What Really Happened at That Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago Meeting? (Part 2) November 6, 2009

What Really Happened at That Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago Meeting? (Part 2)

Sunsara Taylor has responded (in three parts) to the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago’s letter that I posted earlier today.

First, we have her personal response, titled “Why I Was Dis-Invited, Why I Did Not Just Shut Up And Go Away, and Why It Still Matters“:

… All of this is informed by my worldview as a communist. At the same time, because this communist worldview is rooted in confronting the world as it actually is and as it actually can be, there is tremendous room for others, coming from their own worldviews but similarly committed to the betterment of humanity, to be enriched through an engagement with these views on morality.

From all this, it is clear that the EHSC knew I was a communist from the very beginning. But, as the date of my long-scheduled talk approached, some began a drive to cancel my talk exactly because of these views…

Second, we have a statement from a woman (Sue B.) who coordinated Sunsara’s tour and worked closely with the EHSC over the past few weeks:

… I believe that part of the reason EHSC is persisting in deliberately misrepresenting what happened and spinning a story that fortifies an untruthful account is because they don’t want to confront the reality of how ugly this whole thing has been, how much it goes against their own principles…

Finally, there’s a statement from lawyer Martha Conrad, who was present at the event:

… I was present at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago [EHSC] on November 1st. I personally witnessed the entire incident leading to the arrest and can lay out the salient facts of what occurred at EHSC that day.

That morning, I entered the building behind Ms. Taylor and others about ten minutes before the 10:30 am program was to start. No one at any time told Ms. Taylor, the videographer or anyone else that they could not enter the event, which was advertised as being “free and open to the public.”…

I’m not sure if there’s any resolution to be had between Sunsara and EHSC. But at least both sides have had a chance to explain themselves in a public setting.


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  • Good! Now can we get back to some issues that are more important than he said/she said high school drama?

  • postsimian

    Laura: asl?

    ¬_¬

  • I hate Illinois Nazis Communists.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Reading that piece by her, all I can say right now is that this woman has some pretty spectacular delusions of grandeur. I think that she was worth canceling on the basis of pomposity alone.

  • ThatOtherGuy

    Yeah, agreeing with the above comment, I have to say that Sunsara Taylor makes herself out to be the most self-important person alive today.

  • ThriceGreatMe

    Good! Now can we get back to some issues that are more important than he said/she said high school drama?

    I can’t think of anything more important.

    The expression of differing viewpoints and the way that we (both as groups and individuals) react to any resulting conflicts is the most essential issue we face as free thinkers.

    This is precisely the kind of ugly, messy, real life situation that we have to be prepared to work through if we are make any serious claim of being able to generate an ethical set of behaviours without resorting to some some arbitrary, fairy tale version of morality.

  • Miko

    As Bastiat put it,

    Present-day writers — especially those of the socialist school of thought — base their various theories upon one common hypothesis: They divide mankind into two parts. People in general — with the exception of the writer himself — form the first group. The writer, all alone, forms the second and most important group. Surely this is the weirdest and most conceited notion that ever entered a human brain!

    While pretending to espouse equality, communism invariably comes down to one person shouting “everyone else should do what I say, or else” at the top of her lungs.

    From all this, it is clear that the EHSC knew I was a communist from the very beginning.

    This is pretty solid evidence that the reason she was uninvited had nothing to do with her being a communist.

    the event, which was advertised as being “free and open to the public.”…

    This one fails the “fire in a crowded theatre” test. The right to attend is distinct from the right to disrupt.

    No one at any time told Ms. Taylor, the videographer or anyone else that they could not enter

    This one is a bit more interesting, but also potentially much more disingenuous. Of course they weren’t refused entry; the event was open to the public. The question is whether they were asked to stop their disruption. Some members of the police have a shoot-first-make-polite-requests-never attitude, so I could see this one going either way.

  • haley

    I am genuinely surprised by the hostility of these comments towards Sunsara. I did take the time to read all three links in their entirety(highly recommend others to do so) and think she was making valid points.

    “The actual focus of my talk, as it was clearly described and submitted to the EHSC, was to look at the profound changes that have been brought about by imperialist globalization and the moral crises this has contributed to, to look at the resurgence of virulent, fundamentalist religions in this context and to explore how this can be countered with a secular morality. Of course this was informed by my perspective as a communist.”

    That statement does not seem unreasonable to me. As an atheist and feminist, if I were asked to give a speech on “Faith,women and morality in the 21st century”, undoubtedly, my opinions and discussion would be influenced/include my atheism and feminism. I assume that fellow atheists on this site would agree that our perspectives are influenced by our atheism, but that should not be justification for our exclusion from public discussions.

    “Today, progressive and radical thinkers across the country are routinely dis-invited, their speech is routinely suppressed, they are pressured to self-censor, the are fired or denied tenure, and the discourse of this society is routinely kept within “safe” limits that do not challenge a bloody status quo.”

