2019 Holiday Exchange!
 
A New and Exciting Beginning
 
The End of an Era
  • posted a message on Commander Legends EBAY leaks
    Man this Gisela pronunciation debate is getting to be just about as riveting as talking about how to pronounce gif


    My grandmother's name was Gisela. Ghee-say-la.

    Might be different depending on the language being spoken. My grandmother was German, the French version is Giselle, I believe.

    Edit: literally a grandma in a rocking chair, confirming earlier suspicions
    Posted in: The Rumor Mill
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    osieorb18, thank you for your clarifictions. This is indeed eye-opening.

    bob, thank you for laying out the process. I am pleased to see you respond in a way that is somewhat helpful. I have quite a lot of other remarks that I have been mulling over with regard to you. For the time being, though, please forward the staff's list of concerns to me so that we may accurately characterize them in our proposal.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard

    So here's the thing:
    I still disagree with the concept that anything and everything is inherently political. Perhaps this is a difference of definition or scope between us.


    You're using the word "political" in its colloquial sense. Which would be fine in most situations where there isn't a need for extreme clarity as there is in this discussion. "Politics" comes from poleis, the city, as in having to do with life in the city. The most precise and technical usage of this word, as a subset of moral theory, is essentially ethics in its social aspect in the broadest possible sense. We should defer to this definition because it is the definition that is favored by expertise and it is necessary for us to gain greater clarity about the topic.

    For example, when you say depicting Queen Linden as a black woman isn't political, I think you mean in a colloquial way something like: we ought to have a consensus that such representation is normal and desirable, that its normalcy is self-evident, and not subject to dispute. And this is exactly where the "devil's advocate" conservative comes in and tries to pick apart at the assumption that it's not political, rationalizing possible objections to the practice to contest its self-evidentiary nature. I prefer to nip this behavior in the bud by acknowledging that the representation is a conscious, intentional choice by WotC to redress the earlier lack of representation in their card art. Yes, this is political and it's not a bad thing that it is. "Politics" doesn't have to be a dirty word here. If you define politics in such a way that its activity is concluded to be pointless (e.g., "people arguing about values that are impossible to resolve"), the definition will be a self-fulfilled prophecy of self-defeat.

    In my experience, the best way to deal with devil's advocates is to beat them at their own game. What conservatives hate most about their perception of "liberals" is that their opponents are wishy-washy relativists, unprincipled pragmatists, who assume they're automatically right because "conservatives are dumb" and so on. I have found it effective to disillusion these notions.

    Similarly, I would point out that my definition of "systemic racism" comes from sociology. As a science, sociology is interested in natural phenomena in its scope of inquiry such as racial disparity. It's an empirical fact that racial disparity exists and, at the risk of oversimplifying, we say racism is the cause of racial disparity. But what does this mean? The idea that the prejudices of individuals is sufficient to explain racial disparity is not supported by the data. What is supported is the idea of historical forces, economic and institutional, forces that people's actions can contribute to even if their conscious intentions contain nothing of the sort as a goal. This goes against the colloquial definition of racism but again we must defer to the definitions that allow our inquiry to proceed rationally.


    2. People are not happy with discussions. There is no if and buts about this. Whenever a political discussion occurs, it is very easy to spot from the reports table - each person immediately reports any comment their opposition makes for being inflammatory. Each person wants us to infract their opposition for being closeminded, a troll, a flamer, or being racist - because clearly people whose views don't match their own are wrong, and immoral.
    3.Other people are not happy with the conversations. My favorite report this year went along the lines of "I respect this persons views, and agree with them, but I am tired of seeing this discussion brought up again in every thread."


    Ok, but you can't separate out the causal effect of you as an administrator making pronouncements against political discussion and the expectation within the community that political discussion will not occur.

    No policy will result in a utopia where everyone is happy. Some people indeed do not want to see political discussions. I suggested earlier they could block the people having them. I think it's better to leave it up to the forum member's choices than having the staff intervene.

    Growing up in school, I remember that it was often the case that children would tattle on one another over every trivial thing. The wisest teachers were the ones who, in most cases, would tell them to resolve their issues on their own to spare themselves an unnecessary workload.


    We do not have the staff to moderate a forum designated to this kind of discussion. We used to have a forum dedicated to this type of discussion, we did not have the staff then, and the forum devolved into 4chan lite. I have no desire to moderate a 4chan lite, nor do I believe it is feasible, nor appropriate for this site. Perhaps one day we will have staff that is interested in bringing this back, and willing to moderate it, and perhaps even make it appropriate for the site. Currently, none of those are true. I will die on this hill.


    You might end up having to die on that hill unless you can assure me that you're taking actions that will make this possible.


    In fact, that this ONE thread has managed to get derailed, in a matter of hours, I think clearly shows the difficulties that a thread dedicated to politics will bring, let alone an entire forum dedicated to this concept.


    This thread had a digression, although I found it to be useful because it shed clarity on an issue as a case example and it resolved itself and we moved back to the original topic shortly. Maybe my tolerance for digressions is unusually high. This is why I don't want hair-trigger interventions by staff.


    The extreme I was referencing here was the action of forcefully advocating a position by moderating against anyone of a differing opinion.

    I do not personally believe that BLM is an extreme position, nor do I believe that it (should) be inherently political. Somehow it has become so, but I will fight and die on the hill that it is not.


    "Black lives matter" is an affirmation of the underlying political principle that all lives matter. That all lives matter is something virtually no one would dispute, so the fact that black lives are currently not being treated the same is an inconsistency with the principle, which entails some political change must occur to bring us back into consistency. I don't see the need to die on a hill for this one. Denying that it is political is somewhat counterproductive because it trivializes the severity of the issue. If you said "genocide is bad" is not political while a genocide was occurring, you'd be erasing the political reality that there really are people in the world who want to commit genocide and turning a blind eye to them is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible.


