The ad hominem fallacy & the Tankard Reist affair

4 Mar

Someone today directed me to a post on the feminist blog RAW/ROAR where there’s an argument as to whether or not my blog on Melinda Tankard Reist (the one that inspired the defamation threats) is based on ad hominem arguments about her religious beliefs.

There isn’t any reason why the post’s author, tammois, should know that I’ve been writing against Reist’s (and others) views on pornography and abortion for about two years now, and there’s some 28 posts on the topic on this blog, plus posts at the Drum and On Line Opinion. Nowhere do I argue that I disagree with Reist’s views because she’s a Christian. I’ve never read of anyone else making that argument either. However tammois feels quite comfortable attributing this viewpoint to me:

 ‘I disagree with her [MTR’s] anti-porn work because she’s a fundie Baptist and by the way you know she’s pro-life/anti-choice?!’

I left this reply:

I have written at length for the last two years on my blog and in other places about why I disagree with MTR’s stand on pornography, and her theories of inevitably debilitating post abortion grief, and I have not found it necessary to discuss her religious affiliations as part of my disagreement.

The particular blog to which this author refers specifically addressed questions either not asked by interviewers, or asked and inadequately answered about Reist’s religious views and the influence they have on her views on pornography and abortion.

As Reist has herself stated that she feels her religious views would negatively impact on her moral campaigns and that is why she will not discuss them, it is perfectly reasonable for me or anyone else to ask what that impact might be, and why she fears it will be negative.

I believe Reist’s moral views are influenced by her religious beliefs and indeed, Reist seems to hold some fears about this herself, though not from the same perspective of course.

This last blog, for which I have been threatened with defamation action, asks questions that have been asked by many others for at least the last six years. I have never heard anyone claim that they disagree with Reist’s views on porn or anything else “because she’s a fundie Christian.” The question is always about her influences, and how they affect her very public moral campaigns.

I’m astonished at how someone can mount an entire argument based on a  falsehood and at the same time claim they’re protesting the use of an ad hominem fallacy.

The ad hominem is not always fallacious. There are arguments for making what’s know as a circumstantial ad hominem. There are those who argue ad hominem reasoning can be essential to understanding moral issues. Arguments that question the opponent’s possible dogmatic bias, for example, or vested and conflicted interests, are legitimate critical responses.

The circumstantial ad hominem is an allegation of bias, and intended to serve as a warning that the arguments need to be scrutinized. Allegations are just that. They aren’t proof that an argument is incorrect or flawed, and are not used as proof: they merely raise legitimate questions about possible bias.

Making an allegation is not a biased act. Conflict of interest of all kinds can affect objectivity. It is perfectly acceptable to allege a conflict of interest when there are grounds to do so. It isn’t conducive to free speech and healthy debate for such allegations to be prevented, or silenced by dismissing them as fallacious.

I have more than enough reasons to allege Reist’s moral views are not objective but are influenced by dogmatic bias, and I’ve named all of them over the last two years, as have many others. As the allegations have never been denied by Reist it is necessary to keep on making them when arguing against her moral position.

There seems to be  a popular opinion that the ad hominem argument, of which there are I think three main types, is always the same and always fallacious. This isn’t the case. It might be a good idea for those who intend to use the accusation of ad hominem as a means of discrediting an argument to do their homework first.

 

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210 Responses to “The ad hominem fallacy & the Tankard Reist affair”

  1. Ant March 4, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Nice!

    Are you aware of “The ad hominem fallacy fallacy”?

    /@

    Like

    • Tony March 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

      I think you should be aware that legal action IS being prepared against you and that the more you keep saying the deeper yopu are digging your own grave

      Like

      • Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

        That sounds a lot like a threat.
        A traceable threat.

        Like

      • Jennifer Wilson March 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

        Digging my own grave? Is that a threat?

        Like

    • Tony March 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      Very much so and I would point out that no sarcasm is intended, just pointing to the fact that legal proceedings are pending shortly and maybe a smarter Jennifer would hold her tongue.

      Like

      • Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

        It is indeed rare to see a public display of concern in this day and age.
        Can we rely upon you to chip in?

        Like

      • paul walter March 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

        You sound like a bit of a scab, Tony.

        Like

      • paul walter March 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

        Is you second name Abbott, or Is there a “g” in there somewhere?

        Like

      • DontSueMeMTR March 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

        “the more you keep saying the deeper yopu are digging your own grave”

        The counterpoint to this is that once you get in up to your eyeballs any extra depth is largely irrelevant.

        Tony, you can probably appreciate that very few people believe things that are said on the internet unless they come from trusted sources or can be in some way substantiated.

        Like

      • Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

        Tony ,
        You sound like some bed wetting Troll who got put back in their box by Jennifer at some point in time, and someone who demands to be the centre of attention.

        But I say we forgive your teenage ways and take your donations anyway.

        Like

      • Jennifer Wilson March 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

        “Digging my own grave” isn’t sarcasm. It’s a threat I’m reporting to the police. I have your email address.

        Like

  2. Doug Quixote March 4, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    There are those keen on attributing fallacy to others whilst themselves arguing fallaciously, constructing strawmen and deliberately mis-attributing arguments.

    “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

    Like

    • Hudson Godfrey March 4, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

      Doug,

      If we’re going to argue what Ant above calls the “ad hominem fallacy fallacy” we can just keep tacking on fallacies and straw man in infinite regress until you might just as well have opined, “twinkle twinkle little star what you say is what you are”.

      The more this argument unfolds it seems the more people are likely to take these childishly entrenched positions, and make evasive arguments to avoid arguing any of Ms Reist’s claims on their merits.

      At this point I’m not even sure if her ideas have any merits. Yet nobody seems to care in the slightest about that or any other of the facts. It very much seems to me that people either accept that she speaks to things that they already believe in or they’re to be accused of heresy for merely asking questions about the nature of those beliefs.

      At the end of the day a cynic could be forgiven for putting 2 and 2 together and coming up with five. And while we all know that kind of thinking is itself questionable there’s no escaping from the frustration one feels with those who would gather such a following, (of sheep perhaps, dare I mention it) with clear intent to influence public policy in directions contrary to my assent without the slightest pretence of allowing opposing voices into the political debate.

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      • Doug Quixote March 5, 2012 at 10:00 am #

        Good day HG.

        No, I have no interest in arguing with academics sitting in ivory towers and arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. For that is what the absurd over-analysis of the arguments comes down to.

        The heart of the matter is that MTR wants to advance an argument based upon religious tenets and upon anecdote and have it accepted as evidence-based argument.

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      • Paul Smith March 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

        Hudson,

        I wonder why you present yourself as open to reasoned discussion when any examination of the posts here shows some openly, hostile, disparaging and bullying posters who will not tolerate a view other than your own.

        Indeed one of the main anonymous offenders, Hypocritiphobe, immediately attempted to negatively stereotype and bully myself in the first discourse. When her bad behaviour was reasonably pointed out there were “other more important things to worry about”.

        Like

        • Hudson Godfrey March 10, 2012 at 11:15 am #

          Paul,

          Sorry for being balanced. I didn’t know I was meant to be a solipsistic nut-job!

          The limits of tolerance mine and I hope yours are clear. You can believe what you like, just don’t conspire to force me to be governed by your righteousness.

          End of lesson…go pick on someone else who was actually intolerant. I neither said nor meant anything of the sort.

          Nor should the mere preference for a substantiated argument that leads some of us to ask some pertinent questions be greeted with obvious rancour from your side. If you truly wanted tolerance then we’d agree to disagree without needing to take offence. We’d say Reist had some interesting thoughts about sociology for the like-minded that need not impact on public policy and leave it at that.

          Like

  3. tammois March 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Some of you may like to have a look at my post and be reminded of Wilson’s original attack that I was critiquing. I’ve responded to your comment, Jennifer. http://rawroar.net/2012/01/18/a-cosmopolitan-morality/

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      I note your response and have responded. You need to bear in mind when making arguments against my arguments, that religious beliefs are open to anybody’s interpretation, and as we are discussing a fictional premise, nobody’s perspective can be definitively argued as right or wrong. If Tankard Reist does not hold to the beliefs that I’ve suggested, she has plenty of opportunity to say so.

      “Following Jesus” was the explanation she gave after she threatened to sue me. Prior to that we had her history with right wing conservative Christians to guide us. It has always been in Reist’s power to contradict any assumptions, and she has never done so. Given that, the circumstantial ad hominem approach remains legitimate.

      Like

  4. paul walter March 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    tammois, am looking, but see no evidence of any response to “the adhominem fallacy and the Tankard Reist affair” thread, just posted here.
    There is a link, but this can only be considered as secondary evidence at best, without a proper explicatory statement from your self, as to what relevance it has the subject of the thread.

    Like

    • tammois March 4, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Sorry, Paul, are you saying you can’t see my comment on that post in response to Jennifer’s? It’s currently the last comment there.

      Like

  5. Hypocritophobe March 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    I think what he’s saying is he sees a comment, but no evidence to convince??.

    You should review MTRs work at the Drum, Tammois.
    She has perfected that artform.

    Maybe you can find the evidence on which she bases her views on porn,commodification of children and the art of pop song hypnosis.
    It sure would be a hoot to see this Holy grail.

    Like

  6. Hector March 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    I think it’s important that everyone does their homework. And no one should eat it, least of all the dog. MTR is entitled to her views, and to advance them. But she’s in public space and that means taking it on the chin when someone suggests you might be off your nut. To cavil at responsive argument is to seek to hide from the consequences of your own argument. That’s intellectually dishonest as well as socially dangerous.

    Like

  7. Doug Quixote March 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Jennifer, have you seen Helen Pringle’s dig at you on :

    http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/03/01/3443673.htm

    I’ve made a post (as yet unpublished?) which examines the non sequitur of the pot calling the kettle black in her final three paragraphs.

    Most peculiar from one who claims “her main fields of expertise are human rights, ethics in public life and political theory.” Certainly not law, jurisprudence or legal theory!

    Like

    • Hypocritophobe March 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      At least we now know who Lady Penelope is.
      Don’t we Helen?

      Like

      • Hypocritophobe March 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

        Maybe??????

        Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 4, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      Thanks, DQ will hop over and check it out.

      Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 4, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

      I left this:
      Helen, I don’t know what makes you think I didn’t do everything possible to “get my facts right” in the Reist affair. I have a great deal of information about Reist’s religious affiliations, including emails from people expressing exactly the same concerns as me, dated from 2006.

      As Reist permitted information about her religious beliefs to go uncontested on the Internet for years, including claims she was a Baptist, one can hardly blame readers for accepting those claims. As Reist didn’t take any offered opportunities to set the public record straight, its reasonable to assume it either didn’t matter enough to her, or some or all of the claims were true.

      As it turns out, it mattered enough for her to threaten defamation. One wonders why she hadn’t corrected the record years earlier to avoid the perpetuation of rumours that apparently hurt her feelings so much she could only threaten legal action in a belated attempt to silence them. This unfortunately had exactly the opposite effect.

      Your inability to resist a swipe at me makes your whole article rather silly. It need not have been if you’d left me out of it. There is no principle under which I was or am obliged to maintain a silence about Reist’s religious affiliations. The whole thing has been in the public domain for years. It has always been within Reist’s control to refute the long-standing claims, and she has never chosen to do this

      If Reist has suffered hurt from the speech acts of many people for many years when she could have at any time done something about it and refuted their “harmful” claims, then Reist only has herself to blame. Yes, speech can hurt. However, we are all of us responsible for taking action on our own behalf when we are capable of that, and there is no doubt of Reist’s capabilities.

      In the matter of harm I could claim Reist has seriously harmed me through threatening and intimidatory legal speech. As she has neither withdrawn nor proceeded with the threats, she continues to do me harm. She is legally entitled to continue harming me for another eleven months before her time runs out. She does this entirely with words.

      Like

      • Hypocritophobe March 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

        Jennifer,look at what Pringles bio says and what the ABC left out about her.
        She is another pseudofeminist who you will NEVER convince.
        She like the rest of Banshee City will never forgive you for daring to engage with men when discussing anything,let alone secret menstrual business.
        Save your breath.She’s in the loop of ‘milking’ the cash handouts from Conservative Comment.

        Like

        • Jennifer Wilson March 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

          I can’t believe this mtr debate is still going on at the abc. I think Russell is in the US and will probably miss Pringle’s response to his piece on free speech.

          Like

    • lola March 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

      And her bestie seems to be this guy:
      http://overland.org.au/previous-issues/issue-189/poem-murray-alfredson/

      Bloody hell, the loonies are threatening you Jennifer! Good to see you take a stand.

      Like

      • lola March 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

        He is the ‘oh thank you vicar’ remark from Helen Pringle at that article. He makes her feel chipper 😛

        bet my posts don’t make it.

        Like

      • Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

        Thanks SOOOOOOOOO much Lola!

        Any idea how to get chunder chunks out from the gaps in my keyboard?

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        • Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

          (That poem should come in First aid Kits as a topic to induce vomiting in an emergency.)

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        • lola March 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

          More tea, Vicar?

          Like

      • Jennifer Wilson March 10, 2012 at 9:34 am #

        Lola, you are a grandmother raising her grandchild? I was raised by my grandmother from birth till I was seven. I think you are wonderful.

        Like

        • lola March 11, 2012 at 9:11 am #

          Thank you Jennifer. Our youngest daughter died, and we are raising her son.

