An appeal to moderation

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An appeal to moderation

Post by admin » Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:20 pm

No matter how I word them, my appeals to moderation on this forum have ALWAYS been firm. It does not mean that I will speak loudly or softly, as I am capable of both depending on the moment (or as Michel would have it, when he asked me to evidence the feminine side of me, the time of the month, I suppose). However, I never make appeals to forum members just to exercise my typing fingers. I truly like heated discussions (that is, energetic and substantive in content, as this current discussion is, and I have been following it with much interest), but I always think that it is possible to argue rationally and forcefully without being intentionally disrespectful, as Matarezzi was to Zidane for instance).

When Michael Deibert came on this forum, I felt that some gratuitous insults were addressed to him, simply because he was not one of "our own" or not supporting the same political cause that some of us do. I strenuously objected to that, to the point that Harvard, I believe, said "Why are you defending Michael Deibert?" I had to explain to him that I was defending principles and the free exchange of ideas on a forum, and not Michael Deibert in particular (because, well, he could certainly do that on his own). Michael, predictably, responded in kind, and for a while, it appeared that the discussions had turned into a "free for all" fight where insults flew from both sides. I kept on objecting until the insults subsided, though an uneasy silence seemed to have replaced them. But then, I had a very long discussion with Michael, on the forum [ I no longer remember exactly which thread(s) ], in which I believe we sparred, on the merits of the topic (now, I remember, it was about the objectivity of RNDDH and Yvon Neptune's alleged sins, and the saints and fallen angels of RAMICOS and Bale Wouze, and so forth) but we were able to do that without drawing blood from each other. I wanted to set the tone for other discussions that would take place on the forum and I do believe that is what the tone should be: not cheap shots about where someone decides to live his life, what city a person is writing from, the race/color/nationality of the individual in the discussion, how many months/years someone has actually lived in a country in order to quantitatively determine whether the person has anything of value to say about it, whether or not a person stands to make money from what he writes, and all sorts of other unverifiable assumptions about the person's intentions or personal ambitions. To me, all of that is just rubbish, not to say that any of it is inherently false, but as far as the arguments goes, I would rather rely on proven facts and logical deductions and inferences than on assumed personal attributes of the people involved in the discussion (as so often we are wrong in our assumptions, but never apologize for them). That's what I wish to be my legacy to Haitians: to have created a space where people can discuss their differences rationally, and leave aside the personal attacks, the cheap shots, the wild assumptions about people that we have never met, and the over-the-top generalizations about people's political and ideological sympathies.

Unfortunately, just as Michael Deibert's "instant expertise" on Haiti has been relentlessly questioned (did he live there for months or years?), and more so even than his dogged, intractable anti-aristidism (hey, I know that I will get an argument about that, that is Michael will say that the ocean is not really that deep...), Michael has in turn become almost insufferable in his questioning of the sentiments or knowledge of Haitians living in the purportedly insensitive and disconnected "diaspora". To sum it, he seems to say, "I know better than you, because I was there and you were not". Again, assumptions. Many of us do travel and quite often (though I do not speak for myself on that score, nor do I wish to at this point). Many of us have extensive contacts with folks back home. Many of us have an innate understanding of the culture, though it cannot be said that "foreigners cannot get it" . Many of us are not necessarily "bourgeois" in standards of living or in mindset. Many of us do not necessarily give in to political partisanship and offer our blind allegiance to anyone, whether that person be called Aristide, Apaid, Siméus, or ANY OTHER NAME you can come up with. Many of us can be independent-minded and quite anxious about the problems faced by the people in our country of origin, whether they happen to be rich or poor, light-skinned or dark-skinned, politically affiliated with this or that other person. Many of us are caring individuals and deeply committed to our Haitian culture and our brothers' welfare wherever they reside (Bahamas, Guadeloupe, Dominican Republic, Cuba, United States or Canada, AS WELL AS HAITI). Furthermore, we can intelligently speak on our own behalf without anyone having to try to invalidate what we say on the basis of where we are or where we have been, and when and for how long. We have the right to say it as we see it. And we should have the right to be proven right or wrong, without being incessantly questioned about where we live and how we live. I will not pretend that "where and how" we live is unimportant and does not color our thought processes, however there are so many patently false assumptions when we generalize about any group of people that we do not really know that no deep insights are really gained, when we make those assumptions the core of our argumentation.

