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Posted by on Oct 6, 2012 in Drama, Freethought Blogs, Nonsense, Philosophy | 42 comments

Guilt By Association: A Response

Jean Kazez recently wrote a blog post on guilt by association, quoted in full below:

“Recently observed in certain combat-ridden regions of the internet: overuse of the phrase “guilt by association.”  People seem to think who you associate with can’t make you guilty, and that’s absurd [emphasis mine].  Let’s say (just hypothetically) that X associates with a racist website.  He likes to criticize Obama, which is of course fine, but does so at White Guys R Us, knowing that this will incite the resident racists to pour racist abuse on Obama. He doesn’t himself engage in racist abuse. He just puts his screed (not a clever screed, but that’s beside the point) at White Guys R Us.  Now, if I criticize X, do I find him “guilty by association” in the pernicious sense?  Of course not. It’s genuinely represensible (sic) that X made his argument against Obama at a site where he knew that would trigger racist abuse.  He was directly complicit in that abuse. More generally, by talking to the racists (about anything), he supports their site and conveys acceptance of them.  He validates and reinforces (all the more so if he never questions any of the racist antics at the site).  X is an enabler of racists, when he ought to be an opponent. Innocent or guilty?  Of course he’s guilty!” http://kazez.blogspot.com/2012/10/guilt-by-association.html

This, of course, appears to be a veiled attack on someone who posts in an internet forum called the Slyme Pit (a name imposed on it by the kind folks at Freethought Blogs and then re-appropriated for empowerment), and who also published an article in another “unapproved space.”  Contrary to the beliefs of many, the Slyme Pit is not a hate site any more than Freethought Blogs is hate site; in fact, it is, in my opinion, far less so. Although I no longer post there, I did about a year ago, when it was hosted on Abbie Smith’s Science Blog ERV, because at that time it was one of the few places in the atheist blogosphere where people were free to express themselves without fear of their comments being deleted, censored, edited, or otherwise misrepresented. Sure, there were some misogynistic views expressed in the Slyme Pit. And some misandric ones. And a ton of foul language. And probably a bit of just about everything else, too. In any case, it was an intellectually stimulating place to be, because the people posting there disagreed with each other all the time. This, of course, is not the case at Pharyngula or on certain other Freethought Blogs sites, where if you don’t toe the party line, you are shamed, booted, and/or blacklisted.  Posting in places where you are limited by ideology isn’t much fun at all.

In any case, if someone were guilty of everything said in a particular forum by merely posting in that forum, then Jean Kazez would be guilty of everything said at FTB. This would include disclosure of private — not public — information, name-calling, libel, self-rape jokes, incitement to commit suicide, gendered slurs, transphobia and, most importantly, extremely poor reasoning. But I don’t believe that Jean Kazez is guilty of all these things, even though she posts on FTB and associates closely with some of the bloggers who write there.

As anyone who’s taken an introductory course in logic knows, guilt by association is a common logical fallacy.  It is an attempt to discredit an idea or a person based on associated groups or people. It is, in fact,  the opposite of an appeal to (non-legitimate) authority. An appeal to authority argues in favor of an idea based on associating an authority figure holding that idea, whereas guilt by association argues against an idea based on associating it with a supposedly disreputable group.

If you’re going to accuse someone of improper behavior, then identify what they’ve done and why it’s wrong. Don’t base it on where their writing has been published, because such decisions are influenced by myriad factors and do not necessarily endorse the positions held by others writing in the same space. If the Slyme Pit were a group holding a certain set of beliefs and person A were a group member, then sure, he’d be “guilty” of being a member of that group and possibly subscribing to its agenda. But a person who writes in an open and public forum or in another publication featuring diverse opinions is only responsible for the things he or she says, not for what is said around or about him.

