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Author Topic: UN Peacekeepers to occupy Ferguson Missouri
Wayward Son
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quote:
By indicating that the riots directly led to a good you implicitly affirm a morally positive effect, notwithstanding the fact that the means were immoral. Even the Unabomber admitted freely that murder is wrong, but he saw the positive that could result as outweighing the negative moral act of setting off bombs. This is a difficult logic to dispute if you are looking strictly at results, but impossible to agree with if one is speaking of means.
Isn't this similar to the reasoning behind the death penalty?

Just saying. [Smile]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
We presume you think mass attention to the riots is itself a good.
No. Attention to the problems in Baltimore, and every other city that hasn't taken measures to resolve similar issues that line them up to possibly be next in line is good. Focus on the riots is outright bad, because it dismisses the underlying issues and amounts to victim blaming.

It's possible that some good may come of the problems no longer being ignorable, but that does not justify the riots or allowing conditions to get bad enough that riots were inevitable in the first place.

The fact that it's possible something good might come of the riots emphasises how unjustifiable the situation is- it's a reaction to it not being justifiable, it doesn't magically make it okay that things got so bad.

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D.W.
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Are police body cams enough?
Does anyone feel confident any other consensus has been reached?

A black man dies.
Cops assumed abusive/racist.
Public protest (and possible riot)
Media stories suggest cops actions not as obviously out of line as initially believed.
More protests (and possible riot)
Officials pay lip service towards due process and investigating.
Charges (if any) dismissed or not guilty verdict returned if it goes to trial.
Media circles for next death.

So far we get a new gadget that requires us to trust it will actually be used and not tampered with. Oh, and they will look into systemic abuse problems that didn't REALLY factor in on this one incident.

I miss anything?

The media is more enemy than savior in this dance. They don't know how to cover a nation that gets along with one another. Lucky for them they don't have to. If you believe in luck that is.

[ May 04, 2015, 03:44 PM: Message edited by: D.W. ]

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
impossible to agree with if one is speaking of means
I should point out that pretty much every military action becomes unequivocally evil if you believe this is true.
That depends that on how we define the actions. If you define any kind of killing as evil then you'd be right, and some people do believe this. However if we distinguish between killing and murder, where murder is the evil crime and killing becomes an umbrella term for both justified and unjustified loss of life then it requires a context. The law, at the very least, defines killing as being justifiable in certain circumstances, both done by the state by law enforcement and by individuals in self-defence. However the law doesn't specify any circumstance where rioting is legal, and we don't tend to speak of it as being morally good either, law aside.

However one thing worth noting is that we tend to think of riots as being spontaneous or a result of immediate feelings, which makes it quite different than calculated decisions such as the death penalty or waging war. While a riot can be planned, in theory, I think we'd need to find a slightly different way to call an event where people were organized and gathered together in advance in order to wreak havoc. In this sense it would be less of a mob and more of an organized crime event like in Mad Max.


quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:

It's possible that some good may come of the problems no longer being ignorable, but that does not justify the riots or allowing conditions to get bad enough that riots were inevitable in the first place.

Ok, thanks for clarifying.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
However if we distinguish between killing and murder, where murder is the evil crime and killing becomes an umbrella term for both justified and unjustified loss of life then it requires a context.
Which broader military action has not resulted in the death of civilians, whose deaths cannot be considered a justified loss of life without engaging in exactly the sort of calculus that would actually justify rioting?
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
However if we distinguish between killing and murder, where murder is the evil crime and killing becomes an umbrella term for both justified and unjustified loss of life then it requires a context.
Which broader military action has not resulted in the death of civilians, whose deaths cannot be considered a justified loss of life without engaging in exactly the sort of calculus that would actually justify rioting?
I think that for this very reason many people dispute the moral calculus behind wars as we currently conceive them. We can imagine, for instance, a war where one country is outright invaded and must defend itself. Most wars are not directly "necessary" in this way and are instead considerations of power, influence, wealth, prestige, whatever. It is this latter type of war which I think we do have to question, since each of these goals (power, wealth, etc) has associated with it a "for whom" that sorely needs to be answered to justify the loss of human life. In this sense we would hope that a conscientious government (a fantasy for now) would take very careful consideration of the absolute necessity for killing; and careful consideration is exactly the one thing we don't expect in a riot situation.

Also I should point out that there's a difference between collateral damage in war, which in theory one might try to avoid except that in practice it doesn't work out; contrast with a riot, where the collateral damage is the entire point of the exercise.

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Pyrtolin
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[Quote]where the collateral damage is the entire point of the exercise.[Quote]
That's like saying that collateral damage is the point of a hurricane or tsunami. It's a result of it, it's not even remotely a "point"

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
[Quote]where the collateral damage is the entire point of the exercise.[Quote]
That's like saying that collateral damage is the point of a hurricane or tsunami. It's a result of it, it's not even remotely a "point"

You are denying that it is the express intent of rioters to do damage to their surroundings? You think the damage a riot does is purely accidental or collateral and not what they are trying to do?

