7@11 (6.28)

1. John Shore has been assimilated into the collective. Patheos’ plan for world domination continues (rubs hands together, cackles fiendishly).

2. Via Brad DeLong, here’s Noah Smith illustrating the moral sentiments of conservative free market economist Greg Mankiw — and finding that it’s the same moral outlook we hear from Chris Brown. (It doesn’t affect Smith’s argument, but I’m not confident he should accept Walmart’s claim to be paying an “average” wage of $12.40/hour. My guess is that’s a mean from a very lop-sided bell curve.)

And while we’re on the subject of a living wage, Morgan Guyton suggests that perhaps maybe the first step in any church-based campaign for a living wage would be for churches to pledge to pay such wages themselves. Ouch. As the punchline to the old joke says, “Careful, pastor, now you’re meddling.”

3. Writer Jay Lake has a lovely, generous post on “Me and Prayer.” He has terminal cancer, and his blog has become a lesson in facing death with dignity, grace, gratitude, good humor and panache. Jay is, as he says, “a staunch atheist. One might even say raving.” But I think Christians and atheists alike can learn from the example of his post on “I’m praying for you,” which demonstrates something of what the Golden Rule looks like.

4. “Intersectionality” is a word we dirty hippy liberal types use to address the idea that all the various flavors of bigotry, oppression and inequality seem to be related and connected. Like the scripture says, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” My social conservative friends disagree. For them it’s very important to say that the various things we liberals lump together as intersectional and interconnected are, in fact, distinct and discrete phenomena. Or, in smaller words, they hate it when we call them bigots.

Specifically, they really hate it when we assume that their opposition to full legal equality for LGBT people or their opposition to full legal equality for women also means they oppose full legal equality for people of color. Just because someone may be anti-feminist and anti-gay, they insist, we shouldn’t also assume that person is racist.

Fair enough. But that’s also why it’s in their best interest to do whatever they can to make Phyllis Schlafly stop talking in public and maybe retire somewhere nice and quiet. Because, see, she keeps saying racist things. And then repeating them.

I get that she’s kind of an icon among Republicans and among conservative Christians. She’s 88 years old, and like any politician, ugly building, or preacher who’s been around that long, she’s become respectable. So get her off the stage quietly, respectfully and reverently if you need to. But get her off the stage. Her hatefulness is not helping your cause. (Yes, this is concern trolling — but it’s still true.)

5. I am very pleased to see this. I’m happy to see Rachel Held Evans writing for CNN (or anywhere else for that matter). And I’m happy to read her fine reflection on good old Acts 10-11 and the story of Peter’s revelation and revolution regarding unclean outsiders. Peter had far more “biblical authority” supporting his previous rejection of Gentiles than the religious right can claim to support their rejection of their LGBT neighbors. If Peter had been like Al Mohler or Rick Warren, then none of us Gentile Christians could ever have joined the church. Freely you have received, freely give.

6. Matt Yglesias sums up why I would never want to live somewhere governed by a condo board or HOA:

Condominium associations seem to work … through a kind of arbitrary totalitarianism. Essentially everything is against the rules, and daily life is made tolerable only through the fact that the rules aren’t actually enforced. But then anytime someone wants to be a pain in the ass, they can demand enforcement of some random provision or other. …

And the problem is that there’s essentially no escape. In any condo, the rules are made by the condo board and at condo meetings. And while the boards and the meetings are theoretically democratic institutions, in practice they self-select for busybodies who feel like wasting their time on condo business. … So in practice everyone winds up in an excessively busybody-dominated condo where too much stuff is against the rules and enforcement is too spotty and arbitrary. Most people simply aren’t litigious enough to fight back.

I suppose it also speaks well of Glenn Greenwald that people trying to dig up dirt on him couldn’t do better/worse than come up with the possibility that 10 years ago he was found innocent of violating his condo’s rules about dogs.

7.What would you see in a box full of mirrors?” <keanu>whoa</keanu>

 

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  • dan

    “Hippy”? You’ll need to post a picture of yourself in a jam circle or at a Rainbow gathering before I buy that, Fred. I’ll be civil and just leave it there.

  • We Must Dissent

    Maybe Fred’s just got a bunch of junk in the trunk.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    What’s not clear to me is whether Fred actually considers himself a hippie or is merely joking about the way some of his detractors might describe him or categorize him in order to dismiss him.

  • Lori

    I suspect it’s the latter, “damn dirty hippies” being a running thing. However, as We Must Dissent points out, he may just be talking about how his pants fit.

    As someone here once noted, “hippie” is what Conservatives think of Liberals while “hippy” is a Defcon 2 fashion emergency.

  • AnonaMiss

    I can’t help it my hips don’t lie

  • the shepard

    better a damn dirty hippie than a damn dirty ape.
    – charlton heston

  • Anonymouse

    I’ve seen that mirror post going around tumblr! Reminds me of Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist who makes walk-in exhibits like those boxes. I’ve been to one. They’re pretty trippy and awesome.

    (first time posting a link on disqus ha ha let’s hope it works)

    http://www.mattress.org/index.cfm?event=ShowArtist&eid=45&id=221&c=permanent

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Specifically, they really hate it when we assume that their opposition
    to full legal equality for LGBT people or their opposition to full legal
    equality for women also means they oppose full legal equality for
    people of color. Just because someone may be anti-feminist and anti-gay,
    they insist, we shouldn’t also assume that person is racist.

    The problem with this is that they’re forgetting that these problems and the importance of intersectionality are most notably systemic, as is much oppression. It doesn’t matter whether certain individuals are “only racist,” “only homophobic,” or “only misogynistic.” On a systemic level, those axes of oppression still interrelate when faced by an individual who is subject to two or more of them.

    It seems likely to me that what they really “hate” is having to face the systemic nature of oppression and their own privilege.

  • dpolicar

    I’m not sure I understood this.

    Are you saying that because some LGBT people and women are also people of color, oppressing LGBT people and women necessarily involves oppressing people of color?

    Or are you saying that there’s a mutually reinforcing relationship between the social structures that implement the oppression of women, LGBT people, and people of color, such that anything that strengthens one of those necessarily strengthens the others?

    Or something else?

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Or are you saying that there’s a mutually reinforcing relationship
    between the social structures that implement the oppression of women,
    LGBT people, and people of color, such that anything that strengthens
    one of those necessarily strengthens the others?

    This is by far the more accurate statement of the two. However, there are some great articles and blog posts about intersectionality that are written by people who understand the concept and explain it far better than I can. I’d encourage you to check them out if you want to understand it better.

  • dpolicar

    I’m acquainted with the general idea, I just wasn’t quite sure what you were saying. Thanks for clarifying.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, QUILTBAG person here, but I’m also white and male.

    So I can “pass” rather well as an apparent heterosexual person, which tends to obscure the effect of social oppression.

    But it is still a truism that I do not feel comfortable revealing myself as bisexual at work.

  • dpolicar

    Yup.

    It frequently amuses me that people who don’t know me at all assume I’m straight (since they assume everyone’s straight unless explicitly given a reason to do otherwise) and acquaintances assume I’m gay (since I have a husband).

    I mostly don’t worry about it; people’s assumptions are their own to make, and it’s not my job to correct them. That said, when my orientation comes up in conversation, I happily identify as bi.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I recently realized that I assume everyone’s asexual until proven otherwise. So if I learn someone has a husband, I’ll add “attracted to men” to my mental index card for them, but nothing more. It’s rarely my business anyway.

  • dpolicar

    (nods) That seems reasonable.

    For my part I seem to assume everyone’s omnisexual until given a reason to do otherwise, though admittedly a lot of things seem to count as “reasons” in my head that I wouldn’t really consider justified if I said them out loud.

    That said, as you say, it’s rarely my business.

  • Alix

    Man, I wish more people were like you. :/

  • the shepard

    yeah, frankly, your sexuality is really low on the list of the list of things i’m concerned about.
    mostly i just rank people as pleasant, neutral or pain-in-my-ass. those are the categories that really concern me.
    and, i admit, i am a thorough pain-in-my-assophobe.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I rank them by if I can trust them. I trust assholes a lot faster than I trust people trying to blow smoke up my ass.

  • Vermic

    I really shouldn’t read Phyllis Schlafly because I know what to expect, but for some reason I couldn’t look away this time. Here are some choice angry-up-the-blood quotes from her first link in #4 (emphasis mine):

    For those who believe in limited government, or who are libertarians, there’s no way to get the government out of our lives unless you uphold the traditional nuclear family, because then it can support itself. When you have an intact nuclear family structure, you don’t need much government. It’s the people who have abandoned the family who look to government to help them with all their expenses in life.

