How Not To Email Constituents: The Brian Nieves Story

from the doing-it-wrong dept

The intersection of technology and politicians is often wrought with speed bumps of silliness. But to truly see a great example of how to do technology wrong, you need only look to Missouri State Senator Brian Nieves. The story begins with an email mailing list for Nieves, which Bart Cohn of Wildwood, MO somehow found himself on. Cohn's political views are described to be about as much at odds with Nieves' as is humanly possible. Upon seeing the email, Cohn responded by asking to be removed from the mailing list and throwing the word "freak" in for good measure. Nieves, who apparently has little else to do, then began a wonderfully aggressive email exchange, beginning with:

Who are you? Is there something wrong with you? Are you incapable of communicating in a way that common, decent people do? Tell me this, how did you ever even get on MY Distribution list?
Cohn responded by again asking to be removed. The exchange went on from there. You really should click the link to get the whole thing, but the best of the lot is the last of the exchange, in which Nieves takes the opportunity to affirm his heterosexuality (um...) and insulting Cohn's intelligence.
Wow. Your communications are so thought provoking, well written, and intelligent. Perhaps you secretly want to be on my distribution list because every time you send me a message, your email is recaptured and put on my distribution list. I'm tiring of taking you off every time you email me AGAIN so unless you are in love with me or have some other sort of sick obsession with me (sorry, I'm straight as an arrow) you should probably stop emailing me so that you don't keep getting put back on the list. Should I type these instructions slower? Are you having a hard time understanding? BTW - I archive ALL questionable emails like yours in case there's ever any doubt about who got ugly first. Go back to the grade school playground where people you can successfully bully and out smart are playing cuz junior... You are way out of your league with me.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is an elected official in public office talking to one of his constituents. And thanks to the internet, those words he chose to email will live on in perpetuity. So be careful who you elect to office, because they might just be a jerk.



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  1.  
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    marak, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:21am

    wow..... just wow, and i though forum-goers were stupid at times.

     

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  2.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:28am

    From the last part of the exchange, I was tempted to say it's a likely problem with a dated mail distribution system that was re-adding Cohn every time he replied, and both sides being stupidly unwilling to back down. Silly, but a simple miscommunication.

    Having read the whole exchange on the linked site, however, this elected offical is a true moron. Not only does he quickly launch into idiotic personal defenses, he goes straight into things like "I'm sure your very Big & Bad & Tuff". Wow. I'd expect that from a 12 year old, not someone elected to run his constituency.

    Is it really so hard for an adult discussion to take place? Even if Cohn was being particularly abusive, it should be the official's job to divert confrontation and get to the meat of a real issue, not act like a child. Also, (and apologies here for anyone who finds this opinion disagreeable) I'm sadly not surprised to see that Nieves is a Republican with a self-proclaimed patriotic and religious stance. Those guys always seem to be obnoxious morons. Not that Cohn appears to be the epitome of polite discourse himself, but he's not the one supposedly representing thousands of people.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:29am

    Automatically adding every incoming email to a mailing list? Who does that? I mean... with the crap that comes into an elected official's inbox - the personal stuff, the fan mail, and the hate mail, the Nigerian princes, the Viagra commercials... WHO DOES THAT?

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:01am

    I have to say both men sound like utter twats.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:09am

    'BTW - I archive ALL questionable emails like yours in case there's ever any doubt about who got ugly first'

    i dont know why he bothered. did he really think that Cohn wasn't doing the same thing? did he really think that there was no way that the 'conversation' would not end up on the 'net? if someone is 'way out of your league', i would suggest it to be Nieves! what a moron!! how the hell you people manage to elect such complete prats into so important an office, i do not know!!

     

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  6.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:13am

    Poll: Who here thinks the Senator doesn't have a clue how to remove the guy from the list?

    *raises hand*

    Ahem. That would be on par with the technological knowledge of our lawmakers.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:13am

    "...which Bart Cohn of Wildwood, MO somehow found himself on"

    Explanation: Nieves is a spammer. Not at all surprising, really, given the tone of his communications.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:30am

    Sounds to me like...

    Another job for 4chan.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:32am

    Re: "...which Bart Cohn of Wildwood, MO somehow found himself on"

    Got nothing?

    Even if you're correct, that means that Nieves has his email system set up to automatically add anyone who sends him spam to the mailing list. That must cause a monstrous waste of time and resources to manage the resulting deluge for every member of said list. Your defence of him hardly makes him look any better, even if you ignore Nieves' own lack of professional tone (as you chose to).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:32am

    I have a feeling he's going to Streisand the hell out of himself.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:34am

    Maybe someone should explain to the Senator what a blacklist is.

