The Dim-Post

July 27, 2011

Ontology for idiots

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 4:09 pm

Peter Creswell asks:

Why is it that it is apparently okay for folk to yell “Godwin’s Law!” at people who compare them to Nazis, but those same folk have no problem leaping into print loudly and nastily comparing other people to the Norwegian mass murderer.

Here’s how it works. If someone is advocating the extermination of another race (or some other subset) of people then you get to call them a Nazi, or compare them to Hitler. I’m totally fine with that. But if someone inconveniences you in some trivial way – like, say, by demanding they you obey the laws around election advertising – and you play the Nazi card, then that’s not appropriate. The Nazi’s aren’t an historic synonym for evil because they went around mildly inconveniencing people.

Comparisons to the Norwegian mass murderer work the same way. If (for whatever reason) some company or government department requires you to fill in a form and you respond by clawing at your eyes and screaming, ‘This is just like that mass murder in Norway’ (I use this hypothetical example because Peter is highly likely to act this out in real life, if he hasn’t already) then that’s not acceptable, because making someone fill in a form is not really like a terrorist atrocity. But if someone makes statements about race or Islam or immigrants that are identical to those made by the Norwegian mass murderer then it’s okay to make an observation to that effect.

I guess what this boils down to is that in rhetorical terms it’s okay to say one thing is similar to another if they are, and it’s not if they aren’t. I hope this clears things up for PC.

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42 Comments »

  1. So, would it be completely legitimate to compare the author of this post:

    “Shall we kill them in their beds?” How about this: presently, a strong case can be made for the proposal to kill the entire front bench of Government in their beds, along with the Leaders of all Opposition Parties and all the various Human Wrongs Commissars. Practical, and easily done (although I’d expect difficulties coordinating the overabundance of volunteers.) Certainly provocative – and strongly based on the principle of self-defence. A proposal I’m sure we could all live with, so to speak. But as Tracinscki says, we activists must beware of purchasing freedom in one sphere at the expense of increased controls in another – the subsequent police crackdown on the assassins would undoubtedly remove all the freedoms gained by such a move, and for that reason it should be shunned — and I say that with obvious sadness.

    …with the Norwegian mass murderer then…?

    Just askin’.

    Comment by Sam — July 27, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

  2. I hope this clears things up for PC.

    Yeah, good luck with that…

    Comment by Psycho Milt — July 27, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  3. Danyl, perhaps you should write another post for Sam’s benefit called “satire for idiots”.

    Comment by Alex — July 27, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  4. Can I recommend some Jonathan Swift for you, Sam? Perhaps you might enjoy it.

    And can I recommend my response to you, Danyl. Should you care to partake.

    http://pc.blogspot.com/2011/07/godwins-law-again.html

    Comment by Peter Cresswell — July 27, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  5. “But if someone makes statements about race or Islam or immigrants that are identical to those made by the Norwegian mass murderer then it’s okay to make an observation to that effect.”

    No, its not.

    This evil man, along with most others of the ilk, takes the words of others who are perhaps expressing genuine concerns and uses them to justify his own actions. They are not his original words.. he has plagiarized and twisted them to fit his own (murderous) obsession.

    If we do as you say and accuse the next person who expresses concern about Muslim terrorism, migration etc of being a Nazi/mass murderer, then you are being unjust.. and frankly stupid.

    There’s also another form of OTT labeling and censorship used, ie, when there’s been a particularly odious crime committed and someone in the heat of the moment says “He should be shot”.. we all know its not meant literally but too many would accuse the person of being a Nazi.. thats wrong too.

    JC

    Comment by JC — July 27, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

  6. @PC – If you feel it’s appropriate to call someone a Nazi ‘because the Nazi’s did it’, ie introduce anti-smoking laws then you run into the absurd situation in which you can call someone a Nazi if they’re breathing oxygen ‘because Hitler breathed oxygen.’ Logicians call this a fallacy of irrelevance. A comparison is only appropriate if it’s for a distinctive act. I guess if someone annexes Austria and Czechoslovakia then you can also compare them to Hitler, if it makes you happy.

