Category Archives: Forums

Silenced again.

This is a comment I was unable to post to a FB conversation because, apparently, I have been blocked from any kind of conversation with the “friend” that was hosting the conversation.  This was the comment that would have explained what I was doing in the conversation, but, having been blocked from doing so, my participation is being forced into a form that will leave me looking more than a little incoherent.  Which is more than a little uncool with me.  Cowardly and intellectually dishonest, in fact.  I’m neither going to include the full name of the person involved, nor hide the mentions of her first name that I wrote in the comment.  If you know who this is, you can know that I’m calling her out for conversational cowardice and intellectual dishonesty.  If not, don’t worry about it.  

The reason I brought this point up here is that a week or two ago, Amy and I had a long and unpleasant conversation about her assertion of a “fact” that racism is only found in systemic oppression, and not in individual acts of hatred and cruelty motivated by race. I disagreed with that usage of the word, because it’s not the way ordinary people use it. They also use it to describe indiidual acts of hatred and cruelty motivated by race, and belief in racial superiority. As the CBC did in this article (although, honestly, they didn’t quote any of the graffiti that used terms that indicated a racial aspect to this, as I pointed out above). The hatred (which I neither share, nor condone, nor excuse in even the smallest degree) was focused on people based on their religion and their nationality/ethnicity.

Again, I am not a fan of hatred toward Muslims. The only Syrians I have contempt toward are named Assad. I’m not opposed to helping refugees from Syria. Nobody can provide evidence to the contrary because none exists. I’m not trying to distract any attention from this act. I think it’s deplorable, and that those who carried it out should be made to account for it.

For those who disagree with the idea that racism is only an institutional phenomenon, welcome to my side of the disagreement.

For FB Friends of friends:

If you see something I’ve posted that you like, and you think you want to see more from me by friending me, here’s a suggestion, based on experiences with people who have followed that path:

Please look over the things I’ve posted over the previous few weeks, to see if there’s something there that really bugs you. Most likely, there is. I have a variety of opinions across the ideological spectrum, and value the opinions of people I love who disagree with me on many things. I do not do well with people beating others up for being in a different ideological camp, so if you value doing that, you will likely not enjoy being my FB friend as much as you might think. I don’t think there are any ideas that are worth being mean to people over. My personal version of Mormonism and Christianity dwells a lot on the importance of showing love to all people, even those who are considered enemies (and I’m not really a fan of this idea of enemies). If you don’t consider yourself Mormon or Christian, this is still an expectation I have. Disrespecting someone’s opinions and actions is cool with me, but disrespecting people is not.

I love challenging widely held beliefs and assumptions. When my life exploded twenty-one years ago, and I found the world of recovery, I found that the most valuable things I learned came through challenging my beliefs and assumptions in a way that was quite painful at the time. But it was also the most rewarding. So I do a lot of challenging. If you don’t tolerate well having your beliefs and assumptions challenged, than you will likely not enjoy being my FB friend as much as you might think.

If you’re from overseas, and we have no friends in common, or something on your profile that gives me reason to understand why you want to be FB friends, you might want to send me a message, or comment on something I’ve posted, letting me know that you want to be friends and why. Otherwise, I’m likely to delete the request. I’m not running short on FB friends, and I’m no longer as willing to add people because they want to be added as I once was.

My version of yesterday’s bannination

It started when one of the mods started a thread the day before about when it was okay for men to comment on women’s appearance, which she indicated at the top was a test.  Evidently, from later comments she made in the thread, she had a specific male  ProgMo in mind (I don’t know who) who had evidently violated this rule.  It then morphed into having to do with not just commenting on a woman’s appearance to commenting on her body, and there was much vitriol and venting of spleens, and people left the group (or were removed — I don’t know).  And people became angry at me when I gave the correct answer (“Never,” which was given in the thread as the correct answer), but also described the experience whereby I had learned that that was the correct answer (the experience when I was banninated from FMHS), and then someone told me I was “being an ass,” and I said that saying that to me was “being a jerk,” and then the walls started falling down on me.  I started asking for clarification of this rule and describing in useful detail the process of my bannination from FMHS.  And this really pissed a bunch of people off, and nobody would give me any clarification other than “read this thread.”

So I read the whole thread, more than 500 comments.  Several prominent progressive Mormon men participated in the thread, and were wrong, even when they were listening and trying to please the women dominating the thread.  Several of those women commented how there were plenty of hints that this thread was a trap, and that they shouldn’t have expected to be okay in the thread, and how dumb they were to expect otherwise.