     

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    Vidiot (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:43am

    New personal best

    The good Senator is out to top his prior performance... see what he's been up to since the above incident:
    http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2013/04/brian_nieves_senate_floor_speech.php

     

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    Some Guy, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:54am

    Re: Re: "...which Bart Cohn of Wildwood, MO somehow found himself on"

    Err ... I think you misread the comment above. He/she said that NIEVES was the spammer, and implicitly criticised NIEVES' tone.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:59am

    Sad to say, but...

    ...this is normal for MO politics.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: Re: "...which Bart Cohn of Wildwood, MO somehow found himself on"

    Ah, I did misread that, I only saw Cohn in the subject line. Thanks for pointing that out, apologies to the AC who I just assumed was one of the normal trolls! Serves me right for visiting on a quick break...

     

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    Simon, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:09am

    "..cuz junior... You are way out of your league with me."

    Perhaps Nieves ought to read the above as "Look Ma, I've got daddy's shoes on!".

    What a twat.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:24am

    Re: New personal best

    I watch this and I actually agree with him. His point about too much information is valid. You might call it a tantrum but in the first few minutes, he seems very passionate about the privacy of the people. I am not sure I could hold back if I had to take the floor against something like CISPA or any of the other rotten laws. I would probably yell: "Why do you hate your own people?" and like this guy I would also like to know from the reporters: "are you listening?" and "why the heck is this insanity not on the freaking front page every day?"
    Whenever I read about most of the stuff on techdirt I feel close to bursting with a mixture of anger and sadness, and I would think that others do as well and although it might be unflattering I would really like to see politicians who fell the same way show a little passion as well, not just monotone flat speech all the time.

     

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    Mr.Applegate, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:26am

    Re:

    From Public Officials Dictionary

    Blacklist:

    1) a list of things the official not speak about publicly.

    2) a list of things for the official to deny (even if true).

    3) a list of the officials sexual partners, while married.

    4) a list of donors that have bought the officials vote.

    5) a list of political enemies to be destroyed at all costs.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:38am

    Re:

    People who know how to manage a list.

     

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    rw (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:42am

    Re:

    "I'm sadly not surprised to see that Nieves is a Republican..."

    I agree. Even though I am a registered Republican. The thing is, I can't see any discernible difference between Democrats and Republicans. Both want to screw the public.

     

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  21.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re:

    I'm speaking very much as an outsider looking in (although I have both personal and professional reasons to be interested in US politics). But, whenever the rhetoric is raised about religion or overt "patriotism", it's usually a Republican - doubly so if there's a hint of homophobia or claims of "family values", etc.

    There may not be a huge gap between them in terms of actual policy, especially given the way US politics is generally skewed to the right, but only one side tends to come "wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross" as the quote goes.

     

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    Berenerd (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 5:54am

    Re: Re:

    I am hoping that is sarcasm. Cause if not, you make me want to cry and rip my toenails off then dip them in lemon juice while penetrating my eye sockets with large explosives. If you were just being sarcastic, then, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

     

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  23.  
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    Colin, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:02am

    So they're both idiots? Nieves shouldn't have been an asshole, but on the other hand the guy started out with "freak" for not apparent reason and later on uses "douchetard" because he's apparently very clever. Not saying the Senator isn't in the wrong here, but let's not act like Cohn was some sort of angel, either.

     

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  24.  
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    Digitari, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:23am

    Re:

    What ever happened to being held to a Higher standard?? I, as a private citizen (private as in not on/using the publics monies)can act as an ass, but the public representatives should have a higher standard.Seeing as how a private citizen such as myself, cannot get a job without e-verify,drug test, social security number, educational background check ect.

    How is it that a Public official can claim privacy rights when a) pubic funds pay them; b)the use of public funds for all other parts of their job duties.

    These two guys are both asshats, however one is a PUBLIC representative, and "should" be held to a much higher standard.

    why is is allowed??

    this is the problem with "most" elected officials, they have set it up so they are the "Boss", we we as a nation have failed because we let them.

    (if you feel you should not be held to a higher standard it's quite simple, stay out of the public office, same with security, if the public office you hold scares you don't run, cause that's the nature of the biz sweetheart, as it SHOULD be)


    /end rant

     

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  25.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:35am

    Re:

    Agreed. Part of that package of barbaric behavior that seems to go hand-in-hand with frequent online commenting, whether anonymous or not. Hard to imagine the "freak" epithet delivered in person, in an otherwise non-confrontational exchange.

