« Proselytizing from the Bench | Main | Infinity Past Orwell and Beyond »

May 26, 2005

Comments

Opening up marriage and military service to gay people is definitely more progressive....

I'll give the left this -- appropriating "progressive" was a good move. Meaningless in itself (any policy is progress toward something) but it sounds so friendly.

"..but it sounds so friendly"

It should, considering that opposition to gay marriage and gays serving in the military is founded on the belief that they might be too friendly.

Meaningless in itself (any policy is progress toward something) but it sounds so friendly.

You would think, but I still regularly encounter those who virtually spit it out, as if it were a poisonous word.

Meaningless in itself (any policy is progress toward something) but it sounds so friendly.

You would think, but I still regularly encounter those who virtually spit it out, as if it were a poisonous word.

God doesn't grade on a curve.

We shouldn't judge our morality relative to the morality of moral deficients such as NK and Iran. We are much, much better than that. We should judge our morality against the standards we have already set for ourselves and that we demand of others.

Pretty simple.

any policy is progress toward something

hooray for relativism!

....as if it were a poisonous word.

In this context, I agree that it is. Not the word per se, though.

In this context, I agree that it is.

Could you elaborate? What context specifically? And if it's poinsonous in some contexts but not others, isn't that just more relativism?

You said it, notyou. But for those of us who don't go in for the god talk, remember when your mother taught you to put yourself in the other person's shackles, I mean shoes.

The context in which "progress" and "the left's ideological preferences" are conflated, of course.

If this be relativism, then hang me with that rope!

I wish people would stop misusing the term "moral relativism" like this -- the current topic has nothing to do with relativism, it's just a question of whether it's fair to hold some entities to a higher standard than others.

Anyway, this AI flap is just round 132,893 of the same old dynamic -- criticism of America from the Left is reflexively seen as "America-bashing" by the Right, praise or defense of America from the Right is reflexively seen as "American arrogance" by the Left. Maybe someday we can get past the need to see the other side as either traitors or jingoists and simply agree to honor the good aspects of this country and work to amend the bad aspects.

Good call kenB

I agree with KenB: this line of criticism has nothing to do with moral relativism. (Which is: the view that there are moral truths, but that they are relative to something -- usually either the speaker, the agent whose conduct is being considered, or the culture of one of the two people just mentioned. Thus, the claim that female genital mutilation is right in certain African cultures, but wrong in ours, is relativist, if this claim does not just mean e.g. 'they think it's right, but we don't', but: 'both we and they are right, because the truth is relative to one's culture.' A silly view, imho, but one that has nothing to do with AI and its criticisms.)

Conflating one's own preferred outcome with "progress" is of course wrong, whoever does it. The difference is that in the case of gay marriage, which Edward brought up, there are actual reasons for thinking that this would be more just, and thus reasons for thinking that the term 'progress' is warranted.

"Now, Donny, you know you aren't supposed to be kicking sand."

"Sammy knocked down my tower."

"And Sammy wasn't supposed to do that, either. That doesn't mean that you can kick sand at anyone, particularly these other people who had nothing to do with what Sammy did."

"Sammy knocked down my tower. Georgie told me to kick the sand."

"Well, you shouldn't have listened to Georgie. It's not nice to kick sand and it's really not nice to kick sand at people who didn't do anything to you. If you keep kicking sand at people, no one will want to play with you any more."

...

The context in which "progress" and "the left's ideological preferences" are conflated, of course.

Because surely the laws of thermodynamics makes that impossible!

Surely?

I see the reaction from the right as a distraction. "Surely we cannot be the worst in the world, so since that is wrong, then we are not bad at all."

We have made serious errors in our attempts to root out terrorist organizations and in our separate attempt to bend Iraq to our will. These errors have cost us esteem in the eyes of many, particularly Arabs, other Moslems and Europeans. Quibbling about whether we are the worst or only fourth worst exemplifies our problem, it does not defend us or improve our standing in the world.

