Argument and Offense

Lately I’ve been seeing blow ups not only in all my groups on facebook, but on my private email lists, blow ups between people who granted have bloody nothing in common beyond opposing socialism.

This is perhaps to be expected.  I mean we’re living through the crazy years, the mania for eating dirt spreads to the South East, the “serious” discussion in Sci fi is “Should you even acknowledge gender”, we’re financing Iran’s quest for a bomb, Donald Trump tops (a minor, but much publicized) poll for president (with 17%) cats and dogs sleeping together.  The end of the world.

As I’ve said before I can judge the general mood of the nation by how fricking crazy the drivers are on the road.  And right now they’re pretty crazy.  And just as at other points of high tension, arguments and screaming are breaking out over the stupidest things.

I hate it because right now I’m not feeling up to this kind of nuttiness.  Perhaps it’s envy I can’t join in the fights, who knows?  Right now berserking would about kill me.

BUT what struck me is what is the difference between genuine argument and argument by “I’m offended” which quickly devolves to mud slinging and name calling?

I mean, free speech and all, so we certainly need to know, right?

What I’m seeing to a great extent in mostly conservative-libertarian corners is people snapping over points of disagreement they SHOULD have known were there.  But they’re snapping because they feel attacked from all sides, even nominally their own.

This is silly.  Discussion is important otherwise we become like the SJWs.  It is also human.

So maybe we should lay down some rules for “disagreements with people who are roughly going the same way we are.”

1- It is important to remember you are a broad coalition with many aims.  Some of you are almost as opposed to each other as to the people on the left.  It is important to remember that’s fine.  Once we take the left’s corrupt and murderous hand from the tiller, you can feel free to fight with each other.  Until then, if you love the constitution, you’re going our way. LEARN strategy.

2 – So you’re in this forum and someone made a joke/comment/etc. part of which offended you.  Consider DO YOU NEED TO COMMENT?  Is this issue so fargin important that you just HAVE to start an argument?  Remember you know our coalition is broad and not homogeneous.

3- If you HAVE to speak up, be as specific about the instance of disagreement as possible (it’s that important, right?) and present proof.  Arguments might still develop over what you consider proof, but it is less likely to go toxic.

4- If you don’t have to speak up in public, but still feel offended, pm the offender, or just say “I’m hurt.” in private.

5- REMEMBER YOU DON’T have the right to NOT be offended.  I am friends who people who offend me at least once a month.  I have friends who believe things I find deeply offensive.  I understand why they’re coming from, why they believe that, and why taking offense is counterproductive: I’m not going to change their minds.  So I avoid the subject and talk of other things. And we’re still friends.  And largely speaking we’re “going the same way.”

6- When someone raises a hue and cry and you vaguely agree with them, don’t immediately jump in on their side.  See if they violated one of the rules above, and if they did, well, ignore the mess till it passes.  If they didn’t, run it through the checklist yourself to see if you need to jump in.  “Is this something I need to be public on? Is this something that’s going to change anyone’s mind? Is this just going to create bad feelings to no purpose?”

This is not aimed at anyone or any group or list in particular, but I’m tired of seeing pointless arguments flare up everywhere.

Being offended is a great tactic for the left, because they command positions of power and can “group shame” on an epic scale.

For us all it can do is tear us apart and allow those who would divide and conquer us to do just that.

Don’t fall into this habit.  Beware agent provocateurs.

In the end we win they lose, but we can’t just react without thought.

203 responses to “Argument and Offense

  1. “The trouble with a quarrel is that it interrupts an argument.” — Chesterton

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    But Sarah! Everything would go more smoothly if everybody just agrees with me!!!! [Very Big Kidding Grin]

    Seriously, I agree. I also agree that things are getting tense.

    • To quote my sister, the high road sucks.

      I’ve left several discussions when the response to employing #3 was to flip out and drag other people into it, while bludgeoning with whatever they felt was the strongest moral hammer.

      The really fun sub-trend is when they go on to prove that they hadn’t listened to a blooping thing you said before jumping down your throat…

      Once you offer the correction or disagreement to avoid people being misled, there’s just not much you can do. (Which is frustrating, especially with things like the Pope’s encyclical. If I hear ONE MORE PERSON assure me I only think like I do because I’m looking at things in a too-US-centered way….)

    • no,
      with me
      Wait. on second thought. I’m a grumpy bastard, so maybe not.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      If everyone agreed with me in absolute lock step, there would be as many arguments, but they would probably be more boring. People with no real differences would nurse grudges for years over communication errors.

  3. I’d like to have an argument please . . .

  4. I think we are all under a lot of pressure… so it is understandable when the steam starts blowing– and the boiler begins erupting.

  5. One of the most rational, simple, heartfelt bits of commentary I have read this week. Thank you Sarah! ________________________________

  6. Oh, so I’m not the only one noticing that people are more aggressively crazy these days. That’s good to know.

  7. And then there are the groups with: That’s VERY offensive. Moar, please ??

    Much more fun there. . . (evil grin)

  8. Verily, there is nothing new under the sun:

    Some 1,950 years ago, there was a people rebelling against an “enlightened” wicked occupier that supposedly was the wave of the future. Unfortunately, the rebels became so preoccupied with their factional differences that they spent more energy fighting each other than the common enemy. As a result, the common enemy prevailed, that people’s most holy site was destroyed exactly 1945 years ago to the day (9th of Av), and eventually the people itself was scattered across the globe.

    It is written that all this happened because of “causeless hatred” (sin’at khinam).

