Opinion Debate November 25, 2001 3:49 AM   Subscribe

>Steven Den Beste: "But I've been informed that I'm not permitted to express opinions about what I post; I'm just supposed to post."

*cough* that's bull$#@! *cough* [more]
posted by ZachsMind to MetaFilter-Related at 3:49 AM (59 comments total)

Post your opinions, Steve. I disagree with you sometimes, but I don't care what expletitive told you to stop posting opinions (even if it was Matt). MeFi is great because the links come with opinions. If the topic police start enforcing that, I'll have a cow.

Perhaps post the link, and then do a [more] so you can detail your opinion inside the thread. Admittedly, putting the opinion with the postlink tends to clutter up the front page. But don't let anybody tell you to stop posting your opinions about the links you post. In fact, had you explained yourself up front that the thread in question was not your opinion, but an example of an opinion you dislike, there would have been less misunderstanding in the thread.

THIS thread I'm making is for anyone who agrees or disagrees with this opinion. If there's a reason why anyone in MeFi wants any individual to stop sharing their opinions, I want it caught and shot down now.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:51 AM on November 25, 2001


Oh, the temptation....

I think Steven may still be a little sore about some of the smackdown in this thread, that's all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:58 AM on November 25, 2001


Ouch. Oh, okay. I must have missed that thread. I miss about 80% of what goes on in here. Well I can understand if a bunch of people say "shut up and use your weblog" it can get frustrating and even hurtful. I've had similar things said to me. The answer is to just get a thick skin. The people who troll opinions they disagree with just don't grok. That's their trip. I've said a lot of things that other people think are out in left field. So? I don't let it stop me. I don't stop posting my opinion just cuz a vocal minority only wants to hear their own opinion in other people's voices. If anything it makes me louder. I LOVE hearing opinions that I disagree with. I enjoy having my opinion challenged. It's the nature of the beast.

Sometimes I get pissed off, yeah. But I get over it. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 4:35 AM on November 25, 2001


No, I'm not "pouty". I posted that link about "burka and bikini" because I thought it was a good Mefi link.

But the fact that I didn't post an opinion about it did lead to an interesting demonstration: I was accused of supporting it. In actuality, I posted it because I thought it was total crap. I thought it was noteworthy precisely because it was such egregious bullshit.

Meanwhile, this thread here now expresses exactly the opposite dictim as does Moz's thread about me, which if anything demonstrates one of several flaws in community policing or whatever the current term is for the vigilantes who are trying to decide what MeFi should be: the community actually has no consensus, and what community policing really means is that one subset is trying to impose its own vision of what MeFi should be onto everyone else, without any clear mandate besides having loud voices.

Moz thinks I should post links but no opinions. Zach wants my opinion. It's obvious that there's no agreement on the subject amongst the "community" -- so I'm going to go back to doing what I always used to do: ignore the community and listen only to Matt.

(Stavros, the thread you cited had nothing to do with this.)

And now I'm going to go write about why I think that article was horseshit.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:20 AM on November 25, 2001


Well, I prefer links with opinions in MeFi, but I think I grok ya.

May whatever you believe in Bless You Steve. =) And thank you for helping me snap a few neurons together. Next time someone tries to push "community policing" down my throat in here, I'll remember your demonstration. MeFi is not a democracy. It's about as close to anarchy as people can get without blowing each others' heads off. A benevolent tyrany where King Matt rules with an ironic fist and a golden touch.

Policed topic directives in here should only apply when:
1. Matt puts them on the guideline page because he feels like it, or
2. A vast majority of actual people, as opposed to a vocal minority, persuade Matt that it's the right thing to do, AND he puts it on the guideline page because he feels like it.

Now I'm gonna bow out before the Topic Police come along and bitch me out for posting three times to my own thread in as many hours. *ducking*
posted by ZachsMind at 5:45 AM on November 25, 2001


Huh?
I think a new category is needed to add to the already rich "Move along" archive. I remembered Wham's old song, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and since so much drivel and dross gets posted while Matt snatches a few hours of rest, I propose we call them WHAMMIE threads. (WHAMMIE, of course, stands for While Haughey's Asleep, Mayhem May Immediately Ensue).

This one looks like a double whammie , btw.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:06 AM on November 25, 2001


A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others.

