Sunday, May 07, 2006

Let's talk about Alex

There’s this woman.

Let’s call her Alex. It doesn’t matter too much if you want to think of that as short for Alexandra or Alexis. Feel free. Take your pick. Alex isn’t quite real anyway.

She’s not even one woman exactly, she’s more of an amalgalm. An idea/l. (Though not a post-modernist, I find that forward slash handy sometimes). She’s a stock character. A recurring trope. A family resemblance even. But a resemblance that exists out there with something in the world. Having resembled her, I should know.

Oddly enough, Alex is usually a woman. Mostly she’s straight and she’s almost always white. At least, I haven’t known any Alex’s that weren’t so far, though presumably they exist. Her age is indeterminate – she’s just kind of ageless, like the model in a really good cosmetics ad.

Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s . . .

Often she’s American, though I’ve also met Alex in the U.K. from time to time. That’s just because those are the only places I’ve lived since I first recognised Alex. I’m pretty sure she lives lots of other places too.

On the whole though, Alex’s femaleness, her sexuality, her whiteness, and her nationality strike me as salient (though not essential). To my rather callous and calculating mind, they hint at a particular (or perhaps a particularly ambiguous?) relation to power. Alex has something to lose.

But when I think of Alex abstracted from particular circumstances, she wears the face of the first Alex I recognised.

She’s about my age, with a freckled face that tans in summer. She has long straight brown hair and with casual grace she contrives to keep it flipped back out of her face. She’s no Barbie, those are practical clothes she’s wearing, old shorts and T-shirts, or long skirts and sandals. The kind of thing you garden in, or do yardwork. And you can tell from how she carries herself and how she speaks that she is practical, confident, creative and intelligent. A good person to have on your side.

Alex is really friendly. She’s got this warm, generous, nurturing nature that looks to see the best in people. She does cool and interesting stuff. She’s well-liked. And she’s usually so calm and reasonable and centred in a way that eludes me entirely, prone as I am to veering between grimness and giddiness. She’s well-meaning and she’s cares about politics. She really wants a better world. She’s progressive, she’s liberal, she might even be leftist, though that’s less likely. Those of us on the left tend to end up hard-hearted one way or another. And Alex isn’t.

I want to like Alex. I want to trust her. I really do. But I don’t dare.
Because Alex wants me dead.

Well, no, that’s not quite true. Not directly, anyway. She’s soft-hearted, remember? Wouldn’t hurt a fly, that’s Alex.

But she wants the death of people that I try to be loyal to, and when push comes to shove if she had her way and I did not fail, that would mean mine. Sooner or later. Probably later, given my cowardice, but even that has its limits.

No. It’s not even that, exactly. Though perhaps that’s a little closer. Circling in decreasing orbits, we must hit the mark in the true eventually no?

Third time lucky.

Alex is innocent and she wants to stay that way. She doesn’t want to be guilty and so she doesn’t want to know. If she knew, she’d have to change her life or feel guilt – and Alex doesn’t think that guilt is a productive emotion and she still has something left to lose. Those salient features, remember? That particular(ly ambiguous?) relationship to power.

It’s not fake innocence. It’s real. She really is innocent and she really wants to stay that way.

Alex wants to stay that way badly enough to falter before an argument’s dangerous conclusion, though agreeing its premises and each step of reasoning.
Badly enough to erase moral agency – that of others, but also in the end her own. (After all, if one is not a moral agent, one cannot be other than innocent).
Badly enough to lash out in defensive fury at anyone who challenges her innocence, her essential 'goodness.'
Badly enough to fall back into a familiar patriotic fervour.
Badly enough not to look too closely.
Badly enough to pretend not to see.
Badly enough to denounce.
Badly enough.

Alex is nice enough. Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. She’s warm and nurturing and kind and those qualities are entirely genuine. She twinkles. But her innocence is a very dangerous thing.

24 Comments:

Blogger dove said...

So -- too harsh? too mean? generalising much? Unfair? What do you think?

BTW DTF, this is a first cut at that response I mentioned -- ironically it ended up being more self-standing than I thought, though in a weird way I think it also picks up on tangentially on the conversation Nanette started about other others.

5/07/2006 4:36 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

Wowza, lol.

