RE: [OPE-L] "Impractical" Rules?

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@CLASSIC.MSN.COM)
Mon, 9 Feb 98 17:57:01 UT

A response to the PIAF:

From: on behalf of Michael Williams
Sent: Monday, February 09, 1998 5:38 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] "Impractical" Rules?

"Andrew (or perhaps Alan could do it it for you), subject this post of yours
to the kind
of treatment that you mete out to others."


" Ask yourself:

1. Why have you raised this analogy, here and now?"


(a) both cases deal with rules.

(b) in both cases, instead of discussing the reasons they were opposed to the
rules, people used "impracticality" as a way of warding off a discussion they
didn't want to have.

(c) in both cases, I would contend, the impracticality argument is false.
Also the "legislate morality" argument and a similar argument now being made
both deflect the issue away from conduct onto attitudes.

(d) I thought that the analogy, precisely because it was so "farfetched," and
precisely because it was an analogy to something that I think most listmembers
consider clear-cut, would bring the weakness of the argument and the real
issues into sharper focus. I really thought I had a "winner." I didn't dream
that it would be misconstrued in the manner Michael has misconstrued it.

It's kind of like a kid who sneaks off to a party on a school night because a
friend asks him/her to. The kid is "caught" by the parent, who demands an
explanation. The kid says s/he did it because "X asked me to." The parent
responds: "if X had asked you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge with him/her,
would you have done so?" A less "farfetched" analogy like "if X had asked you
to sneak off with him/her to a concert, would you have done so?" simply
wouldn't have the same impact. The kid wouldn't see it as clear-cut.

I suppose the kid can come back with a denunciation of the parent for
improperly suggesting that X is the sort of person who would endanger both
their lives. But I think it is pretty clear that the parent's analogy isn't
meant to equate two radically different *situations* (sneaking off to a party,
bridge-jumping), but rather to expose the weakness of the kid's *argument*.

2. In what way are the other discussants like white segrationists?

None that I know of. The analogy concerned an argument, not the contexts in
which it has been employed or the groups who have employed it, which are
radically different.

3. In what way are you (or Alan, or TSS) 'like' racially oppressed

Again, the purpose of the analogy wasn't to equate different situations.

4. Does mounting this slur amount to trying to suppress the views of those who
do not want to lay down rules of discourse for OPE-L?

This is a "when did you stop beating your wife" question. The analogy was not
intended as a slur. Again, I think it is pretty clear that I was comparing
arguments, not situations.

Far from trying to suppress anyone's views, I was trying to *stimulate*
discussion. Questioning the legitimacy of an argument is not the same thing
as trying to suppress it, IMHO.

And again, I was challenging an *argument*, not a "view." We still have not
heard WHY "those who do not want to lay down rules of discourse for OPE-L"
don't want to. I'm quite interested in hearing the reasons, not suppressing
them. My post was meant to bring us closer to hearing them, by disposing of
an argument that has kept this *substantive* discussion of Alan's proposal at
arm's length.

I still hold out hope that the post can achieve its aim, instead of my
"immorality" serving as another reason for keeping the discussion at arm's

Andrew Kliman