     

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  26.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:40am

    Re: Re: New personal best

    Good point, about wanting to elicit responses of any kind; I was doing a little shouting of my own over the CISPA/$84-million-of-lobbyist-payments story. But I think the thing that classifies this as a pouting hissyfit is the string of reporter tweets that follow, including the note that his item of concern was on the front page multiple times that week.

     

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  27.  
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    Nick (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:52am

    Re:

    Hmm, actually, I'd now like to see someone do that. Take every spam email you get, and sign up that address for every mailing list on the internet.

    Not that I expect that to work, what with every spam email most likely being not only unmonitored, but also a throwaway one-time deal.

     

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  28.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 6:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    In that aspect I find Republicans to be more dangerous than Democrats. It's very bad when you do things based on your own religious and moral beliefs. As if there aren't millions that don't agree with you and will be subjected to the same laws. The classic cases where this comes out strongly are quite telling:

    - Abortion (I'm morally and possibly religiously against but I recognize the choice is up to the women)
    - Homosexual marriage (really, love and affection know no boundaries. I'm hetero without even the slightest bisexual inclination)
    - Euthanasia (if I want to end my life it's my own damn choice)
    - Free speech (while I may not agree with some people worshiping and preaching about how The Devil, Nazism is the way to go they have the right to do so as long as they do not interfere with other peoples rights)

    A truly evolved society wouldn't even be discussing such rights, they should be granted by default regardless of what whoever thinks about how those are being used.

     

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  29.  
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    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Let me state first that I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I am not religious, nor am I an overly Patriotic.

    I think Nieves should be held to a higher standard, given his position...but...

    I find it odd, however, that when someone claims to be a patriot, or a religious or faith driven person, they are denigrated as if they are less then the person commenting on them.

    It seems to me that most of the so-called 'tolerant' crowd only seem to be tolerant of others just like themselves. Seems kinda like the pot and kettle story to me.

    I have an idea. Why not respect the opinions and values of others, even if they don't have respect for yours?

     

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  30.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:02am

    Re: Re:

    Hmm, that could be interesting indeed. I wonder if the spam networks can be overwhelmed by counte-attacks and brought down...

     

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  31.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    well, I have no problem with that as long as they aren't trying to force their stuff on me via legislation. Sounds fair?

     

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    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's why we vote isn't it?

     

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  33.  
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    Transbot9, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:20am

    Having spent several years in MO...

    There are plenty of people I know from that state that would actually vote FOR him because of how he handled it.

    *shrug* Some people appreciate brash honesty and lack of tact.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:23am

    Deja vu. It seems like the Ocean Marketing debacle happens once a month these days.

     

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  35.  
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    Corwin (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Solution : do away with politicians entirely

    and let everything self-organize.

    It's not like we don't have solutions to crowdfund public necessities on a permanent basis. Built right into money itself.

    Lie this : https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Contracts#Example_3:_Assurance_contracts
    https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Smar t_Property
    https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Dominant_Assurance_Contracts
    https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Dist ributed_markets#Pay_to_policy_outputs

    We can vote with our wallets for what we know that we need.

    So. Would YOU rather pay for Mars, or for Wars?

     

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  36.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, for one - as stated clearly above and in my profile - I'm not American. So, I'm also neither Republican nor Democrat, even though those are the two labels that Americans tend to erroneously apply to political arguments. I do wish that your political system had more than 2 parties though, that's for sure.

    However, my experience is that the more outwardly a person tries to project a "patriotic" or "religious" image, the more they're either hiding something or trying to compensate for something. This happens everywhere, sadly, but Americans are more vocal about it than most - and it usually seems to be the Republicans who use religion and obsessive patriotism as their defences.

    Perhaps I'm being unfair, I was just noting that one angry idiot who acted like a schoolkid on was also listed as a Republican who lectures religion and "patriotism". In my experience those people have tended to come across as the most arrogant, least intelligent people to communicate with on any issue. However, as I've already mentioned, the guy he was talking to was hardly the model of maturity himself. It's just that he's not an elected official who is partly responsible for the political direction of the US.

    "It seems to me that most of the so-called 'tolerant' crowd only seem to be tolerant of others just like themselves. Seems kinda like the pot and kettle story to me."

    Well, if you simplify everything down to "us vs. them", you will see it like that. Who calls who "more tolerant", anyway, or is that just a convenient way of pretending someone's a hypocrite without addressing their actual argument?

    "Why not respect the opinions and values of others, even if they don't have respect for yours?"

    Because they not only don't respect mine, but actively try to make life worse for myself and others I care about. While I'm not American, I do have many people I care about in that country and so have a vested interest in following the political discussion. There's a lot of horrendous arguments made where people only point to their religion or nationality as their argument, and sadly they're not restricted to the internet.