    I am not a communist. But I don’t think you have to be a radical to find some truth in that statement. As a humanist I care about people;the intricacy of their ideas and actions. Thus I am disappointed by the actions of the Ethical Humanist Society, a group which claims to “promote intellectual, philosophical, and artistic freedom” but shies away from a (potentially controversial) speaker who would most benefit from that atmosphere.

  • This entire thing sounds childish to me. She was asked to speak on a specific subject, she wanted to speak about something else, they tried to work with her, and she threw a tantrum and protested them for being such big bullies. She clearly wants to make herself a martyr – just look at her speech about having to be “in exile”. When I think of this, all I can picture is Sunsara, arms folded, cheeks puffed out, trying to hold her breath until she turns blue.

    Regarding the paragraph quoted by haley, I suggest you read it in context. Sunsara is stating that, by dis-inviting her, the EHSC is essentially supporting the beating and rape of women around the world. She’s put herself onto a ridiculously self-important pedestal and is trying to evoke emotional support rather than rational support. Don’t be fooled.

  • sailor

    However you look at it the EHSC was paranoid enough to bring on the goons who beat up the photographer. They claim he deserved it but do not give an iota of detail as to how. Bunch of idiots trying to cover their asses as far as I can see. And I don’t care what Sunsara is like. Unless she was likely to arrive with a bunch of armed nazi thugs, bringing on strong arms that are not in your control is uncalled for.

    The end shows the nature of the means.

  • They claim he deserved it but do not give an iota of detail as to how.

    Apart from, y’know, that bit where he assaulted and injured an officer.

    As for “beating him up”, I don’t see any evidence of that apart from the claims of Sunsara and her coterie. There’s a photo of him being pinned to the ground, and that’s it. If we get word from the police (or an uninterested third party), or a video of the cameraman being beaten up, I’ll believe it. Until then, it’s he-said she-said.

  • Sunsara doesn’t address several points bought up by EHSC in the letter they provided to Mehta.

    The lawyer even admits there were “others.”

    So, did Sunsara recite the speech or not?

    They offered her a workshop and she did a speech in “exile” (whatever that means).

    what gives…?

  • haley

    In the EHSC’s response, they make it seem like they offered the workshop as a compromise. However, according to the Volunteer Tour Coordinator, the said workshop was scheduled far in advance, completely separate of this particular issue.

    The “exile” discussion was, apparently given at the home of a person involved with the EHSC. The EHSC did not arrange for that or offer it as a compromise. It was independently voluntary.

    I would like to see a video of the event as well. Unfortunately, the one person with a video camera, was seized and arrested. It seems that if Sunsara and her supporters were a threat, she would have been arrested….not the person trying to create a recorded document.

    The other eyewitness is a lawyer, and even she was appalled by the illegality of what took place.

    Rather than discuss if she was right or wrong, he-said, she-said, I would be interested in people’s perception of the importance of having “radical” ideas/speeches in public forums. Ultimately, I think that was the point Sunsara was making.

  • ThriceGreatMe

    Apart from, y’know, that bit where he assaulted and injured an officer.

    As for “beating him up”, I don’t see any evidence of that apart from the claims of Sunsara and her coterie. There’s a photo of him being pinned to the ground, and that’s it. If we get word from the police (or an uninterested third party), or a video of the cameraman being beaten up, I’ll believe it. Until then, it’s he-said she-said.

    I admit to having no idea of the kind of people who run the EHSC, but have these people never engaged in any kind of public activism?

    If they had, they should have at least some sympathy for another persons desire to express their opinions, no matter how misguided that persons methods or motivations.

    The local city council is often hijacked by an older gentlemen who constantly feels the need to use the televised meetings to express his views on various political subjects of only occasional relevance to the issues being discussed.

    Not once has he ever been ordered to leave or been escorted out. The meetings may sometimes run longer as a result, but the council members recognize that what he is doing is mostly harmless, and to sic the cops on him would both reflect badly on themselves, and potentially bring harm and injury to an eccentric old man.

    Really, what kind of group is the EHSC if they are more scared of a political protest than they are of a police presence?

    As someone who worked for years in the hotel business, and had to call the cops on numerous occasions, the idea of the Chicago police roughing up some poor guy for no good reason is very easy for me to believe.

    Involving the police was always the absolute last resort, if for no other reason than I could never predict how the cops would react on any given night.

    Sometimes the officers would be level headed and help to resolve the situation, and other times they’d act like thugs who would just make it worse by reacting in a way that was totally out of proportion and leave me feeling guilty has hell for having but some poor drunk slob through hell.

    I sure as hell would never call the cops on someone just because they were an argumentative jerk who doesn’t know when to shut up.

    There was no ideal way to resolve the situation, but I’ve read nothing that would convince me that the best solution wasn’t to let this woman grandstand for her 5, 10, or 15 minutes and be done with it. And for Christ’s sake go ahead and let one of her associates film it so they can post it to Youtube or whatever. Why the hell would this be a problem?