    The context was not clear - in part Hate Groups in general have no place here. The KKK, All Lives Matters, and White Lives Matters are not allowed. Thus, I am now confused as to your original post. Your point was "3. A balance which is inclusive to hate groups is toxic to the cohesion of the forum community". If you're talking about Hate Groups in general, this point is invalid, as we do not allow them. The only context that made sense is the current discussion of whether #BlueLivesMatters should be allowed on the site.

    If this association was in error on my part, I apologize.


    A person does not have to explicitly state that they're part of the KKK to be part of a hate group or use hate speech. They are frequently characterized by the use of dog whistles, which I consider bluelivesmatter to be.

    Denying that systemic racism exists against POC is also something I think is hate speech. It has occurred in this thread. And all that is required for people motivated by this hate is to drop inflammatory bombs in random threads for the damage to be done. There is nothing moderators can do directly about this behavior which would satisfy me. But members of the community have the ability to assure one another by coming together to oppose it. That's the thing that's missing from the current picture and you're severely underestimating the value and importance of this quality in making this an inclusive space. That's why I've called for equitable exception to be made for this activity.

    This... feels like it's getting into semantics. While I can see what you are arguing, I doubt that you do not see the point I was trying to make.


    I'm speaking from my academic background. I'm sure it probably does feel like mere semantics to you. But I can only say it's something that is of vital, critical importance to me.


    Yes, every community, every nation, every group of people will have laws and rules based on the morals it wishes to emphasize. However, there are some topics that are disagreed upon, ambiguous, or otherwise in contention. While each of us on the staff, and the owners, may have our personal opinions on these topics, the Site itself is not here to pass judgement on those. The site is not here as a platform to advocate for a cause in contention. Each of us that wishes to do so, does it on our own time, in our own locations.

    There is also the issue that the quote of mine you placed is in reference you your point 3: "3. A balance which is inclusive to hate groups is toxic to the cohesion of the forum community". Given the context of the preceding posts about the validity of BlueLives, and that Hate Groups in general are not allowed here, the association was the inference that your point was associating BlueLives as a Hate Group. Thus, the context of MY quote about passing moral judgement is that it is not this Site's duty or prerogative to make the judgement about whether or not a group qualifies as a Hate Group. We'll leave that to those better suited for it.


    Then I suppose my only recourse is to collect evidence. Very well. I still want to get back to some of your earlier requests as well as time allows.


    The debate forum was well intentioned, and started off well and well moderated. But it quickly went down a black hole. Towards the end of its existence, debates were not held in good faith, and there was a tendency to argue and make contrarian points just for shock and attention. There ended up being multiple "debates" which were nothing more than outright trolling, as well as rife trolling throughout what might be considered legitimate debates.

    And this doesn't even touch on the topics found in the NSFW Debate subforum (which I am personally confused why was ever a thing here).

    Looking at the retired forum, there are 11 threads that needed to be deleted in the first page alone, and another 9 on the second page. That's not healthy. There are also a significant amount of red text, and banned members in the responses.

    I am well aware that there were several mods that held the forum in fond memory, however there was solid reason to shut it down at the time. Perhaps it could return one day, but today is definitely not the time.


    I understand the difficulties involved here but I think it's worth the investment to make this a reality again. I'm sure you derive absolutely no personal enjoyment from having to continue to discuss this issue with me. Tell me your plan so that we can move on.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard

    If discussions like this should happen, it needs a sub-forum for just that, so discussions that drift into this politics can be moved to that place and not distract users that dont want to have anything to do with it.

    As thats the main deal.

    If a Rumor Mill discussions is all about Magic cards and it drifts into politics, the entire thing has to be locked, people get moderated, warnings, time-outs and what not need to be thrown around ; while its probably easier to move such a discussion into a forum on its own.



    They could reinstate the Discussion forum. The site is probably not inclined to do so, since apparently it was retired because it required a heavy amount of work to moderate for no doubt obvious reasons. But I agree this is a workable solution.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from Buffsam89 »
    The reason I said that you can’t talk politics in good faith is because it affects everyone differently, and you’ll always be in favor of policies and practices that benefit you(not personally, though technically). Are you really going to tell me you’d be in favor of policy that would negatively affect you? No, absolutely not. So, regardless of where you align on the political spectrum, you’re still looking out for numero uno when all is said and done. In almost every case, and it’s evident here, what people will be looking out for is their $$$. What is in their best interests. While it is true that not every policy has an impact on the dollars and cents, you most often aren’t getting those policy’s in isolation. There is give, and there is take. That’s why I can’t get behind the current divide in our country based on Liberal Vs. Republican. It’s deeper than that.


    There's a distinction to be made between personal motivations for supporting a policy (because it benefits you) and the underlying principles that commit a person to a policy. If you say you believe in universal liberation, for example, then you're being consistent with that principle if your support of liberation extends to groups you're not a part of. Most people would probably say they like the idea of universal liberation, you can test their consistency by issue. And it happens to be the case that solidarity makes for good praxis.

    So that means that sometimes you end up supporting positions which benefit you less than others potentially would, for the sake of values like equity. And in a way the same thing happens with other ideologies. For example, poor people can be libertarians even though libertarianism in practice disproportionately favors the benefit of wealthy interests. A typical libertarian would probably believe that it's actually beneficial to them as well, somewhat as an article of faith. Others would accept this cost as what is due to maintain the liberty of property rights. Two poor people could have a political argument even though their economic interests are the same.

    It doesn't necessarily have to be a zero-sum game. And if you consider the fact that your interests as an individual are inter-implicatory with the interests of humanity as a whole, identifying the principles which lie underneath personal motivations is precisely the process of good faith political discussion.

    Take me for instance. I was never in favor of Obama-care. As a manager in what would be considered a “small business” in terms of business practices and organizational makeup, it was a total net-negative on our operation and my staff. Were there positives? Certainly, but not for me and not for those close to me. So, why should I endorse a proposal like that? I know that the above is overly simplified but I think you get my point.


