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March 12, 2017

Comments

Along the lines of tolerance, bubbles, etc.

I am a (recovering?) anti-religious bigot, maliciously attributing religious views to right wing nuts. I have mostly changed my mind (or at least toned it down) due to, surprisingly, the internet. I am pretty sure it was reading Donald that helped me out there.

So thanks, Donald. I hope you stick around.

You make a good point, wj. It looks like much or the US loss of restraint was simply due to the end of the (old) cold war, when it became possible to throw ones weight around without risking armageddon.

Then again:
http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2017/03/13

I agree with lj about Chomsky, I don't read him. In general I have an attitude toward anarchists, Graeber for instance, that sees them in practice as elitists and authoritarian, and projecting that onto their Marxian opposition.

Anyway, just dropped in to drop a hopefully pertinent quote from current reading, something I do to excess. From James Elkins, Theorizing Visual Studies, article by Vivian Li about Song Dong's performance art in Tiananmen Square, she quotes Rosalyn Deutsche from her book Evictions (whew)

“Democracy and its corollary, public space,” she argues, “are brought into existence when
the idea that the social is founded on a substantial basis, a positivity, is abandoned”

The question remains as to whether a group wants to create a democratic or public space or a closed but nurturing and supportive community. And whether I want to intrude.

all i gotta say is that if chomsky's getting some visibility, I guess we're not totally in the crapper quite yet.

not that i'm any kind of chomsky-ite, i'm just saying.

I've read similar things by Chomsky, LJ. What exactly was supposed to shock me there? Chomsky wasn't running for President. In general he takes the view that ordinary people are not to be blamed for not knowing about the ugliness of our foreign policy. Personally I am not sure. You'd have to almost be omniscient to know what individual people should or should not have known.

He has been criticized for that bit. I am failing to understand how it invalidates his claims about how the MSM functions because it doesn't. If you want to get into his personality, he is a lot like Greenwald. Very argumentative. Obviously he thinks people are misled by the press, so if you read him you become one of the enlightened ones. So what? I remember the thrill I got reading him for the first time-- that's just natural.

This is why I almost always avoid mentioning him. He doesn't have a copyright on the notion that the MSM is full of crap and the basic idea is pretty easy to understand. There are a zillion people online saying the same things. But mention him and the conversation always becomes about his flaws and not the idea of a dishonest media establishment. With the internet people don't have to read Chomsky books to get an alternative view. I think it has been 15 years since I bought a political Chomsky book.

Yama-- thanks. I will almost certainly pop up now and then, but I really need to do things more useful than argue with people online.

Russell, that Unitarian jihadism is some scary sh@@. They have nothing on the Episcopalians though. You never know where we are coming from.

Wj, 'brown' is not necessarily the operative word here, but I do maintain that it helps with dehumanizing the victims alongside cultural and ideological stereotypes.

Lj, as Donald pointed out, Chomsky is an intellectual, Clinton was running for prez

There's a bubble because when there isn't, people are willing to use rhetorical tricks to gain the upper hand rather than saying 'gee, you've been here for 10 years, I don't think you really mean that'.

I walked out of this thread for a reason, so I should probably let this lie, but... It's nice this doesn't happen to you, lj. However, people who aren't in ObWi's ideological (and not entirely unrelatedly, social) in-group get it all the time even if they've been here as long or longer than their accusers. This exact sort of bs is why cleek and I got so bloodthirsty last year, and it's one of the main reasons I have precisely zero tolerance for the constant accusations of bad faith and incessant rhetorical shenanigans sapient deploys (and has deployed to lesser but monotonically increasing degrees since... 2009? 2010?).

For the record, the reason I say cleek wants a bubble - and not just here - is because cleek has said the same thing, in the past and recently. I'm not saying ObWi is a bubble - one of its distinguishing characteristic is that it's less ideologically homogenous than other left-leaning blogs of similar stature, so ObWi is a very bad place to go to make your bubble. And for the record, I agree with cleek's last comment here: it's for the greater good that we don't interact directly, as there's very little historic positive engagement between us and a whole lot of very recent, very negative engagement. I actually considered getting cleek's old pie filter and using it against them last fall before wrestling through the issue and deciding it ran counter to my individual values. IMO the best solution is to not censor but also not engage, but I can understand not even wanting to touch the matter. But it still represents a symptom (in this case, among many, to include fairly explicit declarations) of wanting to exist in a political bubble. That's never been an option for me, though, and it's why I don't read most "normal" liberal blogs.

But anyway. Bubbles don't simply exist to ensure good faith and civility. They also exist to perpetuate and reinforce the same "cool kids" mentality you're decrying from Chomsky. By avoiding people that contradict broad (demeaning) stereotypes of them prevalent in the group, and by avoiding putting a human face on them that risks inducing empathy, it becomes easier to maintain simple, clean, consistent (typically we're-good-consistent-and-selfless-they're-bad-inconsistent-and-selfish) narratives. And that's as relevant to conversation here as to a discussion of Chomsky.

--

GftNC: I said you and cleek are tight because of how you two interact. Both of you adopt a different tone with each other than you do with other blog participants. Nothing more, nothing less.

NV - there's merit in what you're saying here. ObWi is not the most diverse place.

Not saying that's a good or bad thing, just saying IMO your observation is fair.

What I really wanted to chime to say is that as far as I can tell GFTNC adopts pretty much the same tone with everyone that she does with cleek. Which is to say, polite and respectful engagement.

I suspect it's because GFTNC is actually a very nice person.

Thanks russell.

What's so extremely funny about this is that NV posted this comment about me and cleek conversing with each other in a different tone to the way we converse with anybody else just three minutes after I posted the following remark in the ACA thread:

Well said NV,good point.

I seriously don't think what you're saying about me is true NV. I feel respectful and pretty much affectionate towards most of the posters here, and in some cases (including but not limited to cleek) grateful for help they've given me on HTML matters etc. The reason why I deal the way I do with people, or try to is simple. I think it affirms values I hold dear, and try to abide by. In my opinion, almost everyone (with the exception of such deplorables as racists and homophobes, although there can even be exceptions for certain of them) is worthy of a respectful hearing, and that that is the way you make some kind of progress, however that can be defined. Acknowledging the humanity, with all the good and bad that that implies, of another person, is a way to demonstrate how one thinks relationships and the world should be run, and also is an attempt to shed more light than heat.

But to dispel the idea of my saintliness forever, let me say this about you NV. I think you are a remarkably intelligent and talented woman, with an extremely highly developed capacity for close analytical thinking. Your views are interesting, but you undercut much serious consideration of them by your intense prickliness and tendency to go on the offensive. You yourself have referred to a possible reason for this, when you described your original "training" on the net, and that made sense. I think it is a great shame, and that you do yourself an injustice thereby.

And for the record, IRL I am judgemental, critical and with a tendency to be controlling which infuriates even my most loving and devoted friends and family. I think there are good reasons for these qualities, but then (in the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies) I would, wouldn't I?

