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« Liars | Main | Law Professors Can Be Funny. Who Knew? »

March 04, 2005

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"It's also interesting because Egyptian Copts tend to be some heavy dope-smoking cats. It's funny to think of our own "Christians" worrying about whether Muslims were attacking a bunch of people who think marijuana is a sacrament."

Is he confusing the Coptics with the Rastafarians?

Let's all cop some coptic shit and mellow out. Let's get high on Jesus and forgive them for they know not what they do, and enjoy all the apologies coming from the right lately. Like Novak and Sam "the 74 year old fighter pilot" Johnson, to name a few.

Is that what Powerline's "authors" look like? Yikes.

"Isn't it better that we NOT gang up on someone when they admit an error, as a means of encouraging them to do so more often?"

No. They never admit mistakes because they think they are wrong. They are just trying to save face, they lost all credibilty awhile ago. Kick then harder when they are down. We don't want them to get back up, ever.

Kick then harder when they are down.

Yikes...

backing out of this thread now...

scary.

don't post trackbacks to stories on our blog if you're gonna violate our posting rules in doing so.

You want trackbacks, accept trackbacks. If you don't, don't. If you think BD's post stands on its own feet, then you should be happy you gotten hundreds of visitors today alone.

Isn't it better that we NOT gang up on someone when they admit an error, as a means of encouraging them to do so more often?

Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. BD ain't dumb. Why shouldn't I expect him to get it? "Sorry I got this one wrong" is only a small step up from "I'm sorry you were upset" and "I'm sorry I got caught."

Politics isn't social work. Social work is social work, and no politics will allow social work with social workers as politicians. That's just reality.

Okay, folks, familiarize yourself with the commenting rules.

Mithras,

I read the update and see your point. However, I can't say I've spent too much time reading OW because, like I said earlier, they do shill too much for the RNC-Neo-con talking points. They've always come across as extremely smug and self-righteous. (But I suppose most bloggers are that way ;-) ) My point is that sometimes people do apologize and amend their behavior. I just don't know enough in this case. So, I'll defer to you on this one. You're probably right.

I could say that better, Ed. You don't fight fascism with flowers and a kind word. You don't have to be vicious, leave that to the experts, just show some spine. Laying down in front of a train moving nukes and losing your legs is showing some spine. Your kind of laying down and rolling over leads to this.

And furthermore, Ed. They view your reason, rationality, willingness to compromise and forgiving nature as a sign of weakness. They are not interested in compromise. Quit smoking the coptic shit. It's as bad as the kool aid.

Why not consider Charles' post as genuine contrition. You know, the kind that leads to communication and wider understanding among persons on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Because the point isn't whether left-wing bloggers and right-wing bloggers get along. It's whether Muslims get the crap beaten out of them while we all stand around being polite and not pointing fingers.

You see, everyone, it's not bigotry that fuels Charles, it's just the fact Muslims are a backwards people motivated by religious extremism and hatred of our freedom.

Distortions are you, dak. Point me to where I've ever said that "Muslims are a backwards people motivated by religious extremism and hatred of our freedom." Sheesh.

I am bigoted against stupid people. You jumped the gun on this story because you wanted to believe it was true. Turns out to be wrong and you don't want to examine your beliefs.

And there's your second Carnak Award for mindreading by liberals today, Mithras. Funny how you criticized me for jumping to conclusions yet you so easily leaped to your own. I doubt you read the three links I provided, not that I'm optimistic they would have opened your closed and intolerant mind anyway.

A Republican apology is one in which there is no responsibility.
Republican responsibility is responsibility without consequence.
The consequence of Republicans taking responcibility and apologizing is Liberals should STFU.

See it's easy once you know the rules.

And there's your second Carnak Award for mindreading by liberals today

You know, I had to put up with that "Carnack Award" stuff on Tacitus, which was always a load of shit. It's not mind-reading, it's analysis.

