Re: So who is truly tougher?

Subject: Re: So who is truly tougher?
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 10:31:03 EDT

I wrote:
>> 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.

and Don Reese replied:
>When did gentle reproach become mind control? Miss Manners is a fascist,
>I guess...

I should have made clearer which of Heli's ideas I objected to. Or rather,
since I probably made that overabundantly clear, I should have made clear
which of her ideas I _do_ agree.

I _do_ think a gentle reproach is the most appropriate response.
I _do_ think verbal violence and physical violence have a common denomenator,
in the victim's sense of hurt.

However, I don't think verbal violence is equivalent to physical violence,
and I don't think that thinking thoughts or saying words is tantamount
to beating a wife or child. I agree that verbal violence can be extremely
damaging, as part of an ongoing campaign of total emotional abuse within
a domestic situation. I think getting "flamed" by a stranger, in text only,
in a forum that actively promotes free thinking and expression, is not
the same thing at all.

I probably overreacted. A key phrase hit a button: "Violence is violence.
Think the thought, speak the word, and you will eventually do the deed."
By this law, Stephen King is well on his way to being a mass murderer.
The comparison seems far-fetched? I once, in university,
wrote a piece that deviated from bland political-correctness: it took the
viewpoint of a murderer with multiple personality disorder. It was a
disturbing piece, not overtly violent, but creepy. It was meant to be.
I received even more disturbing reactions: it was a "bad sign" that I could
write a story like that. It got published anyway. If more people had had
the "bad sign" mentality, it wouldn't have. I hold that meagre publishing
success dear to my heart. When someone says something that threatens
my right to write anything I want, my hackles rise.

I consider verbal abuse to be a form of violence. I consider censorship
to be a much greater form of violence, and much more dangerous.

Miss Manners, by the way, is entirely appropriate to social situations,
like parties. But I think there is a point at which politeness hinders
communication. And when politeness says: "if you've got nothing nice
to say, say nothing at all" - well, that's appropriate to the tea party,
but I don't think it's appropriate to the internet.

Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Disclaimer: I'm pretty obviously speaking on my own behalf, eh?

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