    The idea of an enormous number of people getting food stamps? Nobody’s hungry in the United States.

    Any gay couple can get married— all they have to do is find a preacher or justice of the peace who will perform the ceremony. There’s no law against that. What they are demanding is that we respect them as being OK, and that’s an interference with our free speech rights.

    Well, of course the IRS scandal is much worse than Watergate. Watergate was just an ordinary little break in to an office. The harassment by the IRS, particularly of those who use Tea Party or Patriot in their titles, is just a total outrage.

    American women are the most fortunate class of people who ever lived on the face of the earth …. I don’t know what they’re complaining about. You can do whatever you want.

    No commentary from me, because it’s not necessary. Man, that family is a piece of work.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Wow, there are some huge departures from reality in there, aren’t there?

  • Lori

    Phyl hasn’t lived in our reality since, as far as I can tell, ever. She lives in Phyllis world where it’s all about what Phyllis wants. This is after all a law school graduate who made her name & fortune doing 200+ speaking engagements a year condemning women for not fulfilling their god-given roles as wives and mothers, while she had a husband & children at home.

    ETA: Quick, without Googling, what was her husband’s name and what did he do for a living?

    Bonus essay question: Using only Phyl’s public statements demonstrate that her oldest son is gay because she was a bad mom.

  • AnonaMiss

    Andy? And I think he was a high-profile evangelical type?

    This was all before my time so I will be impressed if I get this right

  • Lori

    That only needed to be said once. I have no idea why disqus thought otherwise. Disqus is so weird.

  • Lori

    Andy is her youngest son*. He’s the “brains” behind Conservapedia. The oldest son, John, is gay. A magazine outed him back in the early 90s and both he & Phyl subsequently acknowledged it.

    *Phyl & the Mr had 6 kids. I honestly have no idea who was taking care of them while she was traveling most of the year telling other women to take off their shoes and get back in the kitchen to escape from the evils of the ERA. Mr. Phyl** came from some money and was a practicing lawyer, so I suppose they did the traditional thing and hired some poor woman to raise their kids.

    OK to be fair, the kids were mostly grown by the time the ERA thing really got going. She worked when they were young though and ran for office before they all left home, so she virtually certainly had someone else doing the scut work that she insisted was a woman’s rightful duty.

    **Mr Phyl’s name was John. Correct your own papers. Remember you’re bound by the honor code.

    ETA: Andy pings my gaydar a bit too, but that’s purely speculative and I could be wrong. My gaydar is decent, but far from fool-proof.

  • Lori

    What they are demanding is that we respect them as being OK, and that’s an interference with our free speech rights.

    Washington University should have revoked her law degree years ago. She’s an embarrassment to the program.

  • the shepard

    that is, without doubt, one of the most brain-numbingly inane things i’ve ever heard in my life.
    (the quote, not the comment.)

  • Trevor

    I’m not from the US, and I’m not really sure who this Schlafly person is, but I don’t really understand how anyone who says things like “Nobody’s hungry in the United States” or “feminism has done nothing good for women, whatsoever” has any credibility or listeners.

    I presume she’s some kind of troll? Say the most outrageous things possible just to get a reaction?

  • Cathy W

    By all accounts Schlafly is serious. (People harbor suspicions about some right-wing pundits being performance art, but I’ve never heard her name mentioned on the list.) She’s been at this kind of thing since the ’70s – and was definitely one of the original anti-feminist “Ladies Against Women”, if you will.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    http://rackjite.com/conservapedia-the-schlaflys-rewrite-history-and-the-bible/

    And dude’s been writing about her for a long time prior, as well.

  • VMink

    Shlafly is one of the people responsible — and proudly so — for shooting down the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 80’s. She’s the poster-child of being irrationally divorced from reality.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    She’s one of those women who’s made a lot of money from hating other women.

  • Jenny Islander

    She is a nice lady in a nice outfit who says terrible things in a nice voice that comes out of such a nice sweet motherly (now grandmotherly) expression. Also, she says them to people who want to believe that if all women turned into nice ladies like Phyllis Schlafly, the way they were in the past (that is, the commercial media of the youth of a certain generation), then everybody would be happy and just so nice.

  • fraser

    And sexual harassment never happens to virtuous women like her. It’s only if you’re slutty and sleeping around that your coworkers will naturally feel they’re entitled to get a piece of the action. Yes, she did say that some years back.

  • FearlessSon

    In some ways, she is like Sarah Palin, but much older and much more nasty.

    Have you ever read Margret Attwood’s book The Handmaid’s Tale? It is widely speculated that Attwood based the character of Serena Joy (the Commander’s wife) off of Schlafly, at least in part. For those who have not read it, Serena Joy (speculated in-universe to be a pseudonym) was a former televangelist and anti-feminist public speaker, talking about how a woman’s place is in the home. Now she finds herself on the winning side of a theocratic dystopia she helped create, subject to its new laws demanding that women in fact be confined to just the home and stripped of any major influence, and now she finds the taste of her “success” rather more bitter than she anticipated.

  • reynard61

    As the saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for…”

    Then again; I’d be willing to bet real money that Schlafly fully believes that, as a Rule Maker, she’ll be immune from the rules that she’s handing down to us dirty Heathen-folk.

  • VMink

    the traditional nuclear family […] can support itself

    That’s a goddamned lie and Schlafly should be run out of town for saying it.

    The so-called nuclear family only works when (a) all members are comfortably,emotionally stable and strong, (b) all members continue to live within the same close geographic area, (c) the members live in a stable economic climate, and (d) the members get along perfectly. (d) doesn’t necessarilly have to dovetail with (a), mind.

    A nuclear family is thus a metastable structure. The incapcaitation of one member means that the rest of the family must contribute to the continuation of stability. But when one of the remaining members of that family goes to pieces and emotionally collapses, then all that talk about ‘nuclear family stability’ is just rank bullshit. The nuclear family implodes. And this isn’t even talking about when someone in the family is a jackass and actively works to disrupt the family, or when one member — say, a child — has to move hundreds of miles away to get an education, or a job that pays a living wage. Or when the family isn’t suffering from food insecurity and doesn’t know where next week’s meals are coming from. But as we can read from her, she’s thoroughly from reality.

    She should stick to spouting racism, sexism, and lies. She’s at least good at that. Knowing how reality works, not so much. History will consider her a speedbump, nothing more; but for now she’s an annoying person who does more harm than good and should quietly retire somewhere and live out the rest of her days out of the way.

    ETA: Sorry for the wall o’text. Having been in what she would consider a perfectly fine ‘nuclear family’ which collapsed and failed when one member became incapacitated, the lie of the nuclear family is particularly galling and button-pushing to me.

  • AnonaMiss

    But when one of the remaining members of that family goes to pieces and emotionally collapses, then all that talk about ‘nuclear family stability’ is just rank bullshit. The nuclear family implodes.

    But that’s the people in the family’s fault, for abandoning a nice stable nuclear family.

  • Vermic

    The nuclear family can never fail, it can only be failed!

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    That’s the women and children in the family’s fault. An abusive or cheating or etc. husband and father must always be catered to. At least if he’s white and of the right class.

  • kittehonmylap

    Hmm- what’s the usual rationale for the nuclear family falling apart due to death of one of the parents (most notably, the father)?

  • AnonaMiss

    God did it as punishment for the teenagers in the family touching themselves at night.

  • Persia

    Blame the hippies.

  • Jenny Islander

    If the survivors can manage to perform poverty correctly, then it’s a character-building ordeal. Performing poverty correctly means being shabby but not ragged, knowing how to do all kinds of crafty and organic things, and crying photogenically if you cry at all.

    The worthy poor can never be dirty. If you’re so poor your utilities have been shut off, you’re a bad person.

    The worthy poor must not have any problems that can’t be solved by a box of groceries or a fundraiser dinner. If they need a lot of help for a long time, they’re just lazy.

    Poor widows may be permitted to support their families themselves depending on which fundamentalist Pharisee you talk to–but they can’t ever let the housework slide, or ask other people to tutor their kids, or permit the (gasp) latchkey lifestyle.

    And poor widows must not ever let on that they are angry or depressed, especially after folks went to all that trouble to drop off groceries.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Nobody’s hungry in the United States.

    Whether or not that’s true, it’s a damned low bar to set for the alleged Greatest Nation on Earth.

  • the shepard

    i can say as absolute fact that this is wrong.

    she needs to spend a little time around food banks or meals-on-wheels services or homeless shelters or anyplace else where people actually try too help others.

  • themunck

    But there’s poor people there! They might infect her with their homosexual commuslimist agenda! Murcia!

