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Posts Tagged ‘debate’

As if Stephen Conroy’s grand plan to protect us from the Internets wasn’t bad enough. Now his office has taken to attempting to stifle criticism:

On Tuesday, a policy advisor for Senator Conroy, Belinda Dennett, wrote an email to Internet Industry Association (IIA) board member Carolyn Dalton in an attempt to pressure Newton into reining in his dissent.

“In your capacity as a board member of the IIA I would like to express my serious concern that a IIA member would be sending out this sort of message. I have also advised [IIA chief executive] Peter Coroneos of my disappointment in this sort of irresponsible behaviour ,” the email, read.

It is understood the email was accompanied by a phone call demanding that the message be passed on to senior Internode management.

Newton said he found the bullying “outrageous” and Senator Conroy was “misusing his influence as a Commonwealth Minister to intimidate a private dissenting citizen into silencing his political views”.

I hoped that abandoning conservative government would have made a social and digital nanny state less likely. The Rudd Government has done some things for Australia that I am proud of. It has done some things that I disagree with. But Stephen Conroy’s portfolio is the one part of our current Government that I am truly disgusted with.

The Government is being by hit by this from all sides – and they bloody well deserve it.

On the upside, I am proud to be an Internode customer and a Whirlpool community member – well done, Mark Newton.

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A recent post by Coby at A Few Things Ill Considered feeds into something I have been thinking about lately. He says:

I poke into Jennifer Marohasy’s blog from time to time, though I am no longer a regular commenter. I gave that up a couple of years ago but still take any special cases as opportunities to chime in again.

In the comments, Chris Crawford discusses giving up on participating at Marohasy’s site:

I finally gave up over there — despite my best efforts, it seemed that everybody was determined to be nasty. I seek out places where I can have a constructive disagreement with others, because you never learn from those who agree with you. I also continue in my naive belief that, if you maintain a civil tongue and concentrate on the issues, you can get through to people. I keep disproving it to myself, waiting a few weeks, then telling myself, “Gee, maybe if I were a little more tactful…” and off I go again, on another futile exercise.

Coby responded with this:

Keep it up! It needs to be there for the record and for the lurkers, the ones who don’t say anything but do read. You also admirably demostrated the required tactic of sticking to the point. These arguments get completely fruitless when all kinds of irrelevant tangents are introduced, drowning out any hope of real discourse.

And the discussion about the relative merits of continuing to post one’s disagreement or getting out of the debate has gone on from there.

Now, the same issue arises about a whole range of blogs dealing with a whole range of issues. Regular readers of this blog will know that I tend to post about my disagreement with what Andrew Bolt, among others, argues. Now, sometimes I will also post my thoughts in the comments at Bolt’s blog, but often I don’t.

Why not? Because, based on my experience of the responses to comments by “teh Left” (including myself) on that site, a comment is unlikely to either change opinions or open a meaningful debate. Bolt’s site is far from the worst on the Internets in terms of commenter vitriol – hardly surprising given the moderation at News Ltd’s “blogs” – but it still gives one the type of feeling that normally comes from banging one’s head on the desk.

In the comments above, Coby suggests that it is important to continue posting for the sake of the lurkers, even if the typical commenters on a site are vocally resistant to reasoned debate. I tend to think that posting a critique of someone’s work here strikes a compromise between Chris and Coby’s experiences. If someone is open to different information and interested in the topic, then hopefully they will find their way here. The search engine stats on this site suggest that at least some people are getting here while looking for information relating to a person and/or issue I have commented on – of course, if News Ltd would follow the lead of some other sites such as CNN and enable trackbacks. But obviously the only way to reach all of the people who read all of the material you are disputing is to comment at the source.

Possum Comitatus built a (well-deserved) reputation for polling analysis by posting critiques of the “traditional ” polling wisdom as put forward by Dennis Shanahan and others. But, to my knowledge, The Australian has never given him a direct mention despite publishing critiques of the shadowy realm that is the blogosphere. Similarly, Christian Kerr managed to attack Larvatus Prodeo without mentioning them. Now both LP and Possum’s Pollytics have built a substantial readership, but those readers already know and value the information and discussion at those blogs. How can they reach the people who have read Shanahan or Kerr’s twaddle and don’t know any better? Well, Mark Bahnisch has employed one approach – ensuring the content of the blog will be picked up by the likely terms people will use if they search for more information.