Sorry, I missed the comments asking me about Chomsky and I've not paid attention to this thread so apologies if I'm not understanding the questions, but to address Donald, when we are discussing what needs to be done, I don't think we get to say 'well, he's an intellectual' as a get out of jail free card.

And NV, when you write
It's nice this doesn't happen to you, lj.
I can assure you that this does happen to me, and rather often. I live in a country that simultaneously lauds and dismisses my viewpoint as a foreigner. I can take advantage of the white male privilege that imbues so much of the globe, but simultaneously be dismissed because I don't "understand how things work". And I will, on occasion, deploy that white male privilege if I think the outcome is something worthwhile (which is remarkably small peanuts in the whole scheme of things, but is important in my world).

imo, zero tolerance for bad faith doesn't work because you just don't know. People are adept at fooling themselves into believing things and continually occupying a position and, like Vonnegut says in Mother Night, "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." (quoting that will probably have you and others think 'what a self-satisfied prig who thinks he is well read', and I am aware of that, but I don't want to claim a thought that I read from someone else. But I'm sure part of that is to show you that I've read a lot. What's the truth? HellifIknow.)

That this is a defense of my position and apparently an attack on yours shouldn't be surprising, I want to construct a narrative where I'm, at least partially, in the right. And I'm happy to admit that there are times when zero tolerance has to be practiced. Every so often a troll who shall not be named pops up and I dutifully go in and modify the block list.

But your zero tolerance seems to be an excuse to rage at someone and I assume that you wouldn't want me to follow up by blocking the people who you display zero tolerance with. Yet if I try to clean up in aisle 4, I'm somehow tainted. Which seems to me like you want to be able to express your rage and let others clean up. Fair enough, there are times that I want to break all the crockery, but in a sense, I live here, so I don't have that chance. Which makes me get a slight insight into the shitpie that other people, who have to deal with this crap every day, have to swallow every day. And I should say, as I told sapient in a different thread, that I don't mind people expressing rage. But when they turn on people posting here, that just isn't going to fly.

In this, I think it is remarkably like Chomsky, in that he wants to express how disgusted he is with the system, yet, fails to understand how systemic change works. Chomsky is a person who can never, ever admit they are wrong. It is not a good look on anyone.

And going back, I see that novakant was the one who says Chomsky is an intellectual, not Donald. Sorry about that. To answer Donald's questions, I feel like we would actually have to have a back and forth and talk about stances Chomsky has taken, but that would be difficult. No, Chomsky's stances don't invalidate what he says about the MSM, but what he says about the MSM is not a function of the people therein, but the way MSM connects with the people. The fact that the MSM has broken down and is replaced by facebook and twitter suggests that Chomsky's suggestions of malice and control are not really conscious means that Chomsky is identifying a flaw in human nature, not a flaw in the MSM. I don't know (and I'm not going back to find out) who cited Chomsky. But if his name is popping up in the discussion, someone must have thought that he has some significant insight. If so, someone should tell us how that insight is unique, because , as you said, zillions of people make similar complaints.

I spent far more time writing a reply to this than I probably should have, but in trying to tidy up my long-winded mess before hitting post, I went back to make sure I wasn't misrepresenting what you said, and I saw again you'd referred to my stated "zero tolerance for bad faith", and something clicked. That's... not what I said:

...I have precisely zero tolerance for the constant accusations of bad faith and incessant rhetorical shenanigans sapient deploys...

(Emphasis added.)

It occurs to me before dropping a 1000-word response to a comment that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, it might be best to make sure you didn't make that comment based on a fairly-significant omission of those two words. Because that might explain why it seemed like you were suggesting I was arguing the opposite point that I thought I was.

GftNC, I'm not sure what you think I'm saying about you (I mean that literally, not defensively).

However, those seven words added little (if anything) to the original comment, while making it have an edge I really hadn't intended. Please accept my apologies.

(I initially tried to clarify what I meant, but decided it really didn't matter and deleted most of my comment. The above is what's left as needing said.)

Lj, intellectuals tend to be elitist, that's all. You are personalizing the issues: when I mention Chomsky I don't really care if he's annoying or not, I also don't care what he has said about each and every subject under the sun and I don't even care if the theory in question is 100% watertight or unique. He is an interesting thinker insofar as he challenges aspects of our political system that after decades of indoctrination most seem to view as simply a given and does so intelligently and publicly, thus giving a voice to the tiny minority on the left that questions the liberal consensus in the US. There are others who do similar things but usually nobody has heard of them never mind read them, so it's a bit futile to mention them.

NV, I apologize for not seeing that, my eye skipped over the mention of sapient and since the comments started addressed to me, I hope you can see why that might happen. I note that you don't address any other part of my comment, which certainly reminds me of the bad old days of usenet, but if that's what you want to do, that's your call. But, as you seem to admit, it isn't really helpful. I'm not really sure why you would bring sapient into a comment that starts with an accusation that I have no appreciation for the privilege you assume that I have, and I'm not sure if you want me to do something about sapient or not. If you want me to do something else regarding sapient or the list in general, you can tell me, either here or thru the kitty.

novakant, you are right, as I think I've mentioned on several occasions, I have my own issues with Chomsky. I think the way he deploys rhetoric is problematic, creating rifts in my field of linguistics. There is a lot of stuff about the recent kerfluffle between Dan Everett and him, but this discussion of a lecture by Chomsky, written by Geoff Pullum before all the Everett stuff came up, kind of gets at why I don't have much time for him.

http://linguistlist.org/issues/22/22-4631.html

I don't think this invalidates his points about society, but I don't think it is possible to separate what he says that is true and what he says that is simply for rhetorical effect. That bleeds over into my opinion of him as an 'intellectual', which may or may not be fair, but if Chomsky is, as Donald says, simply saying what a zillion people have observed, then I don't see why he needs to be cited as an authority. I think that he, like a lot of thinkers on the left, wants to elevate the suffering of being in the minority as some sort of proof that the left is correct. It's not something that is solely the domain of the left, it's the stuff of 'The war on Christmas' and any number of other right wing memes, but if accepted, it means that you are always fighting a guerilla war against whatever the status quo happens to be. It can be successful, (hence Trump) but it means that you are always in a state of conflict.

GftNC, I'm not sure what you think I'm saying about you (I mean that literally, not defensively).

However, those seven words added little (if anything) to the original comment, while making it have an edge I really hadn't intended. Please accept my apologies

NV, I thought you were saying that the reason I claimed that your accusation that cleek had been making threats of violence against you was nonsense, was that I was prejudiced in his favour because we were "tight", or had some other special relationship. All I want to say, in a conversation that is spiralling so far from its beginnings as to be tedious (this is not aimed at you), is that the reason I came to cleek's defence is that I thought your accusation was patently unfair, and misrepresented the reality of the situation. I regretted cleek's absence because he is one of the voices which I think make up a pretty valuable forum of various shades of opinion, speaking to each other (on the whole) in rational conversation. The fact that we can converse here from rightwing through liberal to far-ish left seems to me a valuable blow against the Empire, in a time of increased and mad polarisation and splintering. I was also trying to show that I regard you and your opinions with as much appreciation and respect as anyone else's.