My prior point stands: You proceeded on the assumption that it was a hate crime. Whether you want to admit it or not, that shows your mindset. Your qualifications and apologies in hindsight are secondary and insufficient.

By the way, who deleted the trackback on OW? Von seems to disavow knowledge. Not that I give a shit, but I'm curious.

Mithras (and others) --

My perspective has been, and continues to be, that we need to let the police and prosecutors do their job. As I pointed out in response to the very BD post being criticized here, leaping to conclusions is a bad thing to do. Process matters. (More precisely, due process matters.)

That said: Religiously-motivated crimes are not unheard of. Moreover, religiously-motivated crimes committed by Moslems are not unheard of. This doesn't mean that Islam is an inherently violent religion or that Moslems are savages. Far from it. Yet, in our rush to uphold the (very American) and (very right) notions of tolerance and fairness, let's not abandon empiricism altogether. There have been, you know, recent incidents involving radical Moslems and violence. Just a few. Perhaps you read something somewhere.

In this case, there were reports that the family had been threatened by Muslim extremists. There was a lot of "smoke" from the Coptic community. Sometimes, smoke indicates fire. Sometimes it doesn't. But to recognize the smoke and put it in the context of, umm, the recent history of Muslim extremitism -- well, it ain't racism.

It's unfair to call Charles a racist. It's stupid. It's wrong. Indeed, it's the same kind of wrong -- the same violation of process -- that Charles stand accused of making in his original post. Except that Charles was willing to stand up and apologize.

von

BTW -- this dispute aside -- if you're still interested in writing that article on the law of blogging, drop me a line.

Von, did I call Charles a racist? I believe what I said is that his actions endorsed and propagated the view that Muslims are dangerous, and that those actions proceeded from ideological beliefs - bigoted ones - that are anti-Muslim.

Yet, in our rush to uphold the (very American) and (very right) notions of tolerance and fairness, let's not abandon empiricism altogether. There have been, you know, recent incidents involving radical Moslems and violence. Just a few. Perhaps you read something somewhere.

Yes, I have, snarky. And the fact that they do occur and cause people a great deal of worry might mean, you know, that it would be wise to proceed with maximum restraint in throwing such allegations around. Just a thought.

It's also ironic that you cite empiricism as the reason why extrinsic evidence - attacks elsewhere - should be used to justify a conclusion about an attack here.

By the way, did you delete the trackback?

Charles Bird demands we accept he got a few key facts wrong about this particular case (such as who actually committed the crime) but ignore the racist embellishments he layered on the original story.

This is the tactic pioneered by David Duke, who sought to move the KKK "out of the cow pasture and into hotel meeting rooms."

David Duke and Charles Bird do this by not adopting the LGF tactic of simply referring to Muslims as "vermin" or other slurs. Instead, their racism is more subtle by tying it to issues; Duke uses affirmative action and immigration policy, Bird uses 'lack of freedom' and 'extremism.' Of course, neither pass up the opportunity to show the target of their hatred in the worst possible light.

Mithras,

you have a point about accepting or not accepting trackbacks (although I just deleted it this time instead). We do appreciate the traffic it brought, but we have a "no profanity" rule...when in Rome, and all that. Although I will feel free to curse like a drunken sailor here, now that I see you encourage it.

Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. BD ain't dumb. Why shouldn't I expect him to get it? "Sorry I got this one wrong" is only a small step up from "I'm sorry you were upset" and "I'm sorry I got caught."

If you know BD as well as that implies, then you know this is only one of dozens and dozens of posts he's written about the "perils" of Islam. So, clearly, on one level, he doesn't "get it" (at least not the way I think you mean by that). That's not "low expectations," but rather an acknowledgement of the fact that we're miles apart on this issue and any opportunity to find common ground needs to be seized, not spun to drive yet a bigger wedge between us.

