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niceness vs. kindness; free speech; offence vs. harm

ygolo

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This topic has come up before, but I couldn't find it.



But people are talking about political correctness and cancel culture, but there is real sinister stuff that uses protests of being canceled as cover.

I am interested in people take on these topics. I am actually quite ambivalent about these ideas. A younger me would have taken a hardline Libertarian stance on the issue of free speech and offending people, but after all the misinformation campaigns and public gaslighting, I am far less sure.
 

ceecee

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I'm very much in the kindness camp. I have found far too many people nearly fetishizing "niceness" and "civility". Especially in recent years. They don't want anything to change for for people being harmed to stop being harmed, they just want the status quo without complaints, backlash or anything uncomfortable for them.

Those get nothing accomplished, they're frequently done for appearance and to make themselves feel better and less about actually making another person feel better, just as the article says. A good example is - "I'll pray for you" What exactly does that do for the person you are praying for? Nothing. It's not being said to benefit anyone but the person saying it.

At a time when mainstream media and religious leaders are calling for executions of anyone they disagree with;


Or anyone they feel should be executed. Sure it's one person but he is mainstream media and has a mammoth audience of inflamed shitheads. Tucker Carlson isn't going to kill anyone. But he is certainly hoping one of his viewers will carry out his wishes.


Don't believe it? Nearly every person on trial for Jan 6 had blamed Trump directly or indirectly;



And all of this is done with impunity, screaming free speech. So yeah there is a limit to what free speech should be covering. But I agree there can be a huge difference between offending and harming. What I have listed above is obviously harmful. My own feelings on it mirror the article
Secondly, and relatedly, feelings of offence are not dependent upon an individual’s feelings about how she herself is treated. Mental harms are something I suffer as a result of what others do to me. By contrast, I feel offended not necessarily because of how I am treated personally, but because I regard certain behaviours as profoundly intolerable, irrespective of whether they have any direct impact on me.

For the most part, my feelings on being "cancelled" is that there are consequences for actions. The end. Of course people use being canceled as cover for their heinous behaviors, what else are they going to do? They have no argument or explanation, they just blame the faceless woke mob and hope everyone forgets when the outrage machine throws whatever it can to maintain an audience enraged by imaginary grievance (wonder why no one is talking about CRT anymore?)
 

Arcturus

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I likely fall into the kindness over niceness camp to the detriment of certain "social etiquettes" at times.
I like the first article. My thoughts come in two parts.


First, that it articulates certain things I think about certain forms of "niceness" and social etiquette; it's letting the room do the thinking for you, to let them decide for you. It's thinking about everyone first at your own detriment, since it at times removes you in entirely from the equation. To be wronged and then be socially pressured into smiling about it is a double slap in the face. Why must I be gracious for your mistakes?

Second, I think that a lot of these forms of social etiquette favour and shield the true transgressor, which is something I have a problem with. Many would sooner skirt over the real troublemaker so as to not be subject to the 'ugly' view of someone getting angry and/or cutting off the withering branches of the social group once and for all, instead letting it fester.


I appreciate the article highlighting that simply choosing to be "nice" isn't necessarily kind. The fact that one is not socially expected to "talk back", "rock the boat", and to just let the transgressor be in peace is simply socially-conditioned, socially-enabled silencing. The transgressor often knows this, and cowardly hides behind the wall of people who would defend them because you, being the one to speak out, aren't "being nice". "You know how he is!" "Just let it slide," etc. It is many layers of wrong and I get the sense that not many see it.

I must admit that my first intentions first and foremost are not necessarily even to be "kind". It simply is that doing the "nice" thing is the plain wrong thing to do, period- and I do not mean that necessarily morally either (referring to my first point above). My follow-up actions being "kind" would be coincidence. To explain further; someone initiating these social exchanges are forcibly pulling you into their game, their dynamics, where you would then be expected by both them and the room to continue playing in a certain way. It is covert social coercion, something I despise. Nuh-uh. Morals or not, I despise that and would not stand for it. Bring your own pawns.

The article says this:
"Being kind doesn’t always mean being nice, however — because the truly kind response won’t always be pleasing to the other person."
You have a choice. You be nice, and please the transgressor, the wrongdoer and everyone else who enables it with their silence, sitting in what is ultimately silent approval, OR, you stand up and offend everyone but the victim.


You're afraid of offending a whole room? You feel that offending 10 people is worse than offending just one?
The quantity doesn't matter here. Guilty is guilty.
To offend the room is to offend them all individually. They will pile in on each other and agree that you're being a pest. The transgressor will laud them for being the perfect pawns they were, simple extensions of his twisted will, feeding into them and encouraging their toxic growth. Point being- they have each other.
What about the victim? In a room of 12 people (transgressor, you, 10 other people) only one defended them. They only have one person.

"Keep the peace?" Shame on you.