And finally, association makes you guilty of nothing other than the association itself. Any statement to the contrary is absurd. Imagine what our legal system would look like if anything more were true. Your daughter commits murder, therefore you’re a murderer (or a murder supporter) too. Why?  By association, of course. You associate with someone who belongs to the KKK, though you explicitly disavow those beliefs with both your words and your actions. However, you’re guilty of holding them anyway. Why?  Association! Clearly more than association alone is necessary for guilt. Life is too complicated and interesting to be a mere matter of dismissal of opinions based on faulty reasoning and inaccurate labels.

Exciting update!
In an update to the blog linked above (please read it first), Jean Kazez demonstrates that she doesn’t understand the difference between being guilty by association and being guilty of association. Further, she can’t understand the difference between being responsible for your own behavior and being responsible for (or even aware of) the behavior of others. Since she does have the courtesy to provide a link to a thread where she participated in one of  Butterflies & Wheels’ frequent dog piles, here’s Kazez’s non-associate/friend/non-friend Ophelia Benson’s remark shortly after Kazez’s comment critical of me (note — multiple comments were deleted from the thread by Benson, so the thread is not in the same state today that it was in at the time of posting):

“By the way bluharmony you said above that your integrity is on the line. No it isn’t. Nobody knows or cares who the hell bluharmony is. The integrity of some random nym who’s been cheering on ERV for several days is of no import at all.”  (Benson contacted me via Facebook virtually minutes after leaving this comment, and given how the blog is run, Kazez should have been aware — or at least so her racism example seems to indicate — that something of the sort would occur.)

So, presumably, according to her own ethical mandates, Kazez should have never posted in Benson’s thread knowing that it would elicit the above response, especially given Benson & Co’s  prior cruelty toward me, thus making Kazez guilty of both association and poor reasoning. Guilt by association is, of course, a well-known informal logical fallacy. Kazez says it’s not. Every internet source and logic textbook say she’s wrong. To which she responds that my argument is “a pile of nonsense,”  and then, presumably, goes back to teaching philosophy.

(Side Note: She also makes the claim that 99% of what occurs at FTB is reasonable discussion and throws in a snarky insult at SkepticInk — a network that is in no way responsible for my individual posts.)

  • Prepagan

    Well done. A good quality debunking of a ridiculous argument. An argument based on guilt by association must surely be the last refuge of those who have run out of any valid arguments but feel obliged by their ideology to argue anyway.

  • https://twitter.com/Iamcuriousblue Iamcuriousblue

    There may very well be a such thing as guilt-by-association, but it’s something that needs to be established on a lot better footing than the kind of rhetoric that the A+ crowd has been throwing around. That Justin Vacula is some kind of sympathizer with ==ZMOG== SPLC-certified hate group MRAs is more than a bit of a stretch based on one article at the AVFM site.

    An ongoing pattern of association, co-publishing, mutual backslapping, etc, would be a different story.

    Even more pernicious is the attempts by the A+ crowd to conflate anybody who’s even mildly critical of their ideology with misogynists who attack female bloggers just because they’re female bloggers. That’s a nasty bit of slander that should not be allowed to stand.

    I can’t say I appreciate Jean Kazez’ attempt to play hall monitor in this matter, either. Particularly because she’s hardly an impartial party in all of this, and I’m not sure she’s made any contribution to this conversation that could at all be considered positive.

    • bluharmony

      I think what you’re talking about isn’t guilt by association, but membership in a group with a common purpose. What you’re saying (and what Kazez, I think, is implying) is that there’s actual support for racism on the part of person X. That’s not the same as merely associating with racists. That’s actually being one.

      Of course there are some legal concepts that one could tie into this if anything done here were criminal in nature — accomplice liability, conspiracy. But there was nothing of the sort, and no crime to speak of.

      Guilt by association, on its own, is nothing. We associate with all sorts of people all the time; this doesn’t mean we hold the same beliefs that they do, and it doesn’t make us responsible for their actions.

