Be...excellent...to each other.

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby admin » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:01 am

Greetings! I don't post or visit here often because people are so nasty to each other here on a regular basis. I've decided maybe I don't want to be part of that any more.

To that end, here are some things you all are going to stop doing here, using two of my favorite examplees.


Frank wrote:Chris Matthews is a sick arab hater too.

This is assigning motive. If you don't know what it is, look it up.


Rob wrote:Robert, let's square this away, because facts for you are practically irrelevant‎ in shaping whatever your world view might be.
This is an ad hominem. If you don't know what it is, look it up.


Frank wrote:The ultimate crime of America is invention of nuclear weapons. That could lead to world wide death.

This is trolling. If you don't know what it is, look it up.


I want to point out, though, that I am sometimes offended by Doug's posting. A ways back, for example, when I was being cordial, he threw it back in my face. He goes on at times like a presumptuous self-appointed cyber-cop. At least, I should say, that's the way it hit me.

Now this, this is flaming. If you want to know what it is, look it up.


First, NONE OF THESE have any place in informed discussion and debate. They are disallowed practically everywhere people give the slightest shit about maintaining even the lowest possible level of decency to each other.


Second, now for some context to that last quote. I am not going to quote Rob's attack on Doug, but he went after him repeatedly for something Frank said. The above was his response to being asked by Steve, the moderator, to apologize to Doug.

And earlier, we have this bit of irony from Rob, again sassing the forums mod:
robochrist wrote:But why did I take the rap for someone else's quote? At least read who's saying what.


Now, ignore that most communities ban for mod sass. Note how quick Rob is to take offense and how he does not hesitate to demand redress. But when he makes the same mistake and repeatedly attacks Doug, he doesn't even bother to apologize until he is threatened with a stick. And then the actual apology is dwarfed by the insults. It's one of the shortest posts Rob has ever made.

It comes down to this:
Finder wrote:But Rob precisely underscores my point of last week: who willingly wants to join or remain in a community where you can say nothing on a subject, and still be the victim of a personal-attack drive-by from someone SO INTENT on delivering a beat-down, he can't even keep straight who actually set him off?


Not me. For this reason, for his hypocritical savaging of Doug and his lame and forced apology, Rob is the first recipient of the first Forums Prize for Not Giving a Shit About Others (the FPfNGaSAO). It comes with a free month-long ban! And all you have to do, Rob, to extend that to forever, is say a single word to me about it!


Now, as for you, Frank:
Frank wrote:Ezra doesn't want serial killers executed but he doesn't mind children killed in Gaza.

This is trolling, flaming, an ad hominem, and assigning motive, all in one sentence. Great work, Frank. This might be your Sistine Chapel. I'm not going to ban you for it, today. But this is the gold standard for That Which Will Not Fly Anymore.

Frank, I will say this one thing. Either you are as smart as you claim to be, and stuff like this is beneath you, or you are not, and you should stop acting like you are. If this sentence appears tomorrow, you will be the next FPfNGaSAO Award Winner.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby admin » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:05 am

THE REST OF YOU

1. Avoid ad hominems. 2. Don't assign motive. 3. Don't play forums police or sass the mod.

These are simple rules thousands of communities much less reasoned and well-educated than this one manage to enforce.

You are smart, considered, capable people, all of you. I am tasking you to find a way to enforce them. If you can't, I will burn this place to the ground.

Don't look to Barber, he's run this place the way I think Harlan would want. But I am not Harlan. Harlan relishes the occasional asshole, in an intellectual if not gastronomic fashion. I shelter neither bullies nor those who enable and provoke them.

You have until Rob returns.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:24 am

Maybe no one noticed, but I have been absent from these proceedings since the last time something really irritated me. Given the preceding, I wrote this:

http://marktiedemann.com/wordpress/?p=2264

I may return, but not right away.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Steve Evil » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:51 am

Alas, alas, alas. This place was once a beacon on a hill for discussion and debate, and, yes, even the occasional joke. Now people are leaving it in droves, and I wonder how much longer it will last. . .

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Moderator » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:20 am

I agree with all of the above. And while my conduct of the forums may have been in accordance with how Harlan would like it done, clearly it's not been a success -- and that's something I deeply regret.

It's well past time someone else took the reins of this place, or should we simply let the Forums rest for a while?
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Steve Evil » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:57 am

Though I've been somewhat quiet lately, I really hate the thought of losing this place. It's always been there when I needed it - even when I don't post, I'm always reading. Personally, I've always figured that whatever issues may arise have always been between individuals, and never reflected either the moderation or the conception of the place.

No my decision, clearly, but for what it's worth, my vote would be to keep it going. (And again, for what it's worth, I don't think Barber's got anything to apologize for. . .)

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:04 pm

Wyatt, you may not believe this but we do like you. I don't agree with some of what you said, but this aint my room. Be good.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:20 pm

Of all the options available I think silence is the least satisfactory. I can't advise anyone on how to respond but it seems to me the antidote to bad speech is not no speech. And you change the conversation by participating. I also have trouble with the idea of banning people. Maybe if they threaten somebody or post adverts for their local chapter of NAMBLA, but otherwise I'm just a free speech fundamentalist.

Yes I know this makes the moderator's job very difficult sometimes. A truly thankless job certainly.

Would you really say this site is not successful? You can't force people to post. If the counters are correct then a lot of people are reading this BB who are not participating. This thread alone has already had damn near 80 hits. Who are you people? Are you being entertained?

