Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Tell us how you think the forum can be improved. We will listen.
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20090
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:31 pm

Greetings binocular,

Thank you for your well considered and well articulated comments.

I think the "I like this book" vs "This is a good book" dynamic you speak of is most relevant if the investigation being undertaken is collectivist in nature. For example, a group of investigators working together to solve a crime all have the same goal, the same interest, and same desired outcome. In that situation, the differentiation in meaning communicated by such subtleties in language may be important, and it may be critical in terms of differentiating hunches from leads, and evidence from theories etc.

In a Dhamma topic, the investigation is ultimately a personal one, despite being done in the presence of others. For example, if someone were to start up a topic on the first jhana, they might do so because they're looking to advance their meditation into jhana territory. There's no obligation though that others who participate are engaging in the same investigation - only that they respect the parameters of the topic and the sub-forum in which it was posted.

One person might participate hoping to more clearly differentiate between jhana as explained in the suttas, versus in the commentaries. One person might engage in the topic because they're interested in learning how and if their daily vipassana practice might lead to jhana. One person might engage in a topic because they're interested in whether attaining jhana might improve their satipatthana practice. One person might participate because they're curious about how essential jhana might be to the realisation of stream entry, so they can decide whether to read the suttas or sit on a cushion next weekend. Some other person may participate to drop a few crumbs of personal experience and lessons learned from their practice, in order to help others bypass common pitfalls. All of these investigations and motives for participation are all legitimate and valid, so long as they remain with in the bounds of the topic. However, to return to your point of differentiation, someone might be more forthright in such a conversation and say "this method is better than that method"... and they may have very good reasons for that, and it may well constitute Right Speech. That's ultimately for them to know, not us. As a participant in the conversation, if I were impacted by such subtleties, I might reflect on why they were so confident in their words etc. and ask them why they were so confident etc. but worst case, I should be capable of transposing what is said into frames of reference with which I'm more comfortable, and/or frames of reference which align with my own personal investigation. If something if useful to me, I pick it up and use it. If something if not useful to me, I leave it to the side.

That same dynamic of picking up and leaving to the side that applies there in Dhamma discussion, has parallel application when discussing news, politics and world events. When it came to hearing tidbits of Dhamma which people did not find beneficial to their practice or understanding, they were mostly capable of leaving it to the side, without any brouhaha. Unfortunately, people who are intolerant of alternative perspectives, alternative beliefs, untrusted news sources, modes of communication which do not placate their proclivities etc. seem far less adept or willing to simply "leave it to the side". They seemingly wish to cast it away and banish it, with a rush of dramatic emotionality and prevent others from seeing it. Frankly, it is the drama, and the intolerance and the urge to control what should and shouldn't even be heard on this forum, which is a more detrimental factor to this community than any "content" that these people characterise as being allegedly "harmful" or "anti-Semitic" or "racist" or whatever.

Staff have recently been reminded that they are at liberty to appropriately apply the ToS to address such intolerant behaviours, and as I mentioned earlier, they're well within their rights to exclude individuals from the News section if those individuals cannot exhibit the self-control, emotional maturity or interpersonal decency to engage in a manner defitting the rules of that section. Especially if they've been at it, causing such drama for a while now.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20090
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:41 pm

Greetings,
Upeksha wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:26 pm
The issue is very clear to me: it is the conflation of a holding and asserting an explicit political position (and also moderating on that basis) with a simultaneous claim of political neutrality. These are contradictory things.
Actually, it's far simpler than that... we police behaviours, not views.

I hope my above post to binocular gives some elaboration on how that principle applies in practice.

The problem comes when people are paranoid and distrusting of staff because their political views may differ, and what is merely moderation gets falsely accused of having ulterior motive.

If there is genuine cause for believing ulterior motives are at play, we have a formal complaints procedure to address those. Interestingly, formal complaints are at all-time historical lows, despite the prevalence of in-topic grievance mongering, and levels of forum activity which are about average, or slightly above average, in the history of this forum.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

Upeksha
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:23 am

Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Post by Upeksha » Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:43 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:41 pm
Greetings,
Upeksha wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:26 pm
The issue is very clear to me: it is the conflation of a holding and asserting an explicit political position (and also moderating on that basis) with a simultaneous claim of political neutrality. These are contradictory things.
Actually, it's far simpler than that... we police behaviours, not views.


Metta,
Paul. :)
This cannot be the case though, for the simple fact that the only thing you have access to are views. You do not have any access to actions or behaviors. At most you can try and discern mental intention - but is it really possible to adequately know another person's intention, especially given that this can only be judged on a little piece of linguistic expression that can be interpreted in many different ways?

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20090
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:00 am

Greetings Upeksha,
Upeksha wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:43 am
This cannot be the case though, for the simple fact that the only thing you have access to are views. You do not have any access to actions or behaviors. At most you can try and discern mental intention - but is it really possible to adequately know another person's intention, especially given that this can only be judged on a little piece of linguistic expression that can be interpreted in many different ways?
We're not at all reliant upon intention to moderate this forum. Intentions can only be inferred, but behaviours and actions can actually be observed. I find it strange you insist otherwise.

