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  #161  
Old 11 June 2018, 02:22 PM
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Glad you're still here, ASL; sorry you've been sick; take your time.

(One reason that I like having this sort of conversation is that it allows for taking one's time. It's possible to think over what the other person(s) said for a while, and consider and sometimes on consideration re-vamp one's own opinion, before responding.)
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  #162  
Old 11 June 2018, 03:47 PM
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Is that a fundamental disagreement, or is the fundamental disagreement whether or not you think all people have an undeniable/inalienable right to life? The latter seems more fundamental to me but, as erwins notes, it may turn out that people on opposing sides of the death penalty discussion don't disagree. It's possible to believe that there is no such thing as an inalienable right or that the right to life is not inalienable or that even supposedly "inalienable" rights can be taken away through due process (which I would argue makes it "alienable") but still come to the conclusion that we should remove the death penalty on other grounds....
I see your point, but that kind of re-framing often prevents the discussions the OP is talking about. It leads to the, "I'm not talking to someone who has loathsome opinions" argument. Its a weak point designed to slam the door and blame the other person for being a piece of crap, rather than having a discussion.
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  #163  
Old 11 June 2018, 06:52 PM
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I get magazines out of the library -- often several weeks or months after publication -- and read them at lunch or in the bathroom. By coincidence I found myself reading one in the February Scientific American which is relevant to this thread; link is to Salon because I haven't got a subscription, but if you've got a Scientific American subscription you could go there directly.

https://www.salon.com/2018/01/03/are...truth_partner/
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  #164  
Old 12 June 2018, 03:54 AM
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Interesting article, TL; thanks for sharing. I wish they'd gone one step further and asked someone moderate or undecided on the subject to observe the exchange and note the effect of each discussion on that person's views. The conclusion "the more we argue to learn, the more we will feel that there is no single objective truth and different answers can be equally right" seems like it might actually support refusing to engage in such an open discussion on subjects such as evolution or climate change, or anything where you don't want to give any credence to the opposition.

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Originally Posted by erwins View Post
It feels unfair, one-sided, to have to do this work. I resent that, having worked on these issues myself, and on being emotionally aware, I have to deal with people who haven't, and don't want to, and who act in ways that may disgust me. I do think that I have to deal with them, and what they do, one way or another. And I know that writing them off as not worth even talking to isn't going to get us anywhere.
Bolding mine. Do you, though, necessarily? We both live in solidly blue states. Even if we were so persuasive that we could get anyone we talked to onto our side, do we have enough opportunities to talk to enough people to swing an election? Is there a better use for the energy we'd spend trying?

Those that support engaging with our opponents: do you see this as a moral obligation, a best practice, or just something that can't hurt to try? If there is some duty owed, is it to our opponents, or to the people they would hurt? I admit I bristle a little at the implication that I ought to engage in something that to me seems fruitless; the question looks a lot different from the angle of people explaining why they choose to engage even though it doesn't usually yield tangible results.
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  #165  
Old 12 June 2018, 04:43 AM
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The conclusion "the more we argue to learn, the more we will feel that there is no single objective truth and different answers can be equally right" seems like it might actually support refusing to engage in such an open discussion on subjects such as evolution or climate change, or anything where you don't want to give any credence to the opposition.
Except that the "opponent" in such a discussion would be likely to also be shifting.

And I believe the article was also discussing that there are cases in which there is an objective truth to a matter. They weren't talking about thinking that answers to "what's the cube of 14?" have no objective truth. They were talking about political matters, as often lying somewhere between "what's the cube of 14?" and "does peanut butter icecream taste good"? I don't think political issues always come into the category of "both answers are equally right"; but I also don't think it's necessary, for instance, to claim that "killing three year olds is good" can be an "equally right statement" in order to think that people can disagree as to what course of action will wind up killing fewer three year olds.

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Bolding mine. Do you, though, necessarily? [ . . . ]

Those that support engaging with our opponents: do you see this as a moral obligation, a best practice, or just something that can't hurt to try? If there is some duty owed, is it to our opponents, or to the people they would hurt? I admit I bristle a little at the implication that I ought to engage in something that to me seems fruitless; the question looks a lot different from the angle of people explaining why they choose to engage even though it doesn't usually yield tangible results.
We're living in the same country; and on the same planet. If Trump can't wall out the world, the world can't wall out Trump, either.

