Tag Archives: Comment Section

Message Boards and Comment Sections Part II

In my last post “Message Boards and Comment Sections” I talked about how debates in these particular forums almost always turn into a battle of egos rather than an honest and authentic discussion of ideas. True to form a debate followed in the comment section where this very dynamic played itself out. Ostensibly the debate concerned whether there are any free societies and whether the freedom of citizens is a good and proper goal to which a government to aspire. But as the process played out I found myself in the anxious situation where I felt the need to respond to every comment (or risk tacitly conceding a point) and then dreading seeing the the little red circle pop up indicating that a new comment had been made.

Although to a certain (not insignificant) extent there was an interesting and legitimate exchange of ideas there was also an underlying current of egoism which over time increased in importance. Eventually, the ideas of the discussion became the weapons used to fight a battle of egos. I certainly am not accusing my worthy opponents of being entirely responsible for this. I, by no means am innocent of this process. (In fact, I wrote a book about my prior experiences and lessons learned in this world.) Perhaps because of these experiences I am simply more aware of of the dynamic. I suppose I also have to accept the possibility that I am the only one who is really experiencing this dynamic and that I am projecting my experience on to the other people. But, I say that more as a disclaimer because I truly believe this is what is playing out despite any potential denials or protestations I might receive in the near future.

More and more I find this decent into egoism to be a drain on my energy. There is certainly a part of me (my ego) that has a strong desire to jump back into the game and in the short run this game can be very exhilarating. But like all addictions, the short term benefit gradually becomes overwhelmed by the long term detriments.

At this point I am weary of writing another post on a political topic because I (sort of) dread the debate that ensues in the comment section. I dread the feeling of having to respond or risk a humiliation however small. This is not to say that I will never reengage with the game. Like all addicts I suppose that I will relapse and come back to the well eventually. And honestly, I do feel lately I have been gaining an education and questioning some liberal beliefs I have held that frankly could use some questioning.

I even have a topic in mind that I have been mulling over. These topics tend to sit in the back of my mind for a while gaining mass and organization. At a certain point they achieve a critical mass and then push themselves forward out onto the page. This is the way it always happens. The cycle will repeat.


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Message Boards and Comment Sections

I have been involved in many conversations on message boards and in blog comment sections over the years. Very few of these conversations have been respectful and compassionate although this sometimes occurs. More often these conversations start as a difference of opinion about a specific issue but then morph into a battle of egos. Neither side will admit this of course. They always couch their position as if it is motivated chiefly by a search for the truth. This proclaimed motivation, however, is almost always betrayed by the snarky, sarcastic quality the comments take on and by ad hominem attacks made against the person espousing the opposing position.

I should know better than to get sucked into these debates. They always end up the same way, sour my mood and muddle my thought process. But this is the nature of an ego based exchange. As I said, ad hominem attacks (as opposed to an honest discussion of the issues) is a good indicator that the conversation has turned in this direction. Another indicator is when the debate replays itself in my mind when I am not actually engaged in the debate. This is the ego preparing itself for the next round. And the goal is not really to show the opposing side the errors of his ways. The goal is always to humiliate the other side. This is why it always gets personal.

I have my theories as to why a person chooses to make a debate personal. Choose is actually the wrong word because this decision is made on a very primitive and neuro-chemical level. That is, reward chemicals are released when a person senses that he has humiliated his opponent through text. Over time his brain rewires itself in response to this reward. Through this rewiring he becomes addicted to the reward and then acts on it through compulsion.(1) This is why a troll does what he does. But the question remains why these chemicals are released in response to this scenario in the first place. It seems highly likely that this neural pattern is based on prior experiences of being humiliated (probably by primary care takers at an early and formative age). This creates the mechanism that rewards humiliating other people.(2) But often within the throws of an exchange it feels like a struggle for the truth is at stake. It is forgotten (or never known in the first place) that the real motivation is to humiliate the other even though this motive remains alive and well on a subliminal level.

Another aspect to this dynamic is a failure (or refusal) to appreciate the other person’s position. Once things get personal this obstinance only calcifies. For example, Zippy talks about the positivists wearing blinders in the following passage:

For sane people, a real counterexample calls for revision of the theory or metaphysics which its existence contradicts. For positivists, a real counterexample is something to be dismissed unless it can be incorporated into positive theory.