  • Tom Hand

    While guilt by association is a slippery slope fallacy, I can’t help but think about Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He says that the hardest people to fight aren’t the extremist ideologues; but the moderates. The moderates who say “Don’t fight that battle, it’s too small an issue, too ingrained a thought.” His point was that it’s easy to see the big, glaring, flaws; it’s the smaller, more nuanced, problems that take forever to overcome. I’m interested in hearing what, if anything, you feel that has to say about an argument against associating guiltily.

    • http://alephsquared.wordpress.com aleph squared

      While guilt by association is a slippery slope fallacy

      This is a total nitpick, but that’s not actually true. They are both informal fallacies, true, but guilt by association is not a slippery slope fallacy. (Formally, guilt by associations deals with mischaracterizing what is a property that can be held by elements of a set as a characteristic of elements of that set, where slippery slope is simply the use of transitivity over implications that haven’t been separately verified.)

      • bluharmony

        Although it seems to me that we can use transitivity to associate anyone with anything, which is another reason why guilt by association is fallacious as a means of proving anything other than the association itself.

        • Ed

          Agreed. But there are types of association, some incidental and non-condoning, and others which are implicitly condoning. If I work in a group that has one noxious racist, and the group goes to lunch once a week, and I go too, my association with the racist is incidental and so non-condoning. OTOH, if I accept a regular personal dinner invite from the racist, that association implicitly condones the racist.

          So one should not only distinguish between being “guilty by association” and being “guilty of association”, but in the latter case, also distinguish between implicitly condoning and non-condoning types of associations.

          • bluharmony

            I’m not sure. I could have dinner with the racist and use that time to explain why racism is wrong. Or I could have dinner with the racist and ignore the racism because there could be completely unrelated benefits (either to me, to him, or to others) derived from the association. Mere association doesn’t make the dinner condoning of racism. Only my own behavior and intentions can do that.

            We all have a different set-point for tolerance of dissenting views. As a hard determinist (applied to free will, not necessarily to the physical universe), mine tends to be quite high. While I support shunning racists for racist behavior, when their behavior is not racist, I’m simply not sure what the best response would be. I mean, non-racist behavior should be encouraged, right? And greater exposure to liberal ideas would be a better thing for the racist and for those affected by his or her racism, right?

            But despite what I said above, in reality, bigotry is almost impossible for me to stomach.

  • Notung

    I agree. My question when somebody suggests that one might be ‘guilty by association’ is guilty of what?!. Presumably guilty of association rather than guilty by association.

    The trouble is (as you note), we all ‘associate’ in various ways with people of various distasteful opinions.

    In this post, I talk about some friends of mine – Muslims whose religion compels them to hold some pretty hateful opinions, even though they are at their core good people. Am I guilty of anti-free expression by associating with my friends? Does that mean I am supporting the attacks on the US Embassy in Libya? Am I now an anti-semite?

    In the anti-Obama example, the important consideration is intention. I don’t associate with the friends I mention above because of these distasteful opinions but because of other reasons. It is difficult to conceive an intention in the anti-Obama example that justifies the association, and that’s why it seems to be an example of ‘guilt by association’. Still, as a commenter above notes – an accusation of guilt ‘by association’ seems to be a last-ditch attempt to attack someone in the absence of any good reasons to do so!

    • bluharmony

      Agreed 100%. There is no reason to associate with a racist organization other than to express your own racism (or to oppose racism), thus the association part is irrelevant to the argument. The key is a person’s intent and a person’s own bigotry.

      The reason people started posting in the “Slyme Pit” had nothing to do with misogyny. Our one unifying belief was that suppression of reasonable dissent in the Freethought community was a glaring contradiction, as was the lack of skepticism in the skeptic community. It was these issues, more than any others, that brought people together. I eventually stopped posting in that forum because I thought the focus shifted too much to personal attacks, making it the flip side of FTB.

  • Edward Clint

    There is a logic to “guilt by association” based on intuitive sociology. People generally associate with people who are like themselves more than they aren’t. We also tend to refuse to associate with people who hold a view we find unpardonable, even if they are otherwise something like us.