I wouldn't call it a moral obligation, exactly. Nobody can do everything; and not everybody has to do the same sort of thing. But I think a) something is owed to the people who get hurt and b) in some sense, we owe it to ourselves -- not to speak with all individuals we can't or even just don't want to deal with, but to speak with, or at least read, at least some people who we disagree with. Otherwise -- I think I'm too tired to phrase this right now; I should probably just go to bed. But I'll try anyway and hope I don't regret it in the morning: otherwise, we risk winding up in a tiny little group of a few people repeating the same things to each other, and our own minds shrink to fit. It gets boring in there. And it gets dangerous; because we start thinking that all the other people are essentially evil.

I don't think this means reasonable people need to talk with literal Nazis; or with people who do want to set the cat on fire. But, short of those people, I also don't think it's true that there are rarely tangible results. I just don't think the results are usually immediate; so it may seem, in the short term, that there aren't any.
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  #166  
Old 12 June 2018, 04:07 PM
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Thorny locust pretty much said what I was thinking about when I wrote that. And I guess I'm ultimately thinking about different types of discussion, listening, empathizing.

There are one on one, in person discussions, there are internet and social media discussions, and then there are things beyond my direct control, like party rhetoric, and candidate messages, etc.

It keeps coming up, so I want to emphasize again that I'm not talking about necessarily moderating positions. I'm talking about listening to people with different views. Empathizing means saying, I know this is hard, it affects you, and here's why we still need to do it, because it's the right thing to do, and also reasons x, y, and z. Sometimes, you might learn something that makes things better for everyone: oh, you still disagree, but if it's happening, it would be easier for you if we implemented it that way instead of this way? That's not a problem -- let's do it that way.

I think, too, that people are able to change their minds (and behavior) about even pretty extreme things. I've seen both personal and social changes that are the basis for thinking that. And I don't think that happens by just shouting "you're wrong -- and evil for even thinking that!" at them.

It seems to me that the social disapproval/that topic can't even be discussed approach might not work when you have a large enough group opposing it. Then it isn't "society" that disapproves, it's just that other group. So the groups become more separate, and don't care if the other side disapproves. Or, as we are now, tend to revel in the other side's disapproval as proof that we are right. But then we are polarized, and echo-chambery, which I don't think is a great outcome.

Last edited by erwins; 12 June 2018 at 04:13 PM.
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  #167  
Old 12 June 2018, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
The conclusion "the more we argue to learn, the more we will feel that there is no single objective truth and different answers can be equally right" seems like it might actually support refusing to engage in such an open discussion on subjects such as evolution or climate change, or anything where you don't want to give any credence to the opposition.
I can see your point about applying that rule to things like whether one race is superior, or, in Thorny Locust's terms, whether it's OK to set a cat on fire.

And I suspect you are referring to lay discussions of evolution and climate change, but I want to point out that challenges to accepted science should never, in my view, be taboo as long as they are made on the same terms. If a climate scientist came up today with an alternate hypothesis that would displace the climate change hypothesis, and it fit with the data, and made correct predictions, etc. Then that would deserve further scientific discussion, testing, etc. Science isn't about having an orthodoxy, and it gets into trouble when it develops unchallengeable ideas.

On another note, I think it might be hard to come up with very many positions on which you believe there is just one right answer, without any room for nuance and gradations that might also be right. I don't think it gets you to a position of "they're all equally right" though. I liked the article, but I think it's a problem to categorize into only the two categories. There can be a range of right answers without eliminating the possibility of a range of wrong answers.

For example, it seems like "all humans should have equal rights" should be a right/wrong position, and at the same time, what we mean by that, and what exceptions we make, might vary a bit. Like, what about children? What about national borders? What about convicted murderers? What about wealth and income inequality among families? Among countries? That I might differ on some of those points from you doesn't mean I necessarily think you're wrong, if we're generally in agreement. But there are also many many positions I would say are wrong, like exceptions based on race or sexual orientation. So it's an issue with more than one right answer, but not where all answers are equally right.

Oh, and I missed this point earlier. I don't think anyone has to engage in the way I'm talking about, especially in terms of in-person conversations. You know best what you can handle, who you're dealing with, and who your audience might be. I am convinced that it can make a difference on a person to person level, and in internet and social media discussions. I also think it could make a big difference in national politics. Putting ideology aside, think about the empathy of Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain" vs Hillary Clinton's more policy-focused style. And Trump didn't need to empathize, he was acting it out.

Last edited by erwins; 12 June 2018 at 05:15 PM.
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  #168  
Old 13 June 2018, 03:53 AM
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Is anyone listening to the interview with Peter Sagal on NPR right now? They just spent a good chunk of time talking about Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and how they've sometimes been able to get guests who are refusing all other news outlets because they didn't grill them about the thing they couldn't talk about, and those interviews could be humanizing in a way. It made me think of this thread.
https://www.scpr.org/programs/1A/2018/06/12/61203/
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  #169  
Old 13 June 2018, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
But I think a) something is owed to the people who get hurt and b) in some sense, we owe it to ourselves.
And I hear them saying you'll never change things
And no matter what you do it's still the same thing
But it's not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me


The Change, lyrics by Anthony M. Arata, R. Wayne Tester, sung by Garth Brooks.