I don't think it's too harsh... or maybe I've just been thinking lately that it is time to get harsh. There doesn't seem to be a lot of time left to turn things around, if they can be, and there are just some things that need to be said.

As for generalizing, I think you covered that pretty well by saying from the beginning that that was exactly what you were doing, with the Alex amalgalm (funny thing is, the only woman I know named Alex is in the UK, works with Amnesty International and is about as other other as you can get, lol).

I do think this picks up on the other conversation too, and in fact sort of clarifies part of it. Cool beans.

5/07/2006 6:45 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Thankyou -- that's an odd coincidence about your friend in the U.K.

Are you doing your Sunday roundup tonight? It's one of the highlights of my blogging week (no pressure or anything :) )

5/07/2006 7:22 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

lol, I'm working on it now. I wait til about this time in order to give people time to put up their new Sunday stuff (if they are going to).

5/07/2006 7:39 pm  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

I re-read it looking for the harshness but couldn't find any. I did find brilliance in generous quantities, and I have a feeling I will be talking about Alex for a long time to come. Thank you for bringing her out of the shadows so gracefully.

Alex definitely wants me dead.

But such an innocent desire, she becomes very indignant when people on message boards post photos of victims of US policies in Iraq, Palestine. She considers it not only bad taste, but just too disturbing, especially when the victims are children.

Because as you point out, she has a soft heart.

She wants America to win the war on terror of course, and naturally she supports the troops, but she does not think there is any excuse for people posting those kinds of pictures.

They are just too hard to look at.

If you ask her if she thinks it might not be even harder to live through, she will just stare at you. She sincerely does not understand what you are talking about.

Because she is so innocent that she cannot comprehend that I, and those children, are just as real and human as she is.

She may not even realize that she wants me dead. She may even think she only wants me to stay away from America and Americans.

And her purse. She does not realize how she grips it, moves it to the other side if she is in an elevator with me. Especially if I am accompanied by descendants.

Lately, I notice that alone I do not terrify her as much. I just make her uncomfortable, she tries not to stare, tries not to wonder why I am not yet dead.

What, she wonders, is her government doing wrong?

5/08/2006 3:01 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really love this, dove. I think we are all surrounded by Alexes (does the plural form work, I wonder?) and I think the salient characteristic, as you point out, is maintaining some relation to power and possessing some privilege that may be threatened.

So within that sphere of unacknowledged power and privilege, Alex is mostly warm, caring, friendly, horrified by abuse and misery, and more often than not, dare I say it, really, really concerned with the environment. This concern manifests itself in civic engagement and responsible actions, but hidden somewhere in Alex's mind is the thought that we really need to save the planet earth from the weight of all those black and brown and yellow babies being born.

And somewhere closer to the front of the mind is the thought that we need to stop all these black and brown and yellow people from having a life-style similar to ours, beacuse we need to maintain the status quo. It is never couched quite in these terms, but it is essential to Alex's innocence that the responsibility for maintaining the lungs of the earth fall on the poorest and the most derived of the world.

poco

5/08/2006 5:12 pm  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

I can't stop thinking about Alex. You know some Alexes don't really want me dead.

And they don't, as poco points out about many of them, want to save the world from the birth of more beige and brown people.

All they want is to help us. They want to help us be more like them, because we are simple and childlike and need help. Sometimes the help may involve some really unpleasant things, because in our simple and childlike way, we are just not able to understand that Alex knows what is best for us. This is because we have been brainwashed by bad people.

Being simple and child-like, we brainwash very easily. We get hijacked into being rejectionists by these bad people who don't want peace, who don't want to obey the west because they have an agenda and a lust for power. And they hate America and the west.

We naturally love America and the west, of course, and understand, as well as we can understand anything, being, after all, primitive, simple and child-like, that these godlike beings with hair like the sun and eyes like the sky and skin like snow. Well, like snow to those of us who live where there is snow. Skin like milk maybe for the rest of us, but anyway, we naturally have a great admiration and love for these magnificent and superior beings, and wish to obey them as a child wishes to obey his godlike parents. We are naturally proud and honored if our poor primitive lands have any resources that would make a suitable gift to our kindly big brothers and sisters who go to such trouble to help us.