Quibbling about whether we are the worst or only fourth worst exemplifies our problem, it does not defend us or improve our standing in the world.

Precisely. One of the strategies consciously adopted in the "War on Terror" has been an abandonment of the rule of law, for whatever reason. Perceived expediency, attempting to terrorize the enemy back, etc.

North Korea and Iran do not present themselves as the epitome of the Enlightenment.

Which is: the view that there are moral truths, but that they are relative to something ...

I subscribe to a somewhat different form of relativism -- I don't believe it makes sense to speak of absolute moral "truths" at all, since there's no universally-acknowledged authority to appeal to; at the same time, there are certain moral norms that I'm perfectly willing to treat as binding for others, not because I think they're demonstrably "true", but simply because they are very important to me (and, perhaps secondarily, because if everyone followed them, I think the world would be "a better place", again according to my own judgment). Perhaps I can make cogent arguments for certain of them, but those arguments will necessarily depend on my interlocutor sharing with me some more fundamental assumptions that I can appeal to.

I suppose if one considers the statement "there are moral truths" to be exactly synonymous with "there are moral norms that I'm willing to hold the whole world to," then I do believe in that sort of "truth". But ISTM that justifying an act of coercion by appealing to "absolute truth" is simply an attempt to deflect responsibility for imposing one's own will and judgment on others.

Aside from the whole last - superpower - held - to - a - higher - standard thing, there's also the point that A.I.'s sole means of improving human rights is by publicizing abuses. As the US is a democracy, and Iran, NK, China, et al are not, there's a greater likelihood of positive action in response to this kind of publicity.

Still, it feeds a certain martyrdom complex that segments of the blogosphere enjoy reveling in ...

The withholding of criticism because it's unlikely to be fruitful seems to me to be a rather shaky argument, as well as a probably swapping of cause and effect.

The withholding of criticism because it's unlikely to be fruitful seems to me to be a rather shaky argument, as well as a probably swapping of cause and effect.

If that was directed at me, Slarti, then you've put the cart in front of the horse. Are you under the impression that the AI report withheld criticism of the bad guys?

Have to reinforce DPU's point, without suggesting I know who Slarti was directing his comment toward, the AI report spares no tryants their condemnation. The report points fingers across the globe. The US response to the report in some quarters strikes me as rather immature.

If that was directed at me, Slarti

It wasn't.

Are you under the impression that the AI report withheld criticism of the bad guys?

Not withheld, precisely, as much as held back. Mentions of the United States: more than 60. Mentions of China: less than ten. Mentions of Sudan: 18. Darfur had about 23 references.

Edward,

It seems to me that Amnesty's point was that as the world's remaining superpower, the US bears a bigger responsibility than North Korea or Iran to set an example.

Pressuring a superpower into setting an example is more important that actually concentrating on the world's worst human rights abuses occurring elsewhere? That's not what I thought Amnesty was all about.

"Pressuring a superpower into setting an example is more important that actually concentrating on the world's worst human rights abuses occurring elsewhere?"

In the long run, I'd argue yes. . on a sociological and psychological foundation. Public displays of good conduct are infinitely more effective at promoting good conduct than criticism and I'd argue even more effective than threats.

Public displays of good conduct are infinitely more effective at promoting good conduct than criticism and I'd argue even more effective than threats.

That's an interesting idea, but I'm not sufficiently mentally agile today to really figure out if I can agree.

In any case, from a completely pragmatic point-of-view, I think on the human rights front we're pretty well taken care of (the ACLU, for instance) and I'd always thought Amnesty should be more about shining a light on both repressive regimes and those who are bravely trying to change them. But I'm cynically guessing that doesn't keep the dollars flowing in as much as bashing Bush and/or the United States.

Pressuring a superpower into setting an example is more important that actually concentrating on the world's worst human rights abuses occurring elsewhere? That's not what I thought Amnesty was all about.

