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March 30, 2011

Comments

My experience is that many Americans are raised with a strong inhibition against being snitches or tattletales, regardless of the situation, even when personal danger is involved. I've seen parenting guides refer to it as assumed in discussions of how to deal with bullying and harassment: "Obviously no parent wants their child to be a tattletale, but..."

While I do believe that the natural impulse to protect close family members is quite strong beyond groups with special cultural traditions (e.g. the Mafia), I would also consider the following.

We live in extraordinary times, one aspect of which is that government, law enforcement, and the judiciary in the U.S. are held in remarkably low esteem by large portions of the population. Sad to say, much of the distrust is understandable, given the dishonesty, patent unfairness, and abuses that plague those three immensely important institutions/sectors. So, I imagine that many people whose moral compasses may be fully operational are inclined to rationalize their choices on the basis that their loved ones are unlikely to get the proverbial fair shake.

I think the prejudice against being a tattletale is focused more on relatively minor offenses. Or at least offenses which are regarded sometimes inaccurately, as minor. Thus it is only recently that bullying and harassment have moved from the "don't be a tattletale" category to the "this is serious enough that you have to report it" category.

In the particular case of Mr. Calabrese, I suspect that a significant number of those denouncing his "treason" are simply unable to get their heads around the concept that their own family environment is not the one he grew up in.

It is, at heart, the same inability to accept how bad someone else's situation might really be that leads people in the US to reject complaints about situations elsewhere with "how bad can it really be?" The one which gets to me most often is complaints about conditions in facories in other countries. An American can comprehend how bad conditions in a factory can be. Similar situations are recent enough in our history that they get it -- and object. What they cannot wrap their heads around is the idea that the people working in those factories find conditions a substantial improvement over the subsistance agriculture that was their previous lot. "Subsistance agriculture," or even just what kind of work is involved in agriculture are beyond American comprehension.

Do you-all find it surprising that a significant number of people think Frank Jr. is a "traitor"?

Very little about human behavior surprises me anymore. But I think it's really just an extremum of tribal thinking. We are more like real people than they are, just because of our we-ness, and so are inherently more deserving of loyalty and obedience than absolutely any of them.

And of course silly laws that constrain our behavior were written and enforced by them, and should be ignored when convenient.

People who revile Frank Jr are just announcing their tribalism. It's nice to have them self-identify like that. Perhaps we could just round all of them up and shoot them.

That wasn't a serious suggestion, in case anyone is confused.

Madoff's son also snitched on his father, and thats how he got caught. But nobody called him a snitch, especially not his father or mother. Obviously there was no manipulation and abuse in this family.
Frank sr. is obviously continuing manipulation and abuse of his son even after going to jail.

Didn't we talk recently here about how the worst 'crime' a policeman can commit is to report a fellow policeman's crimes? (Not sure it was here). Same holds true for clerics, esp. in the RCC (where it actually is a crime if the person reported on is higher up in the hierarchy). Family is just a subgroup of tribe.

Hartmut:

Family is just a subgroup of tribe

Just the opposite, I think. "Tribe" is always an expansion or re-definition of "family". Family relationships and expectations come first, developmentally -- other groupings can be like family or can try to take the place of family, but family is first.

A few related points that may be of interest.

In Soviet Russia and Communist China, I believe that there are examples of children informing on their parents, to the acclamation of authorities. This NYTimes op-ed from the site of the author, an MIT professor named Gary Marx talks about some of the questions we deal with children informing in the US legal system. Obviously, Frank Jr. is old enough to more effectively weigh the costs, but this abstract from LexisNexis chillingly has this:

In the past decade, parents have been called upon to testify against their children, and children to testify against their parents, on many occasions. In at least two instances, the parent or child has been jailed for refusing to testify. Only a single federal court and a handful of state statutes and courts have recognized any sort of privilege that would permit a person to refuse to testify against her parent or child.

The issue of compelling parents and children to testify against each other involves a conflict of deeply rooted societal values. Family love and loyalty are pitted against the asserted need to obtain all relevant evidence for the sake of truth and justice.

I have seen a variation of this in regard to the ownership or treatment of animals. QUite a few people who neglect or mistreat animals have custody of a dog or cat that belongs to an absent relative. Even if the realtive has shown no responsibility toward the animal in months it is hard to convince the abusers and neglecters to release the animals because they don't want to give away a pet that doesn't belong to them.

Its like the abtract idea of protecting their relative's property rights is more important than the welfare of the pet or more important than the fact that the property owner has in effect abandoned the property and dumped a unwanted responsibility on them.

I've updated with this question:

Can any of you-all think of a movie or TV episode which revolves around a conflict between loyalty to first-degree relations (parents, children, full sibs, spouse) and damage to a stranger? (Except for Hawaii 5-0 1.18, which is part of what prompted this post.)

For what its worth, my wife grew up in a family that would have reacted just like the newspaper commenters: testifying is treason. Your loyalty is to your family, etc. They were not in the mafia; they were just your standard authoritarian honor culture family.

I actually think that this response is fairly common. You can operate a cell phone without knowing a darn thing about electrical engineering or antenna design or electrodynamics, in fact, you can do so even while believing that electrons don't exist. In a similar manner, you can happily navigate a society where 'treason to the family' makes no sense while you believe it is vitally important.

I agree with Turbulance. It isn't a Mafia thing, it's an authoritarian thing.

I suspect that if you surveyed all the people in the comment thread who called it "treason", you'd find a statistically significant correlation to conservative politics.

I don't understand how much of the "traitor" sentiment is based on people reacting to the "betrayal" and how much is related to the loss of face implicit in having your son publicly appear in court and...tell the truth about you. In other words, if the son collected some evidence that Dad murdered a bunch of innocent people and then anonymously mailed it to the FBI, I'm not sure the people screaming "treason" would react the same way. Or maybe they would.

I don't see where you owe any duty to your family to cover for their criminal activities. Not only are you helping them (potentially) victimize others by your silence, but you can end up suffering legal and social ills that may follow you around for the rest of your life.

I know that I, personally, am very reluctant to get law enforcement involved even in dealing with perfect strangers unless the situation really is that serious, or I have no other recourse. Put simply, I don't trust the justice system. I've been railroaded by it and know exactly how easy it is for someone to trash your life with little or no evidence based solely on their ability to lie convincingly.

I trust individual cops that I've dealt with and who have dealt with me fairly and respectfully. But by and large, getting the police and justice system involved in a dispute is like dropping a bomb: once you pull that trigger, you can't stop the chain of events that follows, and it's all too likely to cause harm to more people than you intended--including yourself.

And that's for strangers.

Short of murder or some other crime involving actual serious harm to another person, no, I would not turn in a family member, nor would I admit to knowing anything if asked. I'd give the family member in question the full brunt of my opinion on the matter, and that's not to say there wouldn't be consequences in my relationship with them. But the police and courts are far too much of a blunt, imprecise instrument for me to entrust a loved one to a fair treatment in that system.

But that's more of a general principle. In this specific example, I don't see how the son is a traitor. I can easily see how he might feel that way--I know I would--but the crimes are serious and numerous enough that I still think he did the right thing. His father was not a good man, and the things he did were beyond the pale.

