Thursday, October 18, 2007

Something in the air last night?

First of all, I want to thank all of you who take the time to compose your thoughts and bring new viewpoints, or fresh slants on familiar viewpoints, to SHAMblog. It amazes me that we've now got a core audience of hundreds of regular daily visitors from all over the world who elect to spend part of their day with this blog (and who show a willingness to bear with me no matter what ridiculous thing I rant about. We've even crossed the 1000-visitor threshold at times). Some folks leave comments on-blog, and some folks are more comfortable emailing me directly with their thoughts. Some folks never comment at all, which is fine, of course. Regardless, I stand in awe of the fact that so many of you consider these topics worthy of your time. I thank you for that.

Now... In recent days—actually, over the past 24 hours—I've had to reject no fewer than three separate comments that, in my judgment, were pure ad hominem attacks. The three different people who wrote them really had nothing to say apart from flaming someone else; their focus was not the idea that another individual had brought to the blog, but the individual himself or herself. As I've said in separate, private discussion with several SHAMbloggers, I do think it's possible to have these debates, some of which touch on very sensitive and/or heartfelt topics, without getting excessively personal about it. If someone says something that you consider idiotic, by all means show us why it's idiotic. Puncture the reasoning, the relevance, the examples, whatever. But to simply spend three or four paragraphs calling somebody an idiot in nine different ways...that contributes nothing useful to the discussion. And it's not going to see the light of day on the blog, anyway. So unless you view it merely as a cathartic act, it's a waste of everyone's time.

I find it regrettable that the acerbic tenor of political rhetoric in this country has conditioned us to be so accepting of an ad hominem debating style; I know otherwise-intelligent people who think devising fiendish personal put-downs is the height of oratorical skill. And let's face it, I guess we have to blame the blogosphere, too, for reinforcing that conditioning. There are many blogs, forums and discussion boards that almost seem to pride themselves on being "not for the faint of heart"; the name-calling is intense, often profane. And we're not just talking about smaller, one-man/woman operations. I once posted on Mediabistro's discussion board (which I'd thought was supposed to be a forum for savvy observers of the news biz), and I was astonished at the feedback. Almost no one addressed the substance of what I said; instead they focused on me as the sayer. I began reading other comments on the board, and saw that this was far from atypical. It was like a competition to see who could out-smart-ass the other, to see who could be more smug. That was my first and last time on Mediabistro.

I don't want to have that here. Sure, these are judgment calls, and there are times when I tolerate a bit more personal venom in order to give someone room to make what I consider to be valid and important points. As a result, there have been comments that—if I had it to do over—I might not approve today. What can I say? This is a one-man operation. I do the best I can.

I've always taken pride in the level of give-and-take on SHAMblog. I feel that in 2007 in particular, we've made significant strides towards being one of the foremost online examples of high-level social comment. I'm hoping you'll all join me in keeping it that way.

26 comments:

RevRon's Rants said...

Good for you, Steve. As you're well aware, I've questioned your judgment in publishing some of the comments to your posts, yet have to admit that I could feel how conflicted you were in making those decisions.

I can't tell you how many times I've sat down and composed a particularly vitriolic response to comments that I perceived as being either idiotic or so blinded by ideology that they were literally antitheses of reasoned thinking. Yet I've always been satisfied with the catharsis such compositions provided, and deleted them without sending them.

As you know, I have little patience with people who find themselves unable to logically defend a position and revert to personal derision in their postings. Life is too short to waste in arguments with such people, and I've regretted those occasions in which I allowed myself to engage in "playground Pi**ing contests" with them.

Bottom line is that appreciate your commitment to keeping the discussions at least somewhat civil. Idiots will appear from time to time, but as we all know, any attempt to idiot-proof anything - even a blog - will only result in the creation of better idiots. :-)

Cosmic Connie said...

As a "one-woman" operation on my own blog, I know how difficult it can be to maintain a balance between open discourse and censorship (or what some folks *perceive* as censorship).