I'm seeing this across the blogosphwere and it's very confusing. AI DOES criticize North Korea, and Uzbekistan, and China, and Pakistan, etc. etc. etc. They criticize Europe and Africa and South America too.

Why should they ignore our abuses just because there are worse ones? Doesn't that give the NKs of the world a righteous indigation card? (We know the US abused prisoners in Bagram but AI doesn't mention that...therefore their criticism of us is meaningless.)

It truly confuses me that people think AI shouldn't criticize the US. What would the point be if they didn't when we deserve it?

Right-wing nihilism, anyone?

Might makes right...the most powerful one determines morality.

God Bless Power.

Edward,

It truly confuses me that people think AI shouldn't criticize the US. What would the point be if they didn't when we deserve it?

I don't think most people - and by that I mean most people who are casually disappointed by Amnesty, not the frothing indignancy brigade - don't have any problem with Amnesty criticizing the US. It's merely a matter of degree and should Slarti's figures on what countries are mentioned and how often, that would demonstrate a complete lack of perspective on the issues of global human rights.

Doesn't that give the NKs of the world a righteous indigation card?

The nearly 100%-airtight totalitarianism that NK inflicts upon it's population, with hundreds of thousands in slave gulags, and millions dying should have the effect of making the US's transgressions seem so completely insignificant in comparison as to not warranting frequent mentions in a report about global human rights.

I'm not saying the issues raised by AI aren't real - they most certainly are - but I have no reason to think that when evaluating the condition of human freedom and rights that the United States should be the preemininent villian.

I'm not saying the issues raised by AI aren't real - they most certainly are - but I have no reason to think that when evaluating the condition of human freedom and rights that the United States should be the preemininent villian.

With all due respect, Jonas, I'd say that this was indicitive of the martyrdom complex I mentioned earlier. Criticism does not bestow villany, not by a long shot. If the US is getting a lot of attention in this particular report, it's because:

The USA, as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power, sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide. When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity and audacity.
In the same way, I will have differing amounts and quality of commentary to my children if both the thirteen-year-old and the seven-year-old both draw a crayon mural on the walls of my living room.

Let's try it this way: the U.S. is the most powerful nation in the world, and has the most resources for persuading the rest of the world that human rights need protection, and that their violation in China or N. Korea or wherever needs to be opposed.

What we've done/are doing in Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, etc., is hamstringing our potential to act for good in the manner just described.

Publishing a complete account of Chinese abuses is not going to impress the Chinese one whit. They know what they're doing, they don't care, & they're going to keep doing it.

The problem is that those italicized words seem to apply to today's United States as well. AI is rather desperately trying to address that problem.

Maybe the EU will impose trade sanctions on us for our human rights abuses ....

Maybe the EU will impose trade sanctions on us for our human rights abuses ....

Maybe they will:

Abuses by officials and impunity

Torture and ill-treatment, often race-related, were reported across the region, including in Belgium, Greece, France and Spain. From east to west, states often failed to implement or respect rights that could provide a safeguard against abuses in police custody or pre-trial detention. Authorities in a number of states did not allow detainees access to a lawyer from the moment of arrest, or did not ensure an effective, properly resourced and independent system to investigate complaints. Failure to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations resulted in continued impunity for those responsible for torture and ill-treatment reported to be widespread in countries such as Albania, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. In Turkey, torture and ill-treatment remained a serious concern despite positive changes to detention regulations. Turkey and many other states lacked independent scrutiny mechanisms to investigate such patterns of abuse. Reports continued that police in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania used firearms in violation of international standards on excessive force, sometimes with fatal results. In many countries, conditions in prisons, as well as in detention centres for asylum-seekers and unauthorized migrants, were cruel
and degrading.

But I doubt it.

D-P-U,

Criticism does not bestow villany, not by a long shot.

You're quite right. However I do think an emphasis on American transgressions in a global human rights report does imply a degree of villification.