This song is about doing right, whether or not it makes an obvious difference.

Seaboe
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  #170  
Old 14 June 2018, 01:52 PM
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And the world does change.

Does anybody here really think we're living in the same world, speaking specifically about who gets what civil rights, as people were two hundred years ago? Or, for that matter, as (some of us living) were in 1960?

-- it occurs to me that what doesn't change, and isn't likely to change as long as we're the same species we are now, is that we have to keep dealing with these issues. We're not likely to get the sort of change that means 'OK, now we can quit worrying about this until the end of time! The whole issue has been dealt with, forever and ever!' But that doesn't mean that we can't get drastic improvement.

-- erwins, I think that's a very good point about the possiblity of a range of right answers not eliminating the possibllity of a range of wrong answers. Different people do well on different diets; but nobody does well on a diet made up of nothing but arsenic and sugars. (Examples chosen specifically because one of them doesn't belong in a human diet at all; but given correct amounts, type, and proportion the other one does.)

(ASL, I hope you're not down sick again. Take care -- )
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  #171  
Old 14 June 2018, 02:20 PM
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I agree Thorny, I think some people forget just how much the world has changed in a very short time. When I was in high school no one, and I mean no one came out as gay. The idea that we'd even be talking about gay marriage wasn't even on the horizon. That people of my parents generation can not only accept that gay people can marry but that they can accept that there are gay people living openly as gay is pretty revolutionary. For that matter, for my parent's generation and even to some extent for mine the idea of couples routinely living together before marriage - even foregoing marriage completely despite buying a house together, having children together - is hard for some of us to accept. That doesn't mean we're right but it certainly means a lot of conversations have taken place and there have been a lot of meetings of the mind over some pretty fundamental issues!
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  #172  
Old 14 June 2018, 02:32 PM
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I couldn't even begin to list all the positive and dramatic change I've seen in civil rights since my childhood and I grew up in the 70s. I did not even know homosexuality existed until I was 12. I'd never so much as heard of a gay couple before then. Racial slurs weren't 'acceptable', but they were disturbingly common anyway.
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  #173  
Old 15 June 2018, 02:36 PM
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Okay... I'm back! I'm back!

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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Of course, humans sometimes say that humans don't have rights. Sometimes humans say that nobody's got a particular right -- the right to decide what name and pronoun they want to be called by, for instance. Sometimes humans say that people in an overall group don't have a particular right -- that women don't have a right to decide who if anyone to marry, that black people don't have a right not to be enslaved, that poor people don't have a right to eat. (Note: I'm not saying anybody on this board agrees with any of those examples; but they've all certainly been held, expressed, and enforced at various points during human history.)

And sometimes, as we're talking about immigration among other issues, humans say that what rights humans have depends on what side of a line they happened to be born on.
I think our ability to protect and defend rights certainly does get affected by borders, which in my view (if a right is not protected/defended, it's practically nonexistent) makes a claim of equal rights meaningless.

Also, I think there is a blurred line between rights and opportunity. But then again, equal opportunity may be as fundamental a right as any other. Is the opportunity to come to America one held equally by all humans, regardless of place/nationality of origin? Should it be? I’ll just say I think from a practical standpoint the answer is no to the first and, to the latter, not under our currently recognized (not just as recognized in America, but by most nations) definition of sovereignty.

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remember that I said it's crucially important that we say humans have rights? I think, leaving morality out of it for the moment, that purely on the practical level it's the only way we've got a chance of surviving.

During most of the time the human species has been on the planet, if things went horribly wrong on some other continent, or even on the other side of the river: the people doing reasonably well in another spot most likely didn't even know about it. And if they did know about it, the effect on their lives might well be minimal. And if the effect looked like being serious, maybe putting a wall around the town, or even killing all those starving people on the other side of the river, stood a significant chance of working.

During that whole long stretch of time, 'you've only got a right to the benefits of this community if you're part of it' may well have been an evolutionary advantage (though note that both technology and genes have spread from group to group throughout history and prehistory; very often to the advantage of people who were willing to take them in.)