My attempt at destruction of a rep for saintliness was directed at a) people who think I am some blindly benevolent flower-child and b) russell, who had just given me a testimonial to which I was unsure I was entitled. However, I realised afterwards that my attempt to show myself in my true colours was unsuccessful; put it down to an unbreakable habit (here and elsewhere) of at least attempting to put both sides.

In any case, you have nothing to apologise for, and neither do I.

lj, I didn't mention anything else in your comment because I was not being rhetorical when I said I refrained from posting an already-written a 1000-word comment pending clarification that could make large portions of it irrelevant. I'll revise and post the portions that are still relevant. That should also clarify a few other things you're mentioning (especially with revision).

I'm not really sure why you would bring sapient into a comment that starts with an accusation that I have no appreciation for the privilege you assume that I have

Because the comment was not about you. Some of that misunderstanding seems like it was ignoring the context of the running conversation (which was never about you in particular; looking back, that still seems clear given my comment included your quote that I was directly responding to), and some can be attributed to the following:

'It's nice this doesn't happen to you, lj.'
I can assure you that this does happen to me, and rather often.

The implicit meaning of my statement (which, again, I thought and think was clear in context, and followed directly from the comment it had quoted and was responding to) was "It's nice it doesn't happen to you here". And that was all it was meant to mean; it was not making assumptions about you in your personal life, it was about directly observable interactions on this blog.

So let me be clear: it's nice that your statements here enjoy a general assumption of good faith. And by everything I have ever seen, they absolutely do. That's not true for all of us. And that you don't see that - which is exactly what is implied when you talk about how good it is that it doesn't happen here - is more than a little of the problem that I was trying to point to.

That this is a defense of my position and apparently an attack on yours shouldn't be surprising, I want to construct a narrative where I'm, at least partially, in the right.

You had my position fairly close to backwards, as mentioned in the clarifying comment. The problem that I see is that there is tolerance for dismissive assumptions of bad faith towards some, but not others. Why was Brett banned? My memory, which may be flawed, was that the ultimate "banning offense" was persistently posting "straight-up lying links", or words to that effect. WTH was this if not an absolute refusal to do anything but assume bad faith?

Compare and contrast e.g. Brick Oven Bill's banning back towards the end of the hilzoy era - in '08, I think? An enormous amount of disagreement, derailing, and a pattern of linking to outrageous nonsense. Suggestions of bad faith and statements almost certainly advanced in bad faith (but dutifully addressed by the commentariat, to most certainly include myself, as being advanced sincerely). It was a one-word, obscure, alluding personal attack that got them banned.

Now compare those two prior examples of banned commenters to sapient - who I have viewed as a troll pretty much ever since they first arrived ~8y ago. There's a tolerance for hostility, derailing, personal attacks, constant accusations of bad faith to all those who disagree with them. A perfect example touching on all of these was given in the other thread when they called novakant a sociopath for rejecting Clinton because she's a hawk. When called on by novakant, you did warn sapient, but did so in the context of chastizing novakant for not fixing the issue themself. That hasn't worked with sapient in the past. Donald repeatedly addressed abusive behavior directly, and sapient did not change their behavior at all until a third party intervened.

As an aside, I'd observe out that on the non-political conversations, those two now-banned individuals interacted and sought to be part of the community to a degree sapient never has, which I'll admit is one reason among many I find sapient's conduct as trollish as I do. I'm not sure that should matter - it absolutely shouldn't in BOB's case given why they were banned - but it seems worth mentioning given the recent metaconversation about community.

[delete "zero tolerance" discussion, as it's been clarified]

Let me be clear, since we may have been waxing obtuse. I firmly believe - based on eight-ish (?) years of observing fairly consistent behavior and comportment, less two of those years when I was AFK - sapient is a troll who disrupts and degrades conversation on this blog. I absolutely think something should be done about sapient, and I personally would suggest outright banning. The period when sapient had a short ban recently saw conversations become more focused and less heated, and I'd emphatically argue that was causation, not correlation. sapient derails many if not most conversations into discussions of partisan purity, loyalty, and name-calling (oblique and otherwise). They are consistently abusive towards other blog members, though significantly and probably importantly, not to the frontpagers (their flip response to you that got them a short ban was actually quite surprising and out of character). They almost incessantly accuse those they disagree with of acting in bad faith. They've even insulted and patronized those who didn't agree with them enough. They deploy more rhetoric than large chunks of the commentariat combined. Etc. etc. etc. And they've been this way for years, though it's gradually gotten worse, and generally hasn't been quite as bad during the midterm periods. They were better for a bit when they came back, but they're very quickly moving back towards the norms of behavior they'd established for themself prior to being temp-banned. They display a lack of respect for non-front-page commenters, which suggests even then they're not respecting the person, but the authority (which would make sense as to why peer-to-peer moderating hasn't worked in the past).

In sum, yes, I think sapient is a problem, and no, I don't think can or will be a resolution without direct intervention from keyholders.

[delete further discussion which appears to have been at least partially based on misunderstandings]

But when they turn on people posting here, that just isn't going to fly.

The bar for "turn[ing] on people posting here" is different for different people. That's a problem. That's very possibly THE problem from where I stand. If we have posting rules, they need to be for everyone, evenly. It's bad enough that we have a whole slew of "unless it's JT/Count" exceptions. Those are problematic, but at least it's been explicitly acknowledged. We don't need more unstated ones.

...and my comment is in the spam trap. If you don't want to publicly address it, leave it there - we can take this to email if you prefer. Otherwise, if you want to leave the discussion out in the open (which is my preference, but I'm not wedded to it, nor is my opinion necessarily important here), please fish it out for me.

Move back up, and your spambinned comment is there, as per your preference. I can see what you are saying now, but when you open your comment with "It's nice that this doesn't happen to you" and you italicize the 'you', how do I avoid thinking it is not about me? Why use me as an object lesson? Why not say

I walked out of this thread for a reason, and what disturbs me is that some people are granted foreberance...

This thread started as a specific request from Donald and so I put up a minimal post to get the conversation started. I participated in that conversation. I address your comment and then you come back with complaints about me dropping a 1000 word comment (really? You have read my other comments, right?)

Yes sapient and Donald spent some time banging heads in this thread, but I open up the second page of the comments to see what GftNC has to say after a long absence (you did see that I said "Sorry, I missed the comments asking me about Chomsky and I've not paid attention to this thread" I'm supposed to process everything in your comment, but reciprocity is optional?) I responded. So I don't think it is at all helpful to complain about long comments, especially looking at the length of your spam binned comment.

But your comment was not calling me out, it was calling sapient out. OK, let's put this out here. I believe that many of the things you say about sapient are true. But I also feel that he doesn't do this alone, you and Donald get in this pattern of poking back to see if you can get the other side angry enough to overstep. I would say this is bizarre, but I see it so often in online discussions that it seems to be the norm. The snide backhand, bury the name in the middle of the comment so the group sees it, ginning up a sense of frustration but not taking responsibility for it.