To be clear, my issue here would be precisely what the role of Amnesty is supposed to be. If it is, as many have suggested, to focus its criticism on the major superpower in order to pressure it to serve as an example to other nations, so be it, a noble cause to be sure. But then I have to ask who it will be that primarily focuses on the plight of those who suffer under the most oppressive regimes on the planet? Not Amnesty, apparently- and that's what I thought they were about.

And it's that impression of Amnesty (that they focus on the worst human-rights abuses in the world) that makes people think their criticism of the U.S. is villification.

To be clear, my issue here would be precisely what the role of Amnesty is supposed to be. If it is, as many have suggested, to focus its criticism on the major superpower in order to pressure it to serve as an example to other nations, so be it, a noble cause to be sure. But then I have to ask who it will be that primarily focuses on the plight of those who suffer under the most oppressive regimes on the planet? Not Amnesty, apparently- and that's what I thought they were about.

Have you read the report?

From the Forword:

Sixty years ago, out of the ashes of the Second World War, a new world order came into being, putting respect for human rights alongside peace, security and development as the primary objectives of the UN. Today, the UN appears unable and unwilling to hold its member states to account.

In the latest incident of paralysis, the UN Security Council has failed to muster the will to take effective action on Darfur. In this case it was held hostage to China's oil interests and Russia's trade in arms. The outcome is that poorly equipped African Union monitors stand by helplessly and bear witness to war crimes and crimes against humanity. It remains to be seen whether the UN Security Council will act on the recommendation of the International Commission of Inquiry to refer Darfur to the International Criminal Court.

The UN Commission on Human Rights has become a forum for horse-trading on human rights. Last year, the Commission dropped Iraq from scrutiny, could not agree on action on Chechnya, Nepal or Zimbabwe, and was silent on Guantánamo Bay.

Apparently, I don't come from the world described in many of these comments. If my work is critiqued, my first responses is not "Hey! Other people are worse!" Usually, my first reactions is a check: What credibility does my evaluator have? And really, unless that person is a complete incompetent or raging lunatic, my next reaction is: What can I learn and how can I improve?

I strive to meet my own high standards. For the most part, I don't slack off because the other person is doing a lousy job and I can get away with less. And when I do? (because we all have our days) It's right that someone call me on it. I'm glad they call me on it.

I'm not alone. I read enough thoughtful commentary here to know that.

Let's stop pretending that for many of the AI protesters, the issue is anything but defending their turf. Any criticism of this administration and its execution of this war, in particular, is seen as potential leak in the ship which must be plugged at all costs. It's not about torture, or ethics. It's about staying in power and making sure that any criticism that might threaten that is downplayed.

And we can also stop pretending that some of the trumpeting of the AI report isn't about creating big gaping holes in the hull.

This shouldn't be about either of those things (she says, as a flock of pigs flies by).

However I do think an emphasis on American transgressions in a global human rights report does imply a degree of villification.

The emphasis is our doing, not AI's. We are focussing on the US part of that report. The report is quite exhaustive and in no way emphasizes the US other than perhaps by the increase in mentions due to our actions in the WOT.

Just as a point of terminology:

I think that the comment on Belmont Club is using "moral relativism" to make the complaint that Jean Kirkpatrick et co. used to make with the phrase "moral equivalence".

Whether there is any justifiable point made by decrying "moral equivalence", it is probably clearer and cleaner to use that term in this context, rather than "moral relativism".

That's helpful Tad...thanks (and thanks for emailed musical as well...been busy, but loved it).

Many of us read about Saddam Hussein's human rights violations through AI sources. As a mater of fact, many right-wingers saw AI reports as leftwing vehicles to go after American allies, in the war against Communism.

AI seems to be more concerned with actual human rights being violated, than with the political and tribal sensibilities of a dominate class of American citizens.

D-P-U,

Have you read the report?

No, I'm sorry to say I haven't yet.

Edward,

The emphasis is our doing, not AI's. We are focussing on the US part of that report. The report is quite exhaustive and in no way emphasizes the US other than perhaps by the increase in mentions due to our actions in the WOT.

