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March 30, 2011

Comments

I'm really puzzled about why this topic resulted in a thread with so much acrimony.

The case of Ted Kaczynski's brother is, I suppose, more interesting. This is a guy who, as far as I know, wasn't involved in any sort of criminal behavior himself, and given the situation, it was unlikely he'd be able to personally stop his brother from blowing people up (I don't know if he even knew where Ted was).

But he could tell the FBI that the guy who wrote the manifesto sounded like his brother, and that probably saved at least several strangers' lives. Yet apparently that struck some people as an unconscionable act of familial treason as well.

...Huh! Apparently David Kaczynski actually hired a private investigator to seek out Ted, in part to manage the FBI's eventual contact with him to keep it from turning into a Ruby Ridge-style bloodbath. That's going the extra mile. He might have saved Ted Kaczynski's life.

Turb, you claimed that my theory re: the moral high ground was good, except for the fact that you already had it. My point was merely that already possessing the moral high ground, as you claimed to, did not render you immune. I was not trying to pose a testable Karl-popper style claim. Just meant to say that your defense did not preclude my claim, and that seemed to be your implication.

Regarding tone policing:

I'm not certain what you mean by this. Like I said, I am not an arbiter. I have no coercive power. If you mean a weaker form of tone policing, as in, why are we pestering you with this rather than leaving you alone, it's because your position is more interesting to me, because I think (if I may flatter myself) it's one I often occupy.

W/r/t to the DaveC and Gary exchange, I am not able to pass judgment on it without having seen it. I am suspicious of the "I'm just telling it how it is" defense because there is so often elaboration designed to infuriate your opponent that nevertheless passes a strict test of what is permissible. I don't know Gary did that; if he was being flatly factual, then it sounds unobjectionable. Do you feel that you've behaved unimpeachably the entire time? I think that what hsh quotes of you in his 1:23 post is what constitutes the problem. As I said, I thought that your posts before that were fine.

I have said that you were within the rules (in my opinion). I conceded that LJ and Doctor Science were in breach of the rules. I don't know what kind of denunciations will make you willing to consider my criticism.

I am asking you to reconsider the tone you use because it results in bogged-down discussions like this. I also ask people like LJ and Dr. Science and Carleton Wu, who find themselves rubbed the wrong way by your prose style, to refrain from being antagonistic themselves (even if in rule-permissible language, as in Carleton Wu's case), and certainly from being openly insulting.

I'm sorry to butt in, I just like to make sense of things and I thought I could contribute to the metadiscussion about how to have an appropriate discussion. Carleton, I thought you were definitely uncivil. It's really hard to not sound like a schoolmarm or a self-righteous oaf saying this sort of thing, but I really do mean this: let's try to make sure that what we say adds value to the discussion. If what you say is intended to make someone else on the blog feel badly, even if it can be defended as a legitimate contribution, it might be a good idea to phrase it more carefully than you otherwise would. There are countless different ways that you could've rebuked Turb and I think those with more detail would've been more helpful.


I decided to turn an adjective into a noun and used what would be the french fem. form if there was such a noun in french. I like the word that way. Everyone will be using it as a noun in twenty years. It will be in all the dictionaries....

The noun denotes not just an effeminate nature but also, Lacking strength or vitality; feeble, powerless, impotent; decadent, self-indulgent...which is how I also see Calabrese Jr. and snitches in general.

I mean, do actually write stuff like, "...it was clear to me, listening to Frank Jr. and reading the excerpt from his book, that Frank Sr. was at least emotionally abusive to his children..." with a straight face?

How could you possibly overlook the fact that Jr is a hardened criminal himself? That he stole from his father? That he is a racketeer like his old man. That he has now written - and is most likely profitting from - a book that tells his smug little story?

You seem, to me, with your spin, to be justifying and supporting snitching without qualification. What you are saying here is that to kill other people who have chosen a life of crime and evil is bad, but to chose a life of crime and at least be guilty of murder via conspiracy/association and then weasel your way into book deals and out of your father's control by cutting backroom deals and betraying said father is just fine.

Kaczynski' is different than Calabrese.

Ted was a psycho loner that did not act as a brother in any way shape or form to David. David had not in any way bought into Ted's life style. David, therefore was not betraying his brother. David did the right thing and he expressed his love for his brother by doing everything in his power to ensure that the law didn't kill him. That is loyalty to both family and country.

Jr Calabrese was a voluntary and benefitting partner/participant in his father's criminal - and family - business. he led his father to believe that he was still "in" and used that deception to betray his father to the law and personally materially benefit from that betrayel. That is a sneaky rat.

I remember a period, oh, it must have been back in the nineties when there as a effort in various localities to get school children to rat out their parents for drug use in the home. There was one high profile case of a kid who reported the parents for smoking pot. In my view the school program that encouraged this behavior was deeply stupid. I feel that way, of course, because I do not see pot smokig as a particlualrly bad thig. I believe the school programs that ecouraged this type of sitching were severely criticized.

On the other hand schools routinely teach kids that they should tell if they are being sexually or physically abused. I do think that most people support this.

I acquaintance of mine became aware that her brother had embezzled a great deal of money from his employer. She did not tell on her brother because she knew he'd get caught by the employer. (He was).

So I think there are a couple of axises (axi?) to consider: the degree of badness of the behavior, the liklihood of the malefactor getting caught without the tattling of a relative, and the risk of more victims.

Snitches are antithetical an honor bound character culture.

Such cultures are, in their own way, rather lawless. It's by creating a law-bound culture that we have an assurance that anyone outside our immediate clan can be trusted.

In a law-bound culture, I can go walking at night and be safe, knowing that any malefactors will be given up to the authorities. In a so-called "an honor bound character culture," I'm vulnerable to whomever decides I'm a target, and that person will be protected by those he regards as his "family."

Nice devil's advocate attempt, though.

I'm really puzzled about why this topic resulted in a thread with so much acrimony.

Because Turb decided to pick a fight.

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

Well, I dont mean it in the sense of attacking his argument by attacking him personally. I think that Turb is a troll, in the sense that he doesn't really try to add to the conversation; he disrupts the conversation for his own purposes.

Id been holding back saying that for a while- after all, there are a lot of people here with different styles and opinions and not all of them are going to jive with me. But I've seen thread after thread get this treatment- if he could easily be ignored like a viagra ad that'd be one thing, but he tends to take over the thread with insults and claims of victimhood.

I mean, I *rarely* get into discussions with Gary F. But he has tons to offer and seems like a genuinely nice guy. He adds a great deal more to ObWi than I do. So it's not that I want to see people gone who I don't interact with.
And I used to get into ugly spats with Charles Bird, but again Charles was really actively participating in threads in the sense of moving conversations forward. He's one of the few people I've seen on here for an extended period that I *wouldnt* want to have a beer with, but he was genuinely participating in a relatively hostile forum and I appreciate that.
And I don't read every thread, or even most of them these days. So maybe Turb is offering a lot on threads that I havent seen. But that doesn't change my assessment: I havent seen a thread improved by his participation, nor have I seen what looks like a good-faith effort to keep the tone from degenerating whenever he's involved.

Julian, I hope that addresses your concern as well- Im not trying to make Turb feel bad. Im hoping that this leads to either him recognizing his behavior and how it needs to change, or the kitty taking a more serious look at his behavior going forward.

There are countless different ways that you could've rebuked Turb and I think those with more detail would've been more helpful.

I, on the other hand, doubt that any style of rebuke would've been useful. Ive been an @sshole on ObWi before and doubtless will again. And when someone points that out Ill sheepishly admit it (sometimes I even do this myself nowadays). And I do try to add to the conversations.
But I have not ever seen Turb admit to anything like a tone error- always he is the victim of double-standards and abuse by others. That this happens to him over and over again is just a sign that the world is arrayed against him somehow, not a sign that he might have a bad habit that ought to be looked at.

wonkie, agreed, but you left out the most important axis; the degree to which the rat was a participant and benefactor of the crimes to which he wishes to see someone else punished and the degree to which he avoids accepting responsibility himself.

In the situation where your acquantance's brother stole money, what if the sister had been in on the theft as well, but then ratted out the brother? What if it wasn't an isolated incident, but that they had run a theft ring together for years? And she snitched on her brother, but avoided mentioning her own involvement? Or did mention it, but got leniency because she snitched while the brother got the full sentence?

I think most people would view the sister negatively in those scenarious.

So I think there are a couple of axises (axi?) to consider: the degree of badness of the behavior, the liklihood of the malefactor getting caught without the tattling of a relative, and the risk of more victims.

And, as avedis ungracefully pointed out, the motives of the informant: all the way from "being threatened" to "informing to gain personal advantage".

btw wonkie, I see you got your "n" back, congrats. What was your solution?

I think most people would view the sister negatively in those scenarious.

Except that the final outcome -- people no longer stealing money -- is a positive one. The reason people would be upset is not out of any personal regard for family bonds but because they wanted the sister to spend more time in jail, but will simply settle for money no longer being stolen, even if the sister wasn't punished as heavily we might have preferred.

In an "honor bound character culture," the sister or friends of the brother would have been punished for aiding the authorities in stopping the theft whether they were involved in it or not-- in part because the victim of the theft, not being part of the "clan", is considered "fair game."

"In a law-bound culture, I can go walking at night and be safe, knowing that any malefactors will be given up to the authorities."

Really? I know a lot of places right here in the good old USA that I would dare you to go walking around at night. I know of honor based societies where you could walk around at night becuase the deizens have no honor based reason to harm you.

Now you will probably tell me that any society where you can't walk around at night is not a law bound society; a no true scottsman type thing.

I guess the only law bound US societies are suburban housing tracts.

But yeah, after your dead there is some probability that the law might catch those malefactors; or not.

I know a lot of places right here in the good old USA that I would dare you to go walking around at night.

Those are the places where they sell the "stop snitchin'" tshirts. That's your "honor bound character culture" for you.

What you don't realize is that even in your "honor bound character culture," what you have is carte blanche for anyone "protected" to target anyone outside the clan-- but it doesn't end there-- because someone who feels free to attack "them" will eventually turn on "you."