We had conversations, and we will probably continue to have conversations about sapient and it looks like we might be going down the path again. (but I don't know if he will read this which is the other thing about the internet, you never know what people see or don't see, so holding them to account for something that you see is problematic)

But if every commenter comes running to the 'moderators' to say 'kick that one out', we then end up adjudicating every fucking argument. Don't believe me? Right after I replied to the comment that gets up your nose, I go over to see that novakant is invoking the mystic aura of the moderators to deal with sapient. But it's just sapient, right? Well, the reason you seemed to get into here is because GftNC defended cleek, to which you adduced her tone was different with him. There have been lots of fights here, and if people could run to the moderators to solve things, that would happen. Or the moderators would get sick of doing this and leave. Either way does not seem like a good option to me.

About BOB, I came on to the back side of the blog in 2011, I was a commenter for all of the things you said, but I didn't participate in any of those decisions. I remember Brick Oven Bill and I remember any number of attempts to rein him in. If you want to see his side of the story

http://brickoven.blogspot.jp/2008/08/banished.html

If you want to see the last thread and the discussion, it's here

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2008/07/i-came-as-a-rat.html

Basically, none of the people who are posting now (with the exception of Sebastian?) were there. Obviously, we are part of the ObWi 'Deep State', but really?

The bar for "turn[ing] on people posting here" is different for different people. That's a problem.

No, that is life. We can try to treat everyone equally, but we are going to respond to people differently. We all use rhetoric. I would prefer that people would rein it in sometimes, and I occasionally say so. It would help if some other people might ask others to take a step back instead of escalating to the point where they feel they need to ask the moderators to step in. Or simply take a break. When I see three or four comments in quick succession, each striving for a snide backhanded insult, I know that things are getting out of hand. Honestly, when I see people screwing up italics, I wonder if passions are getting too high. But you and everyone else here, I assume are adults. I realize that the political scene doesn't support this, but it is possible for adults to find adult-like solutions. I'd appreciate it if you'd try.

how do I avoid thinking it is not about me?

By reading the context of the statement within the comment where it occurs. Which leads us directly to...

I address your comment and then you come back with complaints about me dropping a 1000 word comment (really? You have read my other comments, right?)

I never, EVER said this. You're accusing me of attacking you by pointing to something I said about myself. There have been precisely three mentions of 1000-word comments prior to now. First, me stating that I'd refrained from posting a 1000-word comment because it appeared you'd misread a comment of mine badly enough that you understood it precisely backward. Next, I stated that I hadn't been hyperbolic when I said I had a 1000-word comment lurking in the wings, which was why so little of your comment was addressed in my terse "did you totally misread my prior comment?" comment. And finally, when you accused me of attacking you for writing a 1000-word comment. Which, again, I never did. Note also that the first assignment of a pejorative character to long comments was in your accusation.

This gets tiresome. Particularly when your chastisement includes barbs like:

you did see that I said "Sorry, I missed the comments asking me about Chomsky and I've not paid attention to this thread" I'm supposed to process everything in your comment, but reciprocity is optional?

If you're going to respond to comments, then yes, you should read the comments you're directly responding to closely enough that you do not take them to mean the opposite of what they do. Repeatedly. To multiple comments in succession. While calling out the other party for not reading your comments closely enough and for not responding to everything you said in your comments.

I know you're busy, but reading what you're responding to before you respond is about as basic as you can get for showing basic adult respect online. I frankly would prefer you (and everyone else) ignore me than respond to comments I did not make, and I'm fairly certain you feel the same towards me (and everyone else).

I'd also prefer if you do not try quite so hard to turn every comment I make into a personal attack directed at you. Again, good faith vs. bad faith.

I believe that many of the things you say about sapient are true. But I also feel that he doesn't do this alone, you and Donald get in this pattern of poking back to see if you can get the other side angry enough to overstep.

I don't see this, certainly not with the motivations your mindreading and assumption of bad faith (and there we are back to that) are ascribing to Donald and me. I can't ever think of any instance of Donald doing anything that even resembled this. For myself, I've done the cleek-style* snide not-really-engaging jab a few times, yes. Not often, though, and sure as hell not with the motives you've neatly ascribed to me. When I've done that it's because someone's (pretty much always sapient's) comments seem like they should be challenged because they're derailing conversation or pushing a toxic narrative, but I don't have the energy to actually engage with them - because that really, truly is taxing. I absolutely do not enjoy it; it's stressful and aggravating.

I would say this is bizarre, but I see it so often in online discussions that it seems to be the norm.

So should I assume norms I see elsewhere on the Internet apply to the actions of long-time posters here absent actual evidence that they do? This is not what you said before. The goal of having an online community is respecting each other and assuming good faith. Right?

The snide backhand, bury the name in the middle of the comment so the group sees it, ginning up a sense of frustration but not taking responsibility for it.

Like so?

I don't see either myself or Donald doing anything of this sort**. We've both been pretty damned clear when we've addressed sapient, and if I've spoke about sapient other than to their face it's always been as a direct subject of conversation, typically with multiple lines addressing them. It's rather hard to get from direct and verbose discussion to the sly drive-by negative association you describe.

Well, the reason you seemed to get into here is because GftNC defended cleek, to which you adduced her tone was different with him.

No. Although since it wasn't address to you, nor involving you, I don't expect you to have followed this particular discussion closely. That whole sidetrack came down to me pointing out that cleek can and often does - if I may retroactively borrow bobbyp's lovely turn of phrase - "gratuitously hand out snide brickbats", and my uncharitable assumption that since in my experience cleek has noticeably adopted a friendlier tone with GftNC than with the rest of the commentariat (and, yes, vice-versa), this might not have been readily apparent to them. Which again, was not at all a reasonable assumption to make, because it's been a staple of cleek's commenting repertoire pretty much forever. However, my vague allusion to that unstated line of thought added next to nothing to the conversation except presumption and a lot of ill-will and confusion.

About BOB

I'm actually a lot more curious about Brett, because my memory - which again, may not be perfect here - was that you personally instigated his banning (so you would be well-placed to clarify what in particular he did that crossed the line, because right now it looks more like there was no unique behavior or even combination of behaviors that hasn't been deemed acceptable from others), you delivered the final ban rather suddenly with little sign of public warnings leading up to it, and it looked a lot like you did it for reasons involving the sort of assumptions of bad faith you've been lecturing me about in this thread.

Obviously, we are part of the ObWi 'Deep State', but really?

On the subject of acting like an adult and not making petty barbs, was this necessary? You're not telling me anything I didn't know and didn't include in my reference to BOB's banning (although perhaps referring to the hilzoy era was too cryptic, but given how long we've both been here, it seemed pretty safe to assume that as common knowledge, and as something the other party would likewise assume as common knowledge). The 'Deep State' jab is just that: a personal jab, based on political disagreements between us that we both recognize, but carrying nastier implications.

It would help if some other people might ask others to take a step back instead of escalating to the point where they feel they need to ask the moderators to step in. Or simply take a break.

