From my inbox

I feel like the young economist bloggers of the world need some advice, but I don’t have the stature, experience, or age to give it.

Working for a consulting company I’m fairly detached from the academic world, but we are staffed with PhD economists and we do hire grad students. When I read stuff that, for instance, REDACTED writes, in the tone that he writes it, I know that at my company if he were a potential hire we would a) Google him, and b) this would hurt his chances. This isn’t about political leanings either. My liberal colleagues would look at his writings with the same distaste and worry that my conservative colleagues would.

Is this the same way it is in academia? Should young economist (and other academic) bloggers be more careful than many seem to be? Are they hurting their job market chances? Because that is my impression.

That is another reason for polite discourse, namely that it improves the career prospects and quality of one’s readers and followers.  The best reason, however, is still that it improves one’s own thought processes and that is a point of substance not just style or manners.  I’ve seen that point ignored a lot in the commentary of the last few weeks but not once seriously disputed.

Comments

Why would you assume that Redacted, or anyone else here for that matter, is in the academy, or even in the field? A blog in general can be a great leveler, and this blog is no exception. I'm sure many here are attracted by the engagement, and may have nothing whatever to do with 'professional' economics.

Yes, but what are you leveling the blog discussions to?

I enjoy the comments on MR that bring a fresh perspective to the main post. I get plenty of professional economist interactions...other view points are more than welcome. But I get tired of scanning through the mean, juvenille crap (a little snark is one thing, but whole threads of crap is another.) Plus if the discourse gets grimy enough you just throw up a new barrier to entry. It scares some people aware who might have something useful to say.

I like the idea of the Internet as opening up the conversation. I am not ready to throw basic decency out the window (at least on sites that are supposed to be decent). But I am thinking more along the lines of self policing...not some blocker. For example, I try to write stuff that I would be comfortable having my mom or my boss read...not like they would agree, just that they wouldn't gasp in horror.

You could go to Calculated Risk blog's comment section where 99% of the comments are pure noise.

The comments section of CR was great around '06-'07 during the time that Tanta was there...
Anyone remember the commenter named Banker? He used to swear up and down that no banks would fail from the subprime slowdown...he retreated to his bunker before A2/P2 spreads spiked in mid '08 (and I felt like my economic education was at least fleshed out enough that I didn't feel the compulsion to read econ blogs for hours at a time)

Now that you mention it, it occurs to me that Occupy Hoocoodanode began a few years before OWS.

The ZOC (zero opportunity cost) crowd can easily overtake a blog and turn it into an echo chamber. The internet is a precarious marketplace of ideas. Popularity leads to agglomeration and obscurity produces few meaningful discussions.

Maybe the reason I come to MR is that it is large enough and populated enough with intelligent people that it's worth reading and commenting, but not so popular that reading the comments shatters my ear drums.

"The ZOC (zero opportunity cost) crowd"

Hmmm, ZMP (zero margin posters), yes that does seem a pretty valid concept.

At first I thought they were talking about me, and I was vaguely worried, but then I realized that tyler just redacted a name.

I thought they were talking about you too.

(as a young economist who can't kick the blogging habit...) I'm more worried about being googled and judged uninformed or unintelligent as a result of writing more to explore thoughts on a variety of topics than to inform on only the topics I'm most knowledgeable about. It is terrible that polite discourse goes out the window on the internet, but aren't we so used to this by now as to not assume that someone who speaks cringingly on the internet would also do so in the workplace?

Vera, I think the answer to your quesiton is that I don't assume that people would talk that way in the workplace, but I assume they would think that way. Ranting your position and belittling anybody who disagrees with you is not merely impolite, it also reveals how your mind works.

ah that's a good point. And it's more legitimate to let someone's blog rants affect their hireability because you don't want to work with a person who thinks like that than because reading them leaves a bad taste in your mouth that prevents you from making objective hiring decisions. And even if it's true that many, maybe most, otherwise reasonable people have a hard time remaining polite in online discourse, a blatant inability to keep that impulse in check is still a bad sign about someone.

