What to know about what you don’t know you know. #1: Intuition is very efficient—if you don't overthink it.
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My delay in responding to your latest post is due to two things: (1) I have been ill, and (2) I have been trying to find the amount of time it would take to respond fully to everything you wrote. Although I know that some bloggers do not respond to questions or objections raised in comments, I take them seriously and would like to be able to respond However, your most recent one would take me hours to respond to in a way that I would consider complete. In addition, it is clear that you and I have different views of what my blog is about and what my role as blogger is here, so I hope we can agree to disagree. We also have different views about what should be done about hate speech and certainly, I suspect, about speech that, while not dropping to the level of clear hate speech, nevertheless creates a noxious environment. I hope we can agree to disagree there, too. Your preference is to let anyone say what they like and then hope that whatever I or anyone else might say in reply will adequately counteract both the negative emotional reverberations and whatever misinformation has been purveyed; although I wish that were the case (and a dear friend of mine is one of the most prominent and ardent advocates of the argument that "The answer to hate speech is more speech"), I know that often that kind of response is NOT forthcoming, and I prefer to fight discrimination and oppression in ways other than giving it a forum on my own blog and then having to spend enormous amounts of time trying to repair the damage. In, for instance, a homophobic and heterosexist society, it is too hard to repair that damage. Frankly, to let both frank hate speech and even comments that are hateful or disrespectful stay on my blog makes me feel like the person who hands along poison pills or even just ones that make you sick from Person A to Person B. I simply don't want any part of it.
I have seen too many people saying in all seriousness the kinds of things that you intended in jest and to make an important point. One of the problems with email is that it is often impossible to tell "tone of voice." I have seen too often the effects of people believing the claims that homosexuals have defective brains, saying that scientists have proven this. It struck me as hate speech, more hate speech in addition to what had previously been posted by one or two other people and that, after consulting with two attorneys who are experts in that field, I had chosen to delete yours. I found what I evidently mistakenly took to be hate speech to be so appalling that I deleted quickly. It was actually my longtime colleague Bob Metcalfe who had read what you wrote very differently and pointed out to me what he felt you were trying to do, which is what you say here you were doing.
I appreciated his doing that. It started me thinking about what to do in the future, and that, again after much consultation with a variety of people, has led directly to the note I have now posted on my home page...about Comments left here. If I were again to receive that post from you, what I would do now would be to hope that you had left your email address, so that I could send it back to you and ask you to focus on the informational, educational, hortatory, personal parts of it and not to keep quoting the other poster's hate speech and giving still more play -- as you have again done in this recent message -- to what he does that some people will be quick to take as truth and to use to fan homophobic fires.
I make it clear in my writing when I am describing anecdotes or opinions and when I am making research-based statements, usually citing references rather than going into much detail about the science, because I have the impression that most readers of PT online are general readers. If I fail to make it clear which I am doing at what point, and if it is not obvious, I am fine with readers asking me to clarify, cite more references, or whatever. In that respect, I consider myself a teacher, and as a teacher, one experience I consistently have is that students have a great deal to teach me and each other, which is why I want to have comments here that are not so heavily laden with having to spend hours, as I have already done, trying to respond to rage at my removing hate speech as well as responding repeatedly to the anger of some readers at my having removed it. You seem to object to my calling myself a teacher, but you may not understand that for me, being a teacher does not mean that I know more than anyone else!
As for the matter of alternate definitions of hate speech, as you are not doubt aware, hate speech as part of harassment is problematic in creating what is known in harassment law as a hostile environment, as I have written about in an essay here. You can say that you do not agree that that should be against the law, but it is, and though I do not agree with all laws, I do agree with this one. As an advocate of stopping the harm done by psychiatric diagnosis and often appearing on TV and radio shows with opponents, I learned that it takes far less time to speak a lie or utter hate speech than it does to respond, correct blatantly false and damaging claims, and even begin to undo some of the harm. I actually think it would be fine if someone starts a PT blog where that issue is the main focus of discussion. I encourage you to write to the PT editors and propose that you write such a blog and explain that it would fill what you regard as an important need that you have found that at least one blogger is not willing to invest vast amounts of energy in pursuing further. You are clearly very bright and very thoughtful, and I think you could do a terrific job.
And I appreciate your having taken the time to write about these matters and to understand what I am doing, even if we do not see eye to eye on some of it.
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