The latter is what I very typically do in lieu of commenting at all. I self-censor a lot. I'll admit one or two things you said upthread seemed to suggest to me that you viewed walking out of an argument as making a mess then leaving someone else to clean it up (obviously, when I disengage after getting into a dispute, not when I refrain from commenting because I figure a pointless dispute is inevitable, and someone else can or is making a counterpoint while avoiding getting heated). But if that's not what you meant, I'll continue to use this form of deescalation if I don't think metaconversation would be productive. And for the most part, I'll just keep my mouth shut in the first place.

For the record: the reason I responded to this at such tedious length is because "we will probably continue to have conversations [about this sort of thing]" and if so, it's better to actually finish the conversation so we're all operating under the same set of facts rather than holding onto conflicting views of what this discussion was about.

Let's see how it goes...

*/** No, this (*) is not a good example of that (**). Because here's a footnote drawing attention to it, and because it's referring to them to cite an example of inconsistent application of standards: you are denouncing this sort of comment, but another commenter does this liberally, has done so for years, and remains utterly free of any sort of rebuke... so again, what actually is the norm being violated here?

OK, I see where some disconnects are happening and I'm sorry that they happened. Some are similar to the situation that occurred with I said something to Bob McManus that I thought was innocent and he took great offense at it. Other places, I disagree. And I'm not perfect, so examples for me not living up to my ideals are not all that surprising. I will forgo any more explanation except for this

About Brett, we did a short term ban and I wrote this

Dear Brett (bcc to the front pagers)

As you have probably guessed, you've been blocked from the blog. Apologies for not informing you sooner, but I got distracted after blocking you. We're planning on letting you back in on 8 June (Japan time) You are welcome to either remind me before that time or tell me I forgot. One of the front pagers suggested that your current challenges in real life are stressing you out and we all extend our sympathy to you in this time. We hope that this will help you rather than feel like something added to your stress.

We are all generally opposed to banning folks. However, you are pretty much taking up all the air in the room and that really was not acceptable.

With that, we'll plan on seeing you 8 June some time

That took place, but later that month, things got bad again and I wrote

Dear Brett (bcc to front pagers)
We've hashed this over again, and the conclusion is that you are engaged in too much thread jacking and it is preventing others who might want to participate. It is not a particular comment or statement you made, it is a general pattern of behavior that we find problematic. The last straw is that the fact that *** (as *** ***) has rejoined us and will also be bounced shortly until he uses another false IP to try and sneak around. While you may argue that it is unfair to hold you responsible for what someone else says, the fact is that we are all responsible for the type of conversation and the atmosphere of the blog, so we, as the front pagers, have decided to take this step.

So, we would like you to rethink your participation at ObWi, and in order to try and make that possible, we are going to institute a series of bans. The first one will be 24 hours (or so), following ones will be increasing longer until we reach the point where it is not worthwhile to keep track of the time.

The previous time we did this, I don't think we made a formal announcement but this time we will.

I realise that this message has the vibe of a teacher lecturing a bad student, which is the last thing I need (since that's what I seem to do in real life all the time), but it seems that you really aren't picking up what is problematic about your participation and this is basically our final effort to try and have you see this.

I appreciate you writing at length to make sure we are operating under the same set of facts. But actually, we are never going to be operating under the same set of facts. There is no way you can know the sum of the experiences that lead me or sapient or russell or anyone else to
write and we can only get a glimpse of them if that person decides to relay them. That goes for us knowing about you as well. That is all.

So, um, anybody heard any good jokes lately?

Is this a good moment to attack Chomsky?

I like lj's suggestion that propaganda has to be indifferent to truth. By this definition, Chomsky is a propagandist and some of the media he attacks are not.

I am thinking in particular of the Faurisson affair.

"Is this a good moment to attack Chomsky?"

will somebody please buy the man a comb?

So, um, anybody heard any good jokes lately?

BrettB, bobbyp, NV, Sapient, McManus,and Donald walked into a bar. Countme-in, the bartender, asked, "How could any of you have not seen that bar? Was it set too low for you?"

baddaboom, baddabing.

So, um, anybody heard any good jokes lately?

Have you seen that new pirate movie? The one that's rated Arrrr!

World's shortest joke:

"Beautiful clean coal."

--TP

Does this qualify as a joke?

Yes. Just not a good one.

On a slightly lighter note:

lj made mention of only responding to part of a comment as being "UseNet-y", which struck me as odd given that this seems more like modern, blog-standard behavior than what I recall about the UseNet, but that may just be a matter of cutting our teeth in different heirarchies. alt.atheism was (and presumably still is) a special sort of perpetually flaming cesspool, after all. I have such, um, let's call them "fond" memories of three-paragraph posts getting the line-by-line quote-reply-quote-reply treatment and turning into thirty paragraph reply threads in the space of only three or four replies.

I halfway wonder if that might not have come down to the formulaic nature of a lot of proselytizing/anti-proselytizing, where both sides essentially knew all the arguments and counters being offered up, so there was little to gain by ignoring part of a comment (since it was almost certainly not really presenting a novel idea), and more to lose by being perceived as not being able to respond (which was really the only way to "score points" aside from simply outlasting your interlocutor's patience and/or attention span). It was a sort of kabuki, where presumably both sides were just reinforcing their pre-existing beliefs, honing their repertoire of pat responses, and enjoying a sense of catharsis from telling themselves they'd methodically out-reasoned a stubbornly irrational opponent...

I thought this comment thread was dead. In fact, I didn't go back for a day or two and just assumed it.

LJ--On Chomsky, he comes up in this context (MSM bias) because he wrote a lot about it in connection with US atrocities for literally decades, so he is representative of the anti-interventionist critique of US foreign policy and how it is discussed in mainstream circles. Then the internet came along and all sorts of people now do the same thing. They are still marginalized in the "respectable" circles, but there are a lot of us now. For me, 20 to 30 years ago, buying a Chomsky book every few years was the modern equivalent of going online and reading on a leftwing (or even in some cases rightwing) blog about the atrocities the mainstream media is misreporting or ignoring. In the bad old days if you brought up some horrible US policy in Central America or East Timor or Israel and mainstream hypocrisy on those subjects and mentioned Chomsky inevitably the conversation would be turned into a discussion of Chomsky's real or alleged sins. It seemed to many people that if they could show that Chomsky is an asshole it somehow meant that US involvement in this or that atrocity really wasn't happening. With so many different sources now this kind of distraction doesn't matter. You don't need any particular person to cite to discuss the general nastiness of US foreign policy or the ongoing hypocrisy on that subject.

This for all of you who told me to use private (incognito) mode in order to see Washington Post without getting hassled for subscriptions!

Hi Donald,

Yes, it doesn't matter what Chomsky actually says (and by no means is he always correct), it's all about getting the Chomsky doll out and stabbing it some more.

Mine is literally in shreds, but you oughta' see my Billy Kristol doll!

Now that was quite funny, bobbyp.

I am imagining Chomsky as Chucky (I am referring to "Child's Play", 1988, for those who don't know what I'm talking about).

Donald makes a good point.