Vera, I think it's inevitable that blogging is going to remove some employers from your choice set. But is that bad? You enjoy the expressive outlet of your blog. Would you *want* to work somewhere that made you shut your blog down? And I don't think the email author was talking about half-baked blog ideas (find a discpline or company that didn't have a few of those?). But a combative blogging style. I am torn on this...young economists are supposed to be rabble rousers but the blogs are such an open, permanent place to do so (most of us grow up someday). Blogging is risky for young untenured economists, but there are some potential upsides and for many it's intellectual fun. That said, I still think Krugman can "get away" with more colorful rants than young economist ...and why go there? Often the youngsters have good ideas that can stand alone.

It may also be an issue for the reputation of the firm. (especially if the person kept blogging in the same way after they were hired publicly) Imagine you are looking at hiring a consulting firm. You notice Dr. Krugman as one of the employees who is prominently displayed on their website. He is a well-known Nobel-Prize winner and prominent economist, but maybe you don't know much about him so you Google and you find out that since you are not a liberal you must be either evil or stupid if not both. I don't know about you but I would not hire such a firm. I would be worried about bias, professionalism and just overall ticked off.

It would be interesting to compare postings of academics with tenure with those without tenure, the subjects they discuss, their tone, whether they advocate and take a position, or lay out both sides.

Tyler, the pic at "polite discourse" was excellent.

This is really unacceptable making hiring decisions based on blogging. These employers won't be content until everyone is an emotionless, sedated robot

I prefer "servile automatons" but I'll accept your description.

Managers are whining ninnies, cowards, and control freaks. This video expresses how I feel about the people I've had to work for. It's a miracle our nation has survived this long.

Occasionally you and are on the same page.

Occasionally? The sorry state of the management class is basically the thrust of most of my posts

We're on the same book.

If only that was the thrust of >50% of your posts

It's at least 75% - it's the overriding theme

A Fugue you might say

If this is "unacceptable" does this mean bloggers should be added as a protected class?

Protecting free speech is not something to take lightly, as corporation increasingly seek more and more control over employee's personal lives and rights and freedoms outlined in the constitution become increasingly irrelevant as only the independently wealthy can partake in them. Asking for "polite" discourse sounds nice and all but when you realize that most managers are complete control freaks and strongly authoritarian "polite" discourse quickly becomes "your opinions should never differ from mine".

Free speech means you can say what you want. It does not mean other people cannot react to it the way THEY want.

Sorry CBBB, maybe you are a good guy and all but your messages tell me you are a spoiled, self centered man who might have a better life if you just changed your perspective about the world.

I understand it does not mean freedom from consequences of your speech but when you have a situation where employers expend huge amounts of energy snooping on all their employees or potential employees it leads to self-censorship and degrades discourse and society. On one hand large corporations can spend millions on voicing their opinion and then on the other hand can turn around and crush any dissent - it makes any constitutional protections meaningless.

Again, I don't think you get it. You can voice your opinion but you cannot expect others to simply ignore it.

There is a good reason employers look into this kind of thing. If you believe in rational players here, no one is interested in whether you are a democrat or republican. They are looking for things like attitude.

So it is not a question of censorship at all - it is a question on why are you afraid they will read what you write.

No I do get it - right I'm not saying this is illegal, I'm saying it is unfortunate and this kind of thing should be shamed not encouraged.

If it were a case of employers just caring about "attitude' or something that might be different but unfortunately that's not really the case most managers are control-freaks and authoritarians they want complete and total conformity in your professional and your private life.

@FYI

First, I think it does matter quite a bit whether you are a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. Why would we acknowledge subconscious biases about race and gender but ignore similar biases in political affiliation?

Second, polite society is filled with white lies, euphemisms, truths in jest, and social constraints. In other words, most people you see face-to-face are BSing you and you are BSing them. This is a good thing because it prevents fist-fights and hurt feelings. On the internet, we are released from the bonds of this deceptive civility. Sometimes it degrades into a flamewars and and unproductive noise. Other times it contributes fresh honesty.

Larry Summers lost his job because of a comment he made about women. Had he made the exact same comment under a pseudonym on the internet, we could have had a lively and honest academic debate. Polite or politically correct society squelches passionate speech. As I said earlier, our courts rush to the defense of the most vile speech but won't lift a finger to protect slight deviations from social graces.

