A rhetorical Bermuda triangle

datePosted on 05:17, February 26th, 2009 by Anita

I love the description of the political strategy of turning an accusation about an action into a defence from a personal attack.

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25 Responses to “A rhetorical Bermuda triangle”

  1. Lew on February 26th, 2009 at 14:08

    A very clear explication of how this sort of thing works – and good advice, which I don’t always follow.

    L

  2. James on February 26th, 2009 at 17:10

    He’s just shot down the supposed need for “hate speech” laws….good on him.Its the action thats the crime….not the thoughts in a persons head.

  3. Lew on February 26th, 2009 at 17:12

    James,

    Speech is action, though.

    L

  4. reid on February 26th, 2009 at 22:38

    Quote from the video: “Because if that dude happens to be racist you want to make sure you hold him accountable and don’t let him off easy”

    So you’re advocating a judge, jury etc approach here Anita?

    Who’s the judge of racism or not?

    I know it when I see it/hear it?

    Yeah right.

  5. Pascal's bookie on February 26th, 2009 at 22:54

    Reid, do you not know racist language when you hear it? (Which is distinct from knowing a racist when you see one.)

  6. Lee - MWT on February 26th, 2009 at 23:02

    Yes, this would really work at your average white supremacist or Black Panthers picnic.

    You might find yourself less part of a rhetorical Bermuda Triangle and more part of an actual disappearing act.

  7. reid on February 26th, 2009 at 23:24

    Reid, do you not know racist language when you hear it? (Which is distinct from knowing a racist when you see one.)

    The point is, the video calls for you to call someone out when in your own subjective judgement they’re being racist. Sometimes that might be right, and sometimes that might not be.

    But who the heck are you, to make that call in the first place?

    Vigilante, anyone?

  8. reid on February 27th, 2009 at 00:18

    Further to previous.

    All great men and women of peace have trod a path of non-confrontation.

    Jesus; Ghandi; Mandela; Aung Sung Su Kyi; Buddha; Confucius; Mother Theresa, to name but a few.

    This is because confronting wrongful behaviour is as great a sin as practicing the behaviour you’re confronting. It makes you like them, lowers you to their level.

    People who are truly racist need to reach understanding of their errors themselves and if you confront them they will almost certainly harden their hearts while you have only succeeded in degrading yourself. This achieves nothing positive and is in fact a double-negative, negative for you and negative for them.

    Separating the sin from the sinner which is what the video advocates, is a beguiling message. That way, I can have my cake and eat it too, thinks the listener. After all, who can tolerate (….ism) in this world? Why should we?

    But if you call the person on those words or actions, what do you achieve? Nothing. Because the source of racism and all hatred is in the heart, not the mind. Logic cannot change the source of those thoughts. Only the thinker can change them. They can and will, think whatever they think is right. They may be mistaken in their view, but you can’t change it. So in preventing them from voicing their opinions, you have in fact achieved nothing except some temporary fleeting interruption while at the same time, you have degraded yourself by trying to override the thoughts of another sentient being equal to you in every way.

    Some may think that by silencing the comments and achieving silence on the subject, this will prevent others from being influenced. This however denies the reality that those thoughts arise from the heart, not the mind.

    Some may think that ‘fighting the good fight’ in order to protect others is better than standing aside and letting it happen. Those people should consider carefully the approach of the people I mentioned above.

  9. Anita on February 27th, 2009 at 07:24

    reid writes,

    All great men and women of peace have trod a path of non-confrontation.

    Jesus; Ghandi; Mandela; Aung Sung Su Kyi; Buddha; Confucius; Mother Theresa, to name but a few.

    I could not disagree more! Every one of those people brought about change by confronting others over their behaviour. While many of them did not use violence to confront they all pointed out actions they believed were wrong and named both the behaviour and the wrongness.

  10. Lee - MWT on February 27th, 2009 at 07:54

    Jesus was a badass – read the story of the moneylenders in the temple – he was unafraid of direct action – ‘Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild’ is one of the enduring PR Myths that his Cosby-Textor PR gurus have managed to hoodwink the electorate with.
    And yes, they tried to make him diappear for his troubles.

  11. Anita on February 27th, 2009 at 08:02

    reid writes,

    So you’re advocating a judge, jury etc approach here Anita?

    Once upon a time in a previous job…

    A female colleague and I were talking about some gender dynamics at work. She said “I much prefer women, oh not like that I’m not a pervert!” I flinched and said “that sounds like you’re saying women who love women are perverts and I find that pretty upsetting”

    Was my response ok with you or do you think I was being all judge and jury?

  12. Pascal's bookie on February 27th, 2009 at 08:14

    Some may think that ‘fighting the good fight’ in order to protect others is better than standing aside and letting it happen. Those people should consider carefully the approach of the people I mentioned above.

    Gandhi didn’t confront the British? What’s the verb in “Passive resistance”?

  13. Lew on February 27th, 2009 at 09:38

    reid,

    I think you’re confused on the difference between `confrontation’ and `violence’. The former does not imply the latter, though the latter usually involves the former.

    L

  14. felix on February 27th, 2009 at 09:50

    The point is, the video calls for you to call someone out when in your own subjective judgement they’re being racist.

    People who are truly racist need to reach understanding of their errors themselves and if you confront them they will almost certainly harden their hearts …

    Interestingly these quotes from reid demonstrate almost exactly the behaviour described in the video, that of steering the discussion from one about what someone did to one about what they are.

  15. Ari on February 27th, 2009 at 12:38

    Yeah, I’m actually a fan of Illdoctrine.

    He’s just shot down the supposed need for “hate speech” laws….good on him.Its the action thats the crime….not the thoughts in a persons head.