    Yes, plenty of people would be inconvienced and some egos would get bruised, but no-one gets hurt.

  • Sue B.

    I’m Sunsara Taylor’s tour coordinator in Chicago.

    RE:Did Sunsara give her speech or not?

    She gave her speech “Morality Without Gods” in exile at the home of a EHSC society member, to nearly 50 people. At EHSC she gave a brief statement of a couple of minutes about how she was disinvited on the basis of misrepresentations of her positions, her talk, and who she is — and why that is ethically wrong and should be reversed. This all took place before the 10:30am start time of the regular Sunday program, while she was standing next to her chair. She was not disrupting their program.

    Haley is right about the circumstances of the workshop — this was not offered in compensation for cancelling Sunday’s program.

    And, yes, extremely important to all of this is the need to open up more space in society for critical thinking and debate, for radical, unconventional, communist, etc, ideas to get into the discourse and engaged – in the realm of morals and ethics, politics, sciences and art, etc. Moves to dis-invite people because of their unconventional or radical views — distancing from these views – is contributing to an increasing chill in society. And this is why it’s important for people to stand up to reverse these harmful decisions when they happen. You don’t have to go after everyone for the fear and chill to set in more broadly.

  • I’m washing my hands of this. I wanted to type up another big long response to something someone else said, but it’s not even relevant to me. I started as a disinterested third party and I think I should stay that way. It doesn’t seem to me like anyone involved in this is behaving particularly maturely.

  • And now, since I can’t just leave well enough alone, I’m looking into information about the Revolutionary Communist Party of which Sunsara is a member. I’m sure that just saying this will stir up the pot a bit, but apparently other communists seem to look at the RCP as a personality cult focused around the leader, Bob Avakian.

    This also isn’t Sunsara’s first time making martyr of herself and boasting about it. Example here.

    And based on this kind of analysis of a movie, I can’t help but think that she’s slightly out of touch with reality:

    While Judd Apatow, the film’s creator, is pro-choice and insists he is not trying to make any kind of statement with the movie, Knocked Up is nothing less than an ideological sledgehammer chock-full of the hard-core anti-abortion, patriarchal, and traditional values that are on the rise today. That it is a skillful work of art told with the smug comedic sensibilities of a raunchy “post-feminist” generation–replete with awkward sex scenes, smart cultural references, disdainful jabs at the stereotypes of married life, and no allusions to religion–only makes its vicious underlying social conservatism more insidious. Even deadly.

    This whole thing is beginning to disgust me. Nobody did what they should have done, and it seems like everyone is grandstanding now.

  • muggle

    In exile, Susan B, give me a break and grow up. She was not shipped off to Elba. She was denied a platform in a private organization to espouse views opposite to theirs. Waa, waa, waa.

    How can anyone be so absurd as to compare that to a citizen of a city participating, however weirdly (and we’ve only your opionion that it’s weirdly), in his city’s council meetings? This is why people are so afraid of taking part in the democratic process. Because they’ll be so villified for it.

    He’s part of the city, hello? Not a guest asked to speak on one topic then demanding to speak on something totally different and totally against what said private organization stands for? If I’m understanding this right, the EHS is against oppression and communism is oppresion.

    Funny how the only eyewitness who saw what “really” happened is one of her supporters and conveniently a lawyer. Meanwhile, we’re supposed to take this one eye witness account over several of those given by members of EHS. As my six year old grandson (who apparently has more sense than this supposedly grown woman) would put it, “you joking me?” (Yes, he is a fine skeptical thinker already. Sorry. Had to get that brag in there. I’m a grandma.)

    As a woman I’ve got to say, women would just be so protected and have so many rights in communism? Yeah, right.

    One thing on her website is really pissing me off. Or one thing terribly lacking and glaring in the lack thereof while she’s crying about starving babies and it’s the same thing that pisses me off about feed the children commercials — no freaking mention of promoting birth control, the single most important factor in liberating women, frankly. We can stand up to those men who would oppress (it ain’t all of them, honey) because we’re not continually pregnant any more, because we have control over our bodies. Hell, Ms. Taylor can do what she’s doing because she’s not having babies every year. But while talking about starving babies and mothers saying please take one just feed it no mention of the one thing that would go miles in liberating that woman and the millions like her? Or did I miss it? (I didn’t get over every square inch of her web site yet and won’t unless I have time this weekend and the grandson’s sick, you know the child of the one child I chose to make.)

    Finally, AM I THE ONLY FREAKING ONE SEEING THE IRONY OF SOMEONE PROMOTING COMMUNISM DEMANDING A FREE SPEECH PLATFORM!!!

  • ThatOtherGuy

    “However you look at it the EHSC was paranoid enough to bring on the goons who beat up the photographer.”

    That’s because Sunsara is a revolutionary communist; she supports armed revolution and dictatorship. She brought an entourage of 20 people, OF COURSE the EHSC is going to freak out.