Yeah, Amezuki, what really surprised me was that so many people (for internet commenter values of "many") think blood is thicker than water even when the crime is *murder*.

I do agree with those of you who said it's very authoritarian -- about loyalty to the father, not just the family. I don't recall people recoiling in horror when Ted Kaczynski was basically turned in by his brother.

Turbulence, do you think your wife's family would think betrayal of a mother worse than that of a father, not as bad, or just the same?

my own brief and unhappy, though somewhat successful, experience of whistle-blowing in 2002 confirmed for me that the world is unequally divided between those who consider corruption shameful and those who believe the greater shame lies in exposing the corruption. i was shouting the dirt about corruption at a respected boston-area publication at the same time that survivors of abuse by boston-area roman catholic priests were bringing those shameful deeds to light. the parallels between the hostile reception for their courageous witness and the hostility directed my way by some of my former colleagues was illuminating. and yes, as someone suggested above, i think the impulse to shoot the bearer of unpleasant tidings maps pretty neatly onto the authoritarian personality.

I don't see where you owe any duty to your family to cover for their criminal activities.

It's not so much that, but it's a mindset of "law enforcement can do what they need to do, but I'm not going to do their job for them."

Criminal cases are "The People vs. John Smith." Now, if you're John Smith's son, you might not approve of what he did, and you might not want to take his side necessarily, but I can certainly see how you're not going to take the side of "the people" against your father.

wj: You're probably right about bullying/harassment, that until recently it was regarded as a minor thing kids should handle themselves, and that conditioned attitudes toward reporting it.

My own, very minor and silly lesson in the wages of tattling was in junior high in the early 1980s. Summoned by the school authorities as a witness, I informed on some kids who had been playing around with a cigarette lighter in class, melting stuff and starting small fires. The kids in question were psychological bullies who had actually been harassing me for a long time, but this wasn't about that; the lighter incident, while dangerous, had done me no harm, it was immediately obvious to everyone involved that I was the informant (I'd been called out of the lunchroom in full public view), and I caught hell for it.

Had I done the right thing? Even if so, it may not have been for the right reasons. At the time, I was mostly indignant that I was expected to feel solidarity with people who'd shown me nothing but cruelty, but my teenage moral reasoning wasn't that advanced.

I did learn the lesson that the authorities who used me didn't care about my well-being and would not have my back, regardless of my reputation as a good boy.

Turbulence, do you think your wife's family would think betrayal of a mother worse than that of a father, not as bad, or just the same?

Alas, she doesn't know.

Do you-all find it surprising that a significant number of people think Frank Jr. is a "traitor"?

I lost all ability to be surprised by this attitude back when people made exactly the same sort of comments about David Kaczynski when he turned in his brother Ted, the Unabomber.

For some people there is simply nothing, including multiple murders, that a family member can do that would make it acceptable to turn them in.

Do you-all find it surprising that a significant number of people think Frank Jr. is a "traitor"?

Yes.

That wasn't being a tattle-tail.

LoriK:

I stand corrected, I didn't remember that. If they were angry at David Kaczynski, they really would be angry at *anyone* who turned in a family member.

I find it a little surprising that there would be so many people who would take the time to comment that Frank Jr is a 'traitor', but then again, they're the ones who are more likely to comment at all, since they feel strongly about it. And I don't think that its being an NPR site means much. People Who Care, Google.

I basically agree with Amezuki: I don't trust the Criminal Justice system very much, and am reluctant to get it involved in any dispute, familial or not. But I would certainly testify against a father like Frank Sr.

my unscientific guess is that people would be more shocked at "betrayal" of a mother...

Hmmm, not so sure about this. In 1950 perhaps.

It is okay to rat on your brother, so long as your are ratting him out for murdering you, you are now a ghost, and you are ratting your brother out to your son. At least that's my understanding.

...but then again, they're the ones who are more likely to comment at all, since they feel strongly about it.

My thoughts exactly.

I think that whether (or at what point) a person is willing to "betray" a first degree family member has a great deal to do with what the family's essential values are. Does the family value loyalty above all else? Does the family value honesty? What about respect for the law, or authority? I would think the prominence and order of values like these (as perceived/internalized by the person in question) would contribute heavily to that person's inner debate over whether or not to testify against a family member.
Growing up, my family held both "honesty" and "secrecy about money" very dear. As such, I suspect that it would have been much easier for me to testify against a family member who had committed a murder than it would have been to disclose the family net worth. If I'd had a parent like Madoff, I would have been in a quandary for sure!

I am surprised that the thread has not one mention of Oedipus. There is a reason why that goes back to the Greeks.

I suspect that an authoritarian mindset would see less problems with a father turning in his son than with a son turning in his father. Son and son, not sure. Don't remember the problems with David Kaczynski, though he came forward after a very long and difficult thought process iirc.

About folks saying family is all, I think that under the cloak of anonymity, no matter how threadbare it might be, folks might express opinions that are more pungent than ones they might have expressed if they have to put their name to it and there is never going to be a perfect match between the opinions that people express with society's approval and the one's that some may hold in their hearts. I can also see a notion perhaps buried in the folks calling Frank Jr. a traitor that if the authorities were actually doing their jobs, the child wouldn't have to inform. I think that is kind of silly, but it is a way to allay the conflict between obeying the laws and being true to one's family.

There is also this theme in stories about organized crime about the father who wants to give his children respectability, and so keeps them in the dark about what they do. I don't know if this is simply wishful thinking on the part of authors, but it is certainly a story we want to hear, because it lets us think that everyone knows the difference between right and wrong, like some universal line. I know I certainly would as well, but I really doubt it.

Also, one has to consider the nature of the crime and how the person knows it. Coming of age literature is full of stories where the child thinks that one thing is happening when actually another thing is, and the child either reveals what s/he thinks is happening, leading all hell to break loose, or the child has a realization that what they thought is wrong, and they now realize that their parents are actually good and they can live their lives like their parents.

Also, there's a real problem with determining at what point we view when an 'intervention' should take place. Obviously, your dad being a mob boss is pretty far over the line, but precisely when should Frank Jr. have testified is a real interesting question I think. The child informing the authorities in Nazi Germany or under Stalin that their parents have disloyal tendencies is something that we can see, from our sufficiently elevated vantage point, as being a bad thing, but one can see how 'never trust authority' can lead to the situation of people calling Frank Jr. a traitor.

When you have a child inform on a parent about drugs, there is a very interesting tension, in that one can condemn the parents for not being honest with the child, but one can condemn the child for taking things out of the home. A lot of it, for me, would depend on the nature of the drug and what kind of offense the parent was committing (smoking the occasional doobie at home versus dealing in heroin for instance)

There is also a class component to this. Presumably, the wealthy family has the money and resources to 'keep things in the family', so that the children can perhaps unite and force an intervention of a parent for something like drugs (again, murder is another thing), while in a poorer family, the only alternative maybe to turn to law enforcement.

And then you have child or the family who takes it upon themselves to punish the parent because they feel that the justice system is insufficient. Like I said, there is a reason all this goes back to ancient Greece

In Plato's Euthyphro, the reason Socrates figures (correctly) that Euthyphro must consider himself a great expert on religion and morals is that Euthyphro is bringing charges against his own father in the death of a slave.

...actually, I'm not sure the guy his father killed was a slave; the guy who was killed had killed a slave.