    Even when history does not repeat itself, it rhymes. And that particular tragedy (collapse through internecine quarrels) has repeated itself over and over, as tragedy and as farce. I wrote some weeks ago about “polishing the candlesticks while the house is on fire” — this is more like “bickering about the wallpaper while the house is on fire”. First we put out the fire, then we can return to bickering.

    • An even cursory study of History reveals that Human Nature is not especially variable. Read Livy about the founding of the Roman Republic and you find they were arguing about pretty much the same thing we squabble over today — privilege, innate rights, equity of burdens and so on.

      Your only choices are whether to find this constancy depressing or amusing and whether to shake a fist at it or try to keep things in perspective.

      Or, if you’ve a Slavic temperament as I have, you can find it amusingly depressing and shake a fist with one upraised finger (okay, two when I’m felling British.)

    • To quote an old Klingon Proverb “Only a fool fights in a burning building”. Sadly the world seems to have LOTS of fools at present for reasons I can discern.

  9. Jeff Duntemann

    Histrionic Personality Disorder may be an issue here:

    http://psychcentral.com/disorders/histrionic-personality-disorder-symptoms/

    Over and beyond your garden-variety narcissism, of course. And tribalism, which is primal and probably lies beneath most of what you describe. The closer your tribal urges are to the surface, the less you can resist expressing them. It can be done; I’ve laid down the law to a few of my more tribal readers, and they now generally behave themselves. I’ve only had to ban a couple.

    • Jeff, I sent you an email. I seem to have lost address. I iz a derp.

      • Point of order: right naow you has a derp. For certain and sure, there are strands of derp running through us all (this is called “being human,” dammit) but to genuinely be a derp, you must believe Bernie Sanders is the font of economic wisdom and Hilarity deserves the White House. Because sex organs or something.

      • Jeff Duntemann

        Fixed. I think. And thanks for stopping by last night. It wasn’t a whack-a-mole party, but we stuck an awful lot of potstickers.

        Here and there, the derp has been strong in me. You’re in good company.

      • The derp hit me this AM. Either that or Monday started waaaay too early (which I think may be the case. I can’t find either the typed up syllabus I need to work on, or the handwritten draft). At least I grabbed SOME of the right papers on my way out the door.

  10. Civil discourse is at new lows. The news cycle is 24/7, and so is the internet. And both are generally full of bad news and BS, because that’s what draws eyeballs. We’re coming up on another presidential election. We are bombarded on all sides by stupid meme crap meant to poke our hot buttons without engaging our brains. That in turn gets our friends and acquaintances whose inclinations run that way and whose buttons have been pushed also pushing some of those memes out in our faces. Especially the stupid and contentious ones, which are used precisely because they get people riled up and choosing sides. The people pushing them want you blindly following their direction. They don’t want you to use your brain.

    All of this will affect you even when you know exactly what BS it is. Like water on stone, it adds up. Which in turn leaves everyone pretty irritable.

    • It is worth keeping in mind that

      a) cameras gravitate toward the outrageous. A troll setting his hair on fire about a serious issue gets more on-camera time than somebody calmly dissecting the various factional interests and explaining the dynamics at work. This is especially so when the people pointing the cameras don’t want an actual compromise on the issue.

      ii: one political party employs reason and fundamental principles in its addressing of issues. One political party uses emotions and feelz without concern over whether their solutions actually improve the underlying problems because what really matters to them is making people feel like the issue has been addressed. This offers the second party the advantage that merely getting people riled up is enough for their goal’s achievement. Their interests are not served by actually reasoning with opponents, they are served by driving their opponents to abandon reason.

      3. causing you to get frustrated and withdraw also serves the second party’s interests. Burning down the house is fine with them because they don’t much like our constitutional house as it is (which is why one party defends political corruption with the argument “everybody does it” — an argument which achieves its goal by diminishing confidence in governing institutions.)

      IV – you rarely notice progress because it is incremental (see: Ripples) and gradual. Three steps forward and two steps back is still a net gain of one step.

      E. the Norse had one truth essentially right: battle against the forces of opposition is never ending and final victory never won. As victory is not achievable (rust never sleeps, dust always gathers) the constant strain of the tactical conflict can make you lose sight of the strategic goals. True Honor and Courage are displayed in continuing to battle so that others might not fall; there are reasons Leonidus, Horatius, and Roland are still recalled today.

      • I need to try this system to number the bullets in my next memo and see if anyone catches it.

        • I picked it up from Craig Ferguson, back when he was on the Late, Late Show and only recently remembered its use. Where he got it I’ll never know (waggles eyebrows.)

      • “3. causing you to get frustrated and withdraw also serves the second party’s interests. Burning down the house is fine with them because they don’t much like our constitutional house as it is (which is why one party defends political corruption with the argument “everybody does it” — an argument which achieves its goal by diminishing confidence in governing institutions.)”

        And I’ve heard EVERY member of that party I have known say that at one time or another, and they mean it.

        Something I always have told my kids, when someone, teacher, authority figure, or anyone tells you in regard to doing something you shouldn’t be doing, for example, using illegal drugs, that everyone has tried it, it means they and their acquaintances did, because EVERYONE hasn’t. Their parents being amongst them that haven’t. In order to excuse their own misbehavior, that fall back on the “everyone does it” trope.

        • Just because “everybody” does a thing does not make it acceptable to be caught doing it. Everybody lies about how much money they make, but when you get caught doing that to the IRS there are repercussions.