I've had to reject quite a few comments too over the fifteen months I've been in operation. Most of those I've rejected have been unnecessarily foul slams on me -- I am glad to publish dissent, and if people want to call me stupid or crazy or hostile I'll gladly publish their opinions, but I won't publish obscenity.

Lately, though, the comments I've rejected have been what seemed to me like unnecessarily personal attacks on some of the new-wage gurus I've written about. One in particular that came in just a couple of days ago was a pretty vicious attack on Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale. I rejected it. And there have been a couple that I thought crossed the line re "St. David" Schirmer, so I did not publish them. I have a lot of fun writing about the shenanigans of new-wage stars, but one has to draw the line somewhere.

I haven't had so many problems with my readers attacking each other, but there have been some discussions that seemed to be headed in that direction, so in a couple of cases I simply chose not to publish comments that just seemed to be redundant personal slams. I was criticized by some for being intellectually dishonest, but I have been called worse. :-)

All this by way of saying that I appreciate your blog and the (mostly) civil discussions, which are indeed quite a cut above most of what I've seen in the blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the most anonymous of the anonymous in that I read your blog every time and rarely if ever comment. (Twice, I think, since I found you in 2006). I agree with what you say about the general level of discussion, and also about the need to clamp down on unruly debaters from time to time. I can always sense when things are getting out of hand and people are pushing the limits of civil discussion. Though I like a good argument probably as much as anyone, it makes me uncomfortable when I sense that happening. I can imagine one of the difficulties for you is along the lines of "I let so and so say such and such, and this isn't much worse", therefore you don't quite know when to put the hammer down. I think you do a good job overall.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Don't knock the word "mother*&%^er!"

- Bernie Mack

Y'know, Steve, I glanced at this the other day and thought, "I'll check back later and see what he's got, support-wise" and, sure enough, it's the same three letters (one anonymous) that were there before - which, I think, should make you think. Not so much about swearing or name-calling (which, as you know, I'm all in favor of) but about whether or not your position is an actual "good". Or, expressed another way, what good does it actually do?

For me, it's like asking if we should've dropped the bomb on Japan (twice) knowing what we know about nukes. Of course, I'd say "yes". Why? Because the Japanese weren't going to stop fighting. Which meant we weren't going to stop dying. So we nuked 'em to get it over with.

People who are intent on changing the values of Americans are putting themselves in the same position as Japan, rhetorically and otherwise. It's a fact - proven when cults started growing in 70's corporate culture - that when people discovered the assault on their values that was taking place, they either had nervous breakdowns or they rebelled - sometimes violently - but mostly (this being the corporate world) with lawsuits. Americans don't take well to having their values undermined - no matter how cool that idea may seem to those whose values have already been undermined. (As I said, where I come from, you go pushing certain ideas, because you've bought into them, and you're likely not to leave alive.) Pushing back - hard - is the only way to stop cultish thinking because cultish-thinkers aren't go to stop on their own. They have to be nuked. They have to be faced with the raw anger they inspire.

In order to eliminate cultish-thinking, we've almost got to think like they do, and that means "taking risks" and all that other crap they talk about. Not behaving like good little boys and girls but, as my friend said, "Running them out of town with a shotgun". Some may be embarrassed, or whatever, about such displays but those same people thrive on the gains granted by the actions of others in the name of good - and that's a galling hypocrisy for them to ignore.


You can do what you want, Steve - I've never had a problem with you not printing my comments, or editing them, or anything - but I think you do a disservice to the thrust of your site ("Exposing the scams, shams and shames of modern life") when you don't allow bad ideas to "get what's coming to them", as they so wish the rest of us to receive ours.

As you know, all the new agers are "nice" - and, oh so peaceful - when they're pushing their evil in our faces. That's The Secret.

RevRon's Rants said...

It is normal, instinctive behavior to either attack or flee when one feels threatened. The advantage some humans have over other members of the animal kingdom is the ability to perceive the difference between a genuine threat and more benign posturing, and to gauge our response accordingly.

While the instinctive drive to attack may still exist, most of us (thankfully) are capable of not responding on a purely instinctive level when a more reasoned evaluation tells us we are not in real danger. For some, however (and I would suspect that crack falls within such a group), prior conditioning predisposes them to immediately choose attack mode, without allowing for the viability of a less violent response.

