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January 28, 2005


Motion seconded.

I'm just rambling, but how about something like a virtual swear jar. Set up a PayPal or something for a mutually agreed on worthy cause. Toss a buck in the jar for gratuitous insults and random snark. Just a thought.

Which is more likely to persuade: invective, or calm rhetoric?

Given the history of the 20th century (and more recent events) that is a depressing question to consider.

No idea if this is true or not, but it's plausible.

One of my high school friends is making millions doing exactly that -- ok, not exactly, but that's a part of it -- although he's based in Hong Kong so I'm not sure if it's still as cool as the original version.

Disraeli was a poopyhead.

(I kid, I kid ... badly.)

Toss a buck in the jar for gratuitous insults and random snark

Or poor predictions about NL West baseball? The Padres, humph. Where did that Michael N go? Pitchers and Catchers report in 19 days, 10 hours and 31 minutes fergoshsakes.

I thought it was Disraeli that said "Never apologize, never explain". That seems to be at the root of a lot of problems here.

Benjamin Disraeli isn't fit to wipe the arse of Pitt the Elder.

*whew* good thing that tip jar isn't in effect yet :)

But in the other thread someone mentioned the 1/3 substance and 2/3 snark post archtype. True when aimed at fellow commenters it is a bad thing, but when aimed at public officials or figures. Well, to be honest, even if they never read ObWi (and they should) it still feels good to take them down a couple of pegs.

However I do heartily endorse the idea that we should never speak of LGF, Freep, DemUnderground and their ilk again.

it still feels good to take them down a couple of pegs.

Exactly my point. And we're all about that good feeling here.

Benjamin Disraeli isn't fit to wipe the arse of Pitt the Elder.

[ObSimpsons] Lord Palmerston! [/ObSimpsons]

Utterly agreed.

For those interested in seeing how it's done, I recommend reading Do We Agree, a debate between G K Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw.

Lately, it seems as if everything we buy or are thinking about buying is made in China. I was talking about this in Costco with a fellow who was buying a stainless steel barbecue (also made in China) while I was buying a new TV stand (ditto), and he said there are US companies that sort of watch factories in China,

Amazing what can be done with Slave Labor, so while a few multinationals make money hand over fist, the US industrial base is being destroyed, jobs lost and communities destroyed.

Many who frequent a blog's posting become residents of sorts, familiar characters who approach or attack issues with recognizable eccentricity. Doesn't that draw ad hominem responses from time to time? Many, and I probably resemble this remark, respond to certain issues quite predictably. I don't think the ad hominem nature of many comments is the issue. It's like anything else if you want to be published and respected. The best comments contribute in some way. Advance the argument, provide valid or thoughtful counterpoints or assist in maintaining or establishing the civility of the discussion. I've witnessed commenters in the heat of distinguished battle turn on an interloper and re-establish ground rules. Relative to other sites that allow comments, this one is obvious in its attempt to maintain some decorum as it provides a forum to make sense out of current histories most difficult challenges. The last poster addition to the blog brought some baggage. Encourage them to adjust to your environment, not impose theirs on you. Personally, I think my management skills have improved in the short time that I've been 'encouraged' to civilize my debate techniques a bit. Thanks.

Which is more likely to persuade: invective, or calm rhetoric?

Another point of view on the motivation for so much ad hominem. A lot of political rhetoric is a lot like a lot of advertising -- its designed less to attract new customers and more to confirm existing patterns of thought. If that is your goal, then invective is much more effective. Why argue with your opponents when you can demonize them?

What makes this site enjoyable is that it is trying to avoid that, so bravo for your post.

I find the whole participant/non-participant distinction to be an interesting one, especially since we can assume that just about anyone could be out there lurking in the dark, waiting for the right momemnt to chime in with a comment or two.

Engaging in a little reductio ad absurdum, if by chance Saddam Hussein was granted access to the internet from his (hopefully) dank and rat-infested prison cell and thereupon decided to swing by ObWings and post a few comments, would we then be obliged to be courteous an polite to him?

In a somewhat less sill vein, I'm sure that some of the bigger and more popular blogs do have actual pols or celebs as lurkers or even participants. I don't frequent DKos or similar places on the right, so I can't be sure, but it certainly seems likely.

What if Ted Rall or Ann Coulter or someone similar did decide to drop by ObWings? What would we do then?