However, he fails to see the beam in his own eye in this respect when it comes to his obsessive anti-liberal stance. He is so wedded to his own belief that liberalism is the cause of all evil in the world that he dismisses out of hand all counterexamples (usually with an  ad hominem attack thrown in for good measure). Moreover, within the echo chambers of the comment sections of the Orthosphere and his own blog his absurd points of view are largely confirmed. The best example I can give as to this is his argument that the USA and North Korea are equally free societies. (See the comment section to this post). I can only attribute his ability to believe this to the fact that he has a loyal band of people who readily agree with him and reinforce this belief. Unfortunately, such is the post truth / alternative fact world in which we now find ourselves living.

In closing, I write this post mainly to put a bookend to this series of posts I started writing a while back. It started when a self proclaimed white supremacist and Orthosphere commenter by the name Thordaddy start spamming my blog with literally hundreds of comments. Something I said clearly irked him and he made it his mission to read all my posts and comment copiously on them. I sort of enjoyed this for a while because it gave me a wealth of material on which to write. But as I mentioned before this type of exchange eventually becomes emotionally and spiritually draining. Later I started engaging the more sane contributors on the Orthosphere in an honest attempt to understand their point of view. This worked for a while. My original position was merely to document my thought process as I followed their arguments and evaluated the natural counter arguments that arose in response. But eventually that position devolved into the present position where I find myself engaging in silly debates about whether a person can coherently say he would rather live in a free society such as the USA over an un-free society like North Korea. The answer is obvious to me and it is equally obvious that any further debate would only serve to feed each other’s ego. It is Lent after all and I would rather follow the advice of St. Paul and set my mind on things above rather than earthly things. (Col 3:2)

(1) See The Cure for Alcoholism, Roy Eskapa, PhD, (2008)

(2) See Healing the Shame that Binds You, John Bradshaw (2005)


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Troll Jujitsu

trollI have tussled with a troll on my blog lately. I shall not name him directly in this post but anyone can review the comment sections of other posts I have written to know who I am talking about. Like all trolls he has an over inflated ego and sees (or at least presents) himself as fighting the good and moral fight. But also like all trolls he remains largely unaware of his own true motivations. If he is at all aware of his true motivations he represses this knowledge so that he can maintain the feeling that his cause is righteous. How do I know all this about his psychology? I know this because I was once in his shoes. I recognize the pattern of behavior an the mindset. I even wrote a book about it.

I admit freely that I enjoy tussling with him on occasion and it always follows a similar pattern. I will publish a blog post that draws his attention. Sometime I specifically write on subjects because I know it will get a reaction from him and other times he simply responds to something I have written without this intent. We then argue back and forth each telling the other person that they are wrong. Sometimes it starts out on the issues but it always devolves into ad hominem attacks. Eventually the tussle becomes tiresome and I tell him I have had enough. He then attempts to post a response which I delete. He usually gives up after that.

Now the fact that I do derive enjoyment out of the interaction in a sense makes me a troll as well. Because the true motivation of a troll is to derive pleasure from getting a reaction out of another person. This is a very ego oriented drive. It makes the self feel good by putting itself hierarchically above another person. The ego is always comparing itself in this way. Some trolls are aware of this dynamic and are therefore able to exercise a degree of control over their behavior. Other trolls do not have this awareness and are unable to control their behavior or perhaps one could say that their behavior controls them. I suspect the gentleman who has been trolling my blog falls into the latter category.

In a sense our interactions have turned trolling into an art form or sport from my perspective. I am using his trolling against him to in effect perform what I would like to label a “reverse troll” or “troll jujitsu.” This of course is my way of making myself feel better about my role in this interaction. I am telling myself that it is all just a bit of fun. But in reality, my intuition tells me there is a dark side to all this that leaves us both muddy. So maybe I am not as aware of my true motivations as I think I am. My growth in this area is a work in progress I suppose.

