On "Cancel Culture"

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Jul 20, 2020.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Correction: wants.

    Trump isn't gone. All indications are that his Party is about to pronounce him Not Guilty of High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
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  3. river

    It looks that way . And Treason . Treason hasn't come up much , almost not at all , trump is guilty of Treason .

    Treason to the Oath he took in 2016 . Nevermind anything else .
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  5. Bells Staff Member

    I think people equate hate speech to be free speech all to often.

    Hate speech should not be protected speech.

    I do not think people should have the right to spout whatever hateful rubbish they feel inclined to spout and then expect that it be protected.

    Then again, I grew up hearing the words "petite negress" hissed at me all to often in a society that openly discriminated and saw me and others like me to be less than. Going to church as a small child meant sitting in the back, as only white people sat in the front.

    It's very easy for people not on the receiving end of hate speech to declare that it should be classified as 'free speech', or that it can be countered with even more speech in the hope that somehow or other, these people will miraculously change.
    foghorn and river like this.
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  7. river

    Why the hate in the first place ? Several years ago I met a Native Indian where I worked . He told me that he would get into fights , fist fights for no reason . I asked why . Because he was Native . Indigenous . The Utter Cruelty of people towards other people because of who they are , is beyond the pale .

    Native Peoples forced to forget their Identity . By indoctrination .

    Spanish towards Natives in MesoAmerica . In 1500's . The cruelty . And burning there codices . Because there thinking was that they were the superior .
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    While in many cases it is "obvious" as to whether certain words amount to "hate speech", there will always be arguments about whether a particular utterance - or kind of utterance - makes the grade. Often enough, the words themselves are innocuous. What is important is the context, and particularly the intent behind the words. Obviously, it can't just be a simple matter of deciding that any utterance of the word "n****r", or a word like "f****t", must necessarily be hate speech, because obviously both of those words have been appropriated by the "target" communities and are used in an ironic, friendly way rather than a hateful one, which is not to say that they aren't also used as targeted hate speech by very different groups of people.

    Given that context is often important, it is very difficult to make a blanket rule that will work as intended every time. In such cases, if you're going to censure "hate speech", again you need an arbiter or gatekeeper, which raises the issues I talked about in my previous post.

    As I said previously, I think that, in deciding what kinds of actions ought to be permitted ("protected") and which ought to be censured, it is most important to look at the harm caused by permitting them. Words are not, by themselves, the problem. It is that the words urge or condone attitudes, which lead to actions that can cause quantifiable harms. I have already said that I'm all in favour of minimising harm, where possible.

    All this is getting away from the topic of "cancel culture" though. Depending on how you choose to define it, cancel culture is not necessarily about actual harm at all. It mostly seems to be about guarding against the theoretical possibility of somebody being hurt (usually emotionally) by words, even when there's no actual evidence that any identifiable individual has actually been hurt in any quantifiable way.

    To be clear: I have never argued - and I'm not arguing now - that "hate speech" ought to be "free", by which I mean both "free from consequences for the speaker" and also "protected" in the sense of the speaker being able to demand that it must be "platformed".

    It might be useful to think about the above in the context of the joke about the one-armed person in the comedy routine that I mentioned previously, too. One argument that might be made is that two-armed comedians ought to be censured every time for making jokes about one-armed people. Maybe only one-armed comedians should have any "right" to make jokes about one-armed people. But where does that sort of idea stop? Should we also make a rule that only Trump voters should be allowed to make jokes about Trump, in case Trump voters might be offended by a Trump joke made by a Democrat-voting comedian?

    Or maybe that kind of thing should only apply if the "target" group is some kind of identifiable minority. Since most people have two arms, then two-armed people should be censured if they make jokes about one-armed people, but it would be acceptable for one-armed people to make jokes about two-armed people (because they are the majority)?

    If the (two-armed) comedian making the one-arm joke asks "Who was hurt by the joke?", is that even a valid question, or should he or she be "cancelled" regardless of whether any identifiable person can actually be shown to have suffered some harm as a result of the joke being told? Should we guard against the possibility that there might, at some point during the comedy show's run, be a one-armed person in the audience who might just take offense at the joke? If so, are we going to also prevent the (male) comedian from telling any jokes about women? Are we going to prevent the (gay) comedian from telling any jokes about straight people? Are we going to prevent the comedian from telling any jokes about any group of people with whom that particular comedian has no obvious or direct sympathies? Or are we going to go even further and just rule out topics for jokes, regardless of who tells them?

    Does it matter that the context of a one-armed joke is a comedy routine, in which the comedian is, in all likelihood, "making fun" of lots of different kinds of people? Does that, in fact, make it worse rather than better? Or what? Should we just throw our hands up and cancel comedy all together?