          I tried to post this on the ABC website, but assume I will not get published so I put it over here instead, where free speech, and intelligent, vibrant and growing debate is allowed.
          Ummm, Helen, Jane committed a number of harmful actions with intent to harm, not just words.
          Yes, speech can wound, but if people want to influence public opinion and policy, then they need to understand that their words can be questioned.

          A vibrant debate would not include the great recycling of agruments that you and many of the choir who sing “Oh, the Children” to ship your conservative values into my life indulge in.

          As per usual, this comment won’t get published.
          Unlike the woman you attack, there is no free speech on this site.

          Like

          • Hypocritophobe March 11, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

            I have given up on the ABC specialist blogs.
            One need only look at the ranting of Snigg to know there is no desire for balance or sanity.

            I doubt the Editor/s has the IF to allow reasoned debate,for whatever reason.

            Like

          • lola March 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

            OMG!!! It got published!!! Maybe the religious nutters are too busy sleeping the sleep of the righteous on Saturday night to block me.
            Or maybe it was my crap spelling – damn the years and my declining eyesight – that they decided that “oh, it’s badly spelt, it must be from one of MTRs supporters LOL.

            Like

            • Jennifer Wilson March 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

              And it’s at the top of the page. 🙂

              Like

            • Doug Quixote March 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

              I left this reply to Hudson Godfrey after his exchange with Snigg :

              “It is the usual story, HG. The religious will pretend to logic and scientific analysis for as long as it can be maintained, and pretend that theology is a science : see anything by Joel Hodge, for example.

              But it is never long before they will scurry behind “God says so, so there!” or “He told me so quite recently, so there!”

              An intermediate stage is “I know all about this subject and you know far less, so listen up.”

              The intermediate stage may last quite a while with some of the Taliban Christians.

              Best of luck “discussing” matters with them.”

              I doubt it will be published. LOL

              Like

  8. Hypocritophobe March 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    I am stunned in that almost every single person defending MTRs position (from their positions of free speech) has done so without once acknowledging the threat to sue and it’s affects on free speech.
    None that I can recall have called for evidence to back the stands MTR takes.
    I can draw no other conclusion than they are aligned or ignorant.

    I am absolutely gob smacked by some of the positions and articles in response,by so called ‘qualified’ intellectual people.This furthers my surmising that there is a clear agenda which absolutely mirrors the position of the ACL on each and every big picture item Reist is pursuing.

    You bet we want answers.
    You bet we will question motives and connections and affiliations etc.
    You bet we will ask where has all the data and online history gone and why.
    You bet we are very suspicious.

    Now just when is the media going to start asking, or is the one pissy interview over at Aunty all they are capable of?
    Why,are they too being threatened?
    Or are they just willingly complying for some other ‘above board reason’?

    Like

  9. Hypocritophobe March 4, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    It seems Pringle and Reist share the same Porn gravy train.
    They have a lot in common.
    Including a weight watchers serving of the truth.

    She’s just another apologist with $$$ around the corner if she scratches the ‘right’ back.
    Job done Helen,you can crawl back under your covers now.

    Like

  10. Doug Quixote March 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    I posted this at Tammois’ site :

    This passage from a reply by Rachel Griffiths is interesting :

    “You’re right, I didn’t ask MTR about her religious beliefs, and perhaps that was misplaced of me. I suppose the reason I didn’t was because it seemed so obvious to me that it wasn’t worth asking – have you ever met anyone who identified as pro-life who wasn’t religiously motivated? But fair point: it was an omission, and I should have mentioned it at least in passing.”

    Consider those words :

    Have you ever met anyone who identified as pro-life who wasn’t religiously motivated!

    Well? Let’s hear it.

    Should be interesting.

    Like

    • Doug Quixote March 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

      correction : should read Rachel Hills. (I’d prefer Rachel Griffiths, I suspect 🙂 )

      Like

  11. paul walter March 5, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    Did a quick scan at tamois and find she’s missed the point re context, have no problem endorsing the frustrated responses of Wilson and Hypocritophobe; two and two definitely does NOT equal five and the “faith” line is just a red herring.
    More Faith Hill than Faith, methinks.
    Someone else’s magic is not a basis on which I will allow control over my my life, by disguised elements, conscious or (more likely) unconsciously involved in the propagation or maintainance of the very set up aimed in childish hostility at rational thought, and subsequent challenge to big capital’s mindless goals and superstition’s equally mindless proliferation of itself.

    Like

  12. 730reportland March 5, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    With religious groups, cults, churches, whatever Lobbying and trying to influence the legal/political system to `their` will, that will become law over everybody, including us, who do not have a sky fairy. It is extremely important to know `what they represent`, just like everybody else.
    http://730reportland.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/google-can-get-stuffed/

    Wilson is not `playing the man` as far as I`m concerned.
    Reist is avoiding the game.

    Like

    • Hypocritophobe March 5, 2012 at 10:47 am #

      Spewing to hear about your journey with google etc.
      That sucks.

      What sucks more is that to actually get them to make good means 23zillion hours of tyrying to get a human to speak to and I doubt they would give you the time of day free.

      Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      Eeew, that was a nasty experience with google.

      Like

      • 730reportland March 6, 2012 at 7:45 am #

        Sorry folks, but thanks. I didn`t mean to drop the google link, but my Reist link. I wasn`t properly awake.
        http://730reportland.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/melinda-tankard-reist-unfoxified/
        I noticed Wayne Swan on Press Club yesterday. The way things are argued by the billionaires trying to promote their agenda and trying to pass it off as public good reminds me of some of the arguments that are pro-mtr or anti-JW. The focus of these type of arguments seems to get dragged into the area of crumbs, while ignoring the loaf or bakery. Have you folks noticed some of these arguments are focusing on `micro-details`? Hello Tammy.

        Like

      • Aj March 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

        Sorry to sidetrack, but, wow, that was an incredibly interesting article you posted on pornography, Jennifer. It allows me to put into words something that has always bugged me about MTR and other anti-porn people’s critiques of pornography. The analysis rarely, if ever, extends to men’s childhood and their shame, guilt and their emotions. As women have tended to be primary carers for children, their influence on the kinds of men boys turn into is humongous. Like in this article, the mother’s constant attacks on the father, created a sexually unhealthy man. The analysis is always that men are completely in control at all times, and the idea they might be carrying around emotional baggage is not even considered. I think the reason is that any analysis in that direction would imply that women also carry a significant share of the blame for the nastier elements of our culture, and it is far too attractive to just blame men.

        Like

      • Aj March 7, 2012 at 7:31 am #

        The one just above, posted at ‘March 6, 2012 at 9:38 am’.

        Like

      • Helvi March 7, 2012 at 9:12 am #

        Aj, I got you mixed up with Simon J Green, you wear similar aqua colored outfits, didn’t you wear a pink one before? Or was it AJ?

        Like

        • Jennifer Wilson March 7, 2012 at 11:34 am #

          Helvi, the avatars are distributed randomly to commenters who don’t use one of their own. You can tell because they’re always squiggly little shapes, but PW’s for example is always his because he uses it regularly.

          Like

  13. Simon J Green March 5, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Hi Jennifer,
    What happened with the legal threats? Are you out of the woods and in the clear? Or are hairy bears still hunting you?

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      Reist has neither withdrawn nor proceeded with the threats. Legally they’re viable for 12 months from the date of issue, so if she chooses she can leave it all hanging there and pick it up anytime she likes till next year.

      So I guess it’s still a hairy bear hunt!

      Like

      • Simon J Green March 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

        Ugh! That’s so painful and annoying. I hope it isn’t sitting at the back of your head. If it is, remember that no actual proceedings have been initiated, so there’s no need to worry about any real problems. Waiting is the worst.

        What a terrible thing to put on someone, especially because there’s no resolution being sought.

        Like

  14. paul walter March 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Simon, you take the words right out of my mouth. They expect a debate conducted on their terms, and civilly, whilst dictating via a metaphoric pistol held the head of Dr Wilson.
    I’d dismiss them out of hand, while they wave the big stick theyre not worth used butt paper.
    It’s no way to run a debate on real world issues; this coercion.

    Like

    • Hypocritophobe March 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

      And when the so called ‘not aligned with MTR’ brigade come out in her defence,claiming they do so independently. AND YET do not question the science/data/proof (total lack thereof) upon which MTR bases her political position ,they are totally silent.
      This is future fodder to damage, if not completely destroy any credibility theses defenders have had until that point in time.

      I could not give a fat rats arse what their qualifications are or how many letters of the alphabet trail their names,to reject science and fact, and to not question the foundations of a proposal/s to formulate social policy/theory/ is unprofessional,unethical (given their fields of endeavour) and smacks of another agenda.Especially with the UNDENIABLE history of MTR and Harradine, and what drove/drives that mission.
      So far the only common agenda the defenders of MTR have, has been a personal vendetta against JW.
      And common,it is.

      Like

      • Simon J Green March 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

        I don’t care about any of your arguments, I just want to know if Jennifer is out of harm’s way in relation to the threats of legal action. I don’t even know Jennifer, but sitting and waiting under that pressure is horrible, regardless of your views.

        Are you OK yet, Jen?

        Like

        • Jennifer Wilson March 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

          No, I’m not going to be out of the woods till next year unless she withdraws her threats. These threats are viable for 12 months, can you believe, so I guess I’m stuck with it as I doubt she’ll withdraw. Way to be a bully, eh?

          Like

  15. Hypocritophobe March 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Why reply to me (or anyone) if “you don’t care about any of your arguments”?

    The box down the bottom is free to use.

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    • Simon J Green March 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

      I did use that box, sir or madame, but my comment was taken off the rails I’d set it on.

      Like

      • Jennifer Wilson March 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

        I don’t know what this blog does to comments sometimes. For no apparent reason they end up in spam. I have asked about it to no avail.

        Like

      • paul walter March 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

        The incivility toward Hypocritophobe, a fair minded commentator here, from Simon, is disappointing.
        We hope you are not a concern troll.

        Like

  16. DontSueMeMTR March 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    What I am wary of is that MTR & Co may be waiting for the debate to blow over and everyone to lose interest; since interest rarely returns to these things once people have “moved on”.

    As for Tammois blog, I agree with both of you to some degree. Personally, I don’t have an interest in MTR’s religious beliefs or other motivations and would prefer to oppose her on the pure logic of what she puts forward. On the other hand, I fully support Jen Wilson, the people here and anyone else who wants to question those motives and explore where those answers lead.

    Like

  17. Hypocritophobe March 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    “What I am wary of is that MTR & Co may be waiting for the debate to blow over ”

    And ‘why’ they want it to blow over is the most delectable question of all.

    And to Paul (W) ,if Jennifer actually knows of Simon green, goodo, I’m sure the ‘concern’ is appreciated.
    If not,please review Ross’s earlier contribution and his picture duplication as per my earlier alert.The internet is indeed filled with phoney phishing feckers.
    And it seems to ones who profess the strongest christian faith are the last to admit it in public.

    God must be amused.I am.

    Like

  18. DontSueMeMTR March 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    “And ‘why’ they want it to blow over is the most delectable question of all.”

    I was thinking specifically about pursuing the defamation allegation, but I guess there could be other things. Any thoughts?

    Like

  19. Hypocritophobe March 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    A possible/probable career in Politics/Media?

    If you review the comments made here since JW was ‘seved’ you will find all sorts of interesting ‘suppositions’.
    You will also see a few of her cheer squad roll up but when challenged to justify MTRs position, and her non-comment publicly, since the ‘serving’, skulk away in silent ineptitude.

    At the risk of repeating for ‘effect’,
    It seems that during this comedic drama,the ones who profess to ‘own’ the strongest christian faith, are the last to admit it,demonstrate it,uphold it, in public.

    Australians version of the Tea Party, obviously uses second hand tea-bags.

    Like

  20. Hypocritophobe March 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    EDIT ‘seved’ = served

    Like

  21. Hypocritophobe March 6, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Here’s another person with Uhlmanns world view(apparently).

    No wonder the anti Gillard campaign has legs,the media (as we know) are Trolling this shite 24/7

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/put-a-stop-now-to-mother-of-all-insults-20120305-1ue69.html

    “”childless, atheist, ex-communist”.

    Methinks the PM should be given a Peace Prize for them there qualities,and another for getting to PM with them.

    A bit rich when MTR apologists, like the severely compromised, Helen Pringle et al, are picking at a pimple and our Nations leaders(especially Abbott) are slandering Gillard and inciting hatred on a daily basis.

    Weak as p*ss.

    Like

  22. paul walter March 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    You know, Hypocritophobe, I too wonder what the rush is to get Abbott into government is all in aid of.
    But this time Abbott himself made a mistake, in the instance of a union official likely slandered by him, as detailed in today’s SMH (“Abbott to be sued over home visits comments”, by Ben Schneiders).
    This truly nasty incident relates to SKY TV propaganda and even a resultant court case based on inaccurate information, now dropped as the truth has “outed”, and confirms your sense of the right’s malignance in pursuit of its narrow and oppressive goals, “whatever it takes”.

    Like

    • Doug Quixote March 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      Fairly obvious : there is only so long before scare campaigns reach their use-by date, and a major one will die in about August when the carbon price does bugger all to prices and the assistance/compensation packages kick in.