For example, lately I took a little pride in the fact that this gentleman took it on the chin in the comment section of another blog he trolls. I need to provide some background on this. I first caught this gentleman’s eye more than a year ago when I posted a comment to a post on the blog “The Othosphere.” He took offense with my point of view and after that he began to obsessively post comments on my blog and has been doing so with remarkable consistency ever since. He originally accused me of trolling The Orthosphere. At the time I assumed he was a regular and respected contributor to that community. Over time it became clear, however, that at best the members of that blog’s community tolerated his presence. Typically they ignore his comments by not responding to them at all. At worst they express contempt for him. But I think in his mind I am the interloper to that community which he feels he is a part. Anyway, recently I commented in a post as an attempt to goad him. He naturally snapped at the bait but the beautiful part was that the author of the post entered the conversation making all the arguments against him that I typically make (e.g., his writing is unclear and confusing, he redefines words and expects everyone to use his definitions etc.). To my troll persona this was a spectacular turn of events. Not only was he made to look foolish on his supposed home turf but someone else did the heavy lifting for me. All I had to do was stoke the flame a bit here and there when it started to go out. This was black belt level troll jujitsu.

Of course I am not proud of this behavior. It is dark. It is ego driven. I can make excuses that he was the one who started it, or his belief system is ridiculous and bigoted, or I am not the only one who sees him for the buffoon that he is. But in truth these are all excuses covering up my true intentions. That truth is that there is a part of me that enjoys this and to the extent that I do enjoy it I remain unconsciously controlled by it. This is not a question of morality. From that perspective we are both wrong. But morality is largely an ego oriented enterprise. Morality says I am right and they are wrong and whoever is wrong should feel ashamed. Addressing trolling from the moral perspective will never heal the wound because the wound is a wounded ego. It is truly nothing more and nothing less. Moralizing this problem would only serve to reinforce the ego’s sense of self. The only way to heal a wounded ego is simply (but not easily) by becoming aware. Obviously I am not quite there yet but I am working towards that goal.


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Meta Comments

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I am not sure who else is reading these posts except myself and the white supremacist who has been obsessively commenting on my blog. I have now found myself in the situation where the subject of my blog posts concerns the comment section of the last blog post (which in turn concerned itself with the comment section of the post before that). The statistics WordPress provides me indicate that people from countries other than the United States are viewing my blog and I do get likes from people who are not the white supremacist so there are definitely other people reading. I cannot imagine why this is but if you (gentle reader) fall into this category please make a comment so I do not have to only read the comments made by the white supremacist which will make it easier to steer this blog in a much needed different direction.

The white supremacist has several clichéd catch phrases that he repeats over and over. Interestingly, this is a trait common to almost every conservative I have observed. I suspect this is a way of simplifying the world by labeling things and placing them into categories. Rush Limbaugh does this a lot for example. Among the white supremacist’s favorite catch phrases are “Radical Autonomy”, “Self-Annihilation” and “Objective Supremacy”. He has steadfastly refused to define either of these catch phrases in a satisfying manner. For example, he has accused me on many occasions of having committed the sins of Radical Autonomy and Self-Annihilation. As best I can tell one annihilates himself by being radically autonomous. I am not sure exactly what this means but I know that he connects these two terms with being a “liberal” (another one of these categories conservatives love to throw around). He has also accused me of “not believing in Objective Supremacy”. I have explained to him that I do not know the definition of “Objective Supremacy” and as such, I do not know whether I believe in it or not. He seems to take this response as a confirmation of his belief that I do not believe in Objective Supremacy.

The essential nature of these words is how they are employed in a circular manner to define each other. A liberal is radically autonomous and therefore a self-annihilator who does not believe in objective supremacy. He has made the argument that all definitions are circular within a “closed system” of thought. I agree that he is closed minded but I do not think that is what he means. I think what he means is that all definitions are ultimately circular because nothing can be defined without reference to something else. This is true, however he has not defined these terms in reference to other concepts except in one illogical instance.

When I pressed him for a definition of “Objective Supremacy” he provided a list of terms one of which included “God of the Bible.” I then asked him if Objective Supremacy means God why not just say God? He avoided answering this question which I found interesting. I have stated several times that I believe in God. So, if God means Objective Supremacy then by the transitive property I must also believe in Objective Supremacy. Accordingly, he either does not think that I believe in God (which he has not stated) or Objective Supremacy means something other than God. If so, he is logically contradicting himself. I have no doubt that he will deny this (see the inevitable comments below). I also have no doubt that the explanation he provides for his denial will raise more questions than it answers.