If employers are seeking out your thoughts, they intend to discriminate based upon it. If their only fear is that your views will be attached to them, it's a flimsy basis for discrimination. For many people, the most angry and socially outrageous expressions are merely part of the path toward more moderate positions. I wrote things three years ago that would appall me today. Employers have no legitimate business interest intruding on your thought processes. Government isn't the only Big Brother we need to worry about.

Who are you +100ing?

My +100 was to FYI. I agree that you come across as spoiled and self-centered. You seem much more interested in throwing bombs and showing how badass you are than engaging in a discussion.

Man, this is just more of the typical CBBB-bashing that I've come to expect from the comments on this blog. I ignored that part of FYI's comment initially because frankly I feel I'm above that kind of mud-slinging.

Isn't that the point of education, to make more of those for the bureaucrats who like to boss people around without push back and noise? If you're posting comments on a blog, you must be defective.

However, I'd argue that the consulting firm isn't that smart. Blogs are a great outlet for those who like to gnaw on ideas. My family, friends & co-workers are thankful that I have ways to sound things out that don't involve them and I think that's also made me a better family member, friend and co-worker.

Is this the same way it is in academia? Should young economist (and other academic) bloggers be more careful than many seem to be?

It certainly is in English lit, my neighborhood. I've had a couple professors tell me, sometimes more bluntly and sometimes less so, that a) blogging is a waste of time and b) it will hurt me on the job market. I'm less worried about a) and slightly worried about b), although not enough to change my behavior, especially because I suspect there's a strong generational effect going on.

It's a good point, and I haven't been doing as well as I should.

I actually do a lot better with an edit function, as I usually realize what a jackass I've just been only after hitting submit.

Things like Disqus also tends to reinforce good behavior since nastiness generally garners fewer likes. It made quite a difference at Megan McArdle's Atlantic blog.

Dave, I too used to hit the Send button too soon. As I approach 70, I've finally disciplined myself to slow down and look at what I've just written. And I have to comment on your comment about yourself -- you and I are often at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but I never fail to enjoy reading your comments, because occasionally they hit a sensitive target on my posterior (sometimes deservedly so), but they never make me feel like I've been shot at with a 12-guage.

That last, by the way, is the answer to almost all the foregoing discussion. If bloggers and commenters refrain from ranting, and refrain from acting like anybody who disagrees is automatically retarded, it looks like a plus to anyone who takes the trouble to google them. There are many good reasons to be polite.

Ugh, I just came from Megan's blog and was thinking the comments there are as bad as the most hyperpartisan blog. Her posts are very reasonable and meaty, but the commenters are mostly a pack of trolls.

Don't you mean badgers?

The mice are enjoyable, imho.

You should have seen it before.

I wouldn't feel great about the comment section of my blog either if I had trolls like CBBB.

Pffff If you think I'm a bad troll you obviously haven't seen a lot of internet comment sections

You're a breath of fresh air compared to the mouth breathers on Hoocoodanode.

The comments were great before 2007. I stopped reading years ago

Wasn't MR closed to comments back in the days.

In early 2005 the blog was getting zero to two comments per post. It appears comments were open, but it was probably too obscure to gather much attention. I'd love to see his hit count and comment count in a chart.

While he was an early spotter of the problems, his posts had a lot of question marks and cautious pessimism. Rare was a definitive warning. His first post on the housing market analyzed prices from 1998. If he was the first oracle, he was still several years too late and not exactly pulling the emergency brake. By 2005, the bubble was almost fully inflated.

It appears there was a long period with no comments - not just 0 comments but the number of comments shown as blank.

I guess he got tired of administration when the audience got to large. Then I think KCoop came to his rescue.

I've often wondered whether I shouldn't post under my real name, although I'm not an economist. There was an article (NYTimes? Boston Globe?) a couple years ago, about how for Harvard and other elite students, their online persona is stage-managed from the time they are teenagers. It sounded awful to me. But this is the game you play today.

