I hate e-drama, but I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you don’t choose drama, it chooses you. Recently on LinkedIn, a woman named Haley Lawrence made a post that popped up in my feed for some reason, since I’m not following her. Personally, I thought that the post was perfectly innocuous: she said “not anti-vaxx, I’m against mandates and coercion.” You can view the post here, at least while it’s still up, though you should also visit my archived version, this way you can see the post as I last commented on it, since comments are being deleted left and right, the post itself could be deleted at some point, and Haley could even get kicked off the platform. The archived version doesn’t show everything, so the comments pertinent to this article are below:

Frank Marcovitz: I disagree

Haley Lawrence: And that’s your choice to disagree and guess what? I respect that.

Me (replying to Haley): Unfortunately, this is why people like us (i.e. those who value personal liberty and medical privacy) always lose out to the authoritarian busybodies – WE respect THEIR choices, THEY do not respect OURS. Keep a sharp eye out for the strawmen, false equivalences, and ad hominem attacks that will be (well, they are already) thrown about in attempt to morally brow-beat us into compliance.

Trenton Schwarzer (replying to Frank): You disagree with ——- what, freedom of choice?

Steve Mccullough (replying to Trenton): knowingly killing others

Steve Mccullough (replying to me): respect your right to kill other? [sic]

Me (replying to Steve): That is a blatant strawman and a false equivalence. You just did exactly as I warned you would. Care to try this again, you narcissistic busybody? [this comment was deleted by LinkedIn, presumably after being reported, though over a dozen people liked it; I eventually re-posted it and left out the “narcissistic busybody” bit]

As more and more people piled on, arguing on both sides of the vaccine mandate argument, most of the comments were absolutely vitriolic tripe, though the authoritarians were clearly much more hostile, inarticulate and condescending. There was only one break, and that was when Shree Nanguneri entered the chat, trying to be diplomatic.

Shree (replying to me):

Your point is valid and the magical question may lie in how we work this inclusively to benefit everyone?

I am sure there has to be a way to work it out collaboratively and in a civil manner between all of us otherwise intelligent people, I suppose.

Why not ask questions on how solutions can be proposed instead of accusing the other side as killers or the other way as depriving people of their constitutional rights and freedom?

Your experiences please?

Me:

While I’d like to think that there is some sort of middle ground that can be reached, I’m afraid that there are far too many people who simply will not compromise on their own inherently incompatible positions, thus giving a sense of realism to an otherwise false dichotomy. The only thing that works in that case is if the belligerent parties simply agree to stay as far away from each other as possible.

In a perfect world, we could all be rational adults about it and simply agree to disagree, but it’s really hard to maintain a mature composure when there are a few voices screeching like spoiled children. You can’t take people like that seriously, so I like to indulge my own inner child and make fun of them. It usually blows up in my face (if you haven’t gathered, I’ve dealt with a lot of unreasonable people), but it’s tremendously cathartic and a far healthier coping mechanism than binge drinking.

Concerning vaccines, specifically, I am reminded of the old saying “you catch more flies with a teaspoon of honey than a gallon of vinegar.” If 100% vaccination is the goal, the hostile moral brow-beating of the “vaccine hesitant” has to stop, simple as.

Does this answer any of your questions?

As I have mentioned before, authoritarians are narcissists, and I’m not the first person to point this out. Narcissists are not willing to make concessions, and therefore, neurotypical people must continually make concessions for them, ultimately giving them exactly what they want. In the grander scheme, narcissistic politicians (which is redundant these days) foment the death of a liberal society, because a liberal society is based around a “live and let live” attitude, in which people are free to make their own choices, but are not free to impose those choices on others. The narcissist does not understand the very concept of personal preference, and therefore does not believe that people are free to do any different from them. When people like this make policy decisions, the result is totalitarianism. However, in the upside-down world of totalitarianism, if you do not obey all tyrannical diktats, then you are infringing on the rights of others, specifically the “rights” of the tyrant to dictate how you live your life. As I mentioned in my article about the ideological method, as the debate proceeds, then the proponent of the flawed ideology (in this case, medical tyranny) will resort to increasingly fallacious arguments and pure emotional appeals in a desperate attempt to morally brow-beat their opponents into submission – “if you don’t agree with me, you are literally killing people.” The tyrant cries out in pain as he whips you for disobeying him. It’s effective, but it’s fallacious nonetheless.

