And I’m biased.
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I’ve mentioned in the last post briefly that I value people having different viewpoints. I’m sure that’s an easy thing to say since we have to be in a world with a large number of different perspectives. How should I exist in a world with different viewpoints? This is a favorite question of mine and I haven’t answered it. The answers I’ve come up with don’t satisfy me enough to keep me from asking the question again.
You’ll find me in three different realms predominately in the net. I look for people that seem fun to be around. I look for people who can articulate my viewpoint. And I look for people who can articulate more extreme positions I feel I’m probably bounded by. Why do they choose those values that are more extreme in either direction? No matter where I go, I find myself absurdly aware that I’m not simply a label. Saying I’m an atheist is almost as confusing as it is clear. Being a liberal works in the same way. Even fun loving people aren’t all fun loving the way I am.
I feel confident that the phenomenon is not limited to me, that conservative friends feel unnecessarily pigeonholed or that my Christian neighbors would honestly not be included in the broad statements I make about Christianity. When I sum up a label, I’m making it convenient for me at the cost of taking a member of a label on a case by case basis. Why don’t I just let a Christian define what a Christian is and let me define my atheism? That sound great doesn’t it except that I’ve just given my brain an all expenses paid vacation. I owe it to myself to do the best I can to understand people around me and to further support or evolve my personal philosophy, you know, my principles. I have a reason I’m not Christian since Christian is the default faith of my family. But even saying that, I can hear the echo of someone somewhere being Christian for a reason, or liberal for a reason, or feminist for a reason (they are all labels… you see?)
I try. I enter all sorts of discussions about everything. When I’m supporting someone going through grief, I’m not trashing their faith. When I’m debating the ethics of religion, I’m leaving politics out of it. I don’t assume all conservatives are part of the religious wrong. Obviously, I believe the existing religions provide more harm than good. I think that liberalism is more suitable than the conservative form in American politics. I mean that’s how I vote and how I think. I think I’m as entitled to my opinion as I am forced to hear pundits go on and on with outrageous positions.
I want to find those people that are interested in investigating their perspective to see how deep it goes. Somehow it ends up being two poles in a conversation and each person entrenches themselves further. I don’t want to just reinforce how I am. I want to get to the contradictions and understand where I’m applying different rules to situations. Why do I, in the absence of God by which I mean the absence of absolute objective morality, value humanity in a very moral light while simultaneously eating the flesh of other species? Where is the balance between society and the individual? Which part of nationalism is a good thing? Would polygamy be a bad deal if there wasn’t Mormonism involved and the women were autonomous?
I question everything. I don’t want to be canned. And it takes me awhile to settle my mind on anything philosophical, principled or ethical. Then one day I wake up with a weird idea and I’m unsettled all over again. For me this is normal. So where do you go when you’re not looking for an argument. Or maybe I’ve confused “deep thoughts” with “debate” and only debating exists. Where are the meaty thinkers?
There is an asymmetry afoot that is threatening to annoy the heck out of me. Nice people decline to give opinions and assholes just say what’s on their asshole minds. This is, of course, a generalization but the scenario is a common one for me. I got banned from IMWAN and you can see a bit of my reaction by clicking the tag “IMWAN sucks” to display only those articles. I might have been banned for blogging and retaining the first blog about IMWAN sucking after I got let into IMWAN a month or so later. I might have been banned for baiting the admin who disliked me. I might have been banned for identifying clearly as an Atheist. I certainly wasn’t banned for speaking my opinions in an excessively slanderous or hateful way. Look to the political threads on IMWAN to see speech at least as strong as any of my comments.
But that’s not the main point, it’s just a brick in the wall of it.
I’ve met a few friends of a particular friend who are highly opinionated about their political beliefs. Her friends aren’t alone in this behavior. There were people who did it about conservative issues. There are now people ranting about Democrats and the Liberal agenda. I’m not weighing the relative merits here. I am saying these people have strong, outspoken opinions about politics. I tend to keep my silence because I can accept that their opinion exists. I know I do not share their opinions. It’s very easy for me to tell. My silence is my complaint.
It is also a brick.
I mentioned that I might have been banned for being an atheist. I was banned twice from IMWAN. The first time happened immediately after having posted a new thread surveying belief and how a person reconciled their belief with a respect for people without the same belief. I was banned and the thread was discarded, so I have no evidence except for my girlfriend knows I signed up and knows I was subsequently booted. An insider can look at the member list at different times. In the spirit of my thread, I introduced myself as an atheist and having great respect and value for other people choosing different paths. The thread served two purposes, to ask a question I wanted to ask and to introduce myself. So when I was banned, it was clear that Linda (the username of the admin involved) was banning an atheist.
This is a brick beside the first brick.
When I got into IMWAN for the second time, I left the subject alone. These folks are friends of the comic book community and so am I. I hopped on someone else’s Atheist related thread. I added my two cents for people who didn’t seem to understand what atheists do at an atheist convention. (We party because we are among friends) I jumped on other threads and made some chuckles and bothered some people. I could list a few people I know I politically will never agree with, but I don’t mind that. I’m used to living in a world where I prefer some folks to others.