He has not made any comments in the past few days although I am pretty sure he has been regularly checking my blog because for a few days I have seen 1 U.S. visitor with a number of views. In a very real way it is a relief that he has not been commenting. The constant back and forth although on some level amusing is also draining and negative. I am confident neither one of us will ever appreciate the other’s viewpoint. But the exchange is ultimately not about proving the other wrong. As with all trolling it is about getting a reaction out of the other person and getting the last word in on the argument. If he does comment on this blog post I intend to press him to make clear the contradiction regarding his “definition” of Objective Supremacy. But if he does not comment on this blog so much the better.



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Comment Section Dialog

One of the things I find challenging about exchanges between debating parties on the internet whether it be on message boards or in the comment sections of blogs is that the parties tend to make too many points in one post. When this happens it becomes impossible for an opposing side to argue every point effectively because the chain of ideas becomes too fractured. That is why I tend to respond to only one point in any comment I make. That way the conversation stays clear and coherent (or at least that is the intent).

Over the past year a very judgmental and obsessive person has been commenting in bulk on my blog. This individual named Thordaddy identifies as a white supremacist who is not a Christian but worships Christ as a perfect man nonetheless. There is something about my writing that apparently gets his goat which makes our exchanges entertaining for me. (I am not proud of the fact that I do enjoy getting a rise out of him by the way). The comment section of my last blog post is no exception to this dynamic. In that comment section it would have been too cumbersome and ineffective to respond to every point he attempted to make. As such, I thought it would be interesting to break apart the first section of his comments by individual point and address them individually in this blog post in the form of a dialog.

The passages marked TD are his own words taken directly from the comment section of the previous post. The passages marked WS are my responses that I did not make in that comment section but attempt to address them now. Feel free to refer to that comment section for the original text of the exchange.


TD : Even in your NOW genuine quest for a more perfected self made aware by a desire to resolve all mental conflicts, YOU DELUDE YOURSELF as to the true nature of “thordaddy” FOR THE PURPOSE of a self-sabotaging. There is simply not existing within ANY OF YOUR RETORTS actual evidence of a true belief in the idea that you are “f$&king” with some “poor guy.”

WS : Don’t you think the fact that I need only mention “some poor guy” without referencing “Thordaddy” to get a huge response out of you is evidence of my ability to bait you?

TD : Stripped down to its bare naked letters, your rhetoric is, in reality, incredibly pathetic now GIVEN the size and scope of the dialogue and the informative analytics which measure the impact of my work HERE.

WS : I don’t really understand what you are talking about. However, you do sound kind of angry and full of yourself.

TD : If your take were more in line with reality then “we” would have witnessed some sort of piling-on effect by equal-minded winston Scrooges. “We” have “seen” NOTHING of the sort. And of course, AS YOU HAVE REITERATED time and again, I have no actual side ready to pounce upon you. So what is closer to reality is that your fans are mere spectators in no way prepared to engage in the dialogue as they leave you all alone to do the best you can.

WS : I don’t have an extensive readership or following. You by far constitute the bulk of the comments on my blog over the past year or so. It’s not like I have created a community of my blog readers. As such, I don’t find your argument here particularly persuasive.

TD : Then again, YOUR SIDE does not really BELIEVE in doing the best one can. Your side DOES NOT BELIEVE in the perfecting of the self. Your side only believes in the annihilation of the self AS absolute liberation.

WS : When you say “your side” do you mean the non radical, right-wing, nut job side? Also, I don’t know where you get the idea that I don’t believe in perfecting the self. I strive to improve myself every day in various areas. This blog is an effort to improve my writing skills for example.

TD : And now your continued obliviousness to the above is the very empirical evidence one would look for so as to declare this dialogue to be amongst a radical autonomist and a white Supremacist.

WS : That is a circular argument which relies upon undefined terms. All your rhetoric seems to follow this pattern which I find very interesting. You say you have defined the terms you use but your definitions are usually in the form of other undefined terms that in turn define themselves based on the first undefined terms . I have to wonder why you shun using the ordinary definitions and word usage that everyone else uses. I suspect it has to do with you wanting to “separate” from reality and live in a world of your own construction rather than in the real world that actually exists.

