The Line

| Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I intended to not comment in my thread about being a social. I read the comments but did not response. Some people said my post was distasteful, others liked it. Ideally everyone would have read it and it would have been brilliant and I'd have gotten the Nobel Prize instead of Obama. But obviously that's not realistic, so instead I'll be glad that people disagreed but still felt they could respond. And their comments are still there.

I do want to respond to one comment though. It struck me as excessively wrong.
The more distasteful the bashing of Gev, the more I support it. I really hope that someone IRL kicks his ass and spits in his face.

Many may find me to be crossing the line, but in this world some people just deserve it, similar to how all those M&S deserve being taken advantage of and made fun of in return.

As I will talk about in an upcoming post on my other blog, our online selves do not match our real selves. I dislike Gevlon's online self. But his real life self I cannot dislike. I know nothing about it. Maybe they are the same, but I do not know that and I will not sink to the level of attacking people based on how they act in this virtual realm. This is why the comment bothered me: it crosses the line between real life and the internet.

The internet is free speech. It is here that we can say what we want to say without threat of repression. Here we can have the purest exchange of ideas; idea vs. idea in a massive virtual war of ideas. In a situation of only ideas, might does actually make right. But once you bring real life into it, then you bring in all the forces which crush free speech: intimidation and retribution for unwanted ideas. I value this freedom. My country was founded partly on the ideas of freedom (also personal power for the local elite, but that's another story and much less inspiring) and we fought to protect our freedom and rights. Then we wrote them down and promptly started trading them for illusions of security, that's for another time.

It's also uncivilized. There are a few times when the correct response to words is violence. The world would be better off if someone had put a bullet in Hitler's brain when he started screaming about Jews. That is a time for violent response. This is not. Arbitrary violence has no trial or defense or any other recognition of human rights. It is simply violence.

Violence of this sort, an emotional reaction to a negative idea, is part of the problem with the world. Look at so many states in Africa or Asia or South America: shitty places. Violence is the norm, civil wars never end, leaders rise and fall on waves of bullets. Violence begets violence and suppresses the flow of ideas. If you don't like an idea, beat it with a counterargument, show the flaws, show that it is a terrible idea which should never be thought ever again. But don't be violent. That does nothing to disprove the idea.

99.99999% of people in the world are fairly decent. They are sometimes dumb as individuals, though sheer numbers mean that in a given second thousands of people will have done something incredibly stupid. You too. And me. And the commenter, as we can see from his comment. Stupid happens. To lord it over others, to attack them, is to set yourself up. Everyone will fall sometime. Don't stand there laughing because you're not going to like it when you trip and someone else laughs.

No one deserves to be exploited. Not even stupid people. Especially since you cannot accurately determine intelligence. If you think you can, you're either a very rare person with a lot of training, expertise, and experience; or an idiot. Odds are in favor of the latter.

You know why intelligence is still being debated? It's really fucking hard to measure. Cultural factors, language, age, diet, mood, season, lighting, all sorts of stuff can influence tests. No measure is perfect. Practical measures like employment or salary are inaccurate. What we tend to think of as stupidity is most often a set of other factors: different priorities or ignorance. If you claim that 99% of the world is horribly ignorant, I will agree. If you claim they have different priorities and goals, I will agree. If you say they're stupid, you need to think more before you speak.

Up until now I've been pretty happy with comments on my blog. They've not all been positive towards me, but they have been positive in the sense of being honest and not incredibly stupid. I've been blessed by having almost no trolls or e-thugs posting. Maybe it's the nature of my blog: small audience, not jumping into major controversies for the most part, and I try to avoid trolling. Maybe I've wandered into a horrible new territory of e-thugs and trolls and uncivilized people of all sorts. I hope not.

TL;DR: If you are violent on the internet, then you are restricting free speech and therefore I support violence against you. If you call other people stupid, then you're probably in a temporary state of stupidity and should stop talking for a while. Neither Gevlon no the M&S deserve to be attacked or exploited. Don't be a douchebag.

Isn't it amazing how things sound completely absurd when you summarize them? I try to keep summaries accurate by having that absurdity in the original post so that nothing is added or lost.


LifeDeathSoul said...


Keep up the good writing laddie ;)

Fish said...

you make a good point, our blogging selves and RL selves are NOT one and the same. While I think Gevlon is a pretentious jerk who pretends to be smarter than he actually is, I have no idea how he is in real life. He might be just some ordinary dude who thinks this whole thing is hilarious. While I generally have a pre-disposition to like certain online personas more or less, if I met them in person that's all it would be, a pre-disposition.

Wishing physical harm on anyone over words on the internet is ridiculous and immature, I fully support your stance on it. As usual, I enjoyed reading the post.

Hana said...

I can't claim to know Gevlon, but if you read his comments on other people's blogs they don't necessarily come off in the same "voice" as his Greedy Goblin blog. He writes his blog for a certain audience, but then you can read a response of his in Pike's Aspect of the Hare where he talks about how beautiful her post was (it was about her love of chemistry) and it has nothing to do with economics or putting people down.

He'd probably never use the word "beautiful" in a post for his own blog, because a WoW goblin only perceives monetary worth, but Gevlon the person is free to call something beautiful.

People may blog a particular way for an audience but if they do I think their more "normal" selves come out if they comment elsewhere. Jong of Forbearance blogs like he's the greatest thing since sliced bread with an ego to match (and it's funny to his readers, it's part of the reason why we read him), but his ego isn't anywhere to be found when he comments in my blog. He sounds like a perfectly normal person.

Klepsacovic said...

@LifeDeathSoul: I shall.

@Fish: Ever now and then I think of what he's like IRL. Sometimes I think of almost a Glen Beck type person, but then I realize that's very rude to put that sort of label on anyone.

@Hana: I suspect the change of scenery helps.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...that's one of those 'get off my side, you're not helping' comments isn't it?

I have no strong feelings about Gevlon's blog. I know he'd characterise me as a wastel and a slacker, or whatever his terminology is, and although I think he makes good points, his style grates too much for me personally for me ever to become a regular reason. I like insight and entertainment from my morning blog-reading, not irritation :)

But the point is, everybody blogs in a personna, even people ostensibly blogging as themselves. I don't like Gevlon's but that's me, not him.

The necessary counterpart to freedom of speech is freedom to ignore. And I do and everybody is happier :)

Klepsacovic said...

@Tamarind: I think of it as more of a "You're not actually on my side." I'm reminded of a classmate who wandered into a recent nutcase protest because she was attracted by their comments on abortion. I talked with her a few days later and she was freaked out by how ridiculous they were.

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