It is obvious that you have been hurt by your ex, but you should consider that you are not alone in having experienced hurtfulness. The fact that others do not choose such a fear-based response to all situations is not a mark of their weakness, but rather of their strength. Sure, there are folks who would change the way we think, but as intelligent adults, we have the option of rejecting others' perspective without feeling so threatened that we feel the need to kill them - literally or figuratively - in order to feel safe.

Perhaps with some emotional healing, the obsession with sharing such fearfulness - and insisting upon such aggressive responses to all situations - would be diminished.

Once again, I revert to lessons learned in combat and the dojo; the opponent who enters a match filled with rage has already lost. Fear is always beaten by a dispassionate demonstration of skill.

Steve Salerno said...

Crack, the one line I seize upon in your comment is the notion of "allowing bad ideas to get what's coming to them." I will confess that I have one overarching prejudice that I display on my blog--and that is my dislike and distrust of most self-help products and regimens. So that is one case where I have labeled something a "bad idea." However, three points:

1. I am arguing that it's a bad idea TO ME; I am not expecting everyone else in the universe to define self-help as being objectively bad, by nature. Do you see the difference? (And I don't mean to sound pedantic or patronizing in asking that. It's an honest question.) In other words, I recognize my opinions as opinions, which is why--though I may mount strenuous arguments for my way of thinking--I seldom* attack opposing views with the kind of rancor and personal belittlement, if you will, that seems to be implied by your "get what's coming to them" theory.

2. Even if I buy your logic, there's a profound difference between letting an IDEA get what's coming to it, and attacking the PERSON who espouses the idea. Are you seriously saying that--in all cases--someone who believes differently from the way you believe is, therefore, by definition, a "bad person"? What a sad and unforgiving way to look at life. (And I'll give you a really pointed example here: I do not think that followers of radical Islam are bad people; they're no more good or bad than I am, or you are, from my perspective. They may be perfectly fine people--they may even be "right," for all I know, if there is a god and it is Allah--and they may have had excellent reasons for destroying the WTC. However, if they want to kill me, and I can't change their minds about it, then they probably need to die. It's a purely pragmatic judgment, based on the fact that I'd like to go on living, thank you. There's no good or bad about it. There's not even much anger on my part. It just...is.)

3. Also please recognize that I came to my current prejudice against self-help on the basis of considerable research and experience (and I'm using the word experience in a far broader sense than just my own experience). One can say that I am biased against self-help, but that bias is rooted in something--and it's something more than just my own innate instincts. If my study of self-help had led me to conclude that the SHAMscape made sense and that most people were, indeed, helped, I would not have written the book I wrote.

* Yes, I'm human, so I still exhibit rancor at times. And yes, at times, I will get personally angry at people for the ideas they espouse. I see that as a flaw, whereas you seem to see it as a prescription for daily life.

The Crack Emcee said...

Rev,

Every time I see you mention the word "fear" or saying "fear-based response" I think "cult code word". Haven't you ever tried to understand that, rather than fearing something, I may just not like it? Isn't that an option? One that your "teaching" doesn't allow for - or the vocabulary from that teaching doesn't allow you to give voice to?

I swear, the more I learn about cultish-thinking - and how it can turn people into code-word spouting automatons - the more I dislike it. It's "bad", Man. And the restrictions on people's vocabularies is one reason I say so.

I beg of you, Rev, quit looking at me as the enemy - someone you may be afraid of and try to think about what I'm saying:

You repeat the same phrases a lot.

And that's not the sign of a free mind. It's like black guys who keep repeating, "You know what I'm saying?" all the time. You just KNOW there's something wrong there.

RevRon's Rants said...

I do not perceive you as my enemy, crack. I see you as someone whose past hurts has left him very frightened, but whose social conditioning prevents him from acknowledging - much less, overcoming - that fear. And my assessment has absolutely no relationship to a cult mentality, despite your attempts to so classify it.

The Crack Emcee said...