    It’s a fallacy because association doesn’t logically require such commonalities to be true, but that doesn’t make its logic true enough to be useful- it is. I think birds of a feather really do tend to flock together. Case in point: if you’re overtly racist, we’re done. I could care less what your taste in music is, your sense of humor or anything else about you. Part of the reason for that is I’d never want to appear to tolerate a social relationship with that kind of person. I think even the appearance of such tolerance is bad for me, and bad for my community.

    All that said, I think Justin’s detractors make a few errors. One is that they overstate the strength of the association in question which, in turn, makes it more damning that it ought to be. Number two, the unacceptability of the entity conveying the guilt is exaggerated. Sources are cited which cast an opinion about said entity often, but examples of what is so questionable are much rarer. Whether this is honest error of passionate people or cynical machination is anyone’s guess.

    • Zed Zero

      Even with your opt out clauses, you are being too narrow. You do not know who you are associating with in all cases and there are circumstances where one has little options but to associate with undesirables. It is a matter of values. Do you value the resource an outgroup (of ones own judgement i.e. the slyme pit forum)over their objectionable behavior (i.e. using dirty words)?
      Also when one creates an outgroup, are you so sure that is the correct thing to do? For instance should Atheist+ be forcing the “othering” of other Atheist who don’t tow the line in the comment section mob action of the day? I think it really destructive but, if they win and I am left out in the cold them what does it matter what I think? I find myself making these kinds of choices many times a year as I navigate life.
      Just as an FYI I have cut my ties to a couple atheist groups and joined interfaith groups in the area of education and environmental activism because the atheist groups are too small, weak and myopic to help with big problems. So the process of othering fellow atheists has begun and started a couple of years IMHO.
      Trigger Warning: I do not agree with you.
      Life is too short to hang out with people who are just like me and tell me what I want to hear. Even people who assholes are people and even with their “moral” limitations they can be useful and friends.

      • Edward Clint

        Even with your opt out clauses, you are being too narrow. You do not know who you are associating with in all cases and there are circumstances where one has little options but to associate with undesirables.

        This doesn’t make my position narrow. A rational actor can only make choices based on what they know; they can’t be held responsible for what they’d be reasonably unaware of. Similarly, if you’re forced into a situation, you’d also get a pass. My statement was about how I should conduct myself, when I am at liberty to choose and given whatever information I have. I didn’t say those things explicitly because they are trivially true of all human moral behavior.

        Also when one creates an outgroup, are you so sure that is the correct thing to do?

        Creating an outgroup isn’t an intrinsically bad thing. I happen to think people who think minorities are sub-human and say so overtly should be “othered”. They should be pariahs. And no, I genuinely do not care about any “value” they might contribute. We can get that value elsewhere, and if we can’t and suffer for it, I prefer that suffering to suffering of disgusting swine who want to revert our society to pre-modern times.

        The comparison with A+ is not helpful because the axis of “othering” by that community seems to be fealty and obedience to arbitrary authorities, not content of opinion. That kind of othering is pretty much always wrong and in no way resembles the sort I’ve advocated here.

        Trigger Warning: I do not agree with you.

        Oh good heavens, I’d never read a comment anywhere I thought disagreement wasn’t on the menu. Feel free, have seconds. :)

        • Zed Zero

          Well yes and no. I am always referring back to the topic du jour, A+ism. So I say that othering over trivialities in perspective is idiotic and destructive. In that I think we agree.
          You did not call me a misogynistic sub-human troll(it has happened elsewhere)so I will not trigger warn you a second time.
          The problem with othering based on preconceived notions morally unacceptable behavior is that the basest among us have may not have the capacity to enjoy peace or they actually enjoy conflict. In either case for the greater society they still serve their purpose and be directed to productive tasks without treating them as defectives. I think coherence in the greater society is more productive than protecting the feelings of social outliers. This is the weirdness of A+. They seem to have ginned up a new acronym, LGBTAQ. How long will this get and can I play with the cool kids if I can’t recite the hole thing.
          I do believe stranger fear is normal and I suspect that it us that are more the outliers than them. In this I prefer being inclusive such that the the whip I wield is not turned against myself.