The vast majority of ToS clauses make no recourse whatsoever to predicting the member's underlying intention. The only possible exception to that relates to "any subject matter that may be off-topic or is intended to cause disruption or harm may be removed without notice."

How would we discern "intention"? It's a good question. In fact a moderator recently posed that question to me in relation to a specific instance, to which I responded...
The easiest instance is when they could be deemed off-topic, in which case they can be regarded as such.

Intention is harder to gauge, and to the extent that it is viable to do so, it is preferable to engage with the member to determine their intention... or if that's not possible, at least have an open mind about what it could be.
When asked how much liberty moderators actually have to make these assessments I advised...
You have the liberty to make such judgements, but where time permits, it would be better to do so as a team. If you believe urgent action is required, ensure there is proper record keeping, so that decisions can be revisited and reversed if necessary.
These are our practices, and they're based on over a decade worth of involvement in the governance of online Buddhist forums. With all due respect to you (and with genuine appreciation for your candour throughout this conversation), you have been here at Dhamma Wheel for less than two months, and may be getting caught up in the prevailing rabble-rousing activism and mob mentality from a vocal minority, which pre-dates your participation by literally years. I say that not to discount your perspective, but to suggest instead that if you genuinely believe something is not right here in terms of moderation, follow the Dhamma Wheel complaints procedure and see how that goes. Without having followed the processes yourself through to fruition, how can you come to any serious determination that processes are broken, nevermind diagnose their root cause?

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 2760
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Post by DooDoot » Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:27 am

Upeksha wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:26 pm
For example, the Frankfurt School is really Hegelian on the question of truth (i.e. truth emerges in a historical dialectic). Now the point is that I don't see anyone making deep arguments, say about Kant and Hegel and how truth or knowledge might emerge either individually or collectively. The Hegelian version is already presupposed to be wrong (or worse: some kind of egregious mind control fantasy). But in reality these are deep debates which keep philosophers very occupied. They should not be presumed settled.
Possibly because many have not perceived the views of Kant and Hegel have affected their society in an adverse way; that the ideas of Kant and Hegel remained as "philosophy" rather than actual "popular culture". As an individual that claims to have taught ethics at university, I did not read any ethical considerations in your posts that consider the matter in a Buddhist manner, i.e., the considering ethical distinctions of wholesome (kusala) & unwholesome (akusala).

So please explain exactly those ideas that are common to Kant and Hegel & the Frankfurt School. For example, did Kant and Hegel teach to engage in sexual promiscuity or to rebel against parents & the society? Did Kant and Hegel teach identitariaism & write books such as The Authoritarian Personality', which appeared to deem not agreeing with the Frankfurt School a 'mental illness'?

Upeksha
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:23 am

Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Post by Upeksha » Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:59 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:00 am

These are our practices, and they're based on over a decade worth of involvement in the governance of online Buddhist forums. With all due respect to you (and with genuine appreciation for your candour throughout this conversation), you have been here at Dhamma Wheel for less than two months, and may be getting caught up in the prevailing rabble-rousing activism and mob mentality from a vocal minority, which pre-dates your participation by literally years. I say that not to discount your perspective, but to suggest instead that if you genuinely believe something is not right here in terms of moderation, follow the Dhamma Wheel complaints procedure and see how that goes. Without having followed the processes yourself through to fruition, how can you come to any serious determination that processes are broken, nevermind diagnose their root cause?

Metta,
Paul. :)
Actually I was a member (different name than now) here for a number of years until 2014, when I decided to decrease my level of activity on the internet. I mentioned this on my introduction post.

Upon my return, I have been amazed at the change in culture here - it is far more aggressive, far more antagonistic, far more unfriendly than it used to be. And this not at all merely restricted to the news thread. It's basically a totally different place.

I don't what has happened in the last 4 years, but that has unequivocally been my motivation in raising these concerns. Something has changed the culture here, in a way which seems like a huge regress.

But I also do not have any clear answers. If there was a scale between light and heavy moderation, I would definitely be in favour of light. But I suppose I don't see this as 'free market place for exchanging ideas.' I see it as a shared culture, for which we all share a responsibility for.

Upeksha
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:23 am

Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Post by Upeksha » Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:07 am

DooDoot wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:27 am
Upeksha wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:26 pm
For example, the Frankfurt School is really Hegelian on the question of truth (i.e. truth emerges in a historical dialectic). Now the point is that I don't see anyone making deep arguments, say about Kant and Hegel and how truth or knowledge might emerge either individually or collectively. The Hegelian version is already presupposed to be wrong (or worse: some kind of egregious mind control fantasy). But in reality these are deep debates which keep philosophers very occupied. They should not be presumed settled.
Possibly because many have not perceived the views of Kant and Hegel have affected their society in an adverse way; that the ideas of Kant and Hegel remained as "philosophy" rather than actual "popular culture". As an individual that claims to have taught ethics at university, I did not read any ethical considerations in your posts that consider the matter in a Buddhist manner, i.e., the considering ethical distinctions of wholesome (kusala) & unwholesome (akusala).

