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From Santiago Gala <santiago.g...@gmail.com>
Subject Stop responding to insults (Was: Stop flaming (Was: Best Practices so far?))
Date Sat, 03 May 2008 12:06:11 GMT
Switched the title, sorry but I need the semantic precision.

El sáb, 03-05-2008 a las 11:18 +0300, Jukka Zitting escribió:
> Hi,
> 
> On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 10:51 PM, Santiago Gala <santiago.gala@gmail.com> wrote:
> >  [1] I'm trying to stick to my strategy of just return 1 personal
> >  derogatory word for each one you use [...]
> 
> Could you please stop doing that? I don't understand how such a
> strategy could ever end in anything positive.

I can't stop, and I will explain why. This is going to be longish and
take me time.

I will start with something concrete that happened to me when I moved to
the place I live now, 2.5 years ago.

Being this a "cheap" zone and being myself exceptionally weak (I was
very sick at the time), I started experiencing something interesting. I
noticed that the big packs of (mostly) unemployed youngsters that use to
dwell around my current home did something that I (being a bit of a
asperger) found very strange and could not explain:

Every time I crossed with them, one of them advanced towards me, like
wanting to bump on me. I just gave way, as educated people do. At first
it seemed casual, but I'm quite good at pattern matching, and soon the
pattern started to become clear: they were challenging me; a weak adult
6'5" or so looked like a nice victim...

Soon after this they started to shouting at me when I passed close to
them and they were hanging around, so I decided that I needed to do
something about it...

I started to do something, actually: every time I crossed with them and
perceived their aggression, I just started thinking about how hard would
be to fight to death with them and kept straight course. It worked
marvelously. They moved apart in the last second. I only had to actually
bump into them one time, and being 200 pounds, the guy rebounded and
said "pardon". Suddenly they looked at me in a different way, I had
started to have they respect, and I could keep walking around my own
neighborhood.

This is an ongoing process, but I can tell you that they have not tried
to challenge me in the last 6 months or so. Anybody who has watched the
TV shows from Cesar Millan (the dog whisperer) knows what I speak about.
Actually watching those programs was what I actually needed to *click*
the pieces into a coherent pattern. And I'm very grateful to my
daughters for pointing me to the show.

You might tell me that there is not a relation between this and my
deliberate policy to return the exact insults (or actually, what I judge
is a reasonably proportionate answer), but I claim it is exactly the
same it is happening here and, thus, I am *forced* to keep doing it. If
not, I'm rewarding aggressive discourse as a community "feature", and I
think this is already being very damaging for the community.

What I'm seeing is that, every time some message is perceived as
damaging for a given "territory" (subversion in this case, I've seen
similar ones around), some people approaches it with the same juvenile
behavior I quoted: they challenge the messenger instead of thinking
about the problem. If I allow them to succeed by just ignoring the
insults and "routing" around them, I will soon loose their respect and
the respect of a number of innocent bystanders. So I need to keep my
position by doing two things:
a) pointing towards the words and noting the attempt (jump to a
metalevel, it looks like this is working only for outsiders)
b) returning the same level of aggression as a warning that I won't back
off. This is working in the long term, and it will work even better now
that I have spent one hour and a half into this email in a public list.
Soon I will only need to mark sentences as "derogatory" and put a link
to this email to cope with them (Sam Ruby taught me this one in his
blog, four years ago or so).

I am what the Greeks called an "enthusiast" (i.e. someone "possessed by
gods") in the sense that I'm moved by strange principles instead of by
self interest or other motivations. This is the sense in which I say "I
can't stop". Stopping would be, I think, negative for the community. But
it would also be betraying my own principles.

There might be a better strategy for coping with long term aggressive
behavior, I would be more than happy to know about it and try it if I'm
convinced it would work. For the moment this is what I have chosen to
do, and I will keep doing it. Sorry for the unavoidable, and I hope
small, number of "bumps" that are going to happen.



> 
> And not just Santiago, would it be too much to ask for people to stop
> the flaming and focus on the real issues? We're trying to have a
> decent discussion here.
> 

I'm not flaming, as I said. In this last instance, funny enough, and for
the first time, I returned the very same words I was attacked with:
"whining and blather". The flames ensued quickly and I had to resource
to board@ to stop them early. I firmly believe that, being right or not,
I have the right of being either convinced or ignored, but never
insulted.

Gandhi said: I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much
a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.

I have always tried to live according to non-violence, and I think
allowing discussions to be won or extinguished by attrition or personal
disqualification, a form of violence after all, is a form of evil. So I
need to "non-cooperate" with it.

Sorry for the long email
Santiago

> BR,
> 
> Jukka Zitting
-- 
Santiago Gala
http://memojo.com/~sgala/blog/


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