          What our would be rulers forget is that they are our employees, hired as agents to act in our behalf and when we catch them dipping into the till or slacking off during the busy part of the day we have every right to sack their worthless … selves. And when we catch them, we don’t have to take a lot of guff about “everybody” doin’ it — they got caught is what its all about, ennit? (Sorry – bin readin’ a bit o’ the Brit papers an’ some of the attitude seems to be rubbin’ orf.)

          • Once they’re elected it seems like some peculiar aphasia makes them certain they’re now ruling by divine right rather than being employees.

            Every now and then I reread Joan D. Vinge’s “Outcasts of the Heaven Belt.” The Belters used something like the internet for voting (the book was written in 1978) and they voted on everything, all the time. It was about as democratic a system as I’ve seen described.

            Unfortunately I’m one of the lazy proles who just isn’t interested enough in trash removal, pothole repair, or the myriad details of maintaining a civilization; not to the degree of becoming informed enough to make a reasoned vote on every step of the process. I like the luxury of paying someone to do the scutwork that keeps things running. The problem is, those people generally consider their job makes them some kind of petty ruler. So far I haven’t seen a good way around that, though I admit I have often favored “four year contract and then a bullet in the head.” Might be hard to get qualified applicants, though.

            • Elected officials should be forced to wear jumpsuits, live in dormitories, and be continually monitored. Shock collars are something I keep vacillating over.

        • I have actually read a comment in which someone defended those horrific “John Doe” investigations in Wisconsin on the argument that the Republicans were going to do the same.

          • So – they were endorsing the Bush Doctrine of not waiting for the foe to strike first?

            I guess it is different when it is conservatives exercising their First Amendment rights rather than terrorist states attempting to kill Americans.

            • Beat me to it. This is the Bush doctrine, of course. Potential misbehavior on your part justifies current retaliatory and simultaneously pre-emptive misbehavior on my part. (for various flavors of misbehavior, of course.)

              • In fairness, with a preemptive attack against a terrorist state we’re only acting to prevent a possible WMD attack on American soil. It wasn’t as if Saddam or Osama were threatening to decertify a teachers’ union!

                • (Additionally, when it comes to Bush’s pre-emptiveness, we also have to ignore the war that happened before, and how Saddam had ignored the conditions of surrender for that particular war in the lead up to the next one…)

            • One of the things that makes it toughest to remain civil with these people is that it got increasingly clear from 2002 on that they weren’t anti-war; they were and are on the other side. That specifically includes our President.

              • It’s not so much that they’re on the other side, they’re on whatever side we aren’t on. It’s an important distinction. We didn’t recognize it at the end of the Cold War, so we didn’t notice their allegiance change from the USSR to radical Islam. Once we turn the Middle East into a stable and reasonably prosperous region, these clowns – if they’re still around – will start working for whoever is going to be next to take a shot at the big guy.

                • You’re right that it isn’t that they’re on the other side, it is that they are on their side and their side only. They are fine with war if they get credit for winning (as if that could happen) but if a Republican administration is in place they would rather America lose. Similarly, they’re happy to sink the economic ship if they can do it on a Republican’s watch.

                  This is also why their Media minions slant their reporting according to which party can be credited/blamed.

                  The Prog’s first enemy is those who can prevent their ascension. Their second enemy is those who threaten to dislodge them from power. Always analyse their actions with the thought that they are for themselves first and America only as it advances their power.

        • He that accuses all mankind of corruption ought to remember that he is sure to convict only one.

          ― Edmund Burke

  11. c4c

  12. Terry Pratchett’s comment about revolutions comes to mind… That revolutionaries spend more time arguing over a three word difference in one paragraph of the manifesto than they do actually, you know, overthrowing injustice.

    • Arguing over a three word difference (or whether you’re using the correct article*) is easy and (relatively) risk-free. It is that conversation you have with yourself, with your buds, with G-D before walking up to that hot [chick/dude/other] or celebrity [author/actor/musician] and saying “Hi.”

      Actually overthrowing injustice isn’t so hard to attempt once you get started; events tend to snowball out of control and you just ride (or get crushed by) the wave.

      *I suspect these arguments get even more intense in languages which employ declensions, as that provides yet one more arena for stalling before getting on with the actual agenda.

      • I forget is it unalienable or inalienable? I didn’t go to Harvard or William and Mary.

      • For even more fun, use a language with distinctions between formal and informal modes of address. Then people can get offended because no matter WHAT the mode of address is it will be wrong.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Imagine the “fun” of a language that had difference forms when speaking to somebody of a superior class, when speaking to somebody of an inferior class and when speaking to somebody of “your” class. [Grin]

          • Oh, yes. Lots of room to take offense

          • There’s a Far Eastern language (I forget which) that has stolen the English “You” to use in circumstances where determining status would take too much time.

            • Could be Japanese. The only word they have left for “you” is “anata,” which is considered somewhat rude except when it’s a term of endearment from wife to husband.

          • So what do you do when you got no class?

            • Announce that school’s out for summer, school’s out forever!


              Well we got no class
              And we got no principles
              And we got no innocence
              We can’t even think of a word that rhymes

              School’s out for summer
              School’s out forever

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              “Everybody has a class except for the untouchables that are to be treated as things.” [Evil Grin]

              Note, I am currently reading the eARC of Son Of The Black Sword where the society has untouchables/casteless that are not considered people.

          • I once read a book on Japanese titled, “Minimal Essential Politeness.” It was aimed at intermediate students who wanted not to offend in their conversations. I remember it gave 24 versions of one sentence, from the form that would be used when speaking with the Emperor down to the “Get the )(*& off my lawn!” level.