I've always associated things like this moreso with the views people have towards people in "The Game" or "The Life." The people in the game know the consequences so there is little moral obligation to feel empathy for people that fall victim to it. Calabrese was a murderer... but he was a murderer that killed other mobsters. To be part of this life, and know what all this leads to, then to turn on the guys you do crime with, most likely to save your own skin... that's definitely a rat (although that isn't necessarily Frank Jr's situation, but who needs nuance).

BUT, in the grand scheme of things, this is a really sanitized view of it all. Organized crime violence doesn't just stay with the criminals. Drug dealers aren't the only ones affected by drug dealing, and Gang members aren't the only ones affected by gang violence. So in essence there is a bit of romantization and glorification that goes with outlaw lifestyles that fools people into believing these things aren't our business.

"Oh, what, so just let the animals wipe themselves out, right?"

"God willing. Fuck 'em, and everybody that looks like 'em. "

I am surprised that the thread has not one mention of Oedipus. There is a reason why that goes back to the Greeks.

Perhaps because mentioning Oedipus doesn't advance the discussion?

I mean, the dominant culture in Greece circa 700 BCE is extremely different from the dominant culture in the US today. For example, pederasty has gone from universally practiced to loathed and worthy of criminal sanction. Given that Dr. Science is trying to understand an inconsistency in public ethics among people in our own culture, I don't see how introducing the mores and stories of a radically different ancient culture helps.

It seems a bit disrespectful to both ancient Greek culture and our own to immediately reach for parallels. Cultures are serious things and deserve to be dealt with on their own terms. I think we do everyone a disservice when we pretend that the ancient Greeks codified some sort of universal human experience.

But I might be wrong...so, what insights does the story of Oedipus bring to us that are relevant to this discussion?

Console,
that's a good observation. This is not to discourage you from commenting, but I should let you know that we have an anti profanity policy here that basic revolves around George Carlin's seven words, though in practice, it is more like 5.2. We started this because some folk's work computers had profanity filters, but we've found that it serves to smooth things out here. This applies even for things in quotes and we encourage folks to do the #&%$ readaction. Thanks

Matt, in thinking about your experience (being called to testify), it occurs to me to wonder if those who hold family loyalty high would distinguish between going to the authorities voluntarily, and merely testifying when called upon to answer specific questions.

Just brainstorming here. In one case, you might be "snitching," because you volunteered the information when you didn't "need" to. In the other, you are merely answering honestly questions which you had no part in having raised to begin with. Anyone find the distinction significant?

Something that I haven't seen mentioned is the penalty that the person who talks to the police (or other outside authority) might face from other family members within an authoritarian family. I'm thinking of verbal abuse, physical abuse, or emotional abuse such as shunning. There's also the possibility that a powerful family member might take out their anger at the "betrayer" indirectly, by action against someone that person loved.

Such possible retaliation might make someone more wary of taking the step to contact police than someone in a different family who didn't face these kinds of things.

Gee, son turns against father, I'm not really sure how that doesn't apply Given that the question is that of how one balances obligations to one's family and obligations to society, why would one possibly think that it doesn't apply? Were Greeks not people with families who had to deal with larger society?

Matt pointed out the Socrates example, which I wish I had remembered. Seems relevant to me, but I didn't think I had to write 'your mileage may vary' but I thought people would take it as a given when they read something.

The whole question of how man balanced the requirements of family versus the requirements of the larger society seems to be at the heart of Greek thought and the tension between what society demands and what families are supposed to do is laid out pretty well in Antigone. I'm not sure why the change in the status of pederasty implies that we should not look for parallels in other realms. I think it is more disrespectful of Greek culture to claim that it has nothing to do with the current situations we find ourselves in.

Ronald W. Reagan's "Eleventh Commandment": "Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican."
GOP is another "family".

There's this sci-fi pic where this guy falls in love with his sister and then ends up killing his father. Name escapes me.

I was thinking about how organized crime is treated as a romantic subject in America, esp in movies (or, that's where Ive seen it most often, I dont read a lot of true crime books). Maybe some of this is confusion between fiction and reality- Ive often wondered how much of the rules of fictive reality seep into one's map of the real world after extended exposure...

Scales of justice, Ngaio Marsh.

I'm a little bothered by the assumptio that a perso who is reluctat to rat out a ear relative is actig i a tribal manner or as part of a authoritarian family. Those are possible explaatios, but the non-ratting person might simply love the person who did wrong and might ot want to be resposible for bringing thesuffering of a prison sentence on that person.

Which brings up questions about the nature of love, of course.

Hi Carleton, the romanticization of outlaws is an interesting point, but I don't think it is just organized crime. Bonnie and Clyde, Ned Kelly. Wikipedia points to a book by Eric Hobsbawm called Bandit. I'm a fan of Hobsbawm, but I didn't know about this one.

Ian M Banks, a science fiction writer who created The Culture, a fictional interstellar society with a lot of dystopic elements, was asked if he thought that was how the future would be and he replied something to the effect that no, he didn't think it would happen, but in order to write about interesting things, you had to create conflict, which I think may be at the root of some (most?) fictive reality.

"Which brings up questions about the nature of love, of course."

Yes, the nature of love, the nature of loyalty, the nature of family. Why love? Why loyalty? Why family? Where to put love, loyalty, family versus personal integrity, morality, values, religion. How far does empathy, tolerance of weaknesses, compassion for frailty go?

It's complicated. People are heroic to confront these things and make choices in the context of wrenching emotional conflicts.

Gee, son turns against father, I'm not really sure how that doesn't apply

Oedipus killed his father without knowledge; he had no idea that the man he was killing was his own father. There was never any question of conflicting loyalties or obligations because Oedpius' actions were without knowledge. Therefore, I really don't see what Oedipus has to do with this issue at all. Can you explain?

Given that the question is that of how one balances obligations to one's family and obligations to society, why would one possibly think that it doesn't apply?

Because Oedipus acted without knowledge. Again, I'm not seeing what insights the story brings to light. Can you explain?

Were Greeks not people with families who had to deal with larger society?

I suspect that people have had to resolve conflicting loyalties in every society on Earth, including ancient Greek society. But that doesn't mean that every single story from every single society is relevant to this discussion. And I still don't see why Oedipus is relevant. You brought it up so please explain.

The story of Oedipus evokes a larger theme of a son turning on the father. Turbulence is just being ornery and argumentative or perhaps simply unable to understand metaphors and themes.

"...a book by Eric Hobsbawm called Bandit."

Not hobsbawm's best, and certainly not an exegis extolling the virtues of banditry by any means. It's an interesting little side trip into a not overly explored territory from a marxist perspective.

Other than that I bring nothing to this discussion....well, http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2011/03/treason-against-family.html#comments> I couldn't resist this

Tyro, Oedipus does not knowingly turn on his father. He kills a complete stranger. Since LJ doesn't seem capable of explaining, why is a story about a guy who kills a complete stranger relevant? What insight does that bring us?

If you want a play dealing with the competing demands of family and society, go to Antigone.

But Oedipus *is* relevant in that it deals with the stigma of failing to uphold family obligations (to put it mildly). The fact that Oedipus did not know it was his father is not relevant to this theme. Shame/honor cultures, and the ancient Greeks particularly, are not as interested in intention as a basis for moral judgment as guilt cultures. (I'm now awaiting a smackdown from someone who knows more sociology or classics than I do.)

