Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

Public speech is a bad idea


The Greeks and Romans dedicated much of their education to the study of rhetoric. It feels quite bizarre today, that people spent years studying the art of giving speeches and being persuasive, rather than trying to learn actual, real stuff.

But they had their priorities straight. Rhetoric is the art of public speech. And public speech is generally just a bad idea. If you must engage in public speech, you better study very, very hard, so that you have a shot at getting something out of it.

We of course have ignored this lesson at our own peril. And we have made public speech so much more open and pervasive. Which only works to feed the evil and the insane.

Some snippets.

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And the commissar comes down.


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Well if you don’t want to learn, you better get out of Twitter. Being on Twitter is like getting drunk and speaking your mind about the revolution in 1794 Paris. Note that Sam Altman is gay-in-tech, and that didn’t save them from criticism. Now you need to cross-dress for that. Soon they’ll require actually chopping it off.

Paul Graham, who’s not stupid, points out that if public conversations don’t work, private conversations will happen.

Well actually private conversations have been going on for quite a while. You noticed this blog has been slow? That other good blogs have either hibernated or disappeared altogether? You miss some old commenters who are nowhere to be seen?

Well guess where they are.

Hint: not on Twitter.

So if you want to have some private conversations, you can send me an email. I hear the guys at Hestia have something going on too. So if you like what those guys write, you can email them. If you prefer what I write, you can email me. Don’t do both, that’s just bad manners.


13 responses to “Public speech is a bad idea

  1. Pingback: Public speech is a bad idea | Neoreactive

  2. Max June 17, 2015 at 17:54

    If you’re publishing under a pseudonym, though, is it really “public speech”? I have no hesitation about anonymously posting politically incorrect stuff. I know the NSA could theoretically out me, but I assume (hope?) they have bigger fish to fry.

    • spandrell June 17, 2015 at 18:30

      If all you do is complain and share some links, sure. But the slightest amount of personal information will eventually get you doxed by some hyperactive zealot.

      At the end we’ll have to coordinate to save our skins, and you need to expose yourself for that.

      • Pete Dushenski June 18, 2015 at 07:01

        “We” only have to coordinate if “we” are individually inadequate to deal with the task at hand. Having a pesky mosquito suck a droplet of blood from your arm is hardly anything to coordinate efforts over. If some derp “doxes” you and figures out that you have a penchant for perogies and a friend named Alf, what of it ? If they get lippy and want to cling to the pant legs of relevancy, flick ’em off into outer space already.

        It’s the multiplicity of idjits in the world that should be afraid of the sane and sensible, not the other way around. Be bold. If you can read and and write and reference an original source and think for yourself, and some nobody in their momma’s basement is waving their fecal-flavoured “consensus” at you, give ’em a smack and establish the proper order of things.

        What’s the worst that can happen, you get some bad looks from the guy at work with the pocket protector and the short-sleeve dress shirt ?

        • spandrell June 18, 2015 at 07:18

          The worst that already happens is to get you fired, black-listed from employment, your children banned from prestige schools.
          You may also be bold, but women and children tend to freak out under the threat of ostracism, and not everybody has a firm command of their household.

          This might not be an issue if you live out of a big city and have a good personal network. But that means you’ve already coordinated, not that coordination isn’t necessary. Many of us lack these fallbacks and could very well use some.

          It’s cool to BE BOLD AND FIGHT THEM AS THEY COME, but we should stop and think what makes bold people bold, and what patterns are common to people who can fight back. The SJW derps in their basements are indeed inconsequential, but it’s not them who matters; it’s the government who is out to get you, the derps are just a good excuse.

          • Pete Dushenski June 18, 2015 at 14:14

            Oh the government is out to get *me* is it ? Well, les jeux sont fait because I’m out to get them too. The game is on, it seems, and I’ve got time on my side.

            As to the threat of meatspace criticism and consequences, the beautiful thing about the Internet is that, if you find it so advantageous, there’s always plausible deniability at your disposal. Infosec is hard work and few people even know where to begin, if the raft of morons using “password123” for their banking or Twitter accounts is any indication. “Oops, I dun been haxxed” should get you out of a bind with your dickwad of a boss.

            As to what patterns common to people who can fight back, well, we’re the ones that do. If you can, you must, y’know ?

  3. thrasymachus33308 June 17, 2015 at 17:58

    A pattern it seems to me of the last hundred years is the migration of upper class vice to the middle classes. It was understood before rich people could be perverts and jerks because money protected them, but of course the less affluent could not. But the upper classes don’t liked to be looked down on, however covertly, so they say what they do is good and everybody should do it.

    This got cranked up with sex and drugs in the 70s; and with snotty moralizing in the 00s. Being a batshit crazy bitch would have been the prerogative of an upper class woman in the old days. After all they didn’t have anything to do, and no way to kill all the time on their hands. But this girl has decided to take it up, although probably lacking a trust fund.

    • spandrell June 17, 2015 at 18:33

      Lower class people were not paragons of virtue. They did plenty of batshit crazy and immoral stuff. Thing is they tend to die early because of it. And today we have police everywhere and better medicine, so they tend to last a lot longer.

  4. James James June 17, 2015 at 19:31

    “Don’t do both, that’s just bad manners.”

    Why is that?

  5. Was Enlightened June 18, 2015 at 17:03

    So bizarrely and mordantly amusing. As if there weren’t lots of street people whom you’d rather give money to than Shanley: They present a more responsible image.

    Anil Dash’s avatar is the icing on the cake. “Aw look at Anil Dash, the tech industry’s cute l’il brown commissar!”

  6. Pingback: Statelessness of fearlessness. | Contravex: A blog by Pete Dushenski

  7. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/06/21) | The Reactivity Place

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