There is no point to a hurricane, it just happens. Unless you think this is also true of human behavior then your reply is specious.

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D.W.
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I think "intentional" damage is being confused with damage as "a goal".
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TomDavidson
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quote:
You think the damage a riot does is purely accidental or collateral and not what they are trying to do?
Do you believe the end goal of a riot is to do damage? The damage is not accidental, but neither is it the "express intent" of a riot.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
You are denying that it is the express intent of rioters to do damage to their surroundings? You think the damage a riot does is purely accidental or collateral and not what they are trying to do?
When you're talking about a riot, "intent" is lost to mob psychology. You're talking about a group of people who have been provoked to a point past such rational considerations as intent.

quote:
There is no point to a hurricane, it just happens.
They don't "just happen"- they're the result of a number of weather and climate related factors. Riots aren't intentional actions- they're an overflowing of emotion (outrage, in this case, but we seen riots happen in the wake of sporting victories as well)

Riots are a reaction to physical, social, and economic pressures. They're not planned actions that can be meaningfully talkings about in terms of intent.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
You think the damage a riot does is purely accidental or collateral and not what they are trying to do?
Do you believe the end goal of a riot is to do damage? The damage is not accidental, but neither is it the "express intent" of a riot.
You can call it a means to an end, which still makes it an operational objective (a tactic, versus the general strategy, but still part of the mission statement). This, of course, assumes that all rioters are disciplined and using a specific strategy with a clear goal in mind. This could be true of some of them, but surely others will be angry about something, and rather than address that thing through discourse they will lose focus and allow anger and the 'desire to destroy' that anger can produce to take over. In this instance they are not angry at the property they damage, but the actual act of doing the damage is not motivated in that moment by the desire for political change; it would be more like "Screw this! To hell with everything!" than "I set this fire in the name of my cause." And then of course some rioters are people who just like to mess things up and this is an opportunity to do so. This latter group can easily be identified in the case of sports riots where literally all they want to do is destroy stuff because it's fun, and you can be sure people of this sort aren't going to stay at home if there's a good opportunity to have vandalism covered under the auspices of a political cause.

In short I'm sure there's a variety of types of people involved in a riot, but to suggest that violent damage expressly isn't the intent of any of them is, I think, to misunderstand some of the rioting mentality.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
and rather than address that thing through discourse
This is a very faulty assertion.

Try "After trying to address it thorough discourse has abjectly failed" for relevant situations.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
and rather than address that thing through discourse
This is a very faulty assertion.

Try "After trying to address it thorough discourse has abjectly failed" for relevant situations.

Maybe for some of them. But since you lifted my quote from the section where I'm talking about people rioting in a premeditated manner, strategically, then this point of your leads directly to the 'collateral damage' during a riot being both intentional and functionally desired. Not like a storm, which thunders randomly and may or may not cause damage and doesn't care either way.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
But since you lifted my quote from the section where I'm talking about people rioting in a premeditated manner, strategically, then this point of your leads directly to the 'collateral damage' during a riot being both intentional and functionally desired. Not like a storm, which thunders randomly and may or may not cause damage and doesn't care either way.
Because if you keep poking someone with a stick, even though they've tried asking you nicely to stop, begging and pleading with you to stop, and finally lose their temper and punch you, it amounts to a premeditated act to punch you?

I specifically replied to the part where you talked about people responding with anger instead of discourse, because the characterization of that as a premeditated choice is completely divorced from reality and only serves to perpetuate damaging misconception that focus the conversation on blaming the rioters instead of the conditions that created the riot in the first place.

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The Drake
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Great point Pyr, we're pretty far on the political spectrum, but I will always agree that if you ignore any group long enough and effectively enough, they will burn stuff to the ground. Is that admirable on their part? Doesn't matter because the system put them in that place.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
Great point Pyr, we're pretty far on the political spectrum, but I will always agree that if you ignore any group long enough and effectively enough, they will burn stuff to the ground. Is that admirable on their part? Doesn't matter because the system put them in that place.

The only purpose in speaking about 'intention' would be in describing a moral or ethical system; regardless of whether there is agency we can discuss morality as if there were. However if you wish to discuss the mechanistic reality rather than the moral one and to treat humans the same as any other physical system by means of an if-then operator - input stimulus and yield predictable aggregate result - then of course you are right. We can look at humans on either level.

I understand your point that the eruption of a riot can be said to reveal a negative input in the system was was present previously and being ignored, and stand as proof of oppression and in this sense be a useful signal. However what I was pointing out is the danger inherent in celebrating the "aha!" moment when it was violence that ushered it in.

Or rephrased, do we accept and make use of a good that comes to us as a result of an evil?

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The Drake
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Morality can get tricky. Is it immoral to return the violence to a community that has treated you with violence? If there is a situation where the police abuse the population, or a subset, couldn't you say that any member of that community that supports the people who commit that violence against you have opened themselves up to just retaliation?