Donald, that's true, but I believe, for the most part, that almost everyone on this blog acknowledges the deep hypocrisies in US foreign policy, so bringing up Chomsky tends to be a distraction. The few who don't, Chomsky isn't really going to convince them.

As I mentioned before, I have my own issues with Chomsky, but there is something about Chomsky that also afflicts the far (far?) left more generally, I think. The most recent thing that you may have read about is Dan Everett's research that takes issue with some of the principles that Chomsky has put forth.

In 2007, Everett heard reports of a letter signed by Cilene Rodrigues, who is Brazilian, and who co-wrote the paper with Pesetsky and Nevins, that accuses him of racism. According to Everett, he got a call from a source informing him that Rodrigues, an honorary research fellow at University College London, had sent a letter to the organization in Brazil that grants permission for researchers to visit indigenous groups like the Pirahã. He then discovered that the organization, called FUNAI, the National Indian Foundation, would no longer grant him permission to visit the Pirahã, whom he had known for most of his adult life and who remain the focus of his research.

He still hasn't been able to return. Rodrigues would not respond directly to questions about whether she had signed such a letter, nor would Nevins. Rodrigues forwarded an e-mail from another linguist who has worked in Brazil, which speculates that Everett was denied access to the Pirahã because he did not obtain the proper permits and flouted the law, accusations Everett calls "completely false" and "amazingly nasty lies."

http://www.chronicle.com/article/Angry-Words/131260

This article details some of the other stuff

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003837.html

One can say that you can't blame Chomsky for the behavior of people who want to follow him, but substitute the name of the POTUS there and I hope you see what disturbs me.

Even LJ couldn't resist stabbing the Chomsky doll.

It has amazing recursive powers!

Academic battles in general often seem ugly. I know diddident economists, for instance, complain about how they are treated. Has Chomsky done something underhanded to Everett? If he didn't, then no, he isn't responsible. I don't think this is the far left so much as any group of people with power who are tempted to misuse it.. I used to follow these side issues, like the one about Faurisson mentioned upthread, but it has nothing to do with what interests me in Chomsky's writings. I would read about them simply because they invariably would come up. Peoplle can be admirable and worth reading on some subjects and be assholes in other respects. Not saying Chomsky is, just that I don't care that much. I have heard Einstein was a lousy husband. This probably doesn't mean much regarding his views on GR, QM, or even his politics.

On Everett, I am not a linguist, but did follow that issue slightly. Here is a view from a Chomskyite. But it's not my field. I did see that ludicrous Tom Wolfe article in Harper's last year, which seemed like absolutely the worst possible way to cover a legitimate scientific debate. Chomsky attracts that sort of deranged critic and this mostly isn't his fault.

http://facultyoflanguage.blogspot.com/2017/01/tragedy-farce-pathos.html

here's why Chomsky get eye-rolls from a lot of people:

And then what happens becomes significant. In order to maintain his popularity, the Trump administration will have to try to find some means of rallying the support and changing the discourse from the policies that they are carrying out, which are basically a wrecking ball to something else. Maybe scapegoating, saying, "Well, I'm sorry, I can't bring your jobs back because these bad people are preventing it." And the typical scapegoating goes to vulnerable people: immigrants, terrorists, Muslims and elitists, whoever it may be. And that can turn out to be very ugly.

I think that we shouldn't put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly.

paranoia is damaging whether it comes from Alex Jones, Breitbart, or from the darling of the left.

(blockquote fail)

'"I think that we shouldn't put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly."

paranoia is damaging whether it comes from Alex Jones, Breitbart, or from the darling of the left.'

Well, since the hot, heavy breathing of Alex Jones' and Brietbart's paranoia now resides right up against the ears of brazen idiots at the very highest levels of the most powerful government in the world in palpable, physical form, perhaps Chomsky's ravings (who needs his, when mine are available right here for the asking?) have finally found their match.

It's not like we're dealing with Gerald Ford here.

We now live a bizarro national political life wherein headlines from the Onion and The National Enquirer (the latter now amplifies White House talking points) signal more believed reality to tens of millions of the so-called citizenry than the hapless mainstream media offerings.

Fake news is real news if believed by a plurality.

It's as though the trump/republican phenomenon was designed to mimic and express the phantasms lurking in Chomsky's imagination these many decades.

There are malign, dangerous types, at the very least, in the White House and Congress who could read this:

"I think that we shouldn't put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly."

.... and forward it to each other bullet-pointed as a lightbulb-going-on-over-the-head moment in policy formulation.

I've listened to trump and spicer, as no doubt all of us have.

ANYTHING will come out of their mouths.

So, why doubt that ANYTHING can happen?

Besides, speaking for my own self, if my paranoia in this small corner of the world leads in any way to damage to this thing that calls itself the republican party, as in burning it to the ground and sowing its ashes with salt ... killing it ... then damage is my middle name.

And what happens to the Democratic Party is irrelevant to their demise.

Of course the United States would never ... oh wait:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incident

Seriously, all it takes is an Iranian speedboat not staying in lane and thereby 'threatening the lives of American soldiers' so I fail to see how this is irresponsible conspiracy mongering. Don't believe me? Lest we forget:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655

so I fail to see how this is irresponsible conspiracy mongering

we live in an era when literally every tragedy becomes a sinister false flag operation in the minds of the Infowars set. 9/11, Sandy Hook, the Quebec mosque attack, etc.. John Bolton is claiming that the Russian hacks on our election was a false flag operation.

it's fake news. and like all fake news, it erodes faith in actual news. it erodes faith in democracy. it's poison.

in this instance Chomsky is - exactly like Sean Hannity - bad for America.

Yeah, sure, but the point is that fake news have been used to deflect attention and justify anything from curtailing civil liberties to fighting bloody wars throughout history - the whole Iraq war was based on fake news. So why is it so unthinkable that Trump, who has a proven track record of lying shamelessly in public, should resort to such tactics?

the point is that Chomsky is feeding conspiracy theorists. he is cultivating the environment where actual news can't be trusted.

Trump hasn't actually 'resorted to such tactics'. and yet here's Chomsky, making sure that if something does happen, and even if Trump hasn't 'resorted to such tactics' that Chomsky's followers will be ready to leap to the conspiracy theory. the truth is already at a disadvantage.

it's plain demagoguery.

"it's fake news. and like all fake news, it erodes faith in actual news. it erodes faith in democracy. it's poison."

True.

But fake news is here to stay because that has been the expressed goal of the conservative movement since Weyrich and company started the jihad against legitimate news.

Yes, yes, I know legitimate news has always had its problems, John Foster Kane.

Actually, it's been the expressed goal of the conservative movement since 1845.

And novakant is correct, but now fake news IS the news. Just as fake reality entertainment has now displaced nearly all other entertainment and we have a reality TV President.

On any issue before us, what comes out of ryan spicer trump's mouth is the Gulf of Tonkin.

So my prescription for fighting fake news is even faker news.

The corpse is already turning blue from the belladonna poisoning administered via slow drip over the past 40 to 50 years by Sean Hannity and company.