And, after responding to what I’d seen in the whole thread, I decided to take a break from the thread.  In the mean time, a number of women in the thread told me they wanted me to just stop, including the mod who started it all.  I’m not good at being silenced.  I did get some useful pieces of feedback that didn’t really apply to what I was doing, but did give me some new insights, but none from the women who were just climbing my frame.  One of the male mods tagged me in a comment, and I responded to him and some of the other things that’d been said, including my protest of the original mod using the group for a personal vendetta.  And then, some time later, I got a PM from another mod who hadn’t participated in the thread, telling me that, since I’d been asked to leave the thread and commented in it again, I was kicked out of the group, and could reapply in 30 days.  We had a little more conversation after that, and I decided that if the mods as a group are okay with what the first mod had done, then I wouldn’t be back.

I’m not going to name names.  I can’t quote any of what anybody said to illustrate my points, since I can’t get to the thread due to my bannination.  That’s why this is my version of what happened, not some objective accounting of exactly what happened.  I’m not okay with being in a space where anybody can dictate how participants can think, or where there is only one allowed opinion.  I prefer liberalism of the “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” variety to this intolerant, doctrinaire and dictatorial variety.  As such, I’m going to recommend that people in the Hub search their souls and seriously consider leaving if they don’t approve of mod behavior like this.  Specifically, I don’t care for the trap thread, and I don’t care for being banninated with no warning that even a calm comment in the thread would result in bannination.  When I was banninated from FMHS, I was warned that repeating my horrible crime would result in bannination, but then I didn’t repeat the crime and was removed anyhow.  That was a bit crappy IMO, but not like skipping the warning.  The only invocation of the <mod> designation happened way up in the thread by the original mod, who said that personal attacks weren’t okay and would be deleted (which didn’t seem to have happened, as I reviewed the entire thread).  I don’t expect mods, or anybody else to be perfect, and power does tend to lead to abuse of power.  My problem will be if the other mods just go along with it, without creating some kind of process to prevent these abuses from happening again.  The one that notified me of the ban indicated that this wasn’t likely to happen.

I am considering opening a new Mormon discussion group that would be open to a wide variety of opinions, with no enforced orthodoxy or ideological monoculture.

Constructively Responding to Child Molesters

This is a response to a friend’s discussion thread on the merits of executing child molesters on the grounds that this is a crime that, once proven, the molester is never forgiven for it by society, giving them an effective life sentence, and that execution is more honest and humane than this.  Having pointed to problems with this as a matter of policy, I was asked what my solution would be to the problem of molesters.  This is what I said:

Solutions — It is a wicked and adulterous generation that thinks it can find solutions for every problem.  Hubristic as well.  We have found solutions for practically no criminal behavior which prevent them from happening, but we are supposed to be able to solve one of the most repugnant crimes perfectly without taking the time to really understand it?  Let me rain on that little parade here and now — it won’t happen.  No matter what we do with the law, we can not stop people from choosing to do wrong in whatever way they decide to preemptively.  It is a power God has not chosen to exercise, so why we think we can escapes me completely.
Continue reading Constructively Responding to Child Molesters

Leave Santa Be

My comment in a thread about a Primary (think Sunday School) teacher who decided to “out” Santa to the students in her class.

Ah, the trouble with reality is that it’s not as real as you want it to be when you look at it really close.  I am troubled by the smug snobbery against things magical/mystical and those who believe in them.  There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in any of our philosophies, no matter how enlightened or inspired or evidence-based those philosophies might be.  Some healthy skepticism is healthy, but an inflated faith in the validity of your current understanding is every bit as damaging and fantasy-based as any superstition that ever was. Continue reading Leave Santa Be

Thoughts on the Prison System

This is a comment I made on Slashdot on a thread titled Building Prisons Without Walls Using GPS Devices, particularly a comment that said  “How about a compromise? A touchy-feely hippie ultra-authoritarian regime that prevents rape, gang fights, and drug dealing while providing education and therapy.”

A system that prevents rapes, gang fights and drug dealing while providing education and therapy would be hugely labor intensive, and would consume a huge proportion of people of very high moral character available in society, if there was a way to reliably identify them, if you had an incentive for them to want to do this. It would explode the costs of staffing prisons by whole number factors, when the existing system costs more than states can afford. Most of that increase would go for your first three criteria — stopping rapes, gang violence and drug trafficking. Continue reading Thoughts on the Prison System

The “real” issue in the Shirley Sherrod case

A response to a column by Joan Walsh on the Shirley Sherrod incident:

I think there are several important issues that need discussing here, and that those who don’t want to discuss one will want to accuse those who do of trying to not discuss another.

There are problems with race in the country, but there is more to it than there are some vestigial fragments of the institutional slavery of the past several centuries. There is wide-spread distrust and anger along racial lines which does not seem to be improving. And there are voices in the civil rights movement who will only engage in the conversation if it is agreed that all and only white people are racist, because they benefit from a racist system. Since I recognize the realities of multiple brands of racial privilege (and identify this as one of them) while rejecting the legitimacy of any of them, we are unable to have a conversation on those terms. I don’t see a way around that impasse with those individuals. The only solution I can see is to bypass them, and engage in the conversation with real individuals who are prepared to have it without preconditions or privileged positions.

