When they quack like a duck

I originally intended this for the original thread, but figure that, even though I don’t mean to pit Tom, it does involve discussion of moderator actions, and so belongs here.

I’ll abide by your moderating decision, but respectfully, I don’t think that if someone is playing a dishonest game, playing along with the game is the intelligent way to respond. When folks are debating dishonestly, I believe the intelligent thing to do is to short-circuit the process by pointing out the dishonesty up-front.

While that is theoretically possible, it gets into the looks-like, quacks-like arena. I’ve seen virtually the same OP on this board and on other civil liberties boards too many times to count, and I’ve yet to see it turn out to be a simple libertarian manifesto.

Nonetheless, your board, your rules.


I think you jumped the gun a bit.

Give our friend a bit of rope, and let him hang himself, as I have no doubt he will.


If you have no doubt that he’ll hang himself, can you explain (and I mean this sincerely, not as a prelude to a hysterical to-the-death defense of my actions) the percentage in not pointing out his game from the start? That is, what’s the benefit to letting him hang himself bit by bit, instead of alerting other posters (who have not seen versions of the OP before) what’s going on?


Let us, for the moment, assume that you are exactly correct as to the motivation of the OP in that thread. What point is made if you are the first to play the race card? Does it make the subsequent discussion more fruitful? Or does it tell the peanut gallery lurking at home that the SDMB does not even tolerate discussion if the topic falls into certain categories?

If the OP is a subtle (or not so subtle) entrance to a later racist screed, is not not better to demonstrate the flaws in the discussion irrespective of race or religion so that the proponent has no basis on which to rest their later racist claims?

Putting aside that assumption, the reality is that the OP of the thread in question was not the first to raise the issue of race or religion. There are a thousand and one ways to address all the failed claims for “genetics” (most of which we have available with links to earlier discussions) demonstrating that there is already so little genetic variation and so much genetic mixing as to make the fears expressed in the OP ridiculous.

So why take on the role of bad guy by derailing the thread? The very fact that the thread gets derailed makes it more difficult to demonstrate the sillier aspects of the racial issues to the folks at home if they have already tuned out because it turned into another “race” thing. I propose that we fight ignorance by addressing the words posted and not the goals that we imagine we will see.

I’m not mad at anyone and I am not looking to smack any wrists; I just want discussions in GD to follow the course of discussing what each poster submits rather than what any poster believes the first poster may submit in some future post.
I’ve already lost that battle in the ongoing feuds between the absolutist haters on both sides of the political divide over the current U.S. presidency; I am not going to give up so easily on other matters where I have a hope to keep discussion alive.

I agree. If gardenoflove had simply been posting a libertairian manifesto, you think he would have, you know, posted a libertarian manifesto. This wouldn’t have been to hard to do:

This is not what the OP wrote.

Sorry, Tom I didn’t see your reply till after hitting submit.

And thanks for having my back in the thread in question.

Hmmm…I’m thinking you mean that he wasn’t the first to raise the issue of religion in the context of not liking members of another religion. Otherwise, I’m not sure I get what you’re saying: he blamed religion for the brainwashing, and I have no idea how to interpret his talk about housing groups of genetically similar people except by understanding it as talks about racial identity. (He could be talking about clockwise-sworl hair versus counterclockwise-sworl hair, but I strongly doubt it).

The reason why I brought it up first, explicitly, is because I believe that he was dishonestly trying to bring it up implicitly: he was poisoning the well from the beginning. Again, that OP is similar to many others I’ve seen, and every single one I’ve seen like it before ends the same way, with honest debaters wasting pages upon pages trying to debate the points honestly, while the OP has no intention of doing so.

Had he started off saying explicitly and plainly that he was calling for racial segregation, I would’ve strongly disagreed, but not considered him dishonest. Of course, if he’d done that, he wouldn’t have been able to interest people in the debate; that’s why folks like him don’t start with honest OPs.

But like I said, it’s your call, and as I understand it, you’d rather give the benefit of the doubt to a post; if there’s any chance at all, allow it to proceed as if it’s honest. (Please correct me if I misunderstand). That’s a perfectly valid position, and I’m sincerely not trying to back-hand Pit you over this; it’s just not how I’d handle it, and I wanted to explore the issues around it without hijacking the thread any further. :slight_smile:


Daniel, a question: Do you think people who post such arguments are beyond reason or discussion?

Don’t you ever wonder how they came about their beliefs in the first place?

I’m not saying you (or anyone else in particular) are obligated to care, or try to reason with them, but it seems to me that one of the benefits of internet discussion is the opportunity for willing participants to try to do just that.

Why deny others from availing the opportunity to do so?

The odds might be against the idea that someone will “come to their senses”, but it still has a value (for the reasoners), as an exercise in strengthening their debating skills, and further illuminating exactly why they hold those opinions.

Isn’t that worth something, even if the person posting the OP proves to be beyond reason?

Plus, you never know who else is reading along. I myself lurked for the longest time before deciding to test the waters here. Sadly or not, the more provocative topics get the most hits. A pay-for-post site needs to encourage fresh blood in order to remain vibrant. An occasional “lulu” is a small price to pay for the benefits incurred, IMO.

Got it in one.

We need an evil grin smiley.

I’m not upset at your question. I’m not upset about the other thread, other than in the way I have already indicated.
(At least you didn’t call me twee.)

In my experience with messageboards, I think the earliest neonazis I encountered were on about.com’s civil liberties boards in, say, 1998. At that point, I argued myself blue in the face with them, with cites, supports, arguments, politeness–you name it. I became convinced that they were not there for an exchange of ideas; they were there to stir up trouble and to recruit. Since then, my experience with neonazis and other hard racists on the Internet have all been very similar: I’ve encountered very, very few who are interested in a legitimate exchange of ideas. The fact that this schmoe assumes in the title of his OP that those who disagree with him are brainwashed kinda undermines the idea that he’s interested in discussion.