In Turbulence's reading, it shouldn't matter at all that it was his father, but of course it does. In a different culture, maybe Oed could divorce his mom and shrug the whole thing off because he didn't know. But for the culture that produced that play, this wasn't possible. Whatever he *thought* he was doing--who cares--he did in fact, murder his father. That's what the play presents.

There once lived a man named Oedipus Rex
You may have heard about his odd complex

Turb, you're right that not every story from every ancient text is relevant to any particular discussion. But Tom Lehrer always seems relevant, somehow, whenever a conversation needs to lighten up a bit.

--TP

Turbulence is right, from a Christian-minded moral perspective. Oedipus has no personal failing at all. However, in Oedipus, this act of killing a stranger in self-defense has far-reaching consequences to the society at large. It is revealed to be the reason why the city of Thebes is infested by a god-sent plague.

The gods of the Greeks were not interested in mens rea but in the fulfilment of certain religiously-inspired rules. In their mind, Oedipus had committed sacrilege and it was of no consequence that this was due to no fault of his own. His deed tainted even the society where he lived. Thus, the whole city of Thebes was punished. (In a similar vein, the Mosaic law requires a city to conduct sacrificial atonement rituals if there happens an unsolved murder nearby, in order to cleanse itself from the unavenged blood.)

Perhaps part of the idea about "treason against family" is not only authoritarian, but even more primitive: betraying one's father feels a sacrilege, a crime against the natural law, even if the deed is morally correct from a rational point of view.

Since LJ doesn't seem capable of explaining, why is a story about a guy who kills a complete stranger relevant?

Gee, Turb, I was at the dentist and then having an afternoon out with my daughter. If you think that my capability to explain is based on the fact that I don't answer your questions immediately, you are laboring under a rather large misconception, one of many you seem to carry like a cross.

Furthermore, if you believe that the adjective 'oedipal' requires that the son doesn't know it is his father he is rebelling against (Try this article and see if it fits your rather fanciful requirements), you might want to spend a little more time thinking and a little less time being a jerk.

Capability is one thing, but desire is another. I'll try and give you that time for reflection by advising you not to ask me any questions, as I no longer have the inclination, nor the patience to answer them. On the off chance that, like a blind squirrel finding a nut, you stumble on an interesting question, I'm sure someone one else will be able to rephrase it, perhaps without the cursory google searches, massive misconceptions, and absence of interpretive charity, in a way that I'll be willing to answer.

Maybe you sincerely believe that you are moving the conversation along, but the impression it gives me is anything but. I'm not banning you, but you'll just be wasting your time addressing me, so don't bother. Thanks for your attention to this.

Doctor Science, when I said that family is a subgroup of tribe I meant it in a strictly sense of category. Tribe is (originally) extended family, so what applies to a tribe will also apply to the smaller unit of family.
----
As far as examples of movies go, some propaganda movies come to mind where the hero is split between loyalty to blood (family) and to the entity the propaganda is made for.
Eisenstein's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bezhin_Meadow>"Bezhin Lug" (Bezhin meadow) is an example that was based on an actual case.
Then there is a sideplot in Orwell's 1984. Winston's neighbour is ratted out by his own son and the general brainwashing is so effective that the father is actually proud of him for doing it.
A not uncommon trope is the dead relative that arranges for the authorities to catch a wayward/criminal family member, usually with some twist.
An ambiguous case is Barty Crouch sen./jun.in the Harry Potter novels. On the one hand junior is indeed the devoted servant of evil but his father's behaviour is still seen as heartless to the extreme (and partially responsible for his son's turn to evil too).
Roman history has several cases of fathers having their own sons executed for treason or disobedience (e.g. the Elder Brutus and Titus Manlius). Whether this was a sign of ultimate virtue or a crime against the clan (and family love) was a hot dispute for the contemporaries.

Ian M Banks, a science fiction writer who created The Culture

In before Gary: It's actually "Iain."

any of you-all think of a movie or TV episode which revolves around a conflict between loyalty to first-degree relations (parents, children, full sibs, spouse) and damage to a stranger?

The most recent episode of Castle.

I disagree. I suspect that loyalty to parents, even in the face of abuse is still the norm. Think it is very deep in culture to put up with abuse from parents. The late Alice Miller's work focused on this (see www.alice_miller.com ). The psychological pressures to 'honor thy parents' are very strong, and the trope has been used to justify horrific abuse for centuries. Miller notes that most of us will make excuses or even deny that we have been abused at all until we pay enough attention to how others have come to terms with their own history...then very gradually we allow into our consciousness that ...wow...that wasn't OK... in fact it was abuse.

If you want a play dealing with the competing demands of family and society, go to Antigone.

Antigone would be better, but I still don't see what insight it brings us here.

In Turbulence's reading, it shouldn't matter at all that it was his father, but of course it does. In a different culture, maybe Oed could divorce his mom and shrug the whole thing off because he didn't know. But for the culture that produced that play, this wasn't possible. Whatever he *thought* he was doing--who cares--he did in fact, murder his father. That's what the play presents.

But his actions were very much irrelevant. He would have murdered his father no matter what affirmative choices he made: that's the point of the play. His fate was predetermined, starting with his father's horrific crimes which brought doom on him and his lineage. The only choice anyone really has in Oedipus is his father's decision to commit horrific crimes; after he does that, Oedipus' fate is set.

Again, I don't see how this helps us analyze the case at hand....I don't think that Calabrese's fate was set by his father's crimes. The whole point is that he very much had a choice about what to do.


However, in Oedipus, this act of killing a stranger in self-defense has far-reaching consequences to the society at large. It is revealed to be the reason why the city of Thebes is infested by a god-sent plague.

But it is not the ultimate reason at all: the reason is Oedipus' father's treachery. You can't attribute Oedipus' actions to Oedipus when they're wholly determined by outside actors.

The gods of the Greeks were not interested in mens rea but in the fulfilment of certain religiously-inspired rules.

I get that, but that only underscores the question: what possible benefit have we derived from introducing Oedipus into this discussion? Unlike the gods of ancient Greece, we actually are interested in mens rea. Even the folks shouting treason are interested in it. So, now that we've muddied up the waters with a discourse on religious beliefs practiced by a small group of people nearly three millenia ago, how does that help us? Or was it just a useless distraction?


you are laboring under a rather large misconception, one of many you seem to carry like a cross...spend a little more time thinking and a little less time being a jerk...like a blind squirrel finding a nut, you stumble on an interesting question, I'm sure someone one else will be able to rephrase it, perhaps without the cursory google searches, massive misconceptions

Yawn. As usual, you're incapable of participating in civil discourse without lashing out with random personal attacks. And as usual, you're totally unwilling (or incapable) of substantiating the pointless things you write. I do hope your little tantrum made you feel better though.

Furthermore, if you believe that the adjective 'oedipal' requires that the son doesn't know it is his father he is rebelling against (Try this article and see if it fits your rather fanciful requirements)

No one has used "the adjective oedipal" until you wrote this comment. So, I don't think you should speculate on my beliefs on the subject. As for the linked article, it is also completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand in addition to being pig-ignorant psychobabble.