You know, avoiding unnecessary invective toward public figures, and generally speaking respectfully toward them, sounds like a wonderful personal goal, but I really hope that it never becomes a specific subject of discussion on this blog. If there's any degree at all of even social enforcement of a goal like that, let alone a change (which I do understand you aren't suggesting, thank goodness) in the posting rules I think it could easily lead to a great deal of unnecessary unpleasantness.

At the extremes, no one is going to expect people to stop directing invective toward, for example, Bin Laden . So we won't be talking with civility about everyone, just about those who aren't outside the pale. Once that distinction is made, who else is outside the pale? The Rev. Fred Phelps (is that his name -- the homophobe)? Ted Rall? I desperately don't want to ever read conversations like: "Hey, I thought we were trying to be civil about public figures?" "Not terrorists, and morally, Michael Moore is a terrorist." "No, he isn't, and if he is, then so's Rumsfeld."

So, excellent aspirational goal (being more civil); I think everyone who agrees with me should adopt it as a personal goal; I would be ever so much happier if no one here ever comments on anyone else's civility or lack thereof to public figures. I just think it can only lead to squabbling.

What if Ted Rall or Ann Coulter or someone similar did decide to drop by ObWings? What would we do then?

dunno 'bout rall, but i do think a pre-emptive ban of ann coulter is warranted.

What if Ted Rall or Ann Coulter or someone similar did decide to drop by ObWings?

a. May all the Internet Gods forbid. Just what we don't need: celebrity polemicists looking for more ego-boo.

b. We treat them like everyone else; i.e., no personal attacks, but no holds barred otherwise.

c. Actually, 'b' could be a lot of fun. AFAIK, Coulter's never had to deal with a sustained face-to-face deconstruction of her OTT bleatings.

Which is more likely to persuade: invective, or calm rhetoric?

I like to think my opinions have some basis in fact or at least coherent philosophical belief. ('All people are created equal' is too broad a statement for factual accuracy, but is still a better philosophical belief than the converse.) Rhetoric, by definition, seeks to persuade without facts, or against the facts. Persuade me with facts or with appeals to a better philosophical belief, not with soaring rhetoric.

Though, granted, soaring rhetoric is a beautiful thing to hear and read :)

What if Ted Rall or Ann Coulter or someone similar did decide to drop by ObWings?

For all we know maybe they already have, regardless their ideas should stand or fall on their own and they should be given a polite hearing.

I don't think the swear jar would last long or work on those for whom it is intended, but I like the idea in the previous thread about temporary bans. But only if you list those currently banned under the kitten in a Penalty Box. I recommend, however, the old school 2 for fighting, if only to return us to the glory days when fighting was done by defensemen instead of lawyers.

"... I'm starting to just skip over posts that contain any spleen at all."

Me too. My own. I've skipped writing lots of posts lately because of their splenetic nature. But, I have to say that one can nevertheless admire the success of spleen in our political life over the past 20 years ago, not to mention the obnoxious encouragement of spleen in the media, from wrestling to talk radio to reality T.V. It's been good business, and seems to get the votes.

I saw six minutes of the Trump show once, and my feeling is that if jugulars are to be gone for, it'd be funny if someone went across the table at his jugular, not to mention the two smug kapos on either side of him. Thing is, ratings would rise, and next thing we know, we've got an offshoot show called "Kill the C.E.O."

But enough already. On the other hand, I had a good buddy who had his physical spleen removed -- which contributed to his untimely death a few years later.

So I'll try to do better. But I might die in the attempt.

... I'm starting to just skip over posts that contain any spleen at all, and probably missing out on one or two decent points. It's a flaw, I know.

You might be missing a few decent points, but you're saving yourself a lot of time and aggravation.

Don't blame yourself for skipping the spleen and the mudslinging because guess what: the constant venters don't care what you think, they just care about what they think. You can't make the sourpusses shut up, but if the rest of us declined to take their bait, we'd limit their noxious influence.

Blog comments are like a conversation in the dark with your feet in molasses -- are there two or a thousand listening? Are they listening to me or the converation I was listening to before I spoke up? And is the person I was talking to still there, or will I be set upon by his friends?

I've had some very memorable conversations with collounsbury, even though they were all heated, vituperative and needlessly insulting. Not holding it up as any type of example, just that it's possible to tighten the civility rules too tightly.

they just care about what they think

In hindsight that seems obvious. Brilliant, nonetheless.

Not that I'm innocent of doing that, mind you. I've been at least as tedious as the most splenetic here, once upon a time. Maybe even now, for all I know.

Ack! End blockquote!

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