  • J_Enigma32

    But if we set the bar any lower, the Republicans won’t even be able to meet it. And how do you expect them to live up to their Godly standards if they’re just barely meeting a bar so low it orbits around a star in Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, immediately below the galactic plane, huh?

    Typical liberal, expecting Republicans to rise to the challenge. Don’t you know that only applies to them furriners, wimmin, and colored folk? Bootstraps, I say. BOOTSTRAPS*

    * Does not apply to wealthy, rich, white, affluent people. After all, expensive wingtip shoes don’t have straps, and you don’t seriously expect me to bend over at eating all that lobster i got from my government bail out, do you?

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    “[T]hey’re just barely meeting a bar so low it orbits around a star in Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, immediately below the galactic plane”
    That just made my day.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    There’s a bar Republicans are meeting? Whenever I think they couldn’t possibly be any worse, they prove me wrong. I guess that’s a bar of a kind.

  • reynard61

    Here’s one that has me scratching my head:

    “I’d like to turn to the subject of gay rights. In the last two weeks, there have been a series of hate crimes in New York City directed against gays, culminating in the death of a 32-year old man named Marc Carson. Do you think the government has a role to play in protecting gays and lesbians?”

    “I think the appropriate authorities need to protect us against crime and need to punish crime when it happens. I don’t see how that crime is any different from assault and battery or killing of other people.”

    “You don’t think it should be treated differently because it is directed against members of one specific group?”

    “No, and I don’t think it should be made into a federal crime. The system of our government is that crime is a local and state matter for arrest and punishment.”

    Well…um…then why do we have — or even *need* — an FBI or a Secret Service (in regards to counterfeiting money, a crime that can — and often does — cross state lines) or a Federal Marshal’s Service? (Which often has to cross state lines in order to pursue and capture fugitives and protect witnesses.) How would we have fought organized crime (i.e. The Mafia) without a *Federal* crime-fighting organization that could cross state borders without having to go through the rigamarole of determining which state agency gets jurisdiction over and/or credit for a particular bust? What about tracking terrorists? Would *each state* have to set up it’s own counter-terrorism/intelligence operation? How much would *that* cost?! And what about interstate crimes like drug-trafficking, Human-trafficking, gun-running, boot-legging, etc.? For someone who’s supposedly so “America! FUCK YEAH!”, she sure seems to be “Reality, FUCK YOU!!!”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It sounds to me like he wants each individual state to have the right to decide how much to protect their homosexual citizens from hate crimes. This cannot end well.

  • reynard61

    *imagines Phyllis Schlafly as a man. finds how easy it is. shudders!*

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Whups, I mixed up the conversations (my e-mail inbox has three of these 7-at-11 threads active!) and thought this was in reference to someone else. XD

    It says something how often the opponents of homosexuality are men, though, and how often they also advocate some revolting beliefs about women and traditional gender roles. I really think there could be something to the phrase “Homophobia: The fear that gay men will treat you the way you treat women.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s one thing that seems to keep them awake at night – the idea that a guy might check out their ass or their chest the way they ogle women routinely.

    Never mind that being stared at is uncomfortable no matter who the starer or stare-ee is.

  • FearlessSon

    It sounds to me like he wants each individual state to have the right to decide how much to protect their homosexual citizens from hate crimes. This cannot end well.

    Someone should try telling her that there is a proposed amendment in one or more states making it legal to beat up anyone found to be inciting homophobia.

    Watch how quickly she starts demanding that the federal government come in and put a stop to it.

    Marvel at her double standard. The headspinning alone could power a city if you wore a magnet hat and stuck yourself in a coil.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    She’s a true heir of her slaveowning philosophical forebears. “States’ rights for me and not for thee.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It is a simple truism that people often complain about laws until they want the government to stop something they personally don’t like.

    I think a less controversial example would be asking if she likes the idea of a law passed that would, say, ban parking on the side of any street in her city. She would probably be up in arms over that, as a lot of drivers seem to think being able to park anywhere is a right and not a privilege.

  • J_Enigma32

    For those who believe in limited government, or who are libertarians,
    there’s no way to get the government out of our lives unless you uphold
    the traditional nuclear family, because then it can support itself. When you have an intact nuclear family structure, you don’t need much government. It’s the people who have abandoned the family who look to government to help them with all their expenses in life.

    And there’s that Leave it to Beaver/Mad Men fanfic I was talking about the other day…

  • Jenny Islander

    I have a traditional nuclear family. My husband even worked the same job since he was wet behind the ears, the traditional route to security in old age. He is fully vested, top tier everything.

    And since the state adjusted income cutoffs to reflect the actual cost of living, we now qualify for WIC.

    Phyllis Schlafly preaches malnutrition and sickness for me and mine.

  • reynard61

    As far as I can tell, Phyllis Schlafly preaches malnutrition and sickness for everyone except the membership of her particular, peculiar little Tribe.

  • FearlessSon

    I really shouldn’t read Phyllis Schlafly because I know what to expect, but for some reason I couldn’t look away this time.

    Much like looking at a brutal car wreck.

    Anyway, a friend of mine reposted a link to what she was saying, adding that as the son of a caucasian mother on welfare and a Latino man, who now makes good money making software at Microsoft, he has to agree with Schlafly on exactly one point: he will never vote Republican, and people like Schlafly are exactly why. Hard not to feel like he would be unwelcome in their “club” even if he wanted to join.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I coulda sworn there was something in the bible about not lying…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yeah, but when the bible uses the word “lying”, it means stuff like “Denying that RTCs are right about everything when Deep Down Everyone Knows They Are”; “Making statements which support RTC worldviews but are technically contrary to observable reality for the purpose of deception” doesn’t count.

    It’s just like how when the bible says “wine”, it really means “grape juice”

  • reynard61

    I regret that I have but one “^” to give to this comment.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Following a link from the always admirable Rachel Held Evans: Exodus International has closed its doors, and Alan Chambers has issued an apology for the hurt wrought by Exodus International upon those it purported to serve and those who heard its hurtful message.

    I was a bit nonplussed at first by his introduction where he’s all “I don’t agree with the vocal majority on either side and this will continue to make me an outsider,” I read that and all I could hear was “yadda yadda look at my martydom yadda,” but I kept reading through the introduction to his actual apology and…

    And I am simply astonished at Chambers’ humility and change of heart. Y’all, he gets it. Intent is not magic, personal religious beliefs should not be a justification for hurting others, he gets it.

    An excerpt:

    Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them. I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours.

    This is how you do Apology. Chambers, you are appreciated. The rest of you Evangelical voices in the conversation, take note.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    This was mentioned about a week before on Slacktivist.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Thank you – I thought it strange that I hadn’t seen it mentioned here, and I looked, but couldn’t find it referenced in recent posts. It may be that I saw the previous mention but didn’t click through, and so it didn’t make the impression on me that reading it in full has now.

    Can you recall which post it was mentioned in? (If not, no big deal; just curious to read the original discussion.)

  • themunck
  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Thank you! Yes, I remember that post now. Off to reread!

    My apologies for the redundancy – I was just so very stunned by it I had to open my mouth somewhere. :-)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Whoever downvoted Nicole’s post: shame on you.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I’m a gambling man, and I’ve got 20 bucks on EH.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    It wasn’t me!

  • Lori

    Maybe it was dan/Tim

  • John (not McCain)
  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Yes, a mere apology isn’t anywhere near enough, and I don’t trust Alan Chambers as far as I can throw him. That doesn’t excuse the downvote, especially a downvote with no explanation as to why the person downvoted, especially the downvote with no explanation here.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Eh, I’m not bothered by downvotes. They’re just buttons. But thank you for your kindness, Lliira.

    An apology doesn’t make the hurt go away, no more than good intentions prevent hurt from happening. But an apology of that thoroughness from that source leaves a deep impression on me. It’s not the sort of thing I ever thought I’d read.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’m just very, very tired of whoever it is downvoting people’s comments on Slacktivist (sometimes seemingly because they have a beef with that person) and not having the guts to say why. Beyond anything else, it leads to confusion. Did the downvoter downvote because they’re a homophobe? Did they downvote because they thought the apology was bad? Did they downvote because Fred had made a post about this before?

    I don’t like cowards. Btw, I also never downvote here. I think downvoting goes directly against the culture of this community — and maybe that’s changing in a way I don’t like, and I won’t be able to stop it.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    For my own part, I don’t feel like I’m invested enough in the existence of the voting mechanism, or in my post’s collective score, to experience the confusion you describe. And I’ve downvoted a post or two (or ten) in my time (generally when I feel the post has no redeeming value, not even enough to merit my engaging it — though sometimes I’ll downvote and reply if I feel strongly enough about the post’s negative value), so I don’t really judge anyone else’s moral character for having used it. But we all have our own relationships with Disqus’s intriguing features; this is merely mine with that one.