    Finally, consider: is there a better way to "police" acceptable comedy than to enforce "rules" about what kinds of jokes a comedian is allowed to tell on stage? Is there some way that society can sort the problem out (if there's actually a problem), without resorting to hard-line censorship?
    river likes this.
  9. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    what is the end point goal that drives the process of the mechanism ?
    they seek to modify interaction to increase ease of profit process to their primary advertisers.

    concepts of cults & terrorism are not moral concepts to them
    they are consumer mover points.
    they want as many consumers as possible.

    the fallacy is in the provisioning of data by way of sales space to primary client advertisers who provide them with their primary revenue streams

    they NEED to create & control the primary stream value to service 13yo girls & their nosy parents.

    THIS concept drives their "regulation" which is then re-branded to be public service.

    soo in reality putting all the lies & bullshit aside
    what twitter & facebook are doing is
    sterilizing their monetization streams & re branding that as anti hate speech regulation

    anyone who posts content that is argumentative to a 13yo girls advertiser company gets banned

    that is how they are running it

    the effective reality has become a 13yo girls class room psychology of whining & complaining & corporate public broadcast compliance.

    THAT is the new facebook & twitter
    and they can do what ever they want because they control all the market
    people choose that
    now their own anti-christs are controlling them in the guise of faked moral principals leveraged by capitalist public statements of moral complicity.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2021
  10. Bells Staff Member

    I think my distinction was quite clear... And black people calling each other 'nigger' is not hate speech. I mean, this is quite obvious. So I don't exactly understand how this is even up for discussion.

    And we didn't appropriate it. These words are forced on us by white people for the most part. Black people use it to try to lessen its impact on our psyche.

    I personally don't like the word and others associated with its meaning. Simply because I know how it feels to have that word used against me from early childhood by white people..

    I do not believe I stated otherwise.

    And sometimes, allowing the words to continue to be uttered while, society tries to determine if it really is harmful and tries to argue that others are using it as a term of endearment within the group, normalises the issues surrounding the words, which makes harm more likely towards individuals or groups.

    I would argue this is the biggest issue when it comes to hate speech.

    The potential for it become more harmful increases the more it is normalised.

    In not cancelling it in particular quarters, you risk it becoming much worse because people may think that 'meh, it's all cool' if it's simply used a certain way, say by making a joke.. Which in turn continues to normalise and legitimise bigoted behaviour towards others.

    Say in your one armed man joke example. Would people be laughing if the comedians had uttered the word "nigger" and the joke had been about black people?

    Hur hur.. Would all laugh?

    You know bigotry is harmful. If you are going to try to pick and choose because 'free speech', then you simply open yourself up to a can of worms you won't have enough time in your life to explain.

    How about rape jokes?

    Funny? Shouldn't be "cancelled"? Or is it a part of rape culture which, as you well know, is distinctly harmful?

    Hate speech is harmful and can have deadly consequences. Regardless of how one may try to measure it.

    As I noted previously.. Until you are on the receiving end of such forms of 'free speech', you cannot truly understand what it does to you and to others.

    Victims of such 'free speech' need to have a recourse and we often do not. Which is why, in my opinion, hate speech should not be protected speech.
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    My intention is not to argue with you about hate speech. I have tried to be specific about what I mean by "cancel culture". I have explained, with examples, in a number of separate posts. I am not promoting hate speech, or saying that it should be "platformed". I am saying that we should look carefully for actual harm before we start trying to ban certain forms of speech.

    Here's another kind of example. In some countries right now, if I were to publically say something like "God is a dick" or "There is no God", I could be arrested and subjected to some kind of punishment such as imprisonment or even, in some countries, death. The people imposing whatever the punishment is for this "blasphemy" would be doing the same kind of thing as people who want to ban the word "nigger" (by threatening some legal penalty if that word is used).

    Of course, in both cases, there would be some authority putting the law in place and administering the penalty, whatever it is. In other words, somebody is deciding they have authority to limit the speech of other people - a threat backed up by force where necessary to make the point.

    Another example: in China, right now, citizens are unable to publically criticise the ruling government in certain ways. There is an extensive system in place to surveil citizens to check whether they are breaking the censorship laws, and people are regularly harshly punished if they do breach those laws. To take one example, one of the types of speech that is that is banned is suggesting that China might be better off with a democratically elected government.

    In the current thread, we have been talking about people having their Twitter account "cancelled", or about certain people having their invited talks at universities cancelled because some students complained. That's not quite in the same league as being arrested and sent off to live in a prison camp for years because of something you wrote on Weibo, which the government didn't approve.

    What starts with censorship intended to "purify" a culture can wind up with a police state and Big Brother surveillance. That's why I think we need to consider very carefully which types of speech we want to ban. People who want to ban speech generally tend to assume they'll be on the "winning" side. They assume they will be the ones sitting in judgment, not the ones chilling out in the prison camps. It doesn't always work out that way.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Right, James, but nobody says you have to coddle, nurture, protect, or encourage it. Like, as a practical matter, it's not exactly funny watching you hand out infractions for use of this word or that while going out of your way to cover for white supremacism. Or strike dictionary definitions on behalf of really irresponsible—to put it mildly—advocacy. To a certain degree, you even achieve↱ stereotype↱ now and then.