      Before then, the government will announce a projected budget surplus in May; meanwhile the NBN rolls out, and everything else rolls along.

      As I’ve pointed out for months, the Opposition is desperately frightened of Gillard – that once she gets clear of their nets she will be in power for the rest of the decade.

      Abbott and the Opposition are on borrowed time.

      Like

  23. paul walter March 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Here’s hoping, Doug.

    Like

  24. Hypocritophobe March 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    FFS
    I just saw Uhlmann interview Brown.
    When is Scott going to sack that liberal psychopath?

    Like

  25. paul walter March 7, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    Uhlmann looked a miserable bastard, didn’t he- like a cat with the bird it had caught taken from it.
    Sally Neighbour is executive producer of that show. How could a journalist with that experience bungle 730 Report production so badly?
    Elsewhere here it’s been commented upon, how Latteline travels.
    Watching it for a while last night, It is not even a shadow of the show it once was. The piece from America on the eight state Republican primaries due today was barely pitiful. Alberici looked dull and uncomfortable with it, not the force to carry it off.
    Switching to SBS, the contextual story that Lateline should have included but lacked the guts to, concerning Republican ally, shock jock Rush Limbaugh and his slandering of a young woman over contraception, was done far more competently and well presented by the young newsreader there.
    With the ABC, the damage is being well and truly done by Mark Scott; how you wish a charge of treason could be applied, given the extent of the dumbing down.

    Like

    • Helvi March 7, 2012 at 9:51 am #

      Paul, yes. I put it all onto Mr Scott, he’s been hell-bent trying to make ABC into a commercial channel, Q&A is a non-event and 7.30 is off bounds for me…I saw Tim Palmer a couple times on The Drum…always giggling, no matter how serious the issue

      Like

  26. Doug Quixote March 7, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    The SBS programs such as Dateline have been showing us how it should be done.

    Add in their Al Jazeera news program, the German ‘Journal’ (in English) and the PBS Newshour and we have a world coverage from differing viewpoints. Wonderful.

    Like

  27. paul walter March 7, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    On the original subject, finally pegged my nose for a visit to Tammois’ site.
    Have to suggest Tammois take is a bit more rational than some.
    Much of what she writes about is not dissimilar at heart to ideas I hold to, particularly concverning the paradox of oppositional views as both honestly motivated, or not..
    She’s held to the conservative view but I’m not convinced by her arguments against Dr Wilson and hold to this site’s original contentions, which to me have been emphasised by the legal threat.
    What’s to hide, MTR? It’s not a game and if you want us to make changes in our lives to accomodate your weltanschuang, you should be prepared to explain to us why. You want certain changes, not us.
    But as Tammois says, some hold to religious or mystical takes, against the Dawkinsite position here and religious as well as secular takes demand certain responses from adherents from a conscious point, so these sorts of issues are not resolvable immediately and the next best thing is to hope that a healthy discourse continues, that the key of consensus lost in the haystack is finally located.
    Point counterpoint synthesis.

    Like

  28. Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    FYI

    For those unaware of this site, and who like their meat and spuds raw.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

      Oh, thanks for that link, Hypo. I’ve been trying to find that and couldn’t.

      Like

  29. paul walter March 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Belatedly, finally the AJ comment on the porn case study involving the young bloke. As a young bloke, you have to make your own way: like young girls at adolescence, we learn that we must push our own barrows.
    Whatever happens, you don’t whimp on, lest your secret ignorance be revealed for the scornful thing that it undoubtably must be.
    You don’t “get it” on something or other?
    Tough. You keep your mouth shut and cop it sweet, loss of face is very hard, as adolescents of both sexes learn when their secrets are eventually exposed and they are unmasked, as they uncomfortably sensed they always would eventually happen.

    Like

  30. paul walter March 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    Re Hypocritophobe’s latest link, isn’t this an egregious intrusion of reality.What do you think you are playing at?

    Like

  31. Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Looks like the cyberspace cookie monster is back.One of my smallish comments has pissadeared.

    No biggy.

    Like

    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) March 8, 2012 at 8:57 am #

      Hypocritophobe,

      I tweeted this link to @NoPlaceforSheep yesterday, but just in case it was missed, or its possible significance not recognised, I’ll mention it again as a possible explanation for ‘pisaddearing comments’. Perhaps one of the more technophilic contributors could comment as to this prospective explanation, together with advice as to by whom/how such problem, if it exists in relation to JW’s blog, is to be fixed. I note that NPFS is a WordPress blog.

      http://www.smartcompany.com.au/information-technology/048584-major-security-vulnerability-discovered-in-popular-wordpress-plugin.html

      Like

      • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 9:36 am #

        Forrest, Don’t Sue Me and others, I’ve discovered you again in spam and rescued your comments. I’ll do a regular check of spam from now on and I apologise for you being snaffled like that.

        Like

        • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) March 10, 2012 at 8:46 am #

          FWIW, a follow-on link in relation to the WordPress vulnerability issue upon which I have already posted: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/030612-30000-wordpress-blogs-infected-to-256993.html

          This webpage identifies the suspect plug-in in its second-last paragraph:

          “Sucuri researchers have also been tracking
          this scareware distribution campaign and found
          that a rogue WordPress plug-in called ToolsPack
          has been installed on many of the compromised
          blogs. The plug-in masquerades as a collection
          of WordPress administration tools, but in reality
          it contains a backdoor that attackers use to maintain
          their unauthorized access to the affected sites.”

          Whilst posts being identified as spam may well have to do with the spam settings of NPFS, was any outside interest to be seeking to disrupt the flow of discussion on the blog without arousing suspicion, mimicking what might appear to be the operation of a spam setting could well be a way to go.

          If ‘No Place for Sheep’, although in some quarters represented as being a relatively obscure blog, was considered significant enough to warrant an attempt at shut-down via the route of a concerns notice and the threat of subsequent defamation action, then it would also be unsurprising to see other forms of disruption attempted. ‘Back door’ access to blog administrator privileges could be a very convenient means of perpetrating disruption to posting.

          In a different context, on the face of it unrelated to NPFS, I have seen apparent disruption to posting upon Twitter. This disruption could very believably be due to some form of flakyness in the Twitter platform, and in no way carry any sinister overtones of the nature of censorship. Was it to be that there had been engineered from the outset some form of ‘back door’ access to Twitter, however, and that suppression of the spread of information relating to certain subjects was desired by those who had such back door access to the platform, then such an explanation would seem to fit very well with the features of some of the disruption I have seen on that platform. Was such disruption able to be targeted to specific subject matter, and/or specific posters, it may well pass un-noticed by the vast bulk of other, seemingly unaffected, Twitter users.

          It is easy, in the narrow and ostensibly personal context of such contentions as the ‘#MTRsues’ affair, to lose sight of the extent to which SOME blogs may be seen as very serious threats to a control of information available to the public erstwhile able to have been maintained in generality, overtly or covertly, with respect to the MSM. It is my contention that a range of subjects upon which Jennifer Wilson has commented could easily have become flagged as worthy of having any subsequently generated discussion covertly disrupted.

          Like

          • Jennifer Wilson March 10, 2012 at 9:27 am #

            Did you know Sheep has been archived by the National Library? So we are preserved!

            Like

  32. Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3874138.html

    Scroll down to Martin Sniggs comment at Pro-life campaigners should give up intimidation for Lent.

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3874138.html

    Now you see what trolls look like.

    They all lead to back to whoever it is who holds this grudge.
    Lady Penelope etc.

    Like

  33. Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    (Please edit this out Jennifer. From the previous post I’ll put the bit to cut in ”

    Like

  34. Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    …cont.

    Scroll down for more
    http://www.catholicculture.org/about/rogues_gallery.cfm

    and this here
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/adelaide-lesbians-to-marry-in-melbourne/story-e6frea83-1225772279875

    Martin Snigg of Adelaide Posted at 1:19 PM September 16, 2009

    Sadly Lynda you are typical of the standard of debate about marriage. You simply want your will imposed on the majority without having to justify yourself. You caricature arguments as mere ¿personal offence¿ taking and then proceed to take great offence at anyone who disagrees with you. You label dissent from your position as bigotry to smear and hypocritically hide what is in fact your irrational hatred of a moral position you have probably long ago abandoned with great guilt. Repentance is your only way forward. Joining with other wrong doers for comfort in numbers mocks genuine return to the moral community. Your hatred betrays you. If I¿m wrong paraphrase my argument, the strong case, not a straw man.

    Look here:
    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/intelligence-squared-debate-atheists-are-wrong/3657874

    See the straw man thing?
    Another failed seminary.
    See the pattern yet?

    I wonder how Snigg will convince anyone he is NOT the hundreds of Trolls using identical comments under hundreds of pseudonyms?

    Like

  35. Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    And this hummer:
    This is totalitarian. I imagine any Christian who tried to teach the equal dignity and legal rights of Jews to German school children in the 30’s would’ve been similarly banned.

    Unborn child is butchered – justified out of a malignant understanding of individual autonomy (unborn are accorded no legal right to autonomy). And this ‘Professor’ has the nerve to call defence of life – ideological! Is it ‘ideological’ that I defend her right to not be murdered?

    Terribly divisive and ideological affording Jews the same rights as full blooded Aryans, everyone knows Jews are untermenschen! Terribly divisive and ideological affording slaves full human rights! Everyone knows they are by nature sub-human and happiest in servitude. Terribly divisive and ideological affording a full humanity to unborn children, everyone knows they are ‘just clumps of cells’ and ‘parasites’!!

    This arbitrary violence against the innocent has to stop, or this violence will consume us.

    Posted By: Martin Snigg

    at

    http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=14441

    Like

  36. Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    The tolerant words of a man of God (Catholic Style)

    http://collapsetheblog.typepad.com/blog/2012/02/i-respect-your-opinion.html?cid=6a014e5f8c82d2970c0168e7c4c0c0970c

    “Your critics are homosexualised pantywaists. Does it take Muslim women to tell them to grow some cajones? http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/2012/02/13/muslim-europe-needs-more-christianity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=muslim-europe-needs-more-christianity

    If they want to fornicate and demographically disappear up their arse – they should shuffle off quietly.”

    Posted by: martin snigg | February 15, 2012 at 04:54 PM

    Like

    • Hypocritophobe March 7, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

      Wowee,
      Snigg is going RIGHT off over at Aunty.

      Like

      • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 7:11 am #

        I know, he’s having a real tantrum.

        Like

      • Doug Quixote March 8, 2012 at 11:14 am #

        Snigg is a prize troll, at times a concern troll and at others a flame troll. I have alerted the moderators, though they seem to be asleep as often as not.

        One of my recent posts may be apposite :

        A major problem is caused when the views of a tiny minority, unsupported by any reasonable evidence are given equal time in the name of “Balance.”

        The point is that the average citizen who is only casually interested in the issue is unable to judge between two apparent experts, given equal time.

        This applies to many issues in science, medicine and even in law.

        “Balance” is one of the most absurd concepts ever to be adopted by the media and must be re-thought urgently.

        Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      Charming. Is that his real name do we think?

      Like

  37. 730reportland March 8, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    Melinda `Tony` Reist whom IS so certain this will go to court, is ignoring too much reality. Letters 1 + 2 are acts of stupidity 1+2. Reist will not want to answer all Wilson`s questions in court, and any others the interwebs sends Wilson`s way. Reist is currently stuck with mistakes 1+2 that will now hinder her public appearances, particularly TV shows that take a lot of input from Twitter, Facebook and other web sources. In the Lobbying business you need to be able to work in the media, not dodge it for a year. Even if Reist wants to remain stubborn + go to court, somebody in `her` business, a client, or `her` cult will take her by the ear and tell her to drop it `or else`. As they will not want to be dragged into her mess.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      That’s a pretty good summary of the situation, and reassuring. Thanks reportland. Somebody was trying to intimidate me – wasting their time and getting known to police as well, though their email address was probably a fake.

      Like

      • Tony March 8, 2012 at 10:06 am #

        You are the fake Wilson, no place for sheep is a joke, you and your 3 or 4 followers and then all the replies you send to yourself. LOL

        Like

        • lola March 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

          Hello Holly, how are things?

          Like

          • Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

            Holly aka Kellsy.

            Like

      • Doug Quixote March 8, 2012 at 11:10 am #

        I agree with 7.30 Reportland. Not only has the defamation threat backfired disastrously, none of MTR’s dubious supporters will want to be dragged into the light under any circumstances.

        Besides that, as this is an attempt to silence a political opponent (even defining politics only widely enough to include the attempt to influence the public debate, the legislators and propose the amendment of the laws of the land) the Constitution implied right of free political speech is overarching and determinative.

        In other words, the threat is a paper tiger.

        Like

  38. ItsBouquet March 8, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Wow, Tony – that was so ingenious!…keep trying, in five to seven years you might reach the level of wit regularly displayed by Jen’s dog : )

    Like

    • Gruffbutt March 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      Now I’m really confused. Seeing Tony doesn’t know how to punctuate, am I now to believe that the real Jennifer Wilson has disappeared? Does MTR have abduction powers now? And shouldn’t Tony be off looking for an argument with the real Jennifer instead of arguing with a troll? Or is Tony really arguing with himself? Or is Tony Jennifer and fake Jennifer also Jennifer? Stay tuned for more adventures with Tony…

      Like

  39. Hypocritophobe March 8, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    DQ

    Martin Snigg is a real person(he may also be a troll)

    I looked at his posts in other places and the attitude matches,

    This guy is a potential priest and an SA school teacher.