  • Alix

    For me, it’s not disliking cowards so much as being really confused why some things get downvoted. When I post something I know someone disagrees with and that gets downvoted, it doesn’t bother me; it’s the inexplicable ones – like what you said before about getting downvoted over a birthday wish – that annoy me. (Not saying your feelings are wrong; just expressing mine.)

    Honestly, I wish upvotes were still anonymous. :/ Maybe that makes me weird, I don’t know, or a coward, but I liked being able to like things without broadcasting that opinion to the world. Kind of like how I wish I could comment on some sites without them notifying all my Facebook friends, and how I’m increasingly annoyed by all the interconnectivity.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I wish Disqus removed the anonymity of downvotes. I don’t like confusion about why someone/who upvoted or downvoted a comment.

  • Alix

    I emphatically disagree. To me, the best sort of up/downvote system is one entirely anonymous, that allows people the freedom of expressing like/dislike, agreement/disagreement, without qualms. But I am all for a more opaque internet presence in general, so. :/

    Does it annoy the crap out of me when I can’t tell why someone’s downvoted me? Sure, and sometimes I vent that frustration. But on the whole I prefer it that way.

  • Jamoche

    I have accidentally downvoted on things when I just happen to click the right part of the screen in an attempt to scroll down on a trackpad. Accidental upvotes are obvious; the popup appears. Accidental downs don’t provide any feedback if you don’t notice the number change.

  • arcseconds

    I agree with you with everything you say, but I don’t think you should spend too much time thinking about it.

    I was worried about this kind of thing when getting feedback from… eh, I guess we could say they were clients. They were mostly positive, with a very small number of negatives, and I was concerned about those small numbers.

    My boss basically said to me: “if this was just straight data, how much time would you spend worrying about the outliers?”

    The answer, of course, is you’d scarcely give them a second thought.

    There are probably thousands of people who read this blog, hundreds who read it regularly, approximately a hundred people who post, and tens who post regularly. One of those people is being an arse and downvoting comments (well, two, if you count EH, but he says it wasn’t him in this case).

    There’s absolutely no point in spending time speculating about why they did this. It’s really not worth it.

    Good job on calling them out about it, though. I’ll go like that post now…

  • themunck

    I think (or maybe hope is a better word) that it’s merely because this was already mentioned, and discussed, in Fred’s post about that very topic, and not because of any actual disagreement with the statement. Likewise, if I was to comment “VRA was struck down! Jesus wept :(“, I presumably would get a downvote as well.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    I had basically the same reaction to his introduction to the apology. In fact, I think my exact thoughts were “You can apologize for hurting other people, or you can make this all about you. You cannot do both, so pick one. (You can do neither, however.)”
    As for the apology itself, I still have mixed feelings about it. But I’ve spoken about them at length before, so I won’t rehash them here.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Now that I’ve caught up on the Slactivist post highlighting this and all the attendant conversation, I feel like I ought to clarify my praise:

    I agree that 1. apologies aren’t enough and can never be enough, that 2. we’ll have to wait and see whether the apologizer’s next actions bear out his words, and 3. however sincere-sounding the apology, no obligation inheres on the wronged party to forgive.

    But I’ve seen my share of fauxpologies, and this ain’t one of them. As a template for “How to write a sincere, humble apology,” there are worse templates out there than this one.

    It’s a good strong baby step. It’s certainly the right first step, for all that it isn’t the whole of the journey. It gives me hope for the steps to follow, and hope is never a thing to be ashamed of even if I end up disappointed.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I suppose it also speaks well of Glenn Greenwald that people trying to
    dig up dirt on him couldn’t do better/worse than come up with the
    possibility that 10 years ago he was found innocent of violating his
    condo’s rules about dogs.

    -Er… Fred, you’re forgetting Greenwald’s sockpuppetry. http://ace.mu.nu/archives/187585.php

  • SisterCoyote

    As discussed in prior threads, people are complicated. Greenwald has done sockpuppetry and been kind of a jerk on the internet, yeah, but he also rescues abused dogs pretty much constantly – I think he and his partner live with several they rescued. Much like you can be kind of a jerk in a lot of comment threads, but also sometimes have points or interesting angles.

    Most large/mainstream media outlets would look at you a little funny if you accused someone of sockpuppetry, wondering why a weird off-key hobby makes one a worse person. Internet standards of behavior are not a widely understood thing in the mainstream, and wouldn’t really count as ‘dirt.’

  • caryjamesbond

    I’m not gonna lie- I’ve really got to say that “pretending to be someone else sometimes on the internet to support your own arguments” is about the lowest level of “bad” I can think of. Somewhere slightly below “Making change from the collection plate” and slightly above “cursing in your head at the driver in front of you.”

    It’s SAD, maybe, but hardly a moral wrongness.

  • Alix

    I was thinking more “pathetic and annoying,” but yeah.

  • SisterCoyote

    I think there’s different levels of issues with that, though – in most cases, you are right, and that’s where I’d put Greenwald. The exception, where it goes from “kind of pathetic” to “a pretty awful thing to do,” IMHO, is in a community environment. If you’re in a forum with about… say, twenty regulars and maybe sixty or seventy-odd orbitals*, sockpuppeting is more of a betrayal of trust than if you’re commenting in a place that gets a few hundred unique hits in the first few hours.

    *By which I mean “people who drop by with some regularity, but tend to spend more time lurking or hiatus-from-comments-ing than interacting.”

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I think it’s a moral wrong, and it can cause some very serious damage to people. (Look up the Ms. Scribe saga to see how it can implode communities and friendships.) There are different levels, and Ms. Scribe’s as bad as I’ve ever seen it get, but it’s always bad.

  • Alix

    I think it’s stupid*, but not in itself a moral wrong. It can be used in service of moral wrongs, like in the case you mention, but I don’t think pretending to be someone else to support yourself on the internet is on its own really a huge ill. That’s like saying jaywalking is a moral wrong because criminals sometimes jaywalk when fleeing the scene of their crimes.

    *It always backfires badly, for one thing, and is often laughably transparent. There was one guy on a number of pagan communities I was on who’d try to pose as an expert and then create sockpuppets to talk about how awesome his theories were and rag on everyone else. It was ridiculously obvious because these “fans” always used the same idiosyncratic line breaks he did.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    While sockpuppetry burns no kittens and picks no literal pockets, it occupies that special place in the hell of my imagining for the crime of damaging both communication and community. Communication-In-Good-Faith is something I value highly, and I cannot be well disposed to someone whose actions fly in the face of its underpinnings.

    I’m pretty sure TNH at Making Light has expounded much more eloquently along these lines. Please feel free consider anything she’s said about sockpuppetry to represent my own feelings on the matter.

  • Alix

    Oh, it’s certainly done in bad faith. There are a whole host of reasons sockpuppetry is problematic and annoying, but it doesn’t itself strike me as a huge moral wrong, anymore than jaywalking or spinning yarns does.

    Either way, it’s not something people ought to engage in, if the point is good-faith communication, same as one ought not lie. But I’m probably in the minority here of not considering lying an automatic moral wrong, either; it’s not the tool, but what use it’s put to, that’s the problem.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    My problem isn’t merely that the sockpuppetry is a bad faith action; my problem is that it erodes the very process of conversation and community. It can destroy all participants’ faith in the genuineness of conversation itself. It poisons the well, not just for those directly conversing with those who turn out to be sockpuppets, but for all interacting with a given online community.

    I have a special animus towards those who harm the very process of communication. Not “communication with them,” but “communication itself.” I’m not fond of the species of semantic drift that erodes precision of language, robbing us of words that describe precise things; but this is but a speck compared to the duplicity that erodes our ability to trust in the very process of forming community. Sockpuppetry is one of those duplicities.

    Sockpuppetry can destroy a community’s reputation, even if only one or two people turn out to have been wielding the puppets. It’s why book reviews on Amazon (and, by extension, similar sites) come under such suspicion. In certain circumstances, it can even kill.

  • Alix

    Not being snarky, here – I’m not sure how that’s much different than being wary of people on the internet in general. We are, almost all of us, operating behind masks, essentially. We’re just assuming no one’s swapping masks behind our backs, and that people are what they claim to be.

    I think this is why I don’t find sockpuppetry alone (not when employed for stalking, trolling, etc., but just the basic act) that disturbing. It’s swapping a mask, and then using it to promote another one. At heart it’s just an extremely weird form of self-promotion. I kind of feel like we’re compounding sockpuppetry itself with the uses to which it can be put (like the abhorrent trolling/stalking in your last link).

    It’s akin, to me, to saying that being anonymous on the internet erodes community, good faith, and conversation, because anonymous trolls exist. That’s sort of true, but it doesn’t make being anonymous itself something horrible.