    Comment by danylmc — July 27, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  7. Alex, humour, and satire in particular, works when there is a core of truth being assserted that the people hearing it agree with, so those who don’t agree with that “truth” don’t find it funny, and often get accused of being humourless.. The true art of humour and satire, therefore, rests in being able to establish common ground between unlikely people, in doing this it helps to laugh at one’s self from time to time. The author of The Dim Post has had success at satire, on occasions.
    For example the famous Modest Proposal of Swift has at its heart not the absurdity of serving up children for dinner, but general callousness to the poor and the treatment of the Irish by the English.
    If Sam fails to find satire in the quote he provided it could be that the core of asserted truth he believes to be behind it is one he disagrees with, I am guessing that he sees it as being too close to the views of the shooter, differing mostly in the levels of pragmatism about execution.

    Comment by Michael — July 27, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

  8. The Nazi’s aren’t an historic synonym for evil because they went around mildly inconveniencing people.

    They mildly inconvenienced the British for a number of years.

    Carry on….

    Comment by Gregor W — July 27, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

  9. Michael, long-winded dissertations on the nature of satire aside, I think Sam was deliberately ignoring the obvious fact that the suggestion of shooting up a bunch of people was not to be taken literally. One doesn’t have to appreciate the satire in order to be able to tell that the statements were not the literal view of the person stating them. I therefore think that Sam was being deliberately obtuse in saying that Danyl’s talk of shooting government ministers really invited comparison to Behring Breivik.

    Comment by Alex — July 27, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

  10. PC has one valid point about The Standard though.

    The posts there regularly reduce people to categories and then vilify them with as much vehemence and irrationality they can muster.

    Their campaign of blanket smearing of people to the right of the political spectrum on the basis of these deaths is pretty sick.

    Comment by NeilM — July 27, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

  11. But I suppose that’s hardly news and not much to get excited about but then if we’re going to comsder what heated rhetoric might lead then it’s a fait point.

    I’m skeptical about linking people such as Breivik to particular discusion worlds, they appear to create their own world. But maybe there’s something about the internet and social media that makes this sort of thing more likely but it may not be such an obvious causal chain as crazy talk leads to crazy action.

    Off hand there’s perhaps the dynamic of people “seeing” themelves more via modern media, ie have more opportunity to reinforce their grandiose delusions by seeing themselves on facebook etc. That’s a bit obscure, still thinking.

    Comment by NeilM — July 27, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  12. Yeah, because the right never blanket smeared an entire group based on the very visible actions of a few psychopaths.

    If some Muslims are psychos, and some psychos are Muslims, then all Muslims are psychos.

    And now we’re complaining about application of this bizarre logic to this Norwegian bell-end and his weird ilk, because the people that believe and say the same things that Badger Breville Toasty-Maker (don’t know his real name and frankly don’t fucking care) do can’t see the logical connection between constantly bleating about the culling the proponents of the socialist-Islamic conspiracy and someone actually fucking doing exactly that.

    Yet they’re shit-hot at parking their righteous indignation on the top of any Muslim’s face who dares to say anything remotely against Western culture.

    Cheeky pricks.

    Comment by Dizzy — July 27, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

  13. JC I don’t know whose words he has twisted or whathaveyou.

    I know that he quoted ‘Fjordman’ a lot, and others from the ‘Gates of Vienna’ and other such blogs.

    But the thing is, those guys do talk in fairly strident terms. They describe what they see as an existential threat to their society. They describe this threat as coming from enemies both foreign and domestic. They describe the centre left, and the centre right, as being at best unwitting and naive collaborators with radical islamists.

    The fact that he used the exact same beliefs as justification for his acts, does not mean that those guys are also planning such acts. But if you really really believe that your society is under existential threat, and that your political apparatus cannot save you from that threat, then it is not irrational to look to extra-political means to solve the problem.

    So to me, it’s not enough that these guys disown his actions. They either need to disown the claim of existential threat, or explain why an existential threat does not justify violence. At the moment, to me, it looks like their complaint is that he talk what the have been saying seriously. So are they serious, or not?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — July 27, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

  14. “… looks like their complaint is that he took what they have been saying seriously.”