    “Finally, AM I THE ONLY FREAKING ONE SEEING THE IRONY OF SOMEONE PROMOTING COMMUNISM DEMANDING A FREE SPEECH PLATFORM!!!”

    Not at all. She demands free speech, but if made the dictator she would immediately quash it. I hear that her own blog is highly censored; if you don’t support her, you don’t get to comment.

  • Brian Macker

    How dishonestly Martha Conrad portrays things, typical lawyer. Just because an event is free and open to the public doesn’t mean you can get up on stage and take over.

    It is more than clear now that Taylor was disinvited to the Sunday event, was given her own event on Saturday and an alternate venue on Sunday, yet she insisted on interrupting the Sunday event. She trespassed on private property.

    It’s clear who is in the wrong here.

  • Christophe Thill

    Another thing that Sunsara Taylor says on her blog (and I don’t know whether it’s true, but if it is, it doesn’t make the EHSC look so good):

    She says she was part of a panel called “A Communist, A Buddhist and a Priest Sit Down to Discuss… Morality to Change the World: With or Without God(s)?” at Columbia College. Her contribution, apparently, covered pretty much the same topic as her proposed speech at the EHSC was supposed to do.

    There, a member of the EHSC came to her and proposed to invite her.

    I suppose that person knew exactly, at the time, what she had to say, and wanted her precisely to say it in another context.

    Also, she says that the actual reason her speech was cancelled is because it was reviewed by another member of the Society, who is a professor in the Chicago School of Business (not exactly liberal) and said that obviously her analysis of the role of globalisation was wrong, and she shouldn’t be invited to speak.

    Again, I don’t know what the Society has to say about all this (perhaps they’ll say it’s just lies). But I’d sure like to know.

  • muggle

    Mike, thank you. Now that I have had a little time to poke around on her site, I do stand corrected on that point but the rest stands.

    However, even in that blog, there is a creepy bit that this mother and grandmother would fight her tooth and nail on. She has a sentence about the collective raising the child. This is much worse than Hillary Clinton’s frankly offensive it takes a village to raise a child bit and my reaction to that has been, keep your freaking village out of my child! A collective woah, far worse, far more individuality depriving of said child. Both statements have chilling shades of let’s train the babies to conform.

    If anything, parents need more control over their own children, not less. There need to be safeguards for abuse but, man, it’s gone from one extreme to the other.

    Also, hello, just because I feel motherhood was one of the great accomplishments of my life doesn’t mean it’s the only by any stretch of the imagination. I haven’t done anything fame worthy and I haven’t accumulated great wealth but I have provided for me and mine without compromising my principals, without being utterly phony. I could have made more money but I valued other things more and made my own choices on that score. I am proud of myself for that in a society that does rather overvalue the almighty buck.

    But I also pride myself on being a good mother and grandmother. It is part and parcel of who I am as a person. And this asshole doesn’t want women who do choose to have child(ren) feeling that way? Fuck her. I broke the cycle of abuse. I raised my child godless. I did not let the state dictate to me what values to instill. I am helping my daughter with my grandson and enabling her to go to college. Damned straight being a mother and grandmother is a large part of my identity as a woman — and that’s as it should be and it certainly isn’t limited to just women. I can’t stand my boss but we have this much in common, being a dad and a grandfather is something that’s a big part of who he is.

    She also spends a lot of space on promoting the male leaders of her Communist party but I don’t see any promotion of women leaders. Other than herself, of course.

  • Stagyar zil Doggo

    Dear Sunsara Taylor and Sue B.,

    Hey, can I come over to your place to tell you about the total awesomeness of Austrian Economics?

    What do you mean you don’t want me in your home because I scare the children, and I shouldn’t come over because it’s private property? Its unethical for you to exclude me from that space. In fact, I’m going to enter your living room and sit there for an hour tomorrow, waiting for you to do the right thing and let me expound. In case you still refuse to do the “right thing”, I’ll give my speech IN EXILE at a friend’s place.

    Exile
    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.*

    *Unless of course, Ms Taylor is or was a member of the EHSC. Is she?

    PS: Needless to say, I am completely clueless about Austrian Economics besides that its beloved by right wing nutjobs. Further needless to say, I don’t actually intend to trespass into anyone’s house (and am universally beloved by children).

    PPS: Yes, I realize that my little parable corresponds to the situation under discussion only inexactly since no invitation to speak at their places of residence was either extended to me or withdrawn by Ms Taylor or Ms Sue B.

  • Brian Macker

    … and hated by left wing nutjobs.

    Just balancing out your ignorance.

    Here’s something written by an Austrian Economist over 60 years ago.