Steve,

First, I do see the difference, but New Age "self-help" ain't Ben Franklin writing Poor Richard's Almanac and you know it: Despite your protests to the contrary, that's not just your opinion but a well-researched fact, that New Age teaches people to be ruthless with others (That's why I use strong words, like "nazi", "evil", etc., so freely: New Age is one case where they aren't hyperbole) and, yes, it's practitioners deserve the same in kind - in fact, it's all they respond to. You may not want to - any more than I do, or Americans wanted to fight the Nazis or the Japanese - but, as the saying goes, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" and that's the role decent people (women too) have now been handed: Push 'em back.

Second, like the Japanese being willing to die for the emperor, there's no separating New Agers from the ideology: They have to surrender - unconditionally. And, no, I'm not talking about "in all cases--someone who believes differently from the way you believe" but anyone - anyone - who buys into the tenets of New Age belief and won't surrender. (I consider "belief", itself, a destructive force but I'm still capable of making distinctions.) Like you, it's "purely pragmatic", but, yea, there's a "spiritual" war on - and they (Islamists, New Agers) started it.

Third, my "instincts" were honed by good women - several of my foster mothers - who, primarily alone, were intent on raising decent men. (I don't think I could've been married for 20 years if I was a bad guy.) My mothers made a point of telling us what they expected of us - they weren't raising no punks - and about women. And New Age reeks of the worst of women - of "the tyranny of the mean girl" - the manipulation of weak minds hell-bent on vengeance. I've been a "feminist' most of my life - felt their pain, starting with the rape of a foster sister by nine guys - but thinking I'm going to join in - or be a victim - of an orgy of madness is madness itself: I ain't French (That's a joke, y'all.). Like you, I've taken this up with good reason - borne out of research, and personal experience, that involved a death and sexual depravity - and, yea, I see anger as a vital part of the prescription. Screw all that "you've got to abandon your anger" stuff - that's their ideology at work - like The Clash said:

"Let fury rule the hour/anger can be power - if you know how to use it!"

Or, as I once wrote:

"There's a time and place for everything but this ain't either one."

Rev,

First, I've thought all day about how you regard my divorce as just a divorce - it wasn't - my mother-in-law was killed. A homeopathic "doctor" killed her - and took advantage of my wife (who I loved, passionately). This crap destroyed my life (but, fortunately, not my outlook on life.) It's like watching an episode of C.S.I. (Special Crimes Unit), where some tragedy takes place and everyone - the police, D.A. prosecutors, judges, you, everyone - just shrugs and says, like Tony Saprano, "Whattaya gonna do?" Please keep that in mind if you want to speak on it: it'll be easier for me to relate to what you have to say about it.

Second, I coulda just thrown my wife out a window (we lived in a third floor apartment) and found myself in prison with people who are definitely capable of frightening me. New Age doesn't frighten me, not in the least. (I've had guns pointed at me by people who were more than willing to pull the trigger - there's nothing much more frightening than that.) I'm "disgusted" by New Age - from Dictionary.com:

dis·gust
–verb (used with object)
1. to cause loathing or nausea in.
2. to offend the good taste, moral sense, etc., of; cause extreme dislike or revulsion in.
–noun
3. a strong distaste; nausea; loathing.
4. repugnance caused by something offensive; strong aversion

Nothing about "fear" in there, Rev. And, yea, your attachment to "teachings" is cultish. (Hell, you're a Buddhist - come on!) You, and Greg, have ran to this "fear" thing - which I've seen, over and over, in many cultish texts and heard from many cultish people - with no regard for the individuality that I, clearly, display in every post. I don't fit in anybody's "teachings", regarding human behavior, because - as a free man - your "master" wouldn't have ever wanted me around, because I'da broke his hold on you in a hot minute:

You needed a friend - not a "master".

Which reminds me of Arsenio Hall's joke about why there are so few black astronauts:

They can't handle saying "Yes, NASA, no NASA". (LOL)

I gotta go - much love, man.

The Crack Emcee said...

Hey Steve, look at this (below) and tell me being reasonable, and traditionally logical, work in this fight:

http://www.badscience.net/?p=554#more-554

I'd like to hear what anyone else thinks of this controversy as well.