So the bad people with an agenda who hate America must be stopped from brainwashing us and sometimes that might involve some military action, and to Alex it is just tragic when there is collateral damage.

It is just terrible the way those bad people cause us so much suffering. Their own people! Preventing us from being helped, from reform. Alex knows reform would do so much to help us. Our religion, our culture, all need reform. We need protection from those bad ones among us, those brainwashers.

Too bad there is not a bomb that would kill only the bad ones. But Alex hopes that in a laboratory somewhere that American scientists, who like her, have a conscience and a soft heart, are working on it. She is sure they must be. Why, without the west to help us extract our resources, we will never get help. Or reform.

5/08/2006 9:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dove, I am so with ductapefatwa on this--can't get Alex out of my mind. You've created a monster!

And Alex likes me--whenever she makes a comment about how terribly people of my group are behaving, she makes it a point to exclude me from that criticism.

Ductapefatwa, you are so right in that we are either silly and cute in our cultural rituals, stupid about the real issues, but with a good heart who just need leading, or we are evil incarnate--filled with duplicity and hatred of all that is good and life-affirming. Sometimes we can be both at the same time!!

And this is the thing about Alex-- if you point out the evil that is done by the people of her group, she will acknowledge it as evil but explain it as an aberration--not representative--merely an unfortunate accident on an otherwise good and decent and just path, which is ever progressing towards greater fairness.

But the evil done by members of my group are no aberrations--those actions explain and characterize our culture. And this evil by the Others is used to explain all of our history--our past, present and future. Our cultures never change--we are fixed in a timeless world--our evils extend before and behind us. Not me, of course, Alex likes me, she will make sure to mark me as an exception.

And it is precisely because our cultures are so fixed, so mired, that we need the agency of the west to help us. (Even Marx can be seen as a sort of Alex, I think.) Why is it that the trope of "white men saving the brown/black women from the oppression of brown/black men" is so potent--whether we think of the British Raj and sati or today's Taliban and the innumerable articles on the oppression of Muslim women? (An aside--this trope has found new foothold among the Hindu fundamentalists in India, who now brandish it as their concern for muslim women, while they go about killing and raping and murdering them).

And I am useful to Alex too, I give her the alibi she needs, she couldn't possibly be prejudiced, because see, some of her best friends are....

poco

5/08/2006 11:34 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Yep she's a menace. I might have named her (though I doubt I'm the first) but I'd hate to have created her.

I'd just made a lengthy comment which failed to post -- part of it was that I thought your characterisation of Alex as an environmentalist was so spot on poco. The reason I didn't make Alex an environmentalist is because the most clear-cut Alex I've met in the real world was passionately into environmental issues and I thought she had perhaps tainted my perceptions unduly.

I think both you and DTF are right that Alex's innocence is bound up with her superiority. I don't think that Alex is rooting for that particular set of scientists though, DTF -- I think she's got her hopes pinned on the one's next door who are working on drugs to cure those poor deluded people doing that nasty brainwashing.


"And this is the thing about Alex-- if you point out the evil that is done by the people of her group, she will acknowledge it as evil but explain it as an aberration--not representative--merely an unfortunate accident on an otherwise good and decent and just path, which is ever progressing towards greater fairness.

But the evil done by members of my group are no aberrations--those actions explain and characterize our culture."

Myriad had some pithy words to say a while back about this which I'll try to dig up.

So what do you reckon? To BT or not to BT that is the question.
I think I may have heard a 'no' from DTF but I'm not sure.

5/09/2006 12:26 am  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

Oh I agree that Alex hopes for a drug that will make bombs unecessary, she doesn't really like bombs, and a drug would certainly be preferable. Best of all, of course would be for us to just come to understand that Alex knows best. And stop being rejectionist insurgents, so easily brainwashed.

And you and poco both hit on the most recent comment I made in the yon bonny thread, that sometimes Alex likes even me. She is very pleasantly surprised, albeit a bit incredulous, to discover that I am intelligent. If only we could all be like poco and me. And that nice Abdullah in Jordan. She would be shocked to hear me trash Abdullah. Why? We are both so nice, she thinks we may even be reformed a bit, speaking English, sitting up off the floor to eat, knowing about fish forks and J. K. Rowling and Saturday Night Live. Why would I not like Abdullah? She just doesn't understand that, and as long as I refrain from mentioning that not only do I not like Abdullah. Or Mr. Rubiae in Iraq, that on the contrary, I support the Iraqi Resistance, and the Palestinian Resistance, and would like to see the people of Jordan and Saudi-Occupied Arabia choose their own governments, she will be very excited about showing me off to her friends. Just think, her very own tame Other.