    Wanting to live in a society where people don't needlessly die from lack of healthcare might be a reason.

    Similarly, take the BLM movement. After the death of George Floyd, there was support from pretty much every group in the United States that something needed to change. It’s “systemic”, as I’m so often reminded. If a system is broken, you first need to identify the point of failure, and then proceed with the rebuild. A system as large as the police force in America isn’t something that is going to change over night. Hell, it can’t be changed in a year. It affects too many people to institute radical change. It requires people to Vote. Get involved. Become educated. But, it appears that many are unsatisfied with the speed at which the gears are turning. And destruction has followed. I can’t get behind that. I won’t. I’ll push for change, but I haven’t received any comfort from those asking for it that it just won’t be as bad, or worse than it already is, just for different people.

    Human nature dictates that, when push comes to shove, the vast majority are in it for ourselves.


    What's best for self-interest in the long run isn't a pure focus on the self. Psychopathy, for example, is considered a disorder because at the end of the day, psychopathic behaviors aren't functional. The fact that most people consider psychopathic behavior to be shocking is a sentimental rather than scientific reason for its categorization as a disorder. Not that there's anything wrong with sentiment. And there's nothing wrong with having self-interest, either. But that shouldn't be the only thing that determines a person. And we can also choose to create a world that is not "push comes to shove."

    Our current political system is designed to change very slowly. When everything in the world is happening faster than it did back during the writing of the Constitution, and the large, time-sensitive issues we're facing, it makes sense to be impatient with gridlock. Frankly, I think it would be insane to not feel impatience.

    When the point of the issue in a system is fundamental, the change required is radical. "Radical" from radix, meaning root, as in "to get to the root of the problem." Most people share your feelings that they don't want radical change. But issues like corruption are definitely fundamental to the system. People have been acting out now because they want to draw attention to and raise awareness of the call for radical change. But we certainly wouldn't be ready to push radical change through without popular support, and if we tried to things likely wouldn't be any better than they are now like you say. You're right that people need to learn more about various issues and be informed when it comes to determining the course of action. And I think the outcome of that education will be the recognition that just voting and participating with the political system as is will not and cannot work. But we're a long ways off from people accepting that, unfortunately.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Whether or not my behavior is problematic wouldn't excuse yours. But Kamino_Taka is correct that litigating over that issue doesn't accomplish anything. I'm here because I'm trying to solve a problem as I see it. Not everything I've said has been effective in doing so. But your position that good faith is impossible has got to be a non-starter.

    MtG characters are almost never meaningful anyway. Teferi has the advantage of being around for such a long time that the amount of lore associated with him fleshes him out more than just about any of the characters that are around today. A queen in a plane we might not even come back to is bound to be more of a flat character compared to that, and sometimes it's okay for there to be flat characters as long as your rounder ones are well developed. When you have a lot of flat characters and you make an effort to make them representative, having that as a baseline does help somewhat to move toward more meaningful representation. But we have to be clear about what's going on and ask for WotC to do better.

    I would fully agree that corporate approaches to representation aren't and can't be adequate. I have no love for executives in the first place, but inclusive hiring is still overall absolutely necessary.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    You're right, it is a token. But you came into that discussion when the context was people complaining about Queen Linden being black for baldly racist reasons. Then, because you were being interpreted as also racist, you mentioned your black daughter. I find that to be problematic behavior and I also don't really get the reasons for your objections (isn't the point to stray from source material? It's a high fantasy setting, what historical inaccuracy?). You can give people representation without it interfering with fleshing out characters. The two things are not at odds. WotC doesn't flesh out their characters because their content is over-marketed and generic. Multiculturalism isn't the cause of that.

    Edit:
    So asking somebody to not look at everything politically is insinuating that you live in a bubble?


    I'm referring to when you said:
    There’s a large world out there just waiting to be explored, and tons of fascinating people that you’ll never have the pleasure of meeting if you expect to align with it all politically.


    I don't expect everyone to align with my politics. I'm an anarcho-communist, less than 1% of the population of the U.S. shares my views. Trust me, I'm accustomed to coming across people I disagree with, and most of the time there's not a problem. But having to establish that I deserve to be treated with human dignity is a pretty black-and-white issue for me.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from Kamino_Taka »
    You previously talked about how you have a black daughter, using her as a human shield for yourself against any and all criticism.


    Now that without backup is a personal attack.
    I know people do that as I have some in my family who use me and my sis for that too (half african american/ half german). But that is a serious accusation. And in no way furthers the discussion.


    I'm referring to this post.

    BuffSam89, You can't really say I was making assumptions about you because we previously had an exchange which I remember. But you did make assumptions about me being in a bubble.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from Buffsam89 »
    Yeah, everything after “privilege“ was white noise. You don’t know me, and you don’t know my story. Yet, that didn’t stop you from making wild assumptions. Therefore, proving my point.

    Consider this conversation over.


    Actually, I do know your story. You previously talked about how you have a black daughter, using her as a human shield for yourself against any and all criticism.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from Buffsam89 »
    It’s cynical to believe that is hardly productive to have any sort of political discussion? Specifically on the Internet?

    I’d just ask that you step outside and leave the political lens at home. There’s a large world out there just waiting to be explored, and tons of fascinating people that you’ll never have the pleasure of meeting if you expect to align with it all politically.

    It’s never been this bad before, and I will lay the blame at the feet of the pandemic. There’s not a ton going on, and aligning yourself with a political party is a sure-fire way to feel included in these times of isolation. Its very sad, really.


    Yes, that is cynical. Again, the internet is a place where people act differently than they do in other contexts, but that doesn't mean political discussion can't ever be productive. That notion is a little hyperbolic, frankly.