            The book also made the point that there are no two people in Japan of exactly the same social stature – age, school(s) attended, grades during school, family background, and so on all provide a structure to allow everyone to be able to determine precisely where they stand in relation to everyone else.

        • I admit to wondering, ever since the first day in German 101, how young adults manage the dance to du from sie. Not that I type that I wonder if I’ve uncovered the etymological origin of dosie doe?

          Allemande Left and Allemande Right, Bow to your partner, bow to your corner and du sie du …

          • You and me both, you and me both…

            • They obviously manage it, but I wonder whether that explains their acceptance of Marxism and Nazism?

              And some of the tales I’ve read about the Krupp family … omg.

              • It could do, yes. Also, most of the more independent-minded Germanic folk wound up over here (which is pretty much the case for the whole of Europe).

                The Germans might have also been a bit more vulnerable to PC, since the gendered language doesn’t actually correspond all that well to actual physical gender. (That confused me SO much when I was studying German – how the heck do you have a word for “female” that’s grammatically masculine?)

                • There are a very few activists trying to get German changed to eliminate the masculine and feminine genders in the language. I do not believe that they will have much success, for a number of reasons. (Among others, it makes a number of pronouns unintelligible, so you would have to write out every noun rather than using the masculine or feminine “it” in the predicate.)

                  • I can’t see that succeeding. Not just the pronouns, but the weight of usage are in the way. Of course, I suspect over time things will mutate to where the genders mostly match via more or less standard rules. That tends to happen without official help.

                  • They’ll have as much luck as l’Academie Francaise had banning the words “Big Mac”.

  13. Here is a 2’40” tutorial on the issue:


    Sometimes the best response is to simply decide the [stupid/asinine/insane/insensitive remark] does not merit (and would not be ameliorated by) your undoubtedly superior insight/logic/perceptiveness/wit.

    Don’t be in such a rush to crush the berries.

  14. c4c

  15. I’ve been typing replies, sitting back, and hitting “cancel reply” a good deal more than usual recently. And avoiding the national news past reading the headlines. It’s not worth wasting energy on flame wars when I have a bunch of work to do before school starts.

    I suspect it’s really going to get wild within the SFF and writers’ corners this coming week [If you are qualified, remember to vote], and I’ll be acting even more like a hermit crab than usual. *glares north-northeast* I heard that giggle.

    • sends you friendly vibes. voted already. all my frustration is reserved for my broken shoulders.

      • Thanks, ‘preciate it. I kinda put off doing some things in order to get the novel underway (OK, and because I was watching the Tour de France) and now I get to catch up.

    • I should probably aim for a bit more hermit and a bit less crabby, with some people…. I’ve nearly blown up at a couple of people on Facebook lately, although they’re both far enough left (and loudly so) that it’s not like any of it was precisely unexpected.

    • Been voting as I go… even if I don’t finish I at least got SOME of the ballot filled out.

      • Patrick Chester

        Me too… :-/

        • Still, it’s definitely something, and given the numbers variance we’re probably not the only ones. 😉 All there is to do is keep plugging away and adding authors to the respective “yes!” “Yes-but verify” “sometimes” and “no” lists. We can at least vote with the green and folding ballot later.

  16. One nice thing about being a political extremist is that, with very little “us” to identify with, you learn to get along with others without blowing a gasket.

    From out here on the thin edge of the sigma curve, the difference between most political platforms is too small to work up any steam over.

    Since I view my own opinions as exemplars of logic and common sense I see no need to ram them down people’s throats. I just put my feet up, pour another quart of iced tea, and wait to deliver the next inevitable “I told you so…”

  17. I think a big part of the crazy™ is that the SJWs think they are losing with things like Gamergate, Sad Puppies and retraction of rape stories. They just can’t stand any setback at all and they see them coming faster and faster.

    • SJWs also think that shouting LOUDER and calling opponents bad names constitute persuasion.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Pro tip: shrieking like a lunatic on the edge of a nervous breakdown does not project confidence.

        • No, but if you do it in private, loud enough and long enough, it does provide temporary relief.

      • Pre Obama, words like racist were used sparingly and only in cases that there was some remote evidence that the use was correct. Post Obama racist has been used so recklessly that people are ignoring it. I believe that people have also noticed that many of the other accusations (sexist, classist and so on) are also so much noise meaning “I don’t like you”. Thus one of the great shaming weapons of the SJW has broken through overuse and it was one of the few weapons that they had.

    • There’s also that people are standing up and speaking out more, when they were quiet out of manners before.

      A lot of people who have always been…assertive… are getting push-back. And they don’t like it. ESPECIALLY when it comes with specific evidence.

      When it’s the ones who have been complaining about how nobody speaks up, it’s a little funny.

      • I’ve discovered that a reputation of a rational level head in a community does a lot to help one’s cause when one does speak out. Takes a while to build but it works.

        • At one point I managed to have both a reputation as someone who didn’t say anything without having proof, and as being a pig-head who won’t change her mind and thinks she’s never wrong.

          It depended largely on if the person I was talking to had any evidence or arguments. Apparently, as Wayne has also pointed out, we should say things we aren’t sure about more often so they can feel like they get to correct us more often, or something.

          That’s also when I found out that what works with reasonable people– being genuinely interested in the source of their claims and asking “ooh, I hadn’t heard that– where’s it from?” or even trying to be more ‘natural’ and go “huh, XYZ says ___– can you tell me more?”
          gets interpreted as an attack among those who just say s***. *

          I guess it depends on a community where being really rational actually is actually valued– and can’t be subverted easily.

          Well, poo. Now I’ve got a full case of the Mondays, because the stuff going on there is an awful lot like dealing with my kids…and the eldest is “start Kindergarten” age this fall.

