Patterico's Pontifications

12/13/2009

Jeff Goldstein’s Views of Language Will NOT Prevent You from Being Misinterpreted

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:04 pm

Many believe that Jeff Goldstein espouses a theory of language that prevents speakers from being misinterpreted. Are you kidding me? This guy misinterprets me all the time.

Stick with me, because this isn’t about Robert Stacy McCain, except incidentally. It’s about language and interpretation. And how Jeff Goldstein’s views on those issues don’t protect you from being misinterpreted.

Take Goldstein’s post about Robert Stacy McCain, in which he writes:

Frey called McCain a racist . . .

Not so. In my first post naming McCain, I was very careful not to call McCain “a racist” as a person, and prominently said: “I’m not saying that one racist/prejudiced quote brands you as a racist for all time.”

I have very consistently said that one racist statement does not necessarily make its utterer “a racist.”

Why? Because I limit my claims to that which I can prove. And so I said only that this is a racist statement:

As Steffgen predicted, the media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sisterinlaw, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.

It has surprised me to learn that people disagree whether this statement is racist. I do. Jeff Goldstein doesn’t. Goldstein defends a statement in which McCain rages that the media “force” those awful “interracial images” into the public mind, causing rational people “revulsion.” Fine. We’ll have to disagree on that one.

But I didn’t call McCain “a racist” and I clearly said I was not saying that.

Again, I made that clear because, as regular readers know, I try not to let my statements get ahead of the evidence. Sure, I was aware of other allegations of racism by McCain. Commenters have noted, for example, that on a Civil War listserv group, a “Robert Stacy McCain” proposed a bumper sticker reading: “Have you whipped your slaves today?” I was aware of allegations that he used to link approvingly to sites run by white supremacist groups while posting comments at Free Republic. But at the time I wrote the post, I didn’t have time to look into any of these other allegations or their context. So I stuck to the evidence I had, and was very careful to note that one racist comment does not brand one as a racist for all time.

This did not prevent Jeff Goldstein from coming along and distorting what I had said. Showing that famous regard for the speaker’s intent, he ignored my words and context and declared that, in fact, I had branded McCain as “a racist”:

Frey called McCain a racist . . .

The full context of Goldstein’s claim, and the statement of mine to which he referred, is long and beyond the scope of this post. So I have placed it on a separate page, where I place it in the context of my views of how language works. Don’t defend Goldstein’s comment unless you have read the full explanation on that page. For our purposes here, the key point is that Goldstein claimed I called McCain “a racist” when I had not.

When I explained that I had not, Jeff Goldstein immediately privileged the speaker’s intent above his own told me that I was wrong, and that I had, in fact, called McCain “a racist” because if you say that a person has made a racist statement, you are calling that person racist at the moment of the utterance. In a very slippery way, he changed the terms, saying that I was calling McCain “racist” and using that to defend his claim that I had called McCain “a racist.”

But that little word “a” in front of the word “racist” — IN THIS CONTEXT — makes all the difference.

Uttering one racist statement does not make someone, inherently, “a racist.” It would be like saying that, because everyone reading this post has undoubtedly at one point in their life committed a crime, everyone reading this post is “a criminal.”

What an idiotic statement it would be to say: “Patterico.com is a site whose commenters are exclusively criminals.” This is so, EVEN IF you had all committed crimes (like most humans) at some point in your lives.

Yes, at the moment y’all committed your crimes, you were acting in a criminal manner. At that precise moment, even, you could apply the dictionary definition of “criminal” and say you were a criminal. But it would not be fair to label you a criminal for all time on the basis of that one act. For me to take one of you, at random, and call you “a criminal” on the basis of that evidence would be preposterous.

Imagine that, in a discussion about the overabundance of criminal statutes, you said to someone in comments: “Look, everyone commits crimes. You have committed a crime. Of course, by saying you committed a crime at one point in your life, I am not branding you as a criminal for all time.” You can see how it would be pretty galling if Jeff Goldstein came along later and accused you of calling the other commenter “a criminal.”

This is no longer about McCain, but about language. The larger issue, for me, is that Jeff Goldstein’s views on language don’t protect you from being misinterpreted by people. I have now explained my intent about McCain to Goldstein until I’m blue in the face — getting angry at times, to be sure, because I know what the hell I said — and he will continue to maintain that I didn’t say what I think I said.

I get that many people of good faith somehow missed my statement in my original post where I clearly said I wasn’t branding McCain “a racist” on the basis of one statement. We could debate whose fault that is, but surely once I have explained it, you can accept what I’m saying. I’m the guy who said it, after all — and I’m not backtracking — despite Goldstein’s false statements that I am.

So I am being misinterpreted — and very unreasonably so.

Many of you like to claim that this is ironic, because he has convinced you that I espouse a theory of language that gives primacy to the listener’s intent rather than the speaker’s. This is the Big Lie that he has gotten you to buy into, and this fundamental misunderstanding of my views colors everything about how people view this issue. My view, as stated in March 2009, is: “Interpreters should try to divine the speaker’s true intent.” I have made this crystal clear on more than one occasion, and Goldstein knows it. Here’s another sample from March 2009:

Communication is a two-way street. Listeners must try to divine the true intent of the speaker. Speakers must clearly communicate their intent if they wish to be understood.

Yes, I understand that listeners must try to divine the speaker’s intent, and Goldstein goddamned well knows that I understand it. And that’s not backtracking, any more than I have backtracked on McCain. (An allegation Goldstein made and has refused to substantiate.)

This post is already long, so if you want to get even further down into the weeds, follow me to this page. In it, I discuss my views of language, and how they have been misrepresented by Goldstein — as well as the full context of his claim that I called McCain “a racist.”

UPDATE: Goldstein tries to discourage his readers from reading this post: “Does anyone else find themselves not caring what Patrick Frey’s take might be?”

So much for his claim to be a guy who takes on every argument on the substance.

UPDATE x2: Evidently realizing that this position would undercut his claim to take on all arguments, he has now linked this post. Good. The argument is here for those willing to read it.

UPDATE x3: Evidently Goldstein is mocking my claim that he was trying to discourage people from reading the post. One wonders why he bothered to imply that his readers shouldn’t care about my take, if it wasn’t an effort to persuade them not to read it. But fine: if he claims that wasn’t his intent, I’ll accept it. It’s all a distraction anyway. The real issue is the arguments in the post. I’d rather see people discussing the arguments.

UPDATE x4: daleyrocks has a very cogent explanation of how Goldstein selectively employs intentionalism in the comments. Excerpt:

The problem is that a lot of people have read Jeff’s work on intentionalism, myself included, and see him apply it selectively in debates with people as Patterico pointed out at Little Miss Attila. . . . In Jeff’s world of intentionalism, he gets to both make up the rules and violate them and hope that nobody is watching too closely.

If somebody is watching too closely and questions Jeff’s process, that’s when the personal attacks start, the allegations of not understanding language are repeated, and as a bonus feature a failure to communicate is also added if confusion is raised on the part of the listener.

That’s about it.

174 Responses to “Jeff Goldstein’s Views of Language Will NOT Prevent You from Being Misinterpreted”

  1. you did, in effect, call stacy a racist.

    “racist” itself is a judgment word, and to use the word racist to describe anything, ascribes the philosophy of racism to whoever used the word or phrase as themselves a racist.

    If you wanted to avoid a personal judgment, should have used “racial” or “racially charged.” or some variation of such.

    Is Jeff going overboard with his argument? Likely, were you wrong with how you couched your statement about stacy? also likely.

    This argument has next to nothing to do with stacy, and everything about you and jeff.

    I learned my lesson some time ago, once things are ugly, stop throwing poo.

    Just because I learned the lesson doesn’t mean I always practice it, but I’m aware of it as it occurs.

    You and Jeff need to find some way to hug this out.

    Douglas (2c3ce5)

  2. “you did, in effect, call stacy a racist.”

    Says the guy who just ignored the entirety of my argument.

    Patterico (64318f)

  3. Not a single mention of how you were more than willing to grab as much mud as Goldstein and start throwing it. And then of course you castigated him for being such a mean old hypocrite. This entire post is self-serving. Don’t look at how I acted like a 15 year old girl, this is really about Jeff Goldstein’s horrible views regarding language!

    Who is the hypocrite has been made very clear.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  4. Says the guy who just ignored the entirety of my argument.

    Says the guy who spent hours calling Jeff Goldstein juvenile names and then whines about people ignoring things.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  5. Whoa, someone is overdosing on projection.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  6. Whoa, someone is overdosing on projection.

    So I guess that wasn’t Patterico calling Goldstein a money-grubber and a bitch and a fraud and a liar and all the other pleasantries John Thornton bestowed on Buck?

    I’d think if that was the case Patterico would be making post after post about that.

    So besides having nothing to say other than insults, you’re also a liar, because that was Patterico saying those things. A real stand-up guy you are SPQR.

    Also if anyone is ODing on projection it’s you buddy. Although I guess you don’t consider insulting my intelligence repeatedly to really be insults. I could say something insulting to your intelligence about that but that would make me a hypocrite now wouldn’t it.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  7. WOW!

    Thanks for ignoring everything I said.

    Summary, this isn’t a semantic argument, this is the two of you throwing poo.

    Douglas (2c3ce5)

  8. “Many believe that Jeff Goldstein espouses a theory of language that prevents speakers from being misinterpreted.”

    Does Goldstein say that? (serious, non-rhetorical question)

    Because it seems to me, that’s a ludicrous claim. Goldstein’s more deluded (not because they like him, but because that’s just an insane overstatement of what’s possible) fans may believe he can walk on water, but that doesn’t make it so.

    Isn’t a much more likely explanation, Patterico, other than Goldstein lying about his interpretation of your McCain statements, that his brain, mind, thoughts are structured differently? That it could really be a disagreement and not lying in this case, whatever the merits of your other accusations of lying against Goldstein?

    After all, I essentially see saying someone made a racist statement animated by racist thoughts (!) as being essentially equivalent to saying they were a racist in at least that moment of time.

    Possibly a mild racist, but somewhat racist.

    Yes, I know you used the word “seems” at the time. So you didn’t definitely say McCain said something racist. I’m just saying that if you did say that, then that makes it seem to me as if you’re calling him racist, if only a little bit and if only in that specific instance.

    For example, take calling someone a liar. You call Goldstein a liar because you say he lies repeatedly, and perhaps he does. I certainly find his uncertainty over how the missing comments disappeared less than convincing.

    He types at Little Miss Attila that he deleted them, quite adamantly, and then later he types here that he may have deleted them, they may have gone missing in a “site propogation” [sic] (site migration), which happened to take place at that time.

    Plausible, but only.

    Going back to calling someone a liar.

    If a person lied only once in their lifetime, few would call them a “liar” in the usual meaning of the term, which is someone who lies a lot.