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — July 27, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  15. “… looks like their complaint is that he took what they have been saying seriously.”

    Bingo. And yet hear them wail and claim victimhood when this is pointed out. This in itself is vile. They’re making Sarah Palin look like a stoic.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — July 27, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

  16. … looks like their complaint is that he took what they have been saying seriously.

    I’m really skepitcal about the idea that Breivik wouldn’t have acted as he had if people like Steyn hadn’t said what they have said.

    What Steyn says is wrong. But someone like Breivik will always find justification. What he isn’t seeking is inspiration, he and others like him already have the core grudge that motivates them which is – feeling like an ignored genious. The Muslim issue is just a hook. It could have been Jews, it scould have been Authority (McVeigh).

    Comment by NeilM — July 27, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  17. Neil, I, in turn, am pretty skeptical of the idea that his specific actions were unrelated to beliefs that he held. Beliefs that were reinforced through active participation in a discourse of existential threat. Plenty of people with ignored genius grudges don’t do this sort of thing. Many just quietly drink themselves to death for example.

    Are you skeptical of the idea that people who think their society faces an existential threat, and that nonviolent means are not available to remove that threat, might resort to violence?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — July 27, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  18. OK – that quote I laid on at the beginning is from Not PC (which is what made it relevant to this post), rather than a Dim Post special. I didn’t take it as satire because it kind of fits the general tone of PC’s rantings, his site isn’t one that I usually consider to be dealing in satire (intentional satire anyway, finally, it just isn’t terribly amusing. The whole post is speculative, but not satire. There are no satire tags or other indications that this isn’t to be taken seriously (given the ‘serious’ tone of the overall post).
    http://pc.blogspot.com/2011/07/shall-we-kill-them-in-their-bedsor.html

    My bad.

    If it was a Dim-Post effort, I would have immediately recognised it as satire (given history/context), although, pretty far removed from Danyl’s stirling work…

    Comment by Sam — July 27, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

  19. Pascal,

    “So are they serious, or not?”

    Thats part of the point I am making. Many Europeans have been making similar points that the killer quotes or intimates., and there have been actions taken to control or regulate Muslims, eg, the Swiss have regulations on the number, size and locations of Mosques, the Dutch require Muslims to view homosexual scenes before they are allowed to reside, France bans the Burka and Angela Merkel, in referring to Muslims has said that multiculturalism “has failed, utterly failed”.

    There can be no doubt that the killer has tapped into a significant vein of anti-Islamism in Europe. The Europeans, unlike NZ, the US and Aussie to some extent, have seen their migrants as garbage collectors as opposed to valuable citizens, they have marginalised and ghettoized these migrants to a high degree on the mistaken thought that they will leave when they are no longer required. The blogs you mention are little more than backup singers to a prevailing minority sentiment.

    It may be that this massacre will cause the Europeans to pause, but within months, outside of Norway, I’m betting the tensions between Muslim migrants and their host nations will escalate.

    JC

    Comment by JC — July 27, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

  20. I, in turn, am pretty skeptical of the idea that his specific actions were unrelated to beliefs that he held. Beliefs that were reinforced through active participation in a discourse of existential threat.

    but is there any evidence that that is how things work?

    I work on occasion with paranoid males, as in mentally unwell. My impression is that the grudge comes first and the rational comes later. Men tend to hold and develop grudges, some men do that to excess.

    Comment by NeilM — July 27, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

  21. It’s not fair to compare NZ’ers who don’t advocate violence to a guy like Breivik – that’d be like comparing a South Korean anti-Jewish immigration MP to Hitler. Comparisons like this are as much a matter of degree as anything else… so as long as everything they’re advocating is legal and non-violent then they have very little in common. It was a very cheap shot and I can see why PC is annoyed (even if he can’t make his point anywhere near as well as Danyl).

    Comment by gazzaj — July 27, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

  22. Sam…..it was so obvious that that quote in PC’s post was satire that I struggle to believe you that you made a mistake.

    Don’t become like that nutbar Redbaiter who constantly accused PC and the Libz of championing homosexuality at ever turn when the made the very occasional remark in support of Gays being able to have their equal human rights respected.