To know my views on any number of subjects frightens Alex, and throws her into a vortex of cognitive dissonance that makes the Pentagon manufactured news department look like World Link TV. She will be shocked and confused by poco's remarks about the Hindus in Gujarat. India is America's ally. Isn't it good that some of them have become sufficiently reformed to be able to help the west? poco should probably not go too deeply into this subject because Alex has to think a minute to remember what "Partition" means, from her history classes. She was a very good student. But what do the nice reformed Hindus in Gujarat have to do with Partition? And what does any of this have to do with my not liking Abdullah? Oh well, there will always be some things about other cultures that she doesn't understand, but whatever it all means, once we are all reformed, none of that will matter.

She is just so excited about getting to know us, poco even quoted some Lord Byron for her:

"O wad some powr the Giftie gie us. to see oursels as ithers see us"

Amazing!

Why did it make me laugh so? It must have been the Scottish dialect. It does occur to Alex that she would like to be able to quote a South Asian poet, but of course she can't think of any. Oh wait, something about a jug of wine? No, that poem is from Turkey, isn't it?

It will be wonderful one day when we are all reformed and all the children in South Asia will have the chance to learn about poetry, like poco.

dove, I think your question also may have come from my last post in that other thread, to "BT" or not to "BT." It is one that I am still working through, I cannot say that I have come any further in my musings than my rant the other day, the one that is on the blog now.

I go back and forth, and I did actually post that rant there, in the spirit of leaving something where people can see it, perhaps a bit more aggressively than just leaving it on my own blog, I deliberately left it on a chair set round the big table.

And I posted it as a drive-by, I did not go back and respond to comments, which was impolite, but I had also become aware that the site owner was in the middle of a very great and personal loss, so I could not decide which would be the greater impoliteness, to leave the post without responding to comments, or create a controversy at such a sad time. Some aspects of cyber-etiquette are of necessity decided on the fly, by the seat of the pants, and this was one of those famous damned if you do, damned if you don'ts that had no right answer, and anyone who tells me I made the wrong choice is just as likely to be right as I am. :)

And as to the larger question, again, I don't know. There is a fine line between the responsibility to say certain things to Alex, and the responsibility not to throw her too deeply into that vortex, on those occasions when we catch her googling Iqbal, or Sykes-Picot, that is a very grave thing, with the potential, should she persist in such things, of causing her to cease being Alex, and such a delicate transformation, I am not sure if anyone has hard and fast answers as to how best to gently encourage it without blowing it to bits.

I am open to suggestions, we are all learning this together. :)

5/09/2006 4:33 am  
Blogger Nanette said...

I've met Alex many of times, and have even liked her sometimes, to a point. In California, we seem to raise a bumper crop of Alexes ;).

Strangely, I often find myself being more gentle than not with Alex, infuriating though she may be. Not because she is so warm and liberal and friendly, but because um... I just get the feeling sometimes that her needed innocence/inner security is like a thick, steel reinforced egg, that will nevertheless shatter into a thousand pieces if you tap it in just the right place.

I'm fully aware that should push come to shove, she will not be there for me, or for Others... even though she fully believes she will. After all, she cares. And she actually may be there for this one, or that one, but change it to one that she most fears and she'll just have to take a pass on that one.

I worked with Alex once, and while she was way less than brainy, she was a fairly nice woman. Young, liberal, caring. When the infamous hate legislation against Hispanic immigrants came around in CA, prop 187, I thought that most everyone in my office would of course vote against it. After all, the bosses were old hippies, it was a casual, liberal place.

But no, I was the only one to vote against it (I was also the only Other there, lol). Alex explained to me why... "I'm not racist or anything, but these people come in and murder us in our beds!"

I did point out to her that, as far as I could tell, no one had murdered her anywhere at all (and didn't add, "more's the pity"), but that was brushed aside as irrelevant. Fear and bigotry won out, and I got a lesson in Alexes (of both sexes).