If you've read the comments in his posts on Tacitus or ObWi, then you know more often than not I'll rush in to criticize or contradict him when I think he's wrong. The time to do that, though, is WHEN he's wrong, IMO. Not WHEN he's right. He was right to apologize this time. He did. A bit of credit where's it's due is all I'm advocating. Why am I insisting on this response, at the risk of being misunderstood as suggesting BD needs training...this will hopefully clarify that:

SP,

They view your reason, rationality, willingness to compromise and forgiving nature as a sign of weakness.

The solution to confronting an opponent whose methods I find objectionable is not to adopt those methods myself, though SP (although I'm not talking about BD specifically here, but the mythical "they" you reference). I understand the need to stand your ground, and on this particular issue, believe me, I do. But I stand my ground toward a goal of wider tolerance, not scoring points (or punishing someone for not sharing my views). If someone exhibits signs of being more open to my message (and one is never more receptive to reconsidering their biases than they are when they realize they were wrong), then that's the time to thank them and demonstrate your primary objective is tolerance, altruism or whatever. Why then? Because they're more likely to believe you then. If you just kick them instead, they're not going to accept your motive is as altruistic as you may like to think it is. Why? Because you'll strike them as petty and boorish, and that always suggests untrustworthy.

Admitting you were wrong is not particularly fasionable these days. Praise it where you see it.

There have been, you know, recent incidents involving radical Moslems and violence. Just a few. Perhaps you read something somewhere.

In this case, there were reports that the family had been threatened by Muslim extremists. There was a lot of "smoke" from the Coptic community. Sometimes, smoke indicates fire. Sometimes it doesn't. But to recognize the smoke and put it in the context of, umm, the recent history of Muslim extremitism -- well, it ain't racism.

I can't agree. There have also been, you know, recent incidents of people robbing their neighbors for no real reason at all. Just a few. Perhaps you read something somewhere. Or wait, maybe you didn't because that sort of thing is just business as usual, whereas anything that involves a Muslim is Big News.

Sometimes smoke indicates fire, and sometimes not; but there is a major difference between saying "oh dear, here's the background, it might suggest this, I seriously hope not" and saying "well, it's possible that this wasn't a religious hate crime, but let's move right past that and start saying that it proves that Muslims are intolerant." And not acknowleging that is evidence of either racism or stupidity.

we have a "no profanity" rule...when in Rome, and all that.

That's lame. Now you have a rule that not only can no one swear on your site, but no one can swear off it if they in any way link to you? What if someone links to you, doesn't swear, but then links to someone who does? Does that taint you by association?

If you're going to remove the trackbacks because you don't want people to follow them and see your blog being criticized, at least have the balls to admit that that's what you're doing.

First of all, for those of you who don't read ObWi regularly, we are six people who do not share a common point of view at all. (That's sort of the idea.) If I have ever shilled a Republican talking point in my life, I assure you it was unintentional.

Second: if anyone is actually interested in the question of the sincerity of Charles' apology, consider the following. When he posted his original piece on the Arminious murders, we all jumped all over him in the comments section for getting way ahead of the evidence, and for being irresponsible. His next post on a crime whose perpetrators have not been apprehended or charged, but where there are suspicions about who might have done it, is here. To my mind, there's a pretty striking difference in tone between the two pieces. (And, for the record, the second was written before the arrests in the Arminious case, the apology, and everything.)

I thought he was wrong to post his original piece, and I said so. I also disagree with him on pretty much everything. But part of the reason I didn't like the first post was that I think it matters to be sure you're right before accusing people of things. Obviously this matters more when you're accusing them of murder than when you're accusing them of insincerity, but it's the same principle. I think he's sincere now. And there are enough other perfectly true things to say about the original post that I don't see why speculation about his sincerity is necessary.

Although I will feel free to curse like a drunken sailor here, now that I see you encourage it.

It would be a relief if you did. Piety gets cloying.

when in Rome, and all that.

Yes, see, I wasn't in Rome. I was here, sending a trackback to my post. Of course, you can do whatever you like with it, and you have disposed of it.

clearly, on one level, he doesn't "get it" (at least not the way I think you mean by that).