Was it immoral to burn Dresden to the ground with a hundred thousand refugees in the city? Wasn't that event equivalent in certain ways to burning a few stores in anger? So even if every one of the rioters thought about it a day in advance, and then deliberately burned the town, I'm not sure we can claim it was absolutely immoral, depending on your system of ethics.

Part of it is to what degree you hold people accountable, the people actually doing the harm and the people that support and enable it. Are the people who sell snacks to cops collaborators in a sense, or are they innocent bystanders?

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yossarian22c
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Actually fire bombing Dresden was absolutely immoral. There was almost no strategic advantage to burning the city to the ground. Just like setting fire to parked cares and breaking into and looting stores serves no strategic purpose in getting the police to treating you better.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
Morality can get tricky. Is it immoral to return the violence to a community that has treated you with violence? If there is a situation where the police abuse the population, or a subset, couldn't you say that any member of that community that supports the people who commit that violence against you have opened themselves up to just retaliation?

Was it immoral to burn Dresden to the ground with a hundred thousand refugees in the city? Wasn't that event equivalent in certain ways to burning a few stores in anger? So even if every one of the rioters thought about it a day in advance, and then deliberately burned the town, I'm not sure we can claim it was absolutely immoral, depending on your system of ethics.

Part of it is to what degree you hold people accountable, the people actually doing the harm and the people that support and enable it. Are the people who sell snacks to cops collaborators in a sense, or are they innocent bystanders?

Recall that my original comment was simply that those in a riot (or at least some of them) are intentionally causing damage and are therefore not like a storm. I was not making a moral evaluation, although I was addressing what sounded like a positive evaluation of the result of the rioting. If you want to assess humans as mechanistic systems then it is plausible to discuss aggregate anger, systemic input and so forth. But I was trying to bring into focus that while human behavior can be inspected in a macro way each person is nevertheless an individual and within a riot scenario there are probably many reasons why people might be causing property damage. To write off all of these reasons and summarize them all as "systemic influence caused this" isn't wrong, but it eliminates all useful data regarding volition. A pure materialist who doesn't believe in free will might equate a storm system with a human system, but even if that assertion is ontologically true I still think we need to speak about human behavior as if it involved individual volition.
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The Drake
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I think I did see your point, Fenring. You may have missed my point, probably because I was less than clear in my original statement. I absolutely allow for free will and choices, and was arguing that one of the valid reasons someone might choose to damage property is to change their intolerable conditions. If that is the case, and it results in improving that situation, I'd argue it can be viewed positively.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
I think I did see your point, Fenring. You may have missed my point, probably because I was less than clear in my original statement. I absolutely allow for free will and choices, and was arguing that one of the valid reasons someone might choose to damage property is to change their intolerable conditions. If that is the case, and it results in improving that situation, I'd argue it can be viewed positively.

I have to admit that I'm sympathetic with the feeling that violence can be necessary, and that when intolerable conditions are present any sense of 'acceptable' can cease to be relevant when considering what to do. I do actually believe that in the case of certain persons or institutions "force is all they understand." If we accept this premise then it does, indeed, require us to evaluate not only our methods in themselves but also what other options might or might not have been available. If there is no other option then it would be foolish to discuss non-violent alternatives.

That being said we risk the slippery slope when we admit 'dark' methods to get results. If a riot is a legitimate method of achieving change, then do we have to evaluate whether the change desired is a noble one? How do we differentiate between a sports riot and a riot of outrage? Maybe the sports riot really occurs as a result of a people feeling put down and when the occasion of real energetic release comes it overflows into wanton destruction. And yet even if this is true I would say for myself that I still think of a sports riot as being a piece of savage depravity, even though it may well serve as a general marker to denote a repressed people.

But the difficulty of legitimizing dark methods can bleed into non-violent discourse as well. "Shaming" is supposed to be a very bad thing, for instance, but when confronted with an outrageous view or person we find all sorts of people from both left and right quite amenable to using public shaming tactics. It has become largely accepted that shaming people for being different is a bad thing. Homosexuals, for instance, used to be shamed (and worse) as a matter of course and now the old cultural norm has been fought back to a large extent. This turning tide is so evident that now when people are noted as being anti-SSM (for instance Brendan Eich) those people are sometimes shamed publicly for being intolerant. One finds oneself realizing that shame and public pressure can be effective tools after all and are not necessarily all that bad if the right people are the target. But in the case of Eich perhaps the irony was lost that by shaming and pressuring him into resigning the community inadvertently retroactively legitimized the use of shaming which had historically targeted gays. I don't mean that it was right to shame them, but rather that the tool of shaming has been admitted to be 'ok' as long as some vocal group of people deem someone or something to be shameful.

It seems to be a very tricky thing to allow in 'dark' methods even if it seems like the goal is a just one. What if those dark methods are eventually used against you? Might it not be better overall to try to eliminate such methods from the public tool kit altogether? It's tough to answer this in cases where people seem to have no other choice, and I do agree that if you give people no other choice then what happens should come as no surprise.

