Comments: Stephen Manes vs Lawrence Lessig

Things that make me go, hmmm. Should I take it personally, this sly bit?

I was pretty foolish to advocate the high road to someone arguably smarter than I, but it seemed incredibly stupid that Lessig's intellect was being squandered on cleverness.

Or attempted cleverness... Getting cute with Manes name? Far from being un-saintly, it's being silly.

I read this reality as Lessig venturing dangerously close to shit slinging with a pundit. Channeling Yoda: akin to leading the Boxers rebelling, this is.

Not that it matters, but if you must respond, you should be clear what is more important, ego or issue. Note how Richard Clarke has performed as a proponent of his ideas, even though he faces provocative interrogation.

Meanwhile, venturing into the Lessig-versus-Manes debate was hardly educational. Those familiar with Lessig's proposal would likely shake off Manes' arguments as being beside the point. But anyone less informed was completely snowed, the point-for-point and look-at-me posturing obscured the real issues, and consequently, Manes won the exchange. Actually, this was a great opportunity for issue advocacy, due to the attention, and Lessig fucking whiffed.

I don't think we disagree, really, what I proposed in the Lessig forum was that if you're at a high-"level" (and not a journalist or pundit), perhaps you should *play it straight*. You have a *lot to lose*. You of all people should empathize with that...

Koan moment: The monkey laughs, at you? You frown. The monkey mocks you. You become angry. The monkey throws shit at you! Should you pick it up and throw it back?

Posted by sean broderick at April 7, 2004 12:50 AM

No, you shouldn't take it personally, at least to the extent that I didn't have you in mind at all (no particular person, except slightly one free-speech activist who has privately criticized me intensely, but he doesn't read my blog anyway).

What you're missing, particularly in saying "You of all people should empathize
with that...", is I'm writing exactly the above because I do empathize.

Look, to be hyperbolic for a moment just to make the point, imagine someone is being physical tortured, and on top of that, they're also being berated:

"Don't scream. Don't cry out. No matter how much it hurts, no matter what the pain, I'm telling you, *DON'T REACT*. Show you're better, show you're smarter, don't let them get to you. See what a chance you have to demonstrate the mettle of the cause, to show them what you're made of. Remember, the most dignified person wins the moral high ground. Oh, wait, you screamed. I told you not to do that - that proves you're just the same as the torturer. Because you're both involved in torture."

This isn't helpful. Because it's not dealing with the fact that very few people are martyrs.

Speaking of koans, I was just reading about Zen. The Zen master said the first thing he recognized was that everybody had his face.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at April 7, 2004 06:30 AM