"Except that the final outcome -- people no longer stealing money -- is a positive one. The reason people would be upset is not out of any personal regard for family bonds but because they wanted the sister to spend more time in jail..."

Yes, they will be happy that the theft has stopped, but I still think they will view the sister negatively for other reasons. The sister has displayed treacherous qualities beyond the thefts. She has shown that she has no loyalty to anyone; not even her partners and family and that strikes deep for most people.

The utter untrustworthyness of the sister in our scenario totally outweighs any positive contributions to society that may have resulted from her going to the authorities in the minds of many.

I think that many tattle tales, whistel blowers, snitches, etc make this miscalculation. In their minds they think they will come out smelling like a rose because some greater good was achieved. However, observers often tend to evaluate them instead on a personal level and on that level they are found to be wanting in character.

Trust is a rare commodity in this world. People will weigh the trust factor more heavily than the crime revealed depending on the crime. Murder of other criminals, drug dealing, even bank robbery are often viewed as less important than trust. Some crimes like child molestation and random terrorism are weighed more heavily than trust.

Yes, but Tyro, in your law based society, the same things happens. It's just a matter of method. One societal type uses a gun or knife and the other uses lawyers, the justice system, both closed country club door and public media character assassinations, lies and inuendo and, of course, warships and planes.

So your point is ultimately moot. You're putting lipstick on the pig and calling it a lady.

Trust is a rare commodity in this world. People will weigh the trust factor more heavily than the crime revealed depending on the crime. Murder of other criminals, drug dealing, even bank robbery are often viewed as less important than trust

The thing is, though, that the circle of trust in your "honor bound character society" is much more limited than in the law-based society: there is no ability to transact business with anyone outside your immediate relatives or other clan members, because you know that you will be fair game to be cheated and stolen from, and the malefactor involved will be protected by his own clan, leaving you with no recourse. This is one of the reasons that the economies of those societies that you valorize are much more primitive-- because you have very limited ability to trust anyone.

Julian and hairshirthedonist, I trust that Carelton's "tone", both here and in, well, basically all his comments, will not be policed, amirite?

I share my thoughts as I see fit and when I have the time, Turb, but since you brought it up, I'd say Carleton's tone was out of line. I was also surprised to read that, since I usually find your comments to be worthwhile, despite today's kerfuffle.

But I don't recall the bile you wrote of coming from Carleton. I'd say what I saw from you today was a puzzling "much ado about nothing" sort of thing. Carleton can nail people, but my memory is that it's much ado about something, thus not so bile-like, IMO.

Anyway, I'm going to bed. Night all.

Tyro, have to disagree. The mafia developed a strong internal economy that lasted decades. Drug dealers have flourishing cartels. Business is business. Money is sobering and leads to rational capitalist methods. Again, in your "law based societies" all sorts of screwing of business partners happens. Monopolies develop. Regulations are removed through backroom lobbying and favor trading. Hundreds of billions are taken from tax paying citizens to be funneled into the coffers of the big banks and other conglomerates; all approved by the law makers. Again, this is done with lawyers instead of guns, but the end result is the same.

"Law based society"? Come on, who do you think you're talking to here?

There is no "law based society". It's a mirage designed for suckers to buy into for the material benefit of those controlling the image and the medium.

Tyro, Your problem in comprehension is a common one. You fear physical violence and are willing to trade all sorts of freedom to avoid it. Understandable.

But then you want to convince yourself that you are superior because you are physically safe.

Therefore, you have no problem with mega banks and the military industrial complex wrecking the economy, stealing your tax dollars and leaving you and your neighbors high and dry.

But you do have a problem with roaming gangs of thugs armed with guns.

The former you call "law based" and the latter you call "honor based" and "primitive".

But you do have a problem with roaming gangs of thugs armed with guns.... you call "honor based" and "primitive".

Actually, you are the one who calls those violent societies without trust "honor based"-- I was simply the one who called you on it.

W/r/t to the DaveC and Gary exchange, I am not able to pass judgment on it without having seen it.

Now you've seen it.

Do you feel that you've behaved unimpeachably the entire time? I think that what hsh quotes of you in his 1:23 post is what constitutes the problem.

No. I've never met a person in my life who I thought behaved unimpeachably, so that doesn't overmuch concern me.


But I have not ever seen Turb admit to anything like a tone error-always he is the victim of double-standards and abuse by others.

Ah, so this never happened then. I mean, it could not have -- I'm always the victim. Even when I explicitly say that I'm not a victim.

I do not understand what bizarre pathology compels you to fabricate such a complex and contradictory inner life for me, but in the words of Dr Science, stop acting like an asshole Carleton.


But I don't recall the bile you wrote of coming from Carleton. I'd say what I saw from you today was a puzzling "much ado about nothing" sort of thing. Carleton can nail people, but my memory is that it's much ado about something, thus not so bile-like, IMO.

I take it you missed out on the recent Libya thread where jrudkis noted some concern about a peripheral issue and Carleton proceeded to dominate the entire thread obsessing over it, all the while demonstrating, let's say a certain "tone". At the time, no one complained about his "tone" or his fixation on a minor point. Now, it is certainly possible that Eric Martin, Jacob Davies, jrudkis, McTex and myself were all wrong together and at the same time while Wu was correct, but that seems...a bit unlikely. The five of us as a rule tend not to agree about much. And with respect, Carleton often employs bile when nailing conervatives after he grows a bit weary of them. You may not notice it because they're not LJ, but the bile is still there.

But I have not ever seen Turb admit to anything like a tone error-always he is the victim of double-standards and abuse by others.

Ah, so this never happened then. I mean, it could not have

So when I said I hadnt seen it & went out of my way to point out that I dont read every thread on here- which part of that did you not get?

I do not understand what bizarre pathology compels you to fabricate such a complex and contradictory inner life for me

There is nothing particularly complex about trolling, or the motives for it. Don't flatter yourself.

I take it you missed out on the recent Libya thread ....At the time, no one complained about his "tone" or his fixation on a minor point.

When no one else is noticing things that seem obvious to you- my bile, lj's vacuousness, etc, then you might want to consider that you're consistently misreading things (rather than: you're consistently seeing true things that no one else can see). Just as how you're constantly getting into spats here, but they're never your fault- unless we're all picking on you because of your name, there might be another reason why that keeps occurring?
I mean, on that thread, I was arguing with Eric- yet Eric managed to not notice that Im consumed with bile? I was not agreeing with Jacob, and he also managed to miss this obvious fact? Im just insufferable to mcTex, and he doesn't seem to hold anything against me?

But since you asked- did I jack the Libya thread? Yeah, sort of. I took it off on a tangent. Maybe that was bad of me. Did I try to engage in reasonable discussion? Yes, I think I did. In the end, I did get pretty snarky with jrudkis, but as hsh(?) pointed out, I did that bc he make an extravant claim and then refused to even acknowledge it or give specifics about it. I snarked some at Eric too, but IMO mostly constructively.
Could I have had better tone? Sure. Was I trying to argue actual points and move the discussion forward? I think undisputably yes.

I compare that with what you've done on this thread- if you did want to have a real discussion with lj, you went about it completely & obviously wrong. Starting with snide comments generally ends badly, and when things went bad you gleefully threw yourself into it rather than trying to get things on the right track. And, again, I've seen that over and over from you- a nominal attempt at conversation with more snide than content, and a quick rush down the slippery slope to trading invective rather than having a discussion.

Now, it is certainly possible that Eric Martin, Jacob Davies, jrudkis, McTex and myself were all wrong together and at the same time while Wu was correct, but that seems...a bit unlikely

Really? It's not likely that 5 people on this blog think something and are wrong? And speaking of misperceptions, I dont think either Eric or Jacob came out strongly for the thesis that the EU couldnt do a NFZ. As for McTex, quoth the Texan "Well, you are positing a massive effort by NATO and asking, if NATO does all of this, can they be militarily defeated? If that's the question, I turn over my king. No, Libya cannot defeat NATO under any set of circumstances imaginable."
So, now it's you and jrudkis. Are you going to stick with the thesis that you and jrudkis together cannot be wrong?

http://www.singingbone.net/>A word to the wise, h/t russell.

Seriously, it's time.

So when I said I hadnt seen it & went out of my way to point out that I dont read every thread on here- which part of that did you not get?

Oh I got it all right. Rest assured, your weasel words did not go unnoticed. But I also noticed that your statement "always he is the victim of double-standards and abuse by others" is completely wrong.

Starting with snide comments generally ends badly

I can't believe how snide I was in this comment or this one. Which part of that do you think was the snidest? Was it the part where I suggested that I might be wrong and then asked for LJ's help?

Just as how you're constantly getting into spats here, but they're never your fault

It is really odd how you keep ignoring reality. I've screwed up many times in the past. And I've apologized many times. I just gave you a link to one such case. And yet you still insist that this never happens. I don't know what pathology makes you so resistant to evidence, but I don't think that it is worth my time. The pig enjoys it after all. Have a good night Carleton.

"What if it wasn't an isolated incident, but that they had run a theft ring together for years?"

sin. the fall. forgiveNESS. REDEMPTION.
Halleluja! The sinner shall be SAVED!

One of the oldest stories in THE BOOK. You might have missed it.

Oh I got it all right. Rest assured, your weasel words did not go unnoticed.

Yes, when I explain that I can only comment on what I've seen for myself, those are weasel words. Weasels being known, apparently, for scrupulously trying not to overstate their case.

But I also noticed that your statement "always he is the victim of double-standards and abuse by others" is completely wrong.

Not at all. Hard to notice something that's not true, but you've been quite good at it. The very example you cite to disprove this has you claiming that you weren't trying to start a fight, you were trying to do the guy a favor! And, for some reason, he reacted to your kind favor by getting in some kind of snit!
Naturally, you question various peoples' intelligence, grasp of reality, etc.
This is the thread you nominate to show how reasonable you are? Heck, I think Ive seen you do better, and if you hadnt noticed Im not exactly your biggest fan.