Steve Salerno said...

Crack, look...I hear what you're saying. This debunking business can be surreally frustrating. You want to SCREAM at people, "Don't you see what's going on here?? How can you stay in denial!" And I've had a number of conversations about homeopathy in particular with Dr. Stephen Barrett, who runs the Quackwatch site. We both agreed that it can get to the point where you're tempted to throw civility out the window and start working with plastique.

In my own frame of reference, I'm reminded, e.g., of the months-long battle I waged against Amazon a few years back, wherein I tried to get them to (a) treat my book fairly on its review page, and simultaneously (b) stop letting Dr. Phil's people flood his book's listing page with obvious "sham" reviews designed to orchestrate an artificially high rating. To me, it was so clear what was going on that I couldn't even imagine how the Amazon powers-that-be would give me any trouble at all; I thought they'd just read my very first email, say, "Oh, Mr. Salerno, we see what's going on here, thank you for bringing it to our attention, we'll get it fixed." Uh, not quite. Instead they fought me tooth and nail and eventually wound up banning me from posting any book reviews, at least for a time.

Still, in the end, I come back to what I said earlier: Even when something seems patently obvious, I still say to myself, in the back of my mind, Who's to say what's objectively right or wrong? How do I know I'm not the crazy one? I mean, I can be 99% convinced--as I am in most of my writing on the SHAMscape. But with that other 1%, I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, at least on a personal basis. So while I may have nothing but contempt for their ideas, I still try to stop myself from judging them too harshly as people--unless/until all the evidence is in.

RevRon's Rants said...

crack - You've been hurt, and gone through an ugly divorce. Welcome to the human race! Ugly divorces are more the rule than the exception, and everyone who has gone through it is certain that their experiences eclipse the suffering felt by others. I felt the same kind of rage when I divorced my ex, and even fantasized about hurting her. It took a long time, but I eventually quit being obsessed with blaming and took responsibility for my own well-being. I had learned many years ago where my rage would ultimately lead, and knew I didn't want to go there.

The emotions you describe are consistent with the fear you so vehemently deny, but which is pretty obvious. I can understand your need to perceive anything that doesn't sync with your worldview as being cultish/evil/wrong. And I wouldn't expect you to see what you're doing. That will take time, and a desire to move beyond the finger-pointing and chest-beating phase. I really hope you can do it. You'll be much happier, not to mention safer! Good luck. :-)

The Crack Emcee said...

Steve,

You're much more "open-minded" than I am. I'm not saying that's bad (I can be as well) but, in this, I've obviously, actively, decided to abandon such a position because it's pointless. (Why test homeopathy, repeatedly for 200 years, when we know - know - it's water? To prove how fair we can be? It's lunacy - especially considering the crimes those people are committing. I read a lot of science blogs, like the one I just posted above, and hearing them discuss the search for a mechanism, to me, is the height of madness, prompting me to scream at the computer - and at them in letter form - "What is the point of your educations!?!") As you can surmise - even if Rev can't - I'm sincere when I say I think I'm needed in this fight because the approach I've discovered others are taking is a main reason this stuff has been allowed to cause the pain it has. I'm all for trying to "be the bigger man" but, to me, at some point, a "real man" would say, "Forget this nonsense", and rip somebody a new asshole. I know that James Randi (another cantankerous type) said to pursue this work is like "trying to empty the ocean with a paper cup", but it's still sad, and embarrassing, to me - as a man - that so many would allow so much evil to happen for the mere sake of appearances. So they don't risk being seen as too forceful, etc., because it'll scare the women and children, the horses, whatever. Taken to the extremes I've witnessed, I (and many rapper types) openly and obviously wonder if they're "men" at all. I knew that people outside of South Central, Los Angeles were "different" but - wow.