          * No, “stuff” doesn’t substitute very well here.

          • I understand on that last. I was on a forum where I had a reputation for being rational, to the point folk who were nominally opposed to my views would correct crazy level assumptions by ‘Well she’s an X (usually either American or Christian) and she’s sane, nice and rational.’ It was a long build up and not everyone was convinced but the sidelines folks were being swayed. Unfortunately there were always the north ends of south bound mules muddying* the waters. I guess that more goes to prove the ‘spectator sport’ argument than anything else.

            *Ok, so something more organic but work with me here.

            • Soiling.

              “Soiling the water” works adequately.

            • That is rather high praise!

              • And it took me quite by surprise. It might be more appropriate a comment to the ‘ripples’ post, but even if it seems like a lot of what we do gets lost in the noise. It does make an impact even if we never overtly see that impact.

              • Another thought, I think one of the things their screaming fits DO manage to succeed at: They make it hard to see the ‘signal’ for all the ‘noise’. The signal of one person going ‘huh, this person’s reasonable maybe…’

    • A big part of it is that a large number of the Social Justice types tie their existence as a moral person to their political positions (I believe there was an episode of Luther where one of the characters said “I read the Guardian” as part of establishing that he was a Good Person). Thus the push back they’re getting prompts two thoughts:

      1) There are a lot of evil people out there. Since there’s no such thing as extremism when attacking evil, I am weapons-free.

      2) There are a lot of people who disagree with me. Maybe my ideas are incorrect? If that were the case, how do I know that I am a Good Person? No, I must be right. They need to stop talking, it’s confusing me.

      Note, this second thought probably doesn’t rise to the conscious level.

  18. “Lately I’ve been seeing blow ups not only in all my groups on facebook, but on my private email lists, blow ups between people who granted have bloody nothing in common beyond opposing socialism.” “SPLITTERS!”

    • Reminds me of a story my botany prof told me. In teaching the terms “lumpers” and “splitters” in relation to taxonomy and botanists, he told the story of a demonstrative panel he’d attended.

      This panel was hijacked with 45 minutes of discussion and debate about whether one plant species (already discovered, described, and classified, but with a newly-sequenced genome) deserved to remain in its current genus or was different enough to merit its own genus. One prof shot up out of his seat and stormed out of the panel, yelling “This is all a bunch of metaphysical bull$hit!”

  19. The high road is a hard road to take, but by not ‘contributing’ to the uproar, we’re not feeding the trolls…

  20. The Other Sean

    So, my take away from Sarah’s post is something that was said a long time ago, when the situation in America was also quite dire:

    “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin

  21. Reblogged this on Spin, strangeness, and charm and commented:
    Verily, nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). 1,945 years ago to this day, the Second Temple was destroyed due to, it is written, “causeless hatred” (sin’at khinam). That is, the Judean rebels against Roman occupation were so preoccupied with internecine struggles and questions of “ideological purity” (sounds familiar?) that they lost their focus on fighting the joint enemy. In the aftermath, and foliowing an even bloodier failed uprising in 132-135 CE, my people were scattered all over the known world.

    Even when history does not repeat itself, it rhymes. And that particular tragedy (collapse through internecine quarrels) has repeated itself over and over, in all sorts of societies and context, both as tragedy and as low comedy.
    Right now, we see this happening among lovers of freedom. Rather than band together against the common enemy — statist soft totalitarianism — the circular firing squad has started between social conservatives, libertarians,…
    I wrote some weeks ago about “polishing the candlesticks while the house is on fire” — this is more like “bickering about the wallpaper while the house is on fire”. First we put out the fire, then we can return to bickering.

  22. Joe Miller (@joethefatman1)

    I’m on a social media vacation for some of the things you’ve listed. With the things that have gone on lately, I just don’t need the aggravation. I find that from time to time I have to step aside and let the mob pass me by, otherwise I might say something stupider than normal and alienate friend as well as not friend.

    So I’ve spent the week reading. Starship Troopers, Farnhams Freehold, the Empire of Man series and stuff like that there. My blood pressure has thanked me.

  23. Christopher M. Chupik

    On a distantly related note, Larry Correia smacks down a racist who claims to be his fan:

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Uh, that was supposed to link to the Twitter convo.

      • Well, someone on FB told me baen books are about shooting black people. I now have permission from James Young to red shirt him. YAY.

        • Red shirting. That’s… that’s a good idea.

        • *giggle, giggle, giggle*
          What?
          *tries to look innocent* Look, butterfly! Chase, chase, chase . . .

        • Obviously someone who has never read Baen books.
          Give me a second while I try to remember which Baen books I’ve read that involve Our Heroes shooting black people.
          John Ringo…no…Larry Correia…no…David Drake…no…Eric Flint…oh very much no…well, I think there might’ve been some black people killed one time in one of Kratman’s Carrera books.

          • David Weber – Armageddon Inheritance (sequel to Mutineer’s Moon), one of the planetoid captains that died in the big battle. And he tried to kill off Mike Henke, too! Yep, Baen must be raaaaacisssssss!

            • I believe that most of the people Ringo & Drake kill on Marduk (Empire of Man/Prince Roger) are black. Well, sure, they say they’re green, but we know what they mean!

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Don’t you remember the ethnic background of the OPFOR in Kratman’s first Countdown book?

        • Your commenter was sort kinda right — Baen books does have lots of black people shooting, such as Larry’s John Jermaine “Trip” Jones, Owen’s teammate in the MHI series. He also is a (former) High School teacher, so no wonder Correia has him shot shoot. Having him come to MHI as survivor of a zombie attack is clear proof that Larry’s a real jokester bigot.

