So who is truly tougher?

Subject: So who is truly tougher?
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 1994 15:06:44 EDT

Heli Roosild writes:
>I am amazed--truly amazed!--at postings that defend flames and blame the
>thin skins of those who are offended. How can these otherwise intelligent
>people be so apparently clueless about the common denominator between an
>email flame and the punch in the jaw or slash of the knife of, say, a wife-
>or child-abuser.

Would you consider your own post a flame? Why not? At what point does a
posting cross the line? I agree that some posts are so lacking in both
content and diplomacy that there is nothing to justify their existence.
I think we would disagree about which posts meet those criteria.

>No doubt I will be excoriated for equating verbal and physical abuse. But
>violence is violence. Think the thought, speak the word, and you will
>eventually do the deed.

You will indeed be excoriated. I disagree - violently. First, by giving a
word the same status as a rape, you demean the meaning of rape. Second, I
think thoughts, and write words, that I will never do. I deny your right
to censor my thoughts. I happily grant society the right to jail me for
committing murder, but not for thinking about it. I'd rather censorship
be a crime, than have some smug sanctimonious $% impose their slogan
psychology and simplistic worldview on my inner life.

"Violence is violence". Indeed. A child gleefully kicking her mother's
foot is the same as rape is the same as a summer storm a volcano the
holocaust. Violence is a word. Words are meaningless without context.

>So I ask you, who is truly tougher? The one who lets it all hang out and
>damn the consequences to anyone else? Or the one who lets a provocation pass
>without comment or with a soft answer?

I notice you didn't let provocation pass you by. Neither have I. I think
it's easier to ignore provocation. It's safer, in the short run, to pretend
a problem doesn't exist. In the long run, I see censorship becoming fascism,
I see your ideas leading directly to mind control, the devaluation of
the individual, and the erosion of rights and freedoms. And so, instead of
shrugging it off, I write through my lunch break to express my disagreement.

In closing, I think flame wars are a waste of time, space, money, and
emotion. I also think you don't have the first clue what a flame war is.
If you do, I apologize - but I've been on other newsgroups, and this one
is about the tamest I've ever seen. But even with real flame wars,
I would defend to the death the right of the participants to be idiots.

Some posts get pretty contentious - and this can be frightening for someone
new to net culture, who hasn't developed the self-confidence to shrug these
things off. I don't think the solution is to censor the rest of the world.
Perhaps something analogous to an airlock could be instituted, where
people new to the net could get their feet wet slowly, under controlled
conditions. If this is the "information superhighway", and someone gets
on the freeway who doesn't know how to drive, the solution isn't to make
everyone else walk.


Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Disclaimer: speaking on my own behalf, not my employer's.

Michael Priestley
Dept 950 IBM Canada Tie Line 778-3722 Phone 448-3722
Toronto Information Development

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