    “The case against government-guaranteed loans and mortgages to private businesses and persons is almost as strong as, though less obvious than, the case against direct government loans and mortgages. The advocates of government-guaranteed mortgages also forget that what is being lent is ultimately real capital, which is limited in supply, and that they are helping identified B at the expense of some unidentified A. Government-guaranteed home mortgages, especially when a negligible down payment or no down payment whatever is required, inevitably mean more bad loans than otherwise. They force the general taxpayer to subsidize the bad risks and to defray the losses. They encourage people to “buy” houses that they cannot really afford. They tend eventually to bring about an oversupply of houses as compared with other things. They temporarily overstimulate building, raise the cost of building for everybody (including the buyers of the homes with the guaranteed mortgages), and may mislead the building industry into an eventually costly overexpansion. In brief in the long run they do not increase overall national production but encourage malinvestment.”

    Socialists never learn. Then when they screw things up they blame it on free markets.

    For example the economic mess we are in right now is quite predictable as the outcome of the policies we have been following for the past 20 years. The internet bubble was the classic symptom of the business cycle being created by monetary pumping, bailouts, government guaranteed loans and GSEs, etc. All socialist interventions that were also practiced worldwide by other countries who are also in this mess.

    BTW, the current set of economic ignoramuses running the country are making things much worse. They are in fact following exactly the wrong policies. We will pay with an even more severe downturn in the future.

  • Stagyar zil Doggo

    … and hated by left wing nutjobs.

    Which was kind of my point in using it as a prop, but never mind.

    Oh! and not being an economist myself, I had erroneously accepted the socialist’s narrative about the economic mess. You know, the one which unfairly blames CDOs and the like. But clearly, it was the socialist Government guaranteed loans that were the cause. Thank you for correcting me.

  • Evan Kane

    Spoke with the Skokie police today and learned two interesting bits of information.

    1. The supposedly docile cameraman who was maced and arrested for “no good reason” has a long arrest record that not only includes violent crime but he has even been convicted of homicide.

    2. The camera that he was using to record the even was NOT confiscated by the police. What is on this tape that the Sunsara Taylor people don’t want us to see? They sure are quick to post everything else.

    The police report is now public for anyone interested in getting it.

  • Lehooo

    I can’t believe all the bullshit being spewed all over this comment thread! These two posts by Hemant were about this particular incident and whether the involved parties were acting ethically and whether either of them broke any laws. As usual though, whenever politics is involved in any form, people can’t help but get into a discussion of social and economic philosophies that are tangentially related of course, but hardly at the heart of the issue at hand.

    The point is, neither of us have enough information to take sides in this. It’s fine to make statements in the form of “if this representation of the situation is true then the person being described acted wrongfully”, it is not ok to make bold statements about the behavior of either party during this event based on anything that has been written here. Yes it is their right to decide who to invite and disinvite but that is not the same as saying it’s ethically supported, the question whether it is can only be decided by having lots more information about their decision process than we have here, so that question must remain unanswered. Exactly what happened between the cameraman and the police will probably never be known to us, maybe he did resist and lash out against the police in a manner that called for force, maybe they did not use more force than was absolutely necessary, and maybe it was the other way around, maybe he did nothing wrong, maybe the police were using unnecesssary force, no one here has any idea! Going after the character of either party and calling them childish in their behavior while not actually having enough evidence to decide on the matter, is ironic in the extreme. And speaking of ironic: no, being a communist does not entail opposition towards free speech, the concept of communism is not synonymous with the societies that have historically attempted to implement some interpretation of it. This is not intended as a defense of communism, I will not get into the political debate here, this is a general statement applying equally to any political philosophy. This means that I would protest just as much had anyone used some percieved injustice in say americas society to attack the very idea of capitalism. To use Sunsara’s previous actions, speeches, website censoring policies, etc., against her is of course perfectly fine. If for example she has been arguing against free speech in previous cases but are suddenly in favor of it when it comes to her, then this would be an extreme exampel of hypocricy, and as such, should be pointed out for all to see, but to attribute any such hypocricy to anyone calling themselves communist, is grossily misinformed.

    In any case, this is not the place to discuss such issues. Comments on this issue on the basis of the information that has been recieved, with an appropriate measure of skepticism conscerning the reliability of the sources of said information, is what should fill this thread, anything else is noise…

  • Brian Macker

    Stagyar,

    CDOs are a symptom not a cause. These episodes have been repeated throughout history and the primary reason is loose money. The main driver of the housing bubble was the low interest rates, GSEs like Freddy and Fannie, FHA, etc.

    They set up a system where the government was accepting all the consequences for any risks being taken. Is it any wonder that people will behave this way when the government is picking up the tab.

    Companies were selling risky loans because the government sponsored entities were buying them up with the claimed full backing of the Feds printing presses.

    As you can see the government is assuming the costs of the risks taken, just as they promised. If the government is going to pay people to practice risky behavior then you’ll get stupid behavior. Especially if they get to keep the profits up to the point where things go bad, and then get bailouts to cover any mistakes. Especially if they are managing other peoples money.

  • Greg L

    After all of these immense comments, I wasn’t sure I should speak up. But what I have to say is short anyway.

    We don’t really know what happened here. It appears that both parties made poor choices.