You shouldn't. I am suprised anyone posts under their real name, and that this could be an issue. Personally, I'd be hesitant to publish peer-reviewed articles under my own name. Anyway, as such, once you start out you don't have to stage-manage anything else. Harvard hasn't been cost-effective since at least the 1980s anyway.

I've never googled someone at work because I never expected it would turn up anything useful, but has the potential to generate confusion.

who can REDACTED be? i'm guessing noah smith, he's become very prominent lately, but i guess it could also be matt rognlie or daniel kuehn? there aren't any other well-known young economist bloggers who will soon be on the job market.

i like noah smith a lot and reading his blog would greatly improve the chance that i'd hire him, not that i'm in a position to do so. but i guess i'm not a republican.

I think the post is about Noah Smith - and SHAME on any employer who would use his blog against him in making a hiring decision

Also a fan of Smith's blog, by blogging standards, I don't think he's very intemperate. I suspect that a lot of profs are going to be jealous of his profile.

How will an employer connect their interviewee to some handle they use in a particular blog?

You'd be surprised at the lengths some employers will go to. They start with suspicion, look for patterns, look for similarities, and occasionally they get assistance from the blog hosts with IP addresses that make it really easy. Investigators can bait you.

That's why it's a good idea to learn how to use a proxy server or a "ghoster" - someone (or several people) who post for you and you post for them. Either that or get a good First Amendment attorney.

Big Brother is watching.

From John Cochrane's blog. He goes off on PK's lack of polite discourse.

http://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com/2012/01/stimulus-and-etiquette.html

Cochrane doesn't have much of a case. He protests Krugman and others unfairly attacked him for not having a defensible model of the economy in mind when writing his past popular audience pieces against fiscal stimulus and then proceeds to name-drop several "freshwater" macro authors. Great, but shouldn't he have just specified which model he was working off of in the original piece itself and discussed why he thinks the assumptions of that model are realistic?

Cochrane not only failed to do so but also engaged in impoliteness himself. He described fiscal stimulus as a "fairy story" and implied that real economists give no credence to it. His arrogance, obvious ideological ax-grinding and his inability to back his own arguments up with internally consistent logic invited a harsh response. He should exercise better quality control in the future.

Ricardo, it would seem very silly if Cochrane began to point to elementary models, such as the second theory of demand, in every blog post he writes that engages one of those concepts. While not quite so elementary, models which reject the positive fiscal multiplier are vastly abundant, and have been written or supported by some of the most influential and respected economists of the last fifty years. For Krugman and DeLong to claim ignorance of their existence is either disingenuous, or grossly incompetent.

Further, even if Cochrane were talking about something more obscure where the onus of pointing to a specific model was really on him, it would not have necessitated the kind of responses Krugman and DeLong delivered. Finally, to say that Cochrane is as or more culpable for the degeneration of courtesy that is itself the result of rude comments of Krugman and DeLong is a preposterous argument.

Hmmm, maybe I ought to become Redacted 2.

I don't know what "the second theory of demand" is even though I went through Ph.D. level courses in macro. Google doesn't seem familiar with it either so it can't be as "elementary" as you claim.

That said, of course there are models that say fiscal policy has no effect. These models contain assumptions or lead to conclusions that most people would consider highly unrealistic, though. For instance, they would need to assume fully flexible wages or prices and rational expectations. They also predict a crowding-out result that simply does not reflect the real world. Cochrane predicted rising yields and inflation back in 2009 as a result of fiscal and monetary policy -- he was flat-out wrong.

If Cochrane was a good Popperian scientist, he would consider his previous set of hypotheses falsified and would set out to change his working hypothesis of the economy. Is there any evidence of such reflection on his part?

Finally, I would note we are talking about the real world. Recessions and prolonged spells of unemployment can ruin people's lives and economists have a professional responsibility to offer sound advice and analysis in such a scenario. Cochrane was very clearly wrong in his predictions of high inflation and rising government bond yields and it is also clear that he is listened to by some important people -- he was seen dining with Rep. Paul Ryan at one point. Shouldn't he consider doing the economy a favor and sitting the next round out?