Steven Den Beste: Why do you even bother to post a link on Metafilter to something you think is "total crap" and "egregious bullshit" and "horseshit"?
posted by Carol Anne at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2001


Precisely because it is. It's worthwhile to observe someone who makes a bad case for something, so as to learn what not to do. Also, if proponents of a certain point of view only seem to come up with terrible arguments in favor of it, that suggests that their position is weak.

Besides, point out stupidity has long been a staple of MeFi posts.

Finally, I am under no obligation to justify my behavior to you. (I'll justify it to Matt if he asks.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:09 AM on November 25, 2001


Not that Steven needs defending, but the link he posted was one that most people haven't seen before, there was something interesting about the content of the page, and it did obviously warrant discussion from others.

In other words, it fit ALL the criteria Matt requests.

What the hell is your problem?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:12 AM on November 25, 2001


Steven Den Beste: Why do you even bother to post a link on Metafilter to something you think is "total crap" and "egregious bullshit" and "horseshit"?

He posts it to lure those anti-war lefties into an argument.
Problem is I didn't understand the link as the article was so badly written I don't think I could tell you what point the authors were trying to make. Was there one?

posted by Summer at 7:35 AM on November 25, 2001


Steven is being pouty, unnecessarily so. I've never seen any objection to opinion in the front page post, when it's explicitly written as opinion and not posited as fact.

My troll detector gets all twitchy when some clown posts his opinion as undisputed fact. I suspect it's the same for other folks around here.
posted by NortonDC at 7:48 AM on November 25, 2001


If no-one on the anti-war left is willing to try to make a coherent argument in favor of their position, then they're stuck with being represented by the loons, and will have their entire point of view represented by the loons.

The solution is not to try to shut me up about it, it's to try to find coherent arguments in favor of the anti-war position.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:49 AM on November 25, 2001


A reluctance to participate in an argument with you, Steven, does not necessarily equate with lacking a coherent and defensible position on the war.
posted by snarkout at 7:57 AM on November 25, 2001


Steven, there is a belligerence to your posts of late that I think people are finding off-putting. Someone mentioned "the smell of axes being ground" in the MeFi thread, and while I don't know what axes smell like, I know what they mean. In real life, if I meet someone who is pushy and argumentative, and they know it and don't care, I avoid that person. That's not really possible here, but I don't think you should be surprised when your ceaseless pot-stirring gets a pretty muted response. There's a fine line between "brave champion of rationality" and "pest."
posted by rodii at 8:12 AM on November 25, 2001


Oh, and Zach:

What the hell is your problem?

Tone it down, for god's sake, or at least try to keep up with the backstory before you start blasting people.
posted by rodii at 8:13 AM on November 25, 2001


If no-one on the anti-war left is willing to try to make a coherent argument in favor of their position, then they're stuck with being represented by the loons, and will have their entire point of view represented by the loons.

I read the article that was linked from the MeFi thread, and, try as I might, I couldn't find an anti-war position in it. It seemed to me that the authors had a point to make about the way clothing, or lack thereof, affects women, and that they were using the current situation with the Taliban as a hook. Given that they weren't really talking about the war, it seems ludicrous to use them as an example of the "anti-war left".

I'll be blunt. I'm tired of seeing SDB sulk because he doesn't think he gets enough respect and because no one will answer his call to a debate on the merits of the war.

Why on earth would anyone want to debate you? Right now, you're setting up a straw man in the form of a barely comprehensible article about women's clothing and pretending that it represents some presumed bankruptcy of the entire left's position on the war. When, in fact, it's not even on point. That would be like me citing one of Ann Coulter's columns as representative of the pro-war right and taking that on.

I haven't seen anything to indicate that you're interested in a real debate. What you're interested in is beating up on someone to feed your ego and perhaps get some of those hits that you think you deserve. Since you've already decided what the right outcome is, any arguments you hear will be dismissed as impractical and intellectually inferior. What does anyone have to gain by debating you?
posted by anapestic at 8:48 AM on November 25, 2001


Rod, it's not just that people won't debate me, but that I haven't been able to find a cogent argument against the war anywhere at all, nor has anyone who is against the war managed to point me to one.

As to the "belligerence being offputting" -- Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:50 AM on November 25, 2001


Right now, you're setting up a straw man in the form of a barely comprehensible article about women's clothing and pretending that it represents some presumed bankruptcy of the entire left's position on the war.

