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Repost from tcsblog 2

What Alice should have written, if she valued moral clarity more, was something like, "I object to the title "Fuck Dan in the ass" written by Elliot, because it's a personal attack. I consider that immoral.

Then I imagine a conversation something like this:

Elliot: Would you consider "fuck Michael Moore in the ass" a personal attack?
Alice: huh?
Elliot: well it's nothing personal, i just think his worldview is evil, right?
Alice: ok, not a personal attack
Elliot: so the title about Dan wasn't a "personal attack" either
Alice: huh?
Elliot: cause i just think Dan's worldview, like Michael Moore's, is immoral. i'm condemning a worldview. that's a perfectly legitimate thing to do.
Alice: ok, it's not a "personal" attack but it's still wrong?
Elliot: Why?

Alice would then give ad hoc (made up on the spot) reasons to object. No one would be surprised when they were bad and easily refuted. Alice would then not acknowledge this, and insist the title was immoral, because her feelings tell her so. When accused of not acting rationally she would deny it.

Notably I am aware of other reasons to object to the title. It's even fairly likely Alice would try some of those too before resorting to ad hoc arguments. But besides knowing them, I've worked out answers to them (in advance, mind you).

I'll go through one example. Some might say the title will offend readers and thus reduce readership (some will leave angrily) and thus inhibit the spread of TCS and thus make the world worse. They might suggest the solution is to refrain from writing stuff that might offend people (perhaps, "unless it was really important, but that title wasn't important"). The problem here though, is that we should stand up for our values, which allow for profanity and condemnation of bad people (at least I hope those are our values). Compromising our values to get more readers compromises our message. I mean, if we really wanted more readers, and to avoid offending people, we should probably be recommending "friendly punishments" of children or something. Of course that is a bad road to go down. We must stand firm in our beliefs, and if people don't like them, that doesn't mean we should back down or compromise in search of friends.

Elliot Temple on November 24, 2003

Messages (13)

You have a good point, and I support your right to fuck me in the ass on your own blog.

The relevant fact with the tcsblog, however, is that it is a group effort, with a fairly democratic approach to management (recall the sidebar advice about the blog consenting). In this case, you acted alone, on views not supported by the rest of the blog.

It would rather be like Sierra writing, on the tcsblog, a complaint against cruelty to animals, even while a substantial number of the rest of the blog don't believe such a thing is possible.

Dan at 5:10 PM on November 24, 2003 | #174 | reply | quote

do you also condemn sierra's writing eliminate elliot?

If so why did you endorse it when she told you about it?

fr0ggE at 5:12 PM on November 24, 2003 | #175 | reply | quote

I'd also like to agree that the tcsblog was not the best place to post that title, because if your goal is to condemn dan's worldview then doing it that way isn't very effective, and gets misunderstood easily.

Besides unless you're going to go into detail on specific parts of dan's worldview you think are bad and counter to TCS, it seems off topic on that site. By the way, i know you did so in comments afterward, but we're talking about posting the title in the first place right?

fr0ggE at 5:16 PM on November 24, 2003 | #176 | reply | quote

alice acted alone in removing my comments. i happen to know some people agree with me, and others would at least support that i should be able to say it. i thought TCSblog was for libertarians. TCS *is* a libertarian philosophy. so sayeth the founders over and over, among other things that i haven't time for right now, but i don't think there's disagreement on that point anyhow.

i fully support sierra's right to write a tcsblog post against cruelty to animals. notice how badly you misunderstand me, and libertarianism, to think i wouldn't.

Elliot at 5:17 PM on November 24, 2003 | #177 | reply | quote


not off-topic or confusing/irrelevant because Dan is known in TCS circles and even an author on the blog.

Elliot at 5:19 PM on November 24, 2003 | #178 | reply | quote

right it's on topic for a few people and off topic for anyone who's new or doensn't happen to know dan. And the title still doesn't carry any arguments against or statements about dan's worldview. I think it would be better to do that sort of thing in a post and be clear, than to be sorta vague and vaguely insulting.

Unknown at 5:21 PM on November 24, 2003 | #179 | reply | quote

I wasn't clear.

I don't have a problem with someone changing the title of the blog for virtually any reason, foremost being humor. If I don't like the humor, I won't endorse it. Clearing humorous changes with most or all of the blog would kill the joke. It's better to make the change solo.

On the other hand, someone who puts up a humorous title has no real recourse for complaint of any kind when such a title is removed. It was put up for a quick laugh, and then removed shortly thereafter. This is the way of humor.

However, when one wishes to make a profound moral condemnation, via the title, this is different. They can certainly make the change alone, but they run the risk of discovering that the rest of the blog finds their views repellant, and does not want such a condemnation to seem to come from the blog as a whole.

I see a difference. Do you?

Dan at 5:27 PM on November 24, 2003 | #180 | reply | quote

lol did i say vaguely insulting?

that should probably be "outright insulting" or something stronger, heh, since it was "Fuck Dan in the Ass"

fr0ggE at 5:27 PM on November 24, 2003 | #181 | reply | quote

Then what is the significance of the warning in the sidebar to be sure that the rest of the blog consents with what's posted? If everyone basically supports everyone else's right to say whatever they want there, why have the warning?

Intriguing that you have a warning which misrepresents your views, and then ridicule someone for trusting the guidelines outlined by the blog itself.

Dan at 5:37 PM on November 24, 2003 | #182 | reply | quote

These comments were left on the TCSblog, but got deleted...

Isn't it possible to support something (say Isreal) and also think they make mistakes? If not, why?

Also, when the supported thing does make a mistake, isn't it right to point that out?

Camille at 6:23 AM on November 25, 2003 | #183 | reply | quote

cam: yes, but are you aware of any mistakes by Israel?

the media is full of false ones.

note that collateral damage and friendly fire incidents don't qualify as long as reasonable precautions were taken. of course that will happen some. there's no one to blame but the badguys.

Elliot at 10:55 AM on November 25, 2003 | #184 | reply | quote

Elliot; Isreal was just an example. I don't have any examples of mistakes they may or may not have made, that wasn't what I was trying to figure out. Perhaps I should have used another good example.

Camille at 8:35 PM on November 25, 2003 | #185 | reply | quote

ok well, yes, good things can have flaws, which can be criticised.

am just highly suspicious of people who bring up this fact WRT israel.

Elliot at 8:40 PM on November 25, 2003 | #186 | reply | quote

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