    • bluharmony

      What if that racist person you mention is older, say on his death bed, and his racism is not overt; it doesn’t hurt anyone. He’s just prejudiced as a lot of people of his generation used to be. Also, say he’s your father or your grandfather. Would you refuse to associate with him?

      In general, I agree with Notung’s comment above. Guilty by association really means guilty of association; therefore, family associations are easier to forgive. That said, I associate with all sorts of people whose views I find repellent, it’s part of life. When you associate with people who hold views different from your own, there’s always a chance that you might change those views with persuasive argument. I’m generally willing to take that chance. That said, there’s only one reason I delete anyone from my Facebook page, and that’s bigotry of any sort. But clearly we don’t all see bigotry the same way.

      • Edward Clint

        In my remarks I mentioned concern for the appearance of a social relationship being harmful to the community. The appearance of a person not breaking off a family tie with a old, dying grandparent is considerably less harmful, if at all. So I might; I might not. Either choice does not belie the position.

        I don’t think anyone is regularly damned for the mere relation to someone who is “unsavory”. John McCain’s daughter Meghan being pro-LGBT and vocally liberal about sex and other issues never seemed to hurt him in the polls any. No one said, well “John’s not a real republican.”

    • John W. Loftus

      Look, I must admit that I associate with several racists and sexists. I don’t like it. I hate it. But I do. They tell off color jokes that I find extremely unsavory, and they exhibit other behavior that is offensive to me.

      You know what association I’m in?

      There is a pool community and I’m in it. I’m a pool player. I play pool on leagues and in tournaments. And I love that game very much. But I abhor racism and sexism.

      • bluharmony

        I’m sure that we all do, whether we know it or not. That’s why guilt by association is such a useless concept. I don’t allow sexism or bigotry in my personal forums, and I speak out against it when I see it. But by sexism I mean real sexism, not disagreement with a particular feminist viewpoint. And I don’t dismiss sexism against men, either.

        On the other hand, if I start looking at people as inhuman for their mistaken views about others, I’ll become just like the social justice warriors, and that’s the last thing I want.

        I refuse to say that there’s anyone living on this planet who has no merit or redeeming qualities. In the end, I don’t want to see anyone hurt, although some people do need to be restrained from hurting others.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion

    Agreed with Ed’s comment above, and I think there is another inbuilt human intuition in play here, the mental module for purity/pollution. To quote Pascal Boyer:

    Magic and ritual the world over obsessively rehash the same themes, in particular “concerns about pollution and purity […] contact avoidance; special ways of touching; fears about immanent, serious sanctions for rule violations; a focus on boundaries and thresholds.” Anthropologists have long documented, not just these particular themes of magical and ritual thinking, but also the more abstract principles that organize them: (1) dangerous elements or substances are invisible; (2) any contact (touching, kissing, ingesting) with such substances is dangerous; (3) the amount of substance is irrelevant (e.g., a drop of a sick person’s saliva is just as dangerous as a cupful of the stuff).

    Granted, I’m making a comparison of physical to ideological purity in this case, but it seems to me that the underlying thinking is essentially the same.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion

      Argh, I forgot to include the hyperlink to Boyer’s article. Ahhh, that’s better.

  • Hambil

    I personally don’t find much use in re-fighting battles science has already settled. There is no scientific bases for racism, thus it is not a scientific or atheist or logical belief. Feeling a need for your message to be heard (and accepted) by that crowd, is a non-starter for me.

