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zimbabwe 1760 days ago | link | parent

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.



gruseom 1760 days ago | link

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.

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zimbabwe 1760 days ago | link

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

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gruseom 1760 days ago | link

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

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kragen 1760 days ago | link

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

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jimboyoungblood 1760 days ago | link

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.

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smanek 1760 days ago | link

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

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zimbabwe 1760 days ago | link

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.

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TomOfTTB 1760 days ago | link

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."

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zimbabwe 1759 days ago | link

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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asenchi 1760 days ago | link

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.

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