          Because I don’t obsessively prowl through Ringo’s, Weber’s, Bujold’s, Drake’s, Flint’s, von Name’s, Hoyt’s, Spencer’s, Taylor’s and so on books tracking the racial phenotypes of people shooting and/or shot I honestly hadn’t noticed the disparate impact of the shooting. I wonder if your commenter can provide a spreadsheet demonstrating that black people are shot in Baen books in excess of their normal distribution of shooting victims in the real population?

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          What the what? I don’t think even Tiny Tempest Bradford has said *that*.

        • Here’s a link that contains language appropriate to this git.

        • Patrick Chester

          Oh that’s a load of bull. It’s like the “Celebrate Diversity” T-Shirt depicting tons of different pistol models. Some SJW-types claimed it meant shooting blacks, except nothing in the T-shirt mentions that.

          But it’s the first thing that comes to said SJW’s minds and somehow that’s the “right-wingers” fault.
          O_o

          • In fact, it’s a bit like the ORIGINAL meaning of “homophobia” — a condition in which a man would be obsessed with real and imaginary homosexual tendencies in other men, fueled by deeply repressed fears about his own ‘orientation’.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Click on the date, and it takes you to part of the exchange.

  24. I wound up dropping someone I’d been friends with for years on the social networks. It was just a comment too far. Now, that’s someone who definitely is not a fellow-traveller, but I’ve noticed that my own cushion has been wearing thinner as of late. I’m just tired of letting foolish cocksure close-minded hate of things I hold sacred pass without comment, and I’m seeing it everywhere.

  25. During the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was having problems with Gen. Ambrose Burnside (not an infrequent occurrence, tho’ in this case, Burnside was proved correct). At the height of his annoyance, Lincoln wrote a very long, very pointed letter detailing his annoyance with Burnside — then when he had finished, folded the letter, wrote on it “Not Sent”, and stuffed it into a desk drawer. Burnside never saw it; he received instead a far more temperate letter suggesting a course of action.

    The lesson here should be apparent to all.

    • Arrgh.

      About four feet to the left and four shelves up there’s a book titled “Lincoln On Leadership.” It’s a textbook a friend was issued while going through a USAF NCO leadership school.

      The author mined Lincoln’s speeches and letters for inspirational leadership phrases. They include gems like “never tell subordinates what you want, they should be able to figure it out for themselves.”

      That probably underlay his “General of the Week Club” that left the Union Army leaderless for so long…

      Most of the book is full of *bad* examples. I don’t know if the author simply assumed anything the sainted Lincoln said was indisputable fact, or he was so clueless he couldn’t tell the difference between leadership and feral management…

      I think the only good thing is that nobody pays any attention to those leadership courses anyway; they remember enough to pass the test, then go right back to whatever they were doing before, good or bad.

      If you’d like a textbook on the kind of leadership methods that incite people to roll grenades under your tent at night, Amazon has used copies for $4 with shipping.

      • The thing is, I’m not all that sure that real leadership can be taught. Not from a book, anyways.

        People I’ve met, worked for, and talked with, the ones I’d call leaders don’t seem to do things according to bullet points or chapter and verse. More like principles. Good instincts. Decisive when SHTF. Accepts- no, demands responsibility. Chews out in private, praises in public (unless absolutely necessary, and sometimes it is). Knows the rules, and when to break them.

        Leadership isn’t taught or built from parts, little of this, little of that. It’s grown. Someone with that ability, that character, he probably has more authority in his footie pajamas than some jackanapes who thinks he’s in charge, but has no idea what he’s doing.

        • Exactly – an instinct, an inborn natural skill, which can be refined and polished, but not transplanting by any means into one who doesn’t have the slightest leaning towards it.

          • It can be taught, but the person learning must approach the process humbly. I’ve only seen it actually work once. The guy was in over his head and made ONE very good decision: He cornered the most experienced guy on the shift and said ‘teach me so I don’t screw this up for everyone’.

        • Leadership can be taught — but not once you’ve reached college, or even High School. You can teach it to an Eagle Scout, but only because the kid started learning it as a cub. Mostly it is a matter of cutting and polishing the facets.

          • Oh, no! I’m offended! You mentioned the evil homophobic Boy Scouts in a good way!

            • I am offended by your taking offense at my comment. You are clearly attempting to otherize me, denying me the ability to engage on a variety of topcs, an act of ideological imperialism attempting to diminish my participation in society.

              Your assertion that my comment constitutes an endorsement of these so-called “scouts” is unfounded, based on an unsupported assumption that leadership is “good” when all reputable social movements clearly place higher value on followers.

        • I know for sure I learned leadership. Lessons from my dad every Tuesday and Thursday when he was coaching my softball team, often with a lecture on why doing it *this* way was important. Then I watched him do it at home and work the rest of the week and understood. To be honest, I blame him for my current predicament of being drafted into management for every job I’ve ever held.

        • I’m pretty sure leadership *can* be taught… but only if there are no bad leadership habits already in place.

          The problem with bad leaders is they always think of themselves as EXCELLENT leaders… even though what they’re doing is counterproductive. Only the existing organizational structure makes them a “leader.”

          Of course, it could be that I went through too many leadership and management courses myself…

        • Dan, in my mind you DID just teach real leadership. In a single paragraph, bullet points, nicely done! The real problem is whether the student can or will learn.