Because of course, Krugman and the people he was arguing with have both never been wrong about anything and would graciously bow out if they were ever proven wrong right? Further, Cochrane's predictions don't seem so wrong if you look at the Eurozone, depending on your definition of high inflation. It is not high compared to many episodes of historically high inflation, but it is higher than what the ECB promised to deliver, with some real possibility that it will rise more depending on the ECB's choice of action in the near future.

Also, I have to apologize, I substituted theory for law. What I meant to refer to was the second law of demand:
http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=pfwl&cp=15&gs_id=2r&xhr=t&q=second+law+of+demand&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&safe=off&biw=1334&bih=801&source=hp&pbx=1&oq=second+law+of+d&aq=0&aqi=g3g-v1&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=c65a11b8255e34ea

Once again, my point is simply the same as John Cochrane's as far as the etiquette goes. Krugman and DeLong are totally free to disagree with Cochrane's predictions and models of choice, hell I don't really agree with Cochrane myself. The point is that they skipped straight from disagreement to poor etiquette and manners. As Cochrane said in the linked piece, he meets people at conferences all the time who think he is dead wrong, but they are still able to engage him in civil discourse. Macro is not physics. There are as many exceptions to the theories Krugman and DeLong are pushing as there are to Cochrane's models of choice. That is why we have debates and discussions and papers and blogs and empirical evidence, to try and discern what the truth is. Krugman and DeLong have made it perfectly clear that they want to play for keeps, and that they think the best way to do that is to make sure that everybody who already agrees with you thinks that anybody who disagrees with you is full of it. They miss the whole point of Cowen, Sumner, and Cochrane's point on polite discourse. Not only is it nice, it is also more productive.

Ironic that this should come from TC, who recently titled a post "I expect your comments on this post will be awful, try to prove me wrong".

Politeness is not just about using mild words and sounding mild mannered. It is also about treating others with a modicum of respect, and to NOT provoke/incite them the way TC often does (in a however "civilized" fashion).

I'm not making any comments about TC because I haven't been here long enough to form an opinion, but I am quite familiar with the breed of animal you discuss.

There are many people in this world who are demeaning and dismissive with a smile and kind words. I'll forgive an honest, impassioned insult from a known foe or competitor, but these passive-aggressive types make me wish they were pedestrians in front of my car on a dark and stormy night.

Oh, I wouldn't say TC is as bad as the kind of person you have just specified at all. He doesn't demean with smile and kind words. Only, he occasionally puts in ad hominems that, while still featuring relatively mild words, express a very low opinion of groups of people he doesn't like, and which provoke people from these groups. Similar in tone to the sample I quoted above.

I had an entirely different take on that comment. I think he was politely asking us to be polite and add meaningfully to the conversation. For the past several months, I've been taking note of the posts that draw the most comments, and not surprisingly they are the most "provocative."

I think TC attempts to be provocative. That's what makes it interesting to come here.

Sometimes I think he likes to play games with us. Sometimes I think he's conducting a social experiment.

I think we all had a lot of fun with the last post on emotions expressed in electronic form. :)

Frankly, I think this is the most intelligent comments section I've ever read. Rahul and TallDave are awesome. I enjoy hearing Bill's alternative perspective even if I disagree. Andrew' has pithy and biting critique. There is some noise, but even noisemakers can surprise me with their insights now and again.

"Sometimes I think he likes to play games with us. Sometimes I think he’s conducting a social experiment." If you dig that, then Scott Adams over at the DilbertBlog should interest you.

Meanwhile, I want to like this post so hard that

Another option would be to concern troll on behalf of Redacted, instead of addressing Redacted's points.

I see the value in anonymous blogging (until tenure). And I consider Tyler a leading light, yea verily a guru. But this smacks of silencing via intimidation.

I've spent the last several years censoring myself for exactly this reason, and I hate myself for it. Kudos to Noah.

Wait, are you censoring yourself from calling out nonsensical posts/comments or from making expletive-laden comments?

I was speaking more generally of advancing opinions that might offend some hypothetical employer.

Hmm, I have had it said to me sometimes that any potential employer that could be offended by well-thought out opinions, is probably not worthy of my talent. But I do not think I have the luxury of being that brilliant, that I can disregard that risk. Do you have that luxury? To the point however, isn't Tyler simply advocating for polite discourse, not rude one-upmanship and such? In that case, surely you have nothing to fear.