    However, if you were referring to a given lie then it’s it would be acceptable to refer to the person as a liar for the purposes of that lie, if only for that brief period of relevant time.

    No one is going to criticize the shop keeper for shouting, “Stop, thief!” to a young boy who runs out the store with a chocolate bar, even though that may turn out to be the proverbial one minor crime everyone does in their lifetimes, and he is theft-free before and from then on.

    Since different people may actually have different thresholds that they use when accusing someone of being a thief, a racist, a slut, etc. (from drop of a hat, to almost never), can’t you accept that both you and Goldstein are being sincere, but see the thing differently?

    In other words, he could be wrong, but not lying?

    Equally, YOU can be wrong and not lying?

    Nom des Voyages à L'Étranger (5f1187)

  9. As you are aware, I missed most of debate over at Little Miss Atilla’s and only just caught up. I also continue to have several disagreements with you over the RSM posts which I have communicated in the comments and off-line.

    Nevertheless, once you decided to push back against Jeff G.’s attacks, I was glad to see you finally use the flaws of his intentionalism philosophy against him. We experienced this in a major way in the Rush kerfuffle and Jeff is trotting out the same meme’s this time around. Jeff’s first line of defense against pushback is a breezy dismissal with “you obviously don’t understand intentionalism” or “you don’t understand how language functions.” It’s a perfect response for people gullible enough to fall for it, especially coupled with his, “I’ve been writing about this seriously since 2002, your blog hasn’t been around that long, but that’s beside the point, old chap,” rejoinders. Invitations are then kindly extended to read his voluminous archives as a way of dodging and redirecting the conversation.

    The problem is that a lot of people have read Jeff’s work on intentionalism, myself included, and see him apply it selectively in debates with people as Patterico pointed out at Little Miss Attila. If the debater does not succumb to the initial appeal to authority argument from Jeff, panic often sets in. That’s what happened in the Rush debate.

    Although Jeff clearly tells people that they don’t get to define his intent, in that instance Goldstein proceeded to redefine what Patterico clearly explained as his intent on both Jeff’s blog and his own and then proceed to argue against it. In Jeff’s world of intentionalism, he gets to both make up the rules and violate them and hope that nobody is watching to closely.

    If somebody is watching too closely and questions Jeff’s process, that’s when the personal attacks start, the allegatioins of not understanding language are repeated, and as a bonus feature a failure to communicate is also added if confusion is raised on the part of the listener.

    Meanwhile, Jeff always writes with perfect clarity on these subjects because it is such a passion. It’s really quite a racket when you get right down to it. Convenient breezy dismissals through appeal to authority or ignorance followed by personal insults. It works on most people.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  10. If somebody is watching too closely and questions Jeff’s process, that’s when the personal attacks start, the allegatioins of not understanding language are repeated, and as a bonus feature a failure to communicate is also added if confusion is raised on the part of the listener.

    Are you talking about Jeff Goldstein, Patrick Frey, or both? Because your statement is only accurate if you’re talking about both.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  11. Yes Nom, I thought everyone already knew what “flinging poo” meant, but either I don’t know language, or am a liar. Or both, and now I will get a series of posts on mainpage over what is really a pizzant argument.

    Pat and Jeff (know neither but read a fair bit) seem like nice people, and this argument is the most idiotic argument I can see them having.

    Douglas (2c3ce5)

  12. yes chaos, like I said, “flinging poo.”

    Douglas (2c3ce5)

  13. a diamond in the rough, or a point in the poo.

    Much Much Much more poo than point in this silly blogwar.

    Douglas (2c3ce5)

  14. “Does Goldstein say that? (serious, non-rhetorical question)”

    Absolutely not.

    HOWEVER —

    As I explained in the linked page, it is often the case that listeners form their own interpretations, and articulate those without including caveats about how they are appealing to intent. If they don’t explicitly include those caveats, Goldstein will seize upon their references to their INTERPRETATIONS to suggest, imply, or claim that those interpreters are substituting their INTENT for that of the speaker.

    And so Goldstein says in his latest post, as he always says about me, that I don’t care about intent. Even though I have said the opposite, many times.

    Doesn’t that suggest that his interpretation of MY words is not appealing to MY intent?

    And he always tries to justify that as “irony,” because according to him, I do that to others all the time. Except that I don’t, so it’s not irony.

    It’s just misinterpretation of my ideas and beliefs. And it’s consistent and never-ending.

    Patterico (64318f)

  15. Believe me, chaos, you’ve been a hypocrite for quite a while now. A rather foul-mouthed one, actually.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  16. I am obviously missing something with Jeff Goldstein’s “philosophy of intentionalism”. As I’ve said, I read this site more than his.

    When P and JG disagree, I often agree with specifically how JG sees things, but I certainly don’t buy (oh how I wish it was true) that there is a way that “prevents speakers from being misinterpreted”.

    I find it excruciatingly difficult to believe there’s any method, if mastered, which would “prevent” me from misunderstanding others. I find it impossible to believe it’s possible to prevent others from misunderstanding me.

    Does Goldstein actual make that claim? Can you provide a link (or quote in context)?

    Because that claim is nuts.

    Nom des Voyages à L'Étranger (5f1187)

  17. This reminds me of college, when the college newspaper editors got canned, formed an idie paper, then couldn’t get along with the guys they worked with at the indie paper…

    In other words, blog wars are pretty much “inside” McCain wrote something which was easily misinterpreted. He hasn’t written much on race al all lately, and nothing worth getting in a lather about.

    Goldstein and Frey would ordinarily agree on lots of things — except for “intentionalism.” Somebody just stole my grandkids retirement and re-Carterized the US military while this debate rages on. Just sayin’.

    ukuleledave (4e6cbb)

  18. UPDATE: Goldstein tries to discourage his readers from reading this post: “Does anyone else find themselves not caring what Patrick Frey’s take might be?”

    So much for his claim to be a guy who takes on every argument on the substance.

    A bald-faced lie, the above quote. 100% Grade A dishonest. The man disparaged you, he didn’t discourage anyone from reading your post. He obviously was trying to discourage them from agreeing with you, but not from reading your post entirely.

    Much like I suspect your repeated referrals to Mr. Goldstein as a “liar” and a “fraud” which you will not now even acknowledge – besides one-liner dismissals – were attempts to discourage people from agreeing with him.

    So, by Patterico logic, Patterico himself was trying to discourage people from even reading Jeff Goldstein’s comments at Little Miss Attila’s.

    Maybe you should find some way to calm those frazzled nerves before you go completely off the manufactured self-righteous indignation cliff.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  19. Doesn’t that suggest that his interpretation of MY words is not appealing to MY intent?

    It would, if you, and him, didn’t keep bashing eachother personally in the process.

    That’s why YOU! missed my willingness to distinguish MY reading and use of words, causing me to say that you did, in effect call RSM racist. I think you didn’t INTEND to, but I clarified how I think it could have been better expressed.

    But you are wound up about this subject so you lashed out at me, even though I was just calling for calm.

    Douglas (2c3ce5)

  20. daleyrocks,

    Despite our differences on R.S. McCain, your comment is so perfect and on-the-mark that I may turn it into a post.

    You have always understood this better than anyone else I know. I really hope you hang around and stick with this, because a) you’re clearly not some sycophant of mine, especially on the specific R.S. McCain issue, but b) you understand what Goldstein is doing PERFECTLY and expressed it PERFECTLY.

    The problem is that a lot of people have read Jeff’s work on intentionalism, myself included, and see him apply it selectively in debates with people as Patterico pointed out at Little Miss Attila. If the debater does not succumb to the initial appeal to authority argument from Jeff, panic often sets in. That’s what happened in the Rush debate.

    Although Jeff clearly tells people that they don’t get to define his intent, in that instance Goldstein proceeded to redefine what Patterico clearly explained as his intent on both Jeff’s blog and his own and then proceed to argue against it. In Jeff’s world of intentionalism, he gets to both make up the rules and violate them and hope that nobody is watching too closely.

    That’s exactly it. Just add in the fact that you have to use the right terminology. When Goldstein redefines your statements, he explains to you that you just failed to signal your intent properly or whatever. But like I say in the post, it doesn’t stop your statements from being redefined.

    Patterico (64318f)

  21. chaos, is “liar” like “homophobe”, in that they are insults you trot out when you don’t understand anything?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  22. chaos, is “liar” like “homophobe”, in that they are insults you trot out when you don’t understand anything?

    SPQR, is lying time and time again something you do frequently? Do you have anything to say to me other than declarations of your own dishonesty?

    chaos (9c54c6)

  23. Thanks Patterico – The language aspect is all part of the appeal to authority, intended to overwhelm the gullible or uncertain.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  24. Patterico – I wasn’t intending on going anywhere, I just have major differences with you on the RSM posts and have pointed them out to you publicly and privately.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  25. Maybe I’m being too unkind.

    Maybe refusing to acknowledge that I said telling someone to go get cock-slapped is unacceptable whether Jeff Goldstein says it or nk says it isn’t dishonest.

    Maybe refusing to acknowledge that so you can continue to accuse me of “not understanding anything” isn’t dishonest.

    But maybe it is. Of course it is. You’re dishonest SPQR.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  26. Sweets to the sweet, chaos. You’re a troll, stirring up s**t and all you deserve are insults.

    nk (df76d4)

  27. UPDATE x2: Evidently realizing that this position would undercut his claim to take on all arguments, he has now linked this post. Good. The argument is here for those willing to read it.

    How long are you going to keep lying about this Patterico? He never once said or even implied that anyone should not go read your site. Your implication that he only linked to your post because he “evidently realized” that your claim would “undercut” him is most likely a lie as well. Prove that Jeff Goldstein only linked to your post after you dishonestly castigated him for telling people to not go read your post.

    You need to buy a dictionary too Patterico, and look up the words “discouragement” and “disparagement.” They are two different things. You’re very familiar with the latter so you’re well aware of how dishonest you’re being.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  28. Sweets to the sweet, chaos. You’re a troll, stirring up s**t and all you deserve are insults.

    Yeah that’s another bullshit lie. Anyone here who’s willing to be honest will say that until this nonsense came up I didn’t have much negative to say about anyone here. I can recall two instances where that wasn’t the case, and neither of them involved me trolling anyone or anyone trolling me. Trollery was not involved anywhere.

    Typical internet character assassination, can’t you do any better? Troll? You’re pathetic.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  29. Just a clarification: how exactly is asking “Does anyone else find themselves not caring what Patrick Frey’s take might be?” equivalent to discouraging people from reading said take? Because I’ve just got to see the linguistic acrobatics used to rationalize that.

    As an aside, people who have the gene that makes them immune to both cognitive dissonance and the sting of irony are very rare, so I count myself very lucky indeed to have found one who posts so regularly on an easily accessible website. Thanks, Patterico!