      • *snicker* Military leadership courses … the most fun that I ever had in one of those was the senior NCO course that they sent me too, when I was a TSgt, with 18 years in and very little hope of making MSgt. All the other students were also E-6s with about the same prospects, and the classes were … interesting. None of us were about to accept any kind of conventional “leadership BS” given to us as the highest wisdom in classroom lectures – responding to such essays in speculative management with often hilarious counters, based on long experience. I really have to hand it to the instructors – stepping in front of the student body must have been like heading out to a cage full of big cats without a whip and a chair.

        • At the start of WWII, a British subaltern from the Great War who had been recalled to service was being put through a rush modernized leadership course. One exercise involved taking a bridge.

          The sub looked at the bridge, drew his revolver, and yelled “Charge!”, leading his platoon across at a dead run.

          The instructors were outraged. “What do you think would have happened,” they asked him, “if you had tried that stunt in real life?”

          The Sub thought about it and said, “As I remember, they gave me the Military Cross.”

          • That could be a “Mad Jack Churchill” tale… he killed a German soldier with a longbow in France, hit the shore in Norway with bagpipes and hand grenades, escaped from a Nazi prison camp, did a bunch of other stuff, then took up surfing as a senior citizen…

        • When I was in the nuclear Navy, “Rickover stories” (possibly apocryphal) weren’t hard to come by (he threw me out of his office three times, but still accepted me). One that I remember involved a nameless midshipman who, when asked, “Why should I accept you into this program?” responded with, “Because of my leadership skills, sir!”

          Adm. Rickover then called several enlisted personnel into his office and had them sit on the floor and said, “You’re in a life raft.” He then told the midshipman, “Use your leadership skills to convince one of them to give up their place for you.”

      • Well, the Union army leaderless in the East, anyway. The Army of the Potomac was…interesting.
        First, there was McClellan, a brilliant organizer who wouldn’t fight and was rumored to have ambitions of the Napoleonic kind.
        Then there was Pope, who was a blowhard.
        Then McClellan again.
        Then Burnside, who was selected because he wasn’t really political.
        Then Hooker, who also was rumored to have Napoleonic ambitions.
        Then, finally, Meade, the most competent of the lot, the least ambitious (which may explain the competence), and the least well known.

        • I’m not entirely sure how competent Meade was. After Gettysburg, he had the Army of Northern Virginia right in his hands, and he let them slip away due to his overcautious nature. It wasn’t until Grant and Sherman were in charge that the Union forces became effective.

          • Note: I said most competent of the lot above, not most competent Union commander of the war. That distinction goes to either Grant, Sherman, or Thomas.
            That having been said, I think a lot of the criticism of Meade is a massive case of hindsight is 20/20, and forgets just how messed up the Army of the Potomac was on July 4, 1863. Of the seven infantry corps, three had new commanders–1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Three were absolutely wrecked–1st, 3rd, and 11th; Three were badly hit–2nd, 5th, and 12th; and the 6th was Meade’s only halfway fresh force. As to the cavalry, Buford’s division was done, and Kilpatrick and Gregg’s had taken some heavy hits.
            Now, arguably, Lee was even more messed up. Of his three infantry corps, Longstreet was wrecked and Hill and Ewell were done, while Stuart’s cavalry wasn’t in much shape to fight, either. However, given that Meade has just received a demonstration the day before of what happens when you plow a mass infantry attack in over a mile of open ground in front of massed artillery, I don’t blame him for taking the victory he had.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I’m not sure that it’s fair to judge Meade just on the aftermath of Gettysburg. Even a victorious army needs time to regroup and restore itself.

          • It should be noted that Mead was never relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant General and took over command of all the Union armies. He marched with the Army of the Potomac because that was the main striking force and he trusted Sherman – who took over the Army of the Tennessee from Grant – to do his part, but all of Grant’s orders for the Army of the Potomac went through Meade – at least officially.

      • William O. B'Livion

        I think the only good thing is that nobody pays any attention to those leadership courses anyway; they remember enough to pass the test, then go right back to whatever they were doing before, good or bad.

        Why should leadership courses be any different than every other course out there?

        • “Why should leadership courses be any different than every other course out there?”

          Consider for a moment any competent Econ 101 course where somewhere in the first week or so, they draw a Supply / Demand Curve and discuss what happens when the price is set somewhere other than where the market would set it.

          Then consider all the states that establishing $15/Hour minimum wage laws and the inevitable consequences.

  26. Sarah, you get it. Thank you for getting it. In my conservative-libertarian corner of the world, I have felt isolated because of the typical reaction I get to actively working in several coalitions with people who lean more-vocally-libertarian and others who lean less-vocally-libertarian (but are still totally on “our” side and the more-vocally-libertarian folks would learn that if they’d just step off their ivory towers [what, are they being sold at Costco, these days?]): name-calling/making fun of the other parts of the coalition and expecting me to agree to show that I’m a part of *their* tribe and not *those other people* (with whom they actually share at least 80% of their views, if not more). It’s exhausting. It’s discouraging. It’s sad. I’m glad to know I’m not alone. I think I’m going to use Rule 1 as a mantra alongside the Money Hum for a bit and see if it helps. Thank you for getting it, and thank you for sharing an actionable solution in a situation that many bloggers would have used to just gripe about their problems of late.

  27. There’s a good Brigham Young quote that I believe is relevant:

    “He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.”

    When used as ammunition in an online flame war, it is also a surprisingly effective way to get banned.

  28. RealityObserver

    I’m noticing it all over the place, too. (And I don’t even do Facebook – just occasionally reading Twitter compilations is sometimes too much.)