Starting with snide comments generally ends badly

I can't believe how snide I was in this comment or this one. Which part of that do you think was the snidest? Was it the part where I suggested that I might be wrong and then asked for LJ's help?

Yeah, actually that is snide. Tons of snide.
You start by accusing lj of not advancing the discussion. Then calling his comment disrespectful of both ancient Greek culture and our own. Then explaining, as if to a child, that "cultures are serious things". And then accusing him of "pretend[ing] that the ancient Greeks codified some sort of universal human experience."
And you wind it up with the snide 'while Ive called you four kinds of idiot, maybe I dont understand and you could clarify for us?'
The second supposedly non-snide comment has the irritating rhetorical method of asking the same question repeatedly in the course of a comment, where naturally there is no opportunity to respond. I occasionally resort to that when someone repeatedly refuses to answer a question- but it's definitely a provocation and uncalled-for when the person hasn't even had a chance to respond in the first place.

If you don't see that these comments ("cultures are serious things"!) were unlikely to precipitate a good conversation- if you do in fact believe that they ought to have been interpreted as genuinely friendly, curious attempts to probe at a point- then you have to understand that no one else is going to see it that way. I don't know how else to explain this, I feel like Im talking to a &$%^$#* Martian. People do not enjoy being lectured. People do not enjoy having their comments dismissed as irrelevant. People do not like being told that they know nothing about a subject they're talking about.
So if you wanted to make the perfectly reasonable points 'Oedipus didn't knowingly betray his father' and 'is it a good idea to generalize from ancient Greek culture to ours', you could've done that easily without adding all of the "cultures are serious things" snark.

It is really odd how you keep ignoring reality. I've screwed up many times in the past. And I've apologized many times. I just gave you a link to one such case. And yet you still insist that this never happens.

I said you're constantly getting into spats here. In my experience, that's true. A single instance where Slarti called you out for stepping over the line, you apologized, and immediately got back into squabbling with the new guy doesn't invalidate that.
Somehow, you think that "you're constantly getting into spats here" is disproved by 'here's an example of me apologizing'. I don't know why you think that. But then, I dont understand a lot of your thought processes.

You seem, to me, with your spin, to be justifying and supporting snitching without qualification. What you are saying here is that to kill other people who have chosen a life of crime and evil is bad, but to chose a life of crime and at least be guilty of murder via conspiracy/association and then weasel your way into book deals and out of your father's control by cutting backroom deals and betraying said father is just fine.

I just don't see where Dr. Science is lauding Frank Jr. for being a generally good guy. Maybe you can point that out?

Sure, it's possible that Frank Jr. has less than noble motives for ratting on his father. Sure, he might be completely unworthy of praise for having done so. Even taking all of that as a given, though, his having done what he did turned into a good thing for all of the rest of us.

Honor is between individuals, not between individuals and "society" (unless of course that individual has some societal responsibilities; if he/she is an elected official for instance. Frank Jr. might have dishonored his family, but that is between him and his family. You should not be concerned with it; it is none of your business. He has not transgressed against you.

Isn't that how honor-based societies work? People mind their own business when matters of personal honor are not involved?

He might have shame. Or he might have redeemed himself. I don't know, or particularly care. It's a little unseemly, methinks, to argue so vociferously against (or on behalf of) Frank Jr.

I'm really puzzled about why this topic resulted in a thread with so much acrimony.

I, too, am puzzled. I can only imagine the dismay with which hilzoy would be experiencing, when happening upon this thread.

That's pretty much my gauge (not that I consult it frequently enough): if my participation in a thread makes my mental model of hilzoy sigh in dismay, I stop, disengage, change the subject; whatever it takes.

Again: not that this tactic always works for me, or is used in time. But I try, and I think I have improved myself by doing that.

I've actually considered that we might close comments on this thread, but I'm curious to see how we recover from this little dustup.

I can only imagine the dismay with which hilzoy would be experiencing, when happening upon this thread.

Glad I missed it then.

I was not agreeing with Jacob, and he also managed to miss this obvious fact?

Well, there was this from Jacob on that thread:

CW: "It wouldn't bother me to not have to refute another boatload of your poor reasoning and reading skills."

Please dial it back a bit, applies to all parties. This is an interesting discussion in itself. If you're too frustrated to keep it civil, take a break.

Everyone has bad moments, some more than others. Sometimes people notice and bother to say something and sometimes not. Some people have particular beefs with certain others, or they just rub each other the wrong way for whatever reason. With that, I don't think it boils down to a blog-wide double standard.

None of that would matter if we could stick to pointing out defects in arguments rather than speculating on the defects of the people making them.

I've probably thought and written too much about this already, so that's the last from me on it.

I come back from visiting the boys in Vegas and find out Joe Pesci is missing. I'm told he messed wid a made man and there was nothing we could do.

Seems he a ended up, as avedis put it many comments ago, on "the wrong side of the lawn", swimming wid da worms.

Easy come, easy go.

None of that would matter if we could stick to pointing out defects in arguments rather than speculating on the defects of the people making them

^
|
|
This. We should all remember this.

Myself included; even especially included.

I think it's all my fault fo not commenting on this thread in the first place. But I can't be everywhere.

I blame you too, Marty.

None of that would matter if we could stick to pointing out defects in arguments rather than speculating on the defects of the people making them.

Absolutely. We should focus on defects in arguments. Arguments and tone also. Tone matters too. Plus, motivations. OK, arguments, tone, motivations, and whether arguments are in service of major issues as opposed to side points. Those are our four weapons.

On topic though, I have had the experience of wondering what to do about a relative who I knew was doing things in the mob that I thought were beyond looking past.

However, I didn't have concrete evidence to hand anyone so my "turning them in" would have been less than useful. There is a certain level of knowledge that is required to be useful in many circumstances that then incurs the thought process of shared guilt, thus bringing into play the "snitch" mentality. It also brings into play the thought process around putting ones self in jeopardy for a questionable outcome by legal system.

Between family loyalty, the level of crime required to overcome that natural desire to protect a loved one and the questions around what actual good you can do, and at what risk,it is more complex than just ratting someone out.

In the unabomber case it is more straightforward, the authorities didn't know who it was. Just giving them a name and location was enough to be helpful.

In the Calabrese case it required someone with facts that could be corroborated to be helpful to advance the cause of law enforcement. They already knew who they wanted too arrest. Frank Jr wasn't exactly spilling the beans that dad was a bad guy.

The situations and actions are very different. The family dynamics were different. The culture of the families were different.

Just to lighten things up:

Today's boingboing.

Between family loyalty, the level of crime required to overcome that natural desire to protect a loved one and the questions around what actual good you can do, and at what risk,it is more complex than just ratting someone out.

To me it comes down to what means of intervention are available, and that there are different means available to family members (and very close friends) that don't exist for strangers or acquaintances. There's nothing inherently wrong with handling things on a personal level without involving the law, yourself and directly, at least, or at least as a first step.

Now, if your father is a repeat murderer whom you believe is capable of acting violently against you despite your relationship, the law (broadly speaking, including "the authorities") just might be your only recourse. But that's an extraordinary case that most people won't have to deal with.

Let's say your father (or brother or mother or sister or child) habitually drives drunk but hasn't harmed anyone. You don't necessarily go straight to the police without saying anything to your offending relative. (I don't think they could do anything about past offenses, anyway. Any criminal lawyers in the house?)

But now you're at a wedding, Pop's loaded and decides he wants to hop in the Caddy to go buy a pack of smokes. It's just the two of you outside smoking his last two butts. You try to talk him out of it. You try to take his keys. He pops you in the jaw and trots off while you're stunned and trying to pick yourself up off the ground. (Dad's a badass, but wasn't a generally abusive father.)

What do you do now? It's too late to stop him. He's pulling out of the parking lot, hammered. You have a cell phone.

None of that would matter if we could stick to pointing out defects in arguments rather than speculating on the defects of the people making them.

I don't want to stop with that. Attacking people is one thing, but attacking reasonable arguments in an unreasonable way is IMO just as likely to cause a problem in terms of keeping conversation constructive.
It's odd to try to explain to people who are new here and get their feathers ruffled: "When he said your argument was stupid, that was considered Ok, but when you said *he* was stupid, that was over a line." The end result of that sort of parsing is a bunch of people who know what's permitted and what's not and can moderate their tone as required without stepping over that line.

And that is a very different thing than genuinely enforcing the rule about being constructive. It's a clear line, and that's a good thing about a rule, but it's not all hard to work around the letter while violating the spirit.

I guess Im saying- that's a fine thing to remember, but it just isn't the case that attacking arguments instead of people would magically create a good atmosphere or force people to either stay silent or constructively contribute to conversations.

Also check out Slashdot and xkcd. Bizarre, what xkcd has done.

Also, Scalzi has something quite elaborate cooked up.

Attacking people is one thing, but attacking reasonable arguments in an unreasonable way is IMO just as likely to cause a problem in terms of keeping conversation constructive.

I agree. But attacking reasonable arguments in an unreasonable way isn't (validly) pointing out defects in an argument. (Well, maybe...) Really, neither is saying an argument is stupid; that's a subjective characterization. Factual and logical errors and omissions are defects.

Of course, some arguments are by nature subjective and the arguments are more emotional and personal than factual or logical. But, even then, one can express disagreement or question what someone is saying without making it about the person.

At any rate, yeah, I suppose you could, with enough effort, follow my golden rule while still finding a way to piss someone off. If you demand answers in some unreasonably specific format or within an unreasonable amount of time, that sort of thing, it might do the trick. I don't know if it would be just as likely to cause problems, but it could cause them. I just think it's easier to respond to that sort of thing ("I'm not your monkey" works) and laugh it off.

The most likely way to piss people off in an on-line discussion is to say or imply that they're stupid in some way, I think.

But I'm not opposed to expanding the definition of incivility, so long as we can still argue.

What do you do now? It's too late to stop him. He's pulling out of the parking lot, hammered. You have a cell phone.