    John (62fb6f)

  30. And yeah, I wondered how long it would take one of the cultists to claim I was a troll. Yeah guys when I’m poking Obama and talking smack on the CRU and all the other rather arch-conservative positions I’ve taken here, all the times I’ve never even mentioned Patterico in a thread here, all the times I’ve joined in at the laughter at the rabid lefties and insane people on the internet in general, that was really all a smokescreen I was setting up because I saw in my crystal ball that Patterico was going to go after my idols RS McCain and Jeff Goldstein whose blogs I didn’t even read (still don’t read RSM’s) until Patterico went after them. It was all a part of my sinister plan to disguise myself until the time was right!

    Do I have to mock you more nk or is that enough?

    chaos (9c54c6)

  31. chaos – See below. STFU.

    109.Is it true that Patterico called you a money-grubbing Jew opportunist? If so, when and where? If not, did you say that he did?

    Because if he didn’t call you that and you said he did, that would make you a liar, wouldn’t it?

    No, Patrick didn’t call me a money-grubbing Jew opportunist. Just money-grubbing. And sneaky. Which, in the midst of an argument over the importance of intent, I was kind enough to rephrase for him.

    I suspect he didn’t mean what I attributed to him. I also suspect that he missed the irony of why I did it, and of what it suggests about how he believes interpretation works.

    Comment by Jeff G — 12/12/2009 @ 2:25 am

    daleyrocks (718861)

  32. Many believe that Jeff Goldstein espouses a theory of language that prevents speakers from being misinterpreted.

    I think “many” would be surprised to hear this. I don’t beleive that Jeff beleives this and know of no one else who does.

    Stick with me, because this isn’t about Robert Stacy McCain, except incidentally. It’s about language and interpretation. And how Jeff Goldstein’s views on those issues don’t protect you from being misinterpreted.

    Seems to me that it’s about you.

    In my first post naming McCain, I was very careful not to call McCain “a racist” as a person, and prominently said: “I’m not saying that one racist/prejudiced quote brands you as a racist for all time.”

    I have very consistently said that one racist statement does not necessarily make its utterer “a racist.”

    I’ll award ten points for the belated attempt to be plote, but still have to subtract a few hundred, as the second of these paragraps is just wrong. That you have consistently asserted it (stipulated), not withstanding.

    And so I said only that this is a racist statement:

    As Steffgen predicted, the media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sisterinlaw, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.

    Absent a compelling argument that illustrates, how a collection of words, in and of themselves, can be racist, I can’t agree.

    Again, I made that clear because, as regular readers know, I try not to let my statements get ahead of the evidence.

    Others have asked, and I havent’ seen an answer–if there is one, a link would be appreciated–but what was the need to present any evidence at all?

    Uttering one racist statement does not make someone, inherently, “a racist.” It would be like saying that, because everyone reading this post has undoubtedly at one point in their life committed a crime, everyone reading this post is “a criminal.”

    Yes, at the moment y’all committed your crimes, you were acting in a criminal manner. At that precise moment, even, you could apply the dictionary definition of “criminal” and say you were a criminal. But it would not be fair to label you a criminal for all time on the basis of that one act. For me to take one of you, at random, and call you “a criminal” on the basis of that evidence would be preposterous.

    Why would that be preposterous?

    Imagine that, in a discussion about the overabundance of criminal statutes, you said to someone in comments: “Look, everyone commits crimes. You have committed a crime. Of course, by saying you committed a crime at one point in your life, I am not branding you as a criminal for all time.” You can see how it would be pretty galling if Jeff Goldstein came along later and accused you of calling the other commenter “a criminal.”

    One may not like it, but that would not affect the accuracy of the statement.

    So I am being misinterpreted — and very unreasonably so.

    You are complicit in that:

    Communication is a two-way street. Listeners must try to divine the true intent of the speaker. Speakers must clearly communicate their intent if they wish to be understood.

    UPDATE: Goldstein tries to discourage his readers from reading this post: “Does anyone else find themselves not caring what Patrick Frey’s take might be?”

    That can’t even be considered a good faith misinterpretation, I’m afraid.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  33. chaos – See below. STFU.

    I don’t see anything there that makes Patterico’s behavior at LMA any less reprehensible. You’re just shilling for your cult leader.

    daleyrocks – see right here. STFU.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  34. Okay, Patterico, here’s where I’m really getting confused here and I think it’s your fault.

    Your post title is:

    “Jeff Goldstein’s Views of Language Will NOT Prevent You from Being Misinterpreted”

    and you also write:

    “Many believe that Jeff Goldstein espouses a theory of language that prevents speakers from being misinterpreted.”

    Now contrast this with your answer to my question about whether Goldstein had made such a claim:

    “Absolutely not.”

    And then you go on to talk about how in your view Jeff Goldstein repeatedly misinterprets what you say.

    Leaving that important issue aside for the moment, can you understand how the way you’ve worded your post title and opening sentence are confusing as all heck? What kind of a way to use language is that?

    “Jeff Goldstein’s Views of Language Will NOT Prevent You from Being Misinterpreted”

    Really? Who thinks that Jeff Goldstein’s views of language are capable of preventing misunderstandings?

    “Many believe that Jeff Goldstein espouses a theory of language that prevents speakers from being misinterpreted.”

    HUH? Who in their right mind believes this is even achievable in practice?

    If you’re saying Jeff G. absolutely didn’t claim to have this ability, why are you referring to it?

    It seems to me we’re discussing whether JG is distorting your words and, further, whether he’s a lying, small, petty, greedy man.

    I don’t know why we’re mentioning whether he’s produced the 100% mutual understanding grand theory of unified language.

    Nom des Voyages à L'Étranger (5f1187)

  35. I’m about as interested in this as I was in the rhetorical screed about “racist comments”. It’s panty-knotting echos of LFG all over again. Jeez, just move on.

    Born Free (3e9a6d)

  36. sorry, “LGF”

    i play too much WoW (Looking For Group)

    Born Free (3e9a6d)

  37. I’m about as interested in this as I was in the rhetorical screed about “racist comments”. It’s panty-knotting echos of LFG all over again. Jeez, just move on.

    Why would someone join a discussion to say they’re not interested in it?

    I’m not interested in the fact that you’re not interested.

    Oh: Nom des Voyages à L’Étranger is a previously banned commenter named Christoph. You’ve seen the last from him.

    Patterico (64318f)

  38. That can’t even be considered a good faith misinterpretation, I’m afraid.

    OK. I have accepted his apparent assertion that this is not what he was trying to do.

    Now let’s move past that distraction and address the post.

    Patterico (64318f)

  39. i play too much WoW (Looking For Group)

    i havent played nearly enough today

    theres a lesson there somewhere… smiting undead is more fun than smiting nk and spqr. they dont drop any lewts!

    UPDATE x3: Evidently Goldstein is mocking my claim that he was trying to discourage people from reading the post. One wonders why he bothered to imply that his readers shouldn’t care about my take, if it wasn’t an effort to persuade them not to read it. But fine: if he claims that wasn’t his intent, I’ll accept it. It’s all a distraction anyway. The real issue is the arguments in the post. I’d rather see people discussing the arguments.

    One wonders why you still insist on lying even when trying to appear as if you are retracting a previous lie. Goldstein didn’t say that to persuade his readers not to read your screed; he said it as a classic ad hominem attack on your credibility.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  40. Goldstein didn’t say that to persuade his readers not to read your screed; he said it as a classic ad hominem attack on your credibility.

    OK, let’s go with that, then.

    As we all know, ad hominem is a valid form of argumentation. Right?

    Patterico (64318f)

  41. Christoph was that tough guy Canadian who claimed to have all those girlfriends if I remember correctly. He was a jagoff.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  42. “Goldstein didn’t say that to persuade his readers not to read your screed”

    Heh! No, no possible reason to read it that way at all nimrod.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  43. http://proteinwisdom.com/?p=15611#comment-829266 – Patterico links to his new post (this one).

    http://proteinwisdom.com/?p=15611#comment-829273 – 4 minutes later, the quote that allegedly shows Jeff Goldstein discouraging people from reading the new post.

    http://proteinwisdom.com/?p=15611#comment-829282 – 4 minutes later, Patterico claims that Goldstein doesn’t want people to read his new post because they might agree with it.

    Important to note that Patterico’s original comment was never altered in any way, shape or form.

    If one was being uncharitable to Patterico, one might say that he was taking what Goldstein said and applying the interpretation least friendly to Goldstein regardless of whether that was what Goldstein meant.

    http://proteinwisdom.com/?p=15611#comment-829296 – 8 minutes later, Goldstein comments that he has just updated his post. The update included a link to this post.

    Unless Patterico can prove that Goldstein was sitting at his computer the whole time madly hitting the refresh button, there’s no way he can claim that Goldstein was trying to discourage people from reading this post. It boggles the mind.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  44. Now let’s move past that distraction and address the post.

    You mean…

    All the rest of that that specifically quoted so as to avoid the charge of failing to have read it?

    Of all of which you’ve decided to repsond to the one part you can now dismiss?

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  45. OK, let’s go with that, then.

    As we all know, ad hominem is a valid form of argumentation. Right?

    I never said it was. I said Goldstein was innocent of the charge you levied at him.

    So, Frey, after two weeks of whining about strawmen, is a lame ass strawman like that the best you can do?

    Heh! No, no possible reason to read it that way at all nimrod.

    It is possible to read it that way. I don’t think that’s an accurate reading of it. I don’t think it’s an honest reading of it. I can tell you that a People’s History of the United States is a horrible book full of bullshit but that doesn’t mean I’m telling you not to read it.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  46. I can tell you that a People’s History of the United States is a horrible book full of bullshit but that doesn’t mean I’m telling you not to read it.

    Would you consider that you are “discouraging” the listener from reading the book by calling it a horrible book full of bullshit?

    Patterico (64318f)

  47. Many believe that Jeff Goldstein espouses a theory of language that prevents speakers from being misinterpreted.

    I think “many” would be surprised to hear this. I don’t believe that Jeff believes this and know of no one else who does.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  48. Stick with me, because this isn’t about Robert Stacy McCain, except incidentally. It’s about language and interpretation. And how Jeff Goldstein’s views on those issues don’t protect you from being misinterpreted.

    Seems to me that it’s about you.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  49. In my first post naming McCain, I was very careful not to call McCain “a racist” as a person, and prominently said: “I’m not saying that one racist/prejudiced quote brands you as a racist for all time.”

    I have very consistently said that one racist statement does not necessarily make its utterer “a racist.”

    I’ll award ten points for the belated attempt to be plote, but still have to subtract a few hundred, as the second of these paragraphs is just wrong. That you have consistently asserted it (stipulated), notwithstanding.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  50. And so I said only that this is a racist statement:

    As Steffgen predicted, the media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sisterinlaw, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.

