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All this heated debate over site moderation has gotten me thinking about the great Roman stoic, Epictetus.  At the beginning of his book Enheiridion, he writes:

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.

I can't control whether or not my body gets sick, the looks with which I was born, whether or not others relate to me respectfully, etc.  These things are all granted by chance, others, or circumstances.  What can I control?  

follow me beyond the fold to find out.

I can control what I desire, what I pursue, what I believe and so on.  In other words, I can control how I think about the world around me.  Think of Captain Dan in Forest Gump.  Why does Captain Dan suffer so much in the movie?  Because he lost his legs?  According to Epictetus, absolutely not!  Captain Dan suffers because of the values he has chosen.  He constructed his entire life around being a hero and dying in war like all of his forefathers, and when he can't fulfill this mission he can only see his life and the world as a horrible place.  He falls into drug abuse and bitterness because of what he values.  When he finally pulls his head out of his ass and changes what he values, recognizing that what matters is love, friendship, service to others, and finding those small oases of happiness available in this life, he finds peace and joy.  He gets his values in the right place.

I would ask those of us that are calling for moderation, that are talking about how horrible the tone is here, etc., to meditate on this passage from the Encheiridion:

When you are going about any action, remind yourself what nature the action is. If you are going to bathe, picture to yourself the things which usually happen in the bath: some people splash the water, some push, some use abusive language, and others steal. Thus you will more safely go about this action if you say to yourself, "I will now go bathe, and keep my own mind in a state conformable to nature." And in the same manner with regard to every other action. For thus, if any hindrance arises in bathing, you will have it ready to say, "It was not only to bathe that I desired, but to keep my mind in a state conformable to nature; and I will not keep it if I am bothered at things that happen.
Dailykos is like a Roman Bath.  We all know what human nature is and how humans behave when they are together in huge groups and are involved in something as passionate and heated as politics.  Remember that you have chosen to be here, that you cannot, no matter how hard you try-- the Stalinists tried really hard and were terrifically unsuccessful --control others or make them do what you want them to do, that you have the power to respond or not to respond, and you have the power to choose what diaries you frequent.  Remember also the history of moderation on dailykos and, more generally, on internet forums, and how badly it has turned out here on each occasion.

What I've seen here is no different than what I've seen in other forums for over a decade.  I once watched a pie war on a dog forum over which terrier is the best.  I kid you not!  It was every bit as acrimonious as rox/sux pie wars, and had nice little tidbits like "we're here to advance terriers and you're undermining that!", not unlike the dickish responses some kossacks level against others when they say "we're here to elect more and better democrats so shut up as your little remark on this blog somehow undermines that!"  On the academic blogs-- academia! --it can be even worse.  This is the nature of forums where people discuss things that they're passionate about.  With the exception of unambiguous and full out hate speech, I think we do pretty good here.  I also think that the controversies are productive in generating lines of thought, arguments, and keeping people here.  Do some people leave?  Yes.  Are they more often than not extreme partisans on a particular issue that are unable to tolerate disagreement?  Yes!  It's hard for me to feel sympathetic to them-- especially the ones that write TTFN diaries --as my experience has generally taught me that they are pot stirrers that take joy in poking those they're opposed to.  I also think that calls for moderation are more than often not so covert attempts to exercise power and abolish opposition on a particular issue, i.e., they have nothing to do with civility and everything to do with wanting to force conformity and adherence to their position.

Follow Epictetus's advice and, with practice, I guarantee you'll feel better with time.  You didn't want to get splashed or have your wallet stolen at the pool, but you know this happens when you go to the pool.  Remember that when you talk in certain ways, folks freak out and get rude.  Remember that surrounding certain diaries you choose to go into, there's likely to be a certain form of nastiness.  You are the one choosing these things and it is your belief that you can bend other humans to your will in a community composed of thousands that causes you to suffer-- just as Captain Dan suffered as a result of his misguided values, not the loss of his legs --and that it is not the nature of the forum that causes you to suffer.  You have control over what you do, how you choose to emotionally react, and how you respond.  You do not control others and when folks have attempted to in the past it's led to mass bannings.

