Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
(see Gil's comments on last entry)

Police wanted to ban Nazi march b/c of threat to public safety.

Nazi march banned on basis of fear of violence. nazis march anyway.

Therefore, it seems odd the ACLU looks at Nazi marches as a "freedom of unpopular speech" issue, doesn't it? The issue is really how dangerous they are.

And about the Skokie/ACLU case in particular:

thousands fear him

For more than a year he terrorized the citizens of Skokie

and OMG look at this: The park district responded by informing Collin that he would be required to come up with a huge liability insurance policy to cover possible damages at the rally - a requirement the district knew he could not fulfill.

They wanted him to have insurance to cover the risks involved in the march, and knew he couldn't pay for that, so told him to go away. that's like QED

but that's not all: A simple recital of the events from April 27, 1977, to July 9, 1978, does not convey the mood that existed. Skokie's Jews were both terrified and infuriated at the prospect of Nazis marching in their midst.

Get it?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
Stephen Den Beste replied to my previous blog about the ACLU (quoted with permission):

I'm afraid I must deeply disagree with you. Our dedication to freedom absolutely must include defending the speech of those we hate. The entire point is that the protection of speech must indeed be moral neutral. If protection of speech becomes broadly related to the content of the speech and the extent to which it is approved by the general populace, then it ceases to be protected.

While it's true that we should not censor speech because it has content we do not like, there are certain types of speech that are unacceptable, such as yelling "Fire!!" in a movie theatre. Speech intended to intimidate or harass or frighten people, is also objectionable. I would say it is immoral. Someone more into rights, could simply say I don't agree with a right to intimidating speech.

You cannot come up to me and tell me I should be killed, and expect your "right" to harass me to be protected. Neither should you be able to go find a bunch of Jews and start talking about how Jews should die, or Hitler wasn't so bad (less direct, but same thing).

The entire point of it is that sometimes we need revolutionary ideas introduced into the political process, and that it is often the case that such ideas are found to be deeply offensive by many.

As a standalone, I agree with this bit. But it misses the point: my criterion is not to ban unpopular ideas, but intimidating and harassing ones.

If the idea is worthless or vile, it will fail in the "marketplace of ideas". But if it's unpopular but also important, then it must be given that chance.

Again, it's not that the ideas are bad, it's that speaking them hurts people.

Originally, the idea of giving women the vote was seen as radical, absurd, immoral. We now view it differently.

Going around saying "I think women should be allowed to vote" didn't harm men.

Nazism and bigotry are also immoral, and I want to make clear that I don't equate them with Women's Suffrage. But if we have confidence in our population, we defend ourselves against evil and harmful ideas by arguing against them, not by using the power of law to suppress them. The problem with use of censorship in that way is that it makes us stand on the edge of a precipice, where we can fall off. Once we start suppressing the Nazis, where do we stop?

My fear is definitely not that people would agree with the Nazis, and I agree censoring ideas for fear people might like them is wrong.

I do not agree with the Nazis. I despise what they stand for, and everything they advocate. And it is precisely because of this that I feel obligated to defend their right to express their point of view.

There are ways the Nazis could express their point of view that I would not object to. But finding some Jews to harass isn't one of them.

Would you feel safe walking through a crowd of Nazis with your children to spend some time at the park? Would there be police at the march? Why do you think they are there?

The point is precisely that law is not morality, and I do not think we should use the power of law to enforce morality.

I don't make distinctions about what it is and is not legitimate to make laws about. There is no system under which the vast majority of people think something is morally imperative, and then don't act on this. Regardless, laws certainly should be able to stop harassment as takes place at actual Nazi speeches (as opposed to the imaginary Utopian ones where they are all nice and friendly).

Morality enters into the situation in a different way. In the marketplace of ideas, it is public morality which will guarantee that the ideas of the Nazis will never become widespread. Since I have faith in the fundamental decency of the vast majority of my fellow citizens, I do not fear letting them be exposed to the ideas of groups like the Nazis, because I know they'll react to them the same way you and I do.

I too have such faith! That's really not my objection ^_^

Therefore, our nation and our system are not in peril because the Nazis are free to spout their hateful garbage. But if we start using the power of law to suppress those with whom we disagree, that actually creates the potential for a different peril in future which could end up endangering us all.

Letting the Nazis speak may be evil, but it is the lesser evil.