    Absent a compelling argument that illustrates, how a collection of words, in and of themselves, can be racist, I can’t agree.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  51. Again, I made that clear because, as regular readers know, I try not to let my statements get ahead of the evidence.

    Others have asked, and I haven’t seen an answer–if there is one, a link would be appreciated–but what was the need to present any evidence at all?

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  52. Uttering one racist statement does not make someone, inherently, “a racist.” It would be like saying that, because everyone reading this post has undoubtedly at one point in their life committed a crime, everyone reading this post is “a criminal.”

    Yes, at the moment y’all committed your crimes, you were acting in a criminal manner. At that precise moment, even, you could apply the dictionary definition of “criminal” and say you were a criminal. But it would not be fair to label you a criminal for all time on the basis of that one act. For me to take one of you, at random, and call you “a criminal” on the basis of that evidence would be preposterous.

    Why would that be preposterous?

    Imagine that, in a discussion about the overabundance of criminal statutes, you said to someone in comments: “Look, everyone commits crimes. You have committed a crime. Of course, by saying you committed a crime at one point in your life, I am not branding you as a criminal for all time.” You can see how it would be pretty galling if Jeff Goldstein came along later and accused you of calling the other commenter “a criminal.”

    One may not like it, but that would not affect the accuracy of the statement.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  53. So I am being misinterpreted — and very unreasonably so.

    You are complicit in that:

    Communication is a two-way street. Listeners must try to divine the true intent of the speaker. Speakers must clearly communicate their intent if they wish to be understood.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  54. What I wanna know is whether once the news was out that GLSEN was handing out fisting kits, whether Cut’n Paste Joe picked one up for Jeff to use with him or whether Joe is still going au naturel.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  55. Robert White:

    If a speaker clearly communicates his intent, and the listener does not try to divine the intent, then the speaker is not at fault.

    Patterico (64318f)

  56. First person: There are Indians about.
    Second person: What are you talking about, man. We’re in Iraq. There’s no Indians here.
    First person: There are vultures circling overhead.
    Second person: Nope, all I see is a couple of seagulls.
    First person: There’s an Iraqui patrol boat headed your way, you literal numbnuts.

    nk (df76d4)

  57. Would you consider that you are “discouraging” the listener from reading the book by calling it a horrible book full of bullshit?

    I would hope that the listener is not a knuckle-dragging moron and would realize that I was discouraging him from being persuaded by the book.

    But sadly we have to go a little deeper to make everything clear. We wouldn’t want anyone to think that their intent and meaning had been misinterpreted, now would we?

    If someone asked me would I recommend Mr. Zinn’s screed, I’d say no. I wouldn’t say don’t read it, I’d say there are better books to spend your money and/or time on.

    But we are talking about an argument. You can’t have an argument without two sides (at least). Did you see any indication that Jeff Goldstein wanted the argument to abruptly end? What do you think his endgame could possibly have been if he really wanted to discourage people from reading your post?

    What was his intent?

    Which is more likely as an answer: that he wanted to make himself look like an ass who’s afraid of what you have to say, or that he wanted people to recognize the contempt he holds you in and share in that contempt?

    And just to make it crystal clear, at no point did I say that his comment was right. It wasn’t. But it was NOT what you claimed it was.

    But hell once again we see that Patterico is the Arbiter of Intent both for Himself and for Everyone Else. Since you’re so omniscient, Mr. Frey, why don’t you just start commenting for everyone?

    chaos (9c54c6)

  58. I think I’m going to give Patterico, RSMcCain, and Protein Wisdom all a week long break; perhaps you’ll all have actually grown up by then.

    john (0d4ddf)

  59. I think a few hours away from the keyboard would do everyone good right now.

    I’m going to a holiday gift exchange par-tay; hope everyone else has something enjoyable for the evening!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (9eb641)

  60. I’m going to a holiday gift exchange par-tay; hope everyone else has something enjoyable for the evening!

    Baked fish and Sunday Night Football for the win.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  61. I would like to say that despite all the animosity, if this were a certain other site that Patterico is being unfairly compared to by some people, none of these discussions would be taking place at all because everyone disagreeing with Patterico would be bannededed from the internets for life by Charles Johns- I mean Patterico. So tip of my hat to you for that Mr. Frey.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  62. That phrase you quote of McCain’s involves a difference of opinion between the two of you about what is “racism”.
    He asserts that perfectly rational people may act in a described fashion and still not meet the threshold of racism.

    You can disagree and say “yes that does meet the threshold of racism and that scenario you are describing is indeed racism in my view”. Which would make for an interesting discussion.

    The style I saw was prosecutorial.
    Isolate a phrase.
    Narrowly define context.
    Define words as “racist”.
    Badger writer in owning “racist” statement.
    Then wash your hands and let the reader decide.

    Makes it tough to ever have a hard conversation about race at all, much less a conversation about inter racial marriage….

    The charitable view of Ms. Johnson Cooper is that she has racial purity issues from a black perspective when it comes to dating and marriage which may be indicative of a larger racism.
    She does not seem to be “perfectly rational” particularly after reading that she probably would not have voted for Obama if his wife were white.

    I know I’d be insulted beyond belief to have a 13 year old deep philosophical discussion with a white supremacist about inter racial marriage compared as equal to the words of Ms. Johnson.

    Knowing Patrick’s sense of honor, I doubt he’d be all that happy if it happened to him…
    Notice how angry you get when Mr. Goldstein narrows the context of “money grubbing” to Jewish slur and then accuses you of being anti semitic?

    Everybody went Keith Olbermann apoplectic outrage this weekend.

    Happy Holidays

    SteveG (ece883)

  63. As for the claim that “many” seem to think his theory prevents misinterpretation:

    I just went through an old thread of his and saw these comments:

    CinnamongirlUF:

    >>So when you have a set of people, all trying to divine the speaker’s true intent, and they disagree, there has to be some way of deciding what the best interpretation is. Right? How would you answer that question?<<

    Can’t you just ask him what he meant?

    Of course, you can’t just ask him and accept the answer, but that’s what she seems to think. Moving on:

    Stephanie:

    DUDE, THE ONLY INTERPRETATION THAT CAN BE BEST (CAUSE BEST IS A UNIQUE IDENTIFIER) IS THE AUTHOR’S IN EVERY INSTANCE.

    No, Goldstein says that the best interpretation is sometimes reached by the listener, not the speaker.

    blowhard:

    “So when you have a set of people, all trying to divine the speaker’s true intent, and they disagree, there has to be some way of deciding what the best interpretation is. Right? How would you answer that question?”

    I wouldn’t answer that question. I’d ask a question. I’d say, “What did you mean?” If the speaker was dead or unresponsive, I’d say “Who knows?”

    That’s not what Goldstein’s view is. His view is that the INTENT is fixed at the moment of speaking — but the BEST INTERPRETATION need not be the author’s.

    I see a lot of forceful rhetoric at Goldstein’s site along the lines of this comment from geoffb:

    Language is to politics as weapons are to war. It is a war of words and the ideas those words encode and spread. Allowing one side to place, to force the placement of limits on the other side’s language is an act of unilateral disarmament and tantamount to a surrender. This language argument is about power and in whose hands that power rests.

    Ah, but the power to interpret one’s words lies not in the hands of the speaker, but in the hands of the person with the best argument as to what the speaker meant. If someone can tell you that you didn’t mean what you claim you meant — and Goldstein’s theory allows a listener to do that — then where does all this high-flown rhetoric about surrendering the power of your words to others come from?

    Understand that this is only one thread where I found these comments. But comments like geoffb’s are legion on Goldstein’s site.

    On a fundamental level, many people see me as having opposed his views on the basics — and they see me as propounding a theory of language that allows the listener to determine intent.

    They then snigger when I complain that I have been misinterpreted. Because of the supposed “irony” — because Goldstein has convinced them that I support a theory that allows easy misinterpetation.

    I thought that many of these people supported him because they thought his theory prevented that.

    It doesn’t. If everyone understand this, great . . . but it means that intentionalism only gets you so far. Then it’s a Grand Argument over the best interpretation, and the speaker’s interpretation is not the final word.

    Patterico (64318f)

  64. Notice how angry you get when Mr. Goldstein narrows the context of “money grubbing” to Jewish slur and then accuses you of being anti semitic?

    I didn’t say “money-grubbing” in the comment preceding his claim that I had called him a “Jew opportunist.”

    But see, he has managed to sucessfully convince you that was the context.

    That’s why I’ll have to post the screenshots.

    Patterico (64318f)

  65. I didn’t say “money-grubbing” in the comment preceding his claim that I had called him a “Jew opportunist.”

    But see, he has managed to sucessfully convince you that was the context.

    That’s why I’ll have to post the screenshots.

    That all sounds marvelously irrelevant to what was actually said in the quote you’re responding to.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  66. “On a fundamental level, many people see me as having opposed his views on the basics — and they see me as propounding a theory of language that allows the listener to determine intent.

    They then snigger when I complain that I have been misinterpreted. Because of the supposed “irony” — because Goldstein has convinced them that I support a theory that allows easy misinterpetation.

    I thought that many of these people supported him because they thought his theory prevented that.”

    I think that as you explore further you will find his theory infinitely flexible depending on the day of the week and with whom he is debating. On that given day it sounds very rigorous, but comparisons suffer especially answers in comment threads.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  67. Actually, it should read, “JeffG’s views of language will not prevent him from misinterpreting you if he damn well pleases to serve his own ends”.

    Fritz (89bfa6)

  68. “That all sounds marvelously irrelevant”

    chaos – The above sounds more like your comments, which also lack substance, NTTAWWT.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  69. Fritz – That’s a good restatement.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  70. I find some of the views expressed here to be uncharitable.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  71. chaos – The above sounds more like your comments, which also lack substance, NTTAWWT.

    I don’t deal in internet acronyms longer than 4 letters, it’s the way I manage to tell myself with a straight face that I haven’t fallen entirely into the internet abyss =D

    But of course daley as I’ve already mentioned, perhaps not clearly, your opinion would mean less than zero to me if that were possible, as it’s obvious that you’re speaking out of personal animus rather than anything else. Keep trying to goad me though, you’re doing an awful job and maybe you’ll improve.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  72. Actually, it should read, “JeffG’s views of language will not prevent him from misinterpreting you if he damn well pleases to serve his own ends”.

    That is correct.

    But then, Fritz, your views don’t count. You’re so inconsequential that you are someone whose full name was outed by Jeff Goldstein on his blog. Because he was upset at your comments.

    Patterico (64318f)

  73. This is a marvelous discussion of ideas, as is the linked page — where instead of discussing interpretation, we’re squabbling over why Pablo broke his promise to me to keep an e-mail exchange confidential.

    Lovely. I spend probably 3 hours writing up these two posts to try to hash out my views of language, and it descends into backbiting.