Where "you" is Summer, not Steven.
posted by gleemax at 8:53 AM on November 25, 2001


Since you've already decided what the right outcome is, any arguments you hear will be dismissed as impractical and intellectually inferior.

Try reading Steven's weblog. He makes good arguments for his position, and I don't think he's ever "dismissed" anything but the most foolish rot, which deserves no less.

Furthermore, even if he dismisses something as "impractical and intellectually inferior," doing so doesn't strengthen his argument. Quite the opposite.

If anyone thinks Steven is wrong, I suggest you take him up on his offer of debate. If someone proves him wrong, even if Steven doesn't admit it, he'd still be wrong. He can't declare himself a winner, for the prize isn't given to him, but taken from him. If he wins, people will believe him. If he loses, people will believe the other person.
posted by gleemax at 8:58 AM on November 25, 2001


Also, complaining about Steven's "attitude" is silly. Of course he's argumentative; he's looking to argue!
posted by gleemax at 9:00 AM on November 25, 2001


If anyone thinks Steven is wrong, I suggest you take him up on his offer of debate.

Its not that simple. I'd rather not debate someone who is trying to distort a trivial article to suit his needs by building an absurd strawman.

Try reading Steven's weblog.

Try reading his recent posts. I don't care is he's hemingway outside of MeFi.
posted by skallas at 9:05 AM on November 25, 2001


Rod, it's not just that people won't debate me, but that I haven't been able to find a cogent argument against the war anywhere at all, nor has anyone who is against the war managed to point me to one.

OK! You've now made this point at least a dozen times. Can we stipulate it? STEVEN HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND A COGENT ARGUMENT AGAINST THE WAR. Got that, everyone? In case it's still unclear: STEVEN HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND A COGENT ARGUMENT AGAINST THE WAR.

Now can we move on?

As to the "belligerence being offputting" -- Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

I never suspected you did--I was just offering an explanation of why you're not getting as much of a response as you might like.
posted by rodii at 9:10 AM on November 25, 2001


It's not that simple. I'd rather not debate someone who is trying to distort a trivial article to suit his needs by building an absurd strawman.

It is that simple to Steven. He's looking to be proved wrong. If he is, he's learned that he was wrong. If he isn't wrong, he'll strengthen his beliefs by having to defend them. Lacking someone to debate, or at least point him to a logical anti-war argument, he has absolutely no reason to believe he's wrong.

I predict he won't find someone to debate. If he does, I doubt they'll present an argument that we shouldn't be fighting this war. There are people that believe so, but I have yet to encounter someone who believes so for a good reason (or, if they do have a good reason, it's a "secret," i.e., they won't share it (which means it may not be a good reason at all; they might be keeping it hidden so they can't be proved wrong; see snarkout's comment above)).

Personally, from all I know, I consider this to be a war we should be fighting. Saying that doesn't prove shit, though. That's not an argument; it's an opinion. I couldn't present an argument as good as Steven's, but then again I'm young and foolish. However, I do have reasons for what I believe, and I consider them to be damn good reasons.

Steven is looking for damn good reasons of why this war shouldn't be fought. Proving that this war is a wholly bad thing to the average Afghan (which isn't as easy as it sounds), doesn't invalidate Steven's argument. Just as proving that this war is bad for the Taliban or al-Qaeda doesn't invalidate Steven's argument.

"Should the US fight this war?" is the question. Not "Will this war kill innocent people?" (of course it will; every war does) or "Is this war bad for the Afghan people?" (it might well be, but we put our country ahead of theirs).

Try reading his recent posts. I don't care is he's hemingway outside of MeFi.

I don't see what your "witty" retort proves. I'm saying to look to his weblog, where he writes more of his opinion, without worrying about MeFi guidelines. I said this hoping you'd give it a look. He presents what are, in my opinion, powerful arguments for why we're fighting this war (and the problem with pacifism, a personal favorite). His "recent posts" do not, to my knowledge, invalidate or contradict his arguments. (Feel free to point out any that do.)
posted by gleemax at 9:36 AM on November 25, 2001


I'm with the backstory, Rodii. Fact is, y'all can't hope to debate Steven on the issue he addresses, so you change the game to attack how he posts, and whether or not his posts are filled with peace, love and naked bunnies. The routine has gotten old. Attack the issue. Not the person. Too many people in MeFi seek to kill the messenger. If anything is, THAT's what's killing this place. Not the endless nagging and picking at MeFi netiquette that a vocal minority constantly beats over everyone else's heads like a dead fish.

