Rude and Useless Comments

Who cares about commentsThere is an issue with comments around here that even after almost five years, I don’t get. There are people who agree with me and go into some depth about details. There are questions. There are people who disagree with me and make cogent arguments. And then there are people who just come around to yell at me. It’s very frustrating because these people seem to not actually read what I’ve written. They are angry at me and so they grab onto something I’ve written and blast me on that.

This morning I had such an experience. For some reason, my article Ayn Rand and Indians has been getting an incredible amount of traffic recently (it always gets a fair amount). I assume this is because a popular Facebook account posted it. I’m glad. I’m proud of the article. One thing I know a lot about is Ayn Rand. It’s kind of funny. There are a lot of libertarians who run around thinking that Rand is super keen without having read much or any of her work. They just take it on faith (Really!) that the smart woman had it all figured out. She didn’t. There are gaping holes in her work because she didn’t take philosophy seriously.

This brings us to the following comment by a guy who runs a Philippines-centric website VINCENTON with the subtitle, “Free Market Rocks.” There hasn’t been an article posted on it for almost two months, it gets almost no traffic, and the writing is entirely typical of a college student who is brashly going to “tell it like it is!” But don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen much worse. The main problem is that I’ve see so much like it. At least I can say this of Frankly Curious, it isn’t like any other liberal blog and the quality of the writing and analysis are at a high enough level to attract a decent sized audience that even includes some “name” writers.

Here’s the start of his comment:

I was about to make a long rebuttal to all your illogical responses to the well-thought-out, well-reasoned replies to your sophomoric, anti-logic analysis until I read this: “…the United States is the most savage nation ever.”

The two responses that he calls well-reasoned basically just repeated Ayn Rand’s initial philosophical error. If you say that everyone has the right to their own property, that means that everyone has the right to their own property. It does not mean that everyone has a right to their own property as long as you think they are using it as it ought to be used. That’s fascism. (I’ve noted before that her writing is a “bizarre mixture of fascism, anarchism, and Hollywood romanticism.”) They also made the mistake of thinking that there was an American Indian nation instead of all kinds of little nations with many different lifestyles. And above all, they made the mistake of thinking that the native peoples didn’t have the idea of property rights. This last bit really bugs me, because it not only justifies land theft, it justifies genocide, which is what we Europeans did regardless.

But I especially took exception to his quote of mine. I was responding to a commenter named George who said the Indians were all at war, implying I guess that they were savages who deserved what they got. Here is what I actually wrote in response, “Regardless, if being at war is what makes a culture savage (and I’m open to that idea), then the United States is the most savage nation ever.” So VINCENTON totally mischaracterized what I said and used it as an excuse to chronicle other nations’ savagery. It’s a typical strawman attack. And it wasn’t even a good argument on that basis because he didn’t show that these other countries were more savage than the US.

The main thing here seems to be that this young man was upset that I attacked Ayn Rand who is a hero of his. If you look at his About page, it doesn’t mention Ayn Rand, but it is filled with Objectivism dogma about “selfishness” and “ego.” And he’s written about her ad nauseum. He once wrote that Ayn Rand “is utterly hated by the Left because of her unassailable arguments against altruism, self-sacrifice, mysticism, communism, and all forms of totalitarian ideologies.” So the fact that I have doubtless read more of her (all of her, as far as I know) and have come to the conclusion that she is fundamentally fascistic, must be upsetting.

But his comment was very much like doorbell ditch. If Rand’s arguments are unassailable, why doesn’t he defend her? He doesn’t, because he can’t. Back in the 1980s, I heard Rand’s heir Leonard Peikoff say that the United States stayed pretty much a free nation for a hundred years. During almost all of that time, we had slavery in this country. How any reasonable person could say that the United States was more free in 1850 than it was in the 1980s is beyond me. But for Rand and Peikoff, it is quite easy. If you scratch Objectivism just a little bit, you will see fascism and white supremacy.