    Is there anyone (besides Leviticus and daleyrocks) who would like to focus on and respond to the points I made in the post?

    Patterico (64318f)

  74. Or “Jeff Goldstein espouses a theory of language that he believes magically prevents him from being reasonably interpreted to be an intellectually lazy asshole.”

    Seriously, is his argument that a speaker can’t be misinterpreted because there can be only one meaning to the speaker’s words (that is, the meaning which the speaker intended to have)? Is that his “theory”? Because to me that sounds like a theory designed to excuse otherwise inexcusable linguistic lapses.

    “What? You thought that just because I rattled off a tirade filled with racial slurs I meant to insult that particular race, or that I have a low opinion of them? Whatever gave you that impression? My intent was to analyze trends in the commodities market, and how silly of you to think otherwise!”

    That’s just… lazy.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  75. But then, Fritz, your views don’t count. You’re so inconsequential that you are someone whose full name was outed by Jeff Goldstein on his blog. Because he was upset at your comments.

    Better than being a Goldstein sycophant I suppose…

    chaos (9c54c6)

  76. Because this can’t be said enough:

    This is the stupidest slap fight on the internet.

    Another Chris (470967)

  77. Look, just have the brutal, dirty, most foul WAM sex you both have been looking for and then you’ll feel better.

    It is not as though anything that you have said has any use in real life. Except that calling some one a racist has less and less meaning.

    jack (e383ed)

  78. Seriously, is his argument that a speaker can’t be misinterpreted because there can be only one meaning to the speaker’s words (that is, the meaning which the speaker intended to have)?

    No, not really. It is that there can be only one meaning to the speaker’s words (that is, the meaning which the speaker intended to have).

    A lot of people on his site issue ringing proclamations about OWNING YOUR INTENT and NOT CEDING THE POWER TO DETERMINE YOUR MEANING TO THE LISTENER and such.

    Which, to me, suggests that they think intentionalism does more than it really does.

    Some asshole can still come along and misinterpret you. Because intentionalism does not require listeners to privilege the speaker’s INTERPRETATION. Only his INTENT.

    And when other people get to privilege their own INTERPRETATION of your words over your own, what practical use is it to you that you have this theoretical INTENT that is your own, and which uniquely defines the words’ meaning?

    If interpreters were honest, that would mean everything. Since they’re often not, it means very little in the real world.

    You still can get dishonest interpretations — and NOTHING about intentionalism prevents that.

    Patterico (64318f)

  79. Language is conventional and arbitrary. Words mean what most think they mean.

    nk (df76d4)

  80. *most people* if you wish

    nk (df76d4)

  81. Patrick, when you referred to a “no shit” talk agreement at LMA, were you referring to our emails?

    I want to make sure that isn’t the case.

    bh (pendleton) (7f8d26)

  82. Badly punctuated.

    “no shit talk” not “no shit” talk.

    bh (pendleton) (7f8d26)

  83. I put this up at PW, bh, and will repeat it here:

    bh,

    I e-mailed Jeff a link to this comment, which was an offer to de-escalate that closely tracked a proposed solution that was worked out here in comments:

    This is an attempt at de-escalation of a conflict that has arisen with another blogger. There used to be comments here. They were very unpleasant. I have taken those comments offline, by publishing a new post with the same content, and putting the old post in “unpublished” status.

    The intent is not to hide evidence, but to de-escalate. The comments can be restored at any time. If anyone wants to say that I’m hiding evidence, I can restore the previous comments at a moment’s notice — and take whatever other action is necessary.

    The other party and I will never agree on the nature of what happened. Each will always consider themselves to be the more wronged party. I suggest we forget it and move on.

    My suggestion for going forward would be that the other blogger and I simply refrain from talking about each other personally in the future. I suggest that we discuss ideas, and be as forceful as ever in discussing those ideas — but never mention the other person by name, and never, ever attack the other person’s integrity, sanity, etc. This means neither of us should suggest, even in an offhand manner in a comments thread, that this episode ended because I Was Really the Guy in the Right, that The Other Guy Just Couldn’t Handle the Argument, that We All Know I Was Winning the Argument, etc. A comment like: “Well, commenter x, I’d agree with you that I won, but I’m not allowed to say that” or “I think we know why those comments were deleted” or “Let’s just remember that blogger x did this dishonorable thing” or anything like that will inevitably lead to a re-escalation, which will benefit nobody.

    Again, the evidence remains. I can always restore these comments and take whatever other steps I need to take to make my case. In the meantime, I consider this my effort to de-escalate, and I would hope it would be reciprocated in kind.

    He then took down the post as suggested. And then it didn’t take long for him to start running exactly the sort of comments that I said would lead to a re-escalation.

    Over the ensuing months I saw plenty of comments running me down at PW, by Jeff, including ones that, unprovoked, said “Fuck Patterico.” I spilled out a lot of rage at the LMS thread the other night, and that is rage that was bottled up from months of watching him run me down. You all are entitled to mock my rage, but you are rank hypocrites if you don’t see that Goldstein has engaged in profane tirades against me as well. He just calls them “moments of weakness” when he does it.

    You can call what he did a violation of an agreement or not. Under contract law, it would be (the contract having been accepted by performance), but this isn’t a courtroom and you are entitled to call it whatever you like.

    Let’s put it this way: I told him, directly (by e-mailing a link to the comment), exactly what he needed to do to re-escalate. And he did it.

    Patterico (64318f)

  84. I see you’ve responded at pw. I’ll go there.

    bh (pendleton) (7f8d26)

  85. Language is conventional and arbitrary. Words mean what most think they mean.

    If you say: “words are going to be interpreted the way most people would interpret them” then you’re right.

    Patterico (64318f)

  86. chaos – You are EN FUEGO! tonight!!!! Dude, you so own the intertubes.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  87. I’m simply amazed by this ongoing feud…

    I’m reminded of childhood, when so many arguments degenerated into:

    “Did not!”
    “Did too!”
    “Did not!”
    “Did too, infinity times!”

    I’m sorry, Mr. Frey, but you’ve gone over the cliff on this one. Please stop.

    Alan (7f4930)

  88. If a speaker clearly communicates his intent, and the listener does not try to divine the intent, then the speaker is not at fault.

    No kidding. So what? You think the speaker is the final arbiter of the effort at interpretation the listener makes?

    Is there anyone (besides Leviticus and daleyrocks) who would like to focus on and respond to the points I made in the post?

    47 through 52?

    Language is conventional and arbitrary. Words mean what most think they mean.

    nk–Not correct. Example: A person makes the statement, “I am a Conservative.” What does that mean?

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  89. “I’m sorry, Mr. Frey, but you’ve gone over the cliff on this one. Please stop.”

    Alan – You ARE making the equivalent comment at Protein Wisdom, are you not?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  90. chaos – You are EN FUEGO! tonight!!!! Dude, you so own the intertubes.

    Don’t steal my cutesy ways of referring to the internet!

    chaos (9c54c6)

  91. “I find some of the views expressed here to be uncharitable.”

    feets – I must confess I said my prayers this morning standing up instead of kneeling. I was outside and the ground was covered with ice. Shortcuts can throw me off for the whole day.

    I’ll have a conversation about with the big guy when I go to bed.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  92. Or maybe I’ll journal instead. That shit gets me really centered.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  93. “Don’t steal my cutesy ways of referring to the internet!”

    It’s not yours dickhead. Get a life.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  94. A person makes the statement, “I am a Conservative.” What does that mean?

    The interpretation of that statement depnds on several factors, not the least of which are the listener’s political leanings…

    To illustrate, if you told Sarah Palin that you were a conservative, she would likely take it to mean that you’re a decent person who dislikes high taxation, high spending, and that you disagree with “gay marriage” but have no problem with the idea of extending every possible civil right to those who might be in a commited homosexual relationship.

    If you said it to Keith Olbermann, he would assume that you were evil, vile, and possibly Satan.

    Two very different interpretations of a very simple four-word sentence.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  95. But words are not only interpreted, Patterico. They are integral to our thinking and they are denotative, connotative and evocative. Pretty too, when they rhyme, alliterate, and assonate. Not to mention cadence.

    nk (df76d4)

  96. I’m not sure assonate is a word.

    nk (df76d4)

  97. It has surprised me to learn that people disagree whether this statement is racist.

    Maybe this is a game of semantics on the part of McCain and Goldstein. IOW, their claim that the comment (ie, “natural revulsion”) is not racist is merely a tricky way of saying, “no, the words aren’t racist—-but the SENTIMENTS behind such a comment are!”

    I’m just being facetious because for anyone to claim a fundamental negative gut reaction based purely on the external looks of a person due to his or her racial background is not racist — when, in fact, such a response is the very essence of racism — is a major case of being disengenuous.

    Only wiggle room I’d give to people like McCain or Goldstein is if they described the reaction of “natural revulsion” as closely related to the knee-jerk response of “wtf!?” (or “eeuuu!”) that many people will have when they see a good-looking guy dating a very unattractive woman, or an older woman dating a young guy, or a very tall woman dating a very short guy, or a very thin person dating a very obese person, or a very old guy dating a very young girl.

    Mark (411533)

  98. It’s not yours dickhead. Get a life.

    It’s called self-deprecating humor and an attempt to communicate with you in some other way than gratuitous insults, you worthless piece of shit.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  99. “Alan – You ARE making the equivalent comment at Protein Wisdom, are you not?”

    No, I’m not…

    Mr. Goldstein didn’t start this ridiculous argument.

    Alan (7f4930)

  100. chaos – Self defecating is what your comments here are all about. Your are making both blogs named in this post more stupid with your presence.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  101. Comment by Alan — 12/13/2009 @ 7:33 pm

    Considering that Jeffy posted first, making a false claim about what Patterico said, then I find your statement to be completely and utterly retarded.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  102. chaos – Self defecating is what your comments here are all about. Your are making both blogs named in this post more stupid with your presence.

    Don’t you have any interesting insults to throw out?

    Because the sixth grade stuff stopped working, you know, when seventh grade came around.

    Or maybe mommy doesn’t know that you’re on the computer this late?

    chaos (9c54c6)

  103. I have not kept up with the ins and outs of this duel, but I appreciate the importance of the meaning of words and communication and Patterico’s previous discussions on it. I have not and do not plan to read JG’s take on it.

    Is the purpose of an interaction to have communication and understanding or to wield power and control?

    Assuming the purpose is to have communication and understanding, both the speaker and listener will have a good-faith give and take to clarify what is said and what is understood. In fact, one skill in promoting good communication in marriage or between any two people is to have a regular back-and-forth clarification.

    He: I like your hair.
    She: What did you mean by that?
    He: I meant I like your hair, what’s wrong with that?
    She: Nothing is wrong with that, but it sounded like your were being sarcastic.
    He: Oh, I’m sorry, I was reacting to this ridiculous comment on the P’s site, I guess that made me sound different. I really meant I like your hair like that.
    She: Thank you.