As for a cogent argument against the war? That's EASY!

Around 2500 BCE in what was then called Sumer, The King of Kish set the boundary between the villages of Umma and Lagash. Lagash's land boundaries happened to contain the water supply. This ticked off the Ummarians. As it was unfair. This is what started one of the first recorded wars between human beings. Perhaps it was THE first recorded war between human beings. That was over four MILLENIA ago. We've been throwing things at each other ever since. From rocks, to spears, to arrows, to knives, to bullets, to missiles and nuclear warheads.

Has it made a difference? No. For all our technology, we're still cavemen howling at the damned moon.

Today? We're still fighting. Violence begets violence. I kill your brother. You kill me. My brother kills you. Your distant cousin kills him. On and on and on. If it wasn't for the fact that sex feels so damn GOOD, we'd have run out of human beings to kill each other with a long time ago.

I could cite literally thousands of examples of that, from the dawn of history to present day. Every violent act you read in today's newspaper or saw on last night's Evening News TV program proves that. This cannot be argued.

Violence is pointless.

Should we have bombed Afghanistan? We had no choice. Just as the Ummarians had no choice but to fight the Lagashians for water. Water is a necessity for survival. It's the real reason why Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait a decade ago. Iraq is landlocked. No shoreline. Kuwait's in his way. Iraq could better compete with the rest of the world in so many ways if only Saddam could have successfully gotten their land, their water, and their OIL.

It's the relentless, endless, pathetic battle between the Haves and the Have-Nots. Violence has not solved this problem in over four thousand and five hundred years of recorded civilization. It's redundant. It's pathetic. Violence is the last resort to the one who lost the argument. So us bombing Afghanistan is going to make no difference. It's not even a drop in the bucket towards World Peace.

Did we have a choice? No. Should we have done it? No.

There Mister Steven Den Beste. I hope that just made your day.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:38 AM on November 25, 2001


As to the "belligerence being offputting" -- Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Then it's time to quit acting surprised that people valuing peace don't engage you.
posted by NortonDC at 9:50 AM on November 25, 2001


Steven, you gotta pick one, man. You can't proclaim your resentment of the entire weblogging community from the highest hilltops and then turn around and be all hurt and wounded when you don't feel like you're getting the R-E-S-P-E-C-T that is rightfully yours. Don't you understand you can't keep blaming the Cabal or the "anti-war left" or anyone else but you for the conflicts you sometimes run into here?

I think you're a smart guy, and I generally like smart guys way more than the other kinds, but smart guys with permanent bad posture due to the crushing weight of the chips on their shoulder are to be avoided, in my experience. Maybe I'm wrong about you there, but as NortonDC points out, you don't exactly go out of your way to ameliorate that kind of perception.

And now to render invalid all of my above remarks: I do wish that the mefi folk who seem to be lightning rods for controversy of varying kinds would not also be lightning rods for these never-ending bitchfests. There are certain people I'm *really* tired of seeing discussed in MetaTalk... it's like life, there's always people who won't get along for whatever reason, and things are easier for everyone if you don't spend a lot of time obsessing over it.
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2001


Did we have a choice? No. Should we have done it? No.

If we don't have a choice, then the second question is completely moot except in a "how I wish the world were different" way.
posted by kindall at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2001


SDB: As to the "belligerence being offputting" -- Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
NortonDC: Then it's time to quit acting surprised that people valuing peace don't engage you.

Steven has an aggressive attitude because he's playing the aggressor. He's not being polite because he's making a challenge, asserting his rightness to those who disagree with him.

I think it fitting that a man looking for a debate be considered belligerent. If a little belligerence will keep someone from expressing their argument, so be it. However, I bet their argument was frail to be put off from some belligerence. (That last statement is me being belligerent.)

Sapphireblue: There are certain people I'm *really* tired of seeing discussed in MetaTalk

Yeah, me too. Sucks, don't it?
posted by gleemax at 10:14 AM on November 25, 2001


demonstrates one of several flaws in community policing or whatever the current term is for the vigilantes who are trying to decide what MeFi should be: the community actually has no consensus, and what community policing really means is that one subset is trying to impose its own vision of what MeFi should be onto everyone else, without any clear mandate besides having loud voices.