    If someone's interested in a real discussion about issues, I can happily do so, but you have to bring nuance and evidence. If you're going to reach for your bible or birth certificate as your only reasoning, your opinion is invalid.

     

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  37.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes but when the majority of the population buys the moralist idiocy then we have a problem. How to deal with it?

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re:

    I voted this as funny, but it's more sad, but true.

     

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  39.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    However, my experience is that the more outwardly a person tries to project a "patriotic" or "religious" image, the more they're either hiding something or trying to compensate for something.


    A million times this. As soon as someone starts wrapping themselves in the flag or some religious doctrine, I know that they have nothing of substance behind their position.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re:

    Quite the contrary. Spam accounts usually are monitored (granted, most automatically) for people who unsubscribe from the spam. That's a confirmation that this email is valid and can be resold for profit. At least when it comes to professional spammers.

    But as you said, most are just spoofed addresses. Spamcop has a functionality like that where you can automatically forward them spam email for analysis... but you know, it's spamcop. The only real way to achieve this would be to flood/attack/whatever the originating IP, but even that can be spoofed rather easily.

    And yes, I was being sarcastic. Any bozo can install a php mailing list software through web hosting and misconfigure/misadminister it.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You said: "I find it odd, however, that when someone claims to be a patriot, or a religious or faith driven person, they are denigrated as if they are less then the person commenting on them. "

    Because claiming to be a patriot, religious, or faith-driven invariably proves to be the rhetoric of a confidence trickster, and a lot of people are learning to call them on it. If a politician were to say, "God bless you" to me and I didn't just sneeze, I would check my wallet to make sure his hand wasn't stuck in it.

     

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  42.  
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    Vic, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:38am

    That post in itself I believe qualifies for the funniest post of the week!

     

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  43.  
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    Mason Wheeler, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Abortion (I'm morally and possibly religiously against but I recognize the choice is up to the women)


    It's always interesting to see abortion proponents trot out that particular strawman. The simple fact is, by the time abortion becomes an option, the woman has already made her choice. (And in cases where her pregnancy was not a result of a willing choice, most people--even those who oppose abortion on general principle--see it differently. But that doesn't stop the abortion proponents from using it as their other favorite strawman.)

    It's not about "choice;" it's about taking responsibility for the natural consequences of your choices. The terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are both horribly disingenuous, and they both mean the exact same, very ugly, thing: "those who disagree with my position are against this value that everyone agrees is good." (You wouldn't want to be anti-life, would you? And you wouldn't want to be anti-free will, right?)

    The only accurate description of the abortion sides small enough to fit in a sound bite like that are "pro-responsibility" and "anti-responsibility." But for some reason, no one seems to want to frame it in those terms.

     

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  44.  
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    Jesse (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:18am

    Whatever. Every time someone gets mad because politicians only give canned responses, and then when they are real everyone gets mad, "Gasp you can't say that!"

    He got into it with a jerk. We've all been there. Give the guy a break.

     

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  45.  
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    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So you don't believe in morals? or you don't believe in idiocy? Either way neither party has a monopoly on either of them.

    If you don't like what they stand for, vote them out. Educate yourself, your friends and relatives. The biggest reason the majority buys any political idiocy is ignorance. Lack of knowledge on the policies being discussed. If you let the media, or those with an interest in seeing the policies passed, feed you their interpretation of what is going on, you have no one but yourself to blame.

    I usually research both side of an argument or policy in order to have the broadest understanding. I decide for myself what I think is best for me an mine. (Mine = my family, friends, community, nation, world).

     

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  46.  
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    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Paul,

    I'd like to respond to a few points you made.
    "I do wish that your political system had more than 2 parties though, that's for sure."
    There are more than 2 parties. They are just not widespread or relevant in most cases.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_the_United_States

    "my experience is that the more outwardly a person tries to project a "patriotic" or "religious" image, the more they're either hiding something or trying to compensate for something. This happens everywhere, sadly, but Americans are more vocal about it than most - and it usually seems to be the Republicans who use religion and obsessive patriotism as their defences."
    While I agree that political figures have to justify their reasoning on many issues. It is not limited to, or more prominent in any one party. "For the children" seems to be a popular phrase from both sides right now (and on Techdirt). Our current president has been using that one ALOT recently in a effort to restrict our rights.

