Personal experience in SDMB debates (a bit long)

This thread is inspired by spiff’s thread in which says he’s glad that Pat Robertson has cancer. After being roundly flamed by almost everyone in sight, spiff showed a considerable amount of class by offering an apology, part of which said:

Well, at the risk of being flamed, i’d like to make an observation about this thread.

I think spiff showed an admirable willingness to reconsider his positon and apologise for what was a rather tactless comment.

However, i’m not quite sure that i support the the second sentence in the paragraph i have quoted above. At no stage did spiff express happiness at anyone else’s cancer - only at Pat Robertson’s. The question of whether the OP was in good taste or appropriate is something that can be debated without the maudlin appeals to personal experience.

I’m not trying to ridicule the awful experiences of those who have cancer and their friends and loved ones - i have great sympathy for all of them - but i do assert that extending this sort of attitude to other potential SDMB topics could have the effect of shutting down some issues altogether.

For example, are we going to ask defenders of the 2nd amendment to tone down their argument in deference to people who might have friends who were killed or injured by a gun? Personally, i’m not a big fan of gun ownership, but i don’t want those i’m debating with to feel constrained in making their arguments by the fact that someone, somewhere on the Boards might have an upsetting reaction to the discussion.

Or are we going to tone down debates on the death penalty so we don’t upset people who have some sort of personal stake in the issue, whether as a victim of crime or as the family/friend of someone on death row?

What about the issue of drunk driving? I know someone who was killed by a drunk driver, but i prefer to base my arguments against drunk driving on what i believe are reasonable and logical premises, rather than simply crying “I know someone who was killed by a drunk driver, so whatever you say is wrong because because you don’t share my experience.”

And are we going to stop threads like this one because their primary purpose is to have fun and gross people out by finding the most disgusting diseases possible? What if someone came to this thread and said that they had elephantiasis or leprosy, and that we shouldn’t make fun of such diseases? Do we close the thread?

I know the examples i’ve given are not directly comparable to the thread about Pat Robertson, but i think some similar principles apply. The point i’m making here is not that we should stay silent if someone says something that we think is stupid, but that, in the case of spiff’s thread, there was plenty of scope to criticise the OP without making the whole thing into a “my uncle had cancer, so how dare you” type of debate. The OP never made a general remark about all victims of cancer - he referred to one specific person. Call him an asshole for his attitude to the suffering of others if you want, but don’t slam him for a generalization that he never made.

If he had said that he was glad Robertson had been shot, it would have been the same thing as far as I’m concerned. It wouldn’t be a 2nd amendment issue, just as his post on Robertson was not an issue of diseases. People have families, and no matter how horrible we think the people are, they are not the only ones suffering. The problem with Spiff’s thread, as I saw it, was that he was mocking the tragedy itself of Robertson’s situation. And tragedies encompass a lot of innocent people — people who would not appreciate either the humor or the self-righteousness of a morality bully.

Point is, most people with cancer are not intolerant, crazy greed-head fear-mongers who, through the guise of faith healing, have defrauded and perhaps hastened the demise of countless people and, when striken with the same illness they claim to be able to cure in other people by divine intervention do not practice what they preach and resort to secular medicine instead.

The expanded version is here: Pat Robertson’s Prostate

I’m only sorry he has only one prostate to get cancer.


You bet.

You know what mockery is? Mockery is a faith healer like Robertson who gathers together the credulous and sick and lame and through deceit and psychological manipulation convinces said sick and lame to throw away their crutches, and even their medication, for no greater purpose than to clean out their wallet.

Robertson should be mocked. He has spend a career preying on people’s fears and infirmities and this latest “situation” just highlights his hypocrisy.

Point is, he was guilty of the same thing Robertson is reviled for: hate.

Mykeru meanwhile sets up an excellent example of how not to be gracious. “only sorry he has only one prostate to get cancer” indeed.

I agree with you that it would be the same thing if he had said he was glad PR got shot. But again, there is plenty of scope for criticising such an attitude without generalizing it to all people with similar experiences.

I suppose it depends on how you interpret his OP, because, unlike you, i think that he was more focused on Pat Robertson than anything else. I would place emphasis on different words than you do. Instead of saying

i would write

I’d be willing to bet that Spiff certainly saw it that way. In fact, he made it quite clear in his second post on the thread, when he said:

And, to tell you the truth, if PR had been shot and someone had expressed happiness at the idea, i’m not sure that the flaming would have been quite as strong as it was. Cancer seems to elicit a sentimentalism greater than that of many other tragic ailments and afflictions.

You’re quite correct, and for that reason he deserved to be slammed. But the hatred displayed in his OP was for Pat Robertson alone, and plenty of people on the thread apparently found it quite easy to slam him for his hatred without making emotional extrapolations to cancer victims in general. In my opinion, the personal testimonies were gratuitous and not really relevant to the issue at hand.