    On the other hand, much of our interaction is not based on a mutual seeking of understanding, but on a desire to acquire a bit of information for our own use, or to prove a point (and “win” a verbal battle). Just like the legal system in the US is framed in an adversarial context, our communication can be framed as an adversarial enterprise. We may want to understand, but even more we want our understanding to be confirmed as the “right” way.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  104. First time posting by a lurker. I have always liked this site. I’ll be back in a month or so when this current nasty war is hopefully over. Why do you bother? If someone, somewhere else, is wrong say so and then ignore them, don’t lower yourself. There is currently a stench in the air.

    Kathleen (80e9d5)

  105. but aside from the uncharitableness daley I think it’s neato mosquito how this imbrogliolio has energized misters Patterico and Goldstein.

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  106. There is currently a stench in the air.

    Testosterone will do that.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  107. This one seems pretty simple. Frey said Patterico called McCain a racist. Patterico never called McCain a racist.

    So what am I missing?

    Orbital (27500a)

  108. Further to what Orbital said at comment #108, I think it is becoming increasingly clear that Patterico is a reliable and honest sort of person, whereas Frey is clearly a scurrilous no-good-nik.

    And this site is certainly living up to its advertisement as the go-to place for harangues. :-)

    Andrew (59b742)

  109. Frey and Patterico are the same person =D

    You guys mean Goldstein and Patterico.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  110. No, Frey and Patterico may inhabit the same body, but they seem to be distinct personalities. Orbital and I agree about that, whereas you, Chaos, are in the minority.

    Andrew (59b742)

  111. Scott,

    You think that the interperter decides what, “I am a Conservative” actually means?

    I agree that there’s not enough information in the original proposition to offer an interpretation–that was the point–it removes the listener from the proposition. The same statement means very different things when uttered by an early 21st Century American and a late 19th Century German, for example.

    The meaning can’t be known, though, without knowing what the speaker meant–that may not be information that can be captured. It may come down to a best guess on the part of a listener. There may be extremely good evidence, or none at all.

    “I am a Conservative,” is not a Conservative (in whatever way that word is understood) statement. It may be an admission, or description, being animated by Conservative thought. Similarly, “I am a racist,” is not, itself racist. Neither statement, even if speaker and listener fully understand and agree on the conotation and denotation of the subject, has any capacity to bear that as a portion of its makeup.

    Those things can only come from the speaker, the same source as the signs. Without the speaker there would be no signs nor meaning. The Conservatism or racism originates with the signifier, and not the sign, which has no ability to originate anything–it’s just a sign.

    Therefore a statement cannot be Conservative, or racist. Only the speaker can. If the statement conveys Conservatism or racism, it is the originator that is the origin of the trait. It would be an interpretive fallacy to say that the words contain a trait that did not originate with the speaker. Words don’t work that way. They don’t have inherent meanings and certainly not traits.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  112. No, Frey and Patterico may inhabit the same body, but they seem to be distinct personalities. Orbital and I agree about that, whereas you, Chaos, are in the minority.

    I really can’t recall Patterico ever saying Patterico called McCain a racist and then Patterico denying that he’d ever called Patterico a racist and saying that Patterico was lying about Patterico.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  113. Patterico Patterico Patterico Frey!

    [note: fished from spam filter. –Stashiu]

    chaos (9c54c6)

  114. Well, if you want to promote chaos, chaos, then you should recall things that didn’t happen, and forget things that did happen. IMHO.

    Anyway, I seem to recall that Goldstein and Patterico were once a mutual admiration society, and frankly I never saw what was so great about Goldstein. So, I remain on Patterico’s side, though not necessarily on Frey’s.

    Andrew (59b742)

  115. Many believe that Jeff Goldstein espouses a theory of language that prevents speakers from being misinterpreted.

    I am trying to think of a nice way to say this, but dude, you are thick as a fucking brick.

    B Moe (534cee)

  116. I am trying to think of a nice way to say this, …
    Comment by B Moe — 12/13/2009 @ 9:26 pm

    Either it’s difficult for you to think, you have a very limited vocabulary, or you’re a liar. Apologies, could be all three.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  117. Sorry, correction – I thought it was simple ha (it’s late here on the east coast)!

    Jeff G. said Patterico called McCain a racist. Patterico did not call McCain a racist.

    Ok, NOW someone tell me how that statement is incorrect.

    Orbital (0843be)

  118. Orbital, “because fuck you” is the best argument Jeff has to offer.

    I don’t agree with him or Patterico on intentionaism. I think when you speak you have built something, and what you’ve made has a value that you are not a part of aside from how it comes across. I understand the other point of view… I certainly think intentionalism matters when deciding if someone is an unethical speaker, or what they intended to say… but what they did say… that’s more or less up to the words they left.

    When I explained my view in more detail at LMA, Jeff’s response was ‘you are stupid, me better’. He’s not worth a thing to the blogosphere, and he seems to know it because he keeps quitting blogging. Don’t be surprised if he takes another break for a while. He’s got no heart or backbone… just ego.

    I like Jeff’s blogging, but Jeff himself has turned out to be a real disappointment. To Jeff, if yuo don’t agree with him, you must simply not understand him. There’s no chance Jeff is wrong ot that there’s room for a different view (such as with intentionalism… the truth of which is truly in the realm of the completely subjective). You can’t win an argument with Jeff any more than you can win an argument with an animal. He’s a very smart and funny person, but sometimes you have to embarrass smart and funny people who are being assholes.

    “I am trying to think of a nice way to say this, but dude, you are thick as a fucking brick.

    Comment by B Moe ”

    This is the level of discourse that Jeff’s blog encourages and brings to the table (when it’s not attracting the likes of that Deb lady).

    but this is friendly fire! Jeff’s conservative sorta! We should focus on Obama and how dare Patterico hold the tight to a standard! Well, to that I can’t help but think about Pat Buchanan. I’m proud that he’s ostracized. While the left lets crazies like Moore or Markos speak for their cause, when Bill Ayers launches politicians straight to the top of the democrat party, the conservatives refuse to support bigots or intellectual frauds.

    Jeff is an intellectual fraud. He simply has no internal honesty or interest in making a fair case. His blog has a place… on the sidelines. When it comes time to report on something serious, you want it to appear in a blog that has enough self respect to follow the basic rules we were all born with.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  119. How can you make a statement you don’t intend when a statement isn’t language without intent?

    Again: you don’t know what you are talking about.

    A speaker may not intend to verbalize his intent. But when you talk about “subconscious” thoughts, you are still talking about the thoughts belonging to that person. If those thoughts are racist, that person is racist.

    Just because “intend” as it’s used to talk about agency and language doesn’t comport with how you use it in every day conversation doesn’t mean I am using some narrow or specialized form of the word. I’m not.

    Here:

    to have in mind as something to be done or brought about; plan: We intend to leave in a month.
    2. to design or mean for a particular purpose, use, recipient, etc.: a fund intended for emergency use only.
    3. to design to express or indicate, as by one’s words; refer to.
    4. (of words, terms, statements, etc.) to mean or signify.

    And your semantic two-step is perfectly ridiculous to anyone who has understood my arguments.

    JeffG (88bc84)

  120. Dustin —

    Why don’t you go read through the LMA threads before you continue flapping your gums like you know what it is you’re talking about.

    Also, it helps to have an intellect to spot an intellectual fraud. You’re unprepared for the job.

    JeffG (88bc84)

  121. Orbital,
    Patrick says that he does not wish to apply the label of racist to McCain, however, Goldstein points out that ascribing the trait of racism to a statement made by McCain, which Patrick did say, is the same thing, as that is how words and language work.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  122. If all it takes to make someone a racist is one racially prejudiced thought or statement, then everyone is a racist and the word has no meaning.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  123. Comment by Orbital — 12/13/2009 @ 9:42 pm

    You have nailed it, in fact.

    You even got the wording of the statement correct. Is it not that Patterico denies having called McCain a racist, but that it did not happen.

    That key fact would cause a more honest man to admit he spoke unkindly and incorrectly.

    Jeffy G is not, however, that man.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  124. “You and Jeff need to find some way to hug this out.

    Comment by Douglas”

    Jeff admitted to calling Patterico an anti semite. He invented that charge for no clear reason other than to make himself into a victim.

    Why would Patterico, an honest person who simply said what he meant, have to be held down to the level of someone who lies and calls people racists? How is that fair?

    Sure, Patterico calls and obviously racist comment racist, but that’s simply being honest. Inventing a charge of anti-semitism against someone simply because they are arguing with you, and you’re jewish, is despicable.

    People who are cool with Jeff’s horrible treatment of those he disagrees with have outed themselves as ethically stunted. i’m looking at you, Doug.

    Oh, and RSM might very well be a racist. Hell, if you don’t suspect it, you haven’t looked carefully at the evidence. We’re talking about someone who LIKES Calhoun. Maybe he isn’t racist. Can’t prove what’s actually in someone’s heart and it’s been a long time since he said anything horrible (aside from the disgusting quibbling about whether the quote was accurate).

    But let’s not pretend RSM is a proven saint on this issue. Patterico is restrained in not judging RSM because of fairness… not because of any evidence in RSM’s favor. These quotes of revulsion reek of a serious problem. Jeff’s crusade against Patterico in defense of RSM is chosen for convenience and not merit. I like RSM a lot, and I appreciate his restraint and give him benefit of the doubt… but that’s all it is. There is absolutely no injustice in pointing to a racist quote and condemning it.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  125. Comment by DRJ — 12/13/2009 @ 10:18 pm

    Because JD seems to be on some sort of vacation…

    DRJ, that was very racist of you to say, and I’m afraid that I must denounce you.

    :)

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  126. Comment by Robert White — 12/13/2009 @ 10:15 pm

    But that isn’t how language works.

    It is, in point of fact, how faulty logic works.

    To say that a statement is racist does not, by extension, make a person as a whole racist.

    For example: What you said was fucking retarded – that does not make you, by extension, a fucking retard.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  127. If all it takes to make someone a racist is one racially prejudiced thought or statement, then everyone is a racist and the word has no meaning.

    If it is also true that people are incapable of change, I suppose I could agree.

    I’d think that a distinction could be made, in any case, for an occassional or casual racism as opposed to a virulent or malicious racism.

    Bear in mind, what is racist today was just as racist in the middle of the 19th Century, but it wasn’t perceived as negative. And not all who harbor racist thoughts do so with malice.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  128. Also, it helps to have an intellect to spot an intellectual fraud. You’re unprepared for the job.

    Comment by JeffG — 12/13/2009 @ 10:14 pm

    Because really, fuck you Dustin. Right Jeffy?

    I mean, that’s how intellectual discourse works, right?

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  129. If it is also true that people are incapable of change, I suppose I could agree.