But we're not living in that world any longer. We left it sometime between the Wright brothers and August 1945. And we're getting further away from that world all the time. Now, if something goes horribly wrong in Syria, in Korea, in Russia, in nearly anywhere: everybody in the world is in danger, whether that's immediately obvious or not. And not only in danger of missles: in danger of the repurcussions of desperate people all over the world.
It comes back to the problem of sovereignty. I don’t disagree with the idea of a global community that will impact conditions in the US, but the sticky thing is what’s to be done when there are serious problems elsewhere, perhaps that the government itself is happy to have going on (I’m sure Putin is very satisfied with controls on the media in Russia--perhaps would even like them to be tighter).

In all but the most extreme cases, this isn’t solved by taking in refugees, this is about influencing a government to not treat tens or hundreds of millions (or a billion-ish) people badly.

In the mostest extreme cases (forgive me for sounding like Trump) I’d even argue that it’s gone too far for refugees. I’ve posted previously (couple years back I think) about why I think relocating Syrian refugees to the US and even Canada and Europe may be misguided (diaspora and the loss of talent essential to rebuilding Syria) and it has nothing to do with a lack of care or a belief that they shouldn’t have the same rights as an American, only a concern for the practical implications of pulling a large portion (and the most well-off/well-educated portion, based on who has money to get out of the country, even via a boat from Turkey to Greece and the EU) out of the region and transplanting them somewhere far away.


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We can't wall out the world; it won't work. We can't even, in practice, wall out migrants; that doesn't work, either.
Nope, we sure can’t, but as I will later note neither of us seems to be opposed to controls on immigration and neither of us wants a literal wall.

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The choice we've got is to try to keep people out, and wind up with a permanent illegal underclass who citizens are taught to be terrified of, and who are themselves terrified of much of the population and in particular of law enforcement. So they won't call the cops. Sometimes, no matter what the reason is. And, again, everybody is endangered; citizens included.
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So the line certainly needs to be someplace before "everything". But can I ask, how much do you expect that you'd have to give up if, say, we did this:

-- allowed people who have been living and working in the country for years to do so legally and to have an actual potential path to citizenship, for themselves and both minor and aged/ill dependents, at least those who are already here

-- allowed farmers who've been having to go through a long and unnerving process every year, with no guarantee they'll be able to get help in time to get the job done, to instead be able to have workers who've learned how to do the job (no this is not unskilled anybody-can-do-it-well labor!) and who they're satisfied with come on long-term visas, year round if the work is there year round, with their minor and aged/ill dependents if necessary, and with a genuine path to citizenship if they want to move here permanently

-- ditto for other employers in fields in which there aren't enough workers otherwise available

-- allowed people in danger of their lives to apply for asylum, including again eventual citizenship
The trouble is, once they're here, is the best answer to get them out and do a better job of keeping them from coming back without permission, or is it to just have an amnesty every time there’s a push and thereby continue to incentivize the perpetuation of this much-maligned and mistreated underclass?

In short, if we solve this by the stroke of a pen (giving the vast majority of undocumented laborers and immigrants legal permanent resident status) what keeps this from happening again in a few years?

Quote:
-- instead of spending money on a barrier wall which will be an environmental disaster, tear more communities apart, and not work: spend that money on

a) decent housing, including family housing, for such applicants to stay in while they're being checked for contagious diseases, convictions for acts of violence, actual connections to terrorists (no, we wouldn't get everybody, but we could probably get the percentage down to less than the percentage of terrorists among citizens); and, while they're waiting, given education for both adults and children

and b) electronic surveillance along the border line. If people can actually get in legally there won't be nearly as many trying to get in illegally, and if people can actually get in legally those trying to circumvent the process might actually be up to something; so I agree we should do a reasonable amount of trying to catch them.

No, the USA can't fit everybody on the planet. But not everybody on the planet wants to come here. And a lot of the ones who do can't get here. If we actually did get inundated by people who are a net drain instead of a net benefit, even after they've been here a while, I'd reconsider. But I don't think it would happen.

We could even have a maximum number of people allowed in during any given year. But I think that number should be a whole lot higher than it is now; and that it should give preference, for a significant percentage of the number, to people in trouble.
Ah, well great then. It turns out we really do agree. It’s unfortunate this whole “wall as a symbol of a dichotomy between open borders and draconian restrictions” is not really representative of the range of options in between, but it has come to hijack the discussion. It’s like the wall has made what is and should be a nuanced issue into an absolute black and white discussion that will never come to anything because it’s not just about and never should have been about the wall, it’s about border control and immigration and how the two aren’t necessarily in opposition.

We can have more legal immigration, better conditions for immigrants, and tighter control of the border without a wall. Or so I think. But of course I can’t prove that, only posit that the money spent on a wall would be better spent, as you note, on electronic surveillance.