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kmbboots
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Using a hammer to pound a nail does not justify using a hammer to pound someones head. Of course, the ends matter. But I do see your point when the methods are "dark". The thing that we are missing, though, is that we have always used violence as a tool. Or at least, allowed it to be used on our behalf. We are disturbed now at who might be holding the hammer.

White America's Greatest Delusion: "They Do Not Know It and They Do Not Want to Know It"
quote:
When you have the power you can take out your hatreds and frustrations directly upon the bodies of others. This is what we have done, not only in the above mentioned examples but right here at home. The so-called ghetto was created and not accidentally. It was designed as a virtual holding pen---a concentration camp were we to insist upon honest language---within which impoverished persons of color would be contained. It was created by generations of housing discrimination, which limited where its residents could live. It was created by decade after decade of white riots against black people whenever they would move into white neighborhoods. It was created by deindustrialization and the flight of good-paying manufacturing jobs overseas.

And all of that is violence too. It is the kind of violence that the powerful, and only they, can manifest. One needn't throw a Molotov cocktail through a window when one can knock down the building using a bulldozer or crane operated with public money. One need not loot a store when one can loot the residents of the community as happened in Ferguson---giving out tickets to black folks for minor infractions so as to rack up huge fines and fees, thereby funding city government on the backs of the poor. Zoning laws, eminent domain, redlining, predatory lending, stop-and-frisk: all of these are forms of violence, however much white America fails to understand that. They do violence to the opportunities and dreams of millions, living in neighborhoods most of us have never visited. Indeed, in neighborhoods we consider so God-forsaken that we even have a phone app now to help us avoid them.


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The Drake
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Fenring, that was pretty well put. Personally, I prefer the idea of nonviolent action. It is interesting to look at King's view on riots for social change - overwhelmingly negative. He specifically spoke out against retaliatory violence, seeing it as counterproductive.

It is unclear whether he would have made better or worse progress in the absence of more militant agents for change in his time. The fear of black uprisings might well have been a better motivator for change than sermonizing and marching. However, without the nonviolent portion of the civil rights movement, it may have been easier to portray agitators as "thugs". Perhaps some blend of violence is the most powerful agent for change, like getting a fuel to oxygen ratio just right.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
It is interesting to look at King's view on riots for social change - overwhelmingly negative. He specifically spoke out against retaliatory violence, seeing it as counterproductive.


Not exactly.

quote:
Let me say as I've always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I'm still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve. That in a real sense it is impracticable for the Negro to even think of mounting a violent revolution in the United States. So I will continue to condemn riots, and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way. And continue to affirm that there is another way.

But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nation's winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.

quote:
And this leads me to say something about another discussion that we hear a great deal, and that is the so-called "white backlash". I would like to honestly say to you that the white backlash is merely a new name for an old phenomenon. It's not something that just came into being because of shouts of Black Power, or because Negroes engaged in riots in Watts, for instance. The fact is that the state of California voted a Fair Housing bill out of existence before anybody shouted Black Power, or before anybody rioted in Watts.

It may well be that shouts of Black Power and riots in Watts and the Harlems and the other areas, are the consequences of the white backlash rather than the cause of them

From The Other America

quote:
Urban riots must now be recognized as durable social phenomena. They may be deplored, but they are there and should be understood. Urban riots are a special form of violence. They are not insurrections. The rioters are not seeking to seize territory or to attain control of institutions. They are mainly intended to shock the white community. They are a distorted form of social protest. The looting which is their principal feature serves many functions. It enables the most enraged and deprived Negro to take hold of consumer goods with the ease the white man does by using his purse. Often the Negro does not even want what he takes; he wants the experience of taking. But most of all, alienated from society and knowing that this society cherishes property above people, he is shocking it by abusing property rights. There are thus elements of emotional catharsis in the violent act. This may explain why most cities in which riots have occurred have not had a repetition, even though the causative conditions remain. It is also noteworthy that the amount of physical harm done to white people other than police is infinitesimal and in Detroit whites and Negroes looted in unity.

A profound judgment of today's riots was expressed by Victor Hugo a century ago. He said, 'If a soul is left in the darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.'

The policymakers of the white society have caused the darkness; they create discrimination; they structured slums; and they perpetuate unemployment, ignorance and poverty. It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society. When we ask Negroes to abide by the law, let us also demand that the white man abide by law in the ghettos. Day-in and day-out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; and he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions for civic services. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them but do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison. Let us say boldly that if the violations of law by the white man in the slums over the years were calculated and compared with the law-breaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man. These are often difficult things to say but I have come to see more and more that it is necessary to utter the truth in order to deal with the great problems that we face in our society.

From King's Challege to the Social Scientists.