Tough question here, actually. First of all, the odds that he's going to kill someone are low. Most likely he'll get there and back without getting caught. Possibly he'll get into a minor accident or be pulled over for erratic driving. Getting a DUI will seriously cause trouble in a person's life, and while he may deserve it, it's possible that you don't want to be the one to "do the police's job for them." It seems like you're doing something vindictive since, as yet, there isn't any victim (but there could be).

Ideally, you would hope he doesn't hurt anyone and then have the family take him aside and drive home the consequences of his destructive behavior.

I think there's sliding scale of so-called "loyalty" from "snitching" to the police where no one has gotten hurt (very disloyal, almost vindictive to your family), cooperating with the police when you're asked to or when someone is being victimized (a good balance of protecting society's interests and your own family's), and actively covering up for someone to shield them from the police (actively harming society in order to protect a family member).

Clearly, this article is on to something.

Getting a DUI will seriously cause trouble in a person's life, and while he may deserve it,...

May deserve it? In the scenario hsh described, the guy is driving a car. And he's had a lot to drink. So he's driving under the influence. By definition.

Yes, DUIs can screw up your life. So can getting killed by a drunk driver. There are all sorts of crimes I can imagine looking the other way on. But DUIs kill innocent people; we're not talking about minor embezzlement or tax fraud here.

What do you do now? It's too late to stop him. He's pulling out of the parking lot, hammered. You have a cell phone.

A better question might be, what do you say to the family of the person he kills because he's a drunk driver? Will "sorry your kid is dead, but I figured not hurting Dad's feelings were more important than a 1/100 chance of killing someone" cut it?

Oedipus killed his father without knowledge; he had no idea that the man he was killing was his own father.

That's not quite right. Oedipus knew of the prophecy that he was going to kill his father. Knowing that, he went out and casually killed a stranger of the right age to be his father. This culpability on the part of Oedipus is the whole point of the story.

A better question might be, what do you say to the family of the person he kills because he's a drunk driver? Will "sorry your kid is dead, but I figured not hurting Dad's feelings were more important than a 1/100 chance of killing someone" cut it?

Isn't that a follow-up question for someone who decides not to call the police (after doing what was in his power to stop his father from driving in the first place)? If you did what you could at the time, but failed, and immediately called the police, that question (at least the second part) wouldn't make any sense, I don't think.

Isn't that a follow-up question for someone who decides not to call the police (after doing what was in his power to stop his father from driving in the first place)?

He was replying to my comment, which was about having reservations about calling the police after he drives off.

Even so, is it a better question, or is it a follow up question?

On the family v. non-family front, what do you do if a stranger is at the same wedding and decides to drive off hammered? Calling the police seems uncontroversial, but taking steps to stop him yourself, not so much, right? (Wrong?)

That's not quite right. Oedipus knew of the prophecy that he was going to kill his father. Knowing that, he went out and casually killed a stranger of the right age to be his father.

That's a good point. But it is not clear that he had a choice: he got into an argument with an older man who tried to kill him. In the heat of the moment, while trying to defend himself, he kills the guy. I'm not sure how much culpability one can have in that case. Now, you can move the same argument back and say that he should never have put himself in a position where anyone might attack him and give him an opportunity to kill a man in self-defense. But I'm not sure that a Greek noble circa 700 BCE could so easily avoid all situations where violence might occur. I really don't know; my sense is that life for such people involved a good deal more casual violence than it would for us today.

This culpability on the part of Oedipus is the whole point of the story.

I'm not so sure of that. An alternate reading is that Oedipus can't escape his fate because his fate was sealed before he was even born. If Oedipus was culpable, then he had a choice, which doesn't really fit earlier claims that ancient Greek gods sought vengeance not mens rea.

It is a fascinating work that raises all sorts of questions and that is precisely why I don't think it adds anything relevant the discussion here.


Even so, is it a better question, or is it a follow up question?

I guess it is a follow up question. That seems like such a minor trivial issue though. I feel very hectored: you asked the same question twice in 12 minutes. Was once not good enough? Why exactly would you choose to focus on such a trite insignificant issue anyway: what is your motivation?

hsh, to be perfectly clear, I only kid.

Can any of you-all think of a movie or TV episode which revolves around a conflict between loyalty to first-degree relations (parents, children, full sibs, spouse) and damage to a stranger?
Family Business seems spot on, no?

To be sure, it was a somewhat disappointing, less than the sum of its parts, movie, but that's not what you asked. It's also not terrible; merely not great.

However, aren't all three Godfather movies obvious? Or is that too obvious?

A real life example, FWIW.

Woollard, of Dibden Purlieu, Hampshire, joined protesters who stormed the Millbank complex in London that houses Tory Party headquarters on November 10.

His mother Tania Garwood encouraged him to give himself up to police after he was pictured by media organisations during the rioting.

I don't recall people recoiling in horror when Ted Kaczynski was basically turned in by his brother.
I sure do. His brother's traitor / A conflicted life after fingering the Unabomber August 12, 2001, by Matthew Purdy, New York Times. Or: Unabomber Writes of Brother's `Treason' / Kaczynski's new book full of anger, denial March 01, 1999, by William Glaberson, New York Times.
From prison, Theodore Kaczynski, who pleaded guilty to the Unabomb killings, has a message for his brother, who turned him in to the government.

In a book to be published this spring, Kaczynski says he could forgive what he calls his brother's treason. But forgiveness will come only if the brother, David Kaczynski, leaves his wife and joins with groups fighting modern society or, as Theodore himself did, lives in rural isolation.

"In this way he would not only earn my personal forgiveness; what is more important, he would be cleansed and redeemed of his treason against the values that he once held in common with me and many other people," Kaczynski writes.

Etc.

So I think there are a couple of axises (axi?) to consider [....]
Axes:
* Final is becomes es (pronounced /iːz/):

axis axes /ˈæksiːz/
crisis crises /ˈkraɪsiːz/
testis testes /ˈtɛstiːz/

Axes, the plural of axis, is pronounced differently from axes (/ˈæksɨz/), the plural of ax(e).

Then:
I find it a little surprising that there would be so many people who would take the time to comment that Frank Jr is a 'traitor', but then again, they're the ones who are more likely to comment at all, since they feel strongly about it. And I don't think that its being an NPR site means much.
The tedious, annoying complaints of public radio listeners, Farhad Manjoo. Funny piece.

Gary, I'm not sure if David Kaczynski having his doubts, or Ted Kaczynski being angry at his brother turning him in counts as people upset at David Kaczynski in the way those NPR commenters were talking about Frank Cabrese jr. You might be referring to the title of the article, and this blogpost has this

But there are no pleasing some people. For certain folks, out of a perverted alienation from what is good and right in our culture, find Ted admirable – and David abhorrent, as David turned his own flesh and blood over to law enforcement. The San Francisco Chronicle [sic] even dared to call him "His Brother's Traitor" in an article headline.

Though it seems that the title is less an ethical statement and more an attempt to catch attention and it is tied up with people who admire the Unabomber's world view rather than being against it, but thinking that family comes first.

However, the Washington Post had a piece back in the day that quoted G Gordon Liddy as being disapproving

"It violates the taboo against turning on one's family," argues [G. Gordon] Liddy, the convicted Watergate felon who spent time behind bars rather than turn informant. "He went out and took action which led him to believe his brother may be the Unabomber -- and then turned his brother in."

though I can't say that surprises me. Unfortunately, the rest is behind a paywall, so I don't know if it has examples of people other than Liddy expressing those opinions.

anthony:

There's this sci-fi pic where this guy falls in love with his sister and then ends up killing his father. Name escapes me.
I'm not sure which one you mean. If somehow you're referring to Star Wars, that's not what happens. The father sacrifices himself to save the son's life, and is killed by Emperor Palpatine.

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

Perhaps because mentioning Oedipus doesn't advance the discussion?

None of us can say for sure what advances a discussion unless we can already predict everything that will be said and thought by everyone who might contribute.

Were that true, it would seem a waste of time to have said discusison outside of one's own head.

I mean, the dominant culture in Greece circa 700 BCE is extremely different from the dominant culture in the US today. For example, pederasty has gone from universally practiced to loathed and worthy of criminal sanction. Given that Dr. Science is trying to understand an inconsistency in public ethics among people in our own culture, I don't see how introducing the mores and stories of a radically different ancient culture helps.
It's fine that you don't see it, but there's a reason most people recogize the name "Oedipus," and innumerable people know at least a one-sentence version of the story.

Oedipus: "About 5,070,000 results."

I think Google answers your question. Millions of people outvote your personal opinion by a citable metric.

One could be more specific by discussing how Greek mythology, culture, literature, drama, and philosophy have been formative in the direct line of descent to American culture, but this is so generally accepted that my own opinion is that it scarcely needs elaboration.

It apparently does, at least slightly, so I now have.

Carleton:

Ive often wondered how much of the rules of fictive reality seep into one's map of the real world after extended exposure...
Fiction tremendously affects culture. Specifically, portraits of the Mafia in books popularized through movies and tv have given models to people in the Mafia as to how they should act.

And so on throughout various behavioral models for all sorts of situations and cultural dynamics and references.

Humans think and exchange information with each other in narratives.

[...] Stories are an important aspect of culture. Many works of art and most works of literature tell stories; indeed, most of the humanities involve stories. Owen Flanagan of Duke University, a leading consciousness researcher, writes that “Evidence strongly suggests that humans in all cultures come to cast their own identity in some sort of narrative form. We are inveterate storytellers” (Consciousness Reconsidered 198).

Stories are of ancient origin, existing in ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek, Chinese and Indian culture. Stories are also a ubiquitous component of human communication, used as parables and examples to illustrate points. Storytelling was probably one of the earliest forms of entertainment. Narrative may also refer to psychological processes in self-identity, memory and meaning-making.

{...]

Semiotics begins with the individual building blocks of meaning called signs; and semantics, the way in which signs are combined into codes to transmit messages. This is part of a general communication system using both verbal and non-verbal elements, and creating a discourse with different modalities and forms.