5/09/2006 5:55 am  
Blogger dove said...

I agree. She does have a kind of fragility -- it takes a lot of effort to sustain that innocence and make it appear natural to oneself.

And if one is ungentle with Alex, it's usually like kicking kittens. Or else you get the full force of those kindly nurturing tones directed your way "Why are you so angry?" "You need to be more trusting!" Though I suspect that some of those who do the last may not be Alex at all, but her rather more sophisticated and less sincere cousin Alexine.

But I'm also not trying to suggest that everyone who thinks that trust is necessary sometimes is Alex's cousin.

I don't know. I mostly try not to get too friendly with her. And partly, that's because I really don't want to be her.


Hmm, coherency eludes me tonight.

5/09/2006 10:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, don't post it over there. They're all bigots and too stupid to get the subtle brand of morally superior lecturing.

5/11/2006 7:19 pm  
Blogger dove said...

"Oh, don't post it over there. They're all bigots and too stupid to get the subtle brand of morally superior lecturing."

Hmm -- well there's an ambiguous comment that requires some elaboration I think.

(I'm guessing that's not you poco?)

5/11/2006 7:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me just clear up the ambiguity with a little story of my own.

I know a person named Chris. Most often Chris is a man, an old man, but sometimes he is also very young and aggressive.

Chris is staunch in his moral certitude.

Sometimes Chris is a child playing at recess with other kids. They are all laughing and playing as kids will. Sometimes they cuff around and push too hard, also as children do.

Chris likes to be in charge of the game. He likes to have the ball and call the shots. He is so intent on winning the game that he plays too roughly sometimes and hurts another child. The child cries or the child hurts back.

Then Chris cries foul and says it is because he is Other.

Maybe the other kids did not realize Chris was other because they always thought they were other too. Whether it is because of their gender or the physical appeareance, their athletic prowess or lack thereof, their good looks or plainness, sexuality or their family situation. They all have felt other at different times in their lives.

Chris feels a special privilege to hide behind his otherness, and to attribute disagreements with people to his otherness, rather than his aggressive and mocking tone.

Chris doesn't want to play on the playground with those same children anymore. But every now and then he rents a loudspeaker and lectures them from behind a tree, just to tell them how wrong they are, and how right he is.

5/11/2006 8:48 pm  
Blogger dove said...

First off, let me make a request. I let people make anonymous comments on this blog because some people who comment here wouldn't be able to comment here otherwise. (Hi poco -- didn't think the comment was yours, but just wanted to be sure in case I was wildly misinterpreting its intended meaning which I have been known to do!). Though people may post using the anonymous function, they usually sign their posts by their online handle -- I would consider it courteous for you to do this too, especially if -- as I assume from your initial remark assuming that that was actually you -- you have an established handle on BT.

In fact, what the hell. In Flight Rule No. 1: If you have a handle that you use elsewhere online, please use it here as well. If you don't, please make up a handle to use here so that I don't confuse you with some other 'anonymous' and accuse of terrible views you know not wot of. If it is most convenient for you to use the 'anonymous post' function, that is absolutely fine -- that's what it's there for -- but please sign your post with your handle at the end. And as Terry Pratchett (Thief of Time) would say, "Never forget Rule 1!").

There. I've always had a secret craving to exercise far-reaching dictatorial powers. And now I have. Insert maniacal laugh as appropriate.

Please note, however, that I am not asking you to disclose your off-line identity, your nationality, where you live, or any other facts about your person. It is entirely your business whether you choose to share that information about yourself or not.
I will not ask for that information as proof of your bona fides, being more interested in people's political choices and commitments as revealed through their writing than in their personal identities per se . (Not that the latter aren't interesting, just that they're not certainly not mine to ask for)

Right, anonymous. On to the substance of your comment -- your counterstory, if you like. Sorry for the delay but I am not a fast writer.

I have met people who resemble Alex -- who even resemble Alex so closely as to indistinguishable from her. I find them terrifying because in many respects, I resemble them. (Although I am neither innocent nor kind-hearted and Alex genuinely is both)

But in all my travels, I haven't met any Chris's. Oh I'm not saying they don't exist somewhere out there – it’s a wide world after all – but I've not caught hide or hair of one.