Of course, it shouldn't surprise me that you cite an article whose publisher is so ignorant that it doesn't know how to spell the word "Vietnam"...or should I say Vietnamas? The Newsweek article serves as a good distillation of your own behavior LJ. Emit random irrelevant comments alluding to ancient Greek culture and people will think that you're seriously contributing to the discussion even though your comments don't make any sense and aren't relevant at all. When asked to substantiate your comments or explain how they apply, throw a tantrum.

'Biblical' Christians are great promotors of violence against one's offspring, following the "he who loveth his son, he doth not spare the rod but he who spares the rod doth not love his son" dictum. Not to speak of the duty to put down rebellious kids like rabid dogs.

Why would you spend so much time interacting with someone you think makes irrelevant and nonsensical comments?

Why would you spend so much time interacting with someone you think makes irrelevant and nonsensical comments?

Because I have hope that they can one day stop and stick to making relevant and occasionally correct comments? Because I grow weary of faux intellectual pretensions associated with name-dropping Greek plays no matter how ignorant one is of their contents?

Do you exclusively interact with people who only make correct and relevant comments?

I had a good friend in high school who's father was the head of the local mafia. My friend was made to practice the violin every day. He took private lessons from the lead violinist of the local orchestra. He was sent to Paris to further his musical education, and eventually became a concert violinist who toured Europe.
His father definitely wanted something better for his son.

Why can't we all just get along?

People are acculturated as children not to be snitches. Of course telling who talked in line is not the same as not telling on your friend the murderer. But the snitch thing stays with us.
Fox news, as always when it comes to manipulation, has been successful in branding Obama as a snitch regarding the economy. According to Fox Obama shouldn't be blaming George Bush for the economy because that is blaming someone else and he is president now. I have had conservative friends tell me they didn't like Obama because of him blaming someone else. Kudos to fox for finding our worst instintcs once again (this time childish don't rat someone out) and playing on those worse instincts to manipulate their audience.

Do you exclusively interact with people who only make correct and relevant comments?

No. But it's a question of how much time (or energy or focus, maybe even passion), not zero v. non-zero. It makes reading the threads a bit tedious, Turb (IMO, of course).

Yeah, I know, no one is forcing me to keep reading this blog. But I assume no one who regularly comments here has as a goal to drive readership down even further than it seems to be relative to what it was a couple years ago.

I remember not long ago people complaining about the dynamic between Seb and Phil. There seems to be something like that going on with you and LJ, Turb, except that LJ doesn't seem as interested. That and neither of you cracks wise with as much funny as Phil (again, IMO), which makes it even less entertaining.

/meta

I was supposed to read Oedipus Rex in high school but my shoddy memory of it strongly indicates that I didn't. But WP's entry on Laius doesn't indicate which of his crime(s), if any, incurred his fate. It just says that he heard the prophecy. He apparently abducted and raped Chrysippus (never heard of him before), is that the crime or crimes you're referring to, Turb?

It just says that he heard the prophecy. He apparently abducted and raped Chrysippus (never heard of him before), is that the crime or crimes you're referring to, Turb?

Yes. Wikipedia explains it here:

In his youth, Laius was a guest of King Pelops of Elis, and became the tutor of Chrysippus, youngest of the king's sons, in chariot racing. He then violated the sacred laws of hospitality by abducting and raping Chrysippus, who according to some versions killed himself in shame. This cast a doom over him and his descendants.

I like the play; it is a fascinating piece of work which raises all sorts of issues to discuss. But it doesn't really address the notion of a son knowingly betraying his father. And its relevance to the topic at hand as yet alludes me.

Or eludes. One of those.

Or eludes. One of those.

Ah, thanks for the correction Slarti.

No doubt the story of Oedipus Rex can give us great insight into the process by which you decide to correct spelling errors in comments! I won't explain but if you ask me to, that just means you're a jerk.

Turbulence:

Stop acting like an asshole, it's unnecessary and unsightly.

Ginger Yellow:

Just to make sure I'm clear, do you mean "One Life to Lose", or "Law and Murder"?

Was it Castle or Beckett who had to make the choice, or one of the other regulars, or an episode-specific character? And which way did the decision go?

Stop acting like an asshole, it's unnecessary and unsightly.

Can you explain what exactly I've done that's problematic?

Also, is calling other commenters jerks and assholes now consistent with the posting rules in general or is that behavior only considered acceptable when front pagers do it?

There's a commenter who used to hang around here - no point in naming names - who at one point said that anyone who informed on a drug dealer, even for murder, deserved to be exposed, harassed and even killed... and this person was arguing this from (allegedly) a lefty perspective, because the drug laws are bad and the police are corrupt. But I've never heard anyone say that in real life.

I think Doctor Science's guess that at least some of the commenters in question are gangsters - or more specifically, gangsters who know the father, and maybe some non-gangster relatives - is plausible. (I always figured Paulie Walnuts spent a lot of time trolling blogs.) I also can easily believe that many of them are random dudes who've never committed a crime besides drunk driving, but who like the idea of the Mafia.

But the general authoritarian/conservative connection doesn't ring so true for me, because among people like that that I've known, the law-and-order reflex trumps honor-thy-father... at least if they're talking about someone else's family.

I'm going to take a crack at this.

Turb, we get that you think Oedipus is irrelevant. That's fine. The question is in the necessity of certain subjective characterizations of LJ and what he writes. Quotes from your comments with my emphasis are as follows:

Yawn. As usual, you're incapable of participating in civil discourse without lashing out with random personal attacks. And as usual, you're totally unwilling (or incapable) of substantiating the pointless things you write. I do hope your little tantrum made you feel better though.

Of course, it shouldn't surprise me that you cite an article whose publisher is so ignorant that it doesn't know how to spell the word "Vietnam"...or should I say Vietnamas? The Newsweek article serves as a good distillation of your own behavior LJ. Emit random irrelevant comments alluding to ancient Greek culture and people will think that you're seriously contributing to the discussion even though your comments don't make any sense and aren't relevant at all. When asked to substantiate your comments or explain how they apply, throw a tantrum.

Because I grow weary of faux intellectual pretensions associated with name-dropping Greek plays no matter how ignorant one is of their contents?

I won't explain but if you ask me to, that just means you're a jerk.

I personally don't get your motivation here, regardless of whether or not I agree with your position on the relevance of Oedipus. It strikes me as an attempt to provoke an argument in such a way as to piss someone off enough that they write something in anger so you can then play the victim. I'm not claiming to be a mind-reader here. But that's the impression I get when I read this kind of stuff from you.

The question is in the necessity of certain subjective characterizations of LJ and what he writes.

hsh, have you read the entire thread? LJ raised an irrelevant issue, I pointed out that it was probably irrelevant and asked him to clarify, he got angry, called me a bunch of names and insisted he was not going to respond to me. AFTER that, I made some negative characterizations about his comments. I think those characterizations were accurate. I haven't seen anyone explain why they're not.

Were all of my comments "necessary"? I don't know; is any comment on OW necessary? The question seems a bit absurd. When you post comments in response to Brett Bellmore's comments, are those necessary comments?

Do you think LJ's calling me a jerk and Dr Science calling me an asshole were necessary comments? Why did you choose to highlight only my characterizations without any context while refusing to acknowledge theirs'?