It is more complicated than "overwhelmingly negative". I highly suggest reading both speeches all the way through as well as the article I posted above.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
"Shaming" is supposed to be a very bad thing, for instance, but when confronted with an outrageous view or person we find all sorts of people from both left and right quite amenable to using public shaming tactics. It has become largely accepted that shaming people for being different is a bad thing. Homosexuals, for instance, used to be shamed (and worse) as a matter of course and now the old cultural norm has been fought back to a large extent. This turning tide is so evident that now when people are noted as being anti-SSM (for instance Brendan Eich) those people are sometimes shamed publicly for being intolerant. One finds oneself realizing that shame and public pressure can be effective tools after all and are not necessarily all that bad if the right people are the target. But in the case of Eich perhaps the irony was lost that by shaming and pressuring him into resigning the community inadvertently retroactively legitimized the use of shaming which had historically targeted gays.
This is a horrible false equivalence that can only be reached by playing fast and loose with the meaning of "shaming".

Eich was not shamed in any meaningful sense of the word. He was not taught self-loathing from birth because of unchangeable facts about himself. He was not cast out of society or otherwise treated as a pariah. He was just asked to apologize to people he had hurt through, an act in which there is no shame at all. He chose to resign rather than apologize when it became clear that he had hurt enough of his potential market base that the company would struggle for a while with him at the lead.

Pointing out that someone has done something harmful is not even remotely in the same boat as shaming- directly and intentionally acting to attack someone socially, without regard for the nature or their action, not simply exposing an action and requesting a response in the context of that action. If the person happens to feel shame, then it's an incidental response on their part.

Shaming is a directed ongoing attack on someone's self worth and identity; it's a creation of harm where none existed before. It's not even comparable to requests for an apology for or even just acknowledgement of harm one has actually caused.
Eide's _action_ was the target of complaints not his self or his identity.

The assertion that he was actually forced to take any action, in this case is ludicrously false. He could easily have issued an earnest apology for the harm he'd done and moved on. He could have stuck it out and accepted a short term dip in business until the spotlight moved on.

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Fenring
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Pyr, your narrow definitions do not fit with general use of the English language. You can use terms in an academic sense when discussing narratives that originated in academia, but please don't take words others use and make them mean whatever you want in order to try to undermine a point by way of absurdity. If you looked at the comments people posted it was obviously an attempt to make him either change or else feel bad. That's shaming.

The question is not whether one should call out someone who has transgressed, but rather whether one method of doing this should include public shaming. People used to be shamed in the public square for transgressions; it is a recent notion that shaming is a reprehensible method of dealing with people. I am just pointing out that you can't have it both ways; either shaming is going to be accepted as a method of addressing what one perceives as wrong behavior, or it isn't. If you admit this method then you can't complain when it's used on targets you didn't want it to be.

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scifibum
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I agree that what happened to Eich is distinct in important ways from "shaming which had historically targeted gays".

However, society is moving in the direction where disapproval of SSM, and more broadly disapproval of homosexuality, is shameful. It's likely that some people feel compelled to hide these opinions in certain social contexts in order to avoid negative repercussions, and this is going to become more common.

But this is not necessarily a bad thing - it just depends on whether you think those opinions are wrong/damaging enough to warrant the open disapproval they will receive if expressed in a context where they are unwelcome.

quote:
The assertion that he was actually forced to take any action, in this case is ludicrously false.
Not really, unless you're being overly strict with the definition of "forced". He was pressured into it.

---

Fenring:
quote:
"Shaming" is supposed to be a very bad thing, for instance, but when confronted with an outrageous view or person we find all sorts of people from both left and right quite amenable to using public shaming tactics. It has become largely accepted that shaming people for being different is a bad thing. Homosexuals, for instance, used to be shamed (and worse) as a matter of course and now the old cultural norm has been fought back to a large extent. This turning tide is so evident that now when people are noted as being anti-SSM (for instance Brendan Eich) those people are sometimes shamed publicly for being intolerant. One finds oneself realizing that shame and public pressure can be effective tools after all and are not necessarily all that bad if the right people are the target. But in the case of Eich perhaps the irony was lost that by shaming and pressuring him into resigning the community inadvertently retroactively legitimized the use of shaming which had historically targeted gays.
Did the gay movement in general or any comparable identifiable group make "shaming is bad and we should not do it" an element of their platform? I hadn't thought so. I thought the point was that there is nothing shameworthy about homosexuality.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
If you admit this method then you can't complain when it's used on targets you didn't want it to be.
Well, that's just blatantly a stupid argument. Of course you can. Because no one is saying "no one should ever be shamed or made to feel ashamed." They are saying "people should not be made to feel ashamed of certain things." Disapproving of legal same-sex marriage is not fundamentally part of what Eich is.
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NobleHunter
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I felt that at least part of Eich's problem was an incredibly weak-sauce apology. If he'd addressed his donation directly rather than trying to talk around it, I think he could have kept his job. As it was, his apology sounded like an attempt to avoid addressing why people were upset with him.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I agree that what happened to Eich is distinct in important ways from "shaming which had historically targeted gays".