    Answers might be complicated, but in the question of what to do when they don't stop using the 'evil speech' and keep repeating it, the first thing is to stop encouraging or making excuses. In all your time, here, you still haven't figured this out.

    James, you've literally given me the bit about how you never heard of someone, at least until you happened to see an interview and it turns out the famous person you never heard of happens to make some good points about free speech. One time, in the middle of a dispute, you stopped and asked, "What is this [_____] you speak of?" as if you had no idea what we were discussing the whole time. While it read, in its moment, like an old comedy gag, it seems you were serious. It's one thing to say you never remember, another to see you forget in the middle of a discussion.

    It is fair to say you've been at it for years. You've said before you'll stand on your record. But that includes manipulating the language to have after a member you don't like for the sake of your antireligious supremacism, striking dictionary definitions in order to defend rape advocacy in order to protect someone you sympathize with in other issues, and strawmanning on behalf of white supremacism. I'm sorry, do you not like those descriptions? Well, we can talk about them. Or have you forgotten? I mean, it's one thing if, in your zeal, you simply missed the tacit if/then structure of a statement, but I can also see why you would want to forget wiping out the if clause of the construction in order to punish the then clause according to false pretenses. And then taking retribution for the member complaining about your moderation? Was it because she was brown-skinned, female, or had religion, James? Why did you feel it necessary to give such aid and comfort to American jingoism invested in our heritage of white and Christian supremacism? Were you just throwing bones? I mean, that's an even older line that made sense in its original moment, but your record since suggests there was more to it than that. Really, James, you've been at it for years. The only thing that stands out about a more recent occasion, for instance, is the blatancy. After all, you did take a complaint about disruptive trolling and turn it into a weird, falsely-founded public inquisition in which you gave imprimatur↗ to slow-learner white supremacism. And that's just one of the most apparent aspects; your formulation, "Is Seattle advocating for white supremacy?" offers a distracting curiosity to anyone who has seen you parse the dictionary definitions in order to strike the inconvenient ones, but even setting that aside, it's something of a straw man, which in turn seems to have been deployed in order that you could be seen disagreeing with it. (There's also an available distraction about policy, principle, and consistency, but, y'know, priorities.)

    Additionally, and perhaps you haven't really thought this part through, but we've also had a long, long time to think about it: We do remind people that nobody forces them to read a thread, or a post, or whatever. And they make their own choices to respond and engage. Within this is an arrangement of circumstance such that the best course might simply be to leave something alone, and thereby something like slow-learner white supremacism should, but for pesky other people choosing to not leave it alone, go unchallenged. It ought to be a completely silly rhetorical circle, except for the point that it is not, after all this time, ruled out.

    To wit:

    At the point that, say, you're an Administrator, and Bells and I are moderators, there is a context by which that would have been our job. This is one of the reasons why I sometimes remind that some arguments are hard to justify rationally. It's not that a range of discourse is inherently and fundamentally off-limits, but that an obligation to rationality might disrupt its most common iterations. Our response, over the years, has been to abandon our general pretense toward rational discourse. Do I really believe you can't discern the difference between behavior and a political view? Only if you really, really want me to.

    Moreover, historically, you're also hesitant that it should be our job to discern good or bad faith. But our public side is, technically, still a private-sector affair, so—

    —the question does at some point arise why we absolutely need this stuff, here. It's like I told you in July, about Seattle and white supremacism:

    But that's the thing: Some arguments really are harder to justify rationally than others. White supremacism, for instance, isn't absolutely verboten; it just needs to be a properly scientific argument, and maybe, just maybe, there is a reason nobody has come up with one, yet. Maybe there's a reason the closest thing to rational support for white supremacism must necessarily pretend ignorance of history itself.

    Toward that, I also mentioned that you might be able to help people understand why you expect them to endure this sort of stuff as part of their experience here. We've been through this↗ on other points, before, too, James: Nobody says we have to keep them around if they're utterly full of shit, except, of course, yes, you do↗. So why is it that we need this sort of behavior here? Why is it essential to the Sciforums community, experience, and reputation?

    The question at hand was what happens when they don't stop using the "evil speech" and keep repeating it. Whether the question is problematic to a public square, or a matter of affinity within private boundaries, the choice to coddle, nurture, protect, or encourage it is not irrelevant to the answer.
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I was just pointing out that the same words can be hate speech in one context and friendly banter in another.

    It is obvious now that the word "nigger" is not considered offensive by certain people when certain other people use it in a particular way in a particular context. That was not always obvious. There was a time when that word was only ever used one way.

    Another example would be the word "gay", or even "faggot". Those, too, were forced on people. These days "gay" has virtually lost its ability to signify hate because it has been so thoroughly reclaimed by the community who was originally its target. The same is not yet true of "faggot" or "nigger".

    Nor do I, of course.

    For me, it's because people like you have shown me how it makes you feel. I don't share your direct experience, of course, and I'm certainly not trying to claim any equivalency.