In the comment, VENCENTON also called me a “creature.” This goes along with one of his articles, “The Left’s Endless Smears Against Ayn Rand.” In it, he wrote, “Evidence or proof is not important to these half-wit creatures.” But neither is it important to him, based upon his comment. Then, just three sentences later, he wrote, “Ad hominem attack is one of the best weapons of the left.” It would be hard to write a believable character who was this aggressively clueless. He is upset that liberals claim, “Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism is a cult.” He then goes on to write many paragraphs quoting Rand reverently as if he were quoting the Bible. It’s sad, but hopefully he will grow out of it. (For the record: Objectisism is very cult-like, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a cult.)

As all my readers know, I’m very angry about the state of the world. But what I don’t do is go to other websites where I disagree and shout at people. In fact, when dealing with someone I disagree with, I try to be as polite as possible. This often leads to very useful dialogues and surprising common ground. (Of course, I feel no such need when people are dumping on me here.) I wonder if people like VENCENTON think by shouting and running away that they win the argument. In their minds maybe. Meanwhile, seven days a weeks, there are new articles here. And the fact that I get more and more immature comments is a sign of the growing success of Frankly Curious.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Rude and Useless Comments

  1. I have a theory that the people who once were responsible for public restroom graffiti have switched to the internet. I don’t see restroom graffiti so much any more, unless it’s gang related. And I recall that it was nearly always misogynist, racist, homophobic, or homo-hopeful (after the arrest of Larry Craig, I realized that "tap foot for BJ" was actually a thing). At a grocery store where I worked in 1987 someone had penned an extensive manifesto about the pending arrival of a Hispanic supremacist organization called "The Mexican KKK", and what would transpire thereafter. It was tagged with "Ramon is a fag". The reply to which was "YOU WILL DIE" in three inch letters. You can probably find a thread like that on Reddit without looking too hard.
    The other day I read a comment on You Tube that stated "Sam Harris can’t really be an atheist because he is a statist." Wha- No, I don’t really want to know. I don’t have the energy. American culture has a generous leavening of anti-intellectualism that provides fertile soil for things like that. It’s not new, not caused by the internet or television. Though those do provide an outlet for it. I am reminded of Fahrenheit 451 where Beatty is telling Montag about the deliberate miseducation of children.

  2. @Lawrence – That’s a brilliant observation. It reminds me when I started hanging out at the college when I was in high school. In the bathrooms, they covered the stalls with butcher paper to allow people to write whatever they wanted. It was a hippy school, so most of it was pretty cool. (Or at least I thought so at 16.) But there was also some of the more traditional sentiments.

    The strange thing is, with this guy, I could probably have a decent conversation. His biggest sin is that he’s certain he’s right without having seriously considered opposing views. I remember being like that. What’s more, there is a lot that we can all learn from libertarianism. My problem with most libertarians is that they have turned it into a utopia philosophy. And in general, they’ve lost track of the fact that social systems are supposed to make life better.

    There’s a great quote from Ludwig von Mises who apparently told Ayn Rand:

    [quote]You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you.[/quote]

    It’s entirely ahistorical, asociological, and apsychological. I’m something of a fan of the mathematician Evariste Galois. He died tragically at 20 years old. But we simply aren’t behind in the mathematical arts because of his young death. People like Rand and her followers want to give enormous gains to people for the slightest increase in ability or luck. Another great example, is that I have high tech friends who are millionaires and high tech friends who are just getting by. The difference is not ability; the difference is just dumb luck. Some people worked at the right companies at the right time. This is the sort of thing I’d like to talk to libertarians about. Unfortunately, most of them don’t understand enough economics (Rand was incredibly ignorant!) to understand things like monopsony and how so many of the things they value are government creations. Typical libertarian: pro-corporate (which is government created) and anti-union (which is voluntary association); see a pattern?

    I also read on his site a rant about how there was no such thing as altruism. This has been shown to be untrue in so many ways (including in other species), it boggles the mind. Yet he says he just looks at the facts. I might also point out that Leonard Peikoff has long dismissed quantum mechanics because it goes against the teachings of Objectivism. The Catholic Church is more open-minded than these people!

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