Civility In The Blogosphere

January 20, 2010

One of the attendees at the recent ScienceOnline2010 posted the following re-enactment of an interesting exchange that occurred during a session on civility:


31 Responses to “Civility In The Blogosphere”

  1. Civilion Says:

    …lacks spittle.

  2. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    I’m not sure what the point of this video is.

    The first speaker (Stripes) says, “This is my house, don’t piss on my carpet,” seems more-or-less agreeable: he has some unspecified standards, don’t violate them. It’s entirely metaphorical, however, so we have no idea at first what the speaker believes actually constitutes pissing on the carpet or whether his criteria are reasonable.

    The response (by Overalls) is weird: “What if pissing is the only way to be heard?” This response implies that the standards is irrelevant if one can express her point of view can only by breaking them.

    The conversation then takes a turn for the bizarre: Stripes says, “Don’t tell me how to enforce civility, you controlling bitch.” But Overalls isn’t telling Stripes how to enforce civility, or even what should or should not constitute civility; her rhetorical question* implies that her right to be heard overrides any standards Stripes might enforce.

    *Presumably one author is writing the dialog; since Stripes does not actually answer the question as posed, we’re justified in concluding the question was intended to be rhetorical.

    More importantly, by putting an intuitively rude, demeaning and unresponsive retort in Stripes’ mouth, the author appears to communicate that standards of “civility” are to some extent inherently an attempt at domination and marginalization of opposing viewpoints. This interpretation is confirmed by Stripes’ comment, “When you people talk, that’s the same as pissing on my carpet.”

    This dialog is so blatantly slanted and devoid of actual argument that it appears to have nothing whatsoever to do with anything remotely resembling a discussion about standards of civility.

    Probably one of the most frequent complaints I get is that I’m “uncivil”, which I have come to interpret as a complaint that I didn’t sufficiently fellate some self-important blowhard.

  3. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    Presumably one author is writing the dialog; since Stripes does not actually answer the question as posed, we’re justified in concluding the question was intended to be rhetorical.

    Ah… on a more careful reading of the post, I see this is a reenactment of an an actual exchange, so my presumption is probably not correct. Apparently even scientists can act in real life like obviously tendentious parodies of rational discourse.

  4. Zuska Says:

    In addition, Stripes should crank up the volume and get all up in Overalls’ face, for more reality factor.

  5. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    in much the same sense as both the Islam-appeasing “multiculturalists”* vs. the Islam-bashing fascists are pretty much completely full of shit, so are both “sides” of this “debate” over “civility” seem to be mostly full of shit in different ways: “My opinion, however stupid, must be heard wherever and under whatever circumstances I please or I’m being censored” vs. “How dare you come here and disagree with me.”

    *I agree with sensible versions of multiculturalism: it’s a big world, and not everyone has to celebrate May Day to be a good person.

  6. Isis the Scientist Says:

    Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly how it went down.

  7. human Says:

    I’m confused. So these are… direct quotations of a face to face confrontation that occurred at a conference panel on civility? Is that what you are saying?

  8. human Says:


  9. Catharine Says:

    This is not even close to what actually happened. Of course, memory is subjective in a way that recording (for example) is not. And you can’t vote on the truth. It is appalling to see how far people working in professions in which honesty is really fucking important will go to bend the truth according to their tastes. I really don’t see what’s at stake (that makes lying/exaggerating worth the trouble).

  10. El Picador Says:

    “bend the truth”? But you just said subj…oh never mind.

  11. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    This is not even close to what actually happened.

    So what actually happened? Or, more precisely, how do you remember what happened?

    Either way, though, regardless of the details, what’s the philosophical value of an argument between a couple of idiots?

  12. Wait, it is only appropriate for her to show us “what really happened” in cartoon form.

  13. Dude, I dunno what to tell you about philosophical value, but it sure is fucking hilarious.

  14. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    Dude, I dunno what to tell you about philosophical value, but it sure is fucking hilarious.

    No doubt: the antics of idiots are almost always entertaining.

  15. rocketscientista Says:

    I totally feel as though everyone missed the hilarity of this. Dude, hilarity and cartoons. That’s all.

  16. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    CPP is a smart enough guy to kill two birds with one stone (if you’ll forgive the incivility of such a violent metaphor).

  17. bikemonkey Says:

    This is *such* an object lesson in perception….

  18. bikemonkey Says:

    in your own mind, sure.

  19. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    This is *such* an object lesson in perception…

    Indeed? I was under the impression that one can *learn* something from a lesson. I was about twelve, I think, when I figured out that different people can have different memories of the same event.

  20. El Picador Says:

    You are a shit stirrer FW

  21. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    From the linked post: ‘This is my living room, so don’t piss on the floor. I reserve the right to block users and delete any comments that are uncivil, spam or offensive to all. I have a broad tolerance, but don’t test it, please. Try to remain coherent, polite and put forward positive arguments if engaged in debate. There are plenty of places you can accuse people of being pedophilic communist sexist pigs; don’t do it here.’

    This seems like a reasonable statement.

    Much to my amazement I am criticized very sharply for expressing what I thought (and still think) to be a perfectly reasonable view. The counter-argument is that the enforcement of ground rules is an act of white male patriarchy and acts to exclude certain subsets of society from taking part. I think this is tosh, actually, but some otherwise intelligent and articulate people seem to believe it. Are such ground rules inherently discriminatory, or are they fair?

    I’m suspicious on general principles about this statement: I’m always suspicious when anyone puts words in their opponents’ mouths (and when I do it, you should be suspicious too). OTOH, it’s entirely plausible that Wilkins is accurately summarizing the opposing argument.

    For a bunch of scientists, this whole topic is very thin on actual evidence.

  22. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    Similarly, I’m suspicious of the cartoon. I have no idea what’s a quotation, what’s a paraphrase, and what’s pure tendentious invention. This whole conversation has the stench of the straw man and ad hominem. (Again, I hope you’ll excuse the incivility of these blatantly sexist metaphors).

  23. I have a broad tolerance, but don’t test it, please.

    That pretty much says it all right there. It’s like a distillate of douche-i-tude.

  24. BTW, i thought the video was brilliant.

  25. The Barefoot Bum Says:

    terrifiedtabetic: I took a look at your blog: I’m convinced of your credentials at evaluating douchebaggery.

  26. octopod Says:

    From the comments on that post: “Scienceblogs is also full of pseudo-intellectual wankery drivel where half the Bloggers are permanently riding the racism/feminism/anti-religion band wagon giving each other high-fives and rimjobs/pats on the back every time they purport to stand up for someone else’s rights. You can hardly say anything without the Bloggers lambasting you for being a white, over-privileged, male bastion of everything that’s wrong with academia/the world as we know it.”

    I LOL’d. Clearly the fellow writing this is uncomfortable considering the possibility that he is indeed white, male, and therefore overprivileged…? an idea which Comrade Physioprof seems to accept as applying to himself?

  27. bikemonkey Says:

    he IS right though….

  28. El Picador Says:

    Goat buggery, sure. But I fail to see where ttabetic has expertise in the common Internet douchebag.

  29. Isabel Says:

    These cartoons are brilliant. I want to see more! The pit bull one is hysterical also.

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