    Wikipedia offers the following explanation of hate speech:
    "[Hate speech is] usually thought to include communications of animosity or disparagement of an individual or a group on account of a group characteristic such as race, colour, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or sexual orientation"​

    I agree with you that there are clear harms in "normalising" communications of animosity or disparagement, particularly when such animosity is on account of unalterable matters of personal identity. This is why I say there is no obligation on anybody to "platform" hate speech, because that tends to normalise it. More than that, the platforming of it should be stridently opposed. That is not the same thing as banning all discussion of it, or banning the words it uses, however. It is important, in my view, to be able to discuss the underlying ideas, if for no other reason than to establish exactly why they are harmful and misguided.

    Okay, but think about the other examples I just gave, above.

    Are we going to ban jokes about God or religion, in case people start thinking "meh, it's all cool" to discuss whether God is real/moral/etc.?
    Are we going to ban jokes about the Chinese Communist Party, or Vladimir Putin, or Kim Jong-un, in case people starting thinking "meh, it's all cool" to criticise the Supreme Leader? (Note that this banning is a fact of life right now in China and North Korea.)

    Well, a lot of black comedians do regularly utter the word "nigger" on stage and people laugh. Even white people.

    As a white person, I would definitely advise any white comedian to tread very carefully indeed if she is planning on using the word "nigger" in her routine, but I wouldn't automatically try to get her "cancelled" if all I heard was that she was planning to use that word. I also wouldn't automatically assume that any black person in the audience would be mortally offended by her use of that word. I'd probably wait until at least one black person actually objected to it, with reference to the specifics of her performance.

    As a matter of fact, I have often laughed along with black comedians, even ones who used the word "nigger". While I can't recall any specific instance, it's possible that I have laughed when a white comedian used that word. It would depend very much on the context of the joke and so on. I don't deliberately waste my time listening to racist comedians, and non-racist white comedians tend to avoid using that word, so that's probably why no examples spring to mind.

    You can't always know in advance whether somebody's words are going to be an expression of bigotry or not. It is true that sometimes you can predict it, based on a record of past behaviour. But a lot of the time, you have to listen to what somebody says before you decide that they are a bigot. If you prevent them from speaking at all because you worry that they might say something bigoted, then all you've really done is to impose your own prejudices on them.

    I can't think of any way rape could be funny, personally.

    Without considering any specific examples, my first inclination would be that attempting to make a joke about rape would be in extremely poor taste. Certainly, I would not be knowingly shelling out money to attend a comedy show by any comedian whose schtick included a routine that tried to make rape funny. I might well advise other people not to give that comedian their money, either.

    I don't know about "cancelling" that comedian in such a way that they would never get another gig, though. Wouldn't it be better to try to educate them about rape, at least in the first instance?

    You're assuming you already know what hate speech is, in advance. I'd argue it actually works the other way around. It is because certain types of speech, tied to personal identity, lead to measurable harms that we label those types of speech "hate speech". We measure it first, then label it, not the other way around. Doing it the other way is the whole problem with "cancel culture". With cancel culture you decide that speech needs to be curtailed long before any actual harm has been shown.

    Maybe so, but the fact remains that we should think carefully about throwing away free speech in order to protect people from perceived potential harms. No doubt the Chinese Communist Party thinks it is better if the people don't criticise the Party in public forums. Not just better for the Party, but better for the people as a whole, because it "maintains social stability" and prevents political uprisings and turmoil.

    It seems to me that certain forms of hate speech are illegal already. In Australia, I think a lot of the relevant laws concentrate not so much on the speech itself, but on its harmful effects. In other words, where speech leads to illegal activities, then people tend to be punished for the illegal activities rather than for the speech itself. There are exceptions, of course. We have discrimination laws, for example, which include certain types of speech. We also have defamation laws.
  14. Bells Staff Member

    I brought it up because hate speech is protected speech..

    And I'm not arguing with you. Nor am I suggesting you are promoting hate speech.

    I am literally trying to have a discussion about this.

    Nigger is not banned anywhere, as far as I know.

    Secondly, they cannot be compared..

    One causes harm and has a horrendous history connected to its use and the other does not.

    So no, I would not argue that banning blasphemy is doing the same thing as people who want to ban the word "nigger". One applies to freedom of belief and thought, the other applies directly to speech that causes harm and normalises bigotry.

    This happens anyway.

    You cannot use your free speech privilege to incite violence or cause a stampede in a movie theatre by screaming fire. Nor can you use your right to free speech to threaten someone or defame them.

    Which is not cancel culture but censorship with more nefarious intent to preserve the ruling political party and political system.

    You mean the right wing pundits who have suddenly realised that they cannot use these platforms to spout whatever they want to spout?

    Have they been cancelled though?

    Cancel culture became so central to the discourse in 2019 that even President Obama weighed in. The idea is that if you do something that others deem problematic, you automatically lose all your currency. Your voice is silenced. You’re done. Those who condemn cancel culture usually imply that it’s unfair and indiscriminate.