I personally don't get your motivation here, regardless of whether or not I agree with your position on the relevance of Oedipus.

Um...so? I don't get the motivations for most people on the internet. I mean, I genuinely don't understand why you're asking the questions that you are.

It strikes me as an attempt to provoke an argument in such a way as to piss someone off enough that they write something in anger so you can then play the victim.

hsh, I've been writing here for several years now. In all that time, have you noticed a pattern where I've done that? When I was arguing with Seb about healthcare or with von about trains or with sapient about wikileaks or with Jes about the laws of war or with Gary about his crazy notion that authors shouldn't be burdened with any laws whatsoever?

More to the point, this doesn't even make sense: how could I be made a victim? What's LJ going to do, write a fascinating comment explaining precisely what insights Oedipus gives us into the issues at hand, thus proving that I was wrong all along? As you can tell, I don't think that's very likely. This is a major problem for your theory.

What's more, I think your attempt to frame this as a deliberate provocation is wrong. People are responsible for their actions. There is no provocation here. When they behave badly, its cheap and easy to say "I was forced to do it" but that's usually absurd. LJ wrote something. I asked a question. He couldn't answer it and got upset. End of story.

I'm not claiming to be a mind-reader here. But that's the impression I get when I read this kind of stuff from you.

hsh, I really find mind reading to be...not helpful. I could speculate about your motives for writing these comments but that would just be pointless and wrong, just like your speculations on my state of mind are both pointless and wrong.

I apologize in advance for not using italics, which might have made this post clearer, because of my fear of screwing up the rest of the thread.

Turb, I agree with you re Oedipus (for whatever the opinion of someone who never read Oedipus Rex is worth), but I see hsh's point.

"More to the point, this doesn't even make sense: how could I be made a victim? "

By provoking a reaction from someone which would violate the posting rules, and then using their error to gain the moral high ground. See:

Also, is calling other commenters jerks and a[$$]holes now consistent with the posting rules in general or is that behavior only considered acceptable when front pagers do it?

To be sure, name-calling and especially profanity are not defensible. And furthermore, the posters on this blog are presumptive adults and responsible for their own outburts. That does not negate the fact that you came off as though you were taunting LJ, and I think it is a reasonable interpretation of your posts. Whether that taunting is permissible under the posting rules seems to me an academic question, because what hsh is addressing here seems to me to be civility and not necessarily an issue which provides bright-line rules.

Please know that I am not countenancing what LJ and Doctor Science said. I feel that they and you are both at fault. And I'm not arbiter and have no power, but it did seem to me that you were being careful (and for this you should of course be commended) to not violate the posting rules while still showering lj with scorn and condescension. That's permissible within the rules, but I think a more important consideration is whether improves the conversation here.

Please also know that I truly value your contributions and I think you're an excellent writer. However, it makes this board and these threads less interesting to read when the conversation deteriorates. And I just want to submit that it is possible for one to contribute to a thread's deterioration even while respecting the letter of the law of the posting rules. And I think that the passage hsh quoted was an example of precisely that.

As for why you have been singled out before lj and doctor science, I'd guess favoritism, or something, but I don't think that's a reason to refrain from engaging criticism directed at you.

The fact that you are technically in the right because you have refrained from using profanity does not, in my opinion, exculpate you from participating in further personal attacks.

By provoking a reaction from someone which would violate the posting rules, and then using their error to gain the moral high ground.

That's a good theory but it has one problem: I already think I have the moral high ground. I mean, on hocb, LJ has explained to me in great detail how people who rent are inherently less trustworthy than people who own their homes. I don't need to look at some blog comments to feel morally superior to a guy who thinks that owning a house proves one's moral superiority.

Plus, I'm not asking for LJ and Dr Science to be sanctioned in any way (and I don't think that would ever happen in any event). So how do I benefit from this high ground?

That does not negate the fact that you came off as though you were taunting LJ, and I think it is a reasonable interpretation of your posts.

Julian, perhaps you can explain: where exactly is my "taunting" of LJ? I've compressed my comments made before his outburst down below. Which specific phrases constitute "taunting"?

the dominant culture in Greece circa 700 BCE...I don't see how introducing the mores and stories of a radically different ancient culture helps...It seems a bit disrespectful to both ancient Greek culture...Cultures are serious things and deserve to be dealt with...But I might be wrong...so, what insights does the story of Oedipus bring to us...Oedipus killed his father without knowledge...I really don't see what Oedipus has to do with this issue at all. Can you explain?...Because Oedipus acted without knowledge....Can you explain?...that doesn't mean that every single story from every single society is relevant...You brought it up so please explain.

The fact that you are technically in the right because you have refrained from using profanity does not, in my opinion, exculpate you from participating in further personal attacks.

I'm not sure personal attacks are wrong when they're accurate. For example, Gary has responded to DaveC's comments by reminding people that DaveC boasted about trolling here whenever people at his church disagreed with his politics. Was that a personal attack? Was that uncivil? I don't recall seeing any pushback in those cases.

I think you're proposing a different set of norms than is currently recognized here. My guess is that since LJ is popular, there's a lot of sympathy for the idea that people shouldn't dissect his arguments in the way that one should argue with Marty or Seb's comments. No one wants to admit to that, so instead we just selectively enforce existing norms to absurd levels whenever I dare to take LJ's comments seriously. And then we invent new norms, like this idea that saying accurate things constitutes a "personal attack" or that asking a commenter to clarify a vague unformed comment is now "taunting". But even that's not enough so we have to start ignoring long existing norms like the prohibition against mind reading so that hsh can indulge in random speculation on my mental state.

Note that this is not the first time that Turb picked a fight like this over essentially nothing, in an effort to be (incorrectly) pedantic and draw attention to himself.

As you say, you believe you have the moral high ground, but that does not preclude you from claiming higher, more moral ground (the moral high ground extends infinitely upwards). I can't read your mind, so I don't know if it's the case that you "don't need to look at some blog comments to feel morally superior to a guy who thinks that owning a house proves one's moral superiority," but your prior comments belie your words.

The words I'm referring to now (and to which I referred to as "taunting") were the ones hsh quoted in his 1:23 p.m. comment. I know that lj's outburst preceded the comments I have labeled "taunting," but I still think you're on the hook for them.

"I'm not sure personal attacks are wrong when they're accurate."

In my opinion, a false dichotomy; there's more to this than right and wrong. If you had confined yourself to pointing out that LJ was not engaging with the substance of your criticisms, and so on, you could have both accuracy and civility. You seem to be adopting a sort of "truth is no libel" defense. However, because we're dealing with a much less stringent standard of conduct and speech (basically, what makes reading and contributing to a blog productive), I think it's better to err on the side of not condoning abusive language and tone even if the substance of your points are valid.

I am not proposing a different set of norms, or I don't mean to be. Maybe there are logical consequences of what I wrote which I did not appreciate.

I don't at all advocate that any statements made here should be free from scrutiny.

I don't know if you take me for a disinterested observer, but it truly looked to me in this thread like:

LJ was wrong

you were right

LJ was petty

you responded politely

LJ was petty

you started being rude.

The real reason I am addressing you and not LJ, Turb, is that you're still replying and he isn't. I think LJ was wrong on the merits and that he did not engage you properly. But I do think that you responded to his improper response poorly. I have no objection with your posts that preceded his "outburst," to use your term.