You make a valid point, but I would amend that to say that on most issues there is no consensus, etc., etc. And that simply means that Metafilter is just like the rest of the world. Consensus only develops at extremes. If all posts started to look like that camgirl thread (or whatever the hell it was--I'm STILL trying to figure it out), you would seen an immediate consensus against it. But most of what occurs here is more moderate, and there will be those who like it and those who don't. I share your uncomfortableness with the "those-who-don'ts'" seemingly excessive amount of influence at times. But healthy debate can be productive, and is more often appropriate, I believe, than the crushing fist of consensus.

Passing through MeFi a year ago, I was hooked by a) the format and b) the comments primarily of two posters, yourself and Kindall (I have, of course, added to that list since, with greater exposure). The rational clarity of thought and seemingly genuine efforts to express more than mere opinion is what I found and find appealing, coupled with an apparent desire to hear and learn, as well as to say and instruct.

Of late, both of you seem to have withdrawn significantly, posting far less than when I first arrived, and in your case, I now have some understanding of why, given your attention to your own weblog. But after a period of almost complete absence (from my perspective as reader--I may have missed some things), it has seemed to me that you have begun to return, slowly, but as a much more angry, bitter poster. I have repeatedly been taken aback by the tone of your comments, which seem to have strayed far from the objective logic that I perceived in your earlier participation (thereby making them far less effective). I have thought this long before the creation of this thread, and I am not part of the weblog community and could care less about any of the machinations which may occur within it. I simply miss your previous posting style, which challenged one intellectually, rather than through bad-attitude agenda-driven sniping from the wings.

So count this as another vote for the old SDB, from a fan.
posted by rushmc at 10:15 AM on November 25, 2001


It is that simple to Steven. He's looking to be proved wrong.

I've written convincingly, in my opinion, that women's fashions have little or nothing to do with the topic of the morality of war. If anyone disagrees that's their opinion. There's no such thing as a debate here, its just posting. A debate is actually a formal set-up not back and forth posts e.g. "you're wrong, no you're wrong." A debate requires a judge/moderator, especially one that knows what a straw man is.

What you're asking for is to play by SDB's twisted logic in this case. No thanks. Like the rest of your post you go one about the validity of war yet the thread I'm talking about is mostly about fashion and the authors have yet to express their own opinions about the war. Yet SDB somehow manages to see exactly what he needs to bash the antiwar crowd.
posted by skallas at 10:29 AM on November 25, 2001


Right now, you're setting up a straw man in the form of a barely comprehensible article about women's clothing and pretending that it represents some presumed bankruptcy of the entire left's position on the war.

Where "you" is Summer, not Steven.


What?

posted by Summer at 10:49 AM on November 25, 2001


Sorry forgot to include this:

Steven is looking for damn good reasons of why this war shouldn't be fought.

Then I suggest finding an approriate thread/forum/website/person and not picking an easy to bash link and claiming that it represents antiwar sentiments then daring everyone to a "debate."

posted by skallas at 10:51 AM on November 25, 2001

A reluctance to participate in an argument with you, Steven, does not necessarily equate with lacking a coherent and defensible position on the war.
Yes... I've got my solidly researched position over here in this MAGIC BOX...

posted by holloway at 10:58 AM on November 25, 2001


Skallas, the bit you quoted was in reference to Steven's quest for a debate.

I've written convincingly, in my opinion, that women's fashions have little or nothing to do with the topic of the morality of war.

Yet that's precisely what the article is about, and that's why Steven posted it. The first sentence of the article: "THE FEMALE BODY - covered in a burka or uncovered in a bikini - is a subtle subtext in the war against terrorism." And the last: "The burka and the bikini represent opposite ends of the political spectrum but each can exert a noose-like grip on the psyche and physical health of girls and women." This article is not about women's fashion.

Steven said, of the article, "It's thesis is that Yes, the Taliban oppressed its women, but we also oppress ours so fundamentally we're not really any better than they are. It's a convoluted attempt to justify moral equivalence." He also called their argument "nonsensical," and that it "approaches hallucination."

A debate is actually a formal set-up not back and forth posts e.g. "you're wrong, no you're wrong." A debate requires a judge/moderator, especially one that knows what a straw man is.

Sorry, I was imprecise. His challenge was for a "blog debate," not a formal debate (of which I have no knowledge). I thought you were familiar with the challenge I was speaking of. (See the links in the first para of this reply, and everything will be made clear.)