    The problem with this perspective is cancel culture isn’t real, at least not in the way people believe it is. Instead, it’s turned into a catch-all for when people in power face consequences for their actions or receive any type of criticism, something that they’re not used to.

    I’m a black, Muslim woman, and because of social media, marginalized people like myself can express ourselves in a way that was not possible before. That means racist, sexist, and bigoted behavior or remarks don’t fly like they used to. This applies to not only wealthy people or industry leaders but anyone whose privilege has historically shielded them from public scrutiny. Because they can’t handle this cultural shift, they rely on phrases like “cancel culture” to delegitimize the criticism.


    In September, comedian Shane Gillis was fired from Saturday Night Live after videos of him making racist jokes surfaced. Comedian Bill Burr condemned the firing saying, “You f-cking millennials, you’re a bunch of rats, all of you,” and “None of them care, all they want to do is get people in trouble.” But having a job at SNL isn’t a human right. And although Gillis’ defenders have fretted about the sanctity of free speech in comedy, the audience of a comedic TV show should get to speak out about whether they want to watch someone who has espoused this type of humor. That’s actually the marketplace at work. Why should Gillis be able to utter racist things but those affected by hate speech shut their mouths? Gillis is still a touring comedian. He will be fine.


    That's just one example. The article points out several others.

    "Cancel culture" at its heart is simply victims of "free speech" (and I use the term loosely here) are finally speaking out and finding their voices.

    As I noted before, until you endure such treatment (that is currently being cancelled in some quarters), it's hard to comprehend what it does to you psychologically and sometimes even physically. So what happens when you tell someone that their words are wrong and they keep going? Should they be "cancelled" - ie called out publicly? Should such behaviour be banned or lead to reprimand of some sort?

    All the people claiming they have been cancelled, are still appearing on TV, etc.. They are still making money or gathering fame or notoriety - often because of what they are saying. So how have they been cancelled? Louis CK went on to perform at a lot of sell out comedy shows even after he admitted to sexually harassing other female comedians and was "cancelled" and whined about it - because some of his shows were cancelled as a response to the public revolt.. So was he "cancelled"?

    Consider this.. For someone to not be "cancelled", you have to expect and demand that their victim(s) be silenced and not have a voice to speak out against it.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    You're right. Nobody says that.

    As usual, you make false allegations and you provide no evidence. Those kinds of personal attacks are why I have lost respect for you.

    You link to a random Tweeter. I am supposed to know that person? Is there supposed to be some link between myself and that person, or what they tweeted? Who knows? You haven't actually made any point with that. Maybe you had something in mind. There's no way to tell what it might have been, unless you choose to explain yourself.

    Again, you make an accusation but provide no references. Don't you understand that personal attacks of that kind just make you look bad?

    And again. Not a single reference to any actual words I've written anywhere. If you're going to attack somebody on those kinds of grounds, you should at least try to bring some facts.

    You're not sorry. Who do you think you're fooling?

    Actually, I find your descriptions of me, above, to be almost funny, they are so ludicrously ungrounded in any reality. On the other hand, it's also a little bit pathetic, this need you seem to have to try to sink the boot in. Of all the possible ways you could choose to discuss the thread topic, this is the way you choose? Really?

    Back up. Tell me who you're talking about. You can presumably name this person I took retribution on. Next, try to dig up a link showing where and how I took retribution on her due to her skin colour, her sex or her religion, if that's your argument. It will be helpful to know which year this alleged incident took place, what "false pretenses" you are alleging, what unforgivable error of interpretation I made and where I made it, and so on. You know, actual factual details. Got any of those? Or just another bunch of unsupported accusations?

    Why did you feel it necessary to plant a bomb in your local post office? Oh, wait, I don't have any actual evidence you did that, so maybe I shouldn't accuse you of it. But if you did do it, it was probably because you missed a vital if/then structure in somebody's statement back in 2009, in a thread I can't currently locate. I bet you did that deliberately because you didn't approve of the poster's hair colour.

    You don't seem to get it that baseless personal attacks are pointless and they make you look bad, Tiassa. You should stop them. Take a good hard look at yourself. Work out exactly why you hate me so much and we can discuss the real reasons. This game where you expect me to take your silly lies seriously isn't getting you anywhere. It just ends with you more frustrated than before.

    I suggest a frank, private discussion might be better than you making a public spectacle of yourself. Please consider that as an alternative to this.

    I'm glad you provided a link to something, at last.

    All I see there is a set of questions I put to the membership of this forum. If you continue to read down the thread, you'll see some replies to those questions, too.

    I believe there was also some discussion of the matter at the time in the Moderators forum, to which you were privy. Remind me. What moderator action (if any) was taken, and who took it? What reasons did they give?

    I assume you put your own opinions on the record at the time. Or didn't you? What action did you take, as a moderator, if any? What were your reasons?

    Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Seattle, in the linked thread, was, in effect, acting like a "slow learner white supremacist", as you allege. Would it be fair to say that his "slow learner white supremacist" views went "unchallenged" in the linked thread, then?