In On Realism in Art Roman Jakobson argues that literature does not exist as a separate entity.

[...]

Within philosophy of mind, the social sciences and various clinical fields including medicine, narrative can refer to aspects of human psychology.[4] A personal narrative process is involved in a person's sense of personal or cultural identity, and in the creation and construction of memories; it is thought by some to be the fundamental nature of the self.[5][6] The breakdown of a coherent or positive narrative has been implicated in the development of psychosis and mental disorder, and its repair said to play an important role in journeys of recovery.[7] Narrative Therapy is a school of (family) psychotherapy.

Narratives reflect reality in some way, or we can't identify with them, and when narratives are propagated, they resonate with our ways of thinking, they stir our emotions, and they become part of our thinking, and that's what we call "culture."

The thread of such narratives throughout history, as weaved together from different cultures as people intermingle in ever-increasing globalism -- which is hardly a new thing, cultures have been intermingling since the Stone Age, and on through the beginning of history, the Egyptians, Hittites, Biblical era, Greeks, Alexander, and Romans, the Silk Road, the Sahelian kingdoms, Aksumite Empire, the first contacts of Europe and China the Islamic caliphates of the Umayyads and Abbasid, the Mongel Conquests, the Renaissance, Venetian Republic, here, there, and everywhere, and antepenultimately in the pre-WWI period when large-scale warfare was thought impossible because global trade had made national economies so interdependent (ha!; lesson learned?) -- is the story of both global culture, micro and macro, and interpersonal psychology, as well as the interior of everyone's mind.

It's why fiction is.

"What do you do now? It's too late to stop him. He's pulling out of the parking lot, hammered. You have a cell phone."

Thought about this for a while, I don't do much. I am probably going to complain to someone in the family about what an a$$ he is being and hope like heck he gets back with no harm done.

I guess there is some part of me that would like to think I would call and get someone to stop him, but I would rationalize that the store isn't far, they probably won't catch him by the time he gets there and back, he is pretty good at driving drunk anyway, blah blah and I would hope like heck he didn't hurt anyone. But I probably wouldn't call the cops.

Thats what I would do. My Dad didn't drink, his dad was killed by a drunk driver when I was eight(with my dad in the car), I don't drink, but that's still what I figure I would do. Not sure just why.

"Ian M Banks, a science fiction writer" (as I see was noted, actually "Iain M. Banks") is also Iain non-M Banks who doesn't write science fiction.

This website contains a wealth of information on the fiction of Iain Banks and the science fiction of Iain M Banks.
They're both extremely highly critically regarded, best-selling in Britain, and to a moderate degree in the rest of the world, writers, who happen to be the same guy, but this is the effect of both genre ghettos, and the way mass market publishing is author-brand-name-dependent.

Thus the same writer may use several different names for different fiction categories; usually they're more radically different, but that's Iain's sense of humor, and it's worked pretty well for him:

Iain Banks (born on 16 February 1954 in Dunfermline, Fife) is a Scottish writer. He writes mainstream fiction under Iain Banks, and science fiction as Iain M. Banks, including the initial of his adopted middle name Menzies. In 2008, The Times named Banks in their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

[...] Interviewed on Mark Lawson's BBC Four series, first broadcast in the UK on 14 November 2006, Banks explained why his novels are published under two different names. His parents wished to name him Iain Menzies Banks but his father made a mistake when registering the birth and he was officially registered as Iain Banks. Despite this he continued to use his middle name, and it may be considered official by adoption. It was as Iain M. Banks that he submitted The Wasp Factory for publication; his editor asked if he would mind dropping the 'M' as it appeared "too fussy". The editor also raised concerns about possible confusion with Rosie M. Banks, a minor romantic novelist in P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves novels. Following his three mainstream novels, his publishers agreed to publish his first SF novel, Consider Phlebas. To distinguish between the mainstream and SF novels, Banks suggested the return of the 'M'.

Thus.

you had to create conflict, which I think may be at the root of some (most?) fictive reality.
If you don't have conflict in a story, you have no drama. Stasis, well, now we're getting into literary theory, but many argue, and I'm not inclined to argue back, that stories in which characters don't change, and there is no drama, are stories, but they're a very particular type of story, which tend to not engage people emotionally, because they lack narrative drive, narrative spine, character development, and thus emotional engagement.

To be sure, this starts to go into the divide between popular fiction and what some call "literary" fiction, and I don't want to go there, here and now.

On some later discussion, yes, name-calling is a violation of the Posting Rules, specifically:

Be reasonably civil.
And while "Do not consistently abuse or vilify other posters for its own sake" is also there, generally speaking, writing abusively, which includes calling another commenter an insulting name, is something we discourage anyone and everyone from doing, including front pagers.

However, we're also all human, have our own stresses, lose our tempers, say things we regret, and so on.

I've not read all the comments yet, but I'd like to think that the above is all that need be said, save to emphasize and acknowledge that, yes, the Posting Rules do apply to front pagers, and we can chastize each other, although we also like to maintain what good relations are possible, though ObWi also has a history of that not always being the case.

A practice that has often been followed is for people, both front pagers, and non-front pagers, to self-ban themselves for a day, after losing their temper too badly. This is also hardly mandatory, but it's one method of dealing with things.

Generally speaking, any and of all us who aren't robots can sometimes do with a time-out. Goodness knows that I've needed to do so innumerable times, and have not.

It's also very easy for some of us to sink our teeth into a point, worry it like a dog with a bone, and not want to let it go.

We're all flawed. It behooves all of us to recall that, attempt to grant each other belief in the other's good faith, and actually act in good faith, or, at the least, treat each other as best we can as if we believed the other is acting in good faith.

And it's also always easiest to say this of and to others, when one is not emotionally engaged. So it also means that all of us, at one time or another, will be saying "do as I say, not as I do."

And then we might return to the concept of the Golden Rule, and the notion of forgiveness.

Add to that the notion that time can heal most wounds, and wound most heels, and I hope enough will have now been said.

I think Google answers your question.

Which question would that be? You quoted a question I asked, but I can't imagine why you think a google count for the word Oedipus answers it. So please, tell me, what question did I ask whose answer can be provided by google?

Sooooo, how about those Red Sox?

Too many meta comments, people.

Turb:

So please, tell me, what question did I ask whose answer can be provided by google?

Drop it, please.

hairshirthedonist, keep it dropped.

Carleton, ditto.

Slarti, way back: Honor is between individuals, not between individuals and "society" ... Isn't that how honor-based societies work?

I don't know about that. If you steal my lunch money that's between you and me. If the other kids see me meekly give you my lunch money because you threaten to break my nose, that's different: you have robbed me of "honor", as well as lunch. "Honor" is just shorthand for "What will the other kids think of me if I don't defend myself?"

"What will other people think?" is the main concern of individuals in honor-based societies, I claim. That's why insult is often resented more than injury by "men of honor".

This thread makes me think, by the way, that ObWi is almost a pure "honor-based society". For sure injury is not an issue here; text on a screen, however vitriolic, doesn't injure anybody. It's insult that gets people fired up, because letting an insult go unanswered seems, to many of us, like losing face in the eyes of "society". We care what other people think of us, but the "other people" we care about are not specifically those who offer us the insult; they are the "society" at large.

--TP

avedis:

The only reason I'm not banning you for attempting to insult me is that you failed so laughably.

I mean, do actually write stuff like, "...it was clear to me, listening to Frank Jr. and reading the excerpt from his book, that Frank Sr. was at least emotionally abusive to his children..." with a straight face?

Yes, why not? All accounts -- not just Frank Jr.'s -- make Frank Sr. look like a real, true sociopath. Such men are, in fact, *extremely* dangerous to society at large -- and possibly even more dangerous to their families.

One of the biggest problems with honor-based cultures (and subcultures), in my observation, is that they give abusers a lot of cover. Frank Jr. was IMHO raised by an abuser, and cutting away from that life is *really hard*.

I think it's great when people can get themselves out of horribly abusive situations, but I don't expect it nor do I despise people who can't. I'm sure this is because, as an "effete" woman, I know a lot of women, and that means knowing some who have had abusive families and relationships.

Because I listen to a lot of women and to people working against abuse (of all sorts), I think of family secrets, family honor, family loyalty, and "don't air the dirty laundry" as ways for powerful abusers to keep their victims close and quiet. If we're going to talk Greek & Roman mythology, I think of Saturn.

In the case of the Calabreses, they were all in jail already when Frank Jr. decided to work with the Feds. The charge he helped them nail his father on was *murder*. Unlike G. Gordon Liddy, I think you do not owe your family that kind of loyalty, ever. Not least because murder is the benchmark for other crimes.

I don't know anyone who's had to debate turning in their father for murder, but I know *at least* two who've had to think about taking action against their fathers for their own childhood rapes. AFAIK both decided not to take legal action, but getting to the point where they could seriously think about it required (among other things) dismantling the idea that "family loyalty" is an overriding value.

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

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

It was Law and Murder. And neither Castle or Beckett. I could go into detail, but I'd rather not spoiler. There have definitely been other Castle episodes with similar family/justice loyalty ties, but this one was both extremely relevant and timely.

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

You know what? Mafiosi make their living from the threat of violence against other people. It's what they do for a living.

Dad's victims were not just other bad guys.

Junior made a deal and sold out dear old dad? Well done. Good job, Junior. Dad shouldn't have shoved a gun in his face. Payback's a b*tch.

Doc science, yours is a most extreme example of adled liberal thinking. It is most disappointing that so many others here appear to agree with it, though not surprising.

Jr wasn't like a rape/incest victim at all. He was a willful participant in a crime syndicate. he knew the rules. Sr stuck a gun in Jr's face because Jr stole money - lots of it - from Sr. Anyone else who did that would be dead.

Jr chose a life of crime, violated the rules of that life when convenient to him.

Where is the sense of personal responsibility on your part?

Turbulence:

W/r/t to the DaveC and Gary exchange, I am not able to pass judgment on it without having seen it.

Now you've seen it.

No, you haven't.