When Ms. Walsh claims that “people on the right” are trying to label as racist any black person who has ever said a bad thing about white people in general (without substantiating anything approaching that level of generality), the discussion becomes more difficult. Even if there were a significant number of individuals like she is vaguely describing, they would have a more sustainable position than the one mentioned above, where white people are racist even when they have never said or done anything remotely negative about black people, and that black people are incapable of being racist no matter how much hate and violence they manifest to people just for being white.

There is also a problem with the rush to make this problem entirely about Fox News and Glenn Beck in particular (although Ms. Walsh does not mention Beck in her article). Particularly when the narrative was established before the fact pattern was there to support any portion of it (and it does not support every portion of that narrative). Are Fox’s contributions to this situation really worse than the blanket labeling of Fox News, Glenn Beck, without regard to their participation in any part of this, as racist simply by associating with Fox. Or for claiming that Fox is trying to create white fear of black people by talking about this and asking why the Justice Department dropped the case against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation.

Clearly, what is needed is to detoxify the topic of race, so we can talk about real issues on top of the table, and can spend less time trying to focus on hidden racism. And also less time trying to use race as a trump card to “win” on things that have only a minimum to do with race, if that.

Perhaps it was fear of criticism for racial aspects of this case that drove USDA and the WH to demand Ms. Sherrod’s firing. Responsibility for that fear is to be found on those who have it. Passing blame for their unwise and capricious choices, which clearly and unarguably damaged Ms. Sherrod, to Breitbart and Fox, is simple denial that a “friend” would hurt you and projecting blame for their bad behavior on your “enemy.” It is legally indefensible, and morally vacant.

Perhaps Ms. Walsh’s attention to the wrongdoing of Breitbart and some at Fox is justified by the evidence. Some of it, anyhow. But trying to wrestle every other question the incident raises into nothing other than a conversation about the wrongdoing of Breitbart and Fox is wrong in its own turn. There is more than one thing to talk about here, and more than one valid thing to say.

From CNN Belief Blog’s thread on the Vancouver Temple

Some of my comments to this thread, in case I want to use them later.  They also discuss quite a few anti-Mormon claims you may have seen or heard in the wild:

1.  In response to a comment listing a bunch of Mormon “beliefs’ and “facts,” including the abundance of Masonic symbols in this (or, presumably, any) temple:

Interesting claims. I’ve been in that specific temple a dozen times, and will be back there next Tuesday and Wednesday. Please inform me of the many Masonic images to be found there. There’s the compass and the square, but then what? Two hardly qualifies as “many.” Continue reading From CNN Belief Blog’s thread on the Vancouver Temple

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Below is a conversation I had on the FAIR page on Facebook.  I’ve deleted the identity of the person I was speaking with because I haven’t received his permission to identify him here — you will see him say that he’s copied this to his note, and he has not requested permission to identify me as of now.  I am posting it because I’m more than a little perplexed by what went on.  I see me responding to what he’s saying, at least a little of it, with some substance, and receiving insults and attacks in response.  I’m quite sure he sees something almost the opposite of that.  So I’m looking to see if I’m totally crazy here, or if he comes across as a rather rambly whack-job to other people as well.

Please note that I’m not looking for agreement or disagreement about what either of us are saying.  I would rather not have the Mormon folks around here attacking the guy because he’s anti-Mormon, and I’d rather not have folks taking his side because they also think Mormonism is a cult.  I’m more interested in finding someone who can explain this conversation to me.  He annoyed me, and I clearly pissed him off in a serious way, and I don’t see him bringing specific things for me to respond to in any amount, and he doesn’t see me doing that either.

I must admit that my initial responses were humorously dismissive, but I don’t see him complaining about that, so I don’t think that was a conversation-foul.  But I’m open to contrasting views about that.  Or much of anything other than the content of the conversation. Continue reading Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Disagreement: The path to real learning. (Life is tough, brother. Get a helmet.)

Another comment from another blog that I wanted to keep where I could find it.

Many years ago I bought a new computer — a 386SX-16running MS-Dos5, with a user interface called GeoWorks that had client software for this upstart on-line service that thought some day it could challenge the big-boys (Compuserve and GEnie) called America On-line.  It had a free trial number of hours, and I looked around and around (it was a long-distance call to the only access number in my area, and things didn’t move fast on my 2400 baud modem), and, at the very end, I found a listing for Hatrack River Town Meeting, which rung bells from a book I had just bought by Orson Scott Card — there was a little blurb at the end of the book.  So I went there, and met Scott and a bunch of people.  After a while I was invited to come to a private area called Nauvoo, and there I met Robert Woolley.  He was one of the more insightful folks in that space, but it was pretty low-key and happy for the most part.   Continue reading Disagreement: The path to real learning. (Life is tough, brother. Get a helmet.)