I think the word Julian is looking for is not "taunting," but "hectoring." Particularly asking a set of questions at 10:24pm (or, really, the same question repeatedly), then complaining 27 minutes later that they had not yet been answered to your satisfaction.

But I do find it amusing that Turbulence is apparently still holding a grudge, or nursing a wound, or what have you over an argument that took place somewhere else entirely some four years ago. And which appears to be blessedly un-archived, but was not exactly as he portrays it here.

Can you explain what exactly I've done that's problematic?

Turb, this was the question I was responding to. I probably should have quoted it in my last comment. But that's why I focused on what you wrote and not what LJ and Doc Sci did. No, LJ shouldn't have said you were being a jerk and Doc Sci shouldn't have said you were acting like an asshole. Then again, if you were just a little nicer about things, the whole episode could have been avoided.

Since LJ doesn't seem capable of explaining, why is a story about a guy who kills a complete stranger relevant?

I should have included this, too, which is really what started things going downhill. So, yeah, I did read the whole thread.

The issue isn't your dissection of LJ's argument. It's more of your tone in doing so and the subjective characterizations you add. I also don't think you can state the irrelevance of Oedipus to the subject of the post as a matter of fact. Other people might see relevance that you don't, as it seems several people did, which is fine. But I think LJ made a reasonable attempt to explain what he thought was relevant. Perhaps that wasn't going to change your mind, which is also fine. But you unfairly insulted him with the quote above, I think, with no real purpose.

The degree to which people engage in arguments and dissect what others write may or may not seem appropriate given the nature and/or importance of the subject. If we're discussing policies with people's lives in the balance or getting into nitty-gritty details on a technical issue, dissection and passion don't seem so, well, wanton, I guess. This is admittedly subjective, which brings me to this:

But even that's not enough so we have to start ignoring long existing norms like the prohibition against mind reading so that hsh can indulge in random speculation on my mental state.

As I said, I'm not mind reading. I'm simply telling you what the impression is that I get from what you write. It's not random. It's pattern recognition. My best guess could certainly be wrong, which I acknowlege by characterizing it as an impression. I didn't say "You must think X, because you said A, B and C (which don't equal X)." I'm simply letting you know how you are coming off to me because I thought you might want to know. Maybe you don't, which is cool, too.

Other people have covered the ground for me -- thank you, all -- but please note: I did not say that you *are* an asshole, Turb, just that you were *acting* like one.

Remember the Principle of Proctouniversality: "There's a little asshole in all of us." Just try to restrain your inner snarkbeast a little.

On the issue of Greek mythology:

Oedipus is not IMHO relevant to the issue, and neither is Antigone, really, though that's closer. The closest Greek example is The Oresteia, where Orestes has to wrestle with whether he should punish his mother for murdering his father.

But The Oresteia isn't truly an example, either, because both crime and punishment are intrafamilial.

Thanks for the Plato cite, Matt, now I'll go look it up.

Doc,
Sorry to have led to such a mess in your thread.

I only mentioned Oedipus because of the notion of son vs. father, but given that the play shows that poor behavior towards one's parents is something that the gods will curse you for seems to explain a bit of why people feel that Frank Jr. is a rat. Oedipus is cursed even though he doesn't know it is his father, so someone doing that to his father and knows it is even worse. Logically, there is no reason why one should view the pronouncement of one's father as having any more basis in fact than some guy off the street. But given that this is part of a tradition that extends back to the Greek antiquity, it does perhaps explain why people were so visceral in the denunciation of this.

Turb,
I dont think this about many people, but I think the site would be better off if you left. Maybe temporarily, until you find that you can constructively contribute to a conversation like an adult. Maybe permanently. Whatever.

I have not seen a single thread that was improved by your presence, and many (like this one) where it turns into your posts alternatively taunting others and then claiming victimhood. You're practiced at making your snide attacks sound like disinterested inquiry. But I notice that, the longer people are around, the less interested they are in playing with the tarbaby...

I think Calabrese jr is a snitch and a traitor with all of the connotations of such.

There is an old saying, "don't bite the hand that feeds you". Jr benefitted from his father's criminal activities; from being a member of the family. He didn't complain until he was jailed.

I am not a gangster, although I have known a few. Calabrese jr is a con and Dr Science has been conned. There is more to this story, I'm sure. Jr got in trouble and made a deal that involved selling out his old man to get himself out of trouble. Anyone who has been around would know this to be more than just likely. If Jr was not not a con he would not have access to the inside information sufficient to get the old man busted for good.

Regardless, cops are as bad, if not worse, criminals as any gangster. The justice system is the best gangsters can pay for. When one gangster (or politician) goes down, it is for the benefit of a competitor ready - and all paid up - to take his place. So Jr wasn't doing anything for the benefit of society. He knows better than most here. He was doing doing it for himself. Therefore, he is a snitch/traitor; not a hero in any sense.

My guess is that he will be on the wrong side of the lawn in short order. Good ridance.

Turbulence, it's unintentionally hilarious when you complain about anyone else's "mind-reading" shortly after you've caricatured someone else's reason for speaking as "Emit random irrelevant comments alluding to ancient Greek culture and people will think that you're seriously contributing to the discussion."

No, I take it back: it's not hilarious, it's sad. You're smarter and saner than this.

It depends on the crime and the circumstances that led to it. If your child comes to you for for help because it got involved with drugs and committed some commonly associated crimes, would your first thought really be to ring the police so that they will be locked up for a couple of years? I would find that rather counter intuitive.

As you say, you believe you have the moral high ground, but that does not preclude you from claiming higher, more moral ground

This is now a claim that cannot never be refuted, no matter what I actually believe. If you have to resort to such claims, then perhaps your argument is incorrect.

You seem to be adopting a sort of "truth is no libel" defense.

I very much am; actually, I thought of using that phrasing originally. I still want to know though: what is your answer to my questions about the Gary/DaveC interaction?

However, because we're dealing with a much less stringent standard of conduct and speech (basically, what makes reading and contributing to a blog productive), I think it's better to err on the side of not condoning abusive language and tone even if the substance of your points are valid.

Ah, we're now going to be tone policing. Awesome. Tone policing certainly correlates with productive blog discussions in my experience.

I don't know if you take me for a disinterested observer, but it truly looked to me in this thread like:...

Seems like a good summary to me.

The real reason I am addressing you and not LJ, Turb, is that you're still replying and he isn't.

I trust that you realize the main reason I'm still writing now is that hsh and you keep asking me questions?


I think the word Julian is looking for is not "taunting," but "hectoring."

Makes more sense to me. I'll cop to hectoring.

Particularly asking a set of questions at 10:24pm (or, really, the same question repeatedly), then complaining 27 minutes later that they had not yet been answered to your satisfaction.

That wasn't my intent, but now that you mention it, I can see how one might read it that way. In my mind, I was just replying to Tyro. Thanks for explaining.

But I do find it amusing that Turbulence is apparently still holding a grudge, or nursing a wound, or what have you over an argument that took place somewhere else entirely some four years ago. And which appears to be blessedly un-archived, but was not exactly as he portrays it here.