    I don’t plan to have long conversations with people who think the moon is made of cheese anytime soon, either.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion

      Racism is a widespread and complex social problem that admits of degrees and variations, whereas MoonCheesism is a unitary ridiculous belief held by no one over the age of five. One of these two things is worth addressing at length.

      • Hambil

        If we we’re talking about racism, not to racists, then I’d agree. The original blog post however makes it clear we’re talking about a racist website, not a website to discuss racism.

        • Hambil

          So, one site has branded another a hate site and some users have gotten caught in the crossfire. Is that basically what is happening?

          I think there are places (and I don’t know if the slyme pit is one of them but the name sounds like it) where there is a belief in absolute free speech. Often the only things moderated are things like spam attacks and bots posting.

          You may or may not like such a place, and those place certainly contain many odorous views, but those are often a very small vocal group.

          I can see why some other sites would have issues with these places – they can often be more trouble to deal with than worth.

          But the one thing they cannot be is painted with a single brush.
          It is probably the worst kind of site to use ‘guilt by association’ with, because anything can, and is, said there.

          And when did passionately arguing against a racist become racism, just because the other guy is a racist?

          (Edited for clarity at user’s request.)

          • bluharmony

            Yes, it’s a free speech site of the sort you mention that we’re referring to, one that arose in direct response to the censorship on FTB. Moreover, many prominent figures in the atheist movement associate with it, but due to their influence, those associations are rarely mentioned. The guilt by association claim is most commonly raised against people who are not in a good position to defend themselves.

        • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion

          Where I live, it’s really easy to come across racists to talk to in real life. Should I write them off or try to persuade them to consider the scientific evidence to which you alluded earlier?

          • bluharmony

            I think you have to treat them as individuals, not all are inherently evil, and it is possible to change minds. That’s different from hanging out in a club that congregates for the purpose of celebrating racism. It’s merely dealing with the fact that there are all sorts of people in the world, and we have to exercise a degree of tolerance for people when all they’re doing is expressing ideas, no matter how vile those ideas are. The best ideas do, eventually, win out.

  • Jean Kazez

    In any case, if someone were guilty of everything said in a particular forum by merely posting in that forum, then Jean Kazez would be guilty of everything said at FTB. This would include disclosure of private — not public — information, name-calling, libel, self-rape jokes, incitement to commit suicide, gendered slurs, transphobia and, most importantly, extremely poor reasoning. But I don’t believe that Jean Kazez is guilty of all these things, even though she posts on FTB and associates closely with some of the bloggers who write there.

    Maria, You’re misrepresenting the facts.

    (1) I do not post at FTB, if that means I am a blogger there.
    (2) I have very rarely even commented at any of those blogs–a couple of times in the last year, and those comments were critical. For example, I commented on Stephanie Zvan’s blog in defense of DJ Grothe.
    (3) I do avoid the pockets of abusiveness that exist at FTB. I am not involved in them whatever.
    (4) I have no close associations at FTB. I know exactly one person there–Ophelia Benson. I know her because we write for the same magazine.
    (5) In fact, far from being an FTB team-member, I’ve written many posts at my own blog, In Living Color, responding critically to FTB bloggers. You’ve got to know that, as you commented on those posts of mine.

    Carry on, if you like, but please do keep your facts straight.

    • bluharmony

      Those facts are mostly correct. I’ve seen you post on Butterflies and Wheels (definitely a pocket of abusiveness) while I was being attacked. You did nothing to stop those attacks; therefore, according to your own logic, you were enabling them. You write for the same mag as Benson; therefore you associate with her. Guilty.

      Also, you do realize that an online forum is all comments with no substantive posts, right? The Slyme Pit is actually the continuation of a comment thread to one of Abbie’s posts from a long time ago. So by commenting on FTB you are doing the exact same thing as posting in the Slyme Pit, and I don’t care which pockets you think are OK and which you think aren’t.

      • http://alephsquared.wordpress.com aleph squared

        You write for the same mag as Benson; therefore you associate with her. Guilty.