OP mentions Political Correctness and Cancel Culture.
My opinions on those: You're thinking too far ahead. You are thinking of an imaginary event many steps down the line that won't necessarily happen, and that can stop you from intervening in the moment. Ponder over it now if you must, but don't let that freeze you in the moment and stop you from intervening when something is happening.

"Am I being too politically correct...? Am I "cancelling them...?" - who cares. Wrong is wrong. If the individual is coincidentally cancelled in the end, so be it. Trust me, you would have to do far more than just standing up in the moment to "cancel" someone. Just stand up and stop shuffling your feet around.

If the transgressor themselves complain they are being "cancelled" by you, or that you're "being a PC SJW" or whatever it is, ignore it. That's age old. If they weren't saying that, they'd use other excuses. "You're too sensitive," "It's just a prank, bro," or whatever the hell it is. A rose by any other name. Bullshit by any other name, really.
 

Coriolis

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I seem to recall having this discussion before, perhaps even the same or a very similar article to the first posted by the OP. No matter.

The distinction between harm and offense is critical. No one has a right not to be offended, as we do have a right not to be harmed. If you think you can say what you want, so can the next person, and what they say may criticise or take issue with you.

Though I don't put much stock in "niceness" as described by the first article, I do see room for civility. There is no opinion, however critical, that cannot be made with civility. Being rude and crass is likely to turn listeners off so they don't even hear what you have to say; or worse, bias them against your point of view before they even consider it. Sure - that response is on them, but it may be disappointing to you.

Yes, sometimes you have to offend others, or at least you risk offending them, in doing the right thing. "Right thing" here means preventing actual harm. This can be scary as it may open you to attack. Bystander intervention, however, has been shown to be an especially effective way to deter a bully. Some actions, statements, and points of view deserve to be cancelled because they cause actual harm to others.

That being said, there is nothing to be gained by offending people just for the sake of it, or just because you can. Better to offend only with good cause and in full knowledge of your actions. This presumes what you are saying is not only accurate/truthful, but also useful. In this sense, I don't care about political correctness, just actual correctness, combined with utility or effectiveness.
 

ygolo

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I found this exposition of clear bias in the scientific community relevant to the notion of free speech as well.


Specifically, I used to believe in a more general meritocracy in the "marketplace of ideas". But if you take the retracted findings mentioned in the video without the specific interpretations given by the author, it seems to show that a particular pedigree is actually the main determinant of success in science and not necessarily the merit of the work itself.

edit: tl;dr. Long term consensus, and truth have a much wider gap than I assumed. I am not sure what to do with this revelation...in science, philosophy, and even belief in democracy. For now, the systems that I was taught are still the best systems I can think of presently.
 

Coriolis

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First, that it articulates certain things I think about certain forms of "niceness" and social etiquette; it's letting the room do the thinking for you, to let them decide for you. It's thinking about everyone first at your own detriment, since it at times removes you in entirely from the equation. To be wronged and then be socially pressured into smiling about it is a double slap in the face. Why must I be gracious for your mistakes?
This notion of "letting the room do your thinking", "letting them decide for you" exposes a broader problem I have noticed, namely an increasing reluctance to make judgments and stand by them. Police officers want to point to a number on a device to decide if someone is drunk, rather than observing their actual behavior and making a judgment about it. Employers want paper credentials from job applicants vs. a demonstrated ability to do the job; and the output of some computerized background check vs. the accounts of human references. Rather than hold accountable someone who is causing trouble, organizations will subject everyone to "training" related to the trouble.

I don't know if humanity has become more conflict-averse, or less confident in their ability to make sound judgments, or what, but this growing tendency to outsource judgment is a step in the wrong direction. We should instead be learning to make more sound judgments, defend them, and correct them when we have erred.

The article says this:
"Being kind doesn’t always mean being nice, however — because the truly kind response won’t always be pleasing to the other person."
You have a choice. You be nice, and please the transgressor, the wrongdoer and everyone else who enables it with their silence, sitting in what is ultimately silent approval, OR, you stand up and offend everyone but the victim.
Yes, you have a choice. You always have a choice. Even doing nothing is itself a choice, and not always the best one. Doing nothing often equates to abdicating your choice to others. Many people who would be outraged if someone tried to tell them what to do, will implicitly cede that authority to others if they fear their agency will be challenged. This is the situation when bystanders fail to intercede against a bully, perhaps fearing they will become his next target. But bystander intervention has been shown to be effective in stopping bullies in their tracks. If you risk offending the bully and his cronies, you may save the victim from actual harm.
 
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But people are talking about political correctness and cancel culture, but there is real sinister stuff that uses protests of being canceled as cover.
We absolutely can't have free speech as long as ideology trumps the rule of law; we the people are unsuited to that right as a society and culture and deserve whatever descent into authoritarianism we get.

