Let us begin with a simple premise. Remarks that are black are not allowed here.
If you make them, you will be banned. (In this sensitive age, let me stress this is not related to race, but merely color, for the purposes of a metaphor).
The community, surely, could agree on subjects that are “black”. They could be child pornography, or animal torture, or anything else repellent and vile. That’s simple.
And how easy it would be, if human thought was along these lines:
Sadly, it isn’t quite so clean. Wait, sadly?
It is not “sad”, because how shallow the human experience would be if our perception were so crudely granular. Instead, we experience life in an infinitely nuanced way.
That, however, comes with a price, because human expression isn’t as simplistic as the graphic above, but is closer to this:
Tougher, isn’t it? Because if you had to ban “black”, it becomes far more subjective.
What about dark grey? Or really, really, really dark grey, so much so that it’s almost black?
There’s no clean line. It’s messy. People can’t always agree.
But there’s more to it.
Let’s say in this hypothetical universe, people committed to white were really, really committed to white, and people committed to black were really, really committed to black.
Grey was despised by both sides. It was one or the other. If you weren’t exactly like us, you were the enemy.
It’s just like Theodor Geisel told us in our childhood…………
None of us live particularly long, but most of us have been around enough to witness the sea-change in social and political discourse. But hasn’t it always been this way?
Not at all.
When I first became really interested in politics, in the 1980s, there was generally a broad sense of cooperation from one end of the political spectrum to the other.
You would never imagine, for example, fans of Ronald Reagan physically threatening to kidnap Tip O’Neill. Such a thing would be preposterous.
Going back even further, to the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Republicans had a very big problem: the parties were simply too much alike!
It was sort of like the difference between the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church. Sure, they were nominally different, but………..they were pretty much the same!
(I know this from personal experience, as my family would happily change churches when we moved, depending on which church we liked better. We were denominationally disloyal).
There are plenty of reasons for this dreadful cleaving of the United States, and there’s no need to analyze those reasons here.
The point of this post is ensure the United Slopes of America stays content, self-supporting, and self-healing.
On occasion, the polarization of the nation has bled into my beloved Slope, and I’m here to have an open and frank disclosure of the history of my efforts and my belief about the best way to move forward.
You Have Been Harmonized
A few days ago, I listened on NPR to an interview of a man who just published a book called We Have Been Harmonized.
It is about modern-day China and, among other things, how they are using technology to subjugate their citizens.
I ordered the book at once, and I am reading it now. It is absolutely fantastic so far, and I’m only about 20% of the way through. You can rest assured a laudatory review of this book will be forthcoming.
In spite of globalization, the cultures between the East and West are fundamentally different. These differences go back thousands of years. They are deeply ingrained.
As China has become increasingly capitalistic and prosperous over the past forty years, the assumption was that they’d become more and more like us.
Nope. Their fundamental values and worldview are unchanged. They just happen to be rich now.
One important aspect of their dictatorial government is the desire to control the individual humans. Individualism and free expression are anathema to the CCP, and I’ll be writing at length about this in the future.
I am simply bringing this up only because it reminded me of some of the things Slope has done in recent months with respect to trying to tamp down discord among its own users.
I have no desire to mimic the behavior of the Chinese government. Not even a little bit.
Reading about the government and how it regards the 1.4 billion individuals within the Chinese borders is deeply disturbing to me, and it offends my personal sense of liberty. I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it once again, that I cherish my ability to speak freely and without meaningful consequence.
The desire for Chinese leadership to suppress free expression doesn’t come from an intrinsic desire to be evil, of course.
They certainly have their reasons, no matter how abhorrent those reasons might be to us. Harmony is the end goal. But, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The rising political tensions over the past year have been a constant source of concern for me.
After writing post after post after post on this topic, and pleading for civility (as well as the liberal use of the Ignore button), I began to despair that my appeal to reason simply wasn’t enough. So I began to take technical measures.
One of them was to “ignore” account pairs. In other words, if users A and B were constantly fighting, and my begging them to click Ignore fell on deaf ears, I simply did it for them.
There was no announcement. No notice. As far as A and B were concerned, the other guy simply disappeared.
And finally there was some peace.
My attitude was: if you’re going to act like kids, you’re going to be treated like kids. Paternalistic, yes. Self-evidently so.
And I meant well. But I’d rather it not come to that.