Turbulence, if you'd like to go back and link to all of DaveC's original attacks on Hilzoy, myself, and indiscriminately all Democrats, liberals, commenters and readers here, as al Qaeda supporters, traitors, people who wanted to see our friends murdered, people who wanted U.S. troops dead, and so on, the dozens and dozens of comments by DaveC which led Hilzoy to ban DaveC after months and months of this, knock yourself out.

Otherwise, please don't point to a years-later comment and assert that you're presenting relevant details to the history.

In any case, I unbanned DaveC myself, so the relevance escapes me. But please DON'T EXPLAIN. Thanks.

I've now more or less caught up on this thread, as of russell's April 01, 2011 at 05:07 PM.

There's been a lot of excess name-calling going on here, and a lot of unpleasantness.

There's been way too high a ratio of commenting on other commenters' motives and alleged general behavior, to comment on the substance of the thread.

There's been way too high a ratio of people making allegations about other commenters' personalities, and going back to previous conversation to attempt to support claims about other commenters' personalities and writing styles.

This is not helpful. It is not substantive. Too many adjectives and nouns have been excessively thrown at other people here to the point of not being "reasonably civil".

We're not into rules lawyering here, and the front pagers do not have to answer demands that we justify our decisions.

Neither does any commenter here have to justify their comments to other commenters.

Some of these comments have been "disrupt[ive] or dest[ructive of] meaningful conversation" about the issue of what constitutes "treason against family," because the conversation has excessively turned to personal attacks on other commenters, and discussion of personalities.

Some of these comments have been in the realm of "consistently abus[ing] or vilify[ing] other posters for its own sake."

Please turn it down considerably, dial it back, chill out, mellow the harsh, and don't run with those scissors.

If some commenters don't do so, the next step would be for individual commenters or a commenter to receive a Warning that said commenter or commenters will be banned from commenting for a short period of days, ranging from 24-36 hours.

A relevant number of front pagers have briefly exchanges some views on this, and I'm holding back from saying more, but there hasn't been disagreement voiced as to who might be Warned.

If you're reading this, there's no harm in considering the notion that if you've been discussing the personalities of other commenters, you might be someone we have in mind.

If you feel impelled to defend yourself from such a notion, consider that a sign you shouldn't.

Consider this a generalized warning about being Warned, and let's leave it there, and everyone try sticking to substance, rather than comments about personalities, writing styles, or past inter-commenter history, okay?

Thanks for your attention to helping the Obsidian Wings community be something of a community, where people are able to address each other with some good faith and civility.

Play nicely. Remember to be kind.

And on a separate scale and issue, Avedis, you're mind-reading again, and making claims about what other people know and think, that could only be based on mind-reading. Please don't do that. It's not helpful to anyone.

Stick to responding to what people say, please, without making assertions as to what other people think.

None of us is entitled to do that, because all we know is what the other person writes, and what we make of that.

And none of us perfectly reproduces the entirety of our thinking in a few paragraphs, and few of us summarize it well, and we certainly don't tend to do it in a hasty blog comment, and I most surely don't exempt myself from this.

A good rule of thumb is to simply never make claims about what other people "believe" or "know" or "think."

Respond to what they've written, and refer to that.

Thanks.

And, again, everyone: no rules lawyering about any of this, please. It won't get you anywhere but deeper in any hole you've been digging.

"Neither does any commenter here have to justify their comments to other commenters."

Thanks so much, Gary. I was experiencing writers block trying to put my justification into words. I am so relieved.

But well said, sir.

"The only reason I'm not banning you for attempting to insult me is that you failed so laughably."

Um, we don't have a rule against attempting to insult anyone. Neither do you have access to the password to ban anyone.

But if you did, oh, dear, I've really got to get that draft of the rewritten Banning Rules done and sent around, and hope that we can all agree, and then have it posted. Meanwhile, these remain our rules, and what's relevant remains:

Any ObWi author can recommend that a commenter be banned and should do so via email to the all other authors. [sic]

[...] To avoid the delay our busy lives can cause in moving quickly when a commenter is disrupting an ongoing thread, any writer can implement an immediate temporary ban (and declare it as such) until a banning request is resolved behind the scenes.

A problem here is that when this was written by Edward, January 26, 2005, it presupposed that the person/people with the SuperUser password either was reading most of the blog on a daily basis, or was answering the email at the ObWi email address: [email protected]hoo.com

Then that person or persons would institute such a ban.

Then:

Should the ban not be agreed to by someone on the other side of the fence, the temporary ban will be lifted. (The temporary ban will hopefully be a useful way to let folks calm down when a thread gets too heated. At the very least it will allow a derailed thread to get back on track.)
Someone can only legitimately be banned for violating the Posting Rules.

We don't have a rule against insulting front pagers. If one of the front pagers asked that someone be banned because they felt insulted, I, for one, would vote to lift said temporary ban, because the Posting Rules would not have been violated.

We have to live with being insulted.

Meanwhile, the rule is, and the rules are, as posted:

Do not consistently abuse or vilify other posters for its own sake.
That's always been interpreted to mean either amazingly over the top stuff, or stuff done over many days, or weeks, or months, or usually, both.

And as you may be aware, the mail went unread for two years.

If the current front pagers wish to suggest new Posting Rules, I'd be very happy to have that discussion behind the scenes. Meanwhile, all I intend to do is pretty much restate the current rules in a more coherent fashion, so they aren't a series of updates to a seven-year-old post and don't say that the people to appeal to are:

For the record, currently Charles Bird, Andrew, and Sebastian Holsclaw are on the right; Von is in the center; and Hilzoy is on the left.;-) Yes, that's unbalanced...we're working on it.
Any more radical changes than that would certainly have to be discussed.

But meanwhile we have only one set of Posting Rules, and they're right here.

If any of us threatens to ban someone, all that person has to do is write the kitty, and ask what Rule they violated; then we'd have to discuss it, such as we, you know, do or don't.

It's probably useful in such a case for any front pager who wishes to see a commenter -- and that includes a fellow front pager -- banned for violating a Posting Rule to be able to quote which rule was violated.

Discussion of precedents would inevitably follow, and both what degree of consistency is reasonable or unreasonable, and naturally we'd ad hoc it since we're a different bunch of folks than Charles Bird, Andrew Olmsted, Von, Edward, or Hilzoy, or Katherine, etc.

What we do have for continuity back to when the Rules of both types were created, and for years afterwards, through today, with some interregnums, are Sebastian, Slart, myself, Russell, and LJ, and more recently, Eric, then more recently, Jacob and yourself, and now Fiddler, and now, though it's Not Yet On The Sidebar, Thomas Nephew.

That's in terms of being active at ObWi and familiar with how the rules have been implemented, rather than, of course, seniority as a front pager.

And, as you know, we all get an equal vote. More than this we should discuss privately.

Avedis:

Doc science, yours is a most extreme example of adled liberal thinking. It is most disappointing that so many others here appear to agree with it, though not surprising.
Avedis, we have, recently, between 80,000 to 60,000 visitors a month, and 130,000 to 150,000 page views a month (we've been steadily, overall, dropping since Hilzoy left, but that's a separate point); you have no way of knowing what most readers think, no way of knowing how many people lurk and read a given comment, but certainly should be aware that fewer than 1%, or even .1%, of readers comment.

Of the semi-regular or most regular commenters, you still don't know what anyone does or doesn't agree to unless they write it down in words.

If someone does, please quote them.

If not, claims as to what you think anyone who hasn't written something "appear[s] to agree with it" are based on what, exactly, besides your imagination?

You can't draw conclusions from what people haven't written.

You can certainly make assertions as you wish, but then other people will draw their only conclusions based upon their own interpretations of what you've actually written.

Possibly something to think about?

Meanwhile, Doctor Science is quite right to feel personally insulted by you. We don't have a rule against it, but it's most definitely uncivil, and if you do it repeatedly, you will be violating the Posting Rules, and will be within consideration of a Ban.

So please also give a bit of effort towards trying a bit of civility, okay? Do recall how many people -- a majority of commenters, in my recollection -- called for you to be banned for the first month or so of your heavy commenting, some months ago, and consider that some of us were very civil to you because we felt you were someone who could be reasonable.

I believe you are. But do please make an effort to avoid making personal characterizations, in particular, okay?

And as someone who should understand tactics and strategy, you might consider the lack of wisdom in the tactic of personally attacking and angering someone who has a vote as to whether or not to ban you, however short or longer term, and consider that while each front pager is very much an individual, of different mind, we also desire, I should hope, to get along with each other.

In short: please also dial down uncivil remarks towards Doctor Science, individuals, and also keep in mind this part of the Posting Rules:

Lastly, just a reminder that Left and Right have very broad definitions and that people are going to take it personally if you inform them that of course all Xs eat babies, should they themselves be Xs (or Ys trying to keep things cool).
And, yes, I try to remind those on the left/liberal side to knock off the wild generalizations about All Republicans and All Conservatives and All Libertarians, as well.

The blog has swung back and forth a lot over the years, as the commentariat has evolved, the blogosphere has developed, and the sets of front pagers have turned over, and we've had tons of inconsistency, but it's not great for any of us to violate the above principle, which remains A Rule, such as we loosely have them and loosely and very inconsistently enforce them.

(All of which is why I intend to codify both those posts into something short and sweet and coherent, since as they are, they lack at least two out of three, and it's no wonder that few people read all the way through all the "updates," or make much sense of them, at this point, if they read them at all.

I also hope to have the font enlarged on the link to them on the front page.

But this all will take time. Meanwhile, if anyone is wondering why you're not seeing posts on, say, Libya, well, a person can't read all these comments and also write a post at the same time.

I'd like to apologize to anyone for whom I Spoiled the Star Wars hexalogy.

Doc science, yours is a most extreme example of adled liberal thinking.

It's always best to not faceplant the spelling when trying to insult someone else's intelligence.

Dr. Science's views in this regard aren't a whole lot different from mine, and mine are not in any way liberal. Adled, well, we may have to have a reader poll.