    "Well, if you simplify everything down to "us vs. them", you will see it like that. Who calls who "more tolerant", anyway, or is that just a convenient way of pretending someone's a hypocrite without addressing their actual argument?"
    I am not taking sides in this as I believe both are wrong. There is no "us vs. them" in my statement. I was merely pointing out that just because your beliefs are different than someone else's, it doesn't give you the right to demean their beliefs.
    As for the 'tolerance' issue, that is the battle cry of one of our main political parties - hint, it's not the Republicans - and again, that group is only 'tolerant' of people with similar ideals. I see no difference in either party, they both are only interested in demonizing each other and those that support them. I see nothing 'tolerant' on either side.

    "There's a lot of horrendous arguments made where people only point to their religion or nationality as their argument, and sadly they're not restricted to the internet."
    On this we agree. In today's political environment, the sound bites are what matter. My nation is now run by whomever can handle the media the best and pander to the largest audience. It has little to do with the facts or what is best for the nation as a whole and more to do with what does a candidate, incumbent, or party have to say to remain in power.
    Ambrose Bierce hit the nail on the head in the Devil's Dictionary, "Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage." To this point, there is no difference in any political party I have found to date.

    Finally,
    "If you're going to reach for your bible or birth certificate as your only reasoning, your opinion is invalid."
    I Agree in principle with what you are saying, but I think it's a little too absolute. I don't think anyone would list religion and birth certificate as their "only" reason, but they do play a part in every decision you make. If you care for your family and friends, their welfare has some input in your decision to fight the guy who insulted your wife, fight a war, climb a mountain, ride a motorcycle, jump out of an airplane, or even stay out late partying. In the same manner, your community has some input in the decisions you make, and your Nation, and your faith. To separate any of these influences from your decisions, whatever the decision, is a disservice to you and those you proclaim to care for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's quite a cynical statement.
    Are you saying that everyone who claims to be a patriot is lying? Everyone claiming to be faith-driven is lying?

    Or are you saying that they were being truthful... until they became a member of congress?

    Based on current crime statistics, all African-Americans should be in jail if I used your statement as a guide.

    It's generalizing statements like yours that lead to things like racism. Please be careful of using words like 'invariably'. It's far to absolute.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:24am

    So, do state senators never email each other, or are all of them subscribed to the distribution lists of every other state senator?

    Seriously, they don't have a way to exclude an email from being put back on the list?

    "I archive ALL questionable emails like yours in case there's ever any doubt about who got ugly first."

    Great. See how much good it does you in this case.

    ""Tell me who you are and how you ever got on my list."
    "The ONE and ONLY way for you to have gotten on my list is by YOU having communicated with me via email. "

    Why ask the question if you know the answer?

    "Are you threatening an elected official?"

    Obviously not. Are you paranoid?

    "Also, don't ever send anything to this email address again"

    Don't ask questions and then tell someone to not respond.
    Obviously not.

    "Go back to the grade school playground where people you can successfully bully and out smart are playing cuz junior... You are way out of your league with me."

    What, you're saying you are a bigger bully? And you think this email exchange was an attempt to "out smart" you? Man, if you think this email exchange was designed to test the limits of your intelligence... oh, and by the way, you failed the test by responding like this.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Put another way, It's OK to be loud and proud of your children, your sports team, or your university, but not your nation or your beliefs. Do I have that right?

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Re: Solution : do away with politicians entirely

    But my wallet isn't nearly as big as that other guy's...

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As soon as someone starts generalizing and speaking in absolutes, I know they have nothing of substance behind their position.

    I would like pose a couple of rhetorical questions.

    1. What is the purpose of Science?
    2. what is the purpose of 'other' Religions?

    Do you see what I did there? You see, they are both after the same thing. One is as much a religion as the other, they just use different methods to look for the answer.

    So, if someone comes to you espousing the dangers of Global Warming, do you assume they have nothing of substance behind their position?

     

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  52.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not sure you are criticizing me or agreeing. In any case I don't see how the woman being able to choose is a strawman. In fact I'd go as far as say that if the woman chooses to end the pregnancy she will, regardless of laws prohibiting. So why deny her the choice? Up to a determined stage of embryo development it's safe to remove without causing any suffering (no nervous system developed). The discussion at that point slips towards the very ethereal spiritual realm. Screw the woman if she's an atheist.

    And you talk about taking responsibilities then tell the woman that wishes to abort about the possible consequences: sterility, depression and so on. Being a catholic I've been on both sides of this issue and ultimately I concluded this is not for me to bend it to my will but to keep it on a neutral ground. And the neutral ground implies the woman must be able to choose. I'd say that the father should have some say in that as a baby is not generated out of thin air but then again he is not carrying the 9-month "ordeal" so I'm not sure. I do think we need some sane discussion devoid of simple religious myths. Again, I'm catholic.