    Hate crimes (ideally) deal with actions, not thoughts. The action is that you are attempting to limit the freedoms of certain classes of individuals by making some places, actions, or attitudes unsafe for them.

    Let’s use sexism as an example because it’s straightforward: when a young woman gets attacked, and it’s justified by saying that her clothing was too provocative, that’s not (just) problematic because it means he hates or mistreats women. That’s problematic because he has done his bit to make women afraid of going out wearing what they want to wear. It’s problematic because it makes the streets unsafe for women and tries to keep them at home. It’s problematic because it spreads fear.

    The reason hate crimes need to be prosecuted is to stop them being used to curtail the freedom of our society, and being used to “keep people in their place”.

  16. Anita on February 27th, 2009 at 13:00

    Ari,

    I would argue that it’s the people who justify the attacker’s actions by blaming the victim that are largely responsible for making women afraid to go out wearing what they want to wear.

    The attacker is responsible for the pain and suffering he caused his victim and her family and friends.

  17. reid on February 27th, 2009 at 17:33

    Interestingly these quotes from reid demonstrate almost exactly the behaviour described in the video, that of steering the discussion from one about what someone did to one about what they are.

    Really? And what do you think about this quote from the video regarding that point?

    Quote from the video: “Because if that dude happens to be racist you want to make sure you hold him accountable and don’t let him off easy”

    I would have thought the video itself might have been wise to the fact there’s a difference between “a dude [that] happens to be racist” and a dude that exhibits racist behaviour…

    Especially when that video is all about that very subject…

  18. reid on February 27th, 2009 at 17:36

    I think you’re confused on the difference between `confrontation’ and `violence’. The former does not imply the latter, though the latter usually involves the former.

    No, I’m not at all confused about the distinction Lew. I am however confused as to how you’ve concluded my comments confuse the two.

  19. reid on February 27th, 2009 at 17:40

    Gandhi didn’t confront the British? What’s the verb in “Passive resistance”?

    No, he didn’t confront them PB, he merely chose not to cooperate with them through non-violence.

    That’s not resistance, that’s non-co-operation.

    When police drag a demonstrator to the paddy wagon and he just hangs there limply in their hands as he’s dragged along, is that resistance or is that non-cooperation?

  20. reid on February 27th, 2009 at 17:42

    Was my response ok with you or do you think I was being all judge and jury?

    Hey everythings OK with me, Anita. Everyone needs to choose their own approach and if they choose wrong they take the consequences not me.

    Yes in your example, I do think you were being judge and jury etc.

  21. reid on February 27th, 2009 at 17:55

    Jesus was a badass – read the story of the moneylenders in the temple – he was unafraid of direct action – ‘Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild’ is one of the enduring PR Myths that his Cosby-Textor PR gurus have managed to hoodwink the electorate with.
    And yes, they tried to make him diappear for his troubles.

    It was money changers not money lenders, Lee. See it came about because the only acceptable offering at the temple was a shekel coin, which was only available at that time, from those temple money changers. These people charged exorbitant exchange rates, completely rorting the faithful worshipers, who had absolutely no other choice if they were to pay homage to God in the way they understood they had to. That was the issue and that was why Jesus, for the one and only time, used direct action to disrupt their actions. Because it was an offence against God, preventing His people from approaching Him, in other words, it was not a person-to-person offence, it was a person-to-God offence. I wouldn’t call it violence since that has a connotation of being action against a person, Jesus turned over their tables but there is no mention of any physical action against those people apart from His admonishment.

    When I was writing my 12:18 I wondered if anyone would bring this story up.

    You’re quite right, it is a counter-example to the point I was making. However I kept Jesus in as an example because in all other recorded actions through his life he was an exemplar of my point so on balance I thought it appropriate to leave Him in.

    You will of course note that while that example refers to admonishing that particular group, there is no mention at all of Jesus ever admonishing anyone for displaying the considerable racism that was endemic in the society at that time. Samaritans for example were outcasts then just like Low-caste Indians are now, not to mention the Roman-Jewish racism, etc etc etc….

  22. reid on February 27th, 2009 at 18:02

    I could not disagree more! Every one of those people brought about change by confronting others over their behaviour. While many of them did not use violence to confront they all pointed out actions they believed were wrong and named both the behaviour and the wrongness.

    Well Anita, I disagree with your disagreement. Those people merely behaved in a way that ignored the dictates of those who wished them to behave otherwise. They didn’t resist, as in engage actively with people they wished to change, they merely did and do what they thought and indeed knew was right. They thereby achieved change, but not through resistance and not through confrontation.

  23. Pascal's bookie on February 28th, 2009 at 14:01

    When police drag a demonstrator to the paddy wagon and he just hangs there limply in their hands as he’s dragged along, is that resistance or is that non-cooperation?

    It is non-cooperation as resistance. And the demonstrating is resistance.

    Regarding the Nazarene:

    Matthew 23:

    23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

    24″You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

    25″Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.

    26″You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

    27″Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

    28″So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

    29″Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

    30and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

    31″So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

    32″Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

    33″You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

    34″Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will (AJ)scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,

    35so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

    36″Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

    That’s some fairly harsh language. I’d call it confrontational.

  24. reid on February 28th, 2009 at 14:11

    Yes, pascal. What Jesus is doing there is talking about the evil ways of the group, in this case the lawyers and the politicians.

    It’s the equivalent of someone speaking out about the appalling injustice meted out by say the govt of Burma today.

    I hear what you’re saying, but IMO, it’s not quite the same thing as one individual personally confronting another individual.

  25. [...] wonder if the PR firm Cosby-Textor realizes how obvious their work is in New Zealand, via the US. Aol’s Huffington Post, is [...]

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