Now perhaps, Anonymous, you will tell me that if I want to meet Chris, all I need do is look in a mirror. But as it happens, you would be mistaken. Because what I see when I look in the mirror is something that looks frighteningly like Alex. Not in all respects: she’s calm and centred and I veer between grimness and giddiness. She’s kind-hearted. I’m not. She’s innocent. I’m not. She’s warm. I’m cold. She is – as Nanette perceptively observed – fragile, like steel under tension, hit her the wrong way and she will shatter. A friend once advised me to think of myself as a lacquered stone: everything rolls right off it and it feels nothing. She gave useful advice, I’ve done my best to follow it and on the whole it works pretty well.

But as AP has said elsewhere, white privilege performs as advertised. And she’s absolutely right, it really, really, does. And I see that, when I look in the mirror, along with that particular(ly ambiguous?) relationship to power which is one of Alex’s salient features. I see options that other people, who have far more need of them, do not have. And betrayals, of course, both of commission and omission , many of which I feel shame for and some few of which I hope to find the courage to repeat. So, rightly or wrongly, I don’t see Chris in the mirror. I see something that looks dangerously like Alex.

I have, however, known several people who have been accused of being Chris. I’ve never known the accusations not to be grossly unfounded, but those accused do tend to be uncomfortable, difficult people to know sometimes. That is in part, I think, because they are not playing games – their political commitments (and sometimes their identities) are such that they don’t have that luxury. They’ll gnaw at an argument like a dog at a bone because it matters to sort out what the truth of it is. In my experience, what you see, with people who get accused of being Chris, tends to be very much what you get. They do people the unusual compliment of assuming that they are political creatures capable of moral reasoning. And that is unusual – most people give each other the easy out and make excuses for each other. You can expect those who are accused of ‘Chrisdom’ to do and say what they think is right, not what they think is expedient or convenient.

5/12/2006 2:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From poco:

Have been dithering for a while about posting this; dove I think I could give you a run for the money in the sport of waffling :)

Anyway, here goes nothing.

dove, I gotta take issue with you on not having met any Chris's. I mean technically you may not have met us, but technically, shecnically, pfui. I am Chris, I daresay DTF is Chris, and so perhaps is Nanette.

See, you may not know this, but this is how it happens. There we are all on the playing field. Now the playing field may be level, may be tilted in favor of us, or may be tilted against us-- none of that matters. In any of the three cases, the important point is that we (the Chris's) really want to win. And when the game is going against us, we don't really need to worry much, because, unbeknownst to everyone else, we have a super-duper, unbeatable,
strategy hidden up our sleeves: we can always play the Other card (sometimes also known as the race card)

And so thats what we do--when we can't win by fair means, we can ALWAYS win by pulling this trump card and playing it. And, you know what, this card always wins! Its a super-duper trump. It trumps every non-Chris's denial, trumps their defensiveness, trumps all their arguments, leaving us as sole winners. That is why you see us all sitting on top of the world, having played this super-duper Other card.

And we play this card just because we have the power to play it--even when it is thoroughly wrong for us to do it. Part of the problem is that we are too stupid to figure out the proper time to play this card. We do it randomly and wilfully, because we are so delusional (maybe paranoid) about the effects of Otherness, we see it where they never exist.

We have never waited and waited and waited, hoping that what we are hearing is perhaps being misunderstood by us, no, we are too impatient for a quick and immediate victory, so at the first sign of (non)trouble, we whip the card out and cow everyone into submission. (Credit to Tim Wise in Counterpunch whose ideas I have borrowed)

5/12/2006 6:38 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

Heh.

(I'm sure I'll have a more substantive comment later, but that's all I could think of after poco jumped out of the waffle iron... and then cranked up the heat ;).

5/12/2006 8:00 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Brava poco. I'm so glad you posted this.

I was grumphing about today and muttering obscenities under my breath because I knew that I was letting something slide by that I shouldn't, but I couldn't get it pinned it down properly.

I'd still contend I've not met Chris -- only people that get accused of being Chris. But isn't it interesting who gets accused of being Chris, of having that super-duper trump card.