    Comment by James (the actual one) — July 27, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

  23. But I suppose whatever the convergence of circumstances that produced Breivik it certainly was not poverty and injustice. Does anyone really believe bin Laden actually cared for the Palestinians?

    Comment by NeilM — July 28, 2011 @ 11:38 am

  24. James said: “Sam…..it was so obvious that that quote in PC’s post was satire that I struggle to believe you that you made a mistake.”

    I guessed it probably wasn’t intended to be taken seriously, but satire? What was it satirising? the only viewpoint it can be seen as a parody of is his own point of view, and actual satire consists of parodying something to show up its silliness, so why would you parody yourself?

    Comment by Kahikatea — July 28, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  25. Yeah, now that I understand where the quote came from I think it reads rather differently. Clearly it was not delivered in seriousness, but presenting a jokingly exaggerated version of your own actual viewpoint is a risky business, much more so than presenting a jokingly exaggerated version of the *opposite* of your viewpoint. One is much more ambiguous and open to misinterpretation than the other- by presenting a deliberately extreme perspective, it becomes very difficult to precisely draw the line where the real opinion ends and the joke begins.

    Furthermore, it’s totally open to the interpretation of “I consider this a joke only because it would never actually happen, not because I don’t actually WANT it to”. I certainly wouldn’t accuse PC of actually thinking that, but when one makes statements like that I think it’s important to consider how they might be ambiguous. This is particularly important when one starts making statements that we should murder politicians, etc. Sure, we can tell that the statement, literally and in its entirety, does not reflect your actual opinion- but until you clarify, we don’t know what you actually *do* think.

    Comment by Alex — July 28, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  26. Why wasn’t it intended in seriousness? The bald claim is that on libertarian grounds, PC and his ilk would be fully justified in killing off all those they regard as tyrants (sic semper tyrannis and all that). But the likely repressive consequences mean that this is not the best practical move. So better to pursue other tactics.

    At the very least, this means PC can only criticise Breivik’s tactical decision making (he failed to fully think through the likely consequence of his actions). The underlying morality of those actions, however, are precisely consistent with PCs own thinking – Breivik acted from self-defence to free himself (and Norway … and Europe) from a socialist hell.

    Of course, the reality probably is that PC is a big-mouthed braggart who likes to think he’s all radical and shit, but off the web really is a bit of a toothless moggie. So I don’t see him ever pulling a gun on anyone. But morally he got what he wished for in Norway – so suck up the consequences.

    Comment by Grassed Up — July 28, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  27. A comparison is only appropriate if it’s for a distinctive act.

    So by that rationale it’s actually not appropriate to compare every idiot who hates Muslims with Breivik. Hitler isn’t reviled because he was an anti-Semite – there were lots of anti-Semites around at that time, including some of the Allied leaders – he’s reviled because he tried to exterminate an entire race of people. So acting as if every right wing, anti-immigration nutbar is just a Breivik in waiting is as illogical as arguing that the Roosevelts weren’t much better than Hitler, because they didn’t like Jews either.

    By your argument it makes more sense to pull the Nazi comparison on anti-smoking people than on anti-Semites, since the Nazis were the first to recognise the dangers of smoking, but anti-Semitism was pretty common in the 1930s.

    Not that I’m arguing that anyone should actually do so, just pointing out the flaw in your argument.

    Comment by helenalex — July 28, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  28. “Hitler isn’t reviled because he was an anti-Semite – there were lots of anti-Semites around at that time, including some of the Allied leaders – he’s reviled because he tried to exterminate an entire race of people.”

    Which is what danyl actually said … “If someone is advocating the extermination of another race (or some other subset) of people then you get to call them a Nazi, or compare them to Hitler. I’m totally fine with that.”

    And the point isn’t that we’re “acting as if every right wing, anti-immigration nutbar is just a Breivik in waiting” … most such “nutbars” aren’t actually insane like Breivik is, so won’t actually go out and act on the rhetoric they espouse. But a failure to act in the same way doesn’t mean that they aren’t saying the exact same things that Breivik did when justifying his actions, though. So let’s compromise, shall we? If PC and his ilk say “whilst I disagree with Breivik’s methods, I applaud the motivation behind them”, then I’ll accept they are not being hypocrites. Fair enough?