What I meant is that he was apologizing for the wrong thing. He's perfectly fine analyzing radical Islamic ideology. He's not fine applying it every time it's not immediately proved not to be the case. (Three nots, I know, this is post haste.)

The time to do that, though, is WHEN he's wrong, IMO. Not WHEN he's right.

Well, I think he's wrong to think he's doing the right thing by apologizing in this manner. Yes, your approach does come off like you're trying to housebreak him. He already knows not to piss on the rug, Edward. Praising him for not shitting on it, too, seems undeserved.

That's lame. Now you have a rule that not only can no one swear on your site, but no one can swear off it if they in any way link to you? What if someone links to you, doesn't swear, but then links to someone who does? Does that taint you by association?

bitchphd,

The trackback shows up as text on our site. Links to our site, links from our site, none of that is even remotely ours to attempt to control. But text ON OUR SITE...that is. I don't care if our blog is criticized. I care that folks can trust when they come there that the environment will be one they're expecting. They don't expect words like "shithead" to be tolerated on ObWi, which is an editorial decision neither you nor Mithas has any more right to attempt to control than I do what gets posted here. It's not at all an issue of links.

hilzoy - this is not about sincerity. This is about why it was wrong in the first place.

bitchphd -- we put the rule in place because one of the people who originally started the site couldn't read it at work if there was profanity on it, due to filters etc. And since he started the site, it seemed to us that he had a right to be able to read it on the job if he wanted to. It also helps keep things civil, which matters since we are trying to create a site where liberals and conservatives can argue with each other with respect, but without having to mute their views and their passion. It's hard sometimes, and every little bit helps.

I didn't delete this trackback, but fwiw, the problem wasn't that a site with profanity linked to ours -- obviously, that happens all the time. It was that -- well, you know the few lines from the trackbacking post that appear on your site when someone does a trackback to you? Well, the profanity showed up in them. Thus, it would have triggered the screening software, etc., etc.

Okay, kids, it's almost 5:30 and I have a date tonight, so most likely won't be able to continue this dance until tomorrow. Play rough until I return.

It would be a relief if you did. Piety gets cloying.

Don't mistake piety for method, Mithras. Because we encourage folks from the spectrum of opinion to feel at home, we need some rules to help keep it civil. This one works well for us.

Yes, see, I wasn't in Rome. I was here, sending a trackback to my post.

Yup, and if "shithead" had been just a few words deeper into the post (so that it did not appear as text on our site), none of this would have come up. As it appeared on our blog, however, I made an editorial decision.

He's not fine applying it every time it's not immediately proved not to be the case.

I see your point. Pity you couldn't have made it in a fashion that wasn't drowned out by the volume of your insult though.

Mithras, apologies for the imprecision. "Racism" was referenced by someone else.

Witness, now, the ObWi Hive mind in fully schizo mode:

Wait a second, Ed. I have a real issue deleting trackbacks. I don't care if one comes from Nazi-Hitler-I-Hate-Bush-and-want-to-kill-Muslims.com (which is not, incidentally this blog); if someone links us and discusses us, advising our readership of the fact is critical.

"Shithead" deserves censoring? Whoa. The FCC has gotten further than I thought...

Re. hilzoy's post: There are different things going on in this thread, obviously. There's the question of sincerity (which I don't think is Mithras's point, but he can speak for himself); there's the question of whether or not the apology is a weak one, whether or not it's insincere (which I think is his point), and there's the question of whether or not the original post was racist or, at the extreme end of charity, encouraged racism. That's my point, and I think that hiding from that behind a veneer of civility is rephrensible. "Shithead" is a pretty mild term for that.

if someone links us and discusses us, advising our readership of the fact is critical.

Totally agree. The question for me is how to handle a trackback that places text on our site that violates the posting rules. If you say, well, because it's a trackback, it's OK, then you could have all kinds of trackbacks with all kinds of text being set specifically to derail the comments/posting rules (again, not suggesting that's what Mithras was doing), etc.