Then I suggest finding an approriate thread/forum/website/person and not picking an easy to bash link and claiming that it represents antiwar sentiments then daring everyone to a "debate."

Steven's call for a debate came days before he posted the link.
posted by gleemax at 10:59 AM on November 25, 2001


Summer: I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to post that. When I wrote it I was confused about what you had said. I suck. You can punch me, if you want. :(
posted by gleemax at 11:02 AM on November 25, 2001


You've apologised gleemax so you only get a slap. :)
posted by Summer at 11:05 AM on November 25, 2001


"a subtle subtext in the war against terrorism" is a subtle subtext in the war against terrorism. Its not about antiwar arguments or the "antiwar left" as SDB likes to say. Its really about fashion and the connection between women's rights in society. Which I initially wrote about in my posts in that thread.

Sorry, I was imprecise. His challenge was for a "blog debate,"

Yeah, back and forths about nothing about a link that has nothing to do with "antiwar leftists" is a "blog debate?" What are MeFi'ers supposed to debate about? Whether the bikini really is as socially constricting as a veil?

Also, if you have no knowledge of debates why are you so quick to use that word? Especially as the fix-all that will keep SDB on-topic.

Steven's call for a debate came days before he posted the link.

So what? Its still thread hijacking and a strawman.
posted by skallas at 11:11 AM on November 25, 2001


If Steven is picking and choosing the frailest arguments against the war, please provide a link to a stronger argument.

I believe Steven's genuinely searching for a good antiwar argument, but he's only found bad ones. Not because he's looking for weak arguments, but because most antiwar arguments are weak.

You've apologised gleemax so you only get a slap. :)

Kinky. You're nicer than I would've been.
posted by gleemax at 11:11 AM on November 25, 2001


Gleemax: "However, I bet their argument was frail to be put off from some belligerence. (That last statement is me being belligerent.)"

Amen.

Skallas: "What you're asking for is to play by SDB's twisted logic in this case. No thanks."

I disagree with some of his conclusions, but I'd never say Steven's logic is twisted. It's very straight-forward. I prefer this new SDB, which should probably be a warning sign for him. I'm often happily in the minority in here. I used to annoy people, but now most of them just ignore me. If I like someone's approach in MeFi, the person's probably being too acidic for most people's tastes, and should reconsider his approach, to better appease the masses.

What if everyone in MeFi was beligerent and arrogant with their opinions? Hell, the place'd sound just like Slashdot. It's why I don't go there. But then I admit to being beligerent and arrogant myself, so I'm a walking contradiction. A hypocrite. At least I accept myself. *shrug* Steven's walking down a lonely path. I know. I've walked it myself. But to thine own self be true.

Kindall: "If we don't have a choice, then the second question is completely moot.."

The security of the future of the human race is never a moot point.

We will inevitably cause our own demise if we continue down this path of violence. In fact we already have the technology to accomplish this. Nuclear weapons in the hands of 21st century humanity is as dangerous as a seven year old finding Daddy's hidden loaded gun. Did Bin Laden give us a choice? No. Must we defend our lives from those who seek to destroy us? Most certainly.

Is violence a viable option? Ever? No. It is not. So long as one human being on this planet believes violence is an acceptable option under certain circumstances, humanity is doomed to self-extinction. It's only a matter of time. The real solution isn't an easy one: we must convince those who embrace violence that they are only causing undue pain to themselves and those they love. A violent life is always an unpleasant one, and often leads to a violent death.

You may say I'm a dreamer. Fine. Be that way.

I'm not the only one.

Someday. I hope you'll join us. Before it's too late.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:20 AM on November 25, 2001


Its not about antiwar arguments...

It's part of an antiwar argument, specifically, that we're no better than the Taliban. This article was a ludricious attempt at proving that our treatment of women is comparable to the Taliban's.

Its really about fashion and the connection between women's rights in society.

That's an oversimplification. There wouldn't be mentions of the Taliban if it was that simple.

What are MeFi'ers supposed to debate about? Whether the bikini really is as socially constricting as a veil?

No. Please click on the links referenced to see the debate challenge I was referring to. (Which, I said before, is what I was originally talking about.) Here: one and two.

Also, if you have no knowledge of debates why are you so quick to use that word? Especially as the fix-all that will keep SDB on-topic.

