Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Procedural Questions

How should Moose respond when someone injects historical misrepresentations and over-simplifications into a discussion and refuses to recognize corrections?

How should Moose respond when someone takes an entire discussion and molds it according to the terms of an eminently falsifiable right-wing script?

How should Moose respond when someone makes a mockery of one’s cultural history and identity?

How does one remain an intellectually honest Moose in the face of persistent intellectual dishonesty?

These are real questions.  There has to be a place between Moose civility and tolerance on one side, and damaging distortion on the other.  “Thanks for sharing your perspective, though I don’t agree–would you care for another delightful crumpet?” just doesn’t cut it in egregious cases.  


  1. Strummerson

    I am really not sure I belong here at this point.  I’d rather not take a hiatus.  But after what just went down, I am baffled about how to continue…

  2. sricki

    Also, engaging others with an attitude which reflects an interest in promoting good faith and general civility usually works well.

    And when people make poor analogies or word choices — or even use inaccurate historical examples — it’s usually better not to harp on it in a way that portrays them in the absolute most heinous, evil light imaginable. Yes, even if they dig their heels in and defend bad word/example choices.

    I’ve been failed here before, and I deserved it. That doesn’t mean I’m being “censored” (no, the Moose is not a microcosm of society… it’s just a BLOG). Nor does it mean I stalk off because someone thought my words were out of line.

    It’s all really pretty elementary. I’m not sure why otherwise intelligent people around here sometimes insist on A) wasting ridiculous amounts of time arguing in circles (I’ve been guilty of it myself), B) making things more complicated than they should be, or C) taking offense to trivial things, like receiving a FAIL rating.

    But whatever, that’s just me.

    And personally, this is all the time I will waste on this topic.

  3. jsfox

    We humans tend to latch onto beliefs and “facts” some correct some not even close. The ones that are wrong are very very hard to change. We have been living with them for a long time. They are our friends we are comfortable with them. So as you, I or anybody points out the fallacy the believer will work very hard to go find the proof that they are right and that proof may be nothing more than you are wrong. It takes time and patience. and most of all not taking it personally. In the end facts do win out, but they have to fight through an awful lot of emotional roadblocks to be accepted.

    I draw you attention to my sig line. I use it everywhere because it holds some real truth for me that I try and keep in mind when arguing or debating.

  4. Rashaverak

    but I assume, from a quick look at your comments, that the dispute lies in the Bachmann and Presidential Rapture diary.

    I think that the best way to respond when someone takes a discussion and distorts it is to respond civilly and factually.  The velvet glove on an iron fist.

    If someone makes a mockery of one’s cultural history and identity, they should be called on it, in firm but civil terms.  It does not good to engage in mud wrestling.  Fierce or Fail ratings by third parties will give an idea how onlookers, who may be more objective, view a given situation.

    At the risk of propagating a tautology, one remains intellectually honest in the face of persistent intellectual dishonesty by remaining intellectually honest, adhering to facts, and adhering to logic and rational discourse.  

  5. There comes a point in a discussion where it becomes obvious that nothing more will be accomplished by continuing it. I walked away from a discussion recently because of something you wrote. It made me angry and even though I wanted to respond I decided it would be better to drop it than have the discussion devolve into something worse.

    The discussions we have here are not on the national stage. We may have a few hundred people read a diary, but most of them don’t read all of the comments that go with a diary. The damage anyone can do by posting a comment on a blog is pretty limited.

  6. Shaun Appleby

    That the Moose ethos is best preserved by being tested occasionally.  I followed the most of the thread which led to this diary and must admit to divided sentiments.  But without getting into the weeds of the disagreement and risk restarting it the broader point is that, to me, the Moose is both cordial and eclectic.

    While fallacies in one’s interlocutor’s reasoning rarely fail to be pointed out there is plenty of emotional content in politics, both personally and on a meta level.  That some opinions along those lines have an opportunity for expression without being rigorous or demonstrable isn’t perhaps to discredit them altogether.  That one would be vehemently opposed to them from time-to-time is perhaps inevitable.  On the other hand I would hope that to our community wouldn’t be afraid of airing them, especially in the case where their proponents were willing to defend and/or argue those positions.

    In this context we have had admirable diaries on subjects of spirituality and theology which should be the envy of other forums, and to which you were a significant and widely appreciated contributor, as in other political matters.  I would hazard a guess that you are a widely respected diarist and participant here; that is certainly my view.

    Perhaps you raise a valid point regarding the acceptable boundaries of discussion but from where I sit there was nothing wrong with the thread in question and I have considerable sympathy with both parties.  When things rub a diarist raw and comments flare seems to be where the rest of the community needs to be especially tolerant of the sensitivities of the individual who invests so much valuable time in sharing their knowledge, experience and opinion.

    I’m guessing I was annoying you at least a bit in the thread in question and I meant no disrespect.  On the other hand I also know your interlocutor from years ago at MyDD and felt it necessary to pipe up and support her where I felt her arguments had merit, whether they were made in the correct voice (“we” versus “me”) or passed the “logical positivist” tests of internal consistency and so forth.  While important I am not sure those qualities are “required;” as counterintuitive as that may seem.

    The perfection of these forums is that each reader gets to qualify and accept or reject the arguments of all others as they see fit.  I’m sure all Mooses are capable of assessing whatever opinions, subjective or objective, are presented and drawing their own conclusions.

  7. Anna is an irregular contributor here, and somewhat eclectic in her posts (as she’ll agree). Plenty of arguments here around the election. It’s not a regular occurrence and I really would not want you – a stellar and regular contributor – to go because of it.

    I think I caught some of the Marx debate – and recc’ed Anna for turning up basically – and encouraging a vigorous debate. I actually learned a lot through that exchange, and it brought out some the wealth of your historical understanding.

    So take it as a blip, a temporary Moose aberration.  

  8. jsfox

    of what I was tallking about above. Rick Perry is confronted with a fact about Texas’s abstinence-only sex education program. He is so locked into his belief that it works that he will not acknowledge the fact that Texas has the 3rd highest teen pregnancy rate in the country and that maybe abstinence-only sex education is not the answer.

  9. creamer

    that the Strum/Anna collision mimicks american left politics. Two very intelligent people, with at least some of the same goals politicaly, arguing about things in between. As Anna might have alluded to in some of her comments, finding consensus based on science, logic and facts seems to harder than finding consensus based on mysticism and blind faith. Wich seems to be the edge coservatives and tea baggers have currently.


  10. anna shane

    my computer connection has been down and I didn’t notice this.

    I am sorry to have upset you, Strummerson. I was as passionately concerned with truth as were you and we disagreed.  I had and have no wish to promote some wacky discourse of the right-wing rapture believers, and I maintain that i did not, because I do not believe they accuse liberals of seeing them as insincere and stupid (which from a rhetorical position shuts down conversation), but in arguing it I came to the conclusion that there isn’t an obvious way to speak to them and avoid pointing out they’re often stupid and hypocritical, and that when you try not to you end up sounding patronizing at best.  

    I failed to recognize that you were truly upset, I had mistakenly thought it was an interesting debate, because your questions made me think. But I should have also questioned you and given you a chance to defend your argument, which I now think was that I was knowingly or unknowingly complicit in a right-wing smear of liberals.  I had thought you’d be pleased that your diary brought forth a vigorous discussion.  I teased you rather than taking your issue seriously, and I apologize.  

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