I understand concerns of a police state, but on the other end of the spectrum, are concerns of tolerance of evil, and moral relativism, and a society that doesn't stand up for right, which is also terrible. Thus "do everything possible to avoid a police state" would be the wrong strategy -- we must make judgments about what should be stopped.

So, to sum up, because Nazi rallies involve more than just communicating ideas (and this one in particular was intentionally targeted at a Jewish community), the ACLU need not and should not help them take place.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (4)
On an email list, I was asked why effective communication is morally imperative (in the context of posting).

To see why, we must consider what posters are hoping to accomplish. If they want to communiate, discuss, argue, criticise, make sense, provide food for thought, ask questions, get help, make friends, have a nice time talking, or anything remotely normal like that, then they will need to communicate to accomplish their ends. In other words, failing to communicate effectively is inimical to their own intentions. And, as I've said before, life strategies that fail *by their own standards* are morally wrong.

Note especially that people don't do things for no reason, so saying posters haven't any goal won't suffice. And writing gibberish to annoy people, obviously won't do to defend the morality of ineffective communication.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
What the fuck is with the term "non-conventional" weapons? They are not "in different taste" (in fact, as weapons to kill people, they make perfect sense). The difference, is they are generally *immoral* to use.

I guess it does say something nice that acting rightly is so conventional here that we built it into our language. But for some groups, using gas and bio and terror and suicide bombings and anything else to kill civillians and/or troops *is* the convention. And we shouldn't let them off the hook by calling them anything but evil murdering fucks.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
If we accept that discontinuities in relationships are bad, because the knowledge to handle them does not exist, then what should we say about telling very intimate details to someone we've just met?

Premise: For two people, have some relationship, there is some order of what things are more or less private to tell each other.

Premise: The more private things are the most dangerous to tell.

OK, so how do we get the knowledge to make telling very private things safe? Intimacy (getting to know each other well -- creating knowledge of each other). The more intimacy, the more we can-safely/should tell.

So, what if people tell more than appropriate, and think they haven't messed up? It means, they think various knowledge exists that does not -- they have a fantasy relationship. By the fiat of their imagination, they've decided their partner has qualities partner doesn't. This bad.

What this got to do with discontinuity? Well, if there is an order of things to tell, and we need to create knowledge to tell later ones, then it makes sense to generally go in order (backtracking fine). A discontinuous jump from people talking about rather public things, straight to very private ones, rather than a gradual increase, indicates that a fantasy relationship has been created, or the people wouldn't think this safe.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
I read this USS Clueless entry. Den Beste writes:

Skokie is a suburb of Chicago, and in the 1970's it happens to have had a fairly large number of Jews living there, many of whom were either direct survivors of the Holocaust or had lost relatives in the Holocaust. A neo-Nazi group wanted to hold a parade there. They deliberately chose it because of its Jewish population, and the town refused to let them.

The American Civil Liberties Union is particularly interested in First Amendment cases, and faced a difficult choice. Most of its membership was liberal and leftist. However, this seemed to the ACLU to be a classic attempt to censor public speech based on the fact that it represented unpopular opinions (to say the least).

He goes on to tell us that the ACLU did take the case and won it, at the cost of some membership and donations. He considers this the right thing, because ACLU took a principled stand: to defend the right to free speech, as the organisation was intended.

However, the problem with this view, is that it ignores the morality of the situation. We have nazis... fucking NAZIS, who want to HARASS JEWS. That is morally wrong. It's totally reprehensible, and should be criminal. Den Beste's analysis, is that everyone has the right to unpopular speech, and this is important. But why should that be true? Rights are not self-evident or manifest or anything like that. They are approximations of morality. And we must keep our head on our shoulders when applying them. (Especially the libertarians.)

---------

I would say the above is an example of someone taking a rights prior to morality view. A friend of mine recently criticised this, saying that people do not have two distinct structures in their brains/theories that we could call "morality" and "rights" and do not put one before the other. Of course, in what he says, he is right (there are not such structures), but he's missed the point of the rights before morality criticism. It's a high-level explanation of how people evaluate moral questions. Den Beste started his analysis with the well-known right to free speech. And considers this dominant, and that was the end of the story. I begin by asking about the morality of the situation: should Nazis be allowed to parade their hate speech in front of a bunch of Jews? My answer was no. And Den Beste knows this perfectly well -- he knows it's not a very nice thing for the Nazis to do, and in many ways objectionable. He knows the morality of being a Nazi. He must know, too, the morality of intentionally choosing a place with lots of Jews to hold a Nazi rally. But, despite this, he put the right to free speech ahead of morality in his conclusions.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)
On the previous entry, Gil commented as follows:

It seems to me that this is all just a long way of saying that you are personally risk-averse when it comes to relationships. You seem to exaggerate risks and discount benefits.