Man, Rev, you're a real piece of work:

You just blew past my mother-in-law's killing, the medical ethics, moral issues, etc., like they were never mentioned, and went right back to the divorce issue - and then right back to the "fear" crap - I find that truly amazing. I mean, I know I'm single-minded in my interests, but (for instance) I hear Steve talking and consider what he says. Not you. I say I'm not scared and you don't even consider that may be true - that you don't know me, personally, or that not being scared is even possible - you've just got your "teachings" on fear and that's enough for you. Really, it's a wonder to behold. One of the best reasons I've seen of why I never want to be involved with cultish-thinking in any way-shape-or form: it freezes the mind, man. I really have seen the same phrases, over and over, to the point where they start to appear in relief:

People have "soul mates", after they make a "connection", blah, blah, blah.

The fear thing is like that. (Greg just hit me with it a coupla days ago.) It's like you guys have stopped "thinking", stopped being individuals capable of seeing things as they are (and being expansive on it) and your minds are just running on auto now - or, rather, your "teachings" - to the point where you can't comprehend reality anymore. People are all part of the "system" of thought you've been handed that explains it all. I, sincerely, think it's sad:

In so many ways you seem like too smart a guy to fall for such restrictive thinking.

RevRon's Rants said...

First of all, crack, I didn't "blow past" anything. Sad stories abound in most every life, believe it or not. Everybody has their own tales of woe & horror - myself included. That's right... you really don't have a corner on the market, despite what you might think. I just don't choose to let bad experiences in my past to rule my life to the point where I still see monsters in every shadow.

I would actually find humorous that you believe everything beyond the boundaries of your current must be evil, if I didn't realize what a sad life that represents. And that's not just a product of my "teachings" - it's an inherent part of growing up & "getting over it."

I guess the real place where we differ is that I don't believe that obnoxiously clinging to an us versus them mentality (and demanding that others do the same) is an essential - or even desirable - requisite to survival.

Steve Salerno said...

Now that you guys have been at it for a while, would somebody please tell me why we can't just see this as a philosophical/ideological dispute, and leave it at that? Why does someone have to be the heavy in all this, or even--as some of your respective attacks seem to imply--"evil"? I'm reminded of a discussion (that's a polite word for it) that I had with my son, who was in visiting from Vegas this past weekend. We were talking about politics. My son believes that to be Republican is to be, by nature, evil--that you cannot be a Republican, or subscribe to what the Republican party believes, unless you're inherently corrupt, heartless, and venal. So you cannot have a political discussion with my son, even if you agree with him in many areas of public policy, as I do; unless you buy the whole program, lock, stock and barrel, you're pretty much The Devil, in his book. Either that or you're really, really dumb in "falling for" what the GOP is selling.

Now, I'll agree that what the Bush/Cheney team has wreaked over the past eight years hasn't done much to give Republicanism a good name. But to make the kind of argument that my son makes--"You either accept what I say, or you're evil"--simply forecloses the possibility of any useful discussion, and, in fact, is plainly insulting to the well-meaning people (and I have to believe there are at least some well-meaning Republicans) who do not share your beliefs.

RevRon's Rants said...

Are you suggesting a "live and let live" attitude, Steve? Such a novel concept...

BTW - Sounds like you did a fine job raising your son! Give him a little time, and maybe he'll see that both parties are really just different sides of the same dirty coin. Self-righteousness is, after all, an inherent element of youth.:-)

Steve Salerno said...

Actually, Ron, the way in which I "raised my son" is one of my foremost misgivings in life. Many mistakes made there. But I suppose that puts me in league with about 98 percent of us--at least as we see things in hindsight, huh?

RevRon's Rants said...

I admit to falling within that 98%, as well. I am, however, incredibly proud of how both my kids turned out... even if their progress was, at times, in spite of my parenting efforts!

RevRon's Rants said...

In re-reading the above comments, I realized that crack has misinterpreted my characterization of the Master who taught me. He was not *my* master, but rather a man who had mastered his own life, and who had worked through the crap with which most people fill their awareness. While I came to hold him in the deepest regard, his position was not one of domination over me or any other student or disciple. My deference to him - such as it was - was borne out of the value of what he taught and the example he set, and really didn't come about until after I had left his tutelage.