    Google if you are interested or follow the links I put up yesterday.
    What I find is unacceptable is that the Drum allow his(and similar)volume/content.
    Have a look at some of the hostile words over at the ABC Pro life blog.
    I ask why does the ABC wilfully let people abuse their own rules and cross the line?
    Why do the have Alert Mods,when they never answer,never react?

    And why are they fixated on 3 topics feminism,climate change,refugees?
    3 topics which are fodder for the opposition.Keeping the game alive perhaps?

    You will also notice that many ABC staff blogs(Kholer,Wately etc), edit the incoming comments personally.Impossible to get a strong opposing view through.Eg it’s rigged.

    I have no idea what Mark Scott actually does.Drink tea?
    He certainly has no idea about the internal machinations of the place.
    Don’t get me started on Father O’Uhlmann.

    Like

  40. paul walter March 8, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    I think the response to defamation as an “error” is ok as far as it goes, but underestimates the role of back ground interests in maintaining the thing. It may that others with an interest in suppressing discussions on this may see making Dr Wilson an example, after David Hicks or Assange and Brad Manning (sorry Jennifer!).
    You can the from this new house troll’s fearful, spiteful responses, that some seem to have a deep interest avoiding having lights shone in dark places; they-dont-to-talk-about- it!
    The churches and church schools have suffered bad publicity over recent times over Paedophilia, Till-tinkering and the like as well as the role of the politicised conservative Pentecostals and Opus Dei Catholics in a mooted Talibanisation of secular society.
    Too much conversation may give the game away, on the other hand it could be useful for them to impose a sort of censorship through a Slapple at this time as part of a hard conservative agenda that discourages future inquiry, anyway.
    Hard to believe, but some may actually WANT the return of a feudalist society based on the Star Chamber and the Spanish Inquisition..

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

      I think there was an intention to make an example of me, but I thwarted that by not co operating. Now I’m just a thorn in the side I guess! I imagine that if I’d apologised, retracted and paid up the money demanded much would have been made of this for a very long time. Seeing as I didn’t, it’s derailed the master plan.

      Like

  41. paul walter March 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    “Stand and Deliver” demanded the thugs and like Jane Eyre in the Red Room, you’ve energetically, bravely resisted.
    To quote Curt Jurgens’ won-over conservative officer on Danny Kaye from an old ww2 comedy, “More and more I Iike this Jacobovsky”.

    Like

  42. paul walter March 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    On “Tony”, it could be the Tony who made such a nuisance of himself at LP, and particularly Andrew Bartlett’s blog. This character was a small time QLD DLP operator with inflated notions of his own significance as a big wheel in politics his self imposed role has been as defender of “family values”, on everything from global warming to contraception.
    The thing against this that Tony G, or Tony Zegenhaven is prolixious beyond extreme, whereas our “Tony” seems more to do with a little cruel sly threat/taunt modus operandi.

    Like

    • Hypocritophobe March 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      I reckon Tony is a young feminist.

      That’s all I will put up in public view, however.

      Like

  43. Hypocritophobe March 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    @Paul Smith.

    Why don’t come out and ask exactly what you want,instead of fishing around?

    Should all people comply with your versions of conversation decorum?
    If so why?

    Like

    • Paul Smith March 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      Hypocritophobe,

      Your first question.

      I really could not state any plainer than what I already have as to what I would consider “reasoned debate”.

      Your second question.

      No need to attempt to make my position extreme, in fact it is quite reasonable. But that is an approach I have noticed of your “discussion”. Rather than you quickly using backhanded insults from the safety of a handle perhaps you might use some of that tolerance that you demand of others.

      Like

      • Paul Smith March 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

        And BTW Hypocritophobe,

        It makes a debate a lot easier to read if you attempt to reply in order. However this may be due to gremlins in wordpress so all is forgiven if so.

        Like

  44. Hypocritophobe March 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Thank-you for your response Paul.
    I will try as you ask,to be more gentle in my responses in future.

    (This of course does not apply to Trolls or those who wear their ignorance on their sleeves.)

    I think the level of discussion at NPFS is closely connected to the topic at hand,
    and the topic/s at hand lately is the environment of the powerful intimidating the less powerful with threats of legal action.
    To wit,the front foot (for many) may actually be a reflex action, and trust is a precious asset, in this day and age.
    An asset IMHO not to be given away lightly.The increasing phishers and trolls here highlight that very point.

    I have ‘faith’ in JW adjusting the tone or content of my posts if she so chooses.

    I hope that helps you understand a bit better.

    Like

  45. Hypocritophobe March 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    The order of reply thing is weird.
    For whatever reason at my end sometimes the comment I want to respond to is totally greyed out with no ‘REPLY option at its base.
    I had presumed this was some process at JWs end.Like the thread was closed?
    It may be my browser behaviour,but I doubt it.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      I haven’t closed any threads, Hypo. Will check if there’s some mysterious limit somewhere.

      Like

  46. Hypocritophobe March 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    Here’s a gift for a new friend.

    It is portent of its future.

    http://letfreedomrain.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/tracking-down-internet-troll-sobering.html

    Like

  47. DontSueMeMTR March 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    Is that what’s going on here? I thought things were getting bizarre and confusing, but I wasn’t sure whether that was normal around here or not.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

      OK, am going to hold all new commenters for moderation since we’ve been trolled.

      Like

      • Doug Quixote March 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

        Sam is a truly remarkable concern troll.

        Like

        • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

          I’ve been sucked in?

          Like

        • Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

          Do you think if Tom,Sam,Lady Penelope and Stagger Lee arranged for a game of doubles,three of them would pull out at the last minute?

          Like

  48. Paul Smith March 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    So now someone has stolen my handle? Geez – I knew my name was popular my also plagarizing me? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Like

  49. Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks, Hypo, I’ve attended to that. Plus I discovered why you might not have been able to comment on a post and fixed that.

    Like

  50. paul walter March 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    THe troll has been active elsewhere. For the benefit of Doug Quixote, I mention that an attack launched on him just recently under my name at the RawRoar site does not emanate from me, but someone pirating my name.

    Like

  51. Hypocritophobe March 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Just checked out yopmail.
    I wouldn’t let a yopmail within a mile of me (if I had a site) without a very long probationary period, or provable ID.It is the perfect medium for Trolls.

    I’ll bet the ABC is rife with these bogus email server addresses.
    The internet is doomed!

    (Well, Until somebody hacks Yopmail and the Red Faces begin in earnest.I think the users may be getting setup for a big fall)

    Tee hee.

    Like

    • DontSueMeMTR March 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      Actually, I use Yopmail. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with it. Like anything I guess, it’s all a question of how you use it.

      Does WordPress let you access the IP addresses of commenters? I would suggest that if you’re interested in gathering information on your troll, that might be worth looking into.

      Like

      • Hypocritophobe March 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

        Tracking Trolls and tactics to do so it is best discussed behind closed doors.
        I appreciate your suggestion.

        I favour a new paradigm where members of the blog or those who comment have their text heavily encrypted so that others (not officially registered) cannot read it.
        That is where the internet is heading,I’m afraid.Open discussion will be Trolled to death unless we use preventative means.
        I doubt anyone will ever rid the ether of the infantile.

        Like

        • DontSueMeMTR March 8, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

          Wouldn’t do much to encourage new participants I wouldn’t think. Besides, the key to fighting trolls is in raising the bar on posting comments rather than reading them, right?

          Like

          • Hypocritophobe March 8, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

            I think those who want to ‘discuss’ have more patience than those who wish to Troll.

            Trolling is Universally abhorred, but on the flip side totally trackable
            and Karma is a dish best served cold.

            Like

            • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

              I’m going to sleep now, so if any people get through who shouldn’t overnight, ignore them and I’ll trash them in the morning.

              Like

          • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

            I think they’re under control.

            Like

  52. Sam March 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Dr Wilson, it’s unfortunate that many of the comments made by some of your “supporters” and “opponents” are so much less thoughtful and productive than your own. I believe that, behind all the fiery language that currently clutters up the comment threads here and at Raw/Roar, there is an important and subtle point of disagreement between you and the likes of Tammois that would benefit from further (sober) discussion.

    As a preliminary matter, I want to suggest that the debate about the definition and implications of ad hominem arguments is circular. It has a structure that is very common in political discourse. Whenever “X” is popularly considered to be a bad thing, and someone accuses someone else of X, the accused will usually argue that: “what I did is not X or, if it is X, X is not necessarily bad”. By oscillating between these two issues, both sides remain locked in a debate about the meaning of X, and avoid dealing directly with the real issue: whether what the accused did was good or bad.

    In the subject post, you discuss the circumstances in which you believe ad hominem arguments are not fallacious. But what you are really discussing is whether certain types of arguments are valid, productive, legitimate, etc. I will try to analyse/respond to the actual points that you make in favour of those types of arguments, without being drawn into the debate over what constitutes ad hominem and the circumstances in which ad hominem arguments are fallacious.

    > “Arguments that question the opponent’s possible dogmatic bias, for example, or vested and conflicted interests, are legitimate critical responses.”

    Are they? Why? I do not believe that such arguments are “legitimate critical responses”, because I believe that it is dangerous, arrogant, and unnecessary to claim that you *know* what someone else’s unstated motivations are, even if you believe that you have an enormous amount of evidence supporting your claim.

    To demonstrate my point, I’ll use an example that doesn’t involve religion or MTR:

    The Institute of Public Affairs argues that it would be unconstitutional for the government to require tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain packaging without compensating the tobacco companies because the government would be “acquiring” the tobacco companies’ intellectual property.

    You assert that it is “legitimate” to question “dogmatic bias”. Surely you would agree that the IPA has a certain dogmatic bias (in favour of free-markets, anti-regulation, etc.). However, does the existence of this bias tell you anything about the strength of the argument that “it would be unconstitutional for the government to require tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain packaging without compensating the tobacco companies”? No. The fact that the argument is consistent with the IPA’s dogmatic bias does not make the argument less persuasive.

    You also assert that it is “legitimate” to question “vested and conflicted interests”. While we do not know for sure, let’s assume that the IPA is probably heavily funded by tobacco companies. Would this suspicion about the IPA’s funding sources tell you anything about the strength of the argument that “it would be unconstitutional for the government to require tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain packaging without compensating the tobacco companies”? No. The fact that the argument may serve the financial interests of the IPA does not make the argument less persuasive.

    You actually acknowledge in the subject post that allegations of bias “aren’t proof that an argument is incorrect or flawed”, so I think that you probably agree with what I have said so far regarding the IPA. We definitely disagree, however, with respect to the following statement:

    > “[A]llegation[s] of bias … serve as a warning that the arguments need to be scrutinized.”

    For me, this is the issue at the heart of this whole debate: should we (a) try to scrutinize all arguments to exactly the same extent; or should we (b) try to distinguish between arguments that deserve less scrutiny and arguments that deserve more?

    I’m pretty sure I understand the arguments in favour of (b). The main argument is that structural limitations on our lives (resulting from capitalism, modernity, etc.) mean that there is a mismatch between the number of decisions we must make, and the amount of time we would need to scrutinize all arguments to exactly the same extent before making each decision. This argument boils down to: we must do (b) because our current social structure renders (a) impossible. (Such an argument obviously relies on a conservative assumption about the undesirability of radically reforming the prevailing social structure.)

    Another common argument in favour of (b) is: humans don’t, as an empirical matter, tend to do (a), and this is not (necessarily) because of our current social structure, but because the biological nature of human beings renders (a) impossible.

    I’m not sure which of the above arguments in favour of (b) you agree with, or whether you have some other reason for endorsing (b), and I don’t want to spend time rebutting an argument you haven’t made. However, I do want to explain why I think (b) is bad (and, therefore, why I think we should radically reform the prevailing social structure—assuming it is true that the prevailing social structure renders (a) impossible).

    First, I believe that (b) is discriminatory, because it subjects some people’s arguments to more scrutiny as a result of a statistical correlation between a personal attribute and a particular viewpoint. Working out what level of scrutiny an argument deserves means obtaining information about the person making the argument and using that information to generalise about what that person’s view is likely to be.

    In some cases, the generalisation might be extremely strong, statistically. For example, a survey of everyone who regularly attends a Catholic church might reveal that “regularly attending a Catholic church” correlates extremely strongly with “adherence to the belief that ‘God exists'”. However, it is unlikely that such a correlation would ever be perfect, and even if an empirical analysis suggested that the correlation was perfect, I would argue that uncertainties about the methodology of the analysis should make us hesitant to embrace the correlation as an absolute truth. In any event, I don’t think there is much practical difference between “(a)” and the position that “(b) is only ok when we have clear evidence of a perfect correlation”.

    Therefore, (b) means relying on imperfect generalisations, and is consequently discriminatory. As an example: imagine that you are in the very small minority of people who doesn’t believe that ‘God exists’ but regularly attends Catholic church. Now imagine that you want to publicly argue that all state schools should teach Catholic doctrine (for reasons that do not presume God exists). When assessing your argument, people who believe in (b) (and who do not believe God exists) would look at the fact that you regularly attend Catholic church, conclude that you most likely believe God exists, and subject your argument to more scrutiny than arguments made by people who do not regularly attend church, irrespective of the fact that your argument itself does not rely on the existence of God.