I've already apologized for possibly stepping over the editorial line on ObWi---risking Mithras' anti-apology wrath in the process ;-) ...but personally, hilzoy's reminder about the filters convinces me that it's a decision I would support if it were official policy...and now I think I've hijacked this thread more than enough, so...

It's not mind-reading, it's analysis.

Call it what you want, but when you say "you wanted to believe it was true. Turns out to be wrong and you don't want to examine your beliefs", you're still mindreading, Mithras, and you're still fundamentally misunderstanding that when I write critically of Muslims, it's about the violent extremist elements.

test

How much effort do you go to, Charles, to specify "the violent extremist elements," and who specifically that is? B/c in the post at hand, I didn't notice that distinction being made.

By "at hand," I meant, "under discussion."

Well, I can't believe I'm about to say this, but ObWi is about to get added to my RSS reader. I don't agree with what BD wrote, think Mithras has a point, but am impressed with Edward and von and the ensuing discussion...

Snark gets old after a while, especially when you actually want solutions instead of divisions...

two interesting and interrelated issues here (and these go to the theo van gogh thing as well).

first, what price tolerance? in our strange and mostly uniquely american breakdown, being a "liberal" (as i define myself, mostly) means believing in tolerance in both abstract and real terms. the abstract part is easy--it is the defining characteristic, ultimately, of liberalism. however, the real part is where the trouble accrues. after all, if one is tolerant of neiwert's (IMO) quite accurate characterization of most of the hard right as "creeping fascists", to tolerate them is to be spanish leftists in 35 or the German liberal of 32. good luck with that. so to von, and edward, i think you have to put both mithras' and other commentors words here in that context (i am definitely speaking out my ass here, and if i'm wrong i apologize to those for whom i claim to be speaking).

short version--we mostly think you guys are genuinely dangerous people, the kind we learned about in history books. and we've come to realize that playing fair doesn't work against people whose preconceptions are so frightening, angry, and counter-humanist. but here is problem two--the only way to deal with people like Bird et al is of course to punch them in the nose over and over and over. to do anything else, if history is precedent here (is it ever not?), is to allow the ivy to keep creeping over the window, and it's getting mighty dark already. the irony is that this is intolerant behavior! so what you have now is a group (liberals) whose only hope to actually SAVE AMERICAN SOCIETY AS WE KNOW IT is to behave exactly anthithetically to our core beliefs.

it's enough to make you cry, but not enough to accept "i'm sorry my hatred wasn't proven out this time, i'll try to be more careful expressing it in the future" as an apology.

Robert: not to blogwhore, but I wrote a few posts on this: arguing with Charles Bird about freedom of speech here; on hatred on the right, here.

I would want to be very, very sure that we have no alternative to abandoning tolerance before doing so.

bitchphd,

How much effort do you go to, Charles, to specify "the violent extremist elements," and who specifically that is?

I believe Charles did mention the death threats that the family recieved from the extremists. What's so unreasonable here? The family received death threats from islamic extremists. The family was murdered. Charles assumes that the extremists made good on their promise.

Analogous to Lefkow's family's murder, no? We don't have suspects yet, and yet, on this very blog, it is already assumed that it was Hale.

I was with you up and until the point you suggested drunks should be steered away from bars.

Isn't it enough they are already being steered away from cars by way of excessive fines and public humiliation thanks to DUI laws?

Now possibly you were just being bellacose and didn't really mean whatr you said but it implys it. I find steering anyone of age away from anything they put in their bodies repressive. One of the reasons I'm against this current administration is because of their lies and repressive attitudes to the rest of us. And agree the sounding board has been placed and pointed to in the blogosphere as well. But alienating those around you by bashing drunks is no better than bashing someone who smokes pot, someone who is gay, or someone who choses to worship another religion or no religion at all. It's still repression of our fellow man.

