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Neil Mick
09-19-2004, 07:32 PM
OK, check this out, in response to a thread closed a few weeks ago (the title of the thread, listed in bold):

Re: Why does it matter?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi folks,

SInce I can't say I've ever seen a political discussion in an aikido discussion group on the Internet not create divisive rifts among people, I'm going to close this thread before it goes that far.

-- Jun

I'll grant you that Jun may have had good reason to close the discussion. It hadn't quite gotten to the point of acrimony, but it was about 2 posts away, from it.

Actually, tho: the acrimony pretty much came from one post-er.

So, here's my issue: Jun says that he's "never seen a political discussion" that doesn't "create divisive rifts." But if you look closely: it's not 10 ppl all quibbling, it's one or two bad-apples who refuse to practice good netiquette.

Sure, if Jun doesn't want to spend some of his time moderating the political discussions more carefully: that's his issue. Respectfully, however: it is an oversimplification to suggest that ALL political discussion results in rifts, to ALL parties involved. Personally, I've had discussions that were quite positive on this website, with ppl with whom I disagree.

Can't there be an alternative to simply allowing the trolls to "win" all the time, perhaps giving them a little private "encouragement" to stop their antics, rather than shutting down, wholesale, a topic under discussion?

(To me: this is equivalent to closing an Aikido dojo, because 2 or 3 ppl were abusive, in their training: it's overkill).

Just a thought...

akiy
09-19-2004, 08:01 PM
Hi Neil,

The way I see things is probably the same way Mom saw things when I was a kid when she said, "I don't care who started it. Both of you, go to your rooms!"

In any case, I still stand by my experiences in witnessing that political discussions only create acrimony. However, I'm taking each thread case-by-case as can be witnessed by many of the other threads still open in the Open Discussions forum.

Hope that helps,

-- Jun

PS: By the way, I haven't said anywhere that I will be closing all political discussions...

SeiserL
09-20-2004, 08:41 AM
Gotta support Jun on this one. I tend to just totally avoid the political discussions because the tend to disintegrate in to naming calling, insults, and side taking.

I think there are political discussion boards for those who enjoy that debate. The focus here is on Aikido.

So lets all get back to the mat instead of discussing the politics of politics.

The original post was, IMHO, a great example of exactly what was demonstrated and why.

mj
09-20-2004, 09:11 AM
I have been minorly involved in a few of these discussions on other boards where Neil and others butt heads.

I have to say that sometimes the level of political debate is ridiculously offensive and ill-informed. Personal attacks and constant repetition of half-truths span many threads.

My opinion on this, sadly, is that it reflects the current level of debate within the US itself on a general level. Aggressively split 50/50 which makes proper debate impossible.

However I can assure you all that it is not limited to Aikido boards ;)

DarkShodan
09-20-2004, 10:15 AM
I like this motto...

"Only you can prevent forest fires."

I'm going to go post this on every thread now. Such wisdom!

Tah tah!

Neil Mick
09-20-2004, 09:00 PM
Hi Jun (and everyone else),

Thank you for such a prompt response. Perhaps this thread will take the form of an open letter, as I certainly do not have all the answers to the questions I pose.

Hope that helps,

Unfortunately (and, with respect): your answer does not help; in fact, it is almost the identical response to a related, yet different, question I posed several months ago (right down to the reference of your mother).

But yes: I do appreciate your patience in looking at these threads on a case-by-case basis. You certainly have gone above and beyond the "call of duty."

However: as I mentioned in the beginning:

if you look closely: it's not 10 ppl all quibbling, it's one or two bad-apples who refuse to practice good netiquette.

Your reply suggests that "all political threads end in disharmony." I am suggesting that the result is more complex--while they often end in silly, partisan bickering; there are other conversations within a give nthread that come to a positive conclusion.

When you decide to summarily shut down the thread when ONE person even comes close to being acrimonious, you risk only seeing the glass half-empty.

What of the conversations within, say, the Iraq-thread that WERE positive?

IMHO: when you shut down threads where one person hacks off (when the majority are behaving courteously), you give in to what the misbehaver really wants.

Neil Mick
09-20-2004, 09:19 PM
So lets all get back to the mat instead of discussing the politics of politics.

The original post was, IMHO, a great example of exactly what was demonstrated and why.

Gosh, Lynn: I wish it were so simple. But, IMO: the political dimensions of American life and politics are critical, especially in this time. America (and, by extension, the world) is on a precipice, and I am not simply referring to who wins on Nov 3rd. Ppl NEED to learn how to communicate these issues.

Our civil liberties have taken a nose-dive, and the few the argue for the merits of this, suggest that we need these liberties less than we need "security."

Simple logic, and history, show that this security is illusory. However, our media and the political arena have caused our society to be polarized to such an extent, that even CBS and the New York Times are called "leftist."