Especially given crack's NASA pun, it is obvious that he has a culturally-embedded (and understandable) aversion to the term Master. Perhaps being made aware of the more accurate connotation will help him put aside that aversion long enough to consider a different viewpoint.

The Crack Emcee said...

Steve (I'm short on time, here:)

Why can't there be a "heavy" in life? Actively leaving out a dead body - in assessing another's view of things - I think, is more than just a difference of opinion, don't you? It's mean, in my opinion. I've been in touch with the families of Frank Shallenberger's victims and they've all become activists, of one kind or another, as well. What's Rev gonna do next - call them up and tell them to "get over it" because other people have been hurt before? Like I said, get into that "spiritual" stuff and your ruthlessness with others knows no bounds.

And as far as "evil" is concerned, you know that cultish thinking turns things inside-out (good becomes bad, etc.) so let's look at something that's considered a "good" thing - like, say, Trader Joe's market - and examine how evil grows around us:

Trader Joe's encourages recycling - seen as a "good" thing - until you discover that "recycling is garbage. The recycling industry creates pollution, has to be subsidized by the government because it's cost ineffective, and is completely unnecessary. Contrary to popular belief, our landfills are not running out of space - we have enough room to last for thousands of years!"

Um, that's not so good.

Trader Joe's encourages buying organics - seen as a "good" thing - but the way we grow are food isn't harming us (Another ol' cult trick of creating a non-problem to fix it) so what they're actually doing is raising the price of food for the poor.

Um, that's not so good either.

Do you see what I'm getting at? I can go on and on about mundane things that so many want to shove down my throat as "good" - or even tolerable - that aren't by any stretch of the imagination. Belief being the biggest one because, once people stop believing this crap, we might actually get closer to a "live and let live" reality.

As Judge Judy says, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."

The Rep/Dem thing is common for kids. I'm regularly telling my friends to regard both parties as just "people", something they - all Dems - have a hard time doing. Personally, I don't pick on Dems - just the New Agers. I like politics too much for that nonsense.

RevRon's Rants said...

"What's Rev gonna do next - call them up and tell them to "get over it" because other people have been hurt before?"

I'm not the one who makes broadly general statements and demands that they apply universally, crack. I was just suggesting that *you* really need to grow up & get over it, in as civil a way as possible. And that's not "ruthlessness" - it's pragmatism, born of the realization that defending the supremacy of your current mindset is obviously more important to you than A) considering anything new that has a chance of broadening the scope of your understanding, or B) participating in a civil discussion.

The Crack Emcee said...

Rev,

Suggesting that anyone - or even just me - that doesn't like what you're putting down is living in "fear" is generalizing. (And, like I said, I've heard that line too often for it to be original - Greg just tried it, too, remember?) I even had to go so far as asking you to regard me as an individual, not as your cut-out fearful person - something you seem incapable of doing.

And, no, I'm not going to "get over it" any more than the other people who have been touched by this choose to get over it - we think i's an overlooked, but serious, problem that should, finally, be dealt with. So much of a problem that Steve wrote a book about it and started a blog on it. His way of dealing with it, processing it, etc., may be different from mine but we came to it in different ways, with mine (I gather) being more intense and personal. That's what life has handed me and I accept it. Your being on the other side of the ideological fence, but still pretending like you're not, is your problem, not mine, as least as I see it.

I was reading a 50th anniversary review of Atlas Shrugs today - a book I guess I have to read because they were talking about Rand's "uncompromising" stance against religious belief as a major reason Conservative's couldn't embrace her. (She apparently thought, as I do, that religion's irrationality is a major flaw of American life) So I'm not alone: It's just not a view many plan on allowing a full hearing. Sorry but I hear it, and won't shut up about it, because it's believers that have to justify thier belief - not me: Good luck with that.

Considering how I got into this, I'm no more likely to give it up my world-view than your master (however you define him) is to give up his. But why should I? I didn't hurt nobody (not even myself, as you said you once did) so there's no need for me to "broaden my scope" because there's nothing wrong - with me, or men, or America - three things you seem to get hot under the collar about, Buddhist or no.

