[Milton-L] One post per day?

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at smith.edu
Mon Dec 20 14:27:24 EST 2010

Having many pressing and unpleasant duties, not least the duty of
grading undergraduate products of a Nairba-like mentality,  I of course
found myself captivated by Nairba’s shenanigans; such are the ways of
desperation. I played hooky unconscionably, poring over each new
harangue. But that wasn’t Nairba’s fault; there is, as everybody knows,
the trusty delete button – though I'm proud to say I had my limits; at
least I resisted the lemming-like impulse to take him (as did others)
for another  benighted soul to be rescued from barbarism.  In short, I
can testify that our visitor’s net capacity for disruption is nil,
unless one is desperate enough to want to be disrupted. So by all means
let him stay, say I. On the other hand, I ‘m not sure that all of us
have squarely faced the fact that Nairba’s righteous contempt (if not
hatred) for every basic ethical canon we stand for, or ought to stand
for –- his contempt for civil dialogue and a respect for the rules of
evidence and (dare I say it) for the traditions of humane learning --
poses a fairly serious problem.  That kind of contempt is abroad in the
world, and not only among cranks who wander into the seminar room from
off the street. It muddles and envenoms our politics and our mass media;
it is (to repeat) militantly righteous and therefore safe from rational
persuasion. It is (in a word) a nasty customer. Is it really an act of
compassion to reward its disturbances of the peace with forgiveness –
forgiveness (to repeat) guaranteed to be received as an insult? Or, in
this kind of case at least, is “forgiveness” (or "compassion" for that
matter) a polite name for a failure of nerve? Does lifting the ban
purchase comity too cheaply, and in a way that will come back to haunt
us? I say “rewarded” advisedly. Membership in Milton-L, when all is said
and done, is a privilege and not a right. Something tells me that it
isn’t a good idea to reward the abuse of a privilege, especially a
privilege that is under siege – that is “lated in the world.” In short,
knowing all too well that I will be outvoted, I say: Surely sometimes in
a great while actions should make the acquaintance of their
consequences.  I say: Don’t lift the ban.
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