New blog policies

Unfortunately, several recent discussions have been derailed by sophomoric mockery and personal insults.  I try to give commenters a wide latitude here, but this would seem to be an instance where an exercise of authority is needed.  It only takes one heckler to spoil the atmosphere for everyone.  (And it never stays just one, as human nature disposes others to respond in kind.)

So, from now on, I will delete any new comment I find that personally insults me or any other commenter.  Anyone may disagree with us, but you must express your disagreement respectfully.  I intend to enforce this policy evenhandedly against both people I agree and disagree with.  Since I’m enforcing a general rule, please don’t take my filtering your comment as a personal affront.

Personal insults against third party public figures (e.g. Christopher Hitchens, George W. Bush, Winston Churchill) are still allowed, but insults against their families (presuming these are not public figures) are not.  One exception is that no disrespect for Jesus Christ will be tolerated, because I would fear for my soul if I defended His honor less zealously than my own.

Another problem we’ve had is theological debates getting derailed by atheist hecklers.  Nonbelievers are certainly welcome at this blog (although they will no doubt find some subjects of discussion uninteresting), but they must appreciate that one of its purposes is for me and other Christian reactionaries to work out the implications of our worldview.  For these intra-Christian, or at least intra-theist, debates, it’s not reasonable for someone to put up an uninformed rant about how God is no different from the tooth fairy and then expect everyone else to drop everything and lay out three millenia of natural theology that he didn’t bother to learn himself.  Of course, issues of natural theology should be–and are–debated here, but a Christian can’t be expected to justify every aspect of his worldview every time he opens his mouth.  So, I’m going to discourage these sort of “all Christians are stupid” comments, except in posts where the truth of Christianity is the actual issue at hand.  I realize that it’s harder to respect a religion you disagree with than a person you disagree with, so someone who steps out of bounds on this will get a warning.  Further violations on that discussion will be removed.  Now, by nature, this rule is not even-handed–there’s no enforced restrictions on the insults that can be hurled at atheism, Marxism, etc.  We don’t believe in neutrality here.  However, I ask my Christian commenters to treat others as they would want to be treated, and I’ll try to give a good example.

Disapproving as I do of ex post facto laws, all existing comments will remain.

22 Responses

  1. Here’s an item of evidence supporting the Christian view of man as a fallen creature. Once I’d read your post, I was drawn like a zombie to seek out and savor the meanest and most malevolent comments I could find. If you’d posted a note of appreciation for the quality and comity of recent comments, I wouldn’t have done this.

  2. The way the lines break, at least on my browser, is at “savor the /” This made me wonder if “brains” was the next word as my eyes traveled to the next line. Alas, it was not to be.

  3. Precisely my point. I confess, fallen creature that I am, that I’d be more likely to walk round the block to see two drunken women wrestling in the mud than to hear an aria or watch a ballet.

  4. I should add that I have the highest possible regard for drunken women and the ancient sport of wrestling in the mud, so my analogy should not be taken as calumny of any commenters.

  5. “For these intra-Christian, or at least intra-theist, debates, it’s not reasonable for someone to put up an uninformed rant about how God is no different from the tooth fairy and then expect everyone else to drop everything and lay out three millenia of natural theology that he didn’t bother to learn himself.”

    Well put.

  6. Sensible policies. After the devolution of the Why Worship God thread at fafsa’s instigation, I was thinking of suggesting that all such trolleries be met with a simple, “Bless you, sir.” So as to heap coals, you see.

  7. Hi Kristor,

    What you’ve just said is acceptable, but if you had written something to the effect of “fafsa is a troll”, I would have been forced to delete your comment. I’ve bound my hands, you see.

  8. All of us – even such lovely, open-hearted people as fafsa – are subject now and then to the temptation to troll …

    In all seriousness, (a) we ought first to pray for fafsa, whose hateful comments are the outward manifestation of an inner life of what must at some level be horrible torment, and (b) why are atheists generally so doggone angry? Why are so relatively few of them relaxed about it, like Bertrand Russell was? I think it must be that they are deathly afraid (anger being one response to fear).

  9. Bonald,

    I apologize for being off-topic but this is something which truly deserves your attention. My attempts at being able to fully deconstruct the liberal argument is quite lacking; although I am trying to correct this by reading at least 5 of your threads each day. It is my hope you could give it a review and perhaps, assuming you have the time, deconstruct the analysis provided in the following link:

    Thank you

  10. Exactly so. Again I’m reminded that I find human behaviour to be the best demonstration of the truth of Christianity (whereas when I was a newer believer I used to love philosophical or historical-evidence arguments).

  11. The first thing to do is not to get upset or defensive; many things that look damaging to us only are from the leftist perspective. Be open to the idea that the article’s thesis is true, and that if it is, your worldview need not be shaken. You will simply have a different interpretation of the moral implications than a leftist would.