I say the antidote is cyanide poisoning until the patient goes into a deep coma state and can be purged of republican/trump toxins.

It's touch and go.

"in this instance Chomsky is - exactly like Sean Hannity - bad for America."

Things will get worse until they get better. I have no particular adherence to Chomsky, but if I could fashion a gun and bullets from his bones, a good start on saving the Republic would be shooting Hannity (substitute any number of right-wing names) in the head.

You can have a country or you can have Hannity et al in it.

Having both is not an option.

Abraham Lincoln agrees with me.

He died of lead poisoning at the hands of the conservative movement.

Things will get worse until they get better.

no doubt.

but i don't think it's a one way street. or if it is, it's probably a long meandering loop and we'll end up back on the high ground eventually. for a while.

I like an optimist.

Here's the best headline writer for a legitimate news item I've seen in awhile.

George W. Bush, boy journalist:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/george-bush-that-was-some-weird-shit

Nothing fake about that.

Now I must go and have an expensive dental deep cleaning procedure done.

That screaming you will hear is me.

Sigh. Yes, my eyes rolled a little at that Chomsky quote, cleek. When I read him in the old days I never saw Chomsky push the classic sort of conspiracy theory. And no, that's not why Chomsky gets eye rolls in the mainstream, because you see that sort of speculation about Trump everywhere. What is all the Hitler talk about if not exactly that sort of thing? People who think there is a real danger we could lose our democracy or who say that Trump poses a real danger of fascism or mention the Sinclair Lewis novel are saying that we might become a police state, yet you tell me this example from Chomsky is why people roll their eyes. Frankly, I am a little surprised to see Chomsky doing it--he sounds almost mainstream. As for false flags, if he means within the US that seems a bit nuts to me, but overseas it is pretty much bog standard to claim things which aren't true about real atrocities. The Gulf of Tonkin comes to mind. And often when an atrocity or massacre is committed, there is an immediate attempt to either deny it or say that the other side did it. The entire argument for the Iraq War was a massive collection of BS and conspiracy theorizing engaged in by the mainstream.

Martha Gessen has been writing about conspiratorial thinking lately. She pretty clearly isn't talking about Chomsky. She is talking about Democrats.

When I followed Chomsky regularly, he would talk about bias on human rights issues. That was his main, overwhelming focus. For instance, why are the crimes of the people we oppose called "terrorism" and so forth when similar language is rarely used for our allies? Reagan supported genocidal (literal genocide) killers in Guatemala. It wasn't labeled as such at the time. East Timor was largely ignored for twenty years while we armed Indonesia. Israel was and is treated as a sacred cow by most politicians--the Nakba was almost totally unknown here. We supported terrorist figures in Central America and Africa. A typical Chomsky claim in the 80's and 90's would be something like the following--The US is the leading supporter of terror in the world today, yet the mainstream press largely sticks to the usual circle jerk of experts and politicians who talk about the US as fighting against terrorism. By following the convenient framing of our Beltway types, the press was functioning as a propaganda organ. If you had said during the Reagan era that the US was a leading supporter of both state terror and terror by nongovernmental groups there is no chance you'd have been having discussions on the PBS Newshour. Ordinary people were being shot or mutiliated by the literal hundreds of thousands by groups that we armed, yet it was regarded as beyond the pale or crackpot to talk about US supported terror or genocide in that era. If you think about this for even one second, this is morally insane. It's also what you'd expect in most societies.

I haven't read him lately, but I assume he would point to the rather glaringly obvious difference in how Aleppo was discussed last fall vs. how Yemen was discussed. Or how people discuss the bombing of Gaza vs. Aleppo. Human shields are mentioned in any article where the US or one of its allies kills civilians. That excuse is invariably trotted out and taken seriously when our side bombs civilians. Nobody took it seriously with the Russians in Aleppo, though Al Qaeda was there and there were in fact claims that they prevented civilians from leaving.

If Chomsky focuses on hypothetical false flag attacks within the US--he never used to do that--then it is time for him to retire. I am not sure if he meant that, but maybe he did. His strength in his heyday was that he focused on the awful things the US actually did, not on some hypothetical thing it hadn't ever done before.

"things which aren't true about real atrocities. The Gulf of Tonkin comes to mind. "

Um, as an example of a lie with gigantic consequences. It wasn't an atrocity, of course.

Frankly, I am a little surprised to see Chomsky doing it-

and yet i'm not surprised at all.

disclaimer: i am not a student of Chomsky's, i don't own any of his books and i've never attended a speech.

but i have read things of his here and there, enough to form an opinion. and, in my opinion, this is exactly the kind of thing that has kept me from reading more of what he writes. he's a conspiracy theorist - a smarter, more intellectual conspiracy theorist than Alex Jones, for sure. and he's not as acute - his theories are bigger, broader, more subtle than Jones'. but, Chomsky's p.o.v. (again, based on what i've read) is that there are conspiracies of elites running everything and that he'll connect the dots for us.

i don't subscribe.

Well, as Donald has pointed out already, you don't have to read Chomsky, there are plenty of others writing very eloquently on the subject matters he covers.

Play the ball, not the man.

Actually, it's not that there are conspiracies of elites. It's that elites act according to their own interests rather than selflessly serving the greater good, and as a consequence and without conspiring they: present facts from their own perspective; downplay, omit, or misrepresent facts that paint themselves and those they empathize with in a poor light; resolve ambiguity in their favor; and treat groups that act in ways that interfere with their interests as adversaries. Again, all without conspiring. A large portion of his point is that people with similar and shared interests act in ways that benefit themselves and others with like interests, and that there need not be conspiracy for this to occur.

Chomskites are very frequently conspiracy theorists. Chomsky himself - at least historically, as I have never been an avid follower and certainly don't keep up - was not.

you don't have to read Chomsky

really? i had no idea! i thought i was breaking the law this whole time.

drat.

so much for being a rebel.

You seem to be more interested in hippie punching than anything else.

Donald Trump broke some real news to America yesterday:

"Around we’ve had leaders like Susan B. Anthony. Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony? I’m shocked that you’ve heard of her — who dreamed of a much more fair and equal future and an America where women themselves as she said helped to make laws and elect the lawmakers, and that’s what’s happening more and more.”

He added: "She had hooters out to here. I'm not saying she's some kind beauty queen, but she comes out of a cake unlike anything you've ever seen. I need to have her and Fred Douglas down to Mar-A-Largo for lunch one day, when they are free. Kelly Ann, hold up that book I said I read last year about the two of them, and make sure you hold it right end up this time."

That Trump. Such a class act! Not to mention right on top of obscure bits of American history. Simply awesome.

You seem to be more interested in hippie punching than anything else.

the topic was Chomsky, and i offered an opinion on Chomsky, as many others here have already done. that's how conversations work.

go troll someone else.

Well, no, in most of his writings he is not a conspiracy theorist and most of his writings in the 60's through the early 00's (when I stopped reading him regularly) are not conspiracy theories at all. His writings are as I described them. It's a little frustrating hearing you tell me about someone you admit you have barely read, when I would have to stop and think about how many of his books I have actually read, along with a large number of articles.