    Comment by Grassed Up — July 28, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

  29. So let’s compromise, shall we? If PC and his ilk say “whilst I disagree with Breivik’s methods, I applaud the motivation behind them”, then I’ll accept they are not being hypocrites. Fair enough?

    Ummm… how about; No, lets not compromise. That is far away from ‘fair enough’.

    It’s actually really fucking retarded.

    Comment by Phil — July 28, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

  30. Didn’t say that it wasn’t, Phil. Just that they wouldn’t be hypocrites – they’d be honestly evil.

    Comment by Grassed Up — July 28, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  31. Does anyone remember Millisy and his/her rants about committing violence against anyone touching his beloved bludger state? All barrels get the odd nut in them….

    Comment by James (the actual one) — July 28, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  32. It’s just your lot are the equivalent of a bin of mixed-nuts at the pick-and-mix section of the Supermaket … some of which are poison and kill you – aren’t they, Jimmy?

    Comment by Grassed Up — July 28, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

  33. OK, how about PC says, “I abhor mass murder, and I’m disgusted with what I’ve read of the motivation behind this one.” That said, I’ve read little of what he did say, simply because I don’t have the rantings of mass murders very high on my to-read list.

    And I should say too that I can appreciate those who don’t appreciate my weak efforts at satire. Compared to the likes of Danyl and Steve Yorke, who are both Swiftian their brilliance, my own plodding efforts sure leave a lot to be desired.

    Mind you, at least I don’t see mass murders under every blog.

    Comment by Peter Cresswell — July 28, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

  34. “Mind you, at least I don’t see mass murders under every blog.”

    That’s funny. Breivik did. Guess he’s guilty of taking you guys more seriously than you do yourselves …

    Comment by Grassed Up — July 28, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

  35. “Mind you, at least I don’t see mass murders under every blog.”

    But wealth redistribution decided via democracy is slavery right?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — July 28, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  36. It is for the minority who are literally forced to cough up the wealth PB. Its a matter of degree,not principle.

    And the historic score card to date shows many millions more dead thanks to the kindred politics espoused by the lefty’s here than

    anything Libertarians or even most conservatives have every advocated.

    Comment by James (the actual one) — July 28, 2011 @ 11:41 pm

  37. Do tell about this “kindred politics”, is it a dotgeekdotroleplaying thing?

    Comment by will — July 28, 2011 @ 11:48 pm

  38. You know what I’m referring to Will……the control freak, busybody inclination to dominate and direct others against their will…it varies to degrees of implementation but is still related.

    Comment by James (the actual one) — July 29, 2011 @ 12:28 am

  39. And the historic score card to date shows many millions more dead thanks to the kindred politics espoused by the lefty’s here than anything Libertarians or even most conservatives have every advocated.

    James, that is because the worldview that Libertarians espouse is non-existant. Because something doesn’t exist is not proof that it is ‘better’ or at least, less horrible than a real world situation.

    Wrt ‘conservatives’, I would respecfully suggest you are talking out your arse.

    Anyone who has a vested interest in preserving the [i]status quo[/i] within a socio-political environment be it Monarchy, Republic, Stalinist State, whatever and the attendant norms/institutions (Royal Prerogative, Primacy of Parliament etc.) is by default, a conservative.

    Conservatives magically transform into Reactionaries the moment their entrenched power is threatened.
    Likewise, Revolutionaries are transmuted into Conservatives the moment the shooting stops and they commence entrenching their own institutions.

    Read a few history books to understand how much blood has been shed to assault or defend conservative interests.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 29, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  40. Slavery eh James? Does that jusify violence? I should think it would, myself.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — July 29, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

  41. Scratch a conservative and revel a socialist… scratch a socialist and reveal nationalist…..

    Comment by James (the actual one) — July 30, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  42. Scratch an objectivist and get shot for violating the non-initiation of force principle…

    Comment by Guy Smiley — July 30, 2011 @ 4:13 pm


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