So, let’s break this down: there are two extreme positions regarding vaccines. On one end, you have the totalitarians, who believe that people who do not get vaccinated are walking public health hazards, therefore vaccines should be mandatory, and that this “should not be up for debate.” Those very words, “this should not be up for debate,” is a clear indication that they are not willing to move from this position by any measurable amount. On the other end, you have the anti-vaxxers, who believe that all vaccines are poison and that no-one should take them. Oddly enough, I have never heard of an anti-vaxxer who thinks that vaccines should be outlawed. Already, we have a bit of a disparity, since the anti-vaxxers don’t think that anyone should be coerced into doing as they do. But then, there is no limit to tyranny, the way that there is to liberty. Logically, the middle ground between anti-vax and medical tyranny would be vaccine choice: people are free to get vaccinated if they wish, and private enterprises are free to discriminate against vaccinated or unvaccinated people at their own pleasure. Haley and I both support the middle ground position, though our personal choices are different: she doesn’t want the CoVID-19 vaccine, whereas I’ve already received it (I’m not saying which one, since my vaccination status is none of anyone’s business anyway, I’m just revealing it to make a point).

When the totalitarians inevitably lose the argument, they must shift the goal-posts and either argue about philosophy or freedom of speech, which are somewhat intertwined. The free speech argument that they use is usually a variation of “hate speech is not free speech” or “harmful misinformation is not free speech.” Totalitarians generally pay lip service to freedom of speech and the problem of censorship, but this is a motte-and-bailey argument. They have different working definitions of censorship and free speech from those of us who actually support freedom of speech. This they exposed after Steve called Yelena Rakhimov “Hitler” later on in the chat. Since this is a far spicier insult than anything I’ve said on LinkedIn, there’s no way that this isn’t a violation of LinkedIn’s terms of service, yet it’s still there as of me writing this article.

Steve Mccullough: where’s the jeapordy, hitler. You get to decide who lives and dies?

Yelena’s initial response to this comment is no longer there, oddly enough. She made fun of him for calling her “Hitler.” I suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that she report his comment for abuse. I could have done so myself, but since the comment wasn’t directed at me, it’s not really my decision.

Me: You should report his comment for abuse. Steve is clearly a troll, he’s just here to disrupt the conversation and rile people up, not contribute anything useful.

Yelena: I don’t get easily insulted. I know how human mind works. People usually use insults when they run out of arguments. So I take it as a win.

Me: Steve ran out of arguments a long time ago. Meanwhile, Wales Nematollahi thinks I’m in favour of cancel culture because I want this already wonky comments section to not be so cluttered with such utter tripe. If LinkedIn’s comments functioned more like Disqus, this wouldn’t be an issue, I’d just block them both and get on with my day.

As I said, it’s not my decision, it’s hers. If she wants to let him get away with it and leave the comment there for all to see, that works just as well as getting him in trouble with the website. However, that’s not the standard that Steve’s ideological allies believe in, as I explain with the very comment that I mentioned.

Wales Nematollahi (replying to me): So you want cancel culture.

Me: That’s another strawman. Blocking a troll because he’s disrupting a conversation with total nonsense and cluttering up the comments section does not infringe on free speech. But then, this entire PLATFORM has devolved into the sort of infantile nonsense that one would previously see only on Twitter, so I’m not surprised you’d throw that at me.

The reason that Wales’s comment is a strawman (though one could also make the case that it’s a false equivalence, the two fallacies are quite similar) is because the decision to block or mute a person, if that option is available, is not “cancelling” them. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to choose what speech you are exposed to. If you wish to live in an echo chamber, that is your right. If you wish not to see irrelevant nonsense, that is your right. Reporting a single comment for abuse will see that comment removed, not the removal of the person’s account. I shouldn’t have to make this argument, but Wales just wanted to make me look bad, so he continued.

Wales: Your reply to me bolsters my belief that you support the far right wing version of cancel culture. You just don’t seem to like the fact that these flatheads aren’t echo chambers. Wouldn’t you be happier in 8kun or Parler?

Me: Great, another strawman, combined with a fallacy of projection. You know who really wants an echo chamber? Look in the mirror. Oh, wait, you already are. Seriously, why is your side allowed to be so vitriolic while brow-beating people, but no-one else is allowed to get annoyed and retaliate? Why the onus on ME to keep MY cool, but you can be as nasty as you please? Double standards? Seriously, next time you reply to me, leave out the logical fallacies, and make a real argument.

Wales has not replied to me. Personally, I don’t think he even knows what 8kun or Parler actually are, but he’s simply been told that they are “far-right echo chambers,” so they were convenient things he could throw at me to make me look bad. I don’t even know why he would assume that I’m “far right,” other than the fact that I called his ideological ally a “troll.” All but two of the comments that I made on that particular LinkedIn post are documented in this article, and I doubt anyone could honestly evaluate me as “far right” from those comments alone, unless that person is working with a definition of “far right” that includes everyone who does not believe exactly as they do. “Far right” is nothing more than a socio-political pejorative that leftists and authoritarians (and authoritarian leftists in particular) use against their detractors for ease of dismissal.

I’m starting to really hate LinkedIn, but if I can use it to direct more people here to my WordPress blog or to Hive, then it’s worth the headaches that I suffer until I get kicked off the platform – just as Shaista Justin was. Yes, I’m throwing an awful lot of names around today. It must be done, because in these trying times, we need to know whom we can trust.

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