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Killing a child to punish someone for killing someone else's child, just became monstrously absurd and tragic; all the death penalty would do, was create another mother mourning the loss of her child, or to be more inclusive, create another family mourning the loss of someone they loved and cared about.
Ah, but is that the logic supporters of the death penalty are using? I'm sure you could find someone using something pretty close to that logic, but I bet you'd hear a lot more arguments based on deterrence or vague notions of justice.

Now, ask them to explain how they determined that there is a deterrent value or how a similar notion of justice might be expanded to other areas (and all the problems associated with inequity in application and whatnot) and maybe you'd get them thinking about it a little more, even if you didn't have the evidence on hand to sway them yourself.

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For a while, I volleyed more towards the statistics approach, believing that they were merely misinformed and if they saw that doing X regarding a social issue, would actually save them money and be a boon to society overall. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that there is a difference between someone who is merely misinformed and someone who is willfully ignorant. It also took me a while to realize that there are people who know this stuff, but don't care, or that they don't know and don't care.
The thing about the "statistics approach" is it can be exhausting. It's making a positive claim and can be easily brushed aside when you aren't armed with near perfect recall. And that's not without reason. A lot of people on "the other side" (whatever the issue is) will whip out statistics and cite studies that, on further inspection, do not stand up to rigor or don't say what they really say.

For instance, a lot of people opposed to allowing transgendered people serve or continue to serve in the military will cite a *study that suggested 41% (not 41% higher, but 41%) of the transgender population had attempted suicide. This is compared to 1.6% overall for the population and if true would seem like cause for concern. My first thought was that, even if true, this may be indicative of problems with acceptance (people who are stigmatized and outcast, literally, may tend to be more depressed and suicidal).

But then I also had some concerns over methodology and did some digging to find the study with this "41%" number. Based on the demographic information this study provided, I learned that respondents were almost (maybe even 100%) exclusively LGBT. The 23% portion of responders identified as "hetero" were not cisgendered heterosexual respondents, but explicitly described as female to male transgenders (that is, they identify as male) who preferred females and vice versa. And, again, keep in mind those most likely to be exposed to these pamphlets and respond to the study would have been people seeking help at community support groups and the like.

The 1.6% number for the genpop, on the other hand, came from existing government data (I don't remember if it was census data or ER admissions, either way, it was an apples to oranges comparison).

This was clearly a well-meaning study meant to highlight problems of depression, anxiety, and suicide within the LGBT community as worthy of greater attention. It was done by LGBT advocates who, in my view unfortunately, used a poor survey methodology to gather data which was then hijacked by anti-LGBT groups to prove that they were not well-suited to military service.

All this to say... You may be better off asking people for the data that supports their position and inviting them to critically examine it themselves, rather than thinking you can just throw a whole bunch of data back at them which they may not have the patience to read but will be happy to throw another study back at, as if the existence of "seemingly" conflicting data makes it a gray issue (and it may turn out the data either does not conflict or they have cited a study from a special interest group that does not stand up to scrutiny). Happens a lot when it comes to creationism vs. evolution (science).

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Originally Posted by Beachlife! View Post
I see your point, but that kind of re-framing often prevents the discussions the OP is talking about. It leads to the, "I'm not talking to someone who has loathsome opinions" argument. Its a weak point designed to slam the door and blame the other person for being a piece of crap, rather than having a discussion.
Ah, but that’s precisely the matter for discussion. How to have a talk with those people. Which is where starting off by asking as many questions as you can without showing your own cards may help. They can’t accuse you of holding a loathsome viewpoint if all you do is ask them some probing questions. Well, I mean, they can accuse you of all manner of things for daring to question them, but then they really may be the sort of person you can’t talk to.

BT

Okay, I’m stopping there for now, but one last thought. The same logic that bins conservatives who “support racist, sexist, bigoted, hateful, ignorant morons” in with the “racist, sexist, bigoted, hateful, ignorant morons” they allegedly support could also be used to convince, say, Sanders supporters that they should stay home and not vote “because Clinton supports/endorses X and therefore a vote for Clinton is a vote for X.”

And then you end up with Trump as President. Because you (g-you) didn’t want to “support someone who endorses loathsome thing X.”

*ETA: Link to study used to erroneously claim a 41% suicide rate for LGBT youth: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.e...port-Final.pdf

Last edited by ASL; 15 June 2018 at 02:52 PM. Reason: Include link to study
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  #174  
Old 15 June 2018, 03:09 PM
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Thanks, ASL. I'll think that one over and come back to it, maybe later today, maybe tomorrow or so -- at least if the internet connection lets me; I've been having problems with it. If I don't return to this for days on end, that's probably why.
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