How should the Pit be changed, if at all?

This pointless exercise in axe-grinding may never end.

No movement started, no momentum gained. This thread amounts to a handful of malcontents pitting the entire board


It’s a personal attack on all real minorities, when it’s used to claim minority-hood by non-minorities. It’s the abled parking in the handicapped zone, or Rachel Dolezal pretending to be Black.

“Minority group” doesn’t just mean “not the majority”.

Which is why the terms disenfranchised or minoritized groups are useful. It’s describing the relationship to power rather than simply a numbers game.

I remember reading a column in our local lefty rag, back in the nineties, where the oh-so-clever columnist talked about the poor oppressed left-handers and how much we suffer, as a satire on minorities asking for rights. As a southpaw, I was like, Christ Almighty, dude, don’t draw me into your shitty drama. There is no call for trivializing struggles for rights, especially not when you’re co-opting them to make yourself look put-upon.

Well sure. It’s about power. Being in the majority generally does give you advantages, but in some cases it’s a minority who have more power - for example, the very rich who can buy political representation the rest of us don’t get.

No, those are bad analogies. It’s like someone disagreeing on what disabilities should qualify someone for parking in the handicapped zone, or who should count as black for whatever reason.

See, you do know what it’s about…

Or not.

Reframing the argument in a way that serves your side doesn’t make the original analogy go away. They are not ‘bad analogies’, they are exactly what someone who is not a minority claiming to be a minority is doing. You weren’t questioning the definitions of other minorities, you were claiming the status of minority-hood for yourself just for being in a numeric minority on this Pit issue - and while the boundaries of what a minority group is may be fuzzy, they definitely don’t stretch to “people with quote-unquote ‘unpopular opinions’ on messageboards”.

No I wasn’t. It’s not just a matter of being in a numerical minority, it’s about the power dynamics. Having beliefs similar to the majority is clearly an advantage on this board. Posters who agree with the ‘majority philosophy’ can freely post their unsupported opinion, insult groups who are ‘acceptable targets’, make jibes that don’t quite break the rules, never bother to say anything substantive, and generally engage in exactly those kinds of ‘behaviours’ that will get someone with minority views pitted. The Pit is almost explicitly a way for a majority that clusters on one side of the political spectrum to try to enforce their viewpoint on anyone else. And it’s exactly being in a numerical majority that makes this so effective. If it was two equal-size groups disagreeing, there would be no pressure for social conformity.

The argument that what the majority thinks is the only thing that matters is a bad one in general. It should at least be qualified by deciding who counts as a minority, and then we can consider that explicitly. In the UK, religious and philosophical beliefs are protected characteristics, so it’s hardly outrageous to think some kinds of political beliefs should be too.

Holocaust deniers are in the minority. Should their beliefs be protected?

I don’t think we should have a law against them like in Germany, but as long as it’s limited to really extremist views I don’t think it’s a problem. The problem is that this board (not to mention important institutions in the real world) has become so politically skewed that even many moderate views are considered unacceptable, let alone conservative ones.

For example?

There was exactly jackshit about “power dynamics” in this post:

That was just you absurdly claiming the same moral high ground as actual victims of real oppression.

So you say. I have several Pittings to my name that say otherwise, as do a lot of other posters to the left.

…not one anyone on my side is making, so that’s a strawman.

Saying particular minority opinions are worthless crap is not the same thing as saying all minority opinions are worthless crap, and it’s definitely not the same as saying they’re worthless crap because they’re minority opinions.

We’re very much not in the UK, and anyway, “protected class” is not the same as “minority”.

And if your minority ‘political’ belief gets protected, how much more so my even more minority ‘political’ beliefs - should I expect a cascade of warnings every time someone belittles anarchism? Should I cry “bullying” every time absolute pacifism gets mocked? No, I should not, and neither should your minority ‘political’ beliefs get any more shrift than that.

And were they for views the majority agrees with? I’m betting not.

I don’t know if wolfpup is on your side, but the post I replied to said that the majority of posters agree the things we are complaining about in this thread are non-existent issues. In other words, the view of the majority is the only one that matters.

There’s at the least a considerable overlap in the concepts.

And I’m certainly not saying UK laws should apply on this message board, but that the idea holding certain philosophical beliefs can be grounds for discrimination and shouldn’t be, similar to other characteristics, is not a ridiculous or extreme one.

No you shouldn’t. Mocking a belief is not the same as mocking a person. Criticising a belief is not the same as insulting a person for holding it. It is the latter I would like to dispense with.

This does seem like a problem. And if the opinions to be so stigmatised were limited to extreme things like Holocaust denial, I’d be inclined to agree with you. But over the years the composition of the board has become so politically skewed, that as I said, many moderate positions as well as conservative ones are now seen as unacceptable by the majority, or at least a loud and influential minority. And as posters leave or get banned as a consequence, the range of opinions expressed and thus seen as acceptable becomes progressively smaller.

Also, you seem to be saying that the existence of the Pit has not been enough to prevent this, or the below:

So it would appear you are not happy with the status quo either. Is there some other option that would address both these problems?

Firstly, just going to note that I see you dropping the defence of your initial minority-claiming post as saying anything about ‘power dynamics’ like a hot potato, and just jumping onto the rest of my reply.