I do not, and you might be right about what Tyler intends. But I much prefer Tyler focus on the epistemological benefits of good discourse norms rather than implicitly threaten people with unemployment.

The issue is that you are a hypothetical employee.

I knew a brilliant man who shut down his blog because one person at his workplace inadvertently discovered who he was from a minuscule piece of personal information.

He was an investment professional, and he dared not risk his income, reputation, or aggravate his employer. It was a sad day for the internet when that chap closed up shop. His blog was more historical than political, but the few political posts he made were enough to raise someone's ire, and the presentation of history is always subject to different viewpoints.

I don't have a blog because I worry about the consequences. Aside from people in academia, the only people free to express themselves on blogs are the self-employed, the wealthy, and those for whom political extremism is profitable.

The odd thing about court rulings on free speech is that the most heinous speech wears the strongest armour. Mild deviations from orthodoxy are defenseless.

I really should Censor myself on facebook.

We all should.

I have to constantly remind myself that my wife and my priest are among my Facebook friends.

I was smart enough not to add my boss or any co-workers.

Facebook will sell your data (which btw doesn't get deleted when you delete) to your employer should they ask.

@NAME REDACTED

Is that speculation or has that happened? I know they sell to advertisers but have they ever sold a specific profile to an employer on demand?

If Tyler decided it was ethical to keep the email sender anonymous wouldn't courtesy also demand that he redact the pseudonym of the commentator referred to in the email? Assuming the posts are indeed harming him; wouldn't this innuendo harm him more?

I think he did. I don't think he was referring to me, as I am not a left winger. And this isn't my real name, wear-as the post suggests that the person commenting is using their actual name.

Ahh! My bad. Apologies, Tyler!

BTW, how did you come up with a handle like that; most curious!

I had a handle that I used in a lot of places and my employer found out about it. Now he agreed with me, so it wasn't a problem, but I realized how it could become a problem. I wished I could redact my name from those previous posts to protect myself incase I ended up working at a large company where my extreme libertarian views may anger someone. That gave me this idea.

I recently read an article that found that post quality was higher on average for pseudonymous individuals. I suspect its because they don't self-censor.

Nice handle but someone will figure it out again.

I started out adamant to use my full name in comments ... mainly as a self control device. And yet, it caused too much stress since people would google me on some sites and then put my work affiliation in their response to me. (Sad when others act like where you work is more important than what you say.) And I got emails. Oh yeah and "best" of all was when work colleagues noticed me up in a blog post with my work affiliation noted (at least I was super civil in the linked comment.) I am stubborn, but I had to give it up and go to my first name. But I don't kid myself that I am not identifiable...just made it not so easy.

No activity is without a cost, and we have to weigh that cost against the benefit. Unfortunately there's a lot of uncertainty about the costs and benefits. True for blogs, true for real life.

@Claudia

Although unless one is truly a publicly important professional what's the downside of commenting under a pseudonym? I see no shame in it.

Rahul, I wanted to post under my name for accountability reasons...no moral dimensions. And it makes things a little more comfortable. Blog comment sections have different conventions...time delays, few nonverbal cues, and little sense of who you are talking to. Some of the pseudonyms are so colorful, I am embarassed to put them in my response (that's more about me than them) and I feel silly when trying to convince others of them gems in the comments. "TallDave, dearime, msgkings, CBBB said" ... raises eyebrows from the start. But that's there choice...i want to use my name. Finally i complain at work that there is not enough male name variation (i work with many David, John, Chris) but blogs go to a depersonalized other extreme. Just because it's a fake name does not mean it's a fake person. (PS I think people with high professional aspirations have the most to gain from using fake names not the opposite.)

I can't speak for other employers, just me:

Many businesses, including many small businesses like mine, run Google alerts and other competitive intelligence tools regularly, to keep track of competitors, opportunities, rumors, new developments in their industry, reputation, etc.