The other thing I think is interesting about Chris/alleged Chris, is that although he, like Alex, has salient features, the accusation so seldom acknowledges these. It's always about how Chris is a problematic, disruptive individual -- there couldn't possibly be anything structural about it.

5/12/2006 10:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, the thing is I don't know many Chris's either - in fact just one.

And guess what guys? I am other.

5/12/2006 10:34 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Anonymous (assuming that you are the same anonymous because after all who can tell for sure), I asked you -- unambiguously but I think not impolitely to a) use your already established handle in the event that you have one (and I'm strongly inclined to think you do) or b) in the unlikely event that you don't, to adopt a handle so that I have some way of identifying which posts are yours.

This is now the second time I have asked, so if you intend to continue posting to this blog, please follow Rule 1.
Thankyou.

5/13/2006 1:40 am  
Blogger dove said...

I've been doing a little more thinking 'Anonymous' (afterall, second guessing myself is pretty much second nature by now). I have realised that I left something important unsaid in my last response to you.

Here it is:
It is one (perfectly acceptable and even welcome) thing for you to come here and disagree --vehemently even -- with something I post, and to disagree --again possibly with vehemence -- with views expressed in comments. Similarly you are welcome to present your own views, 'counter-stories' etc., with which others may vehemently agree or disagree.

That's sort of what you did in your first post -- and it's what I initially gave you the benefit of the doubt about with respect to your counterstory. No problem.

However in your last comment (which I thought rather ironic in a way) -- you removed that outside possibility that you were engaged in something more interesting than an ad hominem attack on DTF.

So let me give you a plain warning, 'anonymous':
Unlike DTF -- who is far kinder and more generous than me --I am not a free speech extremist. While I consider free speech very important there are other rights that I also consider salient.

For example, while your counterstory did have the excellent effect of sparking poco's brilliantly incisive response -- I do think my guests should not have to expect to be followed about and subjected to ad hominem attacks by posters who lack the courtesy to disclose their online handles.

And even if some of my guests are, a little too patient for their own good sometimes and prepared to tolerate this kind of personal attack, I am not willing to let this venue be used for that purpose.

So, anonymous, if you continue to abuse the fact that I have the anonymous posting function enabled, I will delete new posts associated with your IP address.

If you post ad hominem attacks -- as opposed to attacks on an argument, which are a different and generally clearly distinguishable thing -- I will delete them whether or not you have used a handle.

There are no shortage of spaces where you can make ad hominem attacks of this kind if you feel so inclined: this is not one of them.

5/13/2006 9:51 am  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

LOL dove and poco, thank you for defending me, I am a little slow on the uptake, It took me a while to realize all that was intended to be an ad hominem attack against me.

Anonymous, as far as I am concerned if it makes you feel better, go for it. I am not able to respond to ad homs, but please be assured that this is nothing personal against you, nor a value judgment, merely a personal preference, a matter of communication style.

And as you can see, my wits would just not be up to it anyway. I couldn't figure out at whom you were aiming all that.

Sadly, I am clearly not a very satisfactory target. To make up for that, I will offer a suggestion to you.

Get a blog. You can use it to warn the cyber-world of the grave and chilling threat that I pose to all and sundry. I'll even link to it, just for the sake of being Fair and Balanced.

Or you could do an email campaign. Tell people to watch out for me. And frankly, you have not done a very thorough job of warning people about me on other blogs. I haven't been banned from any of them. Or maybe that's not your fault. Maybe it's that maddening habit I have of not engaging in the ad homs and flame wars and insult contests that are so popular with the young folks these days. Maybe it's because I don't follow people around from thread to thread, blog to blog, to try to wheedle this person or that in to playing Yo Momma with me, or warn people to watch out for so and so, because he is a doo doo head.

And as for your larger issue, the subject of internet security, well yes, you and I may have different views on that. Apparently you take exception to the fact that I decline to make personal information available online.

Well you are not the only one, ever since Ms. Coulter demonstrated just how deliciously useful such information can be, I have noticed a number of folks that are suddeny quite upset that I am, as advertised, quite the anonymity hardliner. Not to the extent that I hop round to this blog or that and post anonymously, of course. I invariably post as DuctapeFatwa, complete with email address and blog link, but I can certainly respect your preference not to do that.

5/14/2006 1:44 pm  
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4/23/2007 7:54 pm  

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