TD : What is clear is that when a radical liberationist meets true belief, he is at a loss, SELF-EVIDENTLY. And when that “true belief” is “Perfection as operating paradigm” then said liberationist INEVITABLY morphs radical AS HIS ONLY MANDATED REACTION. So if YOU REJECT “Perfection as your operating paradigm” THEN you will just self-annihilate. In other words, if your spirit is not put to the idea of Perfection THEN your Ego will be busy devising many ways to annihilate your Self so that its “perfection” IS SIMPLY OUT OF THE QUESTION.

WS : But I don’t reject perfection. I know that does not fit in your circular, “logical” scheme which is probably why you continue to write as if I do reject it.

TD : And this is exactly where the masses “stand.” Perfecting their selves is out of the question… Out of their minds… A real absurdity… And you stir this pot THROUGH your anti-white Supremacy.

WS : I admit that I do not self identify as a white supremacist but that is a good thing. A great deal of evil has been wrought throughout human history under the banner of racial supremacy.



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Advice to the Next Blogger Stalked by Thordaddy

ScroogeEver since September of 2015 I have “enjoyed” a playful back and forth in the comment section of my blog with an individual who goes by the name of Thordaddy. Our conversation began after I wrote a comment to a post on another blog entitled “The Orthosphere” to which he apparently took offence. Soon after he started posting comments on almost every blog post I have made ever since. These comments sometimes number in the hundreds. I have run across other instances where he has harassed other bloggers in a similar fashion. Accordingly, I have no doubt that I will not be the last “flavor of the month” on his menu (so to speak). The following is intended to be a primer for the use of the next blogger he seeks to attach himself to. My hope is to pass on the wisdom I have obtained as to how to interact with Thordaddy once he sets he sets his sights on you.

Ask Questions

My first piece of advice is that you should always end your comment by asking a question. This will allow you to frame the debate and it will keep him perpetually on the defense. The idea here is partly to exhaust him by keeping your question in the back of his mind until he answers it. Because Thordaddy is both obsessive compulsive and shame-based he will always feel the need to respond because an unanswered question wounds his pride.

Asking questions also yields fruit beyond its strategic value. He has an interesting philosophy combining Christianity and racism. Some of his philosophy contains a logical consistency. Much of it, however, makes no sense at all. But the fact that it makes sense in his mind makes it is an interesting game to pull more and more information out of him. Because he lacks the ability to coherently and concisely articulate his philosophy the process of reconstructing it based on his utterances is akin to constructing a jigsaw puzzle.

He has a hard time believing that his convoluted (verging on schizophrenic) writing does not make sense to other people. Accordingly, he may lash out accusing you of willfully feigning ignorance. Do not let this throw you. Simply lob the ball back in his court by asking him why he feels this way.

One Point at a Time

If he makes several points in one comment or posts several comments in response to one of yours it is always better to pick one and respond to it rather than trying to respond to everything. The obvious advantage to this approach is that it makes the conversation easier to follow. One ancillary benefit to this method is the fact that he will ultimately expend more energy than you do and become more frustrated. Another benefit is that you are free to pick his weakest argument and attack that. Again, you always want to frame the debate and keep him on the defensive.

Demand He Define His Terms

Thordaddy employs a unique vocabulary where he takes common words and then redefines them to his liking. For example, he has redefined the word “perfection” to mean “objective supremacy” but refuses to explain what “objective supremacy” means. He then expects you to understand his redefinitions and when you become confused he will accuse you of feigning ignorance. Interestingly, he will consistently weasel out of all attempts on your part to get him to define his terms in any coherent way. As such, demanding him to define his terms is an effective way to keep him on the defensive. It is a trap he could easily escape if he only defined his terms but for some reason he does not want to which makes his whole philosophy suspect in my opinion.

Do Not Accept His Attempts to Label You

If you argue with Thordaddy he will attempt to label you as a liberal, radical autonomist, liberationist, anti-supremacist etc. Every week he seems to come up with a new label. This is his attempt to place you in a defined box and to put you on the defensive. But of course, his definitions are wildly suspect as discussed above. Do not accept his labels by turning the conversation around on him. Ask him what he means by these labels and get him to define his terms.

