Skip to main content

View Diary: How do I say this without seeming anti-Semitic? (267 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  One of the problems on this site and with the rule (5+ / 0-)

    about commenting and penalizing, is that he or she or they who controls the definitions of any issue involving bias control the outcome. Warning: I always write long.

    This is a diary posted today by Canadian Gal here on DKos which involves the definition of antisemitism in various places. In connection with this diary only, I  recommend both  it and the comments attached which discussed changes in the notion of what constituted anti semitism at various times and how it may have changed in some places. Keeping in mind as one reads, the application of said rules and the problem the diarist has raised.

    Down toward the bottom of Black Kos, Tuesday Chile, on the recc list, there is also a discussion about  whether a comment by Ralph Nader that contained references to President Obama and the term "Uncle Tom" constituted or did not constitute bigotry actionable there. Whatever the rules on bigotry, racism, etc. will apply equally to their on a different fact situation.

    I add as a third comparison the RKBA situation, in which a certain number of Kossacks have a very strong view on the specific  subject of gun rights, assuming that is an acceptable short summary, which leads to many a hot word, and more than a few flying ad hominim insults and also donuts on a regular basis, but which IMO at least is not a situation in which either side can or does invoke bigotry. I am suggesting its inclusion in this thought and those of the readers for an example of extremely hot writing, not involving sanctionable bigotry but a vast difference of opinion not apparently bridgeable thusfar to any useful degree between the two major sides. (Note to readers: Commenter requests that disagreements with what is here written about RKBA. ditto for the painful matters which gave rise to the recent boycott, not become an OT distraction from Seneca's issue, since under the new rules He is the Householder of this house.)

    The problem based on any rule about bigotry is always one which requires all persons to know and understand the rule the same way. Generally I would say that people can disagree about the definition of almost anything without one of them crossing an objective line, but in the matter of definition of anti semitism as with other bigotries when truly and properly tagged, beyond a baseline level, there are disagreements about where the line is, more so when ideas or concepts are being discussed, abstracts, and somewhat less so when the question is did the event described as a fact in X location in fact occur, or occur as described, and where is the proof?

    The problem here with a voting rule will be whether voters understand any of the issues presented by the commenter or the flagger or both in the same way they do. A just result may not be the outcome where the definitions are legitimately different.

    And if there are memes which are generally accepted as bigoted dog whistles, what they are and what the limits on the scope of them are, is not always uniformly self- evident. I/P is particularly noted for having such problems in all directions, where some of the invoked language charged as dog whistles are understood by all, such as violations of Godwin's Rule for one  relatively uncontroversial example, and others are seriously arguable or plain overreaching to shut someone up with a charge so difficult that no one will dare argue with the one making the charge or risk its being made against him or her, but there is no similar system of fairly clear  and generally dogwhistles and near misses when it comes to anti-Palestinian/Arab/Bedouin/Muslim, and no rules at all about pissing off  any Iranians who may find their way to DKos, if any.  

    Several attempts at a definition have been made here including by Mets102 and Canadian Gal, but none so far have won the wider acceptance of those outside of I/P (or in I/P for that matter) as would form a rational basis for a DKos definition.

    Many of the niceties of the working DKos definition of antisemitic comment  were created by MB in individual precedential rulings, as he saw comments going by, but those were never accumulated and collated where they could be reviewed as a group, and knowing what a ruling was  or whether there was one depended more than was desirable upon he or she who wanted to cite it having kept a copy when the particular ruling went by. Generally he or she who did not read I/P and many avoid it like the Plague, would not know any of these rulings beyond Godwin. This included the compilation of a list of sources more obscure than the Protocols of  the Elders of Zion which were forbidden to be cited.  Not a good long term methodology for general application.

    The absence of an agreed definition of anti semitism here is that those who see it are sure that they do, or assert they are, and there are those who don't agree, or may not know what hit them, in addition to clearly and indisputably intentional violators who knew what they were doing, such as Godwin violators.

    It also produces in a supposedly progressive site, at which people are supposed to be able to speak their minds, groups of people so anxious about the details of what constitutes actionable antisemitism that they do not comment at all out of fear of an inadvertent violation. This makes DKOs for them a place where the First Amendment notions of this site and the rules produce the one undesirable result, nonparticipation in the conversation at all for inappropriate but real reasons of fear of consequences unintended by the writer.

    This  is an extremely difficult situation when confecting any rule which can get people bounced out of here. There is a reason legal technical language found in rules makes people who do not deal with it regularly gag, and the agonizing need to define everything in a way that is neutral and agreed by all parties to mean one and the same thing and nothing else,  is it.

    It may be that the solution will require demonstration of intent, that is, the writer in question had to be intending to insult Jews AS A GROUP,  and BECAUSE THEY ARE JEWS, not to have spoken on another subject which involves some particular individuals.

