments are indistinguishable from genuine comments made out of ignorance or lack of malice.
This ignores the damage done to your relation with the community, peace of mind, and the paranoia that slowly starts to grip your team as people threaten you, try to doxx you, and worse.
While you may rarely meet insane people in real life, because of the limitation of physical reality - online behavior is not regulated by the needs of actually having to use calories to move your body to interact with a person.
Instead, its a lot cheaper for people to give in to obsession and hammer away on a keyboard as they vent their frustration on someone standing between them and speaking their mind about things they feel strongly about.
God- I could write chapters on what happens when you have enough disgruntled users who decide to make a new forum, driven only to hate your team and moderation style - then spend their time attacking you.
But in the most delicious of ironies - the new forums created to target your rules and moderation style, eventually have a crisis of behavior which they fix by foisting similar rules as the one that got them banned in the first place.
At this point you really should ask yourself whether to continue moderating such comments. If you're at the level of hearing "dog whistles", you're already starting to act in bad faith.
I think Scott Alexander correctly identifies the biggest problem of moderation: that while you may think that it's about fostering civilized discourse, it isn't. When you get recognizable, it becomes primarily about protecting reputation of your own brand or name.
In other cases, it highlights my point - it is a subversive form of hate speech and it gets past the mod team:, and starts the radicalization process Or polarizing process.
On the other hand it may be a genuine comment, naturally arrived at by a user, but it pattern matches with the mod team and it gets removed.
For example an old argument which is now easily refuted is “brownies have larger families, and their growth rates are over taking natives!”
That’s a factually correct argument, but it’s an incorrect conclusion which takes (took) advantage of average user ignorance.
But the other issue is that this thread stays up, other people who come across it get “red pilled” or “triggered”.
Subsequently the thread becomes a source for flame wars, “engagement”, and propagates schisms in the community.
In the end moderators have to act based on the taxonomy of ideas presented, not their possible sincerity. Leaving it up will only cause further damages.
As a result moderators, (probably like the police) drift away from the average user views and behaviors.
This is the fundamental crux of the moderation problem, if not of communication itself : we can never know the intent behind a statement.
Is it a sincerely held view by someone who is not a Bigot or racist? Or is it sinister and malignant sentences designed to get past moderators and radicalize/convert users and disrupt other communities ?
Anyone know which subreddit that is?
Well, not exactly. Like, imagine your best friend is pro-conservative; he's a really nice, polite, sensitive person who's mostly willing to hear opposite viewpoints.
Then you watch his posts on r/the_donald, and he's acting like a sneering, disgusting douchebag, ranting about "libtards" and how lefties are morons bent on destroying the fabric of the country?
Sneerclub is the same. I can totally believe that most people there are reasonable people with reasonable concerns, but the community brings out the worst parts of them the same ways others like the_donald and TheRedPill do.