This is just a fancy way for Gil to say he thinks I'm wrong. It's also an odd criticism, because I haven't been evaluating specific actions. In fact, I said that the right rate of growing a relationship varies drastically with people and circumstance. I did not write anything like "people should be very cautious, because the world is scary" as someone who read only Gil's comment might think.

Pat's position seems right. Sharing personal information has risks, but they should be weighed fairly against reasonable expectations of costs and benefits.

Cost/benefit is not a very good approach to relationships. We need explanations of what is the right thing to do, not measurements or numbers.

Yes, giving all your personal information to a complete stranger is unwise; but giving some to a date or psychologist who comes highly recommended from a trusted friend might very well be worthwhile.

What could be the use of such a recommendation, in this discussion? It can't be trustworthiness in having good intentions and not gossiping, because I already wrote: I am not interested in intentional hurting or gossip or anyone else but the two people talking. That leaves the notion that our friends being right, is generally a better explanation of reality than otherwise. Except....right about what? About the person being of good character? Oops, I already specified I'm not invoking that argument. About the person being generally compatible with us, then? Errr, if that's the case we will discover it as we begin to talk anyway. So, what good is the recommendation?

(Recommendations are perfectly good for picking who to try meeting, btw.)

This continuous/discontinuous distinction seems weird to me. Why not say that one should take risks when they are reasonable, and admit that broad generalizations about when this will be the case for others are likely to be false?

Would it make sense to you, to say that good relationships require knowledge, and that this cannot be created by declaration, by want, by decision, by imagination, etc?

Here are two more examples of discontinuity:
- becoming "a man" at a certain age, despite no new knowledge coming into existance
- a Catholic child going to his first confession. the knowledge of how the priest can help the specific child, simply doesn't exist.

More on throwing privacy to the winds in particular tomorrow.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
On the previous entry, Pat McNerthney commented as follows:

Yes, it is true that the more of ourselves that we share, the greater we are exposed to potential harm, if even unintentional. However, we also expose ourselves to a greater potential of good, which outweighs the potential harm.

Sharing personal details is nothing more than growing knowledge. Are you really claiming that there is a "proper" growth rate to such knowledge growth?

It's not that there should be a particular rate (for any given couple in specific circumstances, there is a right rate, though). Rather, I'm against discontinuous jumps.

And so, against:
- declaring boyfriend/girlfriend status
- declaring patient/psychologist status

and any other sort of declaring a personal relationship that didn't exist the moment before the declaration. And (to a lesser degree) this applies to telling people intimate details early -- acting on a fantasty relationship. In all these cases of discotinuous jumps, the people sorta creation a relationship out of thin air, then try to act like it exists. Which is dangerous (highly conducive to making mistakes) and doesn't actually help further any real relationship.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
Every time we tell someone personal details -- intimate information -- the person is in a better position to hurt us *unintentionally*. (I am not interested in intentional hurting or gossip or anyone else but the two people talking.) Imperfect people say imperfect things to each other all the time. And it is fairly common to make a joke that is taken badly; explain something person didn't want to know; criticise unhelpfully; or otherwise make some error. And, we are generally pretty good about not holding a grudge or even being coerced by the errors. If something weird is said, people often just say "nevermind" and forget it. Or change the subject. Or ignore it.

But anyway, these minor mishaps are there. And, sometimes, there are larger ones. Perhaps not as common or severe as romantic movies would have us believe, but they certainly happen and matter. Usually they get solved too, no apocalypse. Sometimes not. Whatever.

Now, what can we say about the ability of these mishaps to hurt us? Well, to be hurt, we must take them personally -- have some emotional stake. If we don't care about some domain, we won't get hurt in it. It's only when we care, that we are vulnerable.