No, but the people pitting me were not a group that “clusters on one side of the political spectrum” by any means.

No. It means they’re just so much of a non-issue. The extreme non-issue-ness manifests as majority, not the other way around.

Very little, actually - even majority race, religion etc is protected.

And yet holding some is and should be. Holding e.g. homophobic or misogynistic beliefs can and should be grounds for certain kinds of discrimination, like public mockery. It would be ridiculous and extreme to expect otherwise nowadays. And we can all think of many more beliefs like that, no doubt.

Shouldn’t cry bullying, or shouldn’t expect pushback and even mockery for my beliefs?

Of course it is - beliefs don’t exist in the aether or Platonic space.

People are in some ways (and especially in the ways that count here, on a messageboard) nothing but a collection of expressions of belief. Mocking that belief itself is the same as mocking the expression by a person , restricting one but not the other (in the proper forum) is a distinction without difference, a polite fiction that I don’t agree with.

This has been asked before by another, but maybe repetition and emphasis will work:

name these “many moderate positions” the majority is supposedly seeing as unacceptable

I thought you were in support of those in a “minority” being heard?

And this is not an entirely accurate description of what is going on. The board continues to be rife with “moderates”, for starters, and if this board has become a more challenging place for some - not all - conservative posters, it is not because the board that has changed but that the wider political landscape has.

We live in a world where a significant percentage of the American right-wing believe that the election was “stolen” due to “massive fraud”. They believe that the Democrats encouraged “cities being burned down” (which didn’t happen) but that the January 6 insurrectionists were just “normal tourists” and “patriots”. They believe the the next investigation will be the one that suddenly reveals all the crime that Obama/Hillary/Biden/etc have been doing all along, even though the umpteen previous investigations came to naught - but they also believe that no connection between the Trump campaign and Russia was found. They believe the left is trying to “cancel Dr Seuss”, that the Democrats are Communists in bed with the Chinese Communist Party and that they want “open borders” and “free stuff” and assorted other nonsense.

How then shall we treat those posters who persist in posting - over and over and over again - blatant mis- and disinformation here? The first few times they get debunked, sure, we can ascribe that to reliance on poor external sources. But when they keep doing in for years on end? What shall we do when it become obvious that they are doing so deliberately and in bad faith? This board’s mission statement, going back to 1973, is about fighting ignorance - what should we do with those that insist on promulgating wilful ignorance?

As I have stated elsewhere, I do believe that this board is all the poorer for rational conservatism, and in past years I have learned a lot from many of the insightful right-wing posters we have had. But what’s the alternative? Should we - and in fact do we already - act more leniently toward bad behavior by conservative posters because we’re trying to maintain a better balance? Or does that also drive away their more reasonable colleagues?

I will also note that it’s not as if we indulge such behaviors in progressives, the footstamping of some board members notwithstanding. There are plenty of Pit threads and banned left-wing members in the history of the board.

I’m not sure how that follows from what I wrote.

I’m not happy with the behaviors of posters who engage in bad-faith arguments, post deliberate disinformation, blatantly misrepresent what other posters have written, or cry persecution when others hold them accountable for their words. The board has gotten better at moderating such things but given that some of those require a subjective assessment from the board moderation and that there is rarely a bright-line distinction between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, there will always be some contention.

So the best option is to have a forum in which the more egregious behaviors can be hashed out amongst posters - a purpose the Pit serves admirably. It has on many previous occasions resulted in the aforementioned disingenuous bigots, purveyors of falsehoods and assorted other assholes being revealed for what they are. Sometimes they ignore it, sometimes they change…and sometimes they get banned.

Getting rid of the Pit would make things a lot worse. As such, it seems like the “status quo” works more or less fine to me.

The idea behind “fighting ignorance” was to provide information where otherwise the information would not be available.

It was not to actually fight against those who promote ignorance, that’s a whole different issue, not one that any of the founders ever intended nor expected. The pit is needed for that fight. Maybe if people would stop promoting ignorance, the pit wouldn’t be needed after all.

Fair point.

I didn’t say that my initial post mentioned power dynamics. But nonetheless I think they do apply to this situation.

Did they disagree with your beliefs for different reasons, then? Or all pretty much agree with each other?

It’s a non-issue for those who aren’t suffering from it. Much as any issue, really…

Sure, and that’s a sensible way to write the laws, but the various characteristics are only included because there is some minority suffering discrimination due to them.

As I said, you shouldn’t expect people not to criticise your beliefs, only not to attack or bully you for them. But as you appear to think these are the same thing, I don’t think there is anything else I can say.

This is an interesting view, one that makes it surprising you would disagree that holding unpopular beliefs can make a group a minority. If people are their beliefs to some extent, and can suffer discrimination for them, how is that different to any other characteristic? It’s not like we choose what to believe in the same way we choose how to act. However, it appears you support discriminating against people for their beliefs, and that is why you are unwilling to consider them a minority in that sense.

Earlier you refused to answer one of my questions because I asked it sarcastically. So I hope you will not be surprised that I am returning the favour now.

That’s not a sarcastic question, that’s just asking you to back up your own statement.

You have a tendency to make vague accusatory statements, and then refuse to actually back them up. This is not a partisan thing, this is a poor debate thing. You do not get pitted for your beliefs or politics, you get pitted for the way you conduct yourself in debates.