I agree too, the situations are totally different. But I'm not addressing whether the target of shaming is legitimate, or to do with beliefs, a person's 'self', or anything else. I'm just talking about shaming itself as a method of controlling or dealing with people.

To take an extreme example of 'dark methods', look at torture. The Geneva convention makes it clear that torture is forbidden under all circumstances, simply because it was deemed as a practice no one wanted to see. It didn't specify upon whom it was banned, it was simply uniformly banned. And look at us now where the U.S. government conducts torture and uses the True Lies defense of it, "yes but they were all bad!" So long as they're bad it's ok. But then anyone will define bad to mean whatever they want; so it's just better to have it banned rather than parse when it's 'really necessary.' When you throw out the Geneva Convention it is simply gone; it's not 'partially in effect'.

In the case of shaming it's a far lesser issue but still an important social concern. I think it's important to have standards of conduct. To legitimize public shaming would be equivalent to saying that the Christians were right to do what they did but wrong about whom they did it to.

quote:
Did the gay movement in general or any comparable identifiable group make "shaming is bad and we should not do it" an element of their platform? I hadn't thought so. I thought the point was that there is nothing shameworthy about homosexuality.
That is their opinion, and even if I agree with it (as well as most people now) that doesn't change the fact that when you make it open season to determine what is shame-worthy and what isn't then you have the same scenario as was the case under Christian society, except with different nouns filling in the blanks. Regarding "homosexuality" as you put it, see my answer to Tom below (which I wrote before I wrote this).

quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
If you admit this method then you can't complain when it's used on targets you didn't want it to be.
Well, that's just blatantly a stupid argument. Of course you can. Because no one is saying "no one should ever be shamed or made to feel ashamed." They are saying "people should not be made to feel ashamed of certain things." Disapproving of legal same-sex marriage is not fundamentally part of what Eich is.
The bolded part hits the nail on the head. As long as shaming is deemed acceptable then the only thing to discuss is whom is going to be shamed. And now you get into all kinds of relativist territories where one person's answer to this is as good as another. Obviously people on the left are going to agree to an extent on which types of behaviors should be shamed, but it should come as no surprise that those who don't (or previously didn't) agree will choose other targets. You forget that shaming of homosexuals was not ostensibly done in consequence of who they were, but in consequence of their actions. The Catholic catechism, for instance (and for those who don't abide by it I'm not speaking of their beliefs), draws a distinct line between homosexual identity and behavior, and makes it very clear that there is nothing wrong with the identity, but it is the behavior that is an issue. In this sense the "what Eich is" part is a red herring. I'm sure there are asses who really do persecute people just for being different, but the reason people in the past were concerned was the activity itself.

I can already see the "bull" coming in advance...

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TomDavidson
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I think "because of their actions" is by no means a fully accurate summary of the nature of anti-gay shaming, true. Nor do I think that homosexuals are as concerned with demanding that Catholics not vocally disapprove of them as they are with reducing violence against them, obtaining access to secular institutions, and having their behaviors not considered symptoms of a treatable mental dysfunction.

[ May 14, 2015, 06:21 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
it was obviously an attempt to make him either change or else feel bad.
IT was not at all. It was a request that he apologize for harm he had done. There was no attempt to use shame, never mind as a direct attack on his self-worth. No one asked him to change his personal beliefs, only to apologize for external actions that harmed others.
quote:
That's shaming.
Disowning a child because of who they are is shaming. Falsely casting a person as a predator and a danger to society is shaming. Demonstrating to a person that they are at physical, if not mortal risk for being who they are is shaming. Teaching a person to hate themselves to the point of making them suicidal is shaming. Calling int question all of a person's completely unrelated skills and talents because of some aspect of their identity is shaming. All of those tactics serve to teach other people like the targets that they should be ashamed of some part of who they are- should hate themselves for it.

Point out that an action that one has taken in the past was harmful to others and asking for an apology for it is not shaming. It's criticism, not shaming. Unjustified criticism can be a shaming tactic, but the key term there is _unjustified_. Calling for accountability for harm done is not, in any way, unjustified.

If you have dark hair, and society constantly sends you messages that dark haired people are more likely to be violent, dangerous, and should be discriminated against, that's shaming. IF you've punched someone in the face and the people you interact with who were upset by that act ask that you apologize for it, that's being critical, but it's not shaming. The action is the target of criticism, not your identity and sense of self-worth.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
No one asked him to change his personal beliefs, only to apologize for external actions that harmed others.
I'm not sure I agree here; putting this spin on it requires accepting all the premises of the pro-SSM movement, and even then I think it needs a bit more charity than is appropriate.

There were people who were definitely saying, "Dude, this is a bad opinion and you should feel bad about spending money to promote it." Whether they felt this way because they believed his opinion or his support of that opinion was intrinsically harmful or not, the intent was to make him acknowledge the wrongness of that support.

