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So you decided to dig up something from an old archive and not present a more recent update to continue piling on?

https://stallman.org/archives/2019-jul-oct.html#14_September...

"Many years ago I posted that I could not see anything wrong about sex between an adult and a child, if the child accepted it.

Since then, through personal conversations, I've learned to understand how sex with a child can harm per psychologically. This changed my mind about the matter: I think adults should not do that. I am grateful for the conversations that enabled me to understand why."




I'm very glad to see Stallman can learn to appreciate the nuance of these questions and acknowledge that he had previously thought incorrectly, but the subject of this thread, and the subject of The Fine Article remain cases where he just shouldn't have opened his mouth in the first place.

I am eternally grateful to rms for the contributions he's made, and many of the often unpopular, but amazingly principled stances he holds. For some of the things I think he's right about, I think he's one of the only voices out there saying that thing.

But for fuck's sake, Richard, the notion of staying in your lane sometimes has merit. Like with your awful jab about Jobs' death, keep that shit to yourself. Sometimes, remaining silent is the right move. Sometimes, attempting to defend your position just weakens it further. Sometimes, it turns out, "technically correct" is actually the worst kind of correct.


And sometimes shutting up means the unreasonable and emotional win.

This is how we end up in this mess of stupid press and politics, by killing the middle the sides get radicalized and deafened to dialogue. Shouting is not dialogue.

Someone has to try to reset this, if it takes 1000 martyrs then so be it.


I think the very fact that so many of us look at talking with people as something that can be "won" is the preponderance of the problem. It doesn't have to be a competition.

Speaking as someone who has learned this the hard way, over and over and over again, please hear me when I say: "Correct" does not always entail "right", even leaving aside whether being right is even necessarily laudable. Getting all, "Well technically..." in the places where those things disagree is a battle — since it's something to be "won", remember — you'll want to consider carefully whether it's worth fighting, every time.

At some point, I decided that it might be better for all of our well-being, not to have all the "incorrect" people in my life always annoyed with me. Based on the quality of the relationships I now have with them, I think it was worth it. Even better: now, when I do actually make the effort to make these kinds of distinctions, I tend significantly more often to be listened to.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

EDIT: Phrasing


> At some point, I decided that it might be better for all of our well-being, not to have all the "incorrect" people in my life always annoyed with me.

The only problem with that is it's the same excuse a lot of Germans used to justify not speaking up against the Nazis.

While it may make your life better, it's very much a local maximum.


Did I really need to explicitly, preemptively disclaim that the approach I was describing is more appropriate to daily life type interpersonal stuff, than it is to fucking Nazis?


No, of course not.

That's the thing about local maxima - when you're in one, it isn't obvious.

Instead, the burden is on others to notice and speak up.

You may not like the Nazi comparison, but it's apt...

Especially with the things Trump says and does as president, there's a real danger that staying quiet about "daily life type interpersonal stuff" could have disastrous consequences a few years down the line.

After all, just like with the Nazis, you'll never be put in a position where you're asked to ignore much more than you already ignore.


Fine, since people seem to feel the need to read whatever shallow interpretation of my point they want, let me be "See Spot run. Run, Spot, run." clear:

I'm talking about not going all aspy-monologue, "well, actually..." at people about ultimately inconsequential things like using their turn signals or not, or misusing a word, or whatever — precisely so they aren't pre-disposed to eye-roll at me, and then tune me out, when I do take the time, because this time it's a subject that matters.

For a recent example, let's suppose I might have taken the effort to expound upon what "words actually mean" in a discussion of the definitions, laws, and treaties relevant to the notion of "asylum", who is or isn't eligible, whether or not criminal liability might attach for illegally crossing a border, and so on, because that is a place where the fight is more likely to be worth it.

Simply: pick your battles. More often than you think, they probably aren't worth the cost. If you save your "well actually" points for the places where they are, you'll get significantly better return on spending them.

I am just gobsmacked that I'm arguing in favor of doing something judiciously, so that when you do it, it matters, and I'm being told I'm somehow excusing the very kinds of shit I'm talking about saving your energy for fighting...


When I read your original comment, I commented because the point I wanted to make seemed interesting (to me at least) and worth making.

On re-reading, I understand how it may have come across as less of an "interesting observation" for others reading and more like nitpicking or point scoring. I apologise for that. It wasn't my intention.




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