A few years ago an employee's comments started popping up in the results. They were not particularly flattering, and I didn't agree with them. However, my concern was not that he agree with me, I didn't want clients or potential clients coming across them and interpreting them as in any way representing my company. So I asked him to either post anonymously or not use information that would identify his employer and leading to any confusion that his opinions and statements represented the company. He agreed and continued to post happily away, even becoming a tad more "honest" online in the process.

He never posted anything he was not willing to say to my face, and the range of that was pretty broad.

We do background checks on all potential hires, including criminal background checks, credit reports, and checking out social media and the Internet generally. Many people do stupid things when they are young, and we take our own stupid youth into account. Because all of our employees handle money and personal information (SSNs, credit cards, home address, birth dates, etc.), we do not want colleagues who disclose private information or who appear to lack discretion. Their political opinions are not relevant so long as their expression does not veer into argumentum ad hominem.

The comments above about people in academic settings not feeling free to discuss things are troubling.

Polite is just another word for not saying anything that matters. It's not polite to say banksters are evil and should be sent to federal pound me in the ass prison. So please keep your suggestions within acceptable discourse that doesn't threaten anyone in power seriously.

While I don't agree with your specific examples I agree with the gist.

Dave, I disagree with your examples and your gist. Being rude ("pound me in the ass prison") is a fast track to getting yourself and your ideas ignored. It's a real challenge to say something intelligent AND get people to listen to you. I truly believe civility is a key to being influential.

+1000

Inflammatory comments are for the commenter's ego alone. They are not discourse.

"Pound me in the ass" prison is a description of the kind of prison I want these people sentenced too. That's different from white collar minimum security resort prison. I want these people sent to dysfunctional prisons with violent psychopaths that rape them. That's not hyperbole. Its a policy suggestion.

It is a policy suggestion that is as abhorrent as the suggestion that these people be sent to concentration camps, and only very slightly below suggesting that they be sent to the ovens. So I can understand why you would chose to make it from behind a shield of anonymity.

But just to make certain we understand your position: what arrangements do you propose for female "banksters"? I can think of several options, but I think we (and your future employers) would be better served by knowing exactly where you stand on this matter.

Or, you could crawl back under your rock.

Heh. Claudia, you now have an interesting dilemma. You have taken the position that "civility" is a principle standard of conduct. In response, someone has reiterated a statement advocating rape of a third party.

Now, I, myself, as a woman, object to advocating rape for any purpose under any circumstance. Perhaps, like many women, you do as well. I consider calling out men (and woman) who make statements like "I think they should be sent to a prison where they'll be raped" to be nothing less than the duty of civilized people, not because such statements are "rude", but because they normalize a heinous crime as somehow legitimate punishment for anything, ever, and shape our culture to condone rape.

But I don't quite see how you can manage to do that while maintaining the "civility" you prize, since civility is generally construed to rule out shaming, confrontational, or accusatory content.

I am guessing that you weren't planning on responding to Dave's advocacy of rape. You hint in your comment that the censure of "being rude" available to you is "ignoring" the commentor. Unfortunately, in this case, it leaves the noxious comment standing in public uncontradicted, unaddressed, and continuing its work in normalizing rape.

Perhaps you do not agree with me that addressing such comments has any sort of moral imperative. Myself, I consider the problem of rape and its normalization in our culture to be a much more important and pressing issue than that of politeness, and as such has much greater moral weight.

This situation in which you find yourself is, it seems, to me, a nice example of why I do not espouse "civility" as a value of any particular import. It seems to silence those who adopt it, in precisely the circumstances when people of character and good will need to step up and speak.

I am interested to see how you handle Dave's comment. I think your position on civility leaves you no way to address it; it disempowers you entirely.

Which, ironically, was Dave's point.

I invite you to prove me wrong: if there's a way to confront Dave on his invocation of rape as a punishment which meets your standard of "civility", I would like to see it in action.

I agree entirely with Claudia and "The Original D".
Civility is critical. It appears to me that the comments on MR have declined in content during the past year - a move toward less thinking/data in comments and more personal attacks and general political statements in a very negative tone.

Strangely, I think I am *less* aggressive in my comments than I am in my speech. (I'm working on the speech part...)

"I agree entirely with Claudia and “The Original D”. Civility is critical."

+1

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