Hostile assumptions? Or just calling it like you see it? Part II

56 posts / 0 new
Last post

I'm painting one side of my big old farmhouse. One of 6 sides every year. It hasn't had much paint, or any TLC, for 100 years, so there's a hell of a lot scraping, sanding and repairing to do. But yesterday was just painting, and painting shingles is slow and deliberate. So lots of time to ponder.

It took me a long time to think through not what I was going to do about this in the future, but whether I wanted to be on Babble.

Because there is a practical problem. A long time ago I started not even reading threads in the international forum, or any thread where Obama's name comes up, and various other topics. Thats a lot of territory that interests me the most- and just about my deepest roots as an activist. But even where my position fits right in with the mainstream of Babble- which ironically is the most likely with international concerns- I just cant begin to tolerate the poisonous discussions.

So thats been out for a long time.

Not that I ever liked the Babble dynamic in the Canadian politics forum where I remained. It oppressed me, but at a tolerable level. I would think about why it happens, but not really get anywhere.

But several months ago I began to think more sytematically. And then I started writing about it. Calling it bullying and watching that roll right off made me even less tolerant of watching others bullied. So I started my first meta thread in the Canadian politics forum, around examples of where it happens.

That didnt get anywhere. And in the aftermath, there were even fewer threads where I was willing to participate.

Then Yiwah took up a similar probing of the Babble dynamic. If she had done it before, I missed it because I had only seen her partipation in the Aboriginal forum.

Going straight at it tapped into lifetime commitments to 'the culture of the left'. With no sense yet that Babble meta threads are doomed... participating in and then initiating these replaced my earlier focus on Canadian politics discussions here [and anti-racism when those discussions arent just bogged down].

The petering out of the various male domination of discussion threads- which never got anywhere in the first place- finished my desire to initiate anything. And these latest attempts initated by Yiwah should finish my desire to participate at all. [Not to mention that I cant see anyone trying for at least a long time.]

I cant go back more than extremely sporadically to the Canadian politics discussions. Holding my tongue from participating in provocation [which includes 'just' reacting to it] isnt good enough. Because I cant say anything in a thread where someone has been bullied. And if it goes on, I stop even reading. And then never even peek at threads with titles that look like they are guaranteed to toss that sort of thing up.

Which leaves me with nothing to do around here. There are some fun threads. But you need more than that to be here.

I didnt really come to a direct decison whether I want to try it notwithstanding all that.

I decided on the only way I can remain here. And that is to call people on bullying whenever I see it. Aspiring to do it with a minimum of fuss, sort of matter of fact 'clinically'.

And in that spirit, despite that LONG preamble, I'll make the business end short and sweet.

Heretofore I won't call it bullying. At least not routinely. The label becomes a distraction.

And its unecessary. I'm simply going to call posters on attributing positions to others. When it is ONLY an attribution of a position that serves to fundamentally rather than substantively undermine the legitimacy of another poster.


Here is one example of how to press your politics, contadicting someone, WITHOUT ascribing a position to them.

Its an exchange between me and Cueball that I pointed to upthread:

KenS wrote:
I think the seige mentality [of the left] goes beyond whats going on in the big wide world. Those with the more 'extreme politics' on the left- which isnt at all limited to self-identifying anarchists- have become more marginalized within the left. And increasingly. Now they de facto do a LOT of the framing of their politics around what is wrong with the rest of us. There is an old history to this. But I think it has spread. This inevitably will fuel hostility all around.

Cueball wrote:
What are you talking about Ken? The "extreme" leftists haven't been marginalized in the left. The right has taken over the left wing organization and some of them even think that they are on the left, when in fact, they are just the right. I don't know what the fascination that center right, and right wingers have with identifying themselves as leftists is, but it's a pretty interesting phenomena.

I think its because even people on the right, like to be thought of as being 'nice' and being on "the left" is identified with "niceness".

Thats pretty damn pointy. AND its thrown right at me.

Not to mention that I think there's been some pretty severe and self-serving liberties taken with categories.

But its all right out there on the surface. No attribution of unstated motives or agendas. No misrepresenation of what I said.


What Yiwah calls attributing motives is one type of attributting positions. Misrepresenting anothe poster words is another type.

Attributing positions to someone can be done innocently.

Annd if its done not so innocently by artless people, it is transperently unreasonable. Therefore, easily ignored or deflected.

But we have some skilful people who have had a lot of practice at attributing positions.

It doesnt deal with the substance of what people actually said, it fundamentally undermines their legitimacy as a bona fide progressive. And when done artfully, which is easy for people with practice at it, it looks substantively reasonable on the surface.

It LOOKS to anyone who doesnt go back to unwind the previous conversation like something the victim actually said.

Which means the victim has been undermined if they leave the attribution standing. But since is was done with some art, the victim is now permanently on the defensive. At best she or he will spend a long time on the exigesis of words. 'Win' or lose that, their original point is buried.

But I wont have to go into this explanation every time I want to call someone on attributing a position.

And with any luck, people will just stop doing it.


writer wrote:
We all have backstories, agendas and drives for writing what we write here. None of us - NONE OF US - are mindreaders.

Speak for yourself.  I get wicked headaches sometimes from all the loud noise and bad vibes in general. Awful tired now, boss. Dog tired.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Like I said in the other, more negatively named thread, I think this line of discussion has run its course. Closing.


Topic locked