Monday, August 04, 2008

Auster's exit from the big thread

The big thread over at Gates of Vienna was a really good discussion. With a wide range of people participating, including people who do not regularly comment at GoV. Me, Zenster and Erich were the ones at the core of the debate, upholding the main theme in the spirit of Westerner's article. The exchanges between the three of us is an example of when a debate is at its absolute best, each of us starting from different positions, thrashing over the problem until the point where we reached a general consensus on the main issues. A debate cannot be more constructive than that, and in this case about a highly important issue. Quite as in other team sports it requires that you keep the mental focus at the ball, and that you are not a thin-skinned person.

There were also several other people involved in this main discussion, of course. And there were also several different side tracks. One such side track was the exchange between Lawrence Auster and Baron Bodissey, which was developing well until at some point Auster was offended by something the Baron had written, halted the discussion and started to send several emails to the Baron demanding that he retracted the comment -- a comment that was not directed to Auster but that Auster felt could have been interpreted as being directed at him. The Baron eventually posted a clarification, but this side discussion was already derailed and never got back on track.

Instead Auster took up his attacks on Zenster. He spends five posts dedicated just for moral hissy fits and personalities on Zenster. The exchange did not move the discussion forward an inch. At this point Auster and his approach had been criticized by several interlocutors, and he decided to deem this whole discussion thread unworthy of him, and drop out. And since then he's continued his own "meta"-discussion over at his site.

I get the impression that Auster does not feel comfortable about the way he opted out of the discussion; that he doesn't feel that he managed to make his withdrawal look valid. The reason for this impression is how he has since posted 6-7 articles at his blog, groping for an angle to frame the whole thing to make his behaviour look valid; mainly different attempts at framing GoV as something objectionable in the eyes of the VFR readers. In a process eventually leading up to a point where he actually shows regret; something so unusual that it supports my impression of him feeling uncomfortable about how he handled this thing.

Auster main approach in framing the GoV community, with some help of his most zealous follower Adela G., has been in using expressions as:

  • whacked-out liberal cranks
  • "conservatives" who embrace moral liberationism
  • loyal denizens of the contemporary liberal pop culture
  • [like] the junk posted at Huffington Post or Daily Kos
USorThem described well the problem with this approach of Auster, and how it alienates many good people, who would otherwise be glad to call him an ally. (Read more about it here).

Henrik R Clausen made a more penetrating analysis of Auster spin method in this particular case: "Auster moves from the atypical sample to a judgment of not only the poster, of the entire GoV community, and even of GoV as such."

I will bring up these atypical cases in my following posts on this topic, and show how Auster uses them not only to paint GoV as a haunt of liberal cranks, but in groping for grips from other angles in order to put GoV in a negative light, in an attempt to make his own behaviour look valid.


Zenster said...

It's nice to see this issue get a good airing. Divisiveness in the counter-jihad movement will prove lethal unless certain highly disruptive individuals are outed for their persistent "unhelpfulness".

After some prolonged consideration, I have decided that what irked me most over Auster's slagging off about my comment is that—without devoting much effort to engage the actual content of my somewhat thorough analysis—he effectively invoked Godwin's Law and trivialized the entire thread by doing so.

As the linked FAQ page notes:

If someone brings up Nazis in any conversation that has been going on too long for one of the parties, it can be used as a fair excuse to end the thread and declare victory for the other side.

By doing this so early in the thread, Auster increased the chances of people who were wandering through just as easily deciding that the discussion had already stalled out. I would also say that a degree of insincerity was displayed in the willingness to immediately presume the very worst about someone instead of investigating before making such an assumption.

I could just as easily be offended by how Auster refused several attempts upon my part to re-engage on the topic. However, my actions were strictly out of courtesy to Baron Bodissey and the spirit that Gates of Vienna operates in.

I could personally give a rip about someone so readily offended that they abandoned what was a valuable opportunity to gain strong exposure. A genuine lack of rational thought was demonstrated and that usually suffices for me.

MisterThor said...

Would have like to have been part of this exchange. I have experienced Auster's hypersensitivity and blatant mischaracterizations myself. I just can't imagine Auster ever turning into a team-player - he's certainly no consensus builder. That said, he does have moments of great lucidity and can be nice to correspond with if treated with kid gloves.