Where does an Aikidoist go to practice "verbal aiki?" Sure, there are websites devoted to political discussion: but the participants do not all agree that harmony is a desirable goal.

IMO: an Aikido site is the only place to practice "verbal aiki."

But: just as it takes practice to better understand Aikido; so it takes practice to discuss a divisive topic, harmoniously. Oftentimes, ppl will overstep good netiquette, perhaps become abusive: but this abuse does not mean that we should "throw the baby out with the bathwater."

Instead, I suggest that a semi-private forum be started, where ppl agree, in advance, to adhere to good etiquette that is specifically laid out, in similar fashion to the "Voices of Experience" threads. Threads would only be shut down if, say: the abuse became paramount, over polite discourse.

Instead: abusive posts would be deleted, regular abusive post-er's given a warning, and (in extreme cases) their rights to post in the political thread would be revoked, or suspended.

Sure: this system would need more scrutiny, but I (for one) would get much more out of such a discussion, rather than coming back after a few days, to find that some yoyo decided that he (always, a "he," it seems) didn't like where the discussion was going and decided to shut down the topic, via widespread abuse.

Personally, I would be willing to assist in setting up such a thread; but it would need mod's who encompass a full range of the political spectrum, so as not to be seen as partisan.

Just a thought, or 2...

Neil Mick
09-20-2004, 09:29 PM
I have been minorly involved in a few of these discussions on other boards where Neil and others butt heads.

I have to say that sometimes the level of political debate is ridiculously offensive and ill-informed. Personal attacks and constant repetition of half-truths span many threads.

My opinion on this, sadly, is that it reflects the current level of debate within the US itself on a general level. Aggressively split 50/50 which makes proper debate impossible.

Well, yes: and no. In the main--you're right. Debate in this country HAS deteriorated. IMO, it has to do with the state of the mainstream media.

If you look at the level of personal attacks on the internet and compare it to what's going on in the media at the time: I'm betting you'll find that the "epithet" level rises in proportion to the media-hysteria level.

Personally, I noticed that I got called "un-American" by post-er's the most, at the start of the Iraqi invasion, in full flower of the media-frenzy.

But, I have had several, extended discussions which were largely fruitful, with ppl with whom I disagree (notably: with Brian H., Opher Donchin, Daniel Rozenbaum, and Rend Shakir...and even a few, glimmering positive notes with "he-whose-name-I-cannot-mention,-per-his-request," now and again ;) ). So, it's not ALL bad.

But yes: the constant repetition of spin and lies on the internet is frustrating, but how do you deal with this misinformation, if you do not discuss it, bring it out in the open?

SeiserL
09-21-2004, 08:46 AM
Neil, it would appear that you have very strong feeling about what you want. The great thing about the Internet is that you are free to set up a forum of your own that will be run by the rules you want it run by.

When I am in some one's house, I try to respect and honor the customs of that house, and do try to tell them how to run it.

I agree, we need a place to learn verbal Aikido. And the different forums provide that. Part of learning is the consequence when you're wrong, like closing a thread if warranted.

Perhaps we need to better police the thread ourselves and not respond, encouraging, those who tend to abuse the opportunity provided here. Personally, I try to not respond if I think it will escalate. The cool thing about Aikido is that it works: if you get off the line of attack, the momentum of the attack will facilitate a fall.

And please, always remember, that the liberties and freedom we take for granted are not rights, but privileges won by those who fought and watched over us. Those privileges have obligations, accountabilities, and responsibilities. I will gladly give up some of my liberties if it will make you safer and allow you to complain so openly. I am one who fought in countries who don't have that privilege so that you can. Whine away.

Hey Neil, you are good. You just redirected me into making this a political thread.

(And now, he bows and steps off the mat.)

Yo-Jimbo
09-21-2004, 11:50 AM
I consider the aikido community to be a form of extended family. I may not always agree with my family, but I want what is best for them. My aikido family is an important subset of my human family; because, it is a group that is presumably focused on self-refinement, and through that personal goal, improvement of society as a whole. It is no wonder that I desire to discuss important issues with this group. A healthy family can and should discuss things that are truly important. At advanced levels, it should become clearer and clearer that what one confronts off the mat is what makes what is learned on the mat have relevance.

At the same time, I don't envy Jun's position and responsibilities in this matter. In a better world, it would not be made so difficult. I hope we can work our way there. Hopefully, nobody needs to get kicked from the edojo in the process. ;)

Finally, the 50/50 split disturbs me both for its cleanness and its longevity. The current division isn't the product of discussion; it is the result of a lack of it. When a random person's understanding of a subject is modeled by a coin toss, it seems that this can only be the result of carefully cultivated ignorance. Unless the topics are mired in relativism, one side or the other (or both) must be wrong. Though I'll leave that for another time; I hope we can continue to keep finding some happy medium between the state where anything goes and the state where we pretend to hear, see and speak no evil.