    And, most importantly for myself, any group who has participated in protest events would know that cops are a great idea if you expect ill-mannered opposition. If a bunch of people who have a history of active protest showed up at my party, I’d sure as heck call the cops for backup.

  • Stagyar zil Doggo

    The camera that he was using to record the even was NOT confiscated by the police.

    There were upto 40 people in that room and only the one cellphone camara? What kind of luddites are you people?

    Oh! and arrest record don’t mean shit – particularly for a serial protester. Innocent till proven guilty, remember. The conviction for homicide (or other violent crime) would be relevant, if true.

    The police report is now public for anyone interested in getting it.

    Link please? Although I’d treat any arrest report where the police describe how the perp violently assaulted all ten of their fists with his face with a tad suspicion.

  • Brian Macker

    “Oh! and arrest record don’t mean shit – particularly for a serial protester. ”

    I’ve protested several times this year and never got arrested. It’s likely evidence of a serial trespasser, not protester, or perhaps worse. Besides the Evan Kane said the arrest record was for violent crime. Since when do you have to commit violent crimes to protest?

  • Brian Macker

    “And speaking of ironic: no, being a communist does not entail opposition towards free speech, the concept of communism is not synonymous with the societies that have historically attempted to implement some interpretation of it. This is not intended as a defense of communism, I will not get into the political debate here, this is a general statement applying equally to any political philosophy.”

    Of course being a communist entails opposition towards free speech. Communism entails the external control of every aspect of the individuals life, because it rejects private property.

    Someone else gets to decide what your job is, and what resources you get to have. You can’t own a printing press, you can’t own a pen, you can’t own anything. You are not in individual control because ownership entails control and communists reject this for the individual.

    Your first sentence didn’t make sense but if you were trying to claim that communists countries have historically had free speech then you are living in a fantasy world. Communist have always repressed free speech wherever they are in control, always. Especially when the free speech was against the thugs in control.

    Look at Venezuela. It’s merely socialist and they are repressing free speech by closing TV stations, having union thugs beat people up who are not tresspassing, etc.

    Communist heroes are violent vicious men, and not just Mao and Stalin, people like Che, and Lenin too.

    To communists the worlds problems are caused by the very factors that solve our problems. They misidentify the problem and therefore come up with a solution that must inevitably end in repression, suffering and bloodshed. Private property is the solution to the problem of human cooperation, and plan coordination. Without property it becomes a political fight over who gets to stand at the podium to speak. With private property you can build your own podium.

  • Stagyar zil Doggo

    @Brian Macker:

    I’ve protested several times this year and never got arrested.

    It must have been for something no-one gave a shit about. Or maybe you stayed within the “designated free speech zones”. Cos otherwise this, or this has been known to happen.

    It’s likely evidence of a serial trespasser, not protester, or perhaps worse. Besides the Evan Kane said the arrest record was for violent crime.

    Right, cos why bother with things like trials or convictions. Surely, the police cannot be wrong when they arrest you for something. By the way, I’m curious if the “violent crimes” he was arrested for included stuff like “resisting arrest” and “assaulting a police officer”?

    @Everyone Else:
    Lest there be any confusion due to these bickerings with Brian Macker, my current opinion (based on the information available so far and subject to revision) is that Ms Taylor and the Maoists are considerably more in error.

    While the EHSC may have been guilty of general cluelessness and minor attempts at revisionism, Ms Taylor and her cohorts entered private property despite it being clearly indicated to them that they were unwelcome (as per their own histrionic narrative) and then disrupted proceedings. Whether they were explicitly told not to enter, or told to leave, and the extent of the disruption they caused, are all indecipherable in the cacophony of he-said, she-said narratives. But I find the story they’re trying to sell – one in which the EHSC (in cahoots with evil banker Anil Kashyap) baited the poor flower children with an “open to all” invitation and then ambushed them with hidden cops – hard to swallow. That the EHSC were scared enough to move the children elsewhere and to have cops on site, and yet did not ask the Maoists to not enter/leave fails to pass the smell test. Whether their fears were justified or not, is of course a separate issue.

  • Lehooo

    @Brian Macker: You seem unable to parse a simple sentence, take a closer look at it.

    the concept of communism is not synonymous with the societies that have historically attempted to implement some interpretation of it. This is not intended as a defense of communism, I will not get into the political debate here, this is a general statement applying equally to any political philosophy.

    What this sentence means, for those unable to understand simple english, is not that the historical communist regimes (which I’m reluctant to call them) have not suppressed people freedoms, of course they have! I am strongly opposed to any regime that suppresses people’s freedom of expression, this has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of communism. This is what I actually said, and I was careful to note that this was not a statement that only applies to communism. No political philosophy is responsible for regimes that claim to be based on that philosophy and that have also suppressed people due to principles not found in that original philosophy.