    If you understand the words  in a way that it clearly applies to your nice local rabbi or the lady at work in addition to politicos, then it's  over the line. If it's talking about existing ethnic voting patterns in Brooklyn, more thought may be required to see if it is talking about the 355th distinct ethnic minority voting block in that Borough, acting differently than other blocks not because they are members of it and acting in solidarity, but because of the name of the block, rather than simply no. 355 acting on its issues, as no. 354 and 356 also do and doing so in solidarity, as the others also do. Or if a pol said the evil words, name the pol or the political group and not any ethnic/religious group. AIPAC is not an ethnicity, and Samuel Bronfman is not all individual Jews, and the State of Israel is a state, which recently had half a million of its citizens, mostly the majority, saying many evil words at its government, from tents. At the same time, one cannot exclude the Jonathan Pollard case or a like situation which makes it into public official discourse, his being charged and his trial,  from discussion.

    A second useful thought might well be a need to keep all Kossacks running their comments off provable facts, and arguing from them, not from the underlying views about the doers or the text of of those facts or those affected by them. With proof of the correctness of the facts alleged in the first instance and in any rebuttal  and a ban on ad homs- no more "You are a liar,' end of comment. MB's sign line,'Tell me what you do and I will tell  you what you believe' works especialy well here.

    In the absence of a clear definition and uniform application to all possible bigotries in a given situation given equal weight, anti- Arab etc as well as anti Jewish, all there will be is a mess which makes more people unhappy than already are.

    •  If someone had compiled the rulings of MB (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seneca Doane, milton333

      Do you believe it would make things better?  I'm not volunteering to do that, but I do see ways that a group effort can do it efficiently.

      •  Yes, I think it would help considerably (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clem Yeobright, RageKage, milton333

        That's the group-sourced "creation of a common law" that I proposed, but that kos doesn't want "printed and bound."  The common law is designed to give us examples of applications of rules, with explanations, to use as guidance.

        I don't know that it would need to go back and collect everything from MB, but I do think that it should be compiled going forward, if we're to do this right.

        In my avatar, the blue bars show how many want Reps who COMPROMISE; the aqua bars show who wants Reps who STAND FAST no matter what. (Left=Overall; Center=Democrats; Right=Republicans.) And there's the problem!

        by Seneca Doane on Wed Sep 21, 2011 at 08:20:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  haha, I just dumped my novel of an answer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seneca Doane, RageKage

      and decided it would make a better diary than comment.

      But I like your comment as I agree.

      1.  we've seen with BBB and many other frequent black posters that the "pervasive racism of dKos" isn't seen or felt in the same manner by them as it is for others.  I'm sure this is the same for Jews, Arabs, women, gays concerning conversations that revolve around their particular group.  In short, even people belonging to a minority don't always agree with one another.  It's acknowledging that problems exist, that opinions differ...but we're trying to find the middle ground instead of demanding punishment or expecting uniformity.  DK has a bunch of different people from a bunch of different walks of life and to expect everyone to know every word or phrase that offends every single group is crap.  What can be done is for people to keep offensive words in context with the entire statement rather than singling the word(s) itself out as proof positive that JHJHJHJHJ3 is ...(fill in the blank accusation).

      2.  The old method of community moderation is fine and much better than the new.  The only thing it lacked was a disinterested Moderator who had no dog in any fight and didn't mind hurting feelings.  MB was good and tried hard but his problem, IMO, was that he'd been here for years, knew everyone, liked everyone, and was far more interested in educating than punishing.  The dissatisfied customers knew this and the abuse went on as a result (and I mean verbal abuse, abuse of minorities, HR abuse...all of it.)  MB wanted a big happy family where adults solved their own problems and found their own middle ground.  Unfortunately, his equanimity was not shared by the abusers...who, when they didn't get their way took it out on MB as well their normal targets.  

      3.  The new system is going to fail.  All it does is put the onus for "justice" on people who are going to WANT to be on these little "juries".  And just like with MB or Kos...the juries are going to piss off one side or another by "getting it wrong" or "shoulda been banned not suspended" etc.  

      What this blog needs is a serious in your face moment by Kos saying, "YOU chose to be one forced you...this is MY site and these are MY rules...if you don't like it...scram!  No personal attacks of any kind...ever!  No vendettas or stalking, if you have a disagreement in a ends before you leave that diary, if you follow to another diary and resume the previous argument, see ya.  If someone says something offkey and it gets hidden, fine...if they continue to be similarly offensive, keep hiding, but if the first statement was an aberration let it go.  If you continue to hide rate reasonable comments, it's your ass that gets banned.  Last, if you can't absolutely prove your accusation with facts, as if you were in a court of law...don't make the accusation."

      Jeez, maybe I shoulda just posted the long version.

      But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have laid my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. – Yeats

      by Bill O Rights on Wed Sep 21, 2011 at 04:17:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that what kos did last week (with the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        khereva, falina

        "you are a visitor in someone's home" notion) was a useful move in that direction.  But I don't think that it solves the problem.

        My hope is that TPTB will read this and profit from it.  If not -- well, I tried.

        In my avatar, the blue bars show how many want Reps who COMPROMISE; the aqua bars show who wants Reps who STAND FAST no matter what. (Left=Overall; Center=Democrats; Right=Republicans.) And there's the problem!

        by Seneca Doane on Wed Sep 21, 2011 at 08:23:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site