September 08, 2005

The vagaries of humans

There was an interesting situation I noticed when I read one blogger's comments section. The post was about a debate between Austin Bay and a media professor, concerning media bias and how to effectively combat it from an administration and press perspective.

The interesting thing occurs not from what was discussed but from the discusses themself. Namely the commentators the blogger, Rosen. The link is from neo-neocon, someone who had followed the situation and blogged about it. She has most of the relevant links if you look on the right hand, lower side bar.

In Rosen's original Austin Bay/Rollback post, he most definitely should have linked to these two essays of his if he didn't want the "bias" argument to dominate the comments, especially since he should have foreseen that his Austin Bay post would attract people who are not ordinarily readers of Pressthink and hadn't read his previous discourses on the subject of press bias. If somehow he failed to see this coming at the beginning, he certainly should have understood what was going on by the time of his first comment. The professor was trying to give a seminar with required reading first, and he didn't supply the reading assignments and then got angry at the class.

The tone of his remarks was both impenetrable and profoundly condescending. Neither furthers the aim of having a productive conversation, nor does cutting off comments do so--it ends it.

So I'd request that he abandon the use of the word "dumb" in this context as being needlessly inflammatory and insulting hyperbole. It's not dumb to have what Rosen calls "the bias discourse," although in some ways he is very correct in the point I believe he is actually trying to make, which is that it is often unproductive or even counterproductive. But there's nothing dumb about those who are annoyed at what they see as evidence of press bias in a press that so often claims to be objective, and who want to talk about this--even if such arguments (like most in politics, or perhaps even in life!) don't tend to change many hearts and minds, or to lead to solutions, at least right away.


A brief summarization would be the analogy of a classroom with a teacher, and the teacher had asked a question of the class that required a specific answer, but the class gave all the wrong answers and therefore frustrated the teacher. The teacher, in this class not the metaphor, closed down class and called the students dumb for not getting it right.

One would suspect that the dumbness occured in the reaction of the teacher to the students, and not the other way around.

The scenario is continued in this link

Aside from my interest in press bias, that was discussed in this situation, I was also interested in the purely human psychology occuring here.

Here you have someone who wanted his commentators to talk about a specific thing, but when they didn't, he acted like they should have already known his wants and wishes and used his power to shut them down.

That human reaction is pretty consistent when someone with power, doesn't get what they want, and is not required to think about the why of the matter as opposed to thinking about what he should do with his power.

Because if Rosen thought about the why of the matter, it would have been clear that he could have relieved his own frustration if he had communicated his wishes and wants to the audience before crashing the party with his censorship and overimposing blogger powers.

This brings up another thing. Which is my temporary ban from the FE Debate Forum. Link

Here are the PM conversation that should illustrate the matter better than an overview or summary.

Me
Why have you restricted my access to the debate forum, without giving me the warning that likeable previous individuals who used abusive and trollish language recieved, when I did not act like these people previous to my access being restricted?

And, why did you restrict my access in the first place?


Lurk
I got fed up with you lack of a desire to take any issues with communication as something you need to be concerned about. While some abusive and trollish people have visited the forum and been warned, it is not something that I am required to do. I chose to give them an opportunity to be good members.

You have shown a consistent disdain (IMO) for the art of communication. Is it your problem if people don't read your words correctly? Is it your problem if you don't read theirs correctly? As long as these are not your problem, communication will suffer.

I have tired of it.


Me
So where are these Rules to the Art of Communication posted on this website or any other website?

If you mean to say that your Admin persona and your Debate Persona are one and the same, non-separatable by any line of professionalism, then it'd help if you'd warn the rest of us concerning that.

Because if you do not want to be treated as an equal, then I am not the person who should be deciding in which way you want to be treated.

If you want to stymie debate and discussion with people who disagree with you, with the themes you have framed, and the "way" you have framed your themes, that is one thing. Might makes right in this instance.

But I'd like a warning to not treat you as I would any other debater, if your two personas are one and the same.

Because I cannot always assume people want special treatment, given how much more fair it is to treat people in an evenhanded manner as a matter of course.


Lurk
As always, your style of delivery is caustic at best and that does anything but foster clear even discussion.

And I am one person. I try not to exhibit multiple personality disorder. I try to be even handed. But, I have to evalueate as well what is best for the forum. When a person claims no responsibility for maintaining an even flow in discussions and debates, I don't believe that their attitude conducive to the even flow of the dicsussions in the forum. I admit to being lazy. When the problem is not right in my face, I try to ignore it, but when it is right in my face it's hard not to notice and take action.


Exorciation now becomes the time of day.

I chose to give them an opportunity to be good members.


Or as I look at it. He gave them a chance not to "tire him".

I have tired of it.


As you can see, he wanted me to do something by his own standards. First he wanted just to have a debate with me under his rules (which was easy since he said what those rules were more or less), then he wanted me to follow some "Art of Communication" that he cooked up in his head and didn't put in writing. All this without communicating or giving any hint of his intentions or wishes, and so when he doesn't get what he wants, like Rosen and the schoolteacher, he becomes undisciplined and applies his power to shut down the annoyance.

When a person claims no responsibility for maintaining an even flow in discussions and debates, I don't believe that their attitude conducive to the even flow of the dicsussions in the forum. I admit to being lazy. When the problem is not right in my face, I try to ignore it, but when it is right in my face it's hard not to notice and take action.


This is his idea of evenhandedness, taking care of problems that affect him but ignoring problems that affect other people. Does that sound like a problem perhaps?

Obviously he suggests that I was the one that claimed no responsibility, but given that I was talking to him, his objectivity has to be called into question. As well as the fact that saying I'm not responsible for articulating Lurk's points, cannot be taken to mean I am refering to my behavior defacto in the debate forum.

As always, your style of delivery is caustic at best and that does anything but foster clear even discussion.


I remind everyone that Rosen liked to talk about even discussion, well thought out debates, and how the media should become more creditable, but in the end he put his own perspectives ahead of the search for truth or any sort of professionalism.

From my perspective, the only thing that does not foster clear and even discussion is using one's admin powers to shut off a person's or a group of person's ability to engage in a conversation by defending and articulating his points. An even discussion is where if you are the admin, and your debate techniques are called into question, you use your powers to create a very clear discussion by having the other side erased in a very clear way. Or not.

Humans are humans, but that doesn't mean they're any good compared to other humans.

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