That's my two cents.  I think that moderation is far more destructive than any of the pie fights that happen to take place around these parts.  Flame away.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I love's me some Stoicism! (5+ / 0-)

    It taught me how to handle bad traffic and asshole drivers.

  •  BUT (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JosephK74, FishOutofWater, Smoh, Cedwyn

    the barbarians are storming the gates of the eternal city of KOS!!!!

  •  Worth careful thought. (0+ / 0-)

    On the other hand any group of humans needs rules and mechanisms for enforcing them.

    Part of the story of human progress is the expansion of what we can control. I can now control whether I get polio, for example.

    Put all those thoughts together, and a suggestion emerges. Provide technological support for people to control what they see with an ignore list, which for each user lets them pick a set of other users they never want to see again.

    Doing so keeps responsibility where a Stoic would say it belongs and sidesteps the dangers of abuse that come with assigning power to moderators.

  •  DailyKos is like a Roman bath. Is it too much to (0+ / 0-)

    ask for people to refrain from peeing in the pool?  Defecating?  Dumping in sewage?

    "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

    by leftreborn on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:18:05 PM PST

    •  I suspect that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ciganka

      people differ as to what constitutes peeing in the pool?  I've found that those calling for moderation are just saying that anyone who disagrees with them is peeing in the pool.  In other words, it's an attempt at crass attempt to undemocratically silence others.

      •  That's exactly what (0+ / 0-)

        concerns me.  People are already being silenced.  They’re afraid of being attacked or they leave.  Whether they silenced themselves or were bullied is a question.  I see bullying and I question the motive.

        I don’t know if people who disagree with the Kos agenda come here to be disruptive.  It seems that way sometimes.  It’s pretty funny and absurd when you have to remind people they’re insulting you for defending the Democratic administration on a website that defines itself as a community for Democrats.

        I fully understand that it’s unwise to get in the middle of a fight.  One, the other, or both can claim he was unfairly silenced.  I’m talking about preserving the community.  The only stake I have is as a user.  I also say, respectfully, that we all have a responsibility to reflect well on the Democratic Party and its Liberal/Progressive agenda.

        "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

        by leftreborn on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:26:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have a rather (0+ / 0-)

          different perspective on that issue.  If you read the front page diaries, including those by Markos, it's clear that they have no problem being critical of the administration and the party.  Criticizing these things is a way of trying to improve it, not destroy it.  I think it's rather discourteous-- or in kos's language, "dickish" --to say "the purpose of this site is to elect more and better democrats."  The "better" part is always forgotten.  What the person is saying when they say this is "shut up, I don't like what you're saying!"  I think that's a far bigger problem than heated debate and goes quite a way towards soiling the pool as no one likes to be told to shut up.  If people feel their being told to shut up because someone doesn't agree with them, they should look into something other than politics.

    •  I would also add (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      isabelle hayes

      that Epictetus would say that anyone who goes to a pool knows people will pee in the pool.

      •  I live in Arizona so I know a thing or two about (0+ / 0-)

        pools.  Nowadays there's a chemical that can be added to the water.  If someone pees in the pool, it turns the water around them bright red.  

        "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

        by leftreborn on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:28:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  would also add (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JosephK74

        anyone here who's been subjected to not even verbal, but written abuse, is completely empowered to deal with it

        as in: leave that diary and shut the 'puter, or go to another diary, or another site

        the Stoics were the way i learned how to deal with depression

        of course, one has to really want to be free of one's own ideas

        •  I can think of few things (0+ / 0-)

          more undemocratic than the desire to regulate everyone else and shut down speech.  The median age of this blog is something like 45.  I'm continuously amazed to see people who are supposed to be adults flipping out over the fact that someone on a political (!) blog disagreed with them.

          I'm a huge fan of the stoics and epicureans.  I'd be interested in hearing how the stoics helped you with depression.

          •  how stoicism helped (0+ / 0-)

            the writings of marcus aurelius were the first exposure for me to the stoic philosophy, and then the teachings of swami muktananda were in the same vein

            particularly powerful is the understanding that one can be the witness to one's life, thereby disengaging from the moment, and looking on at it

            that allows one to stop identifying with emotion and maintain an observer's distance

            if you get what i mean, i hope it's clear

            thanks for asking

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