I understood that the OP wasn’t gleefully flipping off people with cancer, and I wasn’t offended.
What upset me, and finally caused me to register, were all the flip comments about a very serious disease. Yep, I take every opportunity to scare the sh*t out of people who think it’s JUST prostate cancer. That’s what my family thought too, and I spend a lot of time kicking myself thinking “what if?” What if dad had gone to the doctors like he was supposed to? Easy. He’d still be around today. I hope my story opens eyes and makes people think twice about the “dreaded” test - BTW, there is a blood test now so NO excuses. Bone cancer has got to be one of the most tortured ways to die, and I think, having watched it devour my father, that I would shoot myself if I was ever diagnosed with it.

Tell it to his wife and his children. Do you hate them as well? He is not the only victim of the cancer.


Shrug. It’s obvious that you have little idea who Robertson is and what he does, or that you approve.

Frankly, considering all the vile, hateful, hurtful and intolerant things Robertson has said in his long career as a professional fund raiser for Jesus and considering not only the vast number of people he has not only fleeced, but probably sent to an earlier grave via “faith healing”, I stand by my commments.

Incidentally, I was similarly ungracious when Jeffrey Dahmer was beaten to death in prison and I would be equally ungracious had God killed Oral Roberts for not raising $8 million dollars.

But thank you for setting an admirable example by being so amorally gracious towards conmen and murderers.

I can’t believe this. What, do you live alone in a cave? If someone mocked your dad in this way, would you appreciate it? Can you not understand that tragedy like this encompasses INNOCENT PEOPLE?


Tell it to the husbands, wives, children, sons, daughters, etc. of all the people Robertson has fleeced and harmed with his bogus faith healing “cures” over a very, very long career.

Wow, I thought it generally took at least 5 posts before the original topic was completely forgotten.

Personal experience can add to a debate, but it shouldn’t be seen as a trump card, especially if it’s tangential to the point. If the thread is about, say, “What’s the most powerful handgun in the world”, then a post about how your nephew found his dad’s pistol and shot himself, or one about that time you would have been stabbed if you hadn’t had your trusty .45 in the glove compartment is not relevant. It may be powerful or emotionally resonant, but it’s not adding to that particular debate.

Most of the posters in the Robertson thread used their personal stories as a backup to their main point, and that seems legitimate to me.

You are a fucking moron. What does hurting Robertson’s wife do for anyone he may have harmed. Dickhead.

[QUOTEIn my opinion, the personal testimonies were gratuitous and not really relevant to the issue at hand.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, I’m just looking for a pat on the back. Poor me. :rolleyes:
I thought the point of this BB was to “fight ignorance”?


Oh. I apologize. I had no idea. Why didn’t anyone tell me Robertson’s wife was reading this thread? I feel so bad now.


Incidentally, I wish to publically apologize to Pat Robertson’s wife, who, I am told, likes dogs and small children and has a lovely singing voice and has never, ever profited from Pat’s career scamming the last dollars off the old and sick.

Y’know, Reverend Mykeru, some of us do find it possible to hold both a disgust and loathing for the man and just about everything he stands for and sympathy for the fact that he is, after all is said and done, a human being who is suffering from a disease.

No, i don’t hate them. In fact, i don’t even hate Pat Robertson, even though i think he himself is a hate-filled person. In my opinion, it’s best just to ignore him.

But if i can play devil’s advocate for a moment: Someone who did wish cancer on Robertson could quite easily argue that his wife must agree with many, if not all of his positions given that she has chosen to be with him for so long. Also, she has benefitted financially from his career of hate-spewing. Someone making this argument might challenge your definition of her as an “innocent” victim of Robertson’s cancer.

The case of the children is much different, of course. I don’t make any claim to knowing what PR’s children think of him.

In any case, i’m still not sure you’re argument is completely relevant to my OP. All these criticisms you bring up are valid, but not once have you felt the need to base your argument on the fact that someone in your own family has cancer. Nor, if i remember correctly, did you do that in spiff’s original thread. Your own arguments are proof that there is no need to make appeals to your own personal experience in order to formulate a logical rebuttal to spiff’s OP.

** 2trew **

I have a lot more sympathy for the people who were suffering from a disease who ended up as an easy mark for Pat’s bogus faith healing cures that not only cost them big money, but maybe some days of their lives.

I have limited sympathy for some conman who is going to get the best treatment money can buy through money he got by giving people bogus cures and having them throw away their medication and stop seeing doctors in the name of Jesus.

You still don’t get it, do you? He is not only some ranting, unctuous shmuck babbling about Jesus. He’s the guy that tells the woman in Cincinatti that Jesus has cured her cancer over the television.

That’s more than represensible.