I mentioned my first banning a number of times, but it was taken as a joke because banning doesn’t normally happen like it happened to me. I’m not mad, it’s a good joke. You happen to be under the protection of a benevolent dictator when you aren’t outspoken like me. At one point a member of IMWAN said they thought my original thread sounded like a great thread and I should do it again. So I did. Only I had to rewrite it from scratch so it was probably a bit different as well.
The brick here is that many of the folks I thought were very reasonable and well adjusted mentioned that they weren’t comfortable answering. Nice people don’t go on about their beliefs. Beliefs are personal. Assholes talk about them out loud. I’m polarizing it. I didn’t get the feeling that they thought I was an asshole. Except Linda. And my opinion of Linda is a mirror of that opinion.
So here’s the wall.
If only the obnoxious people say their mind, then the ordinary people cannot be represented or considered. So I offer some rules of conduct. If I ask your opinion, I shouldn’t then and there dispute it. Rule #1: Discover or Debate, but not both. If I say my opinion, I shouldn’t then expect you to agree. Rule #2: Each person is entitled to their own opinions. And lastly, if I say that my opinion of your opinion are at odds, I can illustrate why information leads me to pick my position over yours, but I may have to agree to disagree on the actual initial opinions. Rule #3: Allow truces.
Next time those fellows go on and on about conservatives, I think I should be entitled to say that I actually think differently. Next time somebody invites me to a church, I think I’m entitled to say kindly that churches don’t suit me because I am a decided atheist. And next time I feel like volunteering that I’m an atheist, I’m entitling the other person to divulge their own beliefs without fear of repercussion or banning. There’s a trick to beliefs of course that beliefs do have an obligation to yield to some measure of courtesy. But that trick has been widely accepted at this point.
I’m an atheist. You are safe. I encourage you to think your own thoughts and come to your own conclusions. Please feel free to comment with some sort of introduction of who you are and what you believe. I think knowing how my peers think is important to my happiness and understanding of my existence.
Thanks for reading.
He was the talk of the town, something of a celebrity storyteller. Packing into bars on humid nights, the audience may very well have charmed itself in advance. The way he spoke, his words sent shivers down spines. He directed his audience through emotion after emotion, love, hate, anguish, unrequited passion, dashed dreams and more. Every song was a tragedy for the effect on the more emotional members of the crowd.
Sweat glistened on every person, and tears streamed down most faces as the emotions released themselves without request down faces. Men who weren’t moved were moved to understand the connection between speaker and listener. A few women looked faint as the speaker glanced their way during his oration. He reached out and wiped away tear after tear of women in the audience making clumsy jokes that evoked wonderful smiles on each.
He drank their most watered down beer without complaint. He challenged the ruder drunks to entertaining spectacle duels in which he handily disarmed every opponent and offered his own silken kerchief to each in turn so that they could wipe of the dirt and sweat of their defeat. With an arm around former foe and random stranger, he moved through the night without a care.
The night ended as it always did. Though the village was in a permanent drought burdened desert, he always seemed to lead the rain. So each evening at the close of the bars, he would make a spectacle of summoning the waters from the heavens. The rain never fell right away. Sometime after his head landed on a pillow next to a radiantly dazed beauty, the drops would begin. The sky would open up and a flood would come straight down filling reservoirs and giving thirsty desert plants renewed hope.
Sometimes the women he bedded wouldn’t even notice when he left. Sometimes, he expressed his appreciation for their company one more time before heading on. Typically he left a poem, handwritten and original praising her beauty, encouraging her spirit, and thanking her charity, nailing the key emotions in each woman each time. With a smile on his face as he imagined her expression and the pleasant emotional tears running down her face, he pulled his barely serviceable hat down to block out the sun and made his way to the next town.
If the walk grew too hot, dark storm clouds would seem to follow him. If he grew too weary, he’d sleep in a fog. If he grew thirsty, he’d lift his travel cup and the most particularly sized downpour would fill it once more. It was a good life, the only one the Waterlord might have wished for.
I’m BAMMING the whole IMWAN community for letting this thread sour.
to which Linda wrote:
Be sure to write about it at your blog.
Great idea. IMWAN, you are hereby BAMMED.
Also, I finally got into IMWAN and there are a bunch of interesting personalities. If you can get past the admin, I would recommend the forum.
EPILOGUE: I was banned from IMWAN again because Linda is an asshole and you have to get approved by Linda to get into IMWAN. So I recommend the IMWAN personalities that you can’t really talk to unless you like assholes. Linda, by the way, is the handle of the admin. So in regards to free expression and IMWAN’s lack of capability, my original post still stands.
Hey, Linda, did you know when you Google IMWAN my complaints show up on the first page of links? And to everybody else, please finish that round robin for me, I was enjoying that.
There are other IMWAN admin who do not seem in charge of account approval who seem just fine. Let it be known my complaints are with one person in particular who has a lot of control of the IMWAN forum.