    I still don't understand what do you mean by pro/anty-responsibility.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think the arguments are perpendicular for the most part.
    ex.. I am for having the choice, but would never consider abortion, I think it's wrong.

    So where do I fit in the nice neat boxes that have been offered as my only 2 choices?

     

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  54.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You see, they are both after the same thing.


    No, actually, they're not. Science is after the "what" and "how", and religion is after the "why".

    So, if someone comes to you espousing the dangers of Global Warming, do you assume they have nothing of substance behind their position


    Yes, if what they have to back up their position is patriotism or religious beliefs.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    They both are after the same truth. Playing semantic games doesn't change the truth of my statement.

    I think most religious texts have plenty of "How" and "What" in them. And there is plenty of "Why" in science.

     

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  56.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    > Even if Cohn was being particularly abusive,
    > it should be the official's job to divert
    > confrontation and get to the meat of a real
    > issue, not act like a child.

    He definitely has a child's grasp of grammar. Someone should head down to his senate office with a PowerPoint presentation on the proper uses of 'your' and 'you're'.

     

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  57.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 1:00pm

    Re:

    > I have to say both men sound like utter twats.

    Well said.

     

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  58.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    They are both after truth, but the truth about different things. It's not semantic games at all. They are real, core, basic differences in the underlying goals, and those differences lead to the fact that the two things go about their business if very different, typically opposite ways.

    I think most religious texts have plenty of "How" and "What" in them. And there is plenty of "Why" in science


    It's hard to talk about one without bringing in aspects of the others. But that changes nothing.

    For example, when religion mentions the "how" and "what," it does so in a way that tends to be wildly inaccurate. The same is true when science mentions a "why". In both cases, the formulation is used as a kind of shorthand and so they are inevitably inaccurate.

    Science does not, has never, and never will address the "why" question. The "why" questions are not the type that yield to scientific study in the first place. This is not a fault of science, it's simply not what science is meant to do.

    Religion has a history of trying to answer "what" and "how," but that's because it was hard to say "why" if you can't say "what". In the modern day, religion has the freedom to avoid addressing those questions and has been largely happy to do so, since they're tangential to religion's purpose. Also, the answers that religion has given (when it has given actual answers and not dodges like "because it's God's will") have tended to be very, very wrong -- because those aren't the type of questions that yield to religious investigation.

    In short, I don't see how science and religion are even remotely similar, aside from the useless abstraction of saying they both groups of truth-seekers.

    That there are very religious people who are also hardcore scientists at the top of their fields (I know that they exist because I've worked with them) seems to indicate the two fields are not diametrically opposed.

     

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  59.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I can't speak for the AC, but he does have a point. Charlatans very frequently hide behind religion and nationalism. This doesn't mean that everyone who is religious or nationalistic is a charlatan, but rather that the connection is common enough that it is wise to treat such people with caution until you can figure out if they're a charlatan or not.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I am not discounting your statements. My statement is actually the same. I said above, "they just use different methods to look for the answer."
    I understand and agree with most of what you are saying, the main difference is in the purpose. To what end is the good of knowing what and how if not to answer why?

    "Why does the sun come up in the east?"
    "Why do the stars migrate across the sky every night?"
    "Why are we here?"
    "Where did we come from?"

    I stand by my statement. The ultimate goal of science (religion) is to answer the ultimate question.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So then you agree with my statement above that we should treat all poor, minority, inner city people with caution until they can be verified safe? How about Muslims? Are they safe based on your experiences?

    Most of what I see in the news are bad, nasty things. Does that mean nothing good is out there? Should I just assume that everyone outside my family is after my life/liberty/possessions?

    "Charlatans very frequently hide behind religion and nationalism."
    The also frequently hide behind "The Greater Good" and "Tolerance" and "Free Market" and "For the Children". Does that mean we should close down the Boys and Girls Clubs of America?

    The fact is, there are bad people everywhere. But that does not give anyone the right to ASSUME, based on an expression of love for their nation or religion that a person has any ulterior motives.

    I repeat my question, "It's OK to be loud and proud of your children, your sports team, or your university, but not your nation or your beliefs. Do I have that right?"

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Mason Wheeler, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I find that kind of sad. I thought it was quite plain. But if you need, I can spell it out:

    Pregnancy happens as a natural consequence of having sex. Sex does not always result in pregnancy, but it's rather difficult to get pregnant without it. (Unless you're really trying hard to get pregnant, with the assistance of medical professionals. But that's not what we're talking about here.)

    The woman already has a choice whether or not to have sex. (Some people use cases in which the woman did not have that choice (ie. rape) to try to derail the discussion, but again, that's not what we're talking about here. Such pregnancies are quite rare, and can be dealt with according to their own principles. They do not invalidate the principles under discussion here.)