I am going to give an outline of a typical Chomsky book or article. Here it is.

A) Describe atrocity X being committed in some distant place by a US ally or the US itself. Give some historical background. Supply copious footnotes, generally to sources like Amnesty International or the like. In the days before the internet you would have to write to AI to get these and pay money. He would also cite mainstream sources, but articles that don't get much play, or foreign news sources or books or papers. Yes, people write scholarly books on East Timor, for instance. No, they don't get much coverage in the MSM. I bought a couple at a UN bookstore almost 30 years ago, one by Ramos Horta and one by James Dunn, which I learned about from Chomsky first and a few years later in a New York Review of Books piece. I loaned them to a skeptical liberal friend who couldn't believe what I was telling him and never got them back. (Note to self--never loan books if you want to keep them.) If you are interested in something Chomsky wrote about, you never stop with him. I first learned about the dark side of Israel's history from "The Fateful Triangle" and was then surprised when it was news we were supplying weapons to Iran, because he already had mentioned it there. (From some mainstream articles that were quickly forgotten.) I then went on to read many others, including some Israeli historians. I wouldn't bother with Chomsky now, but he was the gateway for me on that subject. Okay, back to the outline.

B) Cite articles and editorials in the US MSM showing how it was covered.

C) Compare this to the coverage given to atrocity Y committed by a US enemy.

D) Repeat A through C. Over and over and over and over and over....

E) Theorize about why the coverage is the way it is. This part actually never interested me much, because any human being on the planet already knows. People in power are hypocritical about their own crimes. The details of how that works will vary depending on the society.

Once you read one or two of his books it's easy to see what he is talking about. It's sort of a constant background to foreign policy discussions in the US. You just expect the sort of nonsensical posturing and double standards where people are outraged about Russian bombing in Aleppo and say nothing about the very same sorts of things in Yemen. It's US foreign policy. Rancid, soul-destroying monstrous inexcusable bullshit is what one should expect.

If Chomsky now sounds like some liberal Democrat writing a paranoid comment about what Trump might do to become a dictator, well, I never would have wasted two cents buying books containing that sort of crap. But it doesn't matter now, as I said before, since there are any number of people online pointing out the sorts of things he spent half his life writing about.

It's a little frustrating hearing you tell me about someone you admit you have barely read, when I would have to stop and think about how many of his books I have actually read, along with a large number of articles.

i totally understand. but if you've read a lot of him, you probably like what he has to say. i've only read a little because i don't like what he has to say. few people would spend much time reading someone they don't enjoy reading.

i don't eat mayo, but i've had enough to know i don't like it.

E) Theorize about why the coverage is the way it is.

this is probably, i think, the part i get stuck on.

That was his main, overwhelming focus.

I disagree, his main, overwhelming focus was on the bad behavior of Western governments, particularly on the US government. That's why he took such a beating when he dismissed criticisms of Pol Pot. His opponents want to paint him as a Pol Pot supporter, but he's not, he just wanted to get in a shot at Western governments and dismissed the early reportage coming out of Cambodia and then spent the rest of the time trying to reparse his comments. I don't believe he has ever participated in the discussion of how one crafts a legal basis for human rights. He's never accepted that any step is a good first step. He's never dealt with the realities of that. He's an intellectual, damnit, why should he do that kind of work?

I understand that heroes often have feet of clay. I also understand that people can find themselves in situations where they become more than themselves. Lincoln, Churchill come to mind. Our best heroes are the ones who die (or are killed) at the height of the struggle because we get to keep them in that pristine state where what they did was clear and just. Lincoln, MLK, Gandhi. Just look at how the luster around Aung San Suu Kyi has vanished. That we like our heroes dead tells us something, and I don't know if I like what it tells us.

A typical Chomsky claim in the 80's and 90's would be something like the following--The US is the leading supporter of terror in the world today, yet the mainstream press largely sticks to the usual circle jerk of experts and politicians who talk about the US as fighting against terrorism.

Sure, and that is as much rhetorical as it is factual. Get your opponent off balance with a huge claim and then have them try to present an equally powerful counter claim and get them to overstate. It's fun to watch when no one gets hurt but I am increasingly wondering how we move anything forward if we keep arguing like that.

His big claim about East Timor is that Moynihan had a comment that apparently took pride in what happened. However, this is a misrepresentation of what Moynihan said, and when you look at the quote, you'll see that it is actually something that was stitched together, with Moynihan discussing his efforts as UN rep to block aspect of Soviet aggression rather than happiness at the plight of the East Timorese. It's not unsurprising and he does the same thing with linguistic arguments. If he gets on the right side of the argument, it's great but if he gets on the wrong side, he will never admit and will never take a step back. You can search all of Chomsky's oeuvre and you will never find that he admits doubt, or says that he misunderstood an argument or that his opinion changed. Or even that it is too early to judge. We laugh (or cry) about Trump never being able to admit he was wrong, but it is the same kind of behavior.

My academic "grandmother" - who got her linguistics PhD at MIT in the 80s - was always fairly emphatic that you essentially can't win an argument with Chomsky. So, yeah.

"that's how conversation work"

Lol

by your own admission you don't really know what you're talking about and despite the efforts of Donald and NV, who are infinitely more patient than me, you seem completely uninterested in changing that, so yeah, let's call it a dat

Way to play the ball, novakant...

lj, please tell me how one is supposed to engage constructively with cleek in this context, thank you

For the record, novakant, my statement was for the peanut gallery, not cleek, as cleek's browser script will re-word it and anything else I say to "I like pie" or words to that effect. So it was only you and Donald who were trying to engage with him.

my statement was for the peanut gallery, not cleek

Soon, the peanut gallery will be you, novakant and Donald, just as you have hoped.

please tell me how one is supposed to engage constructively with cleek in this context,

i'll just point out that, while he and i certainly disagree about this stuff, Donald and i are having a polite exchange.

by your own admission you don't really know what you're talking about

you're perilously close to asserting that it's necessary to have read everything that someone has published in order to come to an opinion about whether or not you want to read more.

but that would be colossally stupid. for a bunch of reasons.

novakant, imitate Donald. You could do a lot worse. Anyway, I looked back and you brought up Chomsky, so it seems like you are the one not willing to entertain the fact that others may have different opinions.

What exactly did your clever little barb add to the discussion, sapient? Why did you choose to address me when all you sought to do was belittle or irritate me? Cut it out, and act like an adult.

On NV's last point, which may be worth considering, I'm going to close the comments here. I think we've done enough recursion. (linguistic history tidbit, Chomsky initially called one of his early theories, Standard Theory, which was then renamed Extended Standard Theory, which was then called Revised Extended Standard Theory, which prompted some who didn't agree with the analysis to ask the question 'Why don't you give it a REST?')

No one has been kicked off, and no one is currently on any black list, just to be clear, but it would really be nice if everyone could get along a little better and if everyone would try a bit harder. There is a great post coming up this evening Japan time from JanieM, so I'd like all of you to be on your best behavior, myself included. That is all.

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