Here are two unfortunate examples, Michael. You said: "and nobody on this forum seems thus far terribly interested as to finding out why..." And you know what? You did not need to say it. I have not said anything about the Martissant massacre, as I am earnestly trying to digest the bad news coming out of my country of origin, at a time when I hoped that things would be going much better. I know that you were not talking to me in particular, but I just want to point out that what you stated is not likely indicative of our true feelings. Sometimes, we just do not know how to express our bewilderment as to events happening in the society we evolved from. It takes us some time to digest the bad news... allow us that time. But, I do get your point and let me tell you why. Every morning, I turn on to BBC.com as a source of world news and I read about 25 people being blown about here in Baghdad and 50 people being killed over there in insurgency skirmishes, and all sorts of other human catastrophes occurring EVERY SINGLE DAY in Iraq because of the United States' dominant political class decision to wage war on a distant country and people of a different race/culture/religion, based on lies, lies, and more lies to a deeply fearful and politically unsophisticated people, traumatized by the events of 9/11, for which rational explanations are still awaiting, and which the government of the United States has exploited and manipulated to previously unimaginable levels of cynicism. American soldiers die, die, and keep on dying. Iraqi citizens also die, probably on the scale of 20 Iraqis for each American. Bush and Cheney spin, spin, and keep on spinning. The American people, for the most part, keep quiet, keep quiet, and keep on keeping quiet. Of course, I too tend to think "what the fuck has happened to the humanity of the American people". But, I keep that thought to myself, and instead I try to comprehend what I do not understand. I want to assume that I am not superior to the American people, living in the States or other reaches of their global empire (which we will not call diaspora).

It is true that some people are uncaring and that some are terribly unsophisticated when it comes to politics, but let me keep from assuming what individual people think or feel in their heart. In a forum such as this one, it is better to stick to the argumentation and nothing but.

And one more thought about this, what the heck is this "forum", when people talk about it as some form of tightly or loosely regulated organization??? I am always amazed about the wild characterizations made about "this forum", no matter how many times I point out to the "forum accusers" that THEY ARE the forum, to the same level as any of the other people that they like to point to as "this forum". Give me a break, please!

As Michel Nau would say, even while breaking his own rules, "STICK TO THE ARGUMENT!"

Finally, a word about respect. When Michael says "If you can't, you will have to admit that you are indeed talking out of your bounda"... please, Michael, do I need to send a note to your school teacher?

.

.

But thanks for the expression, nonetheless. I'll make sure to use it some time, though not on this forum. :P

Michel Nau_

Post by Michel Nau_ » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:00 pm

Guy you have been doing a wonderful job maintaining this forum into a higher level. I understand how difficult it is to control a perfect traffic flow in this wild cyberspace where intelligent members full of ego are not afraid to run a traffic light and run over you at the same time. You are not afraid to give them a ticket and send them to the dugout for a while. Compare to others fora where the F word and other 7 forbidden words by the FCC are flying like bullets in Baghdad City during a hot summer day. Cease fire!! Cease fire!! Enough!
Ann Pale forum is really not bad after all.
Guy is appealing for moderation and we all need to know where the red line is, at least look for It!
Where is the red line!
Just like alcohol, if I go to a get-together, after 2 or 3 beers, I am done for the night. Others are stronger and apt than I am. They could have a keg of beer, and still want some more. My moderation is 2 or 3 beers, others the sky is the limit and I don't blame them if they can handle it and get over board once in a while.
Freedom of speech is a right giving by the Constitution.
Censorship is a measure of control that the moderator has in his power.
Good job Guy!! You're the man!!

Michel 8) 8)

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Post by admin » Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:07 pm

[quote]In some way, you came to their rescue, Guy, and now they will not have to justify their statements with facts.[/quote]
No, I have not done that. In fact, I was avidly following your dialogue, but the tone was getting insulting. At first, I responded directly to that thread, but knowing the admittedly chilling effect of a moderation note, I split it from the thread. I am not stopping anyone from continuing with their argumentation, however correct or faulty it may be.

On the other hand, one should not expect me not to intervene at all when I think that moderation needs to be applied, before the insults get way out of hand.

That's doing my job, and I do it the best way I know how.

I expect others on this forum that you mentioned to speak for themselves. It is not my job to speak for them. Once again, do understand that this forum is not an organization of any kind, even though we socialize on occasion. Everyone is completely responsible for his/her own thoughts and the expression of such.