    The second thing to do, quite simply, is to be unimpressed with “sociological studies” as a general rule. Learn about things like the difference between correlation and causation; learn to look for hidden (erroneous) assumptions and other forms of bias.

    I will take a look at the article and perhaps write more later.

  12. Interesting link. I think I’ll take a stab at this on my own blog in the next day or two.

  13. I don’t see much in the article that’s very objectionable. Stupid people are drawn to social conservatism and “racism”? So what? Don’t make the mistake of appending “and therefore social conservatism is stupid“. Consider that low-IQ people might be attracted to traditional values for different reasons than high-IQ people. And certainly don’t make the mistake of thinking that “smart people tend liberal” means liberalism is smart. As J. Budziszewski wrote:

    My way of running away from God was to get stupid. I am very serious. Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that you have to be highly educated and intelligent to commit, and I discovered them all.

    God keeps them in his arsenal to pull down mulish pride.

    In any case, I actually see some encouragement in the article, like the admission of “recent research demonstrating that intergroup contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining”.

  14. The rational interpretation of the research seems to me that smart people are more likely to go to college, whereupon they have their prejudices conditioned out of them by years of (sometimes harshly enforced) liberal dogmatism.

    The wording of the article suggests the study was merely correlational, i.e., nondirectional, i.e., it adduces no evidence to support the causal claim its suggesting.

  15. From skimming the link, it looks like “racism” is measured via self-report. A sample question is “”I wouldn’t mind working with people from other races.”

    Smart people are more likely to know that disagreeing with this statement is “racist.” Smart people are more likely to know that disagreeing could get them in trouble, and they are more likely to have jobs where it could get them in trouble. They are also more likely to have a mental model of “people from other races” heavily populated with Chinese, Indians, and Blacks who have college degrees (i.e. wildly unrepresentative mental models). This all goes double for smart leftoids.

    A quibble with Proph: they don’t have the racism conditioned out of them, they have the “racist” statements conditioned out of them. “I don’t like white people, honest! It’s `good schools’ I like!!”

  16. Bill’s point is well taken. High IQ individuals exhibit higher levels of conscientiousness, which in the jargon of psychology means a clear apprehension of the future consequences of what one says and does. This means that they avoid overt dishonesty, of course, because (unlike their low IQ brethren) they can see that liars get caught in the end. But it also means that they avoid strict candor, since they see that words have a way of coming back to haunt their speaker. I’m tempted to say that the speech of low IQ individuals is a mix of statements that are completely honest and completely dishonest, whereas the speech of high IQ individuals is very often neither honest nor dishonest. It is safe.

    This is relevant to something Samson J. says above. High IQ people tend to be intellectual conformist because they (a) can see the negative consequences of giving tongue to unpopular ideas, and (b) hold jobs in which the subjective opinions of other people are more important than demonstrable skills. If you what to hear a man express his honest opinion, seek out a highly skilled welder whose no brighter than he needs to be.

  17. Hello Miles,

    I read about this study some time back. It was one of the better ones, I thought, in that it tried to correct for factors like education and economic class. As I’ve written before, I actually think it is true that high intelligence is linked with more consistent liberalism:

    My understanding of it is somewhat different from that of the authors of this and similar studies. They suggest that dumb people are conservative because liberalism is too complicated for them. I don’t really see how “tolerant” views are harder to grasp than “prejudiced” views. I suggest instead that nearly everyone in our society is a liberal–as in, what ideas they have are liberal ideas, and what reasoning they do is liberal reasoning. It’s just that those with high IQ are better and more consistent about it.

    How could we test my theory? Here are a couple of imperfect suggestions.

    1) Do a similar IQ vs ideology study in a country where the dominant ideology is something other than liberalism.

    2) The political Turing test: if prejudiced people are so dumb, they should be unable to explain the liberals’ alternate point of view in a convincing way.

  18. If you what to hear a man express his honest opinion, seek out a highly skilled welder whose no brighter than he needs to be.

    My working class relatives are mostly dead now, and I miss them.

  19. Proph and Bonald, thank you.

    I am quite surprised to have received comments from both of you. Collapse: the blog, Throne and Alter, and Bruce Charlton’s Miscellany are read religiously and each commands my respect. It is thanks to your hard work and intellect which has helped me to better understand the true conservative/reactionary position which I had been yearning for. Keep up the hard work.

  20. Miles, happy to help! And thanks for your continued patronage.

  21. Hi Miles,

    You’re quite welcome. Being a self-taught far-Right loon (they don’t offer degrees in that, you know), I still feel like an ignorant amateur, and I’m glad when someone finds my writings useful.

  22. […] or that we are just too new to have been noticed yet; or probably both). A couple months ago I suggested over there that we should always respond to such folks with […]

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