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The reality of the world is there's a place for all kinds. The thoughtful speaker needs the passionate militant because not everyone has an open mind. Think Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Moreover, the world needs these type of people on all sides to make sure the truth gets heard. Even if Mr. Naggum wasn't speaking the truth his opinion helped keep minds open to his side of things.

Honestly, as annoyed as I get at times by people like him I can also see how it's a noble pursuit. As much as people say they don't care what other's think just about everyone does to some extent. In that way it can't be an easy job to scream what you believe is the truth until people listen. So really people like Mr. Naggum are giving up a large piece of happiness to continue their devotion to what they believe is truth. That's admirable.




Erik was not a passionate militant; he certainly thought pretty hard, but he wasn't "thoughtful" in the sense of Martin Luther King. He was a bully and a sadist who devoted much of his life to emotional abuse of other people, and he did terrible damage to the Lisp community.

I'll quote briefly from what Erik wrote in http://groups.google.com/group/comp.lang.lisp/browse_thread/... , which someone linked to above:

    I'm overjoyed that I actually hurt your feelings.  I wish I could hurt
    your feelings so much you would commit suicide.  sadly, this has failed, 
...

    the only thing I regret is that I didn't see your fantastic stupidity as
    a result of your shattered psychology -- it's fairly uncommon to be so
    fucking retarded because of a psychological problem, but clearly, you
    have been immensely stupid all your life, and now that I come and hurt
    your stupid feelings, so you turn on me like a vicious and mad dog -- and
    that's exactly what you are to me: a mad dog in need of a bullet through
    his sick brain before he actually manages to hurt someone or himself.

    do the world a huge favor and commit suicide tonight.
I'm not sure what Janos Blazi did that Erik thought deserved this kind of a response (which he tried to keep private, incidentally; there's no telling how many hundreds of emails like this he may have sent that have never seen the light of day) but I do not see how this "helps keep minds open to his side of things" or how it is a "noble pursuit" or "admirable".


Also remember the duality of those two people: Martin Luther King at times called for violence and Malcolm X was mostly a peaceful protestor. It's easier to put them into categories but nobody is so bluntly one way or the other.

Just as I hear Paul Graham's name blasted frequently online, for a variety of reasons, I'm certain Naggum inspired as many people as he scared off. Never assume an internet personality is the whole story.


As someone who owes a lot to Paul Graham's influence in the very space (Lisp hacking) that Erik Naggum inhabited, I object to your implied equivalence between the two.

I'm certain Naggum inspired as many people as he scared off.

I realize you mean well, but this is glib. Erik Naggum, in his online capacity, was a consummate intellectual bully. (It's hard to imagine anything less true of PG than that.) You know how everyone talks about how dysfunctional the Lisp community is? Naggum did more than anyone else to poison it. Go read the archives of CLL and see for yourself how it starts out as a wellspring of intelligent and civil discourse and then decays under the influence of some smart, funny, nasty characters. The whole thing is a case study in the fragility of online communities.

As one longtime Lisper explained to me, Naggum was so smart and willing to put so much time into it that he became a torque on the whole thing. Most people who found his style obnoxious simply left, and for many (not all) who remained he became the local standard. People began to imitate him and it ultimately affected not only that group but the Lisp world as a whole. Many nice people have tried to repair the damage, but it may never happen: the niceness required to do so is orders of magnitude greater than the poison. It's like trying to clean up an oil spill.

Erik Naggum was obviously really smart and could be quite funny (I enjoyed that aspect of his writing), and for all I know he was a smashing great guy in person - but as far as the above-mentioned harm goes, those things made it worse, not better.

Edit: given that HN's defining quality is to foster intelligent and civil discourse in a way that doesn't get poisoned, your equivalence (and the place you posted it) are kind of ironic. But I know you weren't trying to make a huge point out of it.


I don't know much about Naggum, so it's entirely possible you're right. Apologies if I misinterpreted his relationship with the community.


No problem. Thanks for figuring out that I wasn't attacking you personally :)


Thank you for posting this. It's so utterly bizarre to see people attacking me for posting inappropriate personal attacks on Erik Naggum.


Kragen, please take some time to reflect on your own behavior in this thread. It is not bizarre in the least that people are downvoting you. Nobody is disputing the substance of your complaints about Erik, but your timing is completely inappropriate.

If Erik was a 10 on the asshole/sociopath scale, you're running at about 8.5 right now.


When did MLK call for violence? (I'm not disagreeing (I don't know enough about the topic), just curious).


A quick Google search isn't returning much, but it's hard to find a good set of terms to search for. I recall spending a lot of time in a class talking about it, though. At once point we were given quotes and asked to identify them as being either MLK or MX, and, not surprisingly in this context, all of the quotes about avoiding violence were from Malcolm X, and all of the ones demanding violent revolution were Martin Luther King.


I don't doubt the memory just because there's nothing more dangerous than a teacher who can't recognize a Bible quote and who then attributes modern meaning to the speaker. MLK was a reverend so he obviously quoted the Bible a lot and the Bible can have some violent imagery.

But I can't see the man who said this advocating violence of any kind...

"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."


He also said, "It is no longer a choice between violence and non-violence in this world; but non-violence or non-existence."

I've been unable to find any mention of using violence. But it is difficult to search for an answer.


It wasn't a Bible quotation. It was pretty specific and relevant to his time period. I'll try to find it but I haven't had success yet; apologies.




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