    Look, the fact that you think it's even possible to leave the political lens at home is due to your privilege, full stop. I can't leave the political lens at home, as a queer person, when TheOnlyOne[+string of numbers] is here saying we shouldn't even have Magic cards depicting queer characters because it's somehow inappropriate. I came out as queer at age 13, incidentally, the idea that it's inappropriate for certain age groups is pretty curious and bigoted, but whatever. The politics are here; they've already been here and I am merely replying to them. It's other people who are injecting politics into the discussion, and once it's there, I'm supposed to ignore it? These politics may be invisible to you because you aren't adversely affected by them. And if it doesn't personally affect you, you project that same feeling onto everyone. This environment is not welcoming to me or to my community, and it's not welcoming to a great many other communities as well. There's lots of different people out in the world who are worth interacting with; Nazis aren't among them. Bob wants it to be uncomplicated, well it's not complicated. Nazis are bad. It's ridiculous it even needs to be said. And I'm not even saying "ban the Nazis." Just let the community make it clear that we disagree with them. That's all.

    It is the height of presumption to tell me to get out of my "bubble" as though I'm the one who's in a bubble here. I know lots of people with different political views; many different views have been expressed here. I don't get to have a bubble, because I live in your world. There is no bubble for me even here. Having a bubble honestly sounds like a pretty nice luxury to me.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from Buffsam89 »

    With that out of the way, I wanted to address this take in that “Everything is political”. I honestly hear this take a lot, primarily on message boards or when a certain aspect of life doesn’t quite line up with your expectations. However, it couldn’t be further from the truth. You can inject politics into any discussion. It’s very easy, incredibly low effort, and sometimes signals ignorance on a particular subject, or at the very best an unnecessary reason to escalate the conversation beyond what it truly is.


    There's a huge qualitative difference between injecting an (explicit) political discussion into a topic which is not immediately political in itself and exposing the implicitly political nature of a position which pretends to be apolitical.

    Usually, people who claim that their positions aren't truly political are people who are ignorant about logical entailments.

    Not a single political discussion is ever carried out in good faith, ever.


    That's a pretty cynical and destructive claim. And if it were true, human civilization wouldn't exist.

    Bad faith political discussion is certainly common, because it works at what it tries to accomplish (eristics). But it would be less effective rhetorically if the general populace could identify and name it, a skill which can hardly be developed if political discussion doesn't occur at all.

    ***

    I'd like to touch again on the claim that the site isn't here to make moral judgments. This is false on its face, because the forum has rules of conduct in the first place which are based in moral judgment. Bob, you earlier introduced the term "moral" into the discussion and I was appreciative of you doing so because its frequently the case that people have a dismissive attitude about whatever they term "moral" due to its subjective connotations. If we were so inclined, we could engage in a discussion which in every explicit sense was only descriptive and leave its normative character as subtextual, but I don't think that would be a very sincere, clear, or constructive approach. Every decision we make in life entails a moral judgment; we could take no action otherwise. You can't avoid making moral judgments, just as you can't avoid being political, and maturity involves acknowledging this.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from bobthefunny »


    1. This seems to me to be a fallacy. If a policy against political posts is itself political, then the option is either to allow politics, or still be political? Everything is political? I find it irresponsible to believe that mature individuals are entirely incapable of having a conversation of Magic, or anything else, without bringing up politics every 15 seconds. Somehow, I manage to hold many such conversations each day.


    The policy is political while presenting itself as not political. It has political results, and is more acceptable to only one side of political issues. For example, TheOnlyOne652089 was quick to accept that the "solution" is to have no discussion of politics whatsoever because this solution clearly suits his purposes. Everything is political, though in more or less obvious ways. "Politics" covers everything that has to do with human life, with humans as social creatures. That's what the word means and it has implications on everything we might talk about. It's important to be honest about it. So yes, if you're going to be political either way, I think a good maxim would be to lean toward allowing discussion. This way, you have people happy with their ability to express themselves and so on, meaning the results are effective for maintaining the health of the community which is your charge as the staff here.

    At no point have I suggested that we should bring up politics "every 15 seconds." In fact, the issue I have been pointing out is the trend of political posts hating on groups being posted in threads for causes as minimal as a card depicting a black person. People have a natural desire to want to respond to such content which you have disallowed. But the reverse doesn't happen (people randomly posting leftist or centrist political takes out of the blue), because the nature of politics differs by ideology and this leads to different behavior. I would be perfectly happy to discuss only Magic cards in their direct application as game components if that was the only sort of discussion a particular card inspired.

    2. So the options again are either to enforce bias, or to be biased anyways? Again, I disagree. Censoring to one extreme or another can only be harmful to all involved. This is a site that exists to discuss Magic. This should be feasible without overcomplication.


    To the contrary, it's entirely possible to not be biased in the matter. The non-biased perspective would acknowledge that one view is extreme and the other is not. The non-extreme (BLM) would only be possible to consider as extreme in the biased perspective that compares and defines it in relation to the extreme one.

    3. The site is not here to pass moral judgment. You know what else would be detrimental to a community? Excising anyone with a differing viewpoint than your own.

    While you may be judging the entire group to be a hate group, the rest of the collective US community, the commercial interest, and the internet do not currently agree with your assessment. If a change occurs, we will adapt to it. Until then, every other commercial venture is willing to accept it, so will we.


    The idea that excising people with different viewpoints than mine would be harmful to the community... is a moral judgment. Politics, after all, is a subset of moral theory. However, I haven't advocated for the excising of people just because their views differ from mine. Earlier in this thread, I engaged in polemics against the political positions you were kind enough to state in order to demonstrate that we're both partisan. I don't think you should be excised just because I disagree with you, because you haven't advocated for things that are inherently dehumanizing. I can recognize that you in good faith believe your views are what's best for a variety of people (a moral judgment).

    I take it you're referring to bluelivesmatter here. I'm speaking more generally about hate groups, and it seems to me no coincidence that those same hate groups also are favorable towards bluelivesmatter. The lovely thing about reason is that we can draw inferences about things that lead us to opposite conclusions of popular opinion.

    4. And what overzealous and authoritarian approach are you referring to here?
    • A simple request to keep discussion to the topics that this forum was made for?
    • Or that if people fail to follow the rules of the community, they are asked to leave?
    Is it really that hard to understand "Please follow the rules, don't be a jerk, or we will ask you to not be here?"