Eich was definitely shamed. Whether it was right to shame him or not is a fair question, but I don't think it necessarily reveals hypocrisy among the majority of people who opposed the public shaming of homosexuals; the argument was rarely that making people feel bad about bad behavior is wrong, but rather that a homosexual lifetyle does not constitute bad behavior. (After all, if shaming someone is inherently bad, how do you censure the act of shaming someone?)

Redefining "shaming" as "unjustified criticism" strikes me as a somewhat cowardly rhetorical dodge. Of course it's "shaming." But there are degrees to shaming much as there are degrees to flogging; no one was demanding specifically that Eich stand in stocks and have vegetables thrown at him, or cry on national television while making a mealy-mouthed apology, or put up with daily insults from his parents about how disappointed they are in him.

[ May 14, 2015, 08:32 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Aris Katsaris
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Pyrtolin, where did you get the idea that "shaming" must be unjustified by definition, or else it isn't shaming? Your definition makes sentences like "This shaming was justified" a contradiction in terms, right?

On my part I oppose deliberately imbuing moral import into descriptive words. That takes us down the path of newspeak where every act is declared good or bad by the very word used to describe it, to the point that no expression of disagreement on what is good and what is bad is even possible.

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Pyrtolin
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Tom:
quote:
Eich was definitely shamed
I don't feel that this is true, unless you effectively want to cast all criticism or other illumination of errors as "shaming". That's exactly the kind of broken attitude that leads me to object to the false equivalence; effectively the notion that we dare not raise criticism of bad or harmful behavior because pointing out someone's mistakes or holding them to account for them is now tantamount to abusing them.

Aris:
quote:
Pyrtolin, where did you get the idea that "shaming" must be unjustified by definition, or else it isn't shaming? Your definition makes sentences like "This shaming was justified" a contradiction in terms, right?
Absolutely. Criticism can be a good and useful thing. Shaming is a form of abuse- it does not have an upside. Sometimes you may have to quickly grab a child and pull them back to stop them from running into traffic. That's an application of physical force. The fact that child abuse can also involve application of physical force doesn't mean that you can suddenly turn around and say "well some forms of child abuse are justified". That's the exact same kind of false equivalence as was being drawn above.

quote:
On my part I oppose deliberately imbuing moral import into descriptive words.
That's all well and good, except that we're talking about a word that explicitly communicates moral valence- in which case your objection should be to casting an act in a moral light instead of describing it using neutral terms. When you call something abuse, murder, shaming, etc... you are explicitly communicating a moral judgement, and not simply describing the act..

Calling the criticism or Eich "shaming" is, effectively, a stealth argument that no legitimate harm was done by his actions, that the people who felt hurt by what he'd done and did not with to do business with him were unjustified in their response. There are plenty of neutral words that could be used, but the choice to equate it to active abuse is not even remotely neutral

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scifibum
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Pyrtolin -

But other people aren't saying that shaming is a sin. It appears that you are the only one doing so. (Fenring seems rather to be pointing out that if one defines shaming as a sin, then using shaming is hypocritical.)

You can't claim that someone is "explicitly communicating a moral judgement" when they explicitly say that is not what they are doing.

(BTW, you keep using that word "explicitly". I don't think it means what you think it means.)

Shaming someone is explicitly communicating a negative moral judgment. Calling what someone else is doing shaming does not communicate a negative moral judgment; it describes that the negative moral judgment is occurring.

quote:
Calling the criticism or Eich "shaming" is, effectively, a stealth argument that no legitimate harm was done by his actions, that the people who felt hurt by what he'd done and did not with to do business with him were unjustified in their response. There are plenty of neutral words that could be used, but the choice to equate it to active abuse is not even remotely neutral
Evidence seems to be that most people think the term "shaming" is neutrally descriptive of what occurred - that people strongly disapproved of what Eich did and were not shy about saying so.

In fact, it's not people on Eich's side who call what occurred "shaming". The term those people use is "persecution".

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:

I think "because of their actions" is by no means a fully accurate summary of the nature of anti-gay shaming, true.


I agree with you, but was trying to draw a distinction between the stated reasons and the real reasons. In reality these are never identical even in a thoughtful, honest person, but I still think it's meaningful to inspect the stated reason for an intellectual position, and to evaluate not living up to the intellectual position as a separate problem.

quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Nor do I think that homosexuals are as concerned with demanding that Catholics not vocally disapprove of them as they are with reducing violence against them, obtaining access to secular institutions, and having their behaviors not considered symptoms of a treatable mental dysfunction.

I think they want all of the above. They wanted the abuse to stop, yes, and wanted to have access to public institutions, of course, and these are both things that can be mandated and done. But they also want to be treated (on an interpersonal level) as being the same as everyone else, and I do believe part of the real agenda is also to be thought of as being 'ok.' These last two issues are much harder to both mandate and also to enforce, since if a person honestly disagrees then you're left with a few options which include 1) Continue the dialogue and hope they change their minds, 2) Ignore them and accept that some people won't treat you well in the world, and not everyone will accept you, 3) Make use of various public pressures to try to make them change, or at least appear to have changed. Option #2 seems to be unpopular at the moment.


quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Eich was definitely shamed. Whether it was right to shame him or not is a fair question, but I don't think it necessarily reveals hypocrisy among the majority of people who opposed the public shaming of homosexuals; the argument was rarely that making people feel bad about bad behavior is wrong, but rather that a homosexual lifetyle does not constitute bad behavior. (After all, if shaming someone is inherently bad, how do you censure the act of shaming someone?)

