Re: [pcp-discuss:] Probleming through Florida

From: Norman K. McPhail (norm@SOCAL.WANET.COM)
Date: Tue Dec 05 2000 - 19:31:47 GMT

  • Next message: steve: "[pcp-discuss:] Choosing up sides... but not."


    I don't question your good intentions, but as reasonable and appropriate
    as your admonishment appears on the surface, I suggest that you may want
    to reconsider the implications your words. Specifically, I respectfully
    request that you consider what might happen if you appoint yourself
    watchdog, censor, policeman, judge and jury for the content on the
    pcp-discuss list:

    To begin with, I submit that any attempt by anyone to censor the
    contributions of this list's participants is likely to lead to one of
    two unintended and unfortunate consequences: First, in my experience,
    when an individual attempts to assert that some area is not a proper
    topic of discussion, the discussion itself often reverts to arguing
    about what is and is not proper. This almost invariably leads to a
    process of choosing up sides. It also often results in the emergence of
    an adversarial tenor in the discussions. Such an adverse attitude places
    more stock in winning arguments than it does on exchanging ideas and
    building mutual understanding. As a result, if we let censorship become
    a regular feature of our discussions, the level of exchange amongst us
    could be in danger of deteriorating into a polarized personal war of

    The second probable outcome of encouraging any kind of top down or
    unilateral censorship is a sharp reduction of contrasting opinions and
    ideas. I'm sure would agree that it would be sad if we lost the diverse
    discussions that seem to blossom in these fertile grounds from time to
    time. I think that both of these consequences would be detrimental to
    the value and enjoyment of subscribing to this list and participating in
    its exchanges.

    Next, as perhaps you are aware, some of us feel that the agenda you seek
    to advance is at odds with some of the diverse views held by other
    contributors and subscribers to this list. I have no doubt that you
    would never let your personal bias cause you to censor or admonish
    anyone without a good reason. And I'm sure that you would never
    arbitrarily try to censor me or keep me from expressing my personal

    I'm also sure that it won't come as a big surprise to you that many of
    the other participants on this list are well aware that you don't have
    much respect for my views. So when you single me out and attempt to
    censor some minor transgression such as this, they may begin to wonder
    if you are being heavy handed, arbitrary and are abusing your position
    to advance your personal agenda. What's more, if you continue to play
    the role of self appointed chief censor and it then becomes obvious that
    you seek to silence those with whom you disagree, I submit that your
    credibility will suffer.

    Most subscribers to this list still respect your ideas, work and efforts
    in your chosen field. But if you persist as a self appointed official
    censor, your approval ratings could quickly drop off the charts. Is
    that what you really want? And do you really want to garner the undying
    wrath of everyone you bring to task?

    It is very understandable that you might take a proprietary interest in
    the contents of the pcp-discuss list server and that this, in turn,
    would cause you to try to direct the discussion from time to time. In
    addition, as I recall, you don't put much stock in the notion of free
    will and free speech. So perhaps it is easier for you to justify your
    actions as being in the best interest of the pcp list.

    But as I've tried to point out, from a practical standpoint, I'm sure
    you can appreciate that the job of censor could potentially be very
    destructive to your personal credibility and your professional
    reputation. So I would hope that this realization will cause you to
    think twice the next time you are moved to take it upon yourself to
    dictate what is and is not acceptable content on the pcp-discuss list

    Norman K. McPhail

    Francis Heylighen wrote:

    > I would like to remind our estimated subscribers that this is a
    > mailing list about cybernetic philosophy, not about present
    > politicial debates. Applying cybernetical reasoning to analyse the
    > Florida situation is an appropriate subject for a PCP-discuss
    > message, but discussing the apparent motivations of the candidates,
    > the pecularities of the US legislation, and one's personal political
    > preferences is not. I can understand the temptation to get from the
    > one into the other, but please keep your discussions focused on
    > cybernetics.There are more than enough other channels to discuss the
    > political situation. Also take into account that for people outside
    > the US this is not necessarily interesting or even understandable.

    Posting to from "Norman K. McPhail" <>

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