Slarti seems to believe that the emphasis is objectively on the U.S. based on the number of citations. I'd love to watch you two argue this so I can make a more informed conclusion ;-)

I'm saddened, but not surprised, that the conservative response to the AI report is to bash AI, rather than take a moment to think "Jesus H., we've got some Augean Stables of our own to clean up."

The conservative response to the AI report reminds me of how conservatives didn't "discover" Taliban maltreatment of women until after 9/11 - and then acted as if liberals hadn't done anything about it. One conservative commentator actually came right out and said liberals and feminists had been silent about the Taliban. His claim managed to ignore not only numerous stories on the subject (in Ms magazine and other liberal/feminist publications), and years of fruitless lobbying in Congress, but also the efforts of international rights organizations, which had set up secret schools for women and book smuggling operations.

AI has been an often lonely voice on the forefront of alerting the world to violations of human rights. It has never played favorites; it cataloged abuses in (for example) China and the Soviet bloc nations just as vehemently as it cataloged abuses by US allies.

I also note that conservatives keep redefining standards of human rights downward, to the point where they would have us judge ourselves, not by our own ideals and values, but by comparison to the worst of the worst.

When security sweeps in this country imprisoned thousands of men without counsel, charges, or evidence, conservatives said, "The Bill of Rights only applies to US citizens!"

When it turned out that US citizens were among those thousands, conservatives said," The Bill of Rights doesn't apply to terrorists!"

When it turned out that most of the prisoners held at Gitmo aren't terrorists, conservatives said," Well, they were in Afghanistan; that makes them terrorists!"

Now - after revelations of torture and murder at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and Afghanistan prisons - conservatives are reduced to saying things like, "At least we're not Saddam Hussein!" and "At least we don't boil people alive!"

I can't think of any moral, ethical, or philosophical justification for defining human rights standards downward. I can't imagine why conservatives are so willing to violate basic American values, when conservatives keep insisting they're the true protectors of American values.

It can't be because 9/11 frightened them witless. Conservatives like to say they're stronger and braver than liberals. Liberals have by and large refused to let 9/11 be an excuse for jettisoning the Bill of Rights; surely, the stronger and braver conservatives can't be more easily spooked than liberals.

It can't be because the US ability to suspend habeus corpus, even for its citizens; to torture and murder prisoners; or that using collective punishment and threats against prisoners' families has made the world a better place or more respectful of American might.

Perhaps one of our conservative posters can explain the benefits of American human rights violations, and why we're better off accepting a standard of treatment that isn't any loftier than "Someone else is even worse than we are."

Good job, CaseyL, of showing how to challenge ideas without engaging in personal attack. Very well said, too, of course.

I'll give the left this -- appropriating "progressive" was a good move. Meaningless in itself (any policy is progress toward something) but it sounds so friendly.

Seeking to redefine the laws contravening torture is progress towards what? The Dark Ages? The Iron Maiden? The Rack? Policies can be regressive as well.

And, besides, people who call themselves "progressives," and appropriate the name to form parties with such a deceptive word, are pretty clever. But, then, they were into meaningless names, then; particularly the head of the Party -- the leftist!

Funny how the folks who think "moral relativism" is a bad word almost universally engage in it themselves. Unless, of course, they think that a soldier killing someone on the battlefield is just as wrong as a psychopath murdering someone in her home. Either context matters, in which case you're a moral relativist, or it doesn't, in which case you're a nutjob. Conservatives seem to find a happy medium, though: they're never in the wrong. How convenient.

have to second Gary there, CaseyL...brilliant comment!

"Either context matters, in which case you're a moral relativist...."

Y'know, that doesn't follow logically at all. You can be any number of sorts of moral absolutist, and still make allowances for context within your sphere of absolutism. Presumably examples aren't needed to demonstrate the point.

Praise from Gary and Edward is praise indeed.

Thanks, guys :)

I'm saddened, but not surprised, that the conservative response to the AI report is to bash AI, rather than take a moment to think "Jesus H., we've got some Augean Stables of our own to clean up."