Hogan
09-21-2004, 11:57 AM
I am kind of surprised that the original thread was closed, seeing that, to me, it didn't appear to be going toward any divisiveness. And yet the other thread that discussed anti-americanism, and had in itself anti-american and very insulting & un-aikido-like posts, still continues.....

Go figure.

Neil Mick
09-21-2004, 01:01 PM
The great thing about the Internet is that you are free to set up a forum of your own that will be run by the rules you want it run by.

IF, you possess the means, and the capability, to start up such a forum. I do not.

When I am in some one's house, I try to respect and honor the customs of that house, and do try to tell them how to run it.

Neither do I. As this is neither a "house," nor am I "trying to tell" ANYONE how to run ANYTHING: your comment about respect is...misplaced, to say least. I was coming up with a few positive, friendly suggestions, is all.

I agree, we need a place to learn verbal Aikido. And the different forums provide that. Part of learning is the consequence when you're wrong, like closing a thread if warranted.

One more time, in case you missed it:

I'll grant you that Jun may have had good reason to close the discussion. It hadn't quite gotten to the point of acrimony, but it was about 2 posts away, from it.

Sometimes closing a thread is the most advisable course; but, IMO, only as a last resort.

Perhaps we need to better police the thread ourselves and not respond, encouraging, those who tend to abuse the opportunity provided here. Personally, I try to not respond if I think it will escalate. The cool thing about Aikido is that it works: if you get off the line of attack, the momentum of the attack will facilitate a fall.

Agreed.

Whine away.

Hey Neil, you are good. You just redirected me into making this a political thread.

Sorry, Lynn. I try only to take credit for my own misbehavior. If I err, even in response to an off-color remark; I have no one to blame, but myself.

With respect, how about practicing a little of what you preach, instead of blaming ME for your indiscretions?

Neil Mick
09-21-2004, 01:05 PM
I consider the aikido community to be a form of extended family. I may not always agree with my family, but I want what is best for them. My aikido family is an important subset of my human family; because, it is a group that is presumably focused on self-refinement, and through that personal goal, improvement of society as a whole. It is no wonder that I desire to discuss important issues with this group. A healthy family can and should discuss things that are truly important. At advanced levels, it should become clearer and clearer that what one confronts off the mat is what makes what is learned on the mat have relevance.

Excellent post, James. I completely agree: this is how I feel, about Aikido, as well. Exactly: we ARE an extended "family."


At the same time, I don't envy Jun's position and responsibilities in this matter. In a better world, it would not be made so difficult. I hope we can work our way there. Hopefully, nobody needs to get kicked from the edojo in the process. ;)

Yes, that WOULD be an extreme measure, IMO.

Finally, the 50/50 split disturbs me both for its cleanness and its longevity. The current division isn't the product of discussion; it is the result of a lack of it. When a random person's understanding of a subject is modeled by a coin toss, it seems that this can only be the result of carefully cultivated ignorance. Unless the topics are mired in relativism, one side or the other (or both) must be wrong. Though I'll leave that for another time; I hope we can continue to keep finding some happy medium between the state where anything goes and the state where we pretend to hear, see and speak no evil.

Hear, hear! :)

Neil Mick
09-21-2004, 01:20 PM
I am kind of surprised that the original thread was closed, seeing that, to me, it didn't appear to be going toward any divisiveness.

Perhaps it was a bit premature, but if you followed the themes and past comments of the post-er, it becomes plain that he often posted to incite a recriminatory response (not to mention, some of his more colorful PM's, to yours truly).


And yet the other thread that discussed anti-americanism, and had in itself anti-american and very insulting & un-aikido-like posts, still continues.....

Go figure.

Funny, I find the state of affairs in Mosul and Abu Ghraib to be very "un-Aikido-like" and insulting, but no matter.

Ignoring the fact that the "anti-American" thread (I hated that thread-name, but it fell to the position of being the "political discussion" thread by default, after the closing of the Iraqi thread) is pretty much done: I challenge you to

a. define what "anti-Americanism" is;
b. define what an "un-Aikido-like" post is;
c. show an insulting post, that did not attack the character of a post-er.

Really, John: I mean you no insult when I state this (tho you probably believe otherwise).

But it is unfortunate that too many ppl line up behind the phrase, "My country: Right or Wrong," and are unable to separate sincere criticism and analysis of the state of political affairs, with hatred for one's own country.

IMO, it does not bode well, for the fate of the world, in 2005 or beyond.

Erik
09-22-2004, 10:07 PM
http://www.time.com/time/election2004/columnist/klein/article/0,18471,678593,00.html