    You might want to respond to the discriminatory nature of (b) by asking whether “having your arguments more heavily scrutinized” is really such a serious burden to place on those who are discriminated against? Surely if an argument is sound, it will stand up to heavy scrutiny, and thus the discriminated-against person will not, ultimately, be disadvantaged? In some cases, this might be true. However, what happens when so many people are making arguments about a subject that being placed on the bottom of the pile (in terms of requiring the heaviest scrutiny) means that your argument does not get considered at all? Surely being denied a voice on the basis of some personal characteristic would be a serious and worrisome case of discrimination? Another problem is that the discrimination necessitated by (b) may discursively legitimate other, more serious, forms of discrimination.

    Another response would be to say that a more reasonable version of (b) would discriminate only in those cases where there is not only correlation but a plausible causal relationship between the personal characteristic and the view. For example, assume that it was shown statistically that 50% of men but only 20% of women supported going to war with Iran. A strict application of (b) might say that women’s arguments about the prospect of going to war with Iran should be subject to more scrutiny than men’s, because it is statistically more likely that the author is opposed to war. However, you might object to this type of discrimination on the basis that there is no plausible causal relationship between “being a woman” and “opposing war with Iran”. Leaving aside the notion that there may actually be such a relationship (e.g. because it may be true that men and women are socialised to hold different views about military aggression), I believe that limiting (b) to cases where there is a plausible causal relationship between the personal characteristic and the view is still problematic, because we have no way of verifying whether our theory of causation is correct with respect to particular individuals against whom (b) requires us to discriminate.

    In summary: we don’t know, and cannot determine, what unstated “biases” actually influence other people’s conclusions . We may be able to make very educated guesses, but acting on those guesses (e.g. by using them to determine which arguments should be more heavily scrutinized) is always discriminatory, because there are always people whose “biases” do not correspond to our educated guess.

    Second, I believe that (b) makes us susceptible to manipulation, because it requires that we trust some people more than others. A corollary of the negative discrimination discussed above is that (b) necessitates positive discrimination in favour of people whose personal characteristics cause us to suspect that they are “objective” or “unbiased”. Just as we can sometimes be wrong about the reason for which a person reached a particular conclusion by falsely assuming that a bias exists, we can also be wrong about the reason for which a person reached a particular conclusion by falsely assuming that a bias does not exist, and I would argue that this is an even more insidious consequence of (b).

    These are the main two reasons for which I think (a) is preferable to (b) and, if it is true that our current social structure makes (a) impossible, then these are two reasons for which I think that social structure should be radically reformed.

    Before I stop writing, I should note that I recognise that there are some people who agree that (a) is preferable to (b), but who believe that on some occasions it may acceptable to take advantage of the practice of (b) for strategic reasons. I get the impression that you might even fall into this category, since a point I have think I have heard you make about MTR (and I’m paraphrasing here) is: I have been rebutting the contents of MTR’s arguments for many years, but the arguments themselves are largely rhetorical and anecdotal, meaning that there is little of substance to debate; furthermore, if it was to be made public that MTR is actually very religious, her arguments would be discredited in the minds of many people, because—rightly or wrongly—people generally practice (b). If you were to adopt this line of reasoning, you might feel that you were not necessarily endorsing (a) or (b), but merely using other people’s belief in (b) in order to achieve an outcome that would make society a better place. I won’t comment further on that line of reasoning unless you indicate that you endorse it, however.

    Apologies for the long comment. I hope you will have time to consider it.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      Hello Sam,

      > “Arguments that question the opponent’s possible dogmatic bias, for example, or vested and conflicted interests, are legitimate critical responses.” (JW)

      Are they? Why? I do not believe that such arguments are “legitimate critical responses”, because I believe that it is dangerous, arrogant, and unnecessary to claim that you *know* what someone else’s unstated motivations are, even if you believe that you have an enormous amount of evidence supporting your claim.” (Sam)

      I wrote “arguments that “QUESTION.” That isn’t the same thing as “claiming to know.” What I can claim to “know” is the information that has been uncontested in the public domain for years about Reist’s religious affiliations. What I can claim to “know” are the tenets of major Christian churches. What I can then “question” is whether or not Reist’s moral campaigns are influenced by her beliefs in those tenets. I can form an opinion on the likelihood of religious influence on her moral campaigns, and that opinion can be contested by anyone who wishes to do so, including Reist.

      I can then ask on what evidence Reist bases her moral campaigns. She can offer empirical evidence, if she has it. Or she can by implication or declaration refer to her own authority. This latter is her preferred option, in the absence of empirical evidence for her many of claims.

      One is not in the same situation with the IPA example. They do put up arguments for their case, however one may disagree with them. They don’t just say “because we say so.” “Because I say so and some other people agree with me” is pretty much Reist’s default position. Given this strange situation I can legitimately suggest that her moral campaigns ought to be scrutinized before we accept her claims, as she offers no basis at all for making them, other than her personal opinions and preferences. The argument in the IPA case is about the constitution. It is not about IPA’s moral (or immoral) stand on plain packaging. In the Reist situation the argument is about what Reist claims is good or bad for society.

      If Reist were to offer evidence for her claims, there would be no need to look any further than examining that evidence. But she doesn’t.

      I don’t think for a moment that all arguments and arguers need to be scrutinised. Of course the IPA can make legitimate points in spite of their bias. I have also found myself in agreement with some points Reist has made. But there are many claims for which I require evidence, not personal opinion and emotion, and if these are all that is offered then I don’t accept that as authoritative.

      You are extrapolating my specific questioning of Reist’s specific position to a far more general situation. I would address each situation on its merits: there are Christians, for example, whom I respect and trust on many issues. I must admit that none of them are evasive about their beliefs, and this does make it easier to trust.

      > “[A]llegation[s] of bias … serve as a warning that the arguments need to be scrutinized.” (JW)

      For me, this is the issue at the heart of this whole debate: should we (a) try to scrutinize all arguments to exactly the same extent; or should we (b) try to distinguish between arguments that deserve less scrutiny and arguments that deserve more? (Sam)

      I fail to understand your desire to be absolutist on this. Surely one uses judgment according to the circumstances? Not all arguments are subject to allegations of bias. When they are, one is at liberty to weigh up the allegations and consider who is making them, and decide if their claims justify scrutinising the argument or if the argument stands regardless. If Reist presented us with evidence of the devastating effects of a Kanye West video on eleven year old boys I would first consider the quality of the evidence without being much concerned with who she is and what she believes. Without that evidence, I want to know how she came to form this opinion that she now seeks to impose on everyone else, to the extent of conducting a campaign to have the video withdrawn so nobody can watch it. This is emotional manipulation. My question is, why does Reist hold these moral views and why does she so desperately need everyone else to live by them as well, as there is no evidence to confirm that the Kanye West video does anybody any harm at all?

      As a woman, I may well be highly sensitised to the influence of conservative christian morality.

      Of course, atheists share Reist’s views, and I would argue that they do so from a crypto theological position that refers to a point of origin, an ideal that is exterior to the imperfect human. They don’t call this ideal God, but they do seem to have metaphysical notions of how things are meant or supposed to be, particularly when it comes to how we imagine and perform sex. Any arguments that come from the theological or crypto theological position and are unsubstantiated with sound evidence need to be scrutinised, IMO.

      Like

      • Sam March 9, 2012 at 5:08 am #

        Hi Jennifer,

        I really appreciate your thoughtful response. For the first time in a long while I feel like this debate is actually going somewhere! I’ve responded to what I believe are your key points below.

        JW: I wrote “arguments that “QUESTION.” That isn’t the same thing as “claiming to know.”

        SW: I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “arguments that question”. An argument has premises and a claim to knowledge. Sometimes an argument can be expressed, rhetorically, in the form of a question, but if it is truly an argument, it has a claim to knowledge. If it doesn’t have a claim, it is not an argument. For example, “if she had seen the injured man, wouldn’t she have helped him?” is a rhetorical question that makes the claim: “she did not see the injured man”. (Its premises are something like “she didn’t help the injured man” and “she is the kind of person who helps injured men when she sees them”.) In contrast, “what did you see?” is merely a question. It makes no claim to knowledge.

        So if by “arguments that question” you meant questions that do not make claims to knowledge (I’ll call these “mere questions”), I apologise for my misinterpretation. I don’t think there’s anything illegitimate about asking questions. (Although I also don’t think that failing to answer a question implies anything about what the answer to that question might be. Freedom of speech should include the freedom not to speak.)

        However, the context in which you used the phrase “arguments that question” suggested to me that you thought the legitimacy of “arguments that question” was relevant to Tammois’ Raw/Roar article (and therefore your 10 January post). Yet your 10 January post contains many, many arguments/claims to knowledge, and very few mere questions. So if by “arguments that question” you meant mere questions, your comments regarding “arguments that question” are not responsive to Tammois’ Raw/Roar article.

        I assumed that by “arguments that question” you really just meant “arguments”, because I assumed that your 4 March post was intended to be a response to Tammois’ Raw/Roar article and/or a further defence of your 10 January post. If you no longer wish to defend your 10 January post, that’s fine, but until you expressly state otherwise I’ll assume that you do. (I.e. I’ll assume that your position is that the arguments/claims to knowledge that were contained in your 10 January post—and not just the few mere questions contained therein—were “legitimate critical responses”.)

        JW: What I can claim to “know” is the information that has been uncontested in the public domain for years about Reist’s religious affiliations. What I can claim to “know” are the tenets of major Christian churches.

        SW: Well, you can claim to know whatever you want. The question is whether your claim is convincing and meaningful (whether it productively contributes to the public debate, whether it is responsive to claims made by others, etc.).

        I do want to comment on your implication that the fact that an assertion pertaining to Reist “has been uncontested in the public domain for years” might allow one to claim that the assertion is true (or at least likely to be true). If the assertion was made by Reist herself, then sure, depending on its context, it might be fair to consider it as part of Reist’s body of work. But if the assertion was made by others, then the fact that it “has been uncontested … for years” sheds no light on its accuracy. I strongly believe that the freedom of speech includes the freedom not to speak, and I do not believe that anyone (other than elected officials who have a responsibility to respond to voters’ concerns) should be expected to rebut every (or any) assertion that others make about them—even self-promoting public figures like Reist.

        JW: What I can then “question” is whether or not Reist’s moral campaigns are influenced by her beliefs in those tenets.

        SW: Sure. But that “question” contains several arguments/claims to knowledge. Most importantly, it contains the claim that Reist believes in *your interpretation of* the tenets of Christianity. This is the type of claim that I was talking about when I said that: “I believe … it is dangerous, arrogant, and unnecessary to claim that you *know* what someone else’s unstated motivations are, even if you believe that you have an enormous amount of evidence supporting your claim”. My point is that we should never treat arguments made by one person about the unstated beliefs of another person as persuasive.

        So unless and until Reist expressly states that she believes in the tenets of Christianity *as you interpret them*, I will continue to view your claim (that Reist believes in your interpretation of the tenets of Christianity) as unpersuasive, and I think others should too. Note that I am not challenging your interpretation of the tenets of Christianity; whether or not I think your interpretation is accurate is irrelevant. Also note that I’m not saying that I don’t think it is legitimate for you to ask Reist whether or not she believes in your interpretation of the tenets of Christianity. In fact, I encourage you to do so. I am just saying that, until you get an answer either way, I don’t think it’s legitimate to claim that you know what she believes.

        JW: I can form an opinion on the likelihood of religious influence on her moral campaigns, and that opinion can be contested by anyone who wishes to do so, including Reist.

        SW: You can form an opinion on any topic you like, but the question is whether or not it would be productive for you to publicly express it. I believe that—to the extent Reist’s moral campaigns themselves do not mention religion—it is unproductive (and potentially harmful) to speculate about the extent to which the campaigns might be religiously motivated. (But that’s not to say that I think you should be *legally* punished for doing so!)

        JW: [Reist] can offer empirical evidence, if she has it. Or she can by implication or declaration refer to her own authority. This latter is her preferred option, in the absence of empirical evidence for her many of claims. … “Because I say so and some other people agree with me” is pretty much Reist’s default position.

        SW: So there’s your critique: Reist fails to supply empirical evidence for her claims. Game over, no? Why do you believe that is insufficient? If someone makes an empirical claim, I ask them for the evidence. If they don’t have any, I disregard the claim. I don’t stand around trying to work out what metaphysical beliefs might have caused them to put forward the baseless claim—partly because doing so might imply that I’d be willing to accept the baseless claim if I felt that it was motivated by metaphysical beliefs that I agreed with.

        Isn’t it the same with Reist? By not being satisfied with “she’s got no evidence”, and by resorting to “she’s religiously motivated”, aren’t you implying that: if Reist wasn’t religiously motivated, her lack of evidence might not be such a big problem?

        I understand that you (and others) have been saying something along the lines of “Reist’s got no evidence” for a very long time, and I recognise that, unfortunately, there is a significant proportion of the Australian population (including many journalists and politicians) who have not been convinced to disregard Reist’s claims by the argument that “Reist’s got no evidence”. But this can only be because either: (i) the argument is not reaching a wide enough audience; (ii) people think Reist’s claims are supported by empirical evidence; or (iii) people do not think that the validity of Reist’s claims should turn on the existence or otherwise of good empirical evidence.