And one thing that we are quite attached to, is our own personality. For good people, not all of it -- we may be totally open to criticism in some fields, and not at all attached -- but no one is all that near the limit in that direction. When our friends are upset with us, we care. When those we know well and like and respect, think us bad, it is not as nothing. If a troll rants and raves about how evil we are, we will not mind. The attacks will miss the mark without the most extraordinary of luck. We will be amazed at how badly he misread us. But if a close friend went for it...

So, I keep talking of friends and intimacy -- what's the defining characeristic of those? Knowing each other -- or to make alice happy -- having an understanding of each other's personalities. How does this normally come about? Hanging out, chatting, shared projects, etc

Now, as long as we are gradual in creating understanding of each other, things may go wrong, but I am not worried. There are dangers inherent in everything, no big. Our knowledge of the person, and of how not to hurt the person, will grow together. The second being pretty much totally inexplicit.

But the point is, what if we attempted to create lots of intimacy -- to share lots of personal knowledge -- discontinuously. What if we just met some random person, and started pouring our heart out, giving up all sorts of details? What will happen?

We'll end up with someone, making lots of mistakes, and not knowing what to say to us, and not really understanding us, but with access to our most sensitive spots. We'll be frustrated with criticism useless to us; and hurt by others that shouldn't have been said; and not hear useful ones because person misjudges which to say. We'll hear suggestions we've tried; suggestions that offend us; suggestions that are exactly wrong. And all sorts of things will be misunderstood. And what for? To what end? No good one.

Getting along well, must evolve.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)
On an airplane, when the flight attendants ask people to sit down, they do. And they turn off their electronic equipment. And they ring the call button to provide change for a twenty. and no one hits each other. some ppl seem to think Saddam in power is peace, and it just means whether any states are fighting other states; I'd rather apply da word to a airplane flight. or to US society.

And when the plane stops, everyone on the isle rows gets up, and gets their stuff, and then the people in the front get off, and row by row everyone gets off. This goes rather smoothly, lozza consent, even tho it means the ppl in back have to wait a while 4 everyone in front of 'em to leave.

A revolutionary might look at this and go: "Wait, wait, I have a better idea!! Everyone on the isle, get up, grab your bags, and walk out. No one cut in front of these people and stop to get a bag from overheard, just let them walk out quickly. People in back of the line can come out cause they won't be in the way. This will be more efficient." (note this means front window seats leave last, not near first)

But truth is, trying to change the order, would be more trouble than it's worth, cause lots of chaos, make a big mess, and be totally not efficient. Me no like revolutionaries. they don't understand that traditions and evolution don't like big discontinuous jumps.

from another angle, when ya wanna persuade someone, ya gotta provide both a better view and a way to get to it, not just a better view. telling an anti-semite to be moral, without tons of details on how and why and such, just won't work.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
I tried to post this to the TCS list, but it was rejected. -sigh- Anyway, enjoy:

The better you know someone, and the better they know you, the more intimate things it is safe to tell them. Which meshes amazingly well with a gradual approach to relationships, and extremely poorly with any sort of discontinuous jump.

By the way, this is important to parents who've messed up in the past, and now have an older child but little relationship. "Come tell me all about you, so we can catch up," would be just the wrong thing to say.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)
On the [email protected] list I just noticed an email where someone had written that we should have waited until Saddam used a nuke on Israel, or even on the US (though she didnt like *that* possibility nearly as much), wherever he chose, so that we would have a stronger case for war.

And then someone wrote back to agree.

I have now unsubscribed...

It's especially telling that even these idiots realise Saddam's goal was to make nukes and kill good people.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)
I hadn't been to The Onion for a while. My memory said it was a good site. But I just went and it was covered in idiotarian crap. Now I'm sad v_v

Look here and it's just awful. 9 things on top, all crap. (Down a little is a funny bit....the top reason to oppose war is "I Support My Activist Girlfriend.")

Anyway, the 9 things are:
- claim war being treated like video game
- claim that bombs create terrorists
- claim we are gonna install dictatorship
- claim bush is a chickenhawk
- claim war will piss off the rest of the planet
- claim the pro-war ppl have not answered any anti-war debating poitns
- claim we don't understand the seriousness of war
- claim we're causing too much collateral damage
- claim the US didn't have support any in the UN, and that UN is cool and should be listened to

Damn them. Here's a better site

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)