    Now, I do consider sockpuppetry problematic and wrong, and anonymity’s not. I’m not defending sockpuppetry so much as saying I see it as more of a misdemeanor than a major crime.

    Edit, for clarification: I consider sockpuppetry wrong because it’s an inherently bad-faith attempt to game the system. I just don’t think that’s a big moral evil.

    Edit, jr.: Also, I do see what you’re saying, and I’m not trying to say you’re wrong to feel that way. I’m just trying to lay out my position more clearly. (Not sure I succeeded, but eh.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    This just makes me giggle, since I and AnonaMiss are… kind of anonymous, but obviously not.

  • Alix

    :P

    There’s a reason I use a mask analogy – masks aren’t truly anonymous, but more “anonymous,” and thus to my mind fit the way internet presences work better than any other analogy. You two are wearing masks playing up the fact that you’re wearing masks, in ways uniquely identifiable to you. XD

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I love that irony. I almost wish I could deanonymize, but at this point, even if I thought my company would allow it, I would feel really weird about it. Oh well. I’ve dropped some hints and that’ll have to be enough. I feel like if I changed my handle anyway, no one would recognize me!

  • Lori

    Writing like someone other than yourself is really hard. “Voice” is much more difficult to fake than most people realize.

  • Alix

    It really is – to go on a brief tangent, that’s half of what marks out a good book, for me: when the author manages to make the characters’/narrator’s voices all sound different.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Concurred.

  • caryjamesbond

    Eh…..I mean, I’d set the bar for “serious damage” no lower than ten bucks or a bruise that lasts a week. Not to mention that sockpuppetry has a long and glorious history- back in the day, a lot of people used pseudonyms to write to newspapers supporting their own causes- when you get right down to it, the federalist papers are nothing but the most magnificent sock puppetry in history. I think its a little harsh to put it as a moral wrong.

    And I think that option is even more important in small, closely knit communities. A place like this, where everyone knows each other to a much greater degree than they do on fark or reddit can exert some powerful social pressure. Sock puppets can be useful for stating unpopular opinions. I’ve done that a time or two, particularly back on typepad!slacktivist, where things could get a little…..Nuke-y….at times.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Using a pseudonym is a rather different thing than sockpuppeting on the internet.

    Something doesn’t have to leave physical marks to be morally wrong.

  • caryjamesbond

    Something doesn’t have to leave physical marks to be morally wrong.

    I completely agree. But “serious harm” seems to me to indicate a certain level of damage being done.
    I think I’d place sockpuppetry somewhere between simple trolling and psuicide on the scale of internet evils

    *looks up psuicide*

    PEOPLE DO THAT?

    I mean, I’ve been on the internet for like, ten years now, so its a little hard to shock me but…..damn. That’s fucked up. THAT would be where I’d say you’re getting into what I would define as “serious damage.”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yeah. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times over the years, including twice by the same person.

  • Alix

    …the last part almost makes it funny.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The sad part is that this is only counting the two times I know zie did it. There’s at least one other identity which I suspect may have been zer under a different name, which also mysteriously disappeared without a trace after having given out false personal information, and this was all within the same small group of people.

  • Lori

    Yes, people do that.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “pseuicide” is an interesting phenom. Closest I was to this was actually when a woman online “killed off” her fake love interest and was only blown when someone who wanted to extend condolences contacted the alleged love interest’s place of employment and found out nobody with his name had ever worked there.

  • Alix

    Using a pseudonym is a rather different thing than sockpuppeting on the internet.

    I’m … not entirely sure I agree with that. Sockpuppeting is, essentially, having multiple pseudonyms and either using them to support each other, or using different pseudonyms for different things. Often, that’s done with ill intent, and those ill ends are obviously wrong.

    But I’m not sure we can meaningfully separate out the act of having one pseudonym on the internet from having more than one. I have more than one pseudonym; I just don’t usually use them in the same place. (The exception is some of my fan stuff.)

    This conversation is turning very weird for me, because I’m getting the distinct impression people are using two different definitions of “sockpuppet.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think the distinction is in the use of multiple IDs for gaslighting as opposed to constructive purposes. I don’t use the same ID here as I do elsewhere, but I don’t let them cross the streams either.

  • Alix

    See, I’ve seen “sockpuppeting” defined as any time you use multiple pseuds on one site, especially if one is posting controversial/inflammatory things you don’t want associated with your main pseud, or if you’re using the pseuds to beat your own drum. In fact, the latter sense is the more common definition I run into. Maybe that says something about the circles I run in, I dunno.

    My point is that sockpuppetry is in a way a natural outgrowth of the pseudonymity of the internet. I’m not saying that makes it acceptable, but I don’t think that makes sockpuppetry itself a moral issue. Things can be unacceptable and wrong without necessarily being bad.

  • Alix

    A sockpuppet is a pseudonym of a pseudonym, essentially, which is why I find comparisons with bog-standard pseudonymy useful.

  • AnonaMiss

    IMO, sockpuppeting is when two versions of the same person interact with each other.

  • Alix

    Huh. If that’s true, half the “sockpuppets” I’ve seen over the years aren’t really sockpuppets, like the aforementioned guy who’d come on under different IDs and shill his own essays and “genius.” To the best of my knowledge, he never interacted with his own socks, though I may be forgetting some incidents. :/

    But I’ve seen several different definitions here: 1) yours, 2) creating another ID to shill your own work/praise yourself, and 3) creating entirely false IDs to troll/stalk people, whether you interact with them under other “normal” IDs or not.

    I’m not even sure the last one counts as sockpuppeting, myself. And I’m still not sure misrepresenting oneself on the internet is really that big a deal – not by itself, I mean.

  • AnonaMiss

    I’d consider “praising your other sock” to be “interacting with”. There’s no reason someone couldn’t shill their own stuff – the sock is used to make it seem like more people agree with the original speaker. Which is a sort of …it’s not quite an interaction but it’s sort of an interaction by proxy?

    The main thing the other definitions leave out is the use of socks to create drama by stirring up arguments between multiple socks/incite intra-community wars.

    I wouldn’t consider stalking over multiple handles to be sockpuppeting, personally. That’s just plain old pseudonymity, which can be used for good or evil. Or lulz.

  • Alix

    Ah, okay, gotcha. I think we’re pretty much on the same page with our definitions.

    The pseudonymous-stalking/trolling thing that keeps getting thrown in here is what seems, imo, to be really skewing this whole discussion. I’m with you that it doesn’t fit the definition of sockpuppetry as I usually encounter it – it’s abhorrent, but to shoehorn it into sockpuppetry sort of makes the definition of sockpuppetry lose all sense, to me. So arguing that sockpuppetry is wrong because people use pseudonyms to stalk/harass folks online, and then claiming pseudonyms have nothing to do with this, is … kind of bizarre. Which means I’m basically not following half this whole thread, because I can’t quite parse the definitions. XD

  • Alix

    Shorter me: It seems like some folks are using a definition of sockpuppetry as “anything bad/unethical done under a pseudonym,” and so we’re all talking past each other.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Things can be unacceptable and wrong without necessarily being bad.

    What?

  • Alix

    Am I really the only person who sees a distinction between correct/incorrect and good/evil, when it comes to actions? Or, more pertinently, between right/wrong in terms of common standards and good/evil in terms of morality?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    What are “common standards”? Whose “common standards”?

    When I say something is unacceptable and wrong, I mean by my standards. And wrong, when talking about something like this, is the same as bad.

    Seriously, look up Ms. Scribe. This woman sockpuppeted to further her agenda of sucking up to one group by destroying another. That it happened on the internet does not make it less real.

    And sockpuppeting is not like wearing a mask. It’s like… if you could disguise yourself as an entirely different person, and convince everyone that you weren’t you. All the while you were still there. It’s like stuffing a ballot box. It puts people on uneven terms and makes the discussion look like something it isn’t. It makes it appear that more people hold a certain opinion than really do. It is not okay, and by that I mean it is morally wrong and morally bad.

    By the way, I never called it a “huge” moral wrong. That was your term. Something doesn’t have to be “hugely” morally wrong to be morally wrong. There is a sliding scale.

  • Alix

    Something doesn’t have to be “hugely” morally wrong to be morally wrong. There is a sliding scale.

    Granted. I still don’t think the act of sockpuppeting alone is a moral wrong. I do definitely think it can be used in service of moral wrongs, but again, from my perspective you’re lumping together different things.

    I was lurking in fandom when the Ms. Scribe thing went down. I’m quite familiar.

    sockpuppeting is not like wearing a mask.