        To the extent the problem is (i), we should be searching for ways to make the argument “Reist’s got no evidence” reach more people. To the extent the problem is (ii), we should be searching for more innovative and powerful ways to demonstrate that Reist’s claims are not, in fact, supported by empirical evidence. And to the extent the problem is (iii), we should be searching for innovative and powerful ways to demonstrate that the validity of Reist’s claims should turn on the existence or otherwise of good empirical evidence.

        The problem I have with the “Reist’s religiously motivated” argument is that, to the extent (iii) is the reason the “Reist’s got no evidence” argument hasn’t been entirely effective (and I think (iii) is the reason to a large extent), the “Reist’s religiously motivated” argument could actually exacerbate the situation. By pointing to Reist’s possible/likely religious motivations, aren’t you sending people the message that their position on these kinds of moral questions should be determined along traditional religious/secular “culture war” lines, rather than on the presence or sufficiency of empirical evidence?

        In this sense at least, I don’t actually think Reist’s almost complete lack of evidence is very different from the vacuousness of the IPA’s constitutional argument regarding the plain-packaging legislation. The IPA’s argument does not even survive prima facie scrutiny. It has been convincingly debunked by numerous legal academics. Yet the fundamental weakness of the IPA’s argument continues to be overshadowed by allegations that the IPA is being heavily funded by tobacco companies. Many enemies of the IPA prefer to allege bias than explain why the IPA’s argument is so weak, and I believe this sends people the message that: if you like the IPA, you should agree with its argument, and if you don’t like the IPA, you should disagree with it. This ends up dividing people along the old left-right lines (and alienating people who don’t have an opinion on the IPA). I think advocates of the plain-packaging legislation would be much more effective if they were to say: “look, whatever you think of the IPA, and irrespective of who is funding it, its argument on this occasion is clearly flawed in the following ways… ”.

        JW: Given this strange situation I can legitimately suggest that her moral campaigns ought to be scrutinized before we accept her claims, as she offers no basis at all for making them, other than her personal opinions and preferences.

        SW: I’m not quite sure what you mean by “scrutinized” in this context. If Reist’s claims have no supporting evidence, can’t we refuse to accept them solely on that basis? Why is any further “scrutiny” of her claims necessary, and what exactly would such “scrutiny” look like? I get the feeling that you’re not actually talking about “scrutiny” of the claims themselves, but “scrutiny” of Reist’s ‘motivations’, which I’ve discussed above.

        JW: Not all arguments are subject to allegations of bias. When they are, one is at liberty to weigh up the allegations and consider who is making them, and decide if their claims justify scrutinising the argument or if the argument stands regardless.

        SW: Again, I’m not sure what you mean by “scrutinising” the argument. If “scrutinising” means something like “reading the argument, reviewing any evidence it refers to, and reaching a conclusion as to whether or not one finds the argument is persuasive”, then isn’t that something we should always do, irrespective of whether there have been “allegations of bias”? I don’t understand how our awareness of the fact that “allegations of bias” have been made should affect the way we evaluate an argument.

        If I was reading an argument and someone said to me “hey, did you know that so-and-so said that the author of that argument is biased?”, my reply would be “thanks, but I don’t care”. Indeed, I believe that that is the only appropriate reply. Why “weigh up the allegations [of bias] and consider who is making them” unless you’re going to let them affect your conclusion as to whether or not the argument is persuasive? And I thought you agreed with me that even accurate allegations of bias shouldn’t affect our conclusion as to whether or not an argument is persuasive?

        JW: If Reist presented us with evidence of the devastating effects of a Kanye West video on eleven year old boys I would first consider the quality of the evidence … . Without that evidence, I want to know how she came to form this opinion that she now seeks to impose on everyone else, to the extent of conducting a campaign to have the video withdrawn so nobody can watch it.

        SW: Or what about: “without that evidence, I would have no reason to take Reist’s claim seriously, so I would ignore it and encourage others to do the same”? Why would you want to know “how she came to form [that] opinion”, especially if she didn’t want to tell you?

        JW: My question is, why does Reist hold these moral views and why does she so desperately need everyone else to live by them as well … ?

        SW: My question is, why do you care why Reist holds those views and “desperately need[s] everyone else to live by them”? Maybe she is violently misogynistic? Maybe she is a misanthropic objectivist who is out to make as much money as she can? How could we ever really know her true motivations and why would we care?

        The only thing I care about is whether the moral arguments Reist is putting forward are persuasive. I don’t have a problem with her running around trying to convince people to adopt a particular moral view—irrespective of *why* she’s doing it. Am I scared that she might convince a significant number of people that she’s right? Absolutely. Do I think that speculating about her “true” motivations is a productive or beneficial way of confronting that fear? Absolutely not.

        Like

        • Tom March 9, 2012 at 9:24 am #

          To both ladies – Jennifer and Sam: I would like to offer my congratulations on this wonderful series of posts. It is apparent that both of you have made an honest and earnest attempt at a clear, sensible and thoughtful presentation of the case as you see it.
          And for that you should both be praised.

          Well done to you both!
          Keep it up.

          Like

        • Doug Quixote March 9, 2012 at 11:12 am #

          Sam, you seem to have embarked upon a vast number of strawman arguments.

          I don’t think anyone has argued “Reist’s got no evidence”, but rather that the evidence adduced is anecdotal and inconclusive. Her stories derived from interviews are indeed heart-wrenching and emotively disturbing, but examined objectively the evidence is still far short of supporting the case she seeks to make.

          In the absence of sufficient evidence, we are left to wonder on just what basis Reist says what she does and demands the actions she does.

          In the absence of a proper declaration of interest we are left with the inferences to be drawn from her history and from her associations, and she cannot be heard to complain if the inferences drawn are not those she would want us to draw.

          Like

          • DontSueMeMTR March 9, 2012 at 11:43 am #

            Doug, I think the thrust of Sam’s argument is:

            If MTR’s arguments aren’t able to support themselves with evidence, and can be easily refuted on those terms, why would you bother to investigate her motives if not to invoke certain preconceived attitudes towards religious people?

            Like

            • DontSueMeMTR March 9, 2012 at 11:50 am #

              Or to put that another way: Does conflict of interest matter in public debate?

              Like

              • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

                Do we care about Gina Rinehart’s motives? If we don’t, should we?

                Like

            • Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

              It matters a lot.
              Why?

              In the case in point.The obvious.
              Proven Lobbyist with strong (if not identical) beliefs aligned with ACL
              Spurious provision of evidence to support policy propositions.
              RU 486
              Tony Abbott looming on the political horizon

              Combined with the hypocrisy of the conservative right screaming ‘faceless men’, and then saying motives and connections only count in Labor politics.
              Given the Counselling Association Of South Australia describes Reist as:
              “Melinda Tankard Reist – national author and social commentator. You have possibly seen Melinda on the TV program Q&A, or heard her on radio. Her writing spans topics such as abortion, to the sexualisation of girls to bioethics.”

              Precisely because of her previous affiliations and campaigns, policy lobbying etc -if Reist wishes to be vocal,the community has every right to discover if she is a mouthpiece and whose mouthpiece she is.If she wants to be a champion of women and girls,she needs to be accountable to the entire community.

              At the moment MTR ‘appears’ to prefer to be a faceless woman.

              Like

            • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

              Ah, well then you’d be attributing motives to me! I wasn’t interested in “invoking certain preconceived attitudes towards religious people” just for the sake of it. When a public figure can’t or won’t offer evidence for a moral position they take and wish others to take, then I am interested in their motivations for urging us to accept their judgment. Is their motive to impose their religious morality on society as a whole? This question is often asked of Muslims with regard to Sharia law, for example. Why can’t it be asked of Christians? If we are unwilling to subject ourselves to Sharia law, are we somehow obliged to unquestioningly subject ourselves to Christian morality? It’s not a question of preconceived attitudes, rather of refusing the imposition of any religious morality on those who are non believers.

              Like

            • DontSueMeMTR March 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

              Okay, but do you reject the imposition of religious morality because it is religious or because you think it is flawed?

              Which brings us back to the specific question of WHY it is relevant or necessary to ask the questions you’re asking.

              I guess Hypo’s comment and the Gina Rinehart thing go to that. As Sam brought up in her first comment, nobody has the time or resources to aspire to omniscience. But understanding motives can help us make connections and direct our scrutiny to areas where things may otherwise slip by. It helps us provision our resources for shining light into places where perhaps light is needed most.

              This is the crux of it, right? I have to admit that I’m increasingly coming around to that way of thinking on this particular issue myself.

              Like

              • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

                Because I think it is flawed. Because I don’t accept the premises of religious morality because I don’t believe in god. If someone provides evidence for their point of view I don’t care if they are religious. I’ll evaluate the evidence.

                I want Reist to tell me why I should agree with her views on abortion, sexual representation of women, sexual behaviour, popular culture etc when she offers no substantial evidence for her claims of danger. If she has no substantial evidence, then surely this is nothing more than her personal point of view, shared with the like minded. The like minded need not all be religious, and they aren’t. However, they do share a belief in what they consider a moral ideal, whether they attribute it to the Christian god or not. The shared moral ideal is of Judeo Christian origin, even if not all of the idealists still follow a faith. In many instances I don’t share these ideals, and find them dangerously repressive, especially for women.

                I don’t think it’s necessary to scrutinise every argument that comes our way, and I don’t. But I am a believer in the circumstantial ad hominem as a tool for evaluation when necessary.

                Like

              • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

                JW’s Response to Sam: I responded to “Don’t Sue Me” as the welcome and respected commenter on my blog he or she is. I will continue to do this. I do not agree that his/her comments in any way obstruct exchanges between you and me. You may well consider remarks “unproductive”, however your consideration does not make them so.

                This is a public conversation, everyone is welcome to contribute. I will respond to everyone as I see fit. These are the terms for engaging in discussion on my blog.

                Like

            • Sam March 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

              Jennifer, you’re completely right that “DontSueMeMTR” was attributing motives to you, and I think that that was an unproductive thing for him or her to do (for the reasons I have previously stated). At this stage it seems to me like this discussion is only going to keep moving forward if we try to respond to each other’s points directly, and not to third parties’ imperfect characterisations of what we have said.

              You raised two points in your replies to “DontSueMeMTR” that I think are interesting.

              JW: When a public figure can’t or won’t offer evidence for a moral position they take and wish others to take, then I am interested in their motivations for urging us to accept their judgment.

              SW: I still don’t understand *why*, though. What difference would it make if their motive was “to impose their religious morality on society as a whole”, compared to if their motive was something other than “to impose their religious morality on society as a whole”? If their motive was the latter, would you be more sympathetic to their claim? Surely their claim is insidious and objectionable (by virtue of it being unsupported by evidence) irrespective of their motivations?

              I don’t really understand your point about Muslims and Christians. If someone was to say to me “women should be forced to wear veils in public because modesty is a virtue”, I would say “sorry, you haven’t convinced me that modesty is a virtue, or that the state should regulate what people can and can’t wear in public”. Knowing that that person’s true reason for making that argument was that they want “to impose their [Islamic] morality on society as a whole” (as impossible as such information might be to obtain) wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) make an inch of difference to me. I would still respond in the same way.

              Similarly, if someone was to say to me “if women were prohibited from having abortions, there would be mental health benefits”, I would say “do you have any empirical data to support that claim?” If they didn’t have any data (and maybe even if they did, but that’s a different story), I would conclude that their argument is unpersuasive. Knowing that that person’s true reason for making that argument was that they want “to impose their [Christian] morality on society as a whole” wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) make an inch of difference.

              Maybe it’s true that many people believe that the imposition of an Islamic morality on society as a whole is more concerning than the imposition of a Christian morality. Needless to say I think that people who hold that view are wrong. But I don’t really see how the prevalence of that view is relevant to the issue at hand. The prevalence of that view may be caused by, among other things: (i) people thinking there is a greater likelihood that an Islamic morality will be imposed on society as a whole; (ii) people thinking Islamic moralities are somehow worse than Christian moralities; or (iii) people having an irrational fear of all things “Islam”.

              I don’t think any of those reasons properly justify the view that the imposition of an Islamic morality is more concerning than the imposition of a Christian morality, but I also don’t think that speculating about whether certain people are motivated by the desire to “to impose their [Christian] morality on society as a whole” is an effective way of refuting those reasons.

              JW: Do we care about Gina Rinehart’s motives? If we don’t, should we?

              SW: You raise an interesting issue. My short answers are: (1) Do we care? Yes, many people seem to; (2) Should we care? No, but it’s important to recognise the difference between caring about someone’s motives and using past behaviour to predict future behaviour.

              To the extent that Gina Rinehart is merely someone whose opinions are published by the media and who funds lobbying campaigns, I think she is fairly analogous to Reist. In that case, all my previous arguments regarding Reist pertain to Rinehart, and I think we should evaluate Rinehart’s opinions on their own merits, without regard to her true motivations, whatever they may be.

              However, to the extent that Gina Rinehart holds a position of power with respect to the management of a company (such as her partial stake in Fairfax, which I assume is the context of your question), shareholders of that company certainly have a legitimate interest in accurately predicting how Rinehart is likely to exercise her power. To do so, they will need to examine on Rinehart’s past behaviours. That is not to say that they should speculate about Rinehart’s true motives (because how could they ever know what they are?), but it is to say that they should examine Rinehart’s past behaviours for the purpose of forming (well-reasoned) conclusions about how Rinehart is likely to behave in the future.