    I invite interested readers (if there are any) to peruse the linked thread and judge for themselves whether Seattle was indeed left "unchallenged" there, as Tiassa alleges. I say he wasn't. I also say that should be clear if you read through the thread.

    In fact, the very act of my putting the question "Is Seattle advocating for white supremacy?" could be seen as a challenge in itself.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    sciforums is a privately-run and maintained organisation, not one that is publically funded or run by any government authority of the like. I was careful to distingish the two.

    Maybe you should worry about what you abandon, while I worry about what I abandon. I don't think I'm part of your response.

    I am wary of certain traps that are inherent in making assumptions about good or bad faith, prejudices and biases not being the least of them. That's why I think it is important to pay attention to what people actually write, rather than to try to guess at motives or to impute "bad faith" due to some kind of bias (political, religious, or other).

    I have written on this extensively in the past.

    Nobody here is obliged to endure anything. People can choose what they want to read. They can choose whether to become, or to remain, an active member of this forum.

    But let's consider the topic of white supremacism, if you like. Suppose we ban all discussion of it. Then how are we going to meaningfully discuss matters such as the invasion of the US Capitol by Trump supporters? Are we just going to ignore an important facet of that because we've decided that white supremacism is unmentionable?

    It seems to me that what you really want to ban is advocacy of white supremacism. We already have rules regarding hate speech and the like, so it seems to me that sort of thing is already covered.

    The matter that sticks in your craw, in reality, is that you and I sometimes have different ideas about who is advocating white supremacy and who isn't, and about whether certain words amount to advocacy of it. The bar for you to label something as "supremacy advocacy" seems to be set extraordinarily low, judging by your complaints here. You seem to have a real problem that I'm not willing to jump on your censorship bandwagon every time you see something that clears the very low bar you've set. Worse, you assume that I must be a full-blown white supremacist myself if I ever disagree with you on a particular allegation of "advocacy" that you want to make, and you're willing to ignore virtually everything I've ever written on the topic - or to twist my words and to tell outright lies - to persuade yourself that you're right about me.

    Ah yes. You want to "cancel" atheists on sciforums because you say they (we) know "pretty much nothing" about religion and so on and so forth, and therefore to you atheists - the ones here, anyway - are anti-religious supremacists, no different to white supremacists, "advocating" for people to be harmed on the basis of their identity.

    Again, we find that you set a very low bar for deciding that most, if not all, atheists are dishonest, ignorant people with bad intentions, who therefore deserve to be "cancelled".

    Has it occurred to you that maybe you're the religious bigot, Tiassa?

    The answer runs along the same lines as the one about white supremacy. If we're going to talk about religion, banning discussion of the alternative seems to me to be counterproductive to honest inquiry.

    The same sorts of comments also apply to "advocacy" of religious persecution. Your bar for deciding that a given atheist is inappropriately attacking a theist on identity grounds seems to be set very low indeed. You get frustrated whenever I disagree with you on that. On the other hand, you're quite tolerant of bad behavior from theists, especially when they are attacking atheists on identity grounds.

    And, again similarly, you assume that I must hate religion, or religious people, if I ever disagree with you about moderating somebody in a religion thread.

    To summarise: the answer to your question of why do we need to host discussions of certain topics here on sciforums, the short answer is, of course: we don't need to host any kind of discussion we don't want, here. This is a privately-owned forum. We, as moderators, and more generally as a community of members, get to make our own rules. And we have all done that.

    We decided, as a group, that we would host forums for discussion of topics such as politics, ethics, and religion. We decided that our adult membership is suitably equipped, for the most part, to cope with the kinds of topics of discussion that such forums would invite. Over time, we have also developed a set of practices concerning where we will draw lines, concerning what specific types of content we will and will not host here, within the broad categories that exist. Most of our membership, most of the time, understands where those lines are and what kinds of posting will be at risk of crossing them.

    None of those rules are set in stone, unchangeable. At any time, we could, in principle, decide that we will no longer host a forum for discussion of religion, say, or political matters. We could also, as group, decide to adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to certain topics, if we wanted to. I would hope that, as was done in the past, we would have a general vote involving all interested members, before implementing major changes to the structure or rules of this forum.
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Okay. Maybe I misunderstood.

    In the US, hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, I guess. In Australia, we don't have an equivalent Bill of Rights, not nationally anyway. (I might dig up the Victorian charter of rights, or whatever it's called, later and see if it has anything about free speech.)

    I'm not saying I agree that hate speech should be "protected", either.
    Hmm... I think that anti-blasphemy laws don't have an exactly sparkling history, either. Witch hunts and the like come to mind, for instance. Theocratic regimes have routinely tortured and/or killed atheists.

    In recent times, US atheists have benefited enormously from the "freedom of religion" protections in the US constitution, because they have successfully argued that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.

    I'm certainly not going to argue for equivalancy.

    Both involve advocating the persecution of groups of people due to matters of identity.