    If we understand that she choose to do so, and then became pregnant as a result of her choice, then the question of abortion becomes much simpler: Is she going to attempt to avoid the natural consequences of her actions by having an abortion, or take responsibility for her choices?

    Without bringing any religious or "mystical" concepts whatsoever into this explanation, the pregnancy involves a distinct human life. (Biologically, it is a life form. Genetically, it is human and distinct from the mother.)

    In any other context, choosing to end a human life in order to avoid the consequences of your actions is considered a truly monstrous act. It is generally only done to prevent some dark secret (ie. that you have already committed some other monstrous act) from coming to light.

    I have never understood why abortion is treated as a special case by so many people, especially considering the circumstances. The fact that you had sex and got pregnant may be embarrassing, but it's hardly regarded as a horrible monstrous act in today's society.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Cowards Anonymous, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, for one - as stated clearly above and in my profile - I'm not American. So, I'm also neither Republican nor Democrat, even though those are the two labels that Americans tend to erroneously apply to political arguments. I do wish that your political system had more than 2 parties though, that's for sure.


    As an American Independent, I believe that the party system is the root of so much of what is wrong in American politics and should never have happened. Party systems only serve to polarize and divide people into groups of us versus them.

    Elected members of a party believe they were elected to represent that party and uphold that party line, not the interests of their constituents who elected them. Typically a Republican will not represent the Democrats who voted for them, a Democrat will not represent the Republicans who voted for them, and neither party will represent the Libertarians, Consititution, Green, Independent, or other parties who voted for them. This is how we get filibusters on every major piece of legislation by whichever party is not a majority at the time and no concessions ever to meet in the middle.

    For example, can you be pro health care reform and pro gun rights and have both opinions represented by the same elected official if the party line is yes to one but no to the other? Can you be pro copyright/patent reform if neither dominant party supports it? Should you really say that you won't represent 47% of your electorate and expect that same 47% to vote for you anyway just because some of them are members of your own party?

    There should be only one "party" in the US: the American Party. All interests and opinions represented. Trend towards the middle through compromise, not extremes by division.

     

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  64.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:04pm

    Re:

    "Is it really so hard for an adult discussion to take place?"

    You don't watch many news programs featuring our elected officials do you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful"

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: "...which Bart Cohn of Wildwood, MO somehow found himself on"

    What better way to "honestly" say, I have 1,000,000 people following my e-mail newsletter, than to automatically add every incoming e-mail to the list....

    Just saying there are underhanded reasons to do exactly what he seems to be implying... not that this would be useful for anything other than a talking point, but then do Politicians do anything other than "talking points?"....

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, so, you're one of those pro-lifers who think that life begins at conception. Natch. Anything else is just your own prevaricating on the subject. I understand where you are coming from, but saying that a multicell cluster is a living human is rather far-fetched. Until the embryo is actually viable as a separate organism, it isn't really another human life. It's merely a growth inside someone's body that has the potential of being a human life.

     

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  68.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 3:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The woman already has a choice whether or not to have sex.

    Oh please, your moralism is showing. There are several stances where this can go wrong. The condom can fail. The pill can fail. Also, get madly passionate with a girl and try to think straight while in one of those moments where hormones start raging (pro tip: you will do stupid things if you don't get protection while you are still under control and actually that's why me and my gf decided it was safer to use pills to prevent pregnancy).

    Is she going to attempt to avoid the natural consequences of her actions by having an abortion, or take responsibility for her choices?

    It's not up to you to decide. Even if the woman did screw up and didn't take the precautions she should still have the choice to abort. Simple as that. I am vehemently against this so I'll always try to dissuade any girl from doing it, specially if I'm the one responsible for the pregnancy. It's a matter of educating girls on the consequences of their acts, be them religious or physical.

    Biologically, it is a life form. Genetically, it is human and distinct from the mother.

    Agreed. So if I take a fetus that hasn't even formed a nervous system out and let it live it'll be alright. Right?

    In any other context, choosing to end a human life in order to avoid the consequences of your actions is considered a truly monstrous act.

    Your bias is showing. I too agree to some extent to this but IT DOES NOT GIVE ME ANY POWER TO INTERFERE WITH THOSE WHO DON'T.

    The fact that you had sex and got pregnant may be embarrassing, but it's hardly regarded as a horrible monstrous act in today's society.

    There are several issues with undesired pregnancies. I'd rather have an embryo aborted than children that'll spend their life being mistreated and suffering because of absent parents. There's also public health costs (although that's a problem for countries that have a public health care system).