“Radical Autonomy”

One of his favorite labels is “Radical Autonomy” or “Radical Autonomist.” Much like all the other redefined words in his lexicon this one is also hard to pin down. As best I can tell, he believes this term to mean a breaking away from God or defying God’s will. Now Thordaddy claims to be a Christian. He further claims that Christianity demands one to be a racist despite all the scripture instructing the exact opposite. Interestingly, he will never cite scripture to buttress his arguments. Rather, he will only come up with convoluted arguments to weasel out of the scripture’s plain meaning. As far as I can tell, he is the only one who currently believes or has ever believed what he believes in the whole history of Christianity. He belongs to no community of faith and has admitted he is separated from his family. It seems to me this accusation of “radical autonomy” is merely a projection of his own shame onto other people. So always remember that he is all by himself and his mind is dominated by his ego. This is why he compares himself to others, judges others and hates other races despite his attempts to cloak his philosophy in Christianity.


He always becomes a bit flustered when compared to Hitler. He denies any association or affinity for Hitler because he claims Hilter’s actions actually damaged the supremacy of the White Race. Accordingly to him, Hitler is an anti-white Supremacist. However, I suspect he would be just fine with Hitler if he had been successful in World War II. As such, I see this tact as Thordaddy trying to have it both ways. Regardless, playing the Hilter card can be effective to trip him up as he will always respond angrily calling you “stupid” or “pavlovian” etc. This response only displays how close to home this jab strikes him. All that being said, I would suggest only using this tactic sparingly to preserve its rhetorical power.

How to Win

There is no point trying to get Thordaddy to admit he is wrong. Such is the nature of all anonymous message board and comment section debates. Because he will never admit being wrong, the way you win is by getting him frustrated and by always getting in the last word. If you get the last word in and he does not respond (especially after making hundreds of previous comments) count this as a victory. Of course if you run your own blog you can always delete any comment he has posted. I have done this from time to time when he has babbled on nonsensically, repeated himself ad nauseam or was otherwise being offensive.


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Contraception, Morality, Conservative Christians and Shame

I was involved in a comment section discussion for another blog post entitled “Breaking Sex.” The blog itself is a community for conservative Christians so it follows that they have a strong anti-contraception philosophy. Basically the author argued that contraception goes against the natural order of rolling the dice every time the urge to have sex is acted upon. Because the use of contraception goes against the natural order it is illicit and immoral. As evidence of the immorality of contraception the author points out the negative impact contraception has on the fertility rate and how a population that uses contraception will naturally be replaced by a population that does not use contraception and this is all indicative of God’s will.

It is always a little dangerous for me to get involved in comment section discussions, especially ones involving religion or politics. Although not my intent, people often interpret my view-point as hostile and accuse me (directly or through implication) of trolling. Once this happens it is easy to fall into the back and forth flame war type discussion. I used to relish this type of interaction but now I do my best to avoid them.

As I have stated many times before on my blog, these types of interactions are seemingly never about the actual ideas being discussed. They seem to always be about passive-aggressively shaming the other person. Of course this is always denied by both sides.

The Christian conservatives seemed to be arguing in favor of using shame as a means of enforcing morality on an otherwise immoral population. Specifically as to contraception one commenter argued life was better in the 1950’s when the use of contraception was outlawed both legally but also through shame and public opinion. I argued that shame is a poor means of motivating people to act morally because they will only do so grudgingly and with resentment. Further, when a person is shamed they tend to want to shame other people and it spreads like a virus creating a population of unhappy, repressed, dishonest and angry people.

This conversation does raise an interesting question. Is shame ever justified?

In his book Healing the Shame that Binds You author John Bradshaw argues that there is healthy shame and toxic shame. Healthy shame is normal and occurs when a person acts wrong and is repentant for acting that way. Toxic shame generally results from abusive situations and results in people carrying shame around with them wherever they go. They feel shame all the time in other words. I tend to overlook the healthy kind but I suppose there is a place for that. In my opinion most of the shame I see is the toxic variety so I have adopted a more sweeping anti-shame philosophy than probably John Bradshaw would espouse. Perhaps my situation is unique and my mindset is biased.

It is my observation that conservatives tend to be pro-shame as a glue that holds society together. Liberals use shame as well but generally to argue for freedom from an oppressive societal forces like religion or oppressive morality. My general feeling on the subject is that shame creates and spreads misery. In this respect I do not view shame as a fair trade-off for a well-organized society.


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