    I’d think that a distinction could be made, in any case, for an occassional or casual racism as opposed to a virulent or malicious racism.

    Bear in mind, what is racist today was just as racist in the middle of the 19th Century, but it wasn’t perceived as negative. And not all who harbor racist thoughts do so with malice.

    Spoken like a man (or Fucking Retard, whichever term you might think applies better) who missed every accusation of racism in the last two years because we dared not worship at the altar of Obama, nor who witnessed a single instance of manufactured outrage.

    Because that cop really was a racist, not some beat cop investigating a report of a home break in.

    Because that really was a “Whites Only” tree down in Jena.

    Because that noose on the door of that college professor really wasn’t put there by that very same professor.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  130. To say that a statement is racist does not, by extension, make a person as a whole racist.

    “As a whole,” no. No one has said or implied such.

    But at least in the time and place that the statement was made, the signifier was racist, if the statement does indeed signify racism.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  131. And your semantic two-step is perfectly ridiculous to anyone who has understood my arguments.

    A shame, then, that I do not fit within that demographic.

    Or not. I don’t think I would enjoy being included in the demographic of “Psychopaths, Retards, and Suffers of Severe Head Trauma”.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  132. Jesus…is this ever going to end?

    What is the point?

    This is beyond embarrassing for boths sides.

    Alan (7f4930)

  133. “As a whole,” no. No one has said or implied such.

    Yes. Yes they have. You have, as has Jeffy G.

    By saying that Patterico called McCain a racist, that is exactly what you have said.

    Patterico said the STATEMENT was racist, and that – at best – RSM was dodgy in responding to calls to clarify or explain (or even own) his statement.

    That does not equate, in any sane world, to calling RSM a racist.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  134. “If all it takes to make someone a racist is one racially prejudiced thought or statement, then everyone is a racist and the word has no meaning.

    Comment by DRJ”

    Was RSM’s argument so simple that we can conclude it was merely one isolated thought?

    No.

    It was a complex and intelligent (though wrong) attempt to justify a thought out structure based on racial purity being a natural goal. It had a long and detailed rationale and origin theory. And it was defended a few days ago with a painstakingly detailed explanation.

    A well thought out philosophy that accepts as nature revulsion at anything but racial purity… is that what it takes to make someone racist? It was 13 years ago and it’s not in display at RSM’s solid blog, so this isn’t about him so much as the idea that this kind of crap should draw disgust and ostracism and… judgment. Not for RSM. For this idea or anyone currently spitting it out. IMO.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  135. I would like to further expand upon something the wise and great Jeffy G said:

    3. to design to express or indicate, as by one’s words; refer to.

    This speaks only to the designs of the speaker. It ignores entirely the designs of the listener, who can wholely miss what the intent of the speaker was. In communications that is called a mis-cue, and it happens all the time.

    Ever missed someone’s intended sarcasm, and thought they were serious? I’ll demonstrate.

    Jeffy G is a man who would never resort to insults instead of attempting to sound like a rational person.

    That is a classic example of a speaker’s intent being wholely missed by the listener, and the original message of “Jeffy G is a complete and utter tool” sould easily be missed if you missed my intent.

    And yes. Jeffy G is a massive, massive tool.

    Gods is he ever a tool.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  136. Patterico said the STATEMENT was racist

    Yes. And the statement can’t exist without the author. It has it’s meaning from the author–it cannot come from anywhere else.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  137. Jeff, I tried to have an intellectual discussion with you, but you refused to participate. You actually demanded I provide an argument against intentionalism, and though I admitted in that argument that it’s not a matter of proof, and provided my reasoning against intentionalism, all you had in reply was insults.

    You’re very impressed with yourself. A guy who plays the race card? Who calls people stupid?

    Don’t you realize it’s not relevant how smart I am? I’m not insecure about my intelligence, and I don’t attempt to puff myself up on a blog, so it’s easy for someone like you to be certain you’ve won some kind of contest… but intentionalism’s merit does not rest on how smart I am.

    As I said before, you’re trying to define the very meaning of words and concepts. At this basic level, it is subjective. There is no absolute way to prove that some act is racist independent of the actor’s intent, without defining the terms.

    Most people disagree with me, including Patterico and probably Scott and many others. I don’t mind. I liked the idea of having an intellectual discussion with people I disagree with. I do not need to resort to making up lies about how they are racist (like you did). I knew before I made my argument that it is unprovable and would not win agreement. That’s the nature of meta-ethical philosophy.

    I don’t know why I bother to respond to someone who was unable to accurately articulate what he was arguing against, either with me or with Patterico. Or who calls me stupid as an argument. You’re projecting.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  138. It has it’s meaning from the author–it cannot come from anywhere else.

    Because it is impossible for meaning to be attached to a statement independent from the speaker.

    If that were the case, then Jeffy G is even more wrong, because it was not the INTENT of Patterico to cal RSM a racist.

    Case solved. Go Team Venture.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  139. If it is also true that people are incapable of change, I suppose I could agree.
    I’d think that a distinction could be made, in any case, for an occassional or casual racism as opposed to a virulent or malicious racism.
    Bear in mind, what is racist today was just as racist in the middle of the 19th Century, but it wasn’t perceived as negative. And not all who harbor racist thoughts do so with malice.
    Comment by Robert White — 12/13/2009 @ 10:28 pm

    So, how could that distinction be made? Apparently, flat-out saying “I am not calling this person a racist” is insufficient. Please enlighten me on the exact wording necessary to point out a racist statement made by someone who is no longer racist. If they’re quoting a racist, that removes it one step further, so I would really appreciate knowing how to discuss a racist statement quoted by a non-racist. Make that distinction for me. I guess if I get into that situation I should email you or Jeff and let you look into it as experts on language and racism. Better yet, I’ll just wait for you or Jeff to tell me who is racist instead of even bothering to wonder when I hear statements that appear racist.

    No, I think I’ll go with “Words have meaning” and take people at their word unless I have reason not to. No divining, adducing, deducing, intuiting, or ascribing needed to understand normal communication. If I still wonder, I’ll ask more questions. I was persuaded by RSM’s explanation and wish he had done it from the beginning. Others are not persuaded, for whatever reason. I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem with someone being “kind” enough to rephrase someones plain words into an anti-Semitic slur, or “interpret” a clear denial of applying the word racist to someone as applying the word racist to someone. Words have meaning Robert.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  140. Yes. And the statement can’t exist without the author. It has it’s meaning from the author–it cannot come from anywhere else.

    Comment by Robert White

    Well, actually, it has no meaning until it is interpreted. Meaning occurs in the brains of the readers. We do have to take a leap of faith to get to meaning. there’s a lot of existentialist argument that this proves there is no language or authentic relationship between you and the author. At some level, this is true. But. This leap of faith is so central and basic that we might as well just admit that words/actions have an understood meaning.

    Killing all the jews is racist. Revulsion at interracial love and calling racial purity natural is racist (even if it is in fact natural and nature is racist, it’s still racist). saying you refuse to hire any black workers is racist.

    Even if you speak an alien language, and by sheer insane luck, you were telling a joke about the weather, your statement itself may be condemned as racist. For what it is.

    Otherwise, we cease to be able to operate or understand language or the world. Which, if we are epistemologicaly pure, might have some merit. As would doubting everything our eyes see.

    By taking part in a world with some theoretical doubt, and further engaging in dialogues on the internet, we have agreed to the contract of the English language.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  141. Now, the leap from ‘that statement is racist’ to ‘the author is racist and meant to say something racist’ is much farther.

    By all means, question whether RSM actually meant what he said. If he didn’t, then his long and thought provoking explanation of what he said is awfully amazing. A million monkeys with a million years could do no better.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  142. Because it is impossible for meaning to be attached to a statement independent from the speaker.

    Correct.

    If that were the case, then Jeffy G is even more wrong, because it was not the INTENT of Patterico to cal RSM a racist.

    No. Sometimes people just don’t communicate their intent well. In this case, despite intent, the statement was simply wrong, specifically because of a mistaken notion regarding language and words. People don’t usually intend to be wrong.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  143. Well, actually, it has no meaning until it is interpreted.

    Really?

    You deny that the person who created the statement had some meaning in mind for it? Is this not prior to interpretation?

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  144. No. Sometimes people just don’t communicate their intent well. In this case, despite intent, the statement was simply wrong, specifically because of a mistaken notion regarding language and words. People don’t usually intend to be wrong.

    Oh, in THIS case, despite intent, the statement is wrong.

    But there’s a need to look into intent when someone says it’s natural to be revolted at interracial marriage.

    A mistaken notion regarding language and words. What notion? What are you saying?

    Explain your theory of intent or words or anything at all that allows you to deny the meaning of the RSM quote but condemn the supposed absolute wrongness of Patterico’s.

    otherwise, I think Scott Jacobs has nailed Jeff G dead to rights as inherently full of shit. He invented an impossible rule and then chose not to apply it if inconvenient to condemn his enemies.

    that’s also very similar to how he condemns Patterico for calling someone racist (even if Patterico never even said that Jeff can actually CREATE intent and statements and anything else he needs while denying people the right to read words as they obviously are) and he also calls Patterico a racist (by inventing this anti-semite smear out of absolutely nothing).

    I freely admit Scott’s done a much better job getting right to the point of this hypocrisy. But you didn’t seem to understand that.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  145. Stashiu3,

    Words have no inherent meaning. If they did, definitions would not change over time.

    As for the rest, I can’t recommend bothering Jeff with that, and I’m no expert. I would recommend, on the other hand, that if you have a question, the place to begin is in asking the author to clarify.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  146. Did I say inherent meaning Robert? Did you interpret that? How kind of you.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  147. “Really?

    You deny that the person who created the statement had some meaning in mind for it? Is this not prior to interpretation?

    Comment by Robert White”

    Of course the statement had meaning in the author’s head, but that wasn’t the statement. The statement was part of a mental state in the reader’s head.

    If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there, it doesn’t make a sound. A sound is the interpretation of the sensations your body gives your mind. A meaning is your mind applying language to words.

    Granted, it’s obviously possible to reimagine ethics so that my rules make no sense. Of course, nothing else makes much sense either in such an ethical world, and you haven’t expressed such a theory for me to knock some holes into, but I admit this is a purely subjective process.

    Still, is it racist to have a race neutral admissions process to a university? What if a white supremacist argued for a race neutral school because that’s better for whites than AA. His motives are racist… but the actual act of a race neutral school stands on its own.

    You can characterize the act and the intention separately. So why not just do that? why not say that RSM’s intent when making a racist statement is one thing (one thing we can’t even know), while the actual words are another thing. Applying a dictionary and basic thought proves the quote is racist on its own. Why go further?

    I think you don’t want to go further because you don’t want people to think they have proven RSM is racist. Well, we’ve separated the concepts and can’t draw that connection as easily now.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  148. Scott’s as confused as Patrick.