So, making one’s disagreement accessible is one important issue. Another is the question of how to avoid having to repeat oneself endlessly. Barry Brook has adopted an interesting approach in commencing his “Spot the recycled denial” series (Part I and Part II) – he is posting quotes of the content he takes issue with and embedding hyperlinks that point to rebutting evidence and arguments.

I still find that the decisions about when to disagree at the original source, when to post my disagreement here and when to just completely disengage from the process are far from straightforward. As much as anything it seems to depend on my mood – if I am riled up enough then I will want to make sure my disagreement is heard by the original author. But I don’t seem to have a clear framework for making those decisions. I wonder if anyone does?

ELSEWHERE: On the topic of debating global warming, Coby has compiled a useful “How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic” resource.

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Reverse-framing

I posted a comment in response to the Blair/Bolt Watch Project’s formulation of Bolt’s Law:

Bolt’s Law: the ongoing process by which teh Right’s multiple moral crusades are becoming one giant, intertwined idea despite their complete lack of anything to do with each other.

It was a hastily written reaction to something that I have been bouncing around in my head for a while. In the absence of time to write a more cogent and detailed examination, I am reposting my comment here for the moment:

This postulation of Bolt’s Law fits in with other things I have been noticing in Bolt’s arguments of late. Not only is he conflating issues, but the line of argument on each issue is becoming identical. Two examples that I have seen in a lot of his recent writing (and others of teh Right):

1. Explicitly characterise the people on the other side of the argument as religious zealots and their argument as a faith-based rather than evidence-based one. He seems to have picked this up after Chris Uhlmann’s statement on Insiders that the argument for addressing climate change is a theological one picked up some press coverage. Just looking at the first page of Bolt’s blog right now, I can see references to “warming preachers”, “legalise-drugs zealots”, a media that is “punishingly evangelical about global warming”, “global warming seers”, “hairshirted finger waggers”, and fuck it I’m only halfway down the page but can’t do it any more. You get the idea.

2. To go along with the first line of argument, Bolt and others (e.g., Miranda Devine, who Bolt supports in this post today) propose that people are trying to stifle debate by telling the denailists that they are stupid and wrong. This is a parallel argument to one of the typical statements in support of teaching intelligent design – “opposing viewpoints should be heard” – except that, once again, one of those viewpoints is grounded not in evaluation of the scientific evidence but in trying to non-scientifically shape the evidence to fit a pre-ordained explanation.

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As expected – the claim and counter-claim about whether all legislation should be rammed through without parliamentary oversight or should be held up needlessly gets underway.

ELSEWHERE: Some commentary from Tim Dunlop – it’s interesting that Joe Hockey is happy to acknowledge that “payback” is part of the motivation for trying to stall legislation.

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I has it.

UPDATE: On the flipside is this tactic from the Opposition, which manages to both (i) stall the Government’s plan to eliminate a clear form of discrimination and (ii) implicitly suggest that homosexual partnerships are on a par with siblings and other carers rather than married or de facto heterosexual couples. There should not be delay for delay’s sake, but there should be scope for debate and careful consideration where it is appropriate. Of course, instead of a nuanced examination of the merits of each Bill, this week’s media coverage is more likely to be “Government: The Opposition wants to stop us from governing!!!” and “Opposition: The Government is circumventing Parliament!!!” in a recursive loop.

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Big Gun vs Red Julia

The IR czars are holding their National Press Club debate today – 12:30pm EDST on ABC (no indication in my TV guide of Nine/worm coverage). I’ll be in a cave, during that time, so I’ll have to catch up on it later.

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The good news: Joe Hockey and Julia Gillard are having a debate.

The bad news: It’s on Sunrise this morning. Based on last week’s Turnbull vs Garrett match-up, it won’t exactly break new ground or provide real debate, but it’s (hopefully) better than nothing.

UPDATE: Joe promised to resign as a Minister if there are any substantial changes to WorkChoices. I guess it’s easier to make a promise like that if you don’t think you’ll end up in Government and you’re busy enough trying to hold onto your seat, but he’s putting a lot of faith in his Captain.

UPDATE #2: Sunrise has a page up about the debate now, although no sign of a transcript yet. Elsewhere, Tim Dunlop points out that, according to Joe himself, the fairness test was not a change to the fundamentals of WorkChoices, which tells us how much today’s promise is worth.

UPDATE #3: The above Sunrise link now has the transcript.

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