    Where are you getting your definition of communism? From Ayn Rand? Have you read the communist manifesto? But why bother to go to the source? I’m sure the opponents of a philosophy can be trusted to supply a fair representation of it… And just because you seem a bit lacking in your ability to understand english: No, this is not an endorsement of communism. I’m simply trying to clarify it’s basic ideas. As Marx envisioned it, it would be a classless society where decisions are made democratically! contrary to what most people seem to believe, communism is not an alternative to democracy, only to capitalism. I know many seem to think capitalism is a synonym for democracy but this is misinformed to say the least.

    The main difference between the true communist society and the modern capitalist one, is that property is owned collectively (an idea which I don’t endorse), that the economy is planned and that no one has the freedom to own a company with workers under them, the workers would own the company collectively. I’m getting to much into the details of communism here, but my main point is simply that nowhere in these principles of communism, as laid out by Marx and others, can one find the idea that someone else decideds for you what you do and what you can say. Many people (though not me) call themselves communists because they believe in the form of society that Marx and others proposed, not because they supported Soviet Russia, Cuba, or any other repressing regime. To imply that the idea of communism is synonymous with support of the oppression found in such regimes is to be ignorant of what true proponents of the political philosophy actually stand for. That is all.

  • Brian Macker

    Lehoo,

    Your sentence was ambiguous as to the subject of the pronoun “it”. Learn to use periods instead of commas.

    And speaking of ironic: no, being a communist does not entail opposition towards free speech, the concept of communism is not synonymous with the societies that have historically attempted to implement some interpretation of it.

    BTW, that’s not simple English. That’s a run on sentence that starts with “And”, or is it starting with “no”. Who the hell knows.

    Of course if you chop it as you have that alters it’s meaning and makes it more understandable. Now I understand you meant to have a period, and that therefore “it” refers to communism and not to “opposition towards free speech”.

    Yeah I get what you are saying now. Same old tired excuses made by Marxists. No Marxist never set up a communist state. Of course you can’t because the philosophy is contradictory with reality. Marxism is self contradictory too. That doesn’t stop people from trying to set up such states, and of course failing.

    Here’s from the communist manifesto: “In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. “

    When they do try to abolish private property that violates peoples free speech rights. I already explained why. Unless you are going to argue that Marx didn’t actually want to abolish property. Which would be a lie.

    All property cannot be owned collectively and voted democratically without someone or some group being in control. Somebody has to implement “the plan”, and when that happens you’ve got a boss. Since you’d have no property you couldn’t act as an individual and would have to ask the representatives of the collective what you could or could not do.

    “…my main point is simply that nowhere in these principles of communism, as laid out by Marx and others, can one find the idea that someone else decideds for you what you do and what you can say.”

    Look, your democratic system either has to vote on every single decision or it has to appoint representatives. Voting on every single decision isn’t a plan, and is in fact impossible. We cannot collectively vote on what each of us is going to eat for dinner every night, or who far apart we are going to plant seeds, etc.

    So there must be representatives who are in charge of the collective property. Once that happens someone else is going to be deciding what you do, and yes what you can say, because if they don’t like your objections to their plan they will withhold resources from you.

    It’s amazing how incompetent you are in understanding such basic concepts and yet you are trying to lecture me.

    I’ve already read the Communist Manifesto back in college thirty years ago. I suggest that you read Thomas Sowell’s book “Marxism”. Sowell is a former Marxist and he demolishes the philosophy. He understands it a lot better than you do.

    It’s funny how Marx spends most of the Manifesto arguing against perfectly reasonable objections to his political hypothesis. Those objections were proven true with every attempt at setting up a Marxist system. Now that’s ironic. Results the exact opposite as Marx argued, and fully in line with his opponents objections. Worse it was obvious he had heard the objections.

  • Brian Macker

    Look at this dopey totalitarian wish list in the manifesto.

    Notice how you can’t get past item 2 without being in contradiction. How the hell can anyone have income if you can’t have any property? Income is property.

    Notice how in item 6) he’s confiscated all means of communication. No freedom of the press which means NO FREE SPEECH.

    I think it’s you who has problems with comprehension, or it’s you who didn’t read the manifesto. Either one or the other.

    I think you are going by what apologists for communism say instead of finding out for yourself.

    1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
    2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
    3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
    4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
    5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
    6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
    7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
    8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
    9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
    10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.

  • Brian Macker

    “To imply that the idea of communism is synonymous with support of the oppression found in such regimes is to be ignorant of what true proponents of the political philosophy actually stand for. That is all.”

    Absolute baloney. If Marx isn’t a true proponent of his own political philosophy then no one is.

    He outlines quite clearly a monstrous plan of oppression. What do you think item 4 above is about. How can one practice “Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.” without oppression.

    What that means is that he is going to steal everything from anyone who either disagrees with him, or tries to escape from his madness.

    Is that plain enough English for you?

  • Stagyar zil Doggo

    @Brian Macker:

    You’d have fewer disagreements with people if you would read more carefully.

    Notice how you can’t get past item 2 without being in contradiction. How the hell can anyone have income if you can’t have any property? Income is property.