One more thing: if someone else's thinking is addled, it's generally more effective (not to mention, more deserving of audience applause) to demonstrate that it's addled, rather than just planting an addled flag.

FWIW. Now, please play nice.

Just want to add my pair of € cents to the Mr. Swollen Feet controversy. The way I remember it, he ran away from his foster parents to avoid the prophecy because he believed them to be his real parents. So he had no reason at all to believe that the guy he met on the way had anything to do with it. On the other hand his killing of the stranger was not necessary (two mens' lifes for a horse?). Of course the whole thing could have been avoided by suicide (assisted or not) ;-).
---
On the views of relative culpability regarding different degrees of relatives: Crimes (in the widest sense) traditionally ranked by severity with father as victim leading the list, followed by brothers. I assume the mother came at #3 but have no proof of it. Friedrich Schiller (who originally studies law) discusses the topic in 'Die Räuber'. In the drama Karl is spared the necessity to kill his brother because the latter commits suicide just in time.

Gary, I hear you. Ok.

In summary, what disturbs me about Dr. Science's perspective is that the fact Jr was a sworn member of a fraternity, participated in the activities of that fraternity, benefitted from those activities and then betrayed the fraternity to its arch nemisis in a most devious way only when Jr himself was in a compromised situation and the betrayel could be beneficial towards improving that situation. To make matters worse, it turns out that the key target of the betrayel was Jr's own father. Then we have evidence that Jr had a history of irresponsible behavior (i.e. stealing large sums of money from his father and blowing it on drugs and women).

Dr. Science and some others here focus on the fact that the fraternity was criminal. As such, they appear to me to be saying, there is no betrayel. There seems to be some implied lauding of Jr's "snitching" behavior from these folks. Some see it as a positive because a criminal fraternity was damaged and this is good for society. Then there is a further attempt to muddy the waters by comparing Jr to a victim of a rape or incest. There is an apparent inability to recognize the difference between adult voluntary participant in a profitible criminal enterprise/fraternity and senseless involuntary forced victimization.

I am reacting to only Dr Science, but also to a great swath of liberals I have encountered who are so quick to identify a "victim" in a scenario that their ability to see the characters as they really are is impaired. Perhaps this is unfair to Dr Science. Then again, perhaps not.

Thus, I am saying that it doesn't matter that the fraternity was criminal. Betrayel is betrayel. Dr Science wanted to know why people had posted comments on the NPR blog that were derisive towards Jr. I explained how I see it that way. I am focussed not on the benefit to society, but on the reflection of Jr's behavior on his character. I have a suspicion that my views may be representative of a large proportion of those who wrote negative comments at NPR. Jr is publicly interviewing and he is trying to advance his book in which he tells the tale of his betrayel of his father and the fraternity. It makes sense to me to respond to Jr's character as opposed to concocting musings about larger societal gain.

I think it's fair to note that Frank Jr. is no angel, and it's also fair to note that he can stand to profit monetarily from his book.

But the facts that he's not really a nice guy, and is looking to cash in, those don't make his snitching an objectively bad thing. But I can see how they can make his snitching subjectively bad. So it all depends on your POV, I think.

But where that objection is coming from bears some scrutiny, no? I mean, sure: the police sometimes (even frequently) do some bad things. But in a war between the Mafia and the police, do you want the Mafia to win?

Serious question.

The Mafia and Silvio Berlusconi: bunga bunga?

I'm basically with slarti.

It was definitely a betrayal. And that's definitely a fine and dandy thing, because Pappa Calabrese is a parasite.

The difficult issues involved in someone choosing to do the right thing even if it means harming someone in your family (or tribe, however construed) are, I think, getting obscured in this discussion because Frank Jr appears to be something of an opportunist and a thug in his own right.

It may well be that he's motivated less by doing the right thing, and more by saving his own hide.

If so, perhaps folks might prefer to think about Doc Science's basic point using somebody else - David Kaczynski, frex - as an example.

Sure, betrayal is betrayal, but sometimes it's a good thing. And the wider societal gain is something worth musing about.

The thing I don't get is people's romantic fascination with Mafiosi. They aren't honorable people. It's not a fraternity, criminal or otherwise. It's a criminal enterprise made up of violent sociopathic creeps.

Unless you're a criminal psychiatrist, they're not even very interesting people. Even if you are a criminal psychiatrist, they're probably not very interesting people. A very large number of them are lazy, dumb, violent bullying jerks.

"Mafia member" is probably the best gig they could get.

Yes, Junior betrayed his dad, I'm freaking glad he did, and it's fine with me if Junior did so to save his own hide. I have no problem with exploiting the self-interest of one thug to end the career of another.

I agree with Doc Science, I find the "I have strongly ambivalent feelings about this" response to be highly weird.

I can understand Junior, or David Kazcynski, having strongly ambivalent feelings about it. Personally, I have no such ambivalence. I'm fine with it. I'm glad Calabrese Sr. is in jail (assuming he is) and no longer having people's legs broken, and I'm glad Ted Kazcynski is no longer making and mailing finely crafted little bombs and living his crazy-man Thoreauvian dream in rural Montana.

Seriously, aren't you?

I hope if I were in the same position I'd find it in myself to ignore the tribal claims and do the right thing.

We all belong to more than one tribe.

From Gary's cite:

A leading Italian photographer has alleged that mafia gangsters claim to possess compromising photos of Silvio Berlusconi at wild “bunga bunga” sex parties. Mafia 'holds compromising Silvio Berlusconi photos'

Fabrizio Corona, who runs a celebrity photography agency, claimed that members of the Camorra mafia in Naples are trying to sell the alleged images to gossip magazines.

There is a fatal flaw in these guys' plan:

Who the hell wants to see Silvio Berlusconi naked?

I told you these guys were dumb.

They should take some lessons from the Piranhas.

I Russel, "'m glad Ted Kazcynski is no longer making and mailing finely crafted little bombs and living his crazy-man Thoreauvian dream in rural Montana.

Seriously, aren't you?"

Of course. I have already stated that the Kazcynski episode is not at all analogous to the Calabrese's; and why.

What is "subjective" here, and what I object to the most, is Dr Science's insistance on turning just about anything and everything into his/her/it's pet social science morality tale of abusive (usually caucasion) males and their "victims" and ignoring heaps of facts, not to mention nuances, to hammer a story into fitting that mold.

What is also subjective is cutting Jr slack because Sr is a criminal. I am quite sure that everyone breaks some law somtimes. Any cannabis smokers here (I am)? How would you feel about a smoking buddy that got caught and turned you in to avoid a harsher sentence? I'll bet the words "rat" and "snitch" would cross your mind. How about if that person was your child?

How about a coworker that is getting in trouble with the boss and seeks to gain favor by pointing out to her that you are late for work?

Everyone has experienced these things. No one likes the snitch. There is transference to the Calabrese matter.

Finally, there will always be crime. As long as there is crime there will be people with the brains and brawn to organize it and enforce obediance to their syndicate's rules; e.g. a mafia. Sr was taken down. Another has already taken his place. So I don't see where any great social good arose from Jr's actions. If you don't want to be harmed by "the mafia" don't do business with it. Don't get involved. Pretty simple.

"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."
--Edmund Burke (apocryphal)

What is also subjective is cutting Jr slack because Sr is a criminal.

I think it's more seeing that Jr. might have been guided into his lawbreaking ways by virtue of having been raised by Sr.

Which is not quite the same as excusing said lawbreaking ways.

How would you feel about a smoking buddy that got caught and turned you in to avoid a harsher sentence? I'll bet the words "rat" and "snitch" would cross your mind.

Sure. But I'm adult enough to realize that (in this hypothetical) I brought it on myself.

One main reason I don't smoke is that I don't want to put my kids in the position of having to consider turning me in. The other is, of course, that my security clearance forbids it. Otherwise I'd probably indulge, occasionally, provided I enjoyed it. See, the thing about engaging in illegal activities is that you know what the consequences are, in general, and know that those consequences could be visited upon you, should you be caught doing them.

That's all part and parcel of adulthood. People who expect others to not turn them in are not behaving as adults would. They're abdicating responsibility for their own behaviour.

Dr Science's insistance on turning just about anything and everything into his/her/it's pet social science morality tale of abusive (usually caucasion) males and their "victims"

Seemed to me that Doc Science was just thinking out loud. "Insistence" is not a word that would have occurred to me.

Different strokes.

How would you feel...
How about a...

I'd think all of those things were crappy, at levels ranging from petty, to tragically and unnecessarily stupid.

Dope smokers and folks who are late to work don't break folks' legs for a living. Speaking for myself, I find this a very very easy moral hair to split.

If you don't want to be harmed by "the mafia" don't do business with it. Don't get involved.

Two things:

1. Yep, that's my plan
2. Sadly, that doesn't insulate me or anyone else from the harm caused by gangsters, nor does it make them go away.

And I'm pretty happy to see as many of them behind bars as possible, even if and when it just clears the field for their rivals. We'll go after them next.

Long story short, for reasons both obvious and personal, I don't find gangsters in general, and mafiosi in particular, to be particularly interesting, romantic, or sympathetic.

The "brains" required to organize gangsterism is a pretty low bar. It probably takes more intelligence and basic leadership skill to run a McDonalds franchise. If you're willing to beat the living shite out of somebody to get what you want, you don't actually have to be that smart. You can, in fact, be a lazy dumbass. You just have to be a sociopath.

Seriously, the fascination with gangsters of all kinds - mafiosi, gang-bangers, what have you - is weird. They're not really very interesting people.

I'm glad daddy Calabrese is in jail, and it doesn't bug me particularly that it was his kid that put him there.

for reasons both obvious and personal

Sorry, that's a little unclear.

"For both the obvious reasons, and for more personal ones, I don't find gangsters" blah blah blah.

And yes I have met some, and no they're not interesting, romantic, or heroic people. They're punks.

If you don't want to be harmed by "the mafia" don't do business with it. Don't get involved.

That's not really how it works. I guess you could say, "never open a restaurant or other small business in a neighborhood where the mafia exist," but that doesn't seem like fair advice for law abiding citizens. And for the most part, the mafia hasn't been replaced by other criminals. Dismantling the mafia turned it into a much less influential force today than it used to be.