    Intervening in discussions just because they're "off topic" is very likely to be excessive.

    5. You know what else would affect revenue? Becoming a Magic site that doesn't discuss Magic.

    If a person arrives at this site from google, wanting to look up an interaction, or discuss some new cards - but instead they see a bunch of people yelling at each other about entirely unrelated things? Well suddenly that makes this seem like a terrible site to come to for the answers to Magic related questions.


    I don't see how this is the necessary outcome. I suspect that politics is something that will rarely come up because most people here are primarily interested in discussing Magic and that's not going to change.

    I joined this site to discuss Magic. I joined it to discuss Commander. I joined the moderator team to help improve the goals of facilitating that kind of discussion. For the last THREE MONTHS, 95% of my interaction and duties on this site have been entirely non-magic related. I'm frankly getting sick and tired of this. Everywhere else, I seem to be able to find people who are able to hold a conversation on a topic without needing to proselytize. Conversations in which if a person says "Hey, I don't want to hold this discussion here, can we let it drop," the other person respects it. Or even following simple rules and requests for use of a facility or services. When the people who collect the garbage in my neighborhood arrive in the early morning with their trucks, no one seems to need to quiz them about their political allegiance.

    Everyone saying that we need to discuss non-magic things here... No. We. Don't. There are plenty of places where you can share your political views. There are plenty of places where it's appropriate to do so. Want to share them? Write an opinion piece to your local paper. Write to your congressman. Go to a protest. Go to a townhall. GO. VOTE. Arguing with random people on the internet, on a site which has nothing to do about it is a waste of everyone's time.

    I'm willing to bet that you don't go to a Walmart, or a Target, or even a McDonald's to shout at people about your views on this. There is nothing that makes this place any more appropriate than those, expect that on here you can do so from the comfort of your own home and you don't have to actually look anyone in the eyes when you do it. Don't do it. We don't want it here. Grow up. Take it to where it matters.

    This site is about Magic. If you want to talk about something Not Magic - you've come to the wrong place.


    Never mind that Magic itself is expressly political, apparently provoking political responses with choices as simple as depicting black people in card art. The controversies here are over something really basic, which essentially distills to the question of whether humanity is universal or not. Such a basic controversy can't go unresolved.

    I've said before, this is a forum. It's a place where people go to discuss Magic and discuss generally. If you want a forum with a bunch of threads where the only comment is "GILBIC /thread," congratulations, you've created a forum in which discussion is actually dead.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    There is no need for further discussion of the issues brought up in this thread. The points have been made. However, with respect to the points I've raised, I have not seen them addressed to my satisfaction or really to the satisfaction of any reasonable standard. From my point of view, the staff has only reiterated their original positions and ignored my concerns.

    Please address:
    1. The issue that a policy against political posts is itself political
    2. A methodology which naively produces balance for its own sake actually produces bias. 'Overbalancing' by representing views that have no business being represented is bias
    3. A balance which is inclusive to hate groups is toxic to the cohesion of the forum community
    4. Overzealous and authoritarian approaches to moderation will stifle engagement in the forum community
    5. 4 & 5 will have the long term effect of diminishing revenue
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from bobthefunny »
    If you have material you would be kind of enough to send my way, I am intrigued.


    I'm deriving this argument from a reading of Bakunin and Marx, there's quite a lot of other literature I'm not well versed in. I'll try to see if I can find any articles applying this analysis to the current issue

    All that is required for an institution to be racist is that it participates in and/or perpetuates systemic racism. The institution of police does do this as you admit, so it is a racist institution. It is not necessary for that institution to have a conscious agenda of participating or perpetuating systemic racism. It is not necessary for the individuals who make up the institution in whole or in part to hold racial prejudices. These aren't the claims being made by people who say that the institution of the police is racist. The claim that you want to deny here is that the institution is necessarily racist, and the movement to defund the police is pretty skeptical about that denial to say the least.
    I think we are working on different definitions here.


    Alright, I think that's probably true. But the definition I'm using seems to be the same definition that FlossedBeaver is using.

    This appears to be a moral equivalence argument. Use of violence in any context is, by definition, extreme. Yet what most people (except absolute pacifists) agree on is that violence is sometimes necessary. You, for example, say police violence is sometimes necessary. Meaning, the context determines whether it's appropriate. If the context is an institution which systemically engages in violence under the auspices of state power, and a violent response is considered an undesirable but historically informed strategy of combating this institution, that position shares a principle with yours--neither is pacifist. But yours accepts the basic legitimacy of state violence and chooses moderate rather than extreme action as a response to this state violence. And there is a third position, the promotion of state violence, which you are characterizing as equivalent morally to the violent opposition. I don't think that you are morally equivalent to the state-violence-promoting group here but I do find it dubious that in this situation being moderate is the most rational and appropriate response, and I definitely object to the insinuation that the two groups you are comparing are at all similar.
    You've lost me here, and are making things more convoluted than necessary.


    Well, I do my best to edit my thoughts so that they're as clear as possible but it can be very difficult when I'm trying to discuss something that's counterintuitive.