    1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
    2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

    Not to defend Marxism or anything, but 1. proposes to abolish property in land, not all property. He may let you have a little bit of money once in a while.

  • muggle

    Um, Stagyar, that’s okay with you? I rent and hate it and that’s not even okay with me.

    Look, plain and simple, communism would necessarily have to remove far too many freedoms to “work”. The State would tell you when and where to work. The State would raise your children. The State will tell you can’t move out of that apartment that turned out horribly.

    The State, in short, in the name of equality, would make slaves of all citizens.

    Much as I despise the robber baron mentality growing in this country, it’s still preferrable to everyone being a slave to the State.

  • muggle

    Wow, after making the quick comment above, I went up and read. Scary stuff, even scarier than I thought, this communism.

    The list Brian posted is bad enough but, man, this page alone from the link Lehoo provided is enough to say fuck that shit:

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/06/09.htm

    Seems Brian’s right. And communism wants to replace God with the State or at least that page sure as hell reads like that. Even your children are controlled by the State, not you. To be indoctrinated by it.

    How… Very… Cult… Like…

    Shove Communism. And, apparently, you’ve no comprehension just how much it would curtail personal freedom.

    Let’s just look at that bit about no employees, just companies owned by the workers (i.e., State). Some of us choose to work for other people because it is freer than working for yourself in some respects. Hate your job, you’re free to find a new one. That’s not possible without a mountain of red tape (with the possibility of being denied or shipped some place horrible to work for merely making the request) in the scenario painted. If you are an owner, you don’t just get to walk away.

    Please note we are not a pure democracy. A pure democracy would suck! It would be tyranny of the minority by the majority. No minority rights whatsoever. No freedom to dissent. We are a democratic republic and that’s a world of difference.

    That’s what makes the US, despite all its flaws, still the best country in the world.

    Newsflash, perfection isn’t possible.

    You all who want Communism are nuts is what I’m saying. If you truly believe accepting a job is akin to being a slave anyway.

  • Stagyar zil Doggo

    @muggle:

    Um, Stagyar, that’s okay with you? I rent and hate it and that’s not even okay with me.

    No, it isn’t. Please re-read my comment and note that I expressed no love for Marxism. Although I might support laws imposing a ceiling on individual landholdings, empowering the state to keep these ‘excess’ lands or to redistribute them in a process free from close public scrutiny is a bad idea.

    I am generally in agreement with Mr. Macker’s criticisms of communism. It’s his (apparent) worship of unrestrained free markets that I disagree with. To the extent I understand it, communism is merely the very worst sort of monopolistic capitalism. It is also indistinguishable from absolute monarchy except in name. Both of these are very bad things to me.

  • Lehooo

    First of all, sorry for dissappearing from this conversation for so long! I certainly didn’t try to escape from it, I was simpy unaware that there were any new responses. I could swear I checked the box to get email notifications, but I received none. Second, regarding my ambiguous sentence there, yes I can see how it could have been misunderstood, my bad.

    Now, on to the substance of our disagreement. Some of the replies here seems to assume that whenever anyone, be it me or Stagyar here, points out a perceived mischaracterization of Marxism and/or communism, this is equivalent to an endorsement of those ideologies. Needless to say, this is not the case. I have stated clearly that I am not defending communism and that I don’t endorse the ban of all personal property. I also never claimed to be an expert on communism, and some of your remarks were enlightening, I agree with some of your criticism of Marx and communism.

    These issues however, interesting as they may be, are not related to the claim I tried to make: that Marxism does not support the oppression of free speech, even though the so called communist regimes always have. I never said Marx didn’t support his own idelogy. I was simply trying to make the argument that the originator of an ideology is not responsible for the (supposed) attempted implementations of it if the implementors did not adhere strictly to the original principles by twisting them, subtracting form them, or adding to them in a substantial way, nor are followers of the ideology guilty of the crimes others have commited in the name of it. This goes for all philosophies, political or otherwise, and all religions.

    This was a fairly general statement trying to clear out what I thought I had already been clear about. Moving on to the specific, the issue of free speech, I have to again point out that it is not even adressed in the communist manifesto, hence the oppression of this freedom can not be said to be endorsed in that document. The only item that may seem to relate to this at all is the one you pointed out, number 6. However, the centralization of communication is not equivalent to an obliteration of free speech. That fact that the covernment is in charge of some channel of communication does not automatically mean that they censor it. If you are afraid that they will and feel it’s better to protect freedom of oppinion and speech with a free market, you can argue for that all you want, but don’t misrepresent what the manifesto actually says. If the manifesto of any political philosophy does not explicitly say that it endorses the oppression of free speech, you can not make an intellectually honest argument that the followers of that philosophy will inevitably be in favor of such oppression. Furthermore, your statement that:

    When they do try to abolish private property that violates peoples free speech rights

    is ludicrous. Free speech means freedom to express opinions, not to own property. If you want to call abolition of private property a form of oppression, then fine, argue for that, but to call it an oppression of free speech is beyond ridiculous.