    We will have to agree to disagree on that. To me, it is exactly like swapping a mask. It’s an elaborate, if usually clumsy, masquerade, and it’s an understandable outgrowth of pseudonymy.

    By common standards, I meant the standards of whatever space one is in, not yours. Sockpuppeting often (but not always) violates common standards, explicit or implicit, for how to engage in a given space. But that doesn’t make sockpuppeting itself morally wrong in a broader sense, to me.

  • dpolicar

    No, you’re not the only person who does this. Far from it.

    That’s not to say I consider it a helpful way to categorize actions; I don’t. But it’s certainly common. And it’s better than deciding that any violation of any standard is “evil.”

  • Alix

    Given that I know a lot of people with (imo) skewed and even dangerous views of good and evil, and I see that kind of phrasing used a lot to justify extreme positions, and given that that kind of view tends to (ime) ignore things like necessity, I find it personally a lot more helpful to talk about right or wrong action in a particular situation/circumstance.

    And in that sense I’m not sure what we’re arguing over in this thread, since I never said I considered sockpuppetry to be (in most cases) correct action.

    Shorter me: discussions of morality give me the willies, esp. how people (not in this thread, in general) bandy about the word “evil,” which I’m not even sure exists per se. I prefer discussing practicalities.

  • dpolicar

    (nods)

    Words like “good,” moral”, “proper,” “appropriate,” “ethical,” “praiseworthy,” etc. etc. etc. all can have precise meanings, but in my experience they get used interchangeably and I can’t discern much from someone using one instead of the others. So I don’t tend to worry too much about what particular words people use, and when talking to them I try to use whatever words they’re using in more or less the way they’re using those words.

    For my own part, I prefer to pay attention to harm and benefit.

    Sometimes when people talk about reasons to perform or avoid an act, I can more or less unpack that into some kind of an assertion about whom is being benefited and whom is being harmed by that act. Other times I can’t.

  • Alix

    Harm and benefit – I agree.

    I have the same issue with those words, but in my experience, while “good” isn’t so much of a problem, “moral,” and to an even greater extent, “evil” definitely are. Nowhere near all, but a large number of people I talk to, throw those words (esp. evil) around as if they win the argument automatically, and act as if any disagreement suddenly means you’re immoral/evil. So those words … I’m suspicious of them, perhaps unfairly, because too often they’re meant as traps.

    That, and no one* is evil in their own head. And so it doesn’t seem helpful to me, to use that framework.

    *Possibly someone somewhere, maybe.

  • Alix

    …There’s at least one comma in the wrong spot, but damned if I know where it’s supposed to go. This is gonna bother me all evening, now. XD

  • dpolicar

    There are acts I’m comfortable classing as “evil.” Mostly they involve causing harm deliberately and capriciously. There are people I’m comfortable classing as “evil”, mostly those who regularly, knowingly, and avoidably perform such acts.

    Using that categorization, I do think some people are evil in their own heads… who choose to be evil, insofar as anyone chooses anything. That said, I don’t really care very much whether they’re evil, in and of itself; I care whether they are causing harm. If they’re physically incapable of hurting anyone and they choose to remain evil, for example, that’s OK with me.

    But there’s no special reason to use that categorization. If someone wants to argue that no, “evil” actually means something else, I’m happy to use the word to refer to that other thing when talking to them.

  • Alix

    I think, for me, I end up having two problems with “evil” – I can almost always understand people’s justifications and even see how a lot of “evil” acts would be fine or even necessary in the right circumstances, and I find that it’s real easy for people to paint with a broad brush when talking about evil.

    I don’t really care very much whether they’re evil, in and of itself; I care whether they are causing harm.

    I agree 100%.

    That actually touches on another problem I have with morality/evil-based arguments: in my experience, they often (not always, but often) don’t care about harm, but more about adherence to some set of moral principles. That’s how almost every single anti-social justice position I’ve ever heard gets framed, for a really broad example.

    Edit: I think the only thing I’d classify as across-the-board evil (i.e. wrong with no possible justification in any circumstance) is torture (which includes, to me, rape and abuse). And yet even there I can understand how people convince themselves it’s fine.

  • Alix

    I should add I’m not trying to insist that people ought not to use moral/evil when talking. That’s … kind of ridiculous.

  • dpolicar

    Noted. I’d prefer they didn’t, personally, but I’m usually willing to go along with it if they do.

  • Alix

    I’d prefer it if people didn’t, and I sometimes start arguing about it. XD But 9 of 10 times I let it slide unless I really can’t see where they’re coming from, don’t understand what they’re saying, or can’t explain my disagreement without disagreeing with the morality-based framework.

  • dpolicar

    This is basically why I include deliberate and capricious in my working definition. If I perform an act because I think it’s necessary or beneficial I’m not inclined to call that evil, no matter how disastrously harmful it turns out to be.

    I agree that people paint with a broad brush, and I agree that a lot of people justify unjust positions by reference to abstract principles.

    I would not agree in principle that torture as a broad class is necessarily unjustified, though I don’t believe the often-made claims that recent government-sanctioned instances of torture did enough good to justify the harm they caused.

  • Alix

    I think “unjustified” is a poor word choice on my part, because people can and do justify anything. I meant more that I’ve seen no evidence for what you say – that it’s ever useful enough to offset the harm it causes. It’s unjustified to me, by my preferred metric, is what I meant, but I was unclear.

  • dpolicar

    I think I understood what you meant by justified.

    As for evidence… well, I’ve met enough victims of abuse to be pretty convinced that abuse can shatter ego-boundaries, and I don’t know of more effective ways to do that (well, maybe repeated doses of MDMA/LSD/etc., but I’d consider the forcible administration of such drugs to be abuse as well), and I can imagine situations where shattering someone ego boundaries without their consent would do a lot of good.

    That said, I have no evidence that such situations actually occur with any sort of frequency, and as I say the particular cases that have come up in the news in recent years seem particularly striking non-evidence.

  • SisterCoyote

    I think I’d place sockpuppetry somewhere between simple trolling and psuicide on the scale of internet evils. The most painful and dramatic internet blowups I’ve seen involved both.

    But I would say there’s a difference between trying to boost your political views as a lowly commenter on someone else’s site – still pretty shoddy behavior – and sockpuppeting in a community, which is pretty directly deceitful to the people around you.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    6. Matt Yglesias sums up why I would never want to live somewhere governed by a condo board or HOA:

    If I ever have to buy a place in the United States I will purposely find a small town for which the idea of an HOA is anathema. And then keep an eagle eye out for anyone who thinks bringing one in is a smart idea.

    Thank God in Canada the idea hasn’t really caught on except for strata councils which are required by law for condominium towers and townhouses.

  • Jamoche

    Get small enough and the city council can be just as oppressive as a HOA, for exactly the same reasons.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    True, but I’m thinking circa 20000 people, not 100. :P

  • Katie

    It really isn’t too hard to avoid HOAs. Just live in the city or in the “old” (as in, mid-20th century or earlier) suburbs.

  • Jenny Islander

    Some old-fashioned small towns have the right atmosphere. We recently had a cottonwood grow into the (terra cotta!) sewer line on the property below our house. The city still had to ask the property owner’s permission to dig and replace the tree with something less aggressive but still pretty.

    Towns where a large percentage of locals have jobs that require ugly piles of stuff tend to laugh at HOA-style regulations as well. Newcomers to our town regularly propose laws against unsightly piles of commercial fishing equipment near their land, and the laws are regularly laughed out of the Assembly.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    So the flip side of it is that in most of the places I have lived where there wasn’t an HOA, you always had one or two neighbors who would fill their yard with dangerous broken appliances, and pump their shotguns if you dared to suggest that they ought not to be allowed to do whatever they liked, however much a public nuisance, danger, or eyesore it was, so long as they stayed on their pra-per-tee

  • LoneWolf343

    I would prefer that to HOAs.

  • Lori

    IME it depends on the HOA. Some have a pretty light footprint. They have rules about junk in the front yard and keeping your yard mowed and maybe some broad guidelines about house paint and such, but that’s about it. Others are dictatorships by contract & committee.

    I had a coworker whose HOA was so restrictive that when he needed to paint his house and fence he had a choice of 4 colors for the house and 3 colors for the fence. And I don’t mean in general, like “beige” or “light blue”. I mean you must use Brand X, this type, in one of these specific colors for the fence and one of these specific colors for the house. The house and the fence can not be the same color. If you use another brand or type of paint or an unauthorized color you will be required to repaint it. If you do not, the HOA will hire painters to do it and send you the bill, which you will pay or the HOA will put a lien on your house. (For those with experience of the place it will come as no surprise at all that this particular HOA was on the white people side of Orange County.)