Other than just being aware it exists, is HE even interested anymore? He obviously sees the utility of the Pavilion in keeping up the conversation with folks with whom he might otherwise lose communication. What use does he see in this place?

I enjoy posting here. I will obey the rules whether I agree with them or not. (I mostly do actually.) It shouldn't be a chore. It should be fun for all.

But silence is not the way to go.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:50 am

Wyatt, I need the forums.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby admin » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:57 am

Ezra Lb. wrote: I also have trouble with the idea of banning people. Maybe if they threaten somebody or post adverts for their local chapter of NAMBLA, but otherwise I'm just a free speech fundamentalist.


Ok no offense Ezra, but I knew this was coming and I have to explain why this is not a free speech issue. So your solution to my not wanting people to get hurt so often is to have everyone take the gloves off?

I don't think you've thought that statement out. This is a privately owned and run website. When people visit here, they don't expect to be personally attacked, be told what they do or do not think, be harangued, harassed, etc. This is a reasonable expectation anyone has when at a trusted business or in the company of friends. The social compact demands it as a necessary step towards people with differing viewpoints being able to interact without going for each other's throats.

This demands SOME rules. Rules are meaningless unless enforced. And my only reasonable means of enforcement are to tell that person they cannot visit my website and continue doing what they are doing. This does not "silence" them. They are not stuck in their house with their mouth sewn shut and their fingers cut off. In fact, they will continue to enjoy an ability to spread their misery to the rest of the world at a rate and easy never before seen in human civilization.

Discussion on the internet do not carry the same threat of physical escalation, or even the emotional impact of a verbal attack. But clearly, Ezra, a number of very fine people, most of whom I would consider reasonable and tolerant, have felt hurt and diminished. And they have left this place because they did not receive the protection they expected their community to provide them. This seems to me, therefore, a strange time for you to be taking such an uncompromising stance on any sort of accountability for the actions that lead to this.

And, yes, it's uncompromising. It's harmless-looking statement, but it expresses an entirely unreasonable desire to have no bounds other than those involving illegal activity or physical threats. Which is a meaningless distinction because I am bound by law to act on those, so you basically want no rules. A fundamentalist who is uncompromising is a zealot, so what you are expressing is the zealot position. If the community is lessened, so be it. That is your position, and it is antithetical to making any progress on this issue. And by claiming this opinion as a fundamental free speech position, you imply those that would support any kind of policing of this community are anti-free speech and by extension anti-Harlan.

Of course, Harlan takes the almost opposite position on this. He feels free, as he should, to kick out anyone who has shown they cannot behave at a minimum level of human decency from his house or his website. Because Harlan understand that freedom requires responsibility, and that responsibility includes providing a safe place for people in his home. The intent of free speech is to allow dissent and encourage debate - not to demand, as you suggest, completely ungoverned behavior other than punching people and fucking children. And not only that, a very important part of free speech is people peacefully assembling under some structure, in both senses of that word, to have informed discussion. And that cannot happen without rules.


You're of course welcome to your opinion. But realize that if this is what you want the community to do, that community will no longer exist in a month. Because the end result of doing things the way you would like is that I host forums that occasionally become an arena where people tear each other to shreds. I will give the data so someone else can host it, and that person can be the one bearing the responsibility.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby AndrewR » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:47 am

Ezra,

I cannot agree more with Mr. Wyatt. Without rules, and consequences for breaking them, this board will become an electronic Lord of the Flies scenario. As a parent of a young child I learned quickly that if I don't follow through with disciplinary action said loinfruit will completely ignore any and all such threats and the bad behavior will continue. Disciplinary action must be swift or the incident is forgotten and nothing is learned. This place is no different. Without rules regulating our behavior this board will die, sooner rather than later, and I would deeply mourn its passing.

We as a collective have allowed too much trollish behavior to flourish here and it's about time we got our act together and cleaned it up. We shouldn't need Rick's intervention to correct bad behavior. We are all adults here (I think) and most of us of are of an age wherein we should know better. Steve and Rick can only do so much and it's up to us to clean up messes of our own making. Rob and Frank are both grown ups and should be able to manage the proverbial swat on the ass and hopefully learn thereby. If they cannot, then it's a bed that they've pooped in and must live with the consequences.

All of this being said, I do agree that silence is the wrong path here. We should continue our discussions and encourage new faces and to join us (and also encourage old faces to return).
Andrew Rogers

"Anything more than 500 yds from the car just isn't photogenic." - Brett Weston

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:55 am

I am going to wait for Ezra's response but I will say there are posters who used to come here that I am glad they no longer post, because I found them severely thin skinned and lacking in respect for norms of Socratic dialogue. I will not name names and I do not mean Doug or Andrew, I mean distant posters from the past.

Just remember guys that nothing I post here is meant with immoral intent. We all have moments of idiocy.

We do follow a certain writer who actually broke someones pelvis.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:57 am

I was Alan Coil's name. Oh, Alan. Sigh.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:57 am

I saw, not I was. Sigh.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:03 pm

You got all that from me saying I'm troubled by people being banned?

Much of your post comes perilously close to assigning motives to me you can't possibly know, something the admin asked us not to do in one of his previous posts. Good advice I think.

In my previous post I made the statement

I enjoy posting here. I will obey the rules whether I agree with them or not. (I mostly do actually.) It shouldn't be a chore. It should be fun for all.

Does this sound anything at all like the person you were talking to in your last post?

Perhaps the one you were waiting for hasn't arrived yet?
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter


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