Read this. Then read this. I note that your definition of debate does not fit what I meant. I'm only mentioning this because you, seemingly on purpose, took what I said to mean what you wanted it to mean. I really only meant this: "To engage in argument by discussing opposing points." I never said "formal debate." As I said before, I am not familiar with that at all. I was using the common meaning of debate.

So what? It's still thread hijacking and a strawman.

So what? You're still wrong. [See how little this proves? Your "argument" is restating your opinion over and over again, coupled with a dismissal of all I say, so it's not really an argument at all.]
posted by gleemax at 11:26 AM on November 25, 2001


ZachsMind: So long as one human being on this planet believes violence is an acceptable option under certain circumstances, humanity is doomed to self-extinction.

That is unfortunate. I'll go out on a limb here and say that, until we are capable of curing/preventing mental illness completely, it is impossible to convince every human being on this planet that violence will only lead to destruction.
posted by gleemax at 11:30 AM on November 25, 2001


steven, i said opinions belong in comments. if you post no opinion whatsoever, then you should expect to be misconstrued; my issue was with posting your commentary in the front page text.
posted by moz at 11:34 AM on November 25, 2001


Okay I'll be done beating this horse in one sec:

It's part of an antiwar argument, specifically, that we're no better than the Taliban. This article was a ludricious attempt at proving that our treatment of women is comparable to the Taliban's.


Two points. One, using a "ludricious" article to paint the antiwar left is a strawman, pure and simple. Second, this not only is a bad article seemingly for the purposes of baiting and engaging the left (which has failed miserably) its also very difficult if not impossible to suggest this position is a common antiwar sentiment.

Okay I'm done.

posted by skallas at 11:43 AM on November 25, 2001


Zach: my response.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:03 PM on November 25, 2001


One, using a "ludricious" article to paint the antiwar left is a strawman, pure and simple.

He never used it to "paint" the antiwar left. It's an article that clearly supports an antiwar viewpoint, and Steven treated it as such.

Second, [...] its also very difficult if not impossible to suggest this position is a common antiwar sentiment.

Steven did not suggest it was. He never said it was a common antiwar sentiment. He never claimed it was anything but nonsensical (and basically just stupid), and therefore, I presume, not a "common antiwar sentiment."

Both your points are really the same thing. That Steven applied this article to the entire antiwar left. However, what he actually did was paint their article as an antiwar left article, which it certainly is. Basically, Steven did the inverse of what you say he did, and once you accept that you'll probably have no problem with what he said: that the article was stupid, and a lame attempt at criticising the US.
posted by gleemax at 12:05 PM on November 25, 2001


He never used it to "paint" the antiwar left. It's an article that clearly supports an antiwar viewpoint, and Steven treated it as such.

Where do you get an antiwar viewpoint out of that article? Could you maybe quote something in context? To me it looked to be about clothing.
posted by anapestic at 12:10 PM on November 25, 2001


Me: and therefore, I presume,

If I continue with grammar like this, I trust one of you will shoot me.

anapestic: Where do you get an antiwar viewpoint out of that article? [...] To me it looked to be about clothing.

That's exactly what I'm saying (repeating, to be precise). The article claims to be in women's best interests, but its real purpose is to promote the idea that we're no better than the Taliban, using the burqa/bikini comparison.

anapestic: Could you maybe quote something in context?

I quoted the first and last sentences of the article. If you want more context than that (and I believe the sentences speak for themselves, especially the last one), read the article.
posted by gleemax at 12:21 PM on November 25, 2001


1) pro- vs. anti- war has been discussed on MeFi ad nauseaum³, at least. there have been many cogent arguments on both sides.

2) to continue to characterize people who do not support the war as "pacifists" "lefties" or anything else is simplistic and sophomoric. so is expecting them to think and argue as a block.

posted by signal at 12:38 PM on November 25, 2001


It's part of an antiwar argument, specifically, that we're no better than the Taliban.

No it's not. The article uses current mainstream awareness of Taliban culture and mores as a jump-off point to examine our own. That may be a loopy or distasteful device, but it doesn't amount to a position for or against the war. Asserting that it's an example of "the anti-war left's" floundering for a new excuse to bash the US in the face of the Taliban rout is speculation. The authors may be supporters of the bombing, you can't tell from the article.
posted by nikzhowz at 12:42 PM on November 25, 2001


I agree, nikzhowz.
Shoot me for failing to see the anti-war sentiment in the article, but I read it as an examination about the parallels between the attitudes toward women's bodies in the two cultures.