    He sold that house shortly thereafter and read the HOA rules much more carefully before he bought his next place. He also told that story to everyone so that they’d read the HOA rules before they bought a house.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I keep forgetting when HOAs get condemned in these discussions they aren’t the same as what I’m used to calling an HOA. I mean, the situation is different.

    I live in a condominium complex. It’s pretty much a bunch of apartment buildings, only all the units have deeds rather than leases (or both, if the owners rent them out). An HOA is necessary because so much of the structural integrity of our homes is a joint consideration–I simply don’t have the authority to get roof repairs done, since it’s not my roof but *everybody’s* roof. It’s not my siding getting replaced, but everyone from unit 101 to 312. So we have an HOA board and a manager through whom the things that are joint concerns get done.

    They can be a pain, depending on who’s on the board, and there’s definitely an element of conflicts being decided, Wikipedia like, in the favor of whoever has the most energy and time on their hands to make the most noise. And we lost our last manager because previous boards were irresponsible and left us with insufficient escrow for the badly needed roofwork, and so the manager — who finally got the roofwork underway, bless him bless him — took the blame for everyone hating to have to pay a special assessment, and the board fired him. (The homeowner’s meeting about that reminded me of a Tea Party rally, just replace “taxes” with “special assessment”. Someone accused the management of “raping” the homeowners. It made me see red and I yelled a lot.)

    But something like an HOA would have to happen for the same reason that governments happen: somehow a bunch of people have to manage to live together under one structure, and take care of things that are no one person’s responsibility, lest we have a “tragedy of the commons” type situation.

    As for an HOA governing that everyone in stand-alone houses do things in conformity, yeah, I can see my way to avoiding *that* like the plague, sure.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I live in a community with an HOA whose rules seem to boil down to them imposing an upper limit on the number of cats you can own, you can’t put up a clothesline, and if you want to make significant changes to the outward appearance of your house, you have to show a picture of what you plan to do to the immediately adjacent neighbors and have them sign off that they’re okay with it. One of these things is a bit annoying, but they all boil down to formalized forms of “Don’t upset your neighbors.”

    But I live adjacent to a community where the HOA is a lot stricter, and won’t let you paint your house in anything that isn’t an earth tone.

  • Alix

    Not gonna lie, the clothesline restriction would piss me the hell off.

  • Donalbain

    I could never live in a place where I was forbidden from using a washing line. Seriously, FUCK THAT for a game of soldiers.

  • Alix

    I seriously don’t understand how me doing my damn laundry is such an infringement on my neighbors.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It has to do with the aesthetics. Or so I am given to understand is the reason for the no-outdoor-clotheslines restriction our HOA imposes. And what the hell good is an indoor clothesline?

  • Alix

    …That is such a stupid reason. :/ I currently live in a place where clotheslines are allowed and most people use them, and they’re only even really visible if you’re peeping into the neighbor’s backyard.

    That’s probably not true everywhere, but seriously? Aesthetics trump getting one’s clothes dry?

  • Lori

    For many HOAs aesthetics trump everything. Maintenance of property values is their reason for existing. The no clothesline restrictions are mostly born of the (unstated) belief that the only people who dry their clothes outside are white trash. And everyone knows that if you let those people do one white trash thing, like hang their drawers out where god and everyone can see them, the next thing you know they’ll have 15 hound dogs sleeping under the porch, 3 rusted cars up on blocks in the driveway and an old toilet used as a flower planter stuck in the front yard.

    I’m not sure where things stand now, but the no clothesline rules were getting a lot of push-back in California before I moved away. Between the cost of electricity and restrictions on usage and environmental concerns a lot of people wanted to use clotheslines, but HOAs were not inclined to be flexible.

  • Alix

    …am I the only one who thinks turning an old toilet into a flower planter is a pretty neat trick? XD Maybe that makes me white trash, but if so I don’t care.

    Like I said elsewhere, I can understand the aesthetics thing in a historic neighborhood. To the best of my recollection (seeing as I was in grade school when I lived near there) parts of Williamsburg are like that, to preserve the old colonial feel, and I know some parts of old town Alexandria have similar restrictions.

    But in your normal neighborhood? That seems over-the-top. And the funny thing is, most of the busybodies I know on HOAs hate the idea of the gummint trying to tell them how to live their lives.

    I guess it’s because they think they’re the only ones entitled to tell other people how to dry their clothes and paint their houses? IDK.

  • Lori

    I don’t have a problem with historic neighborhood rules either. You know what you’re getting into when you buy the place and they don’t change. In theory I don’t have a problem with light footprint HOAs that enforce fairly broad safety and maintenance standards. In practice, I’d do everything I reasonably could to avoid buying in an HOA neighborhood because their rules can change and “control creep” can be a real problem.

    In a lot of places literally anything that can be seen by even one of your neighbors is fair game for HOA rules and if you’re unlucky enough to get a few really pissy neighbors who can rally or steamroll enough other people you can find yourself not allowed to put your shampoo bottles on the ledge of your bathroom window (that has actually happened).

    Worse, if you don’t pay your dues, assessments or fines the HOA can foreclose on your house. People have lost their homes, and had to fight prolonged legal battles to get them back, because their HOA foreclosed on a 6 figure home over a 3 figure fine. There’s a real element of bullying in a lot of HOA/homeowner disputes.

  • Alix

    We lived in one place with a decent HOA – we lived in a townhouse, and since the yards were so tiny and the parking lot so weird, the HOA basically existed to collect dues (which we were told about before buying the house) to pay for garbage collection and all yardwork. That was honestly all they cared about, aside from anything that might draw pests, which was never an issue during the few years we were there. That sort of thing I find okay, but the crazy restrictive crap is just flat unacceptable to me. Bullying is a great way to characterize it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The only thing that bothers me about such is that advertisements for new condos (Own for $999/month!!!11oneone) do not include home maintenance costs (“strata fees”) in that figure. I find it deceptive that such advertisements imply that you could fund a mortgage that way and not have to worry about property taxes or any ancillary fees.

  • Lori

    Yeah, that’s what E&S’s townhouse board is like and it’s not a problem. The only issues they’ve had are when they had to do a really big project that was going to cause a special assessment and there were a few people who were going to have trouble paying it. They worked out reasonable payment plans with those folks and it was fine.

    ETA: The HOAs I’d really want to avoid are the ones that govern neighborhoods of single family homes. I’ve just seen that get way too ugly, way too many times. Like I said, condos & townhome developments need to have them and while they can occasionally be bad, they’re not the source of most of the HOA horror stories.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    My old apartment (bottom of a house) even HAD a clothesline and I sure used it to dry my stuff in summer.:) Saved quite a few $$…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah, What you have is what we call in Canada a strata council, and those are actually required by law here, so they tend to stick to the more prosaic details of maintenance and paying for said maintenance and things like that.

  • Lori

    Oh sure, a condo board is rather a different thing. I have friends who live in a small townhouse complex and it’s the same deal. They only share a roof with one neighbor (their townhouses are duplex-like), but there’s a bunch of common space and an HOA is needed to manage that.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I still have no idea how on God’s green earth it can be legal for a non-government entity to be given powers that should properly be reserved for municipal zoning enforcement authorities.

    Is this, like, some kind of gated community phenomenon that is becoming so widespread because of the proliferation of the underlying funding mechanism?

  • Lori

    He did not live in a gated community. It was just a typical upper middle class, white people side of Orange County neighborhood.

    If I understand correctly HOAs like that are legal because you can, via contract, create more strict rules than local zoning has, but not less strict rules. In that sense the HOA is not supplanting the zoning board, they’re layered on top of it. Since they’re not requiring or allowing anything that the zoning board forbids there’s no conflict.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    You’d think there would be problems when they attempt to enforce the laws in absurd ways though, like the 70-something man who spent a week in prison for failing to keep his HOA’s demands satisfied. They wanted him to plant and maintain a very specific type of grass not native to the region which requires a lot of care and water — during drought conditions. He couldn’t afford that much water, so his lawn died and they had him arrested for failing to make it miraculously sprout up again.

  • Lori

    I don’t understand how HOA rules that restrictive can be enforced, especially using the police as the enforcement mechanism. It’s ridiculous.

  • Alix

    I’m shocked every time I hear a case like that that there aren’t some kind of legal limits on what HOAs can ask of people, or on what they can do to violators.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I know, that’s what I’m saying. You’d think the first time they demanded an arrest, the police would tell them that those rules weren’t enforceable. The only thing I can imagine is that they kept fining him and he wasn’t able or willing to pay it.