        You aren’t applying Kazez’ actual argument here. What Kazez was saying was that if someone writes for an overtly racist site, it isn’t guilt by association to point out that, logically, that means they aren’t that bothered by the racism of the site. That’s *entirely different* from you are doing here, which is saying that they approve of or support specific other contributors to that site or their stances.

        Applied closer to home, Kazez’ argument is that Vacula writing for AVfM demonstrates at minimum this much: Vacula is not bothered enough by the general attitudes of that site to avoid writing for them. That’s very different from what you’ve done here, which is going from general to specific — *that’s* where guilt by association is a fallacy.

        • http://www.skepticink.com/notung/ Notung

          aleph squared – not being bothered by (say) racism doesn’t (as far as I can tell) logically follow from posting on a site that contains racism. It might suggest that you’re not bothered, but it doesn’t seem to me to be a logical entailment.

          Anyway, there are a few possibilities. One is that the poster isn’t aware of the racism on the site. Another is that they do not agree that it is as bad as it is being portrayed. Another is that they do not make withdrawals for moral reasons, and so on.

          I’ve posted on sites that handle disagreement very poorly. Still, I posted there, and it doesn’t follow that I’m not bothered by an inability to cope with dissent (neither logically nor inferentially). In fact, I was bothered by it!

          • bluharmony

            Exactly, I was very much bothered by some of the misogyny at the Slyme Pit, and I railed against it constantly while I was posting there. But what does that matter? According to Jean, I’m still guilty (see the quote in my response to Aleph below, although she does contradict herself a sentence or two later in her own post).

        • bluharmony

          If that’s what Kazez were trying to say, then that’s what she should have said, methinks. She shouldn’t have addressed guilt by association at all. Instead, however, what Kazez actually said was this: “More generally, by talking to the [misogynists] (about anything), he supports their site and conveys acceptance of them.” Setting the mischaracterization of the website in question aside, she is arguing that any communication between the two leads to X’s acceptance of the multiple and frequently contradictory views expressed in the Slyme Pit (apparently exempting from this guilt her friends who have also posted on the site).

          Further, Kazez defends her posting on Ophelia’s blog (an association) using the fact that they write for the same mag (another association). Justin’s article was published in a men’s mag expressing diverse views and unrelated to the website in question. Once. After he was censored on his own blog.

          So which of those two relationships is more likely to be an actual endorsement of the views of another? Because that’s what we’re really talking about here, and not the fallacy of guilt by association.

  • http://biobrain.blogspot.com Doctor Biobrain

    I’ve been attacked with this sort of thing, because I blog at The American Nihilist, which is a blog for those who hate America, family, apple pie, and anything else decent people support. Or at least that’s how *I* use it, as a place to write parodies about how terrible us liberals are and why we want to destroy God and America. But the other bloggers there use it to attack Professor Donald Douglas, who insisted that all liberals are “slimy nihilists” who hate America and whatnot.

    I wish they had taken things in my direction, as I never really cared for Douglas enough to write a stalker site to refute everything he writes; as my relationship is the opposite: He stalks *me* because I keep destroying him every time we debate and it bugs the crap out of him. And over time, the other nihilists really made things personal, with some of them going so far as to complain to his college about him; presumably with the hopes of getting him fired from his teaching job. And I’m really not cool with that sort of thing. I like debating, but it ain’t personal. Plus, I just feel sorry for the guy, as he *wants* to be an intellectual, but is limited in what he can do because he’s a conservative. It’s really quite sad, so dumping on him with a stalker site is the last thing I’d want to do.

    But still, I post at that blog occasionally, though I never read it and my posts are entirely different than what anyone else is posting there. Yet I’ve had Donald *insist* that I’m endorsing their behavior because I still post there on occasion, even though I have nothing to do with what they’re doing and don’t even pay attention to it. And so he’ll slam me with all sorts of insults for stuff that I have nothing to do with. But that’s just because he’s still angry that I keep kicking his ass whenever we debate and it eats him up inside, and since he can’t find anything *I’ve* done wrong, this guilt by association thing is the best he can do. Simply pathetic.

