[Milton-L] One post per day?
Campbell, W. Gardner
Gardner_Campbell at baylor.edu
Mon Dec 20 15:47:11 EST 2010
I find myself both humbled and encouraged by this meditation, Harold. Thank you.
I think Louis and Kevin have handled the situation very well. The conditions carefully distinguish between expression of opinion—the freedom we all believe we should preserve—and the kind of contempt for civil dialogue Harold describes below. So my vote is for maintaining the ban until Louis and Kevin’s conditions are met. There is a line between liberty and license that Milton labored all his life to identify, not always without self-interest to be sure, but I think finally in the pursuit of something much greater than self-interest. My self-interest in this case can be served well by my delete key, but I think Nairba crossed the line into license and thus threatens our larger interest in liberty itself.
I hope he’ll agree to Louis and Kevin’s conditions.
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Harold Skulsky
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2010 1:27 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] One post per day?
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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