    Right. It's easier to identify immediately proximate risk of harm if such forms of speech were to be "protected".

    It's not cancel culture, but is obviously about freedom of speech. All restrictions on freedom of speech aim at preserving something. Anti-blasphemy laws, for example, aim to preserve a particular kind of religious purity. Laws against inciting violence aim to shield people from physical harms caused by mobs.

    Not just them. Lots of people with unpopular and/or controversial views have attracted demands from various quarters for their "cancellation".

    It's not just about facing consequences, though. It's about how extreme those consequences are. People have lost their jobs as a result of writing or saying things that later turn out to have been completely misinterpreted. And when they protest and say "But I didn't mean it that way" or when they apologise and say "I didn't realise it could be taken that way, and I'll try to do better in future", the cancellation mob often isn't interested. They've got their pound of flesh. Then it's on to find a new target.

    What is lost, in many cases, is any presumption of good faith. Often, the mob that is crying out for "cancellation" never stops to ask "Did you really mean that?" or "Could you expand on what you said, so we understand your intentions better?" Instead, it's pitchforks and cries of "Kill the witch!"
    That is not the sort of example I was thinking of. I think that's a fair enough reaction to somebody who, it appears, was actually being racist.

    I disagree. At least, it's not what I mean when I talk about cancel culture.

    In all likelihood, yes, that would be a fair response. But what happens when you tell someone their words are wrong and they say "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realise. I didn't mean to offend. I'll try to do better in future."? Should such behaviour still lead to outcomes like the loss of the person's current job and a permanent stain on their reputation that will make it hard or impossible to find a new, equivalent, job?

    Unfortunately, in his case - and in some other cases - enough people are apparently willing to ignore his bad behaviour, or even to support it. I'd wager that the people who do that have certain vested interests in condoning it.

    I'm not particularly concerned about the Louis CKs of the world, in terms of "cancellation". I'm more concerned about the regular people who lose their jobs over a two line Twitter post that the internet misinterprets and decides to make the focus of its attention for 15 minutes of rage.

    The dubious assumption, as I've pointed out previously in this discussion about "cancel culture", is often that there are actual victims of the specific people who are "cancelled" due to specific words they have said, regardless of what they might have intended (sometimes even in the face of their denials that they intended their words in the way they were understood). In some cases (try the one-armed comedy example, maybe), there might be no actual victims - rather just somebody (or a mob of somebodies) who is out to make somebody else's life miserable because they think that kind of behaviour will reflect well on them.

    There are people who seem to be hell bent on interpreting words in the worst possible light, no matter what. They presume ill intent. They don't bother to inquire. It's shoot now, and don't worry about asking any questions later. If it turns out that the intent of the "perpetrator" doesn't quite match the initial presumption, just ignore it. Another target will be in the sights by that time, and probably people won't even notice.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Just for interest, here's what the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities has to say about free speech:

    Section 15 - Freedom of expression

    (1) Every person has the right to hold an opinion without interference.

    (2) Every person has the right to freedom of expression which includes the freedom to seek, receive
    and impart information and ideas of all kinds, whether within or outside Victoria and whether —

    (a) orally; or

    (b) in writing; or

    (c) in print; or

    (d) by way of art; or

    (e) in another medium chosen by him or her.
    (3) Special duties and responsibilities are attached to the right of freedom of expression and the right may be subject to lawful restrictions reasonably necessary—

    (a) to respect the rights and reputation of other persons; or

    (b) for the protection of national security, public order, public health or public morality.
    Seems like a sensible formulation to me, although it strikes me that clause (3) gives the government a lot of leeway.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
  19. Bells Staff Member


    My using it, does not give you permission to use it.

    Secondly, the time that word was used 'one way' persists today with the same meaning. It's not a word invented by black people.

    Why don't you ask Louis CK, Bill Cosby about that.. Or Daniel Tosh for that matter..

  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member


    Let's be clear, then: Nobody says you have to coddle, nurture, protect, or encourage it the way you do.

    1) Infraction for this or that word: See #3616722↗.

    2) Going out of your way to cover for white supremacism: I discussed that post; you were glad I provided the link↗.

    3) Striking dictionary definitions: I'll provide that for you in the back room, and then you can apologize, publicly, for lying. What was that you said↗ to someone, recently, James? Oh, right: You shouldn't tell lies.

    I think both of those go to the back room, as well.

    1) Manipulating the language to have after a member you don't like for the sake of your antireligious supremacism: We've been through that one, before, James. You treated S.A.M. like shit. A right-winger made up a bogus complaint, and when he received an infraction for disrupting multiple threads, you cited S.A.M. according to his complaint in order to be fair, and when she told you that wasn't fair, you gave her a day to apologize to you or else face an extended suspension, and when she didn't, you did. Like I said, you've been at this for years, James. And we've talked about this one, before.

    2) That goes with the striking of dictionary definitions, given to you in the back room.

    3) One more time, as previously linked↗.