Seriously, the fascination with gangsters of all kinds - mafiosi, gang-bangers, what have you - is weird. They're not really very interesting people.

I'd say they're interesting as specimens of humanity going wrong, like serial killers or despots. They aren't people you want to spend time with or try to emulate. Romanticizing them is very weird and misguided, IMO.

Even the most successful mafioso or gang-banger never gets out of the "get the other guy before he gets you" paradigm. It's a limited world view and/or limited prospects that keeps someone locked in that path. I can't really see how anyone but a crazy person would choose (prefer?) a life like that. Even with money, houses, cars and access to various sexual partners (if that last isn't animalistic enough), it still boils down to living like an animal. And the prospects for money, etc. are overblown in the popular imagination for all but a vanishingly small number of people in that life. Very few of the "bosses" really get much past, at best, a barely upper middle-class lifestyle, if that. (As russell said, they're aren't very smart for the most part, and even if they get a sum of money, they tend to blow it on silly extravagances - booze, gambling, blow, hookers; so it doesn't last very long.)

They're bottom feeders, like crabs eating dead fish on the sea floor. The only reason they can do much of anything is that they don't give a f**k. Awesome.

"They're bottom feeders, like crabs eating dead fish on the sea floor. The only reason they can do much of anything is that they don't give a f**k. Awesome."

Actually, they're probably complicated human beings, just like everyone else. And they're probably not all alike. And, when they commit crimes, they should go to jail because society has decided to deal with people who commit crimes by sending them to jail. Not that jail is going to help them, or help society. But it's what we do until we come up with something else.

People do wrong and right things for reasons that are sometimes incomprehensible. I don't mind "judging" them by saying that they should go to jail. I do think it's worth pondering what their choices were, and how they ended up doing the things they did. That's not romanticizing them - it's a matter of trying to understand why some people end up making all the wrong choices, while others seem to make all of the right ones. Why it's a struggle for some people, and a straight shot for others.

Actually, they're probably complicated human beings, just like everyone else.

It's kind of you to stand up for the basic, irreducible humanity of gangsters. No snark.

I'll offer my opinion. I think HSH is right on the money here:

It's a limited world view and/or limited prospects

Participating in a systematic criminal enterprise stunts people's growth as human beings. Especially when it's based on violence.

So yes, everybody has value as a unique human individual. Some people trade that value away for money and power.

Not just criminals, of course, but certainly including criminals.

"So yes, everybody has value as a unique human individual. Some people trade that value away for money and power.

Not just criminals, of course, but certainly including criminals."

Yes, I agree that people trade portions of their value (or integrity) for money and power. And some people trade it away for love, for loyalty, out of fear - for all kinds of reasons. Which isn't to say that the philanthropic, humanitarian, artistic, law-abiding family guy is equal to the sociopathic (seeming) mobster, but oftentimes we don't really know the whole story. Which is why I'm kind of perplexed by why people even have an opinion on this. There are so many variables in the lives of individuals that nothing is really all that surprising, including turning in your dad, not turning in your dad, etc.

Wow, what a bunch of goody two shoes pollyannish perspectives we have here.

First, not all mobsters are stupid. Myer lansky, Bugs Siegel and many others are considered financial geniuses. Like any successful organization you have intelligent leaders at the top and some grunts at the bottom doing the sh!t work.

I pity anyone who raised children that they fear would turn them in for something as simple as pot smoking. That points to misgiuded values, misplaced trust in the system and a lack of love.

All of the asserted negative aspects of organized crime can also easily and accurately be applied to just about any government on this planet; not excepting the US government and the politicians that run it. This includes, but is not limited to, shakedowns, murder for profit, price fixing, prostitution, gambling.....

"First, not all mobsters are stupid. Myer lansky, Bugs Siegel and many others are considered financial geniuses. Like any successful organization you have intelligent leaders at the top and some grunts at the bottom doing the sh!t work."

Absolutely agree.

"All of the asserted negative aspects of organized crime can also easily and accurately be applied to just about any government on this planet; not excepting the US government and the politicians that run it."

True too. Corporations every bit as much or more, since there's a huge profit motive.

Oops. I'd missed William Shakespeare's comment. Thanks, Bill!

Wow, what a bunch of goody two shoes pollyannish perspectives we have here.

Wow, what a bunch of pithy but useless generalities we have here.

I pity anyone who raised children that they fear would turn them in for something as simple as pot smoking. That points to misgiuded values, misplaced trust in the system and a lack of love.

You couldn't possibly be further off base.

I should take that back; comments are still open.

Seriously, the fascination with gangsters of all kinds - mafiosi, gang-bangers, what have you - is weird. They're not really very interesting people.
Interest is subjective. I don't find them particularly interesting, save that I find all people and categories of people interesting, and I find it interesting to consider what makes some categories of people particularly interesting to others.

In this category, we're talking specifically about the romanticization of those who chose to live outside the law.

Outlaws have always been romanticized, because romanticization by definition (for a certain value of "romanticization," without wanting to write at thesis on historic usage and evolution of the term) is based on, or tautologically defined on, mythmaking that has only a loose relationship with truth.

So outlaws, be they Jesse James, or Abbie Hoffman or Lucky Luciano or the Hells Angels or the Mafia or "pirates" (of almost any sort but those who actually intercept your own boat or that of someone you know; the fictional and more unreal the better), etc., are all romanticized, because they're seen as either rather unreal, or as admirably rebellious figures against The Man, in some way.

Sometimes there are truly admirable things about outlaws; sometimes there are horrific things about outlaws. It's a very broad category.

I tend to not romanticize people I don't know, and then... it gets complicated.

I tend to not romanticize violence of people into it. It's sometimes necessary, but I don't find it admirable, and neither do I deny that it's sometimes necessary.

And I'm my own judge of when I think it's necessary, and it's often a queasy-making call.

Which is another reason I've not blogged about Libya; I don't have any easy announcements that I'm dead sure what the U.S. and other "allies," are doing is clearly right or wrong.

I digress, but by no means entirely. But I don't want to threadjack, either, so I'll go back to saying that I find nothing romantic about mafias of any sort, gangs of any sort, mobs of any sort, and I believe a rule of law, humanely administered, with as much room for individual freeom as possible, is an ideal to be striven for.

Also, Facebook has spoiled me into desiring that we add a "like" button just internally to ObWi so I can agree with comments in lazy fashion.

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"So outlaws, be they Jesse James, or Abbie Hoffman or Lucky Luciano or the Hells Angels or the Mafia or "pirates" (of almost any sort but those who actually intercept your own boat or that of someone you know; the fictional and more unreal the better), etc., are all romanticized, because they're seen as either rather unreal, or as admirably rebellious figures against The Man, in some way."

Exactly. And that is why real people don't like the rats that snitch out outlaws or the cowards that shoot them in the back, etc.

Real people know the man is as corrupt and insensitive to their needs as the worst outlaws. At least decent outlaws like Jesse James and many mafiosi take care of family and friends; which is far more than some cop or politician will ever do for them. And that is also why real children of real folks don't rat out their parents to the man. They are taught what the real world is like; not babied into believing an authoritarian or liberal utopian fantasy (they are the same thing you know).

Then again, there are always the authoritarian personalities that advocate ratting and snitching, even of their own children against themselves. It's that whole, "well if you're not breaking the law, you have nothing to worry about - and the state knows best " mentality.

Which is why I'm kind of perplexed by why people even have an opinion on this

My family owned and operated an Italian food business in New York from the mid-70's until about 1981. We were made to understand who we would buy supplies from, whether or not we would sell wholesale, etc. I sat in the other room while a very pleasant and friendly fellow sat with my folks in the living room and laid it all out for them.

In the course of working with and for my folks in the family business, I got to meet some of the boyos. All strictly business, all on the up and up. Just buying cheese, as it were.

Nothing bad, threatening, or otherwise untoward ever happened. OK, there was the one time that the guy delivering the cookies threatened to kill a kid who cut him off in the parking lot. But in general, no. It was just understood that if we tried to work outside of the program, life would get very complicated.

It never even occurred to me that there was anything strange about it until later on in my life.

And yeah, other kinds of folks - cops, businessmen, etc - can make their presence felt in your life if they think you're coloring outside the lines. The difference is that the way they make their "presence felt" doesn't involve hurting you very, very badly.

OK, maybe cops. But you at least usually have to break the law to make that happen. Opening a pasta business is not enough to make them crack your head.

I could add other anecdota from my own and from my family's personal history, but I'll leave it there.

Maybe avedis is right and Lansky and Siegel were financial geniuses. The fact is you don't have to be a financial genius to make a nice living as a gangster. You just have to be willing to f**k other people up for money.

It's pretty damned simple, as it turns out.

Seriously, f**k gangsters. Whatever else you want to say about them, they're bullies. Their entire livelihood, culture, and way of relating to the world is based on bullying.

And bullies suck.

So, asked and answered. That's why people have opinions about stuff like this. Because creeps like Calabrese, Junior and Senior, don't just show up in the movies.

First, not all mobsters are stupid.

No, but you can be pretty freaking stupid and be a fairly successful gangster. You will just have a relatively brief career.

What all mobsters have in common is a willingness to harm other people for their own benefit. So screw them. My two cents.

Outlaws have always been romanticized

I think that's about the size of it. The colorful mafiosi live outside the law. And don't we all dream of living outside the law?

In real life, these guys are not that colorful. They just want your money.

I'm dead serious when I say that living your life based on the principle of messing with other people to get your way stunts you as a human being.

I'm sure that deep down in the recesses of the consciousness of papa Calabrese, there's a lovely human butterfly yearning to spread its wings and fly in the sun. Unfortunately, other aspects of the consciousness of papa Calabrese, and folks like him, have decided that beating the crap out of other people for money is more important than realizing and expressing their full human potential.

It's a damned shame, but I'm also fine with sending their sorry behinds to jail.

I have more important things to shed my tears over.

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