              Like

              • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

                I responded to “Don’t Sue Me” as the welcome and respected commenter on my blog he or she is. I will continue to do this. I do not agree that his/her comments in any way obstruct exchanges between you and me. You may well consider remarks “unproductive”, however your consideration does not make them so.

                This is a public conversation, everyone is welcome to contribute. I will respond to everyone as I see fit. These are the terms for engaging in discussion on my blog.

                Like

              • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

                You are quite brilliantly answering your own questions, and you need no further input from me.

                Like

            • Doug Quixote March 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

              Certainly that is his argument. But MTR continues to argue as she does, insisting that her evidence is sufficient – nay, overwhelming – when it plainly is not.

              There must be, and there is another agenda.

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        • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

          Sam, reading your last sentence has made me reconsider the point of our exchanges. You state that you “absolutely” do not believe that considering Reist’s motivations is a useful way of addressing the issues.

          If I “absolutely” believe or disbelieve something, why would I waste my time in debate about it? An absolute position is incommensurable with any other position. So given that your position on the irrelevancy of Reist’s motivations is absolute, why are you engaging in discussion about it? Of course, as you state that you are entirely uninterested in motivations I assume that includes your own, and you have no interest in answering that question!

          Sam: “The only thing I care about is whether the moral arguments Reist is putting forward are persuasive.”

          I am not interested in persuasive moral arguments. I’m interested in evidenced based arguments. I am of the opinion that we have to be careful of what is often authoritatively claimed as a “moral view.” Morality is sometimes based on little more than emotion: I like or dislike easily becomes that is right, that is wrong. If Reist has no evidence that a Kanye West video has destructive effects on those who view it, is she not simply saying she finds it offensive, therefore it is wrong and must be censored? This is indeed a “persuasive moral argument” for those who share her tastes in popular culture and her beliefs about the sexual representation of women. But for those of us who don’t, it’s a kind of tyranny.

          I am someone who is very interested in motivations. You are not. You say you don’t care. It will serve no purpose for you to argue that I am somehow at fault in my infinite curiousity, or that because you don’t share it, my curiousity is irrelevant. I wouldn’t attempt to persuade you to take a path you consider futile. Neither will I be persuaded to relinquish my interest in human behaviour because someone else doesn’t share it! This is something on which we must agree to differ, as I feel no interest in either defending my curiosity or persuading you of its worth!

          You don’t feel it is productive for me to have written as I did on Reist’s religious beliefs. Hundreds of people disagree with you! The amount of interest and debate generated by that obscure blog post has been phenomenal, and it continues. The topic has been thoroughly chewed over from several perspectives, and it continues. I am delighted to have provoked this amount of discussion by so many different thinkers and commentators. It wasn’t my intention: the only reason this has received such attention is because Reist threatened me with defamation. I wrote the post for my regular readers, who are very familiar with my on going challenges to Reist’s claims.

          Allegations of bias may or may not be relevant when evaluating an argument, depending on who’s doing the evaluation, and depending on the argument. If you are going to state definitively that they are of no relevance, I’d ask you to prove that. If you are going to claim that there is never any benefit in considering motivation, then you are going to have to prove that. Until such time as I see that proof I will continue to question motivations, and I will continue to make allegations of bias when I feel they are appropriate.

          As for the argument/ question matter – I refer you to the title of the post: “Questions Rachel Hills didn’t ask…” I agree that no one is obliged to rebut anything about them in the public domain. It makes little sense, though, to allow it to stand uncontested for years, only to finally issue a defamation threat in an effort to prevent a writer repeating what you have never objected to in the first place. Reist could have refuted my claims from any one of her many public platforms. She could have come here and confronted me. She could have ignored my post as she’s ignored all posts up till that one.

          I must admit I am becoming extremely tired of commenters such as yourself ignoring/evading analysis of this defamation threat in their critiques and instead focusing entirely on me. So from now on, unless you are willing to analyse the threat of defamation against a blogger as thoroughly as you wish to analyse my post, I think I will decline to enter into further discussion on the issues.

          Like

          • Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

            I’ll put this simply so those who come here with verbosity and grandeur, and a claim to seek answers when all they do is pose questions, can understand a simplistic take.
            I have seen the ‘preliminary sketches’ of the ACL and MTR vision for my society.
            I abhor it.I’m very much not alone in that view.If that offends your conservative sensibilities,tough titties.I choose MY morality.

            I am also getting bored with the crappy good cop, bad cop approach where ‘sphincters’ come to a blog pose as an intellectual for five posts and then turn to trolling when they fail to corner an argument, or a direct question gets slung in their direction.
            It is also pathetic to see people charading,dodging and weaving when asked to state a position on Freedom of Speech or Choice.

            Sadder still is that those who profess to have the ‘highest’ moral codes do these things.
            So my take on what I have seen of the generous Christian spirits,is the opposite of what they preach.I can see why some people try to distance themselves from such malignancy.
            And that’s why “I believe” the questions will keep coming on motivation,connection affiliation.

            Like

          • Sam March 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

            Sorry Jennifer, I hadn’t seen your 2:08 or 2:31 comments when I wrote my 2:37 comment. I will now consider your 2:08 and 2:31 comments and get back to you.

            To obviate any confusion, though, I intended the word “absolutely” to be entirely synonymous with “yes”. I didn’t mean to imply any kind of rigidity or stubbornness on my part. My views are not fixed and I aim to give your arguments full consideration (which is different, as I’m sure you appreciate, to promising to agree with them). I hope that my interactions thus far have demonstrated this.

            Like

            • Doug Quixote March 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

              You have demonstrated a remarkable determination and loquaciousness as a concern troll.

              Top marks, Now go some place you are wanted.

              Like

            • DontSueMeMTR March 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

              Okay, I’m going to guess that you people have had a lot more experience with trolls here than what I ever have, but I’m not so quick to write Sam off. Mainly because she’s arguing from a logical position (as far as I can tell) that isn’t so very far from one that I myself occupied not so long ago.

              However, where I am now lost is this idea that one should be able to make predictions of future behaviour by looking at past behaviour, but without any consideration whatsoever to assumptions of motivation. Wouldn’t that only work if people were “programmed” to respond in set ways to certain stimulus? I honestly don’t see how it would be workable. It sounds like an attempt to abandon practicality for logical purity.

              Like

          • Sam March 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

            JW: I am not interested in persuasive moral arguments. I’m interested in evidenced based arguments. … If Reist has no evidence that a Kanye West video has destructive effects on those who view it, is she not simply saying she finds it offensive, therefore it is wrong and must be censored? This is indeed a “persuasive moral argument” for those who share her tastes in popular culture and her beliefs about the sexual representation of women. But for those of us who don’t, it’s a kind of tyranny.

            SW: When I say I’m interested in whether an argument is persuasive, I mean I’m interested in whether I find it persuasive, not whether there exists a person for whom it is persuasive. Defining “persuasive arguments” as all arguments that are considered persuasive by at least one person (or some other arbitrary number of people) seems pointless to me.

            So I certainly do not consider Reist’s argument (that a Kanye West video should be censored) to be a “persuasive moral argument”. I think that, by saying you are interested in “evidence-based arguments”, what you are really saying is that, for you, arguments that are not based on evidence are not persuasive. I think that is a commendable position and I tend to agree with it. But if your method of assessing the persuasiveness of an argument is to ask whether or not the argument is evidence-based, then how are motivations relevant?

            JW: I am someone who is very interested in motivations. You are not. You say you don’t care. It will serve no purpose for you to argue that I am somehow at fault in my infinite curiousity, or that because you don’t share it, my curiousity is irrelevant. I wouldn’t attempt to persuade you to take a path you consider futile. Neither will I be persuaded to relinquish my interest in human behaviour because someone else doesn’t share it! This is something on which we must agree to differ, as I feel no interest in either defending my curiosity or persuading you of its worth!

            SW: But there is a big difference between being “interested in motivations” and believing that it is productive and/or harmless to speculate as to people’s motivations in the context of public policy debates. It doesn’t worry me that you are “interested in motivations”, just as it wouldn’t worry me if you were interested in astrology. What worries me, and what I want to contest, is the notion that it is productive and/or harmless to speculate as to people’s motivations in the context of public policy debates. (Just as I would want to contest the notion that it is productive and/or harmless to rely on astrology in the context of public policy debates.)

            If you believe that this notion (that it is productive and/or harmless to speculate as to people’s motivations in the context of public policy debates) is incontestable, then you’re right, there’s no point continuing our discussion. But I think that would be a real shame, because I believe that it is only through open and willing discussion that we are able to learn from each other and get closer to a shared truth. You state that “[you] wouldn’t attempt to persuade [me] to take a path you consider futile.” Why not? I have been persuaded many times to take paths that I once considered futile, and I believe I am now better off for having taken those paths. Furthermore, I am extremely grateful to the people who persuaded me to take them. Do you really think you have nothing to learn from me? I would never dare suggest that I have nothing to learn from someone, no matter who that person is.

            JW: You don’t feel it is productive for me to have written as I did on Reist’s religious beliefs. Hundreds of people disagree with you!

            SW: I’m sure they do. But what does that prove? I aim to convince you that your 10 January post was unproductive (or at least cause you to fully understand why I think it was unproductive) using thoughtful engagement with your arguments as well as reasoned arguments of my own, not by referring to the popularity of my view.

            JW: The amount of interest and debate generated by that obscure blog post has been phenomenal, and it continues. The topic has been thoroughly chewed over from several perspectives, and it continues. I am delighted to have provoked this amount of discussion by so many different thinkers and commentators. It wasn’t my intention: the only reason this has received such attention is because Reist threatened me with defamation. I wrote the post for my regular readers, who are very familiar with my on going challenges to Reist’s claims.

            SW: It’s true that I only became aware of your 10 January post as a result of Reist’s defamation threat, such that I would never have been moved to think about, or comment on, whether or not your 10 January post was productive, had Reist not made that threat (or had you not made the threat public). However, I don’t really see the relevance of this fact for our current discussion. We all encounter other people’s views in a huge variety of ways, whether it’s a random meeting in a pub, or following a random hyperlink on Twitter. I don’t think the conditions that give rise to those encounters, or one’s relationship with the person expressing the views, has any bearing on whether or not it is appropriate for one to engage with those views in a critical way.

            On this issue, I’d like to share a quote from a great book called Left Legalism/Left Critique, by Wendy Brown and Janet Halley:

            “A colleague of ours was giving a paper on the vexed problem of veiling among contemporary Islamic women and Western feminist responses to it. From the audience, an American woman of South Asian descent challenged our colleague, a feminist Arab secularist, for intervening in a domain properly belonging to religious Arab women: ‘What right have you to be saying such things?’ ‘Right?’ our colleague responded. ‘I have no right—I have a critique!’”

            JW: If you are going to state definitively that they are of no relevance, I’d ask you to prove that. If you are going to claim that there is never any benefit in considering motivation, then you are going to have to prove that. Until such time as I see that proof I will continue to question motivations, and I will continue to make allegations of bias when I feel they are appropriate.

            SW: Ok, but surely I would be equally justified in saying: “if you are going to state definitively that allegations of bias are *sometimes* relevant, you are going to have to prove that”? What’s the difference? The point is that we *disagree* regarding whether or not allegations of bias are ever relevant. As a result, attempting to unilaterally impose the burden of proof on each other is not going to work. But that doesn’t mean that disagreement is necessarily the end of the line. Faced with this disagreement, we can either refuse to discuss the issue (which will get us nowhere), or we can interrogate each other’s claims, try to understand each other’s reasoning, and engage in a dialogue that might resolve (or at least narrow) our disagreement.

            JW: As for the argument/ question matter – I refer you to the title of the post: “Questions Rachel Hills didn’t ask…”

            SW: I know that is the title. But the title doesn’t change the fact that the post contains many, many arguments/claims to knowledge regarding Reist and her beliefs. Most of the questions contained in the post are not mere questions but are questions that make a claim to knowledge.

            JW: I agree that no one is obliged to rebut anything about them in the public domain. It makes little sense, though, to allow it to stand uncontested for years, only to finally issue a defamation threat in an effort to prevent a writer repeating what you have never objected to in the first place. Reist could have refuted my claims from any one of her many public platforms. She could have come here and confronted me. She could have ignored my post as she’s ignored all posts up till that one.

            SW: I understand your point about Reist having plenty of opportunities to object to certain long-standing claims about her beliefs. The issue, however, is that Reist’s failure to contest such claims should only be considered relevant in certain contexts. If one was trying to assess Reist’s “integrity” or “character”, for the purpose of deciding whether one might like to enjoy meeting her for coffee, for example, or for the purpose of deciding whether to vote for her in an election, then I accept it might be relevant to consider Reist’s failure to contest those claims. But I don’t believe that the apparent integrity or character of a person should ever be considered relevant to the persuasiveness of the arguments that that person makes in a public policy debate (for the reasons I have already put forth).

            JW: I must admit I am becoming extremely tired of commenters such as yourself ignoring/evading analysis of this defamation threat in their critiques and instead focusing entirely on me. So from now on, unless you are willing to analyse the threat of defamation against a blogger as thoroughly as you wish to analyse my post, I think I will decline to enter into further discussion on the issues.