    This is also a theme of his, as one of our debate topics is his insistence that Obama must be a radical because he associated with Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers. Not because guilt by association works, but because that’s the only argument he’s got against Obama.

    But if you’re interested, you can read some of my nihilist stuff . I skimmed through some of this just now and honestly only have a faint memory of writing it at all. I was *really* in the zone at the time, not the least of which is due to the booze and whatnot, because I don’t remember writing this much. But I kinda gave it up because I took this idea about as far as it goes and don’t like rehashing the same material.
    http://americannihilistblog.blogspot.com/search?q=%22guest+post%22&max-results=20&by-date=true

  • http://biobrain.blogspot.com Doctor Biobrain

    Oh, and if you want to go down the rabbit hole of his Guilt by Association attacks against me, you can find it in comments here:
    http://biobrain.blogspot.com/2012/01/nihilist-of-day-male-rape.html

    You’ll not only see him insist that I’m guilty for what other people did, but insist that it’s an “anti-Semitic hate site” because Donald’s as confused as to what “anti-Semitic” means as he is about what “nihilist” means. Not sure exactly what his argument is on this, but his “proof” has something to do with them bashing neo-cons, which Donald believes is a codeword for “Jew,” even when it’s applied to non-Jews like himself. But also because they support the OWS movement, which Donald is convinced is *also* anti-Semitic. So basically, I’m endorsing antisemitism though a double-guilt-by-association network. Amazing.

  • Jean Kazez

    Maria, All I’m interested in here is correcting your factual misrepresentations. I’m not going to have a debate about ethics with you. Go ahead and supply the link that shows I was commenting on a thread at B&W where you were mistreated. I have so rarely commented there in the last few years it would surprise me if this happened. But OK–if you can prove it, prove it.

    • bluharmony

      That’s how we know each other, Jean. B&W. You criticized me for referring to radical feminism and participated in the pile-on. I can’t prove anything that happened at B&W due to the fact that comments were/are regularly edited and deleted, but I do have direct messages from you pertaining to these matters — if tweets are stored that long. I’ll check it out. They were specifically about Ophelia Benson’s thread where I was attacked, her deletion of posts, and your relationship with her. If I find them, I’ll gladly post them here, with your permission, of course.

      BTW, it’s against my comment policy to engage in personal attacks, and you’re in violation. I care about the errors in logic and reasoning that you consistently make in your writing. That’s what this post is about. Could you try to stay on the actual topic *you* raised please? Like, you know, guilt by association?

      Consider this your warning.

  • Copyleft

    Here we can see a classic example of the guilt-by-association attack:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/09/21/i-object/

    The object of Zvan’s hatred, Gurdur, is condemned on Twitter for the crime of “hanging out” on the ERV thread.

    • bluharmony

      Poor Gurdur. He’s such a good guy.

  • John Greg

    Like many before her, Kazez seems to have drunk deeply of the Flavour-aid, and flushed what remained of her intellect down the toilet.

    She was once interesting to read, but now that she has joined the Crusades and the Mighty Inquisition, meh, not so much.

    • bluharmony

      Her posts have become delightfully ridiculous. She supports solidarity with women by bashing strong, talented women. She endorses civility by redefining it and calling people mad dogs. She cries salty tears and vows to purchase Surly stuff because of an experience one person “suffered,” while ridiculing another for the very same thing. Definitely a case of Kool-Aid poisoning, I’d say.

      Despite our past differences, it’s good to see you John. I enjoy your comments.

  • Michael Cooper

    This reminds of this 80’s religious tract: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.asp

    Since I played D&D obviously I was associated with all this occult stuff. Obviously.

    (I used to actually have the paper version, shame I didn’t save it.)