    Color me shocked.

    Here.

    Also, had Jacobs — or really, any of you — bothered to read what I wrote today, you’d feel pretty silly about making some of the arguments you are making.

    Hell, all you had to do was read the first update:

    update: It occurs to me that the procedure I detailed above to show that my restatement of Frey’s claims (that he has redefined words based on what “most people” think they mean) is of a piece with my the claim for which Frey began calling me a liar — namely, my argument that, by declaring a statement “racist,” he has committed himself to the idea that its speaker is racist, at least at the time of the utterance.

    I very carefully detailed how this works, showing all the steps in my reasoning.

    The rejoinder from Frey has been that I “lied” (or LIED!) about his position — after all, he provides QUOTES showing that he began all this by “pointedly” stating that he was NOT calling McCain a racist, which must mean that for me to suggest otherwise is a fraudulent way for me to “rob him of his intent.”

    But the careful and rigorous reader will notice that I haven’t denied Frey’s intent: he may, in fact, have never intended to call McCain a racist. Still, what I’ve shown is the necessity of his having done so, regardless of whether he meant to or not.

    I am not robbing him of his intent by doing so; instead, I am illustrating the failure of an argument he has made in support of his intent.

    And the argument turns out as it does because calling a statement “racist” makes no sense unless it proceeds from racism. For it to proceed from racism, that racism has to rest somewhere. If the statement is merely racist-sounding — that is, if we argue that the statement sounds racist to us, but we are unwilling to ascribe racist intent to the speaker — than it is we as receivers who have “animated the racist thought,” to borrow a phrase. And we cannot then attribute the racist intent back to McCain.

    If, however, we argue that the racism is implicit in the statement, we are saying that it was intended as such — because language, insofar as it is made up of signs (attaching signifiers to signifieds through an intent to signify), the intent to signify is what makes language language in the first place. And it makes no difference if you wish to introduce such ideas as “unconscious racism” or the like, because the racism in question still rests with the agency producing the utterance, and so is his, a product of unspoken intent.

    All of which is a roundabout way of stating that to call my premise a “lie” is to completely and, dare I say, dishonestly, dismiss the argument I’m making with a wave of the hand as somehow illegitimate — all because your intent was to make a better argument than the one you actually made.

    But intentions can fail. Just because they fail doesn’t mean we haven’t had them, of course.

    I have no problem with you staying in your snug little cocoon pretending I don’t know jack, and you all are so sophisticated with language. But if you’re going to do it, at least try to keep up with current events.

    Oh. And “Jeffy.” Good stuff.

    JeffG (88bc84)

  149. […] to Orbital: Jeff G. said Patterico called McCain a racist. Patterico did not call McCain a […]

    Patterico's Pontifications » A Commenter Simplifies This Entire Brouhaha Into Two Sentences (e4ab32)

  150. No. Sometimes people just don’t communicate their intent well. In this case, despite intent, the statement was simply wrong, specifically because of a mistaken notion regarding language and words. People don’t usually intend to be wrong.

    So intent is the deciding factor, except when it isn’t.

    Jesus Fuck that’s convenient.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  151. Oh. And “Patty.” Good stuff:

    Ooh. Lookit Patty playing fun fun with intentionalism as he understands it!

    Isn’t it clever?

    Comment by Jeff G — 3/22/2009 @ 12:03 am

    Hypocrite.

    Patterico (64318f)

  152. But there’s a need to look into intent when someone says it’s natural to be revolted at interracial marriage.

    Don’t know.

    Don’t care.

    That’s Pat’s thing, you’ll have to ask him what he intended. But that part he hasn’t been willing to answer.

    Explain your theory of intent or words or anything at all….

    Again? I begin to see Jeff’s problem here.

    If you genuinely disagree with me, please, feel free to do so. If you specifically want to disagree with me, I can live with that too, and if you are artful about it I wont’ even know the difference.

    But simply continuing to ask for the same answers over and over, I don’t get. The theory isn’t going to change. It’d be nice to persuade you or anyone else here, but I get paid to keep PC’s running and I benefit directly from this in no material way.

    Jeff’s easy enough to find if you develop a genuine interest in the subject.

    Robert White (23f0b8)

  153. “Current events” does not include reading your site or comments. I stopped going for a reason. You’re too kind.

    Ironic, isn’t it?

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  154. I need to get some rest, but I ask people, whether they disagree with me or not, to consider that Jeff dismissed my POV because, according to him, I am not intelligent enough.

    I don’t really care if you agree or not, since this is purely theoretical stuff. But Jeff knows I’m not stupid. He just wants to tally up as many wins as possible without making any real arguments. That’s why he was talking about breaking people’s bodies like toothpicks, and making personal attack after personal attack, until he was banned from this blog. He thinks he won, in the same way any troll thinks they have proven something once they are finally banned. He’s never going to stop until he’s banned again, at which point he will have won a game that only he is playing.

    That’s not to say Patterico shouldn’t defend himself. The only problem I have with it is that Jeff is low hanging fruit on the ‘bad argument’ tree.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  155. And Jeff, what you continue to misunderstand is that, while I accept your argument that a racist comment must be animated by racist thoughts (that perhaps might be subconscious), that DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE “A RACIST.” Because slapping the label of “a racist” on someone indicates a PATTERN. Which I did not have proof of with McCain.

    The person who is not listening and not understanding is YOU. I know you’re used to thinking of yourself as the smartest guy in the room. Chuck off that conception of yourself and try listening for once in your life.

    Patterico (64318f)

  156. “He just wants to tally up as many wins as possible without making any real arguments.

    DING DING DING! We have a winner!

    Patterico (64318f)

  157. and if you are artful about it I wont’ even know the difference.

    I highly suspect that were I to be in-artful, you would be unable to tell the difference.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  158. “Don’t know.

    Don’t care.”

    OK. You don’t know. You don’t know that it’s racist to prefer one race to another. It’s not that you think there’s some possible intent that makes this the case… you just don’t know or care.

    Seems like you’re being strangely stubborn and incurious. You deny all language. Except… oh wait… when it suits your preconceived conclusion.

    ‘don’t know, don’t care.’

    well, I know and I care. Feel sorry for people who don’t know, and really, I’m simply not going to deal with people who don’t even care.

    Why are you even attempting to engage in discourse? You don’t believe in it. You can’t take that linguistic leap of faith that we all must take to talk to eachother. If you did, it would occur to you that RSM’s old quote also must be assumed to have a meaning. why must? Assumption necessary to the leap of faith.

    Not to be a prick, but if you are interested in this, you should read Concluding Unscientific Postscript. It’s along your point of view for quite a while, but it conveys what I mean about leaps of faith.

    Dustin (44f8cb)

  159. Linguists aren’t the only experts on language.

    Lawyers deal with language and intent daily. On a practical level.

    I don’t consider myself the ultimate authority. In an ideal world, I would LOVE to discuss language with a Jeff Goldstein unburdened with his numerous personal faults.

    It ain’t an ideal world.

    But I counsel Goldstein to adopt some humility and consider other perspectives.

    There are other smart people.

    You don’t seem to respect anyone but yourself.

    Patterico (64318f)

  160. “blowhard:

    “So when you have a set of people, all trying to divine the speaker’s true intent, and they disagree, there has to be some way of deciding what the best interpretation is. Right? How would you answer that question?”

    I wouldn’t answer that question. I’d ask a question. I’d say, “What did you mean?” If the speaker was dead or unresponsive, I’d say “Who knows?””

    There is a slight chance that I was making a Huxley-ian-esque-? (not Aldous, the older English relative) argument about being agnostic about more than religion. I haven’t checked, but when I say stuff like that, sometimes I am.

    If that wasn’t the case, I’m often of the opinion, more than Jeff with intentionalism or Patrick with formalism, that humans most often don’t know what’s going on.

    If that wasn’t the case, I was talking out my ass. It happens.

    bh (pendleton) (7f8d26)

  161. I received an e-mail received from bh (pendleton) tonight, attaching private correspondence between bh and me. It had a message to Goldstein, authorizing him to publish it.

    Guess he hit reply instead of forward.

    Patterico (64318f)

  162. Guess he hit reply instead of forward.
    Comment by Patterico — 12/13/2009 @ 11:38 pm

    How kind of him. In an ironic way.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  163. Lots of kind people coming over from PW. I would return the kindness if I didn’t have standards. Ironically, I do.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  164. I’ll grant Patrick half of that. I had no intention of allowing anyone else to publish the emails until I felt that he had contradicted public statements with private statements.

    Towards the reply, forward, cc issue: I messed up. Entirely my fault. As we’ve been at odds, I don’t think he has to go out of his way to see it my way on something that minor.

    bh (pendleton) (7f8d26)

  165. Yeah. You meant to forward it to Jeff. But instead, you replied to me.

    Thus accidentally revealing to me that you were forwarding my private e-mails. For publication.

    Patterico (64318f)

  166. Shorter bh: “Don’t trust me… ever.”

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  167. Well, the “private” emails were forwarded months ago because I was acting as a back channel of communication.

    I decided to allow them to be published because I felt you’re now scoffing at something in public that I felt you were still maintaining eight days later in private.

    Between us, you’ve now made an argument based on a sort of conversational shorthand. I don’t think it applies because the whole conversation started because I disagreed with the idea the your shorthand was based on.

    bh (pendleton) (7f8d26)

  168. Stashiu3, not giving you a hard time here but do you know what Patrick and I are talking about?

    bh (pendleton) (7f8d26)

  169. shorter bh: “Really… I mean it. Don’t trust me.”

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  170. Don’t care because it’s not my business. You don’t forward private emails between you and another person, then give permission for them to be published behind that person’s back. You could have emailed Patterico and said you didn’t think he was being consistent and you have reservations about your conversations. You didn’t do that. You went tried to go behind his back. Out of kindness I guess.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  171. Stashiu3, not giving you a hard time here but do you know what Patrick and I are talking about?

    I think he does. Forwarding private e-mails to Jeff Goldstein, is what I’m talking about.

    There are some PW readers who would be petrified if I did what you did, and what Pablo is threatening to do. Because what they said about Jeff would become public.

    Luckily for them, I have more honor than you guys.

    See, unlike Jeff, I do some real journalism here. And you can’t do that if people think you’re just going to share things that you promise to keep private.

    And so I don’t.

    But you have a different set of ethics. As in: none.

    Patterico (64318f)

  172. Okay, fine, I let the cat out of the bag.

    They don’t like each other. Now, by letting the cat out of the bag, they’re each learning for the very first time, that they don’t like each other. Months and months later.

    bh (pendleton) (7f8d26)

  173. Patrick, after the “no shit talk” agreement (I’ll take the agreement by performance argument here), did you ever shop out your brief (or sections) against Jeff behind the scenes?

    bh (pendleton) (7f8d26)


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