It's not my responsibility as a person or a citizen in the society whether you are harmed, offended, or otherwise emotionally compromised. If the society deems me a threat then there is nothing I can do about it and I will be punished accordingly. Likewise the fixation on people's feelings is often an excuse for intellectual deficiency and laziness to learn the reality of the situation on one's own time. Nobody has to educate oneself. At the same time ignorance doesn't grant a person special treatment (until it does).

I would like it if we could protect the right of people to speak and associate and travel - especially those who disagree with us or with the regime narrative. The law can't be two-sided; once that happens society ceases to function and will import solutions to its problems instead of solving them within itself and then looking outwards to the world to export its virtues. So-called universities these days harbor Confucius Institutes and racially segregated safe spaces.

In the context of personality types we all can't be that guy who is the bravest or who challenges the bully. I've never heard of a single person or a group of people who choose a larger group of people to represent them. Please enlighten me if I am wrong? The representative government chooses the smaller group to speak for the larger group or silent majority or whatever you call it. In doing so we take it for granted there is an opposition. This type of delegation is very dangerous in terms of concentrated power overshadowing a sense of individual responsibility. If you don't believe you have a stake in society then you won't vote. You might become anti-social or criminally destructive. "Those who wish it will have Space to destroy . . . " Unimaginable, right? A joke - until it isn't. Someone has to be responsible for such statements and yet they are made and dictate policy in some cases.

Theoretically everyone is highly developed and morally sound and personality type doesn't matter because the best individuals of all types will assume the active roles and those onlookers or bystanders are equally capably developed and moralistic should they need to intervene. In reality everyone has to make the adjustments because there are all types of crazies out there and a percentage of people who are dangerous to society who do not act rationally and have the capability and the desire for evil.

Threat = capability x intent
If words could kill . . . :shrug:
 
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a broader problem I have noticed, namely an increasing reluctance to make judgments and stand by them. Police officers want to point to a number on a device to decide if someone is drunk, rather than observing their actual behavior and making a judgment about it. Employers want paper credentials from job applicants vs. a demonstrated ability to do the job; and the output of some computerized background check vs. the accounts of human references.
This is caused by an imbalance with overreliance upon the left hemisphere of the brain. I wish we could go back to the days when we had a policeman on every street corner; instead police wear body armor and cameras and ride military surplus armored trucks. Lot of land mines in those potholes . . . The judgment is being made by the judge of the court where the person is getting sued or criminally prosecuted instead of by the individual who is liable to such litigation.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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I find in a lot of discussions people take two synonyms and assign different meanings. I'm not certain if the definitions presented here are stable, but the word "nice" is most overused, understood as a bit of a clique' and so can translate into shallower expressions. The article provides these:

Nice - actions that are pleasing and agreeable
Kind - actions that are helpful and motivated by benevolence

I personally value the authenticity of doing a nice/kind action with a positive motivation invested in the other person. It is easy to dismiss shallow, inauthentic positive actions as worthless, but after all the years I'm not sure of this. Sometimes this is all humanity has in a given environment, and there is a stabilizing quality for socially normative behaviors that appear as kindness regardless of motivation. It is good for people to feel pressured to acknowledge grief in others, pressured to bring a gift to acknowledge a birth or wedding, or to exchange insurance information in a fender bender without rude comments, to help an elderly person cross the street, or to say 'thankyou' to a clerk.

These niceties can also be transitional from self-focus to actual kindness. Humans are reactionary beings and when treated mean, generally become mean. So if we treat people with civility, it at least doesn't add damage. I think humanity is in a downward spiral of be hurt and go hurt. Civility can hamper the cascade of dominos falling as humans hurt each other, even when the motivations are neutral or selfish. I think it still has meaning if someone is arrogant about how they feed the homeless. If I'm ever homeless and starving, I'm not going to care if the person is arrogant or sincere because I will just want the food, and I'll be happy to pose for a selfie so their 100's of friends click the "love" button on their page and think they are wonderful.

It's helpful when society can set up selfish motivations for civil behavior because sometimes selfish motivations are all that are available. People who take pride in being rude because it's authentic may prefer some social dynamics, but mood contagion is real and scientists have even studied it. There is some reason for the old phrases like "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". I don't suggest that applies 100% of the time. Unfortunately I don't think there is much actual kindness in humanity. What is present is deeply precious, and so sometimes all we have is surface level, and this civility is fragile, but an important veil for humanity to wear.
 
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Siúil a Rúin

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As far as free speech goes - I understand that is based on having a society where the government cannot imprison or kill you for what you say, especially against their authority. It doesn't mean everyone has a free pass to be rude and you have to take it.

It makes sense to me to have informal social pressures to have civil speech, although social media has greatly deconstructed that. It depends on anger, fear, and rudeness to grab attention and increase views, etc.

Socially I would compare rude words to expelling bodily gasses. Sometimes people can't help it, but in the same way we attempt to not fart and belch around other people, it'd be great to consider mean language similarly. Both force unpleasantness on others for the purposes of soothing self. Farts are just as truthful and authentic as angry words.
 
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