If shaming is inherently bad then the only good way to deal with people would be with rational discourse. I do accept that in practice this doesn't always work, so in cases where this is so the options are to let it not work, or to adopt more aggressive methods.

I don't agree fully that the gay rights movement has largely been about there being nothing wrong with homosexual behavior. I'm not really sure how many ardent anti-gay or anti-SSM people were ever convinced by any claims like "this behavior, which is exactly as you thought it was, is actually good and not bad as you thought it was." It's not like new information was divulged which shed light on things. Homosexual relations have been around forever, everyone knows exactly what it is. What cause would there be for someone against homosexual sex to suddenly think it's ok? I find it far more likely that the effective goal wasn't to 'convert' such people but rather to get them to stop being asses about it. In other words, not to get them to change their opinion about the virtues of gay relations, but rather to alter their use of shaming tactics. In the middle road of society where people might have been not so happy about homosexuality but not militantly against it either I can see a lot of them really being swayed towards finding it ok. But these people, despite being part of a generally anti-gay culture, were certainly not the culprits behind serious abuses towards gay people either.

quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:

But there are degrees to shaming much as there are degrees to flogging; no one was demanding specifically that Eich stand in stocks and have vegetables thrown at him, or cry on national television while making a mealy-mouthed apology, or put up with daily insults from his parents about how disappointed they are in him.


Actually I think what happened to him was far worse than being made to stand in stocks. In the case of stocks what happened was everyone in town saw you humiliated and exposed for what you had done. It forced recognition by all parties of what had happened and that it was wrong, and this entire procedure carried with it the premise that it was generally agreed upon that it was actually wrong. In a sense this custom was cathartic as it allowed the community to deal with a problem and to move on. Once released the prisoner could resume life. But Eich was treated worse than this for a few reasons. For one, his 'crime' was something that was absolutely not generally agreed upon as being wrong; some percentage of the populace thought it was, but he and others who share his views certainly did not, and the gathering of a mob prevails over tacit support. For another, by pressuring him into resigning the mob's intent was to ruin him, to run him out of town in a sense. This is far more drastic than humiliating him for a day or two and then releasing him back to his line of work. These people didn't want Eich to be able to work again, if they had their way, or at least certainly not in any job with prominence. And finally, there is the issue of Eich's 'crime' being merely a difference of opinion and support for an unpopular view.

Some people like Pyr will always paint having a divergence of opinion on such topics as "oppressing or deliberately harming others", but a Democrat can say the same about anyone who votes Republican (they want war and death!). In the end there has to be a line drawn between personally abusing others versus endorsing a viewpoint that is displeasing to some people. Feeling hurt because of what someone says is not the same thing as saying that he went and hurt you. That is a very dangerous equivalence to make.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
You can't claim that someone is "explicitly communicating a moral judgement" when they explicitly say that is not what they are doing.
You might have something if some of the same people hadn't previously characterized teaching people about privilege and how it words in society was reprehensible because it amounted to shaming people who were previously ignorant of harm they might have caused.

quote:
You can't claim that someone is "explicitly communicating a moral judgement" when they explicitly say that is not what they are doing.
Hey, it's just abuse, not moral judgement. Hey, it's just pedophilia, no moral judgment. Hey, it's just murder, no moral judgment.

Really? If you use a weighted word, then the protestation that you're not doing it just underscores the fact that you are.

The fact that it has already been used judgmentally by people that are now trying to say that it's not a judgmental term makes that a weak dodge, without even going into the profound destruction that actual shaming has caused to the people that it actually has been applied to.

quote:
Evidence seems to be that most people think the term "shaming" is neutrally descriptive of what occurred - that people strongly disapproved of what Eich did and were not shy about saying so.
Which is criticism, not shaming. Again the false conflation of being criticized with being shamed is exactly why I think it's important to stick to the point that the two are very distinct things, as is the false equivalence with persecution. In both cases the terms assert that he was treated unjustly or unfairly because people were hurt or critical of the harm he had done, which is a position that only helps to enable further harm.
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scifibum
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It seems to me that you're insisting on a definition that is not standard.

It's not that I don't think shame can be harmful - it can. Particularly when it's used against aspects of identity or behavior that can't be changed, or that aren't actually wrong. Or when the shame is outsized. If a child eats a cookie that is within reach and is told "you are a nasty little thief", the harm done to the child is worse than taking the cookie, IMO.

But that doesn't mean that trying to make people ashamed of something they have done is always a bad thing to do.

Perhaps you'd have something if you established that being ashamed is always a harm.

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