A Thought and the Reason for it

We clearly (hopefully) don't validate forms of life solely based on the arguments that they make, presuming they do make arguments at all. However, there is an expectation that should you weigh in on a discussion, it will be a thought-out opinion, one that is substantiated on texts and information that has been validated by neutral areas, and the sort. This generally is a good means of communication, and in most instances is fairly productive.

However, sometimes, people seem to think that simply because rational discourse tends to be the most reasonable way to communicate ideas, it must be infallible. That is to say, when you engage in a form of discourse, it must ascribe to rationality because we are shown that this is how progress is made.

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Rational discourse (which may be interchangeable with Neutral Discourse) is not infallible, as my spring quarter at Chicago would demonstrate. Halfway through April, a Facebook page called Politically Incorrect UChicago Confessions was created, with the intention of allowing people a place to voice their racist, homophobic, and sexist remarks without any sort of repercussion. After a week or so, the moderators changed their goals to allowing people to ask things that they would be afraid of social judgment for. I will probably more extensively on why this is not a correct use of the protection of anonymity. The point, however, is that these moderators sought Neutral Discourse as a defense for their means of having such a page, and saw themselves as carrying the burden of defending the ability for people to say things that may not be so popular.

After this re-tooling, Jake Smith wrote an article discussing whether something like the new Politically Incorrect Maroon Confessions (name changing owing to the University of Chicago not wanting their name to appear with such a page) could be useful for expanding and educating individuals who wanted to be educated without being judged. In his words:

This paralyzes frank discourse. As a result, many of us who want to engage with an issue become afraid to get involved at all. A partially formed thought that would be a catalyst for discussion in the classroom, specifically because of it's open-endedness, suddenly becomes a dangerous liability on the Web. We watch a fiery commentary war on our news feeds, but rarely add to it; lest That One Friend a self-appointed officer of the Discrimination Police, the Fascism Police, the Whatever Police castigates us in the public view just for stating what we honestly believe.

In my mind, passages like this conflated multiple issues, and I thought a response might be in order.This was my first attempt at seriously considering problems of neutral discourse, and I think I've become a little more articulate in discussing it's short-comings, but I thought this back-and-forth might be fun/interesting to the sorts of people who may end up following my random thoughts on these sorts of things.

On an endnote: I'll not follow my own advice and address the last comment on the piece, which is as follows:

What people do not understand is that we have issues with race, gender, and identity in this country *precisely because* we do not discuss them.

To quote Lindseys article: The truth is that Smith, regardless of his intention, cannot understand how someone who has faced systematic discrimination views these sorts of events and posts.

How can Smith, or anyone else, ever possibly understand how others view these sorts of events in posts without honest and open dialogue? Or even more importantly, how can we even begin to address the referenced systematic discrimination without discourse?

That I would rather this nation enter an era in which racial, gender, and identity tensions and gaps are eased and healed rather than inflamed and widen is certainly why I support honest and open discourse.

And lastly, I take issue with Lindseys claim that she can demonstrate and articulate these problems within Smiths pseudo-neutral discourse, but this does not resolve the tension between a well-reasoned debate and the necessity of that debate being framed by the perspectives of the majoritythe privileged. I take issue with her claim because though it has been said over and over again that respectful dialogue should be encouraged, these same individuals have proven that no matter how respectful you seek to be, their only interest is in silencing whatever disagreement you may have.

First of all, I'm a guy. Good research. Anyway, away from the easier mistakes, there is an assertion being put into my thought process. Namely that I believe it possible that someone like Jake could be educated in issues as to how structural oppression operates on a personal level. I was unsure of the answer at the time, and I think for now, I have a resounding no. This does not mean that Jake cannot have an opinion on these matters, nor does his position not mean he cannot be reasonably intelligent about them. However, it does mean that instead of insisting that he can relate to these issues, and the commenters belief that he might be able to through rational discourse, perhaps they should step back and seriously consider their positions in terms of the social hierarchy our culture, and state presents. We can *discuss* and figure out *how* these senses manifest themselves, but it does not mean that people within power can *relate* nor *understand* what it truly means to be there. And unless race-switching becomes a thing, I doubt any such understanding will ever be possible.

As to the commenters later claim about my interest in silencing discourseI will clarify it as such. I am interested in keeping discourse in a position where we understand how discourse itself lends itself to be a tool of people within position of power. Recall that Gilles Delueze, and Michel Foucault in a discussion, wanted to assert that theorizing was simply another tool that could be used, but also needed to be recognized as such. Rather than simply looking at theory as having no significant relation to the theorizer, they desired to step back, and let the everyday factory worker speak on their own terms. Foucault goes so far as to say if kindergartners we're to speak, their theories may explode the education system. I'd like to draw a comparison between theorizing as a tool, and discourse as a tool. They are both creations of an Enlightenment world, that we're intended to be accessible to groups of people who fulfilled the Enlightenment conception of what being human was to mean. By this context, it is difficult to assess discourse as a fully functional, non-problematic assessment of what people who do not fulfill that conception undergo on a day-to-day basis. We ought to keep this in mind during such discussions, so we understand when claims like PoCs, statistically speaking, cause more crime are made, they are deeply problematic to debate. Compare this to Why do PoCs, statistically speaking, get involved with more crime? This rejection of statements, at times, is interpreted as rejection of the debate on a whole. However, that conflation is not one of my own fault to sort out, nor do I have the time to respond to each individual post that wants to make that conflation every time it occurs.

I think this is a full text of the discussion between Foucault and Deleuze to which I refer.

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