Someone hasn't been paying attention; the notion that we have some housecleaning to do is not going to go away anytime soon.

I also note that conservatives keep redefining standards of human rights downward, to the point where they would have us judge ourselves, not by our own ideals and values, but by comparison to the worst of the worst.

Got any examples of this? Look, my point is never that we shouldn't be judged...or, more properly, evaluated. My point is that when the PRC, for crying out loud, gets less than half as many dings as we do, there's something wrong with the evaluation process.

Someone hasn't been paying attention; the notion that we have some housecleaning to do is not going to go away anytime soon.

No, but it doesn't appear to be gaining all that much traction either. If "housecleaning" is reduced to "ignoring abuses until we're forced to acknowledge them, then punishing grunts and calling journalists traitors", it's gonna be a sad f***ing country we live in, to be sure.

My point is that when the PRC, for crying out loud, gets less than half as many dings as we do, there's something wrong with the evaluation process.

For those who've read the report, is the raw number of citations representative of AI's evaluations? I assume it is, but I'd like that confirmed before going further.

PS: I agree, excellent post CaseyL.

F'rex, are there a significant number of conservatives (or even Republicans) calling for Larry di Rita to be fired?

Money quote:

Yeah, and they [allegations of religious abuse] were also remarkably contrary to the way that we manage this particular issue, the religious -- the detainees' religious faith, and therefore were not credible. I mean, not credible means you can't believe it. "Credible" -- "credo" is the word in Latin -- it's belief, and we don't believe that they're true.

Slarti wrote: My point is that when the PRC, for crying out loud, gets less than half as many dings as we do, there's something wrong with the evaluation process.

This is the AI report on China.

This is the AI report on the US.

The report on the US is a little longer (3100 words versus 2500 for China).

The topics for China are: Human rights defenders; Violations in the context of economic reform; Violence against women; Political activists and Internet users; Repression of spiritual and religious groups; Death penalty; Torture, arbitrary detention and unfair trials; North Korean asylum-seekers; Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR); Tibet Autonomous Region and other ethnic Tibetan areas; Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

The topics for the US are: International Criminal Court; Guantánamo Bay; Detentions in Afghanistan and Iraq; Detentions in undisclosed locations; Military commissions; Torture and ill-treatment of detainees outside the USA; Detentions of ‘enemy combatants’ in the USA; prisoners of conscience; Refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers; Ill-treatment and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials; Death penalty.

That's 11 separate topics for the US, 10 for China, so I don't know where Slarti got his figure of "twice as many dings" from.

That's 11 separate topics for the US, 10 for China, so I don't know where Slarti got his figure of "twice as many dings" from.

Presumably he's using the full report, not merely the regional ones, where the US will get severely dinged for its conduct in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I will say, however, that the China report is substantially less flattering than the US one, length and number of topics notwithstanding. Yowza.

Interesting. It appears they've completely restructured their web page since yesterday. What I was looking at, and what seems to be missing now, was, apparently, a collection of the overviews of the world in general and the various regions, and not the specific reports of the individual countries. We got big mention overall, which is what I was attempting to point out. If I'd only saved a link...

But now I have to take it all back. And I now have a great deal more reading to do. I am a little surprised that kidnapping and selling of women in China got no specific mention, but you can't cover everything, and maybe China's taken steps to put a stop to that over the last couple of years.

Anyway, the assertion that China got much less attention in the report than the US is now retracted.

Anarch: Presumably he's using the full report, not merely the regional ones, where the US will get severely dinged for its conduct in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's a fair point, though I would assume that the topic headings in the summary would reflect the content of the full report. But I hadn't thought to look up Afghanistan and Iraq, and of course there are entries there for Abuses by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq: Detention without charge or trial; Torture and ill-treatment by US-led forces; Killings of civilians; Inadequate investigations by UK and US governments; and Violence against women (in which US-led forces are included in the list of culprits).