    Here's a different presentation:
    1. You've condemned violent actions for the sake of BLM (hereafter termed "antifascist violence")
    2. The condemnation in (1) was placed side by side with the condemnation of police violence (the promotion thereof hereafter termed "fascist violence") but
    3. Earlier you stated police violence is sometimes necessary
    4. Therefore, you're not a pacifist.
    5. The non-pacifist distinction between anti-fascist violence, fascist violence, and your position is when violence is considered necessary
    6. The conditions of fascist violence are institutionally in place and produce the most violence of the three standards in question
    7. Anti-fascist violence considers itself to be necessary to oppose fascist violence yet is not violent in the absence of fascism
    7a. Anti-fascist violence is only violent in practice against fascism, not violent in principle and in practice as with liberalism and fascism
    8. You consider anti-fascist violence unnecessary, in direct comparison to the unnecessary nature of fascist violence
    9. The toleration of some state violence naturally and predictably leads to tolerating increasing violence. It attempts to negate this violence from the equation by calling it necessary but neglects that its always violent in principle.
    10. If you tolerate some degree of state violence per (3) and oppose anti-fascist violence per (8), then you cannot in principle violently oppose fascism
    11. Not violently opposing fascism results in more fascist violence
    12. Your position creates more net violence despite appearing to favor peace, which is morally untenable

    What I am saying is that each group needs to be judged on their own position and merits, and not on the actions of another group that uses their slogan. If we uphold this ideal for #BlackLivesMatters, by saying that the violence and riots are a separate entity from the entity of the movement, and do not reflect the goals and general acceptance of the #BLM movement (which has been largely, but not entirely, peaceful protests) then we should uphold the same standards for others, and not villainize them based on the actions of other groups.


    I understand that this was the point you were making, but the examples you choose for your comparison were ill-considered since you did not qualify what you were saying with a statement about how they're not equivalent.

    I have never stated that #BLM or any of the peaceful protests, or even civil disobedience, or even straight up riots, were unnecessary. The movement has stepped up its attempts to gain attention for a decade now, and if simple acts of attention aren't enough, clearly larger acts are needed until the attention is given is deserved. Simply because something is necessary however does not mean that it is exempt from repercussion either.


    Ok, so you are denying my premise 8 from above.

    That does change my interpretation a little bit. But I'm not quite sure what you mean here by repercussion. One possible repercussion of this activism is that society changes in some way along the lines that the activism took as a goal. If this doesn't happen, then that activism was not effective, and this is also a repercussion. I think you mean something like legal, criminal justice type repercussions, which is of course an aspect of the struggle. Or in the context of this forum, the enforcement of rules (you mentioned harassment specifically).

    We must all accept the consequences of our actions. But the necessity of our actions ought to be a factor where there's a choice about those consequences. If this isn't weighed properly it implies a denial of the necessity, which would bring premise 8 back into the picture.

    There are also various contexts of violence that seem to be conflated here.


    Not conflated, considered violence in principle.

    (1) Excessive violence and use of force by the Police that has led to the wrongful deaths of individuals with no repercussions; (2) Regular violence and use of Police force in proper procedure when other deescalation methods have failed - No matter what your beliefs or ideals, there will always be some need to apprehend a non-compliant subject;


    You seem to misunderstand what I'm saying here. Of all the possible institutional models in which the need to apprehend a non-compliant subject is to be addressed, how does the institution of the police fare? The institution of the police can't be separated out from the capitalist state as a whole... it's integral. And there's a number of factors here because of that: 1. poverty is positively correlated with criminality, capitalism suppresses wages and perpetuates cycles of poverty as the necessary condition of increasing profits 2. in order to increase profits capitalist states are pressured toward privatization 3. privatized prison-industrial complexes profit from increased incarceration 4. police are thereby encouraged to incarcerate as many people as possible 5. poor people are easier to incarcerate (black people are disproportionately poor) 6. reforms leave intact the existence of the capitalist class who organize to undermine these reforms ... etc.

    So, for one, I'm suggesting there's an alternate model where the number of situations in which a non-compliant subject needs to be apprehended is diminished. And secondly, when the method of apprehension involves the community in a directly democratic process instead of designated gun-bearers of an official state, that method is compatible with rehabilitative and restorative justice.

    (3) the violence of the protests; (4) the violence of the riots; (5) the violence by government authorities against the protesters (peaceful, non-peaceful, and riots); and (6) the violence of confrontations between protesters and counter protesters. At no point did I ever claim that these different situations and contexts of violence are equivalent in scope, context, or anything else.


    Yet the comparison implies it. You deem both to be unacceptable, you didn't specify anything beyond this.

    =====


    The general current accepted context does not seem to support this. If you have additional context to provide, I would be happy to pass it up and add it to the growing research that I have put together on this.


    Seems to me the person advocating for bluelivesmatter in this thread is an example of the case I was talking about.

    That first is why initially we did not accept #BlueLives. However, after doing some research, what we found is that the blue lives movement is for solidarity of assassinated officers, and was not explicitly started as a counter-movement to BLM. This is reflected in common usage, as companies have explicitly allowed #BlueLives, and/or explicitly rolled back previous disapproval of it. This is in stark contrast to ALM, which is explicitly a counter-movement, and is likewise seen in common usage where companies have been explicitly disapproving of it, with such disapprovals only consistently rising. Likewise with #WLM, which barely even deserves a mention.


    Isn't it implicitly counter to it, though? After all, it uses the same framing. I find this interpretation a little obtuse.


    An interesting analogy, and actually the exact one I had in mind and that I was alluding to when writing my post, as I had just seen this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WMuzhQXJoY&ab_channel=TEDxTalks

    That is a TED talk by a previously prominent Women's Rights Activist who created two feminist documentaries, and then went to research the MRA for a third documentary, examined her own biases, found that they actually had compelling points not covered by feminism, made a documentary about it, and then was ostracized for supporting that unpopular view.

    In short, according to her, after doing the research for her documentary she discovered that No, the Mens Rights Activists are NOT the "alllivesmatters" of gender issues. They did have a separate point, and were not necessarily in contention with the feminist movements, and that men are not "already covered."


    Anything to be published. Lots of people profess to be "feminist" but it's actually a pretty intellectually difficult subject and not everyone who takes on this title is very representative or consistent with feminism. J.K. Rowling comes to mind, being a TERF. This is a misnomer, by the way; there's nothing radical or feminist about TERFs... they are reactionary and non-feminist. Or, for another example, the typical populist version of feminism which argued that it was automatically sexist to oppose Hilary Clinton's candidacy for presidency in 2016 despite the fact that her policy platform and record wasn't particularly favorable to women's liberation. I find this video to be impossibly shallow to be considered seriously as a counterexample, almost as if she was trying to be a "stereotypical" feminist in her initial spin of her interviews. Just one example.... speaking personally as a man who was a victim of domestic violence, I would point out the discrepancy in institutional support for victims of domestic violence is something that absolutely can be addressed in feminist theory, the idea that some women who call themselves feminists would take a dismissive attitude toward the issue might just be an indicator of a need to reflect more deeply on the commitments their ideology entails.