    For all your eloquent talk about people not willing to deal with stuff you seem to fail at exactly that. It's people like you that should stay away from politics. Because you aren't capable of ruling neutrally on something that you have established moral or religious beliefs.

     

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  69.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 3:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That. Anything beyond that (and I do believe in all those spiritual things that it's some sort of murder and so on) is purely moral/religious beliefs and should stay out of any rule making.

     

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  70.  
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    Tex Arcana (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 6:05pm

    Re: Re:

    Can we PLEASE get the terms right??

    They are no longer "democrats" or "republicans"; they are no longer "liberal" or "conservative".

    They are "Corporatists", or they are "Populists".

    "Corporatists" are thoroughly in the pay of corporations, and have no desire or care to represent the actual people who elected them. They are bought and paid-for whores, and far less trustworthy.

    "Populists" are those with at least a modicum of dedication to their constituents, those people that actually pay their salaries too. They understand what it means to be a "public servant", and they work hard to be exactly that.

    So can we PLEASE get this right?? The other bent terms are too confusing to allow usage as they are, any longer.

     

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  71.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Apr 24th, 2013 @ 9:51pm

    Re: Blacklist

    Maybe someone should explain to the Senator what a blacklist is.
    Blacklist? Pfft, sack that for a lark. Just use a whitelist instead.

     

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  72.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 2:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "There are more than 2 parties. They are just not widespread or relevant in most cases."

    Of course I realise that. I meant mainstream parties. The problems are that most people will only vote for one of the mainstream parties, and certain aspects of the system (such as debates that only feature 2 parties) work to cement this. I hope that both parties have radical elements break off and join/form other parties so that there's at least 3 realistic options (at the very least a centrist party with a true left and right wing option), but the system seems built to discourage this.

    "I don't think anyone would list religion and birth certificate as their "only" reason"

    You've had different discussions to me, possibly because cultural differences mean I notice different things. Last time I was in the US I got into a heated discussion with a guy about healthcare. I couldn't understand why he was so opposed to a system that would not only help the poor but also streamline the systems already in place (the US pays more per capita in taxes toward healthcare than any other country, and this guy was also paying nearly as much in insurance for his family as my entire tax bill).

    When it came down to it, he couldn't concoct a reason for his opposition other than a vague notion of "socialism". His only opposition to that was that it was "unAmerican". His blind patriotism stopped him from considering the actual problems.

    Anecdotal for sure, but I've heard similar arguments relating to education, immigration, terrorism, military action, equal rights, contraception, etc. - "because Jesus" or "because America" seem to be a depressingly common reactions to complex issues that shut down honest discussion before they even begin.

    Of course those things have some sort of effect in the decision everybody makes, even if it's a lack of religion or patriotism. But Republicans are usually the ones who make it their entire argument in my experience - that's really all I meant. There's stupid rhetoric on all sides, though, I agree.

     

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  73.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 25th, 2013 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So then you agree with my statement above that we should treat all poor, minority, inner city people with caution until they can be verified safe?


    Apples & oranges. I'm talking about how a person presents himself, not about what status or group the person belongs to. Not all religious people need to be treated with caution. Only those who behave as if their religion justifies their actions. The same is true of all the groups you cite, including muslims.

    The also frequently hide behind "The Greater Good" and "Tolerance" and "Free Market" and "For the Children".


    Indeed so. And what I said above applies to these groups as well.

    Does that mean we should close down the Boys and Girls Clubs of America?


    That's just a silly thing to say. This discussion has nothing to do with closing anything down at all.

    The fact is, there are bad people everywhere.


    Again, very true. However, certain types of bad people are more attracted to some things than others. Con artists are attracted to things that are likely to make people have confidence in them. Religion is a very big, easy target to use this way.

    But that does not give anyone the right to ASSUME, based on an expression of love for their nation or religion that a person has any ulterior motives.


    I have the right to assume anything at all. But I'm not talking about assuming that anyone has ulterior motives. I'm talking about engaging in due caution. This is common sense stuff. Some groups present a hire risk than others, due to no fault of their own.

    For example, if I go onto a used car lot shopping for a car, it's prudent to be cautious when talking to the salesman. Used car lots present a hire-than-normal risk of ripping you off. That's not the same as suspecting that the specific lot you're on are crooks, but a common-sense recognition of a general increased risk.

    Also, we're not talking about a simple expression of love for nation of religion. We're talking about how that type of rhetoric is often used by crooks for nefarious purposes.

    I repeat my question, "It's OK to be loud and proud of your children, your sports team, or your university, but not your nation or your beliefs. Do I have that right?"


    No, you do not have that right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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