So altogether that's 17 topics for the US, 10 for China, assuming that this is all.

I'd be interested to know, since Slarti feels there are too many topics for the US, what AI should have omitted from their report on the US, Iraq, and Afghanistan in order to even things up.

Slarti: Anyway, the assertion that China got much less attention in the report than the US is now retracted.

Thank you, Slarti: and please ignore the ding at you in my last comment. I apologise for it: I ought to have hit Preview and checked for any further comments by you.

Slarti: Interesting. It appears they've completely restructured their web page since yesterday. What I was looking at, and what seems to be missing now, was, apparently, a collection of the overviews of the world in general and the various regions, and not the specific reports of the individual countries.

They still have the regional reports down the side of the front page, although I don't see the World In General report anywhere. Part of the problem with reference-counting, as I'm quickly discovering, is that it seems as if each of the individual country reports, as well as the regional reports, were written independently of one another. As a result, the US gets dinged multiple times for the same offense: Bagram, for example, gets a mention in the US country report, the Middle East country report and the Afghanistan country report (and that's just what I've seen in the last five minutes). If you find the World In General report, though, I'd be happy to read it.

And I now have a great deal more reading to do. I am a little surprised that kidnapping and selling of women in China got no specific mention, but you can't cover everything, and maybe China's taken steps to put a stop to that over the last couple of years.

I hate to say it, but that never struck me as a big enough problem -- relative to China's manifold other abuses -- to merit (much) reporting in the first place.

Jes: I'd be interested to know, since Slarti feels there are too many topics for the US, what AI should have omitted from their report on the US, Iraq, and Afghanistan in order to even things up.

First, he's retracted it. As have you now (yay preview!). Hooray!

Second, if I had to guess, it would be that China should have more abuses documented, not that the US should have less. That's certainly my view, anyway.

Third, one thing that reference-counting doesn't get you is the severity of the language used in the reference. The China report is substantially harsher than the US report; nevertheless, speaking for myself here, I'd prefer it was harsher yet. If I ever get enough money, I'll donate a thesaurus to AI so they can spend a good ten extra paragraphs coming up with synonyms for "tyrannical" and "abusive".

what AI should have omitted from their report on the US, Iraq, and Afghanistan in order to even things up

No, no, no. If my argument had ever been that we need to "even things up", as you put it, I'd be deserving of...well, as much contempt as you've heaped upon me in other threads. Certainly we've had a much more in the way of overseas issues for AI to be concerned about, and I fully expect to see them make note. What I didn't expect to see was China's domestic affairs getting highly cursory treatment, and the reason I wasn't seeing that is I wasn't looking in the right place. Hence, the retraction.

Yay for preview...except, of course, when I forget to use it.

Amarch: Second, if I had to guess, it would be that China should have more abuses documented, not that the US should have less. That's certainly my view, anyway.

Well, quite. I was going then to point out that one reason why (I believe) all the US's human rights abuses are documented is because the US is massively more transparent in its operation than is China - and that's a good thing. An intelligent reader would see that. (I was also going to suggest that evaluating reports by number of topics wasn't the best method of evaluation - but since Slarti wasn't doing that, I won't get to do it. At least not until some right-winger decidedly less intelligent than Slarti tries that tactic. As you say, the severity of the language used against China is far higher than that used against the US, and again, a reader as smart as Slarti would see that.)

Slarti: What I didn't expect to see was China's domestic affairs getting highly cursory treatment, and the reason I wasn't seeing that is I wasn't looking in the right place.

Yes, I get that now - and again I'm sorry for not hitting Preview first and seeing you'd retracted before I dinged you. (Am clicking Preview now, which is how I know.)

I was going then to point out that one reason why (I believe) all the US's human rights abuses are documented is because the US is massively more transparent in its operation than is China - and that's a good thing.

This is an excellent point and one I always forget to mention. It'd be worth bringing this up every time AI (or similar) reports get mentioned.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad