divegeek wrote:In point of fact, I think it's pretty clear that we agree on this. I don't think you'd argue that out-right ad hominem attacks should be allowed. The only question here is whether or not implied attacks rise to that same level. I've been thinking about that question and I think I have my reasoning lined up.
I suspect that we shall continue in constant disagreement on this. I fear we have taken the intent of the original question far off base, but nevertheless, a good conversation. The teaching of correct principles, while allowing self government, is of utmost importance in my life. My entire life has been lived in such a way. I had unheard of freedoms as a youth - my parents showed me the benefits of living life according to their values and principles, and let me learn about life first hand. I never really did push those boundaries very far, yet there is considerable value in allowing people to step slightly "out of line" at times, and let them learn those lessons first hand. They will learn more by experiencing consequences first hand, then they will by being "told" what is "right and wrong". Sometimes mistakes will be made. Those who claim a superior knowledge of life are typically those who need to learn the most.
divegeek wrote:In general, I don't believe implied personal attacks are the same as direct personal attacks. I'm talking about the difference here between "You are stupid" and "Your idea is stupid". One is criticism of the person, the other is criticism of the idea. The former is clearly not useful and out of bounds, the latter is not.
This mentality is part of what rubs me the wrong way in situations like this. Rather then simply asking THX (or whomever) for clarification, we take him at face value of his post. Where is the human element in this? We act too much like machines at times. I don't know if you do any programming or not, but how often is code written for a computer, and the computer does exactly what you told it to do, and that's exactly the problem?
Fortunately we have the ability to analyze, near instantaneously, everything we encounter on a daily basis. When I read THX's post, while his typing may have implied that it was an attack on an individual rather then an idea, I had reservations as to whether or not that was his actual intent. (If it was, then so be it, but if not, let's not jump to conclusions without implementing the human element...)
We have come to a point in life where we really should not be carrying guns, we ought to be carrying lawyers and word smiths with us, to help us draft and review every sentence we speak or type. Within my lifetime, and certainly within the lifetime of those older then I, there was a time when you might here someone say "Oh, yes, I know what you mean..."
We knew what eachother meant with simple conversation, and we did not require an additional lump of words to clarify every little detail and every little thought.
Do you believe that THX's intent was to attack? I don't. (Maybe it was, only he knows...)
From the experience I have had on this forum, I have found most everyone to most always have good intent. Before assuming that he was attacking, why not ask for clarification? Why not just say "Did you intend to attack so and so, or did you simply mean that you thought his idea was stupid? If the latter, please elaborate."
That would be in line with civil discourse. Assumptions are not.
(Yes, yes, I know, that is what he typed. My point exactly.)
I have typed things in a hurry before, when I've only had a second or two to be online, and wasn't able to elaborate as much as I would have liked to. I would wager that we all have at some time or another.
I think the value of the message also comes into play. A scathing but detailed deconstruction of an idea contains a lot of information and adds significantly to the debate. "Your idea is stupid, what were you thinking?" adds nothing to the conversation. Its only purpose is to express disdain; it communicates absolutely nothing about what is wrong with the idea.
I would also contend that there is value in simply expressing disdain. It is psychologically important for the human psyche to express itself. It may not have conversational value, but it indeed does have critical value. The phrase "letting off steam" may be more understandable.
divegeek wrote:In the case of THX's original comment, he said absolutely nothing about why he thought the per-caliber threads were a bad idea. The comment had zero informational value and non-trivial inflammatory content. Your original comment in this thread supported people "telling it like it is", but THX's comment didn't tell anything, it just made an emotional statement regarding THX's state of mind -- that he was pissed off about something, and it was as reasonable to infer that the target of his anger was Jarubla as anything else because he didn't really say.
Rather then that being an inference, it was more of an assumption, which again, gets us all into trouble. Asking for clarification can be a valuable conversational tool.
(speaking of clarification, that would have been my second comment in the thread...just to be precise!
divegeek wrote:It's also worth pointing out that THX's original comment WAS NOT censored. Don replied and pointed out that the information-free, purely-inflammatory comment was edging close to the line. Don didn't even say that THX had crossed the line, and certainly didn't take any action to remove his comment much less eject him from the board. THX responded to that by choosing to take offense, more or less asking to be banned, and then creating another thread to call into question Don's rather gentle response.
Indeed it was not, which is again why I feel you have missed my point several times. My comments are not so much about the actual comment of THX, they are more generalized then you are perceiving them to be. While his comment has been an example, it is not the end.
divegeek wrote:This all brings me back to my original point, which is that people clearly DO take offense where none is intended, especially when they're stressed for reasons unrelated to the conversation at hand.
Exactly correct. Which is why I have spoken of the responsibility for each of us to walk away and take a breath of fresh air before we take offense. Granted, THX may have take unwarranted offense at Don's comment, or perhaps he simply had a question and we have perceived it as offense? Why not ask for clarification?
divegeek wrote:The "larger result" that the principle of free speech supports is the enabling of communication. It's to allow ideas to spread freely, for the betterment of society. With regard to speech that doesn't communicate any ideas of value, and doesn't contribute to the betterment of society, the principle simply doesn't apply. Now, because it is difficult to determine which speech provides value and which does not, we generally err on the side of allowing all speech, but that's a pragmatic implementation issue, not part of the core principle.
Value is different to everyone, as I mentioned above. The value of expressing himself is higher to THX then his expression may be to you, or I. The core principle of free speech is the only thing that we can really say has inherent value to all members of the human race. All other "value" is subjective to the folks involved.
divegeek wrote:...shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater would be allowed...
On a more humorous note, this is a great example from the movies.
However, I work in fire protection, and it is difficult enough to get a theater of people to evacuate when you have 100dB horns and 110 candela strobes flashing, let alone someone simply screaming fire. It just doesn't happen that way in real life. Even with a voice-evacuation alarm, spouting out evacuation instructions to the occupants, everyone tends to just kinda sit there for a few minutes waiting for someone else to be the first to leave.
If you ever have a fire alarm go off, please just get the heck out of the building until it can be determined by professionals that it was really a false alarm.
...screaming obscenities at a judge would not get you jailed for contempt, indeed most of the rules of civilized discourse would go out the window. Why use formal parliamentary procedure rules if everyone should be able to say what they want, when they want? Why bother with the procedures and rules of polite conversation? Why structure formal debates? Let's all adopt Crossfire! rules, with people yelling over one another.
This is more an issue of protocol, rather then "free speech". Free speech does not mean we all scream at each other and never hold conversations. To say so would imply that only restricted speech has value.
There is a vast and important difference between protocols and the actual messages that the protocols are used to deliver.
divegeek wrote:The fact is that we impose limits on discourse in order to enable discourse. In the case of this forum, as opposed to many others on the Internet, it is recognized that censoring profanity, vulgarity and personal attacks facilitates discourse, in general. It does create problems for people who don't know how to communicate without those "tools", but that's okay; it also offers them an opportunity to learn. For example, Don's attempt to educate THX in the thread that started this discussion.
Again, this may be an issue of semantics, but I disagree that we impose limits to discourse to promote discourse. I contend that we impose limits on protocols, or at least implement protocols, to manage discourse, which in turn allows more efficient discourse. Limiting discourse itself will not promote discourse. Yes, yes, an issue of semantics, and I doubt that we will agree...
divegeek wrote:Thus, I argue that Don's response WAS an action based on the true principle of freedom of speech, indeed on a deep and nuanced understanding of that principle.
I'm not clear on what you are getting at here. I never criticized Don's response to THX, nor did I say that he acted against the principles of freedom.
As we have discussed, Don didn't really do anything...