    The problem about having a frank private discussion with you is that you are preclusive thereof. Seriously. I just handed you a handful of links in the back room, too, though.

    Well, I referred it to you (#4396), observing conflict of interest, advising that you should issue the infraction for trolling. You initially objected, then went to the thread↗, misrepresented the issue ("There's a bit of a debate going on among the moderators as to whether Seattle should be subject to some kind of moderation sanction for advancing 'supremacist' views in this thread"), but the paragraph about advocacy—

    Is Seattle advocating for white supremacy? (I'm inclined to say no, but maybe I'm wrong.) Is he saying racism in the United States is good or preferable? I'm not seeing that explicitly, although I can understand how some might take that as the implicit message of Seattle's posts. I'm seeing ignorance, mainly. Seattle obviously has no clue about what he's talking about when it comes to racial inequality, and apparently doesn't want to learn anything either. But neither of those things automatically make him a troll or a supremacist, as far as I can tell.

    —is you sympathizing with know-nothing, slow-learner white supremacism. Not only should I not be handing out that infraction, myself, since I'm one of the people he's trolling, the fact that you defend that kind of speech would give more weight to the point about trolling. As I said to you in the wake of this stunt, it shouldn't take two and a half days to get a deliberately insufficient answer to a straightforward question; the point was to disrupt the primary discussion; I even showed you how it stretcehd out over the course of forty posts in the discussion. And like I said, that's it's own distraction about principle, policy, and consistency. (Hint: It's in the part about how the trolling is hardly some some confusion you need to pretend on behalf of someone who isn't really so confused.)

    At any rate, your gloss—"Is Seattle advocating for white supremacy? (I'm inclined to say no, but maybe I'm wrong.)"—didn't go over well, so after a few days, you changed course and issued an infraction for racist trolling.

    Not when you follow it immediately with, "(I'm inclined to say no, but maybe I'm wrong.)"

    Maybe it's a challenge? Except look where you put your sympathies. Why would you misrepresent something so glaringly obvious, James?

    Actually, since you have the power to disrupt my response, yes, you are, and it is exceptionally dishonest of you to pretend otherwise.

    Kindly point to an occasion when you actually made sense.

    "Suppose we ban all discussion of it"? Why would we? What is this stupid straw man, James?

    James, stop with the make-believe. Seriously, this is a problem:

    Tiassa: But that's the thing: Some arguments really are harder to justify rationally than others. White supremacism, for instance, isn't absolutely verboten; it just needs to be a properly scientific argument ....

    James R: It seems to me that what you really want to ban is advocacy of white supremacism.​

    What the hell is wrong with you?

    Meanwhile, if the result of obliging white supremacist argument to get a clue looks like a ban on advocacy of white supremacism until they find a rational, good-faith argument, then so be it. Until then all you're protecting is the recycling of bullshit and bad faith.

    No, really, James, what the hell is wrong with you?

    Tiassa: I don't give a damn specifically about the theists any more than anyone else. Their religion is a problem to me when it is a problem to me. Around here they're generally annoying, but nobody says we have to keep them around if they're utterly full of shite. Well, okay, maybe you do.

    James R: Ah yes. You want to "cancel" atheists on sciforums ....​

    Why can you not fail to misrepresent the record?

    What was that about a frank discussion? Yet you're serving up this sort of make-believe?

    James, given the point that this part of your tantrum is constructed around you missing the point, I'll just remind that I've told you before it's difficult to discuss pretty much anything with you.

    No, James, there's more to it than that.
  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member


    Right. So, why do you want it here?

    How many years do you want me to reach back to you resisting group discussions of behavioral issues? I mean, I've reminded you of that, a lot, over time. There's the bit about behavior and unenumerated political views, and the shape of what is absent. We fight about stuff, sometimes, but only because that's how it ends up going when we don't figure it out on the front side.

    I admit, what stands out is the extremity of it. It's actually kind of like a fairly common household discussion in which, ¿Could you please not do that? is met with, ¡Fine, then I won't say anything! as if it is some sort of all-or-nothing proposition. And after all this time, you somehow don't get that? Of course, I suppose the grades or degrees in between involve actually trying to comprehend what is taking place, that is, the kind of stuff you pretend to be wary of.

  22. Bells Staff Member

    Aaannd we're off again..

    For fuck's sake!
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Why did you use it?


    Cosby was convicted of multiple rapes. There's no question of "cancelling" him. It's obvious that's not what I'm talking about.

    I don't know all about Louis CK's history, and I'm not really that interested to find out. I know that I won't be paying any money to attend one of his shows. I'm not sure what you'd want me to ask him.

    This is the first time I've heard about the Daniel Tosh thing. I don't think I've ever watched a thing that guy has done. I think that what he did was totally inappropriate. I also think that his belated "apology" doesn't seem to indicate that he really understands why that would be the case. On the other hand, I didn't see his whole show. I don't know what led up to his comment (not that anything would excuse the comment itself). I don't know what he has done, if anything, to try and make amends since 2012. I'm not sure what you'd want me to ask him.

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