So, yes. I think that the folks who post such arguments are beyond reason or discussion.

This is a fair point, and I do not want to deprive others of the opportunity to discuss; I simply believe that the hard racists who thrive on being controversial martyrs don’t deserve to be able to prey on the ignorance of other posters who aren’t familiar with their tactics. Forewarned is forearmed; and I think that others who are going to participate in such threads ought to be aware that the person they’re dealing with will probably not be debating honestly.

But again, there’s a possibility I’m wrong, and there’s a certainty that tom at least disagrees with my take on it, and I can live with that.


Fair enough, and I’m not upset either. But I reserve the right to say, “I told you so!” :stuck_out_tongue:


Yeah, once you assume that anyone who disagrees with you is brainwashed, the possibility for rational discussion goes out the window. This is true of many people who are not racists–conspiracy theorists for example.

They** told** you to say that, didn’t they? :eek:

I see you have much more experience than I with internet discussions. I wouldn’t bet against your judgement, but as I’ve said, I believe there are other benefits from such discussions.

Perhaps the moderator is thinking of the other benefits I mentioned?

As for the “dishonest debating techniques” - wouldn’t it benefit all posters to point out dishonesty, regardless of the validity or (perceived) intent of the topic?

I mean, it is possible to use dishonest techniques in a valid topic too, and those dishonest techniques are (IMO) just as dangerous (if not more so) when discussing topics of merit. In other words - a different complaint altogether.

Left Hand is right here. These people are a message board virus that cannot be dealt with in the same manner as used for other types of troublemakers.

They are here to recruit and stir shit, not debate. If they get banned, they will just be back with socks or others of their ilk. It’s a well-known fact that SF has encouraged their members to troll here.

I’ve seen it happen several times on SDMB. One of the few posts I’ve ever “reported to a Mod” was an OP like the one here (though a little better and much longer written) that had been plagiarized from SF or actually posted by that SF poster (the mods called plagiarism). This foul screed was also being greeted with “honest debate.”

IMHO, these vermin need to be banned instantly, not coddled. There have been white nationalists here that openly stated, “Yeah, I’m a white nationalist, and here are my opinions.” I don’t approve of their philosophy, but their approach doesn’t hurt the board. Crypto-facist/racist trolling does.

Very slim, especially after the crack about his sexual fantasies.

When in addition to quacking sounds the webbed orange feet come into view, the duck postulate is satisfactorily proven in my view.
There’s some value in debating such a nimrod just long enough for him to expose himself by making an incriminating statement . After awhile, though, the game is demeaning even to the well-intentioned participants.
In general, I don’t think bigots are amenable to reform through gentle persuasion - only through some major life experience (maybe having one’s life saved by a person of a “homogenized” race). Ostracism and social/economic penalties for bigotry are more effective in either encouraging decent behavior, or at least in sidetracking such individuals so that they have less opportunity to spread their poisons.

Lefty, still looks like you were right on. Right after a crack was made about SF’ers, our guest responded with

First, he knew who SF was.
Second, he evidently has a favorible view as he put radical in quotes. Yeah, they’re not out there, not at all.
Third, his entire screed does not focus around private property or individual decisions as a libertarian rant might, but ‘genetic’ segregation and ‘branwashing’. While it may’ve been good to take this discussion out of the other thread, I would be very surprised if our charming guest isn’t some racist fuck.

Sorry. I disagree. The current poster under discussion has already made factual errors regarding science and history. And, as the thread has developed, the foreseen agenda is slowly emerging, as well.

However, we are here to fight ignorance, not to battle other boards or social movements. Without ever getting into discussions of color or race or religion, we can argue the case based on science, law, and history. We will never change the mind of the poster (but, then, I do not recall where we insisted that the various factions arguing over the current presidency have been required to be persuaded). However, we are not playing to the poster, but to the audience at home. If we defeat the fairly silly claims regarding science or law on their own merits, then we have demonstrated the errors on which the poster’s claims are founded. If we get into a name-calling contest in which we overwhelm him with caustic slurs, then some of the audience is going to get the impression that there was some truth he presented that we feared to have brought out and they will be more receptive to the nonsense if it is presented on some other board or in some other venue.

Calling folks with these opinions “troublemakers” or likening them to a virus demonstrates a fear to tackle them head-to-head. If such a person comes for the purpose of making trouble, they will step out of line and be banned. If they simply hold foolish opinions, (or opinions we hold to be foolish), then it is up to us to demonstrate the failures of their opinions, not to persuade them, but to defend the motto of the Straight Dope to fight ignorance.

Aeschines, how would you feel if the staff decided that all interest in the paranormal was simply foolish fluff and we actively urged other posters to mock that interest or made no effort to moderate discussions on the topic because it was a “virus” or its holders were “troublemakers”?

I prefer that ideas be hammered out by their adherents on the topics presented rather than by ad hominem decisions about what sort of people hold those beliefs.

So did you.

That’s just your opinion.

You never know, maybe you will be surprised. Just because you think someone is a “racist fuck”, doesn’t mean that they are.

My two cents, devalued down to about a half a penny.

I didn’t come here and make a patently obvious racist post.
Context matters.

More sophistry. You give me a single convincing reason why someone who starts a racist screed would then use the word radical in quotes when refering to SF?

Maybe the guy who wants to ability to keep ‘different people’ out of his community doesn’t really want to keep ‘different people’ out of his community.
Mmmm hmmm.

You’re making excuses for a person who doesn’t deserve any.