  • Lori

    The cops really shouldn’t be enforcing the fines either. There really should be a limit to what the half dozen neighbors with the biggest sticks up their asses can make the rest of the neighborhood do just because they’re the HOA board.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The tendency to use the police as a way to effectively criminalize civil torts is not just an RIAA thing I see.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Why wouldn’t the rules be enforcable? He signed a contract to abide by the HOA’s rules. He was in violation of the contract. Now, the step between “in violation of the contract” and “jail” I don’t understand, but that’s not even remotely the same thing as “the rules aren’t enforcable”.

    Thinking back about it, the most likely scenario I can think of is that they sued him for breach of contract and he was sent to jail for failing to appear in court or something.

  • Lori

    I looked it up. He went to jail, with no possible bail, because he was held in contempt of court because he didn’t resod his lawn. The neighborhood covenants require people to have grass. His sprinkler system broke & he couldn’t afford to fix it so the grass died (Florida in the summer). The HOA said he had to resod. He plead financial hardship. The HOA didn’t care, took him to court and got a judge to sign an order saying that he had to resod the lawn. Said order did not cause the necessary money to magically appear in his bank account, so he didn’t resod. He was then found to be in contempt of court and sent to an already over-crowded jail until the resodding was done.

    He made the completely reasonable decision that hanging onto the house was more important than having a lawn. (Aside from the rangy lawn the house was well-maintained.) The HOA made the decision that enforcing HOA rules & maintaining their property values was more important than whether a family of 5 lost their house.

    The happy ending to at least that part of the story is that people in the surrounding community* chipped in to fix the lawn (note: not the man’s immediate neighbors or HOA board members) and he was able to get out after only a couple days in jail.

    *In a way the most impressive thing to me is that one of the County Commissioners cancelled a scheduled speech and showed up and did actual manual labor.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    And of course it’s Florida. In the summer. It’s just so typical of this state to throw a man in jail for refusing to do something that’s causing the state to literally sink.

  • Lori

    The whole thing took over a year, start to finish. But yeah, Florida should not be supporting forcing people to have the kind of lawn the requires watering. South Florida is already so close to sea level that it’s going to be the first US land lost to ocean level rise. They don’t need to speed that up by causing the place to sink.

  • MarkTemporis

    Some merry prankster types should reconnect the sprinklers of the HOA board members living in town to weed killer. That or liberally seed their lawns with kudzu or hogweed.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, insofar as I understand gated communities they provided the prototype for HOA infestation of communities generally, and gated communities are notorious for their exclusivism.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Everyone signs a contract when they buy the house to abide by the HOA. It’s really very simple in fact. And no, this isn’t a gated community phenomenon, it’s actually a very old phenomenon, held over from the days when “but what will the neighbors think” held force of law.

  • Alix

    I think the only time a restrictive HOA even makes sense is in a particularly historic neighborhood that’s trying to retain the vibe. Even then, there ought to be some limits on what HOAs can pull.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You might feel differently if you had been the kid who got shoved in a broke-down refrigerator in someone’s back yard.

  • LoneWolf343

    That sounds like a criminal act. That’s what police are for.

  • Lori

    In most places I’ve lived having an empty fridge outside that still had a door on it, but was not locked down, was against the law. The homeowner would face legal consequences for having it, whether anyone got pushed into it or not. The pushing would of course be assault, with consequences of its own.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The choice isn’t between putting people in jail for not watering their lawns or allow littering and trespassing. It’s just not.

    HOAs can be useful and they can also be abusive, just like any group with power. Requiring people to plant environmentally-damaging grass is abusive. Jailing them for not being able to afford to waste enough water to keep it purty is even more abusive, and it’s disgusting.

  • Alix

    Does anyone know if there even are any actual checks on HOA power? I don’t know of any, which is probably the root of the problem.

  • Carrie Looney

    “It doesn’t affect Smith’s argument, but I’m not confident he should accept Walmart’s claim to be paying an “average” wage of $12.40/hour. My guess is that’s a mean from a very lop-sided bell curve”
    ‘Average’ is the lay term for arithmatic mean, and it’s a massively overused statistic that’s very, very misleading when it’s used improperly. We need a mass migration from showing ‘averages’ to showing medians. And sometimes modes. Better yet, just show the spread of the data. Showing the data is very under-utilized. :p

  • Jamoche

    It takes advantage of people’s tendency to think that the non-mathematical definition of “average” as “somewhere in the middle” applies in all cases.

  • LoneWolf343

    You know, I just wondered the same thing today as #7 driving down the road, imagining the lines like mirrors that a laser pointer can bounce between them.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Dan Cathy still being a dick, it seems.

    Dude seriously needs to walk the walk about having changed his company’s donating ways.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam
  • Lori

    At this point I tend to think it would be better if he was just honest and stopped talking the talk. He can’t actually walk the walk, because he’s a bigot (and willfully ill-informed about the history of marriage and a whole bunch of other things).

    Why yes, I did have to sit through a bunch of stupid from my family on this topic today. Why do you ask?

  • themunck

    *gently gets out his soapbox. You have been warned*
    tl;dr: Eh, nothing that hasn’t been said better elsewhere.

    Regarding number 2, it has finally given me the answer to when EH asked me to “define socialism” a few weeks back, and I found I didn’t have a catch-all answer (I still probably don’t, but this one is all-around enough). Let’s take an example:

    Mr. Mark Spencer is the CEO of a hypothetical clothing store chain. He’s a good CEO, works 7 hours a day for 5 days a week and earns a 7-digit salary as a result. If nobody did this work, the chain would not be able to operate with any sort of coordination, and operating on the level it does would be impossible. Mr. Spencer has a secretary. She works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and earns a 5-digit salary. If nobody did her job, Mr. Spencer would only work half as efficiently as he does now (This is properly a gross underestimate. I’ve never been, nor had, a secretary). Finally, we have Aadita. She works in a sweatshop in Bangladesh, sewing clothes for Mr. Spencer’s store. She works 14 hours a day, 6 days a week and earns a 3-digit salary. If nobody did her job, the company would not have any clothes to sell at all, and could not operate even a single shop.

    Socialism, to me, means looking at this hypothetical, and the real situations like it in the world, and coming to the conclusion that this is wrong. That this sort of thing should change.

    Regarding 3: Beautiful and inspiring.

    Regarding 4: I’m already running long, and honestly, I could rant for hours about every one of her statements, so I’ll just take a few.

    “I guess Rush Limbaugh explained it when he said they’re the low-info people. They’re just not interested in, or knowledgeable about the facts.”
    To qoute GLaDOS “That would be funny if it weren’t so sad”

    “Of course, radical feminists push for divorce. They think men are not necessary, and they’d really like to get rid of them.”

    Ah yes, the ‘radical feminist’. A favorite enemy of the anti-kitten burning coalition, for who doesn’t oppose women who want to replace the patriarchy with a matriarchy? The fact that no such enemy exist is, as always, a minor detail -.-

    “I don’t know what polls you’re quoting, but I think the polls are showing that there is an increasing number of people who are against abortion every year.”
    See ealier GLaDOS qoute…

    “(Pause) Well, Democrats occasionally do good things, like when Kennedy cut taxes to prove that government gets more revenue than when you raise them.”

    No mention of MLK and the fight against racism, a fight -for- freedom and individual choice? More cynically, so mention of Truman and Hiroshima, and the idea that any act of war could be excused if we claim they deserve it or hatting them this badly will save more lives in the long run (not saying it didn’t in this case, just that it set an unfortunate precedent). No, as always, it comes back to taxes. All hail Mammon. In him we trust -.-

    Oh, and riling up the white voters…you know what, go ahead. Use more stereotyping and appeals to the white nuclear family. Because that demographric is shrinking every year, and even if you do use gerrymandering and such to make it count more, eventually the rest of us will outnumber you. And we can consign your cause to the history books at last.

  • fraser

    I was fascinated to learn Americans didn’t get any handouts during the Great Depression. All the false Communist propaganda about federal assistance has now been swept away by her Schafflyiness.

  • MrRoivas

    I know this isn’t probably going to be a popular opinion around here, but I’ve had little use for John Shore since an post that deeply disturbed me, and one where he dismissed and then erased a comment I wrote expressing how disturbed it made me.

  • MaryKaye

    I have very mixed feelings: he’ll write passionate and sensitive things about gays and Christianity, and then turn around and do humor that is relentlessly and, to me, offensively rooted in “traditional gender roles.” Not making fun of them, but assuming that they describe his readers. Men, here’s what you should do for your women. Women, here’s what you should do for your men. Yuch.

    And when he writes about parent/child relationships and past abuse, I just have to not read the stuff; he’s got one set of views that work for and explain his own life, but he overgeneralizes relentlessly, and I HATE being told “here is how you really feel about X, no matter what you might say or think” for any value of X whatsoever.

  • Carstonio

    Schlafly respectable? Shudder.