We don't have suspects yet, and yet, on this very blog, it is already assumed that it was Hale.

I guess I owe an apology to Nazi-Americans.

What's so unreasonable here?

I answered that question further up in the thread, when I pointed out what it was about that post that I found racist.

What's this "Muslim race" I've been hearing so much about? I must have been misled about what Islam meant, I thought it was a religion thing.

Just a small data point: here in Amsterdam the biggest Coptic church is right at the end of our street, next to a coffeeshop ( the dope kind, not the cappucino kind. So those Egyptian guys I've seen come out of church on Sunday mornings and who head straight into the coffeeshop are going there to buy... what?

I can't agree. There have also been, you know, recent incidents of people robbing their neighbors for no real reason at all. Just a few. Perhaps you read something somewhere. Or wait, maybe you didn't because that sort of thing is just business as usual, whereas anything that involves a Muslim is Big News.

Bitchphd, it can't be twisted around that easily. The question was motive; early reports (which Charles extensive cited and discussed) suggested that robbery was not the motive. An ATM card was taken, but other valuables weren't. The crime didn't fit the pattern for most robberies; greed didn't seem to fully account for the heinousness of the crime (parents and children tied up and then killed). At the same time, the Coptic community was offering an alternative motive that did fit a lot of the reported evidence -- and, indeed, seemed to fit it better than simple greed.

Now, I was among those who argued for caution (it's among the first comments on Charles' original post). But I would never, never discount the possibility that the crime was religiously motivated. Indeed, with a sick stomach, I feared that it was. Charles wasn't "racist" or "bigoted" for putting my fear -- a reasonable fear, based on the evidence and not prejudice -- into words.

We demean the meaning of the words "racism" and "bigotry" by misapplying them. We enflame prejudice and destroy reason through such misuse. We hide the truth; we halt free inquiry; we make ourselves less safe. Save the truly bad words for truly bad acts. Charles' original post was a mistake -- and I've made mistakes as bad or worse -- that he corrected.

"and I've made mistakes as bad or worse -- that he corrected."

Such as?

The question was motive; early reports (which Charles extensive cited and discussed) suggested that robbery was not the motive. An ATM card was taken, but other valuables weren't.

Von, I'm prepared to believe you, but I just re-read Bird's original post and don't see any mention of the ATM card or other valuables, or any other evidence that pointed away from robbery, much less an extensive discussion. What I do see are cites to the NY Post and to Jihadwatch - hardly rigorous sources - and an extensive quote from the latter on the subject of taqiyya. It's possible that the Post contained the discussion you are thinking of, but that link is dead, so I don't know.

Hal, I'll respectfully decline your invitation to catalog my various sins, foibles, stupidities. Rest assured, however, that I am imperfect.

Von, I'm prepared to believe you, but I just re-read Bird's original post and don't see any mention of the ATM card or other valuables, or any other evidence that pointed away from robbery, much less an extensive discussion.

Mithras, two thoughts. First, I cannot be certain that the particular NY Post article linked by BD was among the "reports" that I'm recalling. However, I believe that it was; additional reports were made in the Newark papers and follow-up articles in the NY post (among other places). Second, I've tangled with Robert Spencer in the past. To put it as politely as is possible, it's fair to say that I'm not a fan. I take everything he says with a heaping grain of salt. But many of his factual reports regarding the murder were mirrored in the New Jersey and New York press. And, although I think he has the analytical abilities and judgment of a three-year old, I don't believe that he'd just make stuff up.

"that he corrected."

For clarity, it should be "than he corrected."

Mithras,

I guess I owe an apology to Nazi-Americans.

I guess Charles owes an apology to islamic extremists.

I guess Charles owes an apology to islamic extremists.

If I had said that Hale's terrorism was an "indication that all [conservatives] in the nation do not, as we are supposed to believe, unanimously accept the parameters of American pluralism. That at least some are willing to enforce ... penalties right here, right now", then you might have half a point.

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