    There are limits to feminist theory as a form of analysis. But I don't see this video as demonstrating its limits, as much as of the limits of the speaker's own thinking. Of course, her exposure to a different point of view was critical for being able to acknowledge her biases and maybe that wasn't possible in her normal feminist circle. Maybe, in practice, feminist discourse has the possibility of inculcating these biases if it forms overly insular communities. But that doesn't prove that MRA is itself necessary, it just had the accidental effect in her case of getting her out of her echo chamber. But that's also kind of why I've hammered on about how we need freer discourse everywhere it occurs. In other words, I don't want the MRAs to shut up, but I do want to explain to them why listening a little can be beneficial.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from bobthefunny »

    I believe you would be hard pressed to find anyone that would claim to be for excessive violence. Police are no exception. Excessive police violence is never to be condoned - however policing is itself a job that comes into contact with violence frequently, and sometimes needs to resort to violence. It is important to separate the activism against the excessive and unnecessary violence.


    It would be important to make that distinction if we assume that is a distinction among natural kinds: policing that involves excessive and unnecessary violence, and policing which does not. It is actually quite substantive a claim to state that the latter exists or is possible; it is also substantive to claim otherwise. Which is to say, neither is a neutral or default position. While it is certainly a commonly held view that policing is a necessary institution (and by virtue of that, any violence it may involve is not always unnecessary), alternative views have been proposed. The basis of the alternative view is the principle that an institution which creates a societal caste of law enforcers whose enforcement practice is founded on their caste license to firearm usage, is an inherently violent institution because it is nonvoluntary and entrenches hierarchical relations. What is proposed instead is a society in which authority is determined by voluntary relations that democratize in all spheres of life. Insofar as this alternative view provides a different model of society which is possible (it's at least logically possible, whereas practically, technologically, or politically possible are much harder judgments), police violence is never necessary and so police aren't necessary either.

    I'm pointing this out because this is the sort of argument being made by people in the anti-fascist movement, and you seem to be unfamiliar with it. The advocacy of centrist, bourgeois liberals for reform of these institutions needs to be understood for what it is: counterrevolutionary. And this position is not holding an unbiased middle line, it works against the changes the anti-fascist movement is working towards by asserting the problems are not fundamental to the institutions. And because such moderate views tend to be more palatable to the mainstream audience, they've attained widespread ideological success, even though as you admit below, much hasn't changed on account of those policies over the course of not-so-recent history. Belief in institutional reform is not the same as denying that the problems exist at all. There are valid reasons for thinking that institutional reform is possible, just as there are valid reasons for thinking it is not (obviously I'm inclined toward the latter, full disclosure, and I would point out validity alone isn't equivalence of justification). My point is that this is hugely contentious issue; liberals and the left both favor solving the problem but they're really not on the same side when it comes to the method--and method is critical.

    The effect of this conflict probably has contributed to the inefficacy of the half-measures which have been legislated in the past even as they were eroded and actually reversed by the triangulation strategies of the center in its competition with the right. But the division is something that is not easily mended because the point of the division is fundamental. And that's important because it means that, in practice, centrism opposes the left more than the right. That same bias is being reflected here in this forum.

    Likewise, while policing in general has had racist results, it's important to separate that the police institution is not a racist institution - there is no racist agenda that they are fighting for. Policing is intended to be the institution that upholds the laws and protects the people - That this is not happening equally is the problem. The execution, not the vision or agenda. Not only that, but not every police officer is racist. Not every police officer ends encounters with minorities with gun shots. To say that these officers have no value of life? To compare them to Nazis? That is beyond harsh.


    All that is required for an institution to be racist is that it participates in and/or perpetuates systemic racism. The institution of police does do this as you admit, so it is a racist institution. It is not necessary for that institution to have a conscious agenda of participating or perpetuating systemic racism. It is not necessary for the individuals who make up the institution in whole or in part to hold racial prejudices. These aren't the claims being made by people who say that the institution of the police is racist. The claim that you want to deny here is that the institution is necessarily racist, and the movement to defund the police is pretty skeptical about that denial to say the least.

    Comparison of police officers to Nazis can be taken in two different ways: a police officer is the moral equivalent of a Nazi, or a police officer's actions have an underlying similarity in principle to the actions of a Nazi. The former is a comparison of degree, the latter is a comparison of category. In some cases, it can be both.

    Your example of Nazism is also interesting. Even at its height, only about 10% of Germans were actually Nazis. Many more than that were German soldiers. Not every soldier actively believed in the Nazi ideal - this was a movement that grew over time, meticulously, and stamped out any dissent or opposition. To say that each of these people lose all claims of humanity is extreme. Many debates are had over the culpability of individual people in the movement, or even in mobs in general.


    It's important to be cautious any time we dehumanize anyone. I re-read over FlossedBeaver's post and I didn't get the sense that his argument was the Nazi loses his claim to humanity, though if anyone would surely a Nazi is a candidate. He said that a Nazi whose act is characterized by what we would normally consider the virtue of courage should not be celebrated for this seeming courage because this virtue is not in harmony with other virtues (Plato's Laches, give me life! Thumbs Up ). And this is quite germane to the consideration of whether #bluelivesmatter is a worthy cause to promote, in light of the question of whether the institution of police has any capacity of being realized in full virtue or is compatible with a society of liberal values.