I mean, I've got no "teachings" backing me up, but I don't see you behaving any better than I do - you just talk about it and demand better from me - so which of us is the hypocrite? The man who betrays nothing or the man who claims he's got it and doesn't display it?

Try meditating on that a while and see what you come up with.

RevRon's Rants said...

crack - Part of being a mature, civilized human being is learning to accept that different people have different perspectives, and that even those with whom you disagree might in fact not be wrong. You see danger and destruction all about, yet continually pound your chest and proclaim that you're not fearful. You insist that anyone who doesn't see the same demons and rise up in anger against them must be part of some evil machine. You choose to deride as evil, unmanly, and ruthless anyone who doesn't share your unique pain and your preferred response to it. Most troubling of all is that you don't see any pattern to your behavior.

I have no doubt that you've been told by others that your actions are borne of fear. Perhaps you might consider that there might be some validity to that assessment, rather than merely lumping everyone who sees it into some conspiracy theory.

It is obvious that you will resist anything resembling insight in a forum such as this. That is, of course, your right, and this is not a therapeutic milieu, at any rate... Just a good place to espouse your views - and to actually consider the views of others.

There is a BIG difference between your and Steve's approach to the problem of SHAM. Steve is sure enough of his own perspective to allow that there is room in his world for those who disagree. Steve addresses problems he sees, but doesn't need to make into demons everyone who might disagree with him. In short, Steve's apparent objective is to help educate people so that they might avoid problems, while yours seems to be a driving need to get revenge upon anyone and anything that might even be remotely associated with your own hurt.

"there's no need for me to "broaden my scope" because there's nothing wrong - with me, or men, or America"

Such a statement is frankly a declaration of loyalty to ignorance and stagnation. Granted, there isn't anything inherently wrong with men or America, so long as both are willing to face their weaknesses and try to improve themselves. But when either insist that they have reached a state that precludes improvement, they have eliminated their potential for greatness. Whether there's anything wrong with you is between yourself and whomever you go to when you are troubled. I'll leave it at that.

In the course of our discussion, you've called me any number of names. Most recently, I've been a cultist, and now, I'm a hypocrite. You're entitled to those opinions, but might consider that people who actually know me and have seen how I respond to life's offerings do not share them. And realize that although you claim to "betray nothing," you actually betray far more in your writing than you realize, and it probably isn't what you would choose to reveal.

By the way, since you've got it in front of you today, you might note that the title of Ayn Rand's book is actually "Atlas Shrugged." Rand believed - as do I - that mankind's spiritual nature had long been stifled by religion. She also had deep respect for the individual's right to their own beliefs, freed of the constraints and labels imposed by others. You might want to give her another read before damning everyone who disagrees with you.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Such a statement is frankly a declaration of loyalty to ignorance and stagnation."

Yea, I know, in this world of "self-help" it's bizarre to encounter anyone who's just happy with themselves as they are but - wow - here I am. And people who know me like me too - and, even online, I'm not accused of being a hypocrite by anyone. And, while I can think all day about the things you say, you don't seem to have done any thinking at all.

Look, a while back, I told Steve I wasn't gonna talk to you again and I still think that was the best policy:

There's no way for me to have a reasonable conversation with a Buddhist because, if you were reasonable, honest, and truly introspective person, you couldn't be a friggin' Buddhist.

Whatever you think about that - I'm done.

Steve Salerno said...

NOTE: I struggled with this last comment a while before approving it. I decided that, though it's more "direct" than the Rev's, it really isn't that different in tone or implication. Still, if ever a comment has been "borderline rejectable," this one was it. I would not have approved it, were it not the final (or so it was stated) in a series of back-and-forth comments in a pretty lengthy thread.

I know that explanation isn't going to satisfy everyone, but it's where I came out on this.

RevRon's Rants said...

Perhaps there should be some satisfaction in seeing someone so completely make my case for me, but I genuinely hate to see anyone shoot themselves in the foot to do it.

I understand your reasons for posting this last comment, Steve, and far from being dissatisfied with your decision, I happen to fully agree with it. I guess it's just the "friggen Buddhist" in me. :-)