So please explain exactly those ideas that are common to Kant and Hegel & the Frankfurt School. For example, did Kant and Hegel teach to engage in sexual promiscuity or to rebel against parents & the society? Did Kant and Hegel teach identitariaism & write books such as The Authoritarian Personality', which appeared to deem not agreeing with the Frankfurt School a 'mental illness'?
I would suggest actually reading some Adorno or Fromm and forming your own well founded view (which may indeed be critical) instead of lifting critiques of them by people on the internet who have never read them.

As for Bddhist ethics - well, if you can't discern value judgements of kusala and akusala in my posts, then either I have not made my case clearly enough or you have not read clearly enough. Because that is certainly informing my thinking.

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2891
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Post by robertk » Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:22 am

Thanks for all the suggrstions.
For any complaints about any posts in future please use the report button.
Topic is now locked.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20090
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Free speech, mere offense, direct harm & antisemitism

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:38 am

Greetings Upeksha,
Upeksha wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:59 am
Actually I was a member (different name than now) here for a number of years until 2014, when I decided to decrease my level of activity on the internet. I mentioned this on my introduction post.
Fair enough. But unless you went totally off the grid, I'm sure you'll have observed that globally, a lot has changed in terms of culture and politics in the past four years. Dhamma Wheel is not immune to that cultural shift, especially as far as topics which pertain to culture and politics go.
Upeksha wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:59 am
Upon my return, I have been amazed at the change in culture here - it is far more aggressive, far more antagonistic, far more unfriendly than it used to be. And this not at all merely restricted to the news thread. It's basically a totally different place.
That's your perception, so I cannot argue with it on those grounds, but I will say a couple of things in response to it...

Firstly, I think the "antagonism" is primarily related to the News section and that actual "antagonistic" behaviour in true Dhamma discussion has reduced, not least because certain individuals who would historically take it upon themselves to be "Dhamma cops" are no longer here and trying to fulfil that role. Understandably, the membership ebbs and flows, people come for a period, people go, people return. This phenomena was discussed a little while ago here... so it's never the same for any two days running.

As for any lack of friendliness, it is true that certain events have transpired here at this forum in your absence which have had impacts upon existing friendships. I have always been an advocate of equal treatment for all members under the Terms of Service, but unfortunately there was a period where this was not the case in practice, and the membership were moderated subjectively in accordance with how well their views aligned to those of a certain world-view. Some of the chosen "winners" in that process loved it, obviously the "losers" clearly didn't, and even some of those who weren't discriminated against found the practices to be appalling. There was a significant transition period required to restore equal treatment and move forward, but not before certain fissures were opened up, that will never fully heal.

Nonetheless, with each day we step one day further away from those unfortunate authoritarian practices which emerged, actually, in great part due to the social and political changes that were fomenting at the time. Alas, whether we're corrupt or not, the shadows of cultural attitudes do not escape us. As was said to me recently by someone who shall remain anonymous...
Maybe in meatspace, there are more cues as to whether someone is acting in the capacity of enforcer of the rule of law, or as a political partisan. Here, they tend to conflate the two: "Here's a guy who likes Trump, so he's obviously biased in everything he does. I'm not taking any shit from him!" Perhaps it's just a form of projection, in that they themselves would behave in such a way, and can't access the trust necessary to believe other people wouldn't.
The mainstream media have a lot to answer for.
Upeksha wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:59 am
I don't what has happened in the last 4 years, but that has unequivocally been my motivation in raising these concerns. Something has changed the culture here, in a way which seems like a huge regress.
If you've not done so, I invite you to opt out (even for a week or so) from the News section, and see whether it changes your overall perception.
Upeksha wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:59 am
But I also do not have any clear answers. If there was a scale between light and heavy moderation, I would definitely be in favour of light. But I suppose I don't see this as 'free market place for exchanging ideas.' I see it as a shared culture, for which we all share a responsibility for.
Sure, and that culture pertains to behaviours, not views, which is why we police behaviours, not view. Perhaps we could be harsher, perhaps we could be more lenient, but what we will always do is ensure we moderate according to the Terms of Service, so that everyone is treated equally, and by the same rules.

It's no surprise that "meat-space" societies which operate impartially under a scheme of law & order and blind justice run much better than despotic countries or states, whose laws are applied indiscriminately based on who you are, or the personal preferences of the authorities. As it is in "meat-space", so too in "cyber-space". It's true, we may need to clamp down on inappropriate behaviours, but we must always ensure we're doing so in line with the Terms of Service. Members could make that task a lot easier for everyone if they "self moderate", as they're expected to.

Metta,
Paul. :)

[P.S. Apologies, I was composing this post, as Robert closed off the topic. If anyone wishes to raise subsequent issues, please do so via the appropriate channels. Thanks everyone!]

Link: Dhamma Wheel Complaints Procedure
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: rightviewftw and 4 guests