By the way, given your explanation, I do withdraw my summation of your thoughts as 'I know better than you, because I was there and you were not', as I understand your position much better at this point. But it was this barrage of statements concerning the diaspora that rankled me, because quite frankly I am completely non-apologetic about living in the United States and I am very sensitive to immigration issues. So, I admit, that you pushed my buttons with those repeated statements. Though I understand the point that you currently express and that I welcome the photographic evidence that you have introduced, I will not give to anyone's notion that as a Haitian expatriate I should not discuss the politics and/or the culture that I have always been a part of and that I should believe that someone else understands it better simply because they happen to be there. Imagine someone telling you that while you were in Haiti, you could not possibly comprehend whatever was happening in the United States. That would be rubbish. Keep in mind that there is constant interaction between Haitians living in the U.S. and members of their families back home. We have never become strangers, in any way. However, I completely agree with the notion that when events happen, outside of our capacity to witness them directly, we all have to be extra careful to evaluate the facts and the evidence.

Beyond that, there is also the question of partisanship and polarization that may affect the perception of the people that may be in place and may have even witnessed the events as they unfolded. Case in point: do you think that Sò Ann and Jean-Claude Bajeux could see even the facts related to the polical developments in Haiti during 2001-2003/4 in the same way? Is it reasonable to expect that Kevin Pina and (by now, allow me to say) Michael Deibert to perceive anything related to Aristide through the same prism and reach the same conclusions? Absolutely not! Do you think that the gang members of RAMICOS and BALE WOUZE would have the same version of the facts of what really happened in Saint-Marc, honestly? You often speak of the youth of Cite Soleil and other popular quarters that Aristide used, chewed, and spat out. Is that the only version? Do they all share that analysis?

I think that certainly, you are entitled to the opinions that you have expressed and I would not seek to demonize you for expressing them. Nor would I seek to assign to you ulterior motives, without having ever met you, simply because you are a white journalist. That is not my style. I welcome your observations, which does not necessarily mean that I have to accept them all, on the basis that you were a direct witness and that I was not. That is what I tried to express. We all wear different colored glasses, and we all interpret events differently depending on where our sympathies lie. But we should all be open to the examination of facts and evidence when they are presented. One should not argue with factual evidence, unless it can proven that it has been miscontrued or falsified. This way, we can all learn from each other.

Finally, I will say once again that you are jumping to false conclusions when you state that just because people had not commented on this new massacre at Martissant it means that they do not care. I resent that implication, for reasons I already elaborated on. You should not try to diminish our humanity. If someone's silence surprises you, perhaps you should first investigate as to why they are silent before rushing to judgment.

I hope that you will see my comments in the proper light. Polarization is the key word here: some people have never expressed ONE KIND WORD towards Aristide; some others have never expressed ONE WORD OF CRITICISM about him. What can we expect of their interaction when it happens? Welcome to Haitian Politics 101.

Guy

P.S. Not everyone falls in those two categories, of course, but the polarization of Haitian politics and those who exploit such polarization to the detriment of the Haitian people are undeniable forces that have led Haiti to its current state of ruin. We have to do better than that.

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Wed Jul 12, 2006 5:35 pm

I wish to take a break from the debate, but I'll mention the following:

[quote]...I simply have always found it so that those Haitians still living on the ground in Haiti, of all political stripes, have more insight to deliver about the country's current politics than those who make their home in North America and visit Haiti sporadically. That's simple logic.[/quote]
This simple logic would put MD in a very uncomfortable position - if we had to stretch it just a bit. Should we?

[quote]I am sure it was not intentional, but this posting of yours would seem like a nice way to deflect attention from the corner that Jean-Saint Vil, Gelin and Bouli have painted themselves into</b> in that last few threads. It is telling that a trio of such self-proclaimed intellects</b>...[/quote]
I have had heated debates with Bouli and Jaf (separately) on matters of faith and religion - with others also. I am no member of any trio - except inside MD's head. What can I say? Yes: <i>Lamayòt m pa pè w se moun ou ye...</i>

[quote]That Gelin is unable to quote from anything I wrote between 2001 and 2004 advocating the overthrow of Haiti's government.[/quote]
I have never offered any quote from MD to that effect. Thus, MD may be trying to establish a false problem, solve it, and then give himself a hi5.

Once again, I'll take a break....but for a while only.

gelin

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Post by admin » Mon Jul 24, 2006 6:55 pm

[quote]It is obvious that on this forum one is not allowed to have a particular view.

The numerous negative attributes about my personality and character are more than enough to show my so called anti-social behavior especially when I did and still intend to

"Sing hosanna with the angels, and blaspheme with the devils" [/quote]
I had not checked the Farmer's Almanach, but it seems that the full moon is out, once again.

Gelin_

Re: An appeal to moderation

Post by Gelin_ » Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:33 am

[quote]...Today, regarding the criticism of this "foreigner" who seems to be <u>more patriotic about Haiti</u> than most of us on this forum...[/quote]
A little light would help me here......I am a bit confused.

gelin

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