It's more of a statement about how close we are in creating an atmosphere of shame about the female body yet different in approach (the Taliban by covering it up, and the west by uncovering it but then by promoting only a certain form as acceptable).

I'd say the thought is an interesting one in examining the West's glorification of the few women who have starting showing their faces post-Taliban and the confusion about the fact that most Afghan women are still covering up. We look at the choice as an example of liberation, but that may be misguided. I happen to think it is misguided -- the freedom to dress like Brittney Spears may not be freedom after all -- but I hope that the Afghan women forge the balance for themselves, not the Taliban and not the West. I think that is the point of the article.

But by the time I read the thread (it's a Sunday and I slept in) it had already been turned into a war issue. I think people on both sides are projecting. Who wants to talk about war on a sleepy Sunday? Maybe just those who should have turned off their alarm clocks instead of anally seeing politics in every essay. Sometimes clothing is just clothing.
posted by dness2 at 1:49 PM on November 25, 2001


Steven: My response to your response.

It's pretty damn long. You're welcome to your opinion. I'm welcome to mine. I ain't gonna change your mind. You ain't gonna change mine, but it's been a pleasure buttin' heads wiff ya. =)

And to the rest of you: you're welcome that we're taking it offsite. =P
posted by ZachsMind at 3:17 PM on November 25, 2001


...(which means it may not be a good reason at all; they might be keeping it hidden so they can't be proved wrong; see snarkout's comment above)).

Magic box my eye. I suspected that my comments would be misconstrued, but I didn't want to feed Steven's persecution complex by expanding upon my comments. In fact, in the large scope in which he's framed his argument, that being "Should we continue to prosecute the war in Afghanistan?", I agree with Steven on this point, although certainly not on many others. (I further suspect that we differ greatly on what we think is the best approach by which America and its allies can carry on that course, but Steven isn't looking for that debate.) I'll repeat that, in case people are missing it: All other issues aside, I'm not taking up Steven's challenge, because I agree with him.

But Steven's previous history on MetaFilter means that even if I did disagree with him, I don't think I would take him up on his offer. That's not because of the depth and breadth of his knowledge; it's because I think it would be utterly pointless. I recently had a lengthy argument via email with one of my friends about the question of whether the support of a nation-state was required for international terrorism and the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and it ended with me feeling that I had learned something. I don't think I would learn a thing from arguing with Steven, and I don't think that either he or his audience would be particularly predisposed to come away with an altered point of view.

For Steven to continue to insist that the reluctance of people who disagree with him amounts to an admission of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of their point of view ignores the very real possibility that Steven's attitude is part of the reason that nobody's taking him up on his offer. I don't think Steven is actually looking for a stimulating back and forth; I think that he's looking to score points, which is of course his right, and that he's getting huffy about nobody helping him do so.
posted by snarkout at 3:23 PM on November 25, 2001


Further, as admirable a person as Steven is in many ways, I suspect that any argument that's going to arise is going to arise from arguing about the moral background for pacifism and just warfare. I don't think people will get beyond the fact that they're starting from different premises, and I certainly don't expect them to generate something better than I can get from reading a philosophy or theology book on the subject.
posted by snarkout at 3:27 PM on November 25, 2001


If someone proves him wrong, even if Steven doesn't admit it, he'd still be wrong.

The neat thing is, he can still be wrong even if no one says anything.
posted by sudama at 3:36 PM on November 25, 2001


The neat thing is, he can still be wrong even if no one says anything.

True. I fail to see how that applies (the point I was making was that a good argument disproving Steven's argument, even if Steven doesn't admit that he was wrong, could still change the opinion of, e.g., his readers; that can't happen without the introduction of another opinion; nor will any of the other good things about debate that I mentioned (e.g., strengthening ones own opinion or learning that one is wrong)), but thanks for bringing it up.
posted by gleemax at 6:14 PM on November 25, 2001


Enough Steven bashing. Can we please bash Zach now?
posted by ericost at 6:01 AM on November 26, 2001


I was hoping we could skip straight to Jakob Nielsen.
posted by gleemax at 6:07 AM on November 26, 2001


Will you all stop bickering and eat me? (obscure Monty Python reference. Sorry. Couldn't resist.)
posted by ZachsMind at 8:27 AM on November 26, 2001


If Steven fell over in the forest, and there was no one around to hear him...?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:50 PM on November 26, 2001


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