            SW: I’m not a defamation lawyer. I don’t have a considered opinion as to the merits of Reist’s allegations. (I don’t even purport to have a considered opinion regarding the existence of a law against defamation, although if you forced me to commit one way or the other I would probably say that the existence of such a law is ok in principle.) In those circumstances, I don’t feel comfortable analysing the threat of defamation in any detail. However, I do sympathise with the position you find yourself in, and I definitely don’t think anyone deserves to have their livelihood jeopardised so severely as a result of something they published online.

            As for your demand that unless I analyse the threat of defamation as thoroughly as I have analysed your 10 January post you will not engage in further discussion, all I can say is that I’m disappointed, and that I think you are missing the point of “critique”. I refer you to the passage I quoted above from Brown and Halley. I don’t believe that pre-conditions should ever be placed on critical engagement.

            Like

            • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

              Sam: “I aim to convince you that your 10 January post was unproductive (or at least cause you to fully understand why I think it was unproductive)”

              I have no idea how you are defining “productive.”

              You are not going to “convince” me of anything. As for “causing me to fully understand” your opinion – I have no need to “fully understand.” I accept your opinion, I see why you hold it. That is enough. I don’t share your desire to continue interrogation until we resolve or narrow our disagreement. I am very comfortable with disagreement, especially with a total stranger whose name I don’t know. There is a limit to my willingness to engage with anonymous commenters.

              I have already explained my position on the relevance of motivation. I would only add that motivations and biases can and frequently do influence what evidence is presented and what is withheld. Public policy is argued by individuals and groups seeking to influence societal norms. Not all are entirely altruistic. The evidence they present to support their arguments may be selected to serve their purposes rather than the greater good. Knowing their motivations and their biases assists us to make informed choices about the validity of the arguments they present.

              As for the defamation discussion – I was referring to the politics of such actions, not the legal aspects.

              Do I have something to learn from you? In my experience there’s almost always something to learn from engagement. However, I feel we are now repeating arguments to no good purpose. Your arguments against the Jan 10 post are clear – I get them, you don’t need to repeat or reframe them. If you are expecting to continue this exchange until I agree with you, you will be disappointed, and I will get very bored.

              Like

            • Doug Quixote March 10, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

              Why bother, Jennifer? Sam is presenting your arguments in an undergraduate strawman argument fashion, and not surprisingly, defeating said strawmen.

              The point is and always has been that MTR’s evidence is anecdotal and insufficient to ground the arguments she raises and the political action she seeks and demands.

              That this evidence is insufficient therefore implies that there are other unrevealed reasons and motivations for arguing as she does. She refuse to reveal any further reasons or motivations. We are therefore left to draw inferences from her history and from her associations, and she cannot be heard to complain if those inferences are not those she would prefer us to draw.

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              • Jennifer Wilson March 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

                I know, why bother is a good question – because I’m too polite???!! Because I used to teach undergraduates and it’s my habit to respond to their questioning and I forget I don’t have to anymore?
                Your summary is all that’s needed.

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  53. paul walter March 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    What a colossal mound of prolix I find on my pc today.
    does it boil down to the idea that I should not be aware of the affiliations of public figures discoursing on issues on the basis that I might be sceptical of the argument, because of the affiliation?
    Sam, so insulting. Don’t you think the average person can differentiate between contextual back ground and the merits of an argument as to its own merits.?
    This late in the day, a little more sophistication, please…

    Like

  54. Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Speaking of Gina.
    At least the judiciary can see through a high profile ruse.
    Kinda restores ones faith in the law.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-09/rinehart-loses-appeal/3879574

    She has enough money for ten security guards watching her around the clock,why should see claim special status?

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  55. paul walter March 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Am wondering if “Sam” is not actually the south aussie troll, a female, recently engaged in de railing elsewhere at the Save St Clair park FB in Adelaide’s west, where a development project engineered by state Labor (on this occasion) has provoked anger in the public.
    This individual would be associated with the DLP-style right of the ALP, so social conservatism would be well within the ambit..

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      There has been someone here previously, the style is familiar.

      Like

      • Sam March 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

        Yes, I think I have commented on this blog once or twice before. (I’ve been sporadically checking it since 10 January because I think you have interesting things to say!) No idea who PW is talking about though.

        Like

  56. Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Time for a policy of personal email addresses only,or proof of ID? Perhaps?
    Why would anyone object to that,anyway?
    (Those regulars here have established themselves,so it would only affect newbies)
    Other forums I have used actually establish the ‘authenticity’ of a person before allowing membership.If that is too much to ask,I think a discussion forum is better off without them.
    In this day and age a person can set up an account through a legit ISP specifically for Forums if required,and with a good security system the argument about privacy and spam does not stack up.
    It is certainly a question JW could raise with experts in this field.

    Just reviewing the overt hate expressed and stalking narcissism of the usual suspects at other blogs,proves the ******** folk are not likely to relent their favourite bone.
    It says a lot about their depth (lack of) of character.Conservative Christianity does have a spine made of hypocrisy.
    I suspect they all excel (ITOHO) in philosophy/writing/politics/religion area.They have way too much time so they must be milking the public purse.Many of them probably ‘belong’ to ‘the’ big Church,more wasted time.

    The trolling here is more a ‘shut down’ movement,not a mischief making individual IMHO.
    (Troll may of course be one person with many heads)
    It’s hard not to conclude whose view they/she/him/it is trying to protect.The thing is they are dousing the flames with petrol, and polluting their cause.

    I’ve seen such Trolling previously at the ‘another place’ , who did nothing to counteract it and its damaging effect.
    For quite some time the troll/s got their wish and the blogs went quieter, as people steered clear.
    As I recall the topics they smothered were all topics which fundamental Christians go bananas about.
    Abortion,the death penalty,gays etc.
    Topics where they could proudly display their infamous ignorance and hypocrisy for all to see.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      BTW everyone we have been Pandora-ed by the National Library: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/tep/130893

      Like

      • Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

        “Society, Satire, Fiction, Fun Stuff ”

        Guess the Canberrian lawyers didn’t read that bit.
        I like to think of myself as all the above.

        And you JW?

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      • DontSueMeMTR March 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

        Congratulations on the Pandora-ing.

        I’m assuming it’s a good thing.

        Like

        • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

          Yes, it’s a very good thing. We’ve been archived as a blog of interest!

          Like

  57. Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Prawn?

    It’s your Blog JW, I guess you can monitor and see what happens.

    If they are Trolling I am sure you can always hit the delete button.

    That said a Trojan horse on a phishing trip is not uncommon.

    Segue:
    I wonder if Ross will show up.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      LOL. No the blog. Am monitoring.

      Like

      • Doug Quixote March 10, 2012 at 8:41 am #

        I notice ‘comments closed’ at Tammois’ site. Perhaps you should consider doing the same, certainly on older threads?

        Do you have a policy on this?

        Like

        • Jennifer Wilson March 10, 2012 at 9:30 am #

          I’ve never bothered with closing comments, but am re thinking some things now. I haven’t got an option for a general discussion thread, which I’d like, and may set up. I work all this stuff out as I go, and when the need arises.

          Like

  58. paul walter March 9, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    After reading Lola’s comments here today and revisiting the Tankard Reist site, with its usual obsessions about sex’n sin and so forth, all to related in greater detail in the book prominently displayed for sale. I returned some what bemused to discover that Lola had also offered a short statement on the sadly neglected International Woman’s Day thread, so powerful in its way, that it nearly knocked me out of my chair.
    I could ask why I saw no corresponding concern for the real and grievous suffering of the actually living, the pr#n of poverty and suffering that comes of a callous international system, at other sites and right throughout the blogosphere, lest some think I single out a certain site, as to a vast forgotten issue at least acknowledged here by Dr Wilson.
    Where are people’s priorities and sense of proportion?

    Like

    • Hypocritophobe March 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      Obviously they were far too busy cutting and pasting from reruns of the Benny Hill Show footage, in the belief he is the Minister for Women’s Interests, and needs to be put to the Vlad ‘experience’.
      Tragically they missed the boat by 20 years.

      Oh well,living in the 50’s was never meant to be easy.

      There are far too many ‘worthy’ girls to save from naughty pop music lyrics, to worry about those other heathen sinners in 3rd world countries.

      Which reminds me,I need a new pair of Nikes for the Walk Against Wank.

      Hypocrites they be. One and all.

      Like

    • lola March 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

      TYVM Paul,
      I ask myself the same questions. Interestingly, the Kony debate on the net has pushed this into a front row debate in our home. Particularly as it seems the right wing christian conservatives in the US have opposed intervention in the LRA as it is a christian organisation that kills muslims.

      My GS spent today at a triathlon supporting his friend who was running to raise money for the Royal Childrens Hospital. They are both aged 8. I hold so much hope for young people when this sort of stuff happens.

      He is also asking questions about “sexy” and what it means, so we have some very wonderful discussions.

      Like

  59. silkworm March 11, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    I don’t think it’s fair to say MTR’s arguments flow from her Christian beliefs. I think there are basically two types of Christians – conservatives and liberals – and these two types of Christians are at war with each other. I would characterize MTR’s beliefs as “conservative Christian.” I am sure there are many Christians, who could be identified as liberal, who would disagree with MTR on reproductive issues. However, having said that, I would like to know where these liberal Christians are, and why they haven’t spoken up.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 11, 2012 at 7:43 am #

      Yes, I agree there are different types of Christians who hold various beliefs about moral issues. I agree with your last point, and have wondered that myself at times.

      Like

  60. silkworm March 11, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    The duplicity — perhaps a better term would be “intellectual dishonesty” — of MTR resides in the way she dresses up her religious arguments in “secular” language.

    The same intellectual dishonesty occurs in Tammois’ article where she presents what she first calls the “pro-life/anti-choice” side of the abortion, but then presents the religious side of the argument using the secular term “life” when in fact the real religious argument is that it is the soul that enters the foetus at conception.

    If my memory serves me correctly, the shift from arguing about the beginnings of life to the beginnings of the soul occurred in the 70s, as a response by the Catholic church to the rise of feminism.

    I think it is important that feminists (BTW, I am male) continue to point out the intellectual dishonesty of religious people posing as secularists through their use of secular language to describe what are essentially religious positions.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson March 11, 2012 at 11:37 am #

      Oh, well spotted, silkworm, and well said. “the real religious argument is that it is the soul that enters the foetus at conception.” Yes, indeed!

      Like

      • DontSueMeMTR March 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

        I don’t think I’d go as far to say that everyone who thinks life begins at conception is being “intellectually dishonest”. Sometimes they are just wrong.

        Like

    • Hypocritophobe March 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

      Thanks for that 7:30ReportLand.
      The guilt was really getting to me.I could feel the Lord breathing down my neck.
      You filled the worship gap in my Church free day.
      I feel I am well ‘up to date’ now.

      The Drug?
      Gold!

      Like

  61. Hypocritophobe March 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Look up:
    “Motivated Inference”

    Like

  62. 730reportland March 12, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    DASHBOARD / SETTINGS / DISCUSSION
    Hi Jennifer, I just cleared a few sales-trolls from my blog, you may like the settings above, wink, wink.
    Tip, choose `mystery-man` avatar to show those who don`t have a WP account, may reduce trollage.

    Like

    • Hypocritophobe March 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      I see Gina is on the squirm.
      I bet she wishes she ate her young,now.
      Perhaps the ‘songs’ of rightful owners of the wealth originally usurped by Lang Hancock,are resonating within the Rinehart tribe.

      Thankfully ‘dirty laundry’, is a euphemism.

      Like

  63. lola March 12, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/online-erotic-tales-hit-the-spot-20120311-1usot.html
    ssssh, don’t tell the thought police!

    Women want to be sexual!!! Whodathunkit.

    Next, she will be trying to ban e-readers.

    Like

  64. Wise Warrior June 10, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    Please do the right thing and spread the truth so we can blow the lies and cover ups out of the water

    Like

  65. Latest Playstation News June 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the
    hang of it!

    Like

    • paul walter June 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      LPN, the Athenian philosopher Socrates was described as the wisest man in Athens, but rejected the idea, claiming all he knew was that he knew nothing.
      You are right to grasp some of the complexity, it does have shades of grey, does raise questions about belief, the search for an ultimate, foolproof definition of right and wrong and to what extent peoples views are built in or hardwired, or modified by experience.
      It is about free will and countering this, determinism, the idea that things and people are already set up to turn out the way they do, even if they beleive to the contrary.
      It is metaphysics, talking in the abstract of preconditions for existence and life, value and meaning, that we can’t hope to know.
      Does god exist? No one knows this side of the grave.
      Do we really know what god would expect of us anyway, or is spirituality defined more in terms of the sense of right and wrong, truth or lies we experience when seeking recourse to “nous” and conscience, in a universe maybe devoid of a master being and without point or purpose that people ascribe to life’s events.
      The thread as you see, developed as part of a long term disagreement between MTR and Jennifer Wilson, based on assumptions not immediately (dis)provable. Wilson questioned the seeming reluctance of Tankard Reist to discuss her personal religious beliefs in relation to sexual representation issues, particularly involving advertising and “sexualisation” involving teenagers and even younger.
      Has it meant Wilson is in favour of lax sexual behaviour because she is cautious about censorship, or MTR a muddled tyrant because she wants tighter porn/abuse rules?”.
      As you said, it’s more complex than that and that’s to be expected, given the human condition.

      Like

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