    As I said earlier, policing is a dangerous job. Police Officers should expect to encounter violence, danger, and hardship in the line of duty. However, we can still recognize that they are making that choice. That remains a noble choice, of itself. Not only that, but #BlueLivesMatters is a step beyond that. It isn't just about police officers being killed for doing their job - it's a movement about bringing attention to officers who were gunned down - targeted by assassins and terrorists, outside of the normal line of duty.


    Policing is dangerous, although, many professions are more dangerous than that of the police who aren't being brought up because they are not an explicit foil to the political issue of black lives matter.

    Again, can a choice be truly noble of itself as though isolated from the context that choice takes place in? The amount of analysis that question would take to even understand the problem it poses isn't suited to this format.

    Now, #Blue lives activists have taken the movement beyond that scope, pitting it as #BLM vs #BlueLM - that is despicable. But several groups have taken #BLM chants to violence as well, or even in seeking confrontation and violence in counter #BlueLM protests. These are extremists. If we say, rightfully, that they should not be held against #BLM - then those coopting #BlueLM should not be held against that movement either. - That is the position we have arrived at, and why Context matters. If #BLM were used in a harassing manner, it would not be allowed here. Using #BlueLivesMatter in a harassing manner won't be allowed either. But as a supportive statement, we have decided that they are valid.


    This appears to be a moral equivalence argument. Use of violence in any context is, by definition, extreme. Yet what most people (except absolute pacifists) agree on is that violence is sometimes necessary. You, for example, say police violence is sometimes necessary. Meaning, the context determines whether it's appropriate. If the context is an institution which systemically engages in violence under the auspices of state power, and a violent response is considered an undesirable but historically informed strategy of combating this institution, that position shares a principle with yours--neither is pacifist. But yours accepts the basic legitimacy of state violence and chooses moderate rather than extreme action as a response to this state violence. And there is a third position, the promotion of state violence, which you are characterizing as equivalent morally to the violent opposition. I don't think that you are morally equivalent to the state-violence-promoting group here but I do find it dubious that in this situation being moderate is the most rational and appropriate response, and I definitely object to the insinuation that the two groups you are comparing are at all similar.

    The context of bluelivesmatter is that blacklivesmatter arose specifically to address the issue of police violence and the former was, in complete and utter cynicism, thrown out ad hoc to derail the discussion so that the focus was instead on... the perpetrators of the violence and their issues. I find this perverse. A specific individual's intent in invoking bluelivesmatter may simply be to offer support, but this usage is technically acontextual. Judging intent, especially over the internet, is basically impossible because intent is all about the inner aspect of the person using the expression and not about how its meaning is interpreted in context. I would welcome the discussion about this usage with someone who did have that sort of intent, because I welcome all discussion, but it's important to take into consideration the impact in which the proliferation of "bluelivesmatter" signatures would have on marginalized groups within the community. It would make the community less welcoming to them. Some people might be similarly impacted by "blacklivesmatter" and feel unwelcomed, but is this a segment of the community which is worthy of being specifically catered to? "Blacklivesmatter" does not have to be unwelcoming to anyone except those who do not want to accept this premise, and that's racists as a group. I think there's legitimate cause to say that the best thing for them is to sit with that discomfort, which is not something that applies to BIPOC in the reverse situation.

    I do agree that harassment is always inappropriate. I think we have established that as a common ground.

    These are good and important questions. Many human rights grievances need attention brought to them, many in different ways. Women's rights, LGBT rights, all have movements behind them advocating the changes we need. Sometimes they enter the spotlight, sometimes they get swept away a month later. Media attention and documentaries help bring these issues back into the light, but even those are fraught with controversy - especially when it is counter to current prevalent consensus. Veteran rights and issues have been brought up time and again, but the issues still persist. We can only try to keep bringing attention to the issues, and hope we find ways to improve them.

    In terms of Police lives, it is only natural that as the Police come under scrutiny that they would wish to remind people of their side of the story, their sacrifices, and their problems. Since the spotlight is focused on them, they have gotten more attention of late.

    Policing does need to change, and improve, towards #BLM violations. But while we are reexamining how we Police, why can we not fix other issues as well? Such as their mental health care, public image, or that they can be made targets? That there are other issues do not necessarily invalidate theirs. It's important to target the important changes first, but if we can fix more than one thing at the same time, I would be for it. My hope is that the Defund campaign will have an impact on how Police respond, and thereby lower the rate at which they are targeted.


    I'm not sure a permissive attitude toward police PR efforts is exactly what this conflict calls for. I would draw a comparison to men's rights activism, which is reactionary to feminism. It assumes, first of all, that men's issues require distinct treatment not provided by feminism. This is somewhat understandable considering that the word is "feminism," the emphasis is on women. MRA is the "alllivesmatter" of gender issues, basically. But feminism actually does analyze the issues that men face under a patriarchal society, it just makes the simple point that its emphasis is based on the fact that the issues men face are overall not as impactful as patriarchal society is on women. So men don't really need a separate treatment on gender issues independent of feminist analysis; they're already covered. And, on top of that, for men to receive this separate treatment would mean that dialogue on gender issues is taking place in which women aren't prioritized, which is backwards because of the earlier point that women are impacted more heavily by the effects of systemic gender inequality. Finally, there's the way that this discourse has developed and takes place in practice, in order to derail feminist discourse. We can indeed solve both women's issues and men's issues at the same time. But the aversion that some men have to the solution because it associates them with femininity is a salient instantiation of the problem to begin with.

    I am sure it is true that policing has negative effects on the police. However, they choose to become police. BLM has a solution to these negative effects which does not require the addition of separate treatment for police (the solution is defunding and abolition). There's also class analysis and mental health awareness available which would address different aspects of those issues in a way that's not offensive and would even support solidarity and social integration. In other words, there's a bevy of constructive approaches to the issues of the police that don't involve them centering attention on themselves as police.

    ***

    You find yourself overcommitted to the board while playing your aggro deck, meanwhile your opponent's side of the board is empty. "Equality before the law," your opponent says, casting Wrath of God; "There is literally no oppression at all."
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • To post a comment, please or register a new account.