    OK, just took a long (about a half screen’s worth), wandering discourse out, it’s getting late for me. I am wondering if it just that people who thing (well or poorly) are sensing a cusp in our civilization approaching, where there will be radical changes, one way or the other.

    • ” sensing a cusp in our civilization approaching, where there will be radical changes, one way or the other.”

      THIS. A lot of people (and I’m one of them) have reached the point where we don’t really care to argue about things like Obamacare or immigration with the Left or the GOPe: What can’t go on, won’t, and the Gods of the Copybook Headings will win the argument for us. They’ll also make sure that the most witless won’t be around when rebuilding time comes, and frankly, the best thing we can do is be prepared to assist them in that task.

      • I wonder if this is a bit what the Romano-Celts felt like as the Slavs, Bavarians, and others appeared as the Roman administrators left? Something’s going to change, we don’t know what it is, it may be helpful or not, but I don’t want to abandon my farm/town/church. Should I fight, be friendly but wary, or pack up the family and head upstream? And how do I stay Roman now that the prefect and the bishop have taken St. Severin’s bones and fled to Italy?

    • The Other Sean

      I’m noticing it all over the place, too. (And I don’t even do Facebook – just occasionally reading Twitter compilations is sometimes too much.)

      That’s where you doing it wrong! Twitter is full of twits (says so right in the name), so of course you’re getting frustrated.

      • Twitter enables the adolescent tendency of putting the mouth in motion without engaging the brain.

        Some people use it effectively but it is a medium inherently biased against reason, logic and linear thought.

        It is very effective for enabling idiots to reveal their inner vacuousness.

      • Any idea that can be expressed in 140 characters should not be.

  29. RealityObserver

    Ack! People who have thoughts running through their brain beyond their next fast food, drug fix, or sex partner.

    Not ones that wave their hand out of a tiny little box…

  30. William O. B'Livion

    As I’ve said before I can judge the general mood of the nation by how fricking crazy the drivers are on the road. And right now they’re pretty crazy.

    No, that’s the legalized pot.

    2 – So you’re in this forum and someone made a joke/comment/etc. part of which offended you. Consider DO YOU NEED TO COMMENT? Is this issue so fargin important that you just HAVE to start an argument?

    Wrestling pigs.

  31. Re the other comments… I’m very very backlogged and so TL:DR.

    My take: Thank you. Well said. I am close friends with people whom, on some issues, I disagree about as totally as a person can. (Hi Boss!) but in other ways we are so much fellow travelers that I can not imagine not being close.

    The current course of the crazy years is most difficult to live through. I profoundly hope that RAH was wrong about the conclusion of them.

  32. A new post experiencing slight delay, I propose a modest exercise. Let us stipulate that the “smart” money is correct and Jeb Bush wins the presidency. Let us further stipulate that cabinet posts are filled, “Team of Rivals” style, from the other candidates. Who gets which chair?

    Scott Walker as Secretary of Labor.
    Donald Trump as Secretary of Treasury (imagine his signature on all the money!)
    Ben Carson as Surgeon General
    John Kasich at OMB
    Chris Christy as White House Counsel
    Bobby Jindal as HHS
    Ted Cruz, Attorney-General
    Lindsey Graham, First Lady Veterans Administration
    Marco Rubio, State Department
    Carly Fiorina, UN Ambassador
    Glenn Reynolds, Attorney-General
    Mike Huckabee, Agriculture
    George Pataki, Transportation
    Rand Paul, DHS
    Rick Perry, Energy
    Rick Santorum, Education

    That seems to proffer significant entertainment value. Any additions, swaps, objections, comments?

    • As aide-mémoire:
      whitehouse[DOT}gov/administration/cabinet
      en.wikipedia[DOT]org/wiki/Republican_Party_presidential_candidates,_2016

    • You have both Ted Cruz and Glenn Reynolds as Atty Gen. Keep the blogfather as atty gen. I don’t want Jeb as my pres. How about (if he doesn’t become pres) Ted Cruz as Sen Majority leader.

      • Oops. My thinking about Jeb was he has as good a shot as any and would be miles better than Hillary, Barry, Lizzie or anyone else the Dems could name.

        Cruz as Senate Majority isn’t likely, given the number of squishes he’d have to herd. How about Solicitor-General? Or, on the basis that the Blogfather is better outside peeing in, Cruz as AG.

        It occurred to me only later that, in the name of bipartisanship, Joe Lieberman for Defense? (I hear all of you Whittle-fellows crying out, but I don’t think an administrative post is Bill’s best use.)

    • Replace Donald Trump with Ron Paul for Secretary of the Treasury, and I’m sold. Put the Donald in for Housing and Urban Development.

    • You forgot Sarah Palin for Secretary of the Interior.

      • who’s to be sec def?

        • I’d have to think most everyone here would say Col. Kratman, but in the wider political sense, I don’t think that’s a possibility. Swartzkopf or Patreus, perhaps.

    • Well, yeah, except that if Jeb wins every one of those individuals will be purged from public life. with the exception of Glenn Reynolds.

      And what do you have against veterans?

      The only way your scenario might occur is if the GOP establishment believes the nation is so thoroughly screwed that they need to ladle the blame out evenly.

      • Graham is a veteran and that seems the least harmful place to put him and one where he might conceivably do some good.

        Where would you prefer him — State? Defense? Justice? Okay, how about Postmaster-General? That place is so locked up in union work rules he probably couldn’t do any harm and now that we’ve gone to self-adhesive stamps he’s probably safe enough.

  33. leave trump out of it all together, He’s a crony capitalist who’s too liberal with taxpayer money.