I'm not nursing a grudge. How could I be when I haven't been wronged? Ditto for nursing a wound. But I do think it is strange that a guy who calls himself a liberal buys into an absurdly reactionary notion like the notion that homeowners are more trustworthy than the peasants who rent. Strange things tend to stick in the memory. And the post is right here. I can't link to comments because hocb is broken, but LJ did write:

Also, whether home ownership means participation in the community, I don't think it is a comforting lie, I think it is human nature. If I don't feel that you have something to lose, I'm not going to take your participation as seriously as I would if you do. I'm trying to think how I could prove that, but it seems like such a basic part of human nature, growing out of how we view each other thru the prism of unconscious game theory that I'm not really sure how to give you data to prove it....You doubt the claim that home ownership makes people more attentive to their communities. Do you doubt the idea that you will be treated more seriously if you have more of a stake in something? You really seem to be arguing against human nature.

Note that I wasn't the only one who noticed the anti-renter hatred; Donald Johnson and russell and I think even marbel commented on it too.

Carleton Wu --

That's over the line. *Not your call*.

Then again, if you were just a little nicer about things, the whole episode could have been avoided.

Highly unlikely. This bit of wishful thinking seems very much in the spirit of earlier claims that I "provoked" LJ, so I appreciate your consistency.

But I think LJ made a reasonable attempt to explain what he thought was relevant.

There's no there there. Certainly nothing coherent. But hey, LJ's a popular guy and since he managed to string some words together, we can all pretend that he wrote something coherent, right?


I dont think this about many people, but I think the site would be better off if you left.

So, to summarize, you have nothing to say about this thread, but you can't resist an opportunity to insult me. Awesome. And so civil!

Julian and hairshirthedonist, I trust that Carelton's "tone", both here and in, well, basically all his comments, will not be policed, amirite? Ah, but he's slagging me in service of the vitally important and weighty topic of...slagging me, and that isn't "wanton", right?

To be clear: there is a double standard here. I've actually got no problem with that as long as people are honest about it. I accept that seriously addressing the incoherent comments of a popular poster like LJ will bring lots of criticism down on me. And I accept that the vicious and seemingly unending stream of bile that Carleton produces in most threads is perfectly acceptable and even welcome because he targets conservatives. I'm not a victim here. But I do think we should be honest about the norms this place operates under.


it's unintentionally hilarious when you complain about anyone else's "mind-reading" shortly after you've caricatured someone else's reason for speaking as "Emit random irrelevant comments alluding to ancient Greek culture and people will think that you're seriously contributing to the discussion."

Hob, if no one can explain what insight Oedipus adds to the issue, then can't we assume that it doesn't actually add any? But perhaps someone did and I missed it: can you point to any comment in this thread where some insight is drawn from Oedipus? Because if you can't, then I'd like to know what possible reasons you think someone might have for name-dropping ancient Greek plays that are totally irrelevant? I hope explaining that wouldn't make you sad though.

Doc- any line in particular?

Reflecting on why people don't like snitches: everyone breaks some rule or law. There are so many rules/laws that it's impossible not to unless you are some neurotic balless freak. Most every snitch we encounter snitches a) because they are that neurotic freak or b) more likely for personal gain; even if as petty as to become the teacher's pet. So what is there to like about snitches?

To make matters worse, the receivers of the snitches' information are usually hypocrits whose compromised sense of fairness, justice and law and lack of general 'coolness' is usually well recognized.

Finally, real men (and I guess, women) solve problems by facing them - and the associated people involved - head on. They don't go sneaking around behind backs, cutting secret deals to bring about the downfall of their opposition. This is the way policiains operate; and who likes politicians? There is no honor in this method.

So snitches get stiches. Snitches are antithetical an honor bound character culture.

This is what an effette like Dr Science can never understand.

It doesn't matter that senior was a murderer. All of our leaders, who make the laws and selectively enforce them, are murderers too. If Jr couldn't hang with his dad's way of making a living then he shouldn't have been sucking off dady's wallet for so many years. If dady was 'abusive' - god I love the victim language of the lib.s - then jr should have walked away, or killed dady if walking away was impossible. But waiting years until both were jailed to subversively entrap the old man and have govt system do jr's dirty work for him? That stinks. And I don't believe jr when he says he got nothing out of it.

I remember my brother wondering how a brother could turn in the unabomber. As to TV episodes, there was a fictionalized version of the unabomber case on Law and Order, taking on the brothers feeling of guilt for turning him in.

avedis, it sounds like you're making an argument that there should be no laws whatsoever. Since politicians and cops are all murderers, and honorable people deal with problems themselves, we should just handle these things the old-fashioned way.

The way the mob does already.

Matt, in thinking about your experience (being called to testify), it occurs to me to wonder if those who hold family loyalty high would distinguish between going to the authorities voluntarily, and merely testifying when called upon to answer specific questions.

Well, in my case it certainly made no difference. But that wasn't about family loyalty at all.

Still, I doubt it would matter much in any event. Family loyalty is often about keeping secrets. It doesn't make it less bad to give up a secret you're supposed to keep just because somebody asked you. If law or violence doesn't make a difference, I doubt that would.

And, one more thing, jr chose a life of crime himself. Did he snitch himself out? Confess to all of the crimes he committed that he was never tried for? No. Of course not. So how committed is he to justice? What a load of crap.

Abusive father? Jr stole hundreds of thousands from his father and blew it on hookers and cocaine. The father got angry (what father wouldn't?) and stuck a gun in jr's face. Note; he didn't pull the trigger.

Look at the list of dad's victims. The spilotro bro.s? Come on. These guys were arch criminals. Vicious murderers. Calabrese killed them. Again, all of these people chose a life of crime.

Jr looks like a real piece of work to me.... and a rat.

Carleton:

I was thinking of "I think the site would be better off if you left." It goes too close to "ad hominem".

Thank you for asking.

Matt M., mostly I have no use for the law and would prefer to do as you suggest. The law is real good at protecting your dead body by drawing a nice chalk line around it. Otherwise, I have never seen them protect anyone. They probably have, but I have seen it despite ample opportunity. Go ahead and wave that restraining order in a violent attacker's face. See how well it stops him.

However, I recognize that there are many people who cannot/will not take my approach (for various reasons). Therefore we need laws to make sheep feel safe and there probably is a time to call the cops. Sigh, there must be civil order and all that. That being said, it doesn't change the fact that the criminal Calabrese jr is a rat.

Jr chose a life style, lived it, and then violated one of the key rules of that life style.

All I was trying do in my previous comments was give a perspective on why a lot of folks don't like snitches; and I guess, why I personally don't either.

avedis:

I've never been called "an effette" before, but I'm guessing it's not intended as a compliment. If you meant "effete", that sort of implies that I'm too femme -- an accusation that is frankly hilarious.

My guess is that it's intended as an ad hominem -- or, in my case, ad feminam -- attack, though, which is over the line. No more, please, lest I be forced to reach for the BanHammer.

Doc,

Maybe he meant "aesthete", but aside from that, avedis' argument boils down to the fact that we're all brutes. Life is nasty and short. Eye for an eye....yadda' yadda'. And this leads to.....well, a society where all things are permitted. And logically this would include ratting out your daddy, if you have what it takes.

You just need to 'man up' and laugh at him. He cracks me up.

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