Friday, December 30, 2011

Langlois' Apology and My Partial Forgiveness

David Langlois participated in severe abuses of my person and views in the Abolitionist Approach Forum run by Gary Francione. I have documented all of this in the last two blog entries. It was public abuse, to a certain extent, and I will continue my work here as a citizen-journalist and whistle-blower, exposing further and ongoing back-alley abuses. I would like to announce to my readers that David has apologized for calling me "creepy" and for using the term "putz" with respect to myself--or rather, with lack of respect to myself. Langlois explains that he was in a bad mood, lazy, or exercising poor judgment. Thank you for the apology and indeed the explanation, David.

Well, bad judgment, sure. But given that people whom I trust--and who are in an excellent position to know the facts--report that you often act in this manner, that amounts to a lot of work, and so cannot be altogether lazy. However, seriously, if you have such a mood that so extensively causes you to be abusive, then with all due respect, you need to re-examine yourself as 2011 draws to a close. Perhaps make a commitment to at least consider finding someone who can genuinely assist you with this issue.

(Please note that I would not ordinarily cite e-mails in a public blog unless it were a case of abuse. Abusers thrive in secrecy. How many billions of abusers have threatened their victims if they dare to speak out, lay charges, and so forth? Abusers deserve to be exposed, and that moral imperative sometimes overrides certain other norms. Or at least the case can respectably be made. Those in favour of keeping abuse hidden, thus being pro-abuser and con-the-abused are free to do so, although that would not be a non-violent stance to take in my book. Well, abuse is ongoing as I will document in this blog entry.)

As I myself reflect, I find that you really liked Yates' style when he became insulting and "held my feet to the fire," as you so poetically prosed it. I suspect this is a long-term style that you like, not a sudden, "Yay, Yates!" on an off day. History speaks for itself, if it is known. You have said that my arguments have been produced before, although in other terms. That is just short of accusing me of plagiarism. I offer several arguments in my peer-reviewed journal article which are not referenced to anyone else because they originate from me. Are you suggesting that I am not giving one or several individuals credit for my ideas? Are you calling me an intellectual thief? You had better be able to back up these implications that you are making, Mr. Langlois.

You motion to get together with me and offer me the chance to prove why I "think [my arguments] deserve more attention" than you currently think they do, and how they are after all original. I guess you would like that, me coming to you, pleading for attention and recognition. You might be shocked, but that is not actually what I would most prefer. Let me educate you just a little bit about what is considered normal in such academic affairs. I am the one with the established reputation in animal ethics from many well-respected quarters. I published a peer-reviewed journal article on the debate in question. Now I heard you give a presentation on Rain without Thunder that strictly followed the text, without any evidence of original thinking whatsoever. (I was listening and took notes, waiting for any genuine contributions to the debate you might make. I keep an open mind and document my sources, as anyone competent can see. But my note-pad remained tellingly blank aside from my own insights that were being generated solely by the issues.) The peer review process implies that academic editors and expert referees judge my work to be both original and worthy of publicizing to various audiences.

If you are disputing this implicit state of affairs, the burden is fully on your shoulders to show that these academic experts are mistaken: that I am really a plagiarist in effect, or that my arguments are not worthy of serious attention as you parrot after Gary. Recall that he said my work "cannot possibly be interpreted as serious remarks." I guess that sunk in with you. If you think I am going to come crawling to you, a certifiable bully--who continues even in your letter of apology to devalue me and to trivialize my work--for respect and recognition, well then, you must have mistaken me for somebody else. And I guess it is implied by your remarks that Francione's arguments, unlike mine, deserve both attention and respect. Yet I showed that your intellectual sugar-daddy's three critiques of my views do not even amount to half a hill of beans in my blog entry for December 17th, 2011.

But then, let's examine your assertion for a moment that my animal law views are not worthy of serious attention. First quantitatively and then qualitatively.

Quantitatively, my website (last time I checked) nets about 84,000 visits per year. A decade, extrapolating, would mean probably more than 840,000 visits. Some people would round that up to a cool million visits. Although I am hoping to ramp up my readership in the years to come. Are you going to let a whole decade or more slip by even as you have passed some four or more years indicating that you will write a rebuttal but never doing so? (As a check-and-balance remark though: most people browse through web sites quite quickly, and not all of them will read my academic articles; some are repeat-visitors, and so on.) Why won't all these people heed your own and Gary's call to ignore me? Well, I know pretty much why you and Francione ignore me, and it is not what you think, Dave. Anyway, so far, you are just a "talker," to use informal parlance. Now if you decide to go into politics, or seek a job as an academic which does well with some honest political savvy, you can impress everyone with your history that you think it is not wise to correct allegedly extensive "misrepresentations" and bad arguments for a view you passionately disagree with that is reaching thousands of people. Just tell the world--or even just imply--that thousands of people do not matter, or are really insignificant, or brush them aside as virtually non-existent. There would not be many political parties or savvy people who would want you in their strategy rooms, apart from the Francionists, I can guarantee you. Not if you stay on this track, David.

Now we will consider qualitatively (albeit only too briefly) whether my views are "worthy" of your attention. Just to help you with the analysis a tiny bit, since you have not shown any skill in reflecting what I have actually written thus far, I have been arguing for years that we should secure what is really (not just conceptually) best for animals in the legislative short-term. You seem to agree with the discussion thread in which you partook when Gary said the AR Zone should not give me a platform or "create controversy," to use Gary's phrase, by treating my views seriously. Yet even Gary admits: "it would be better for 'food' animals" if we adopted free-range farming and discontinued factory farming." (This is in the essay that you deem unworthy of your attention, p. 15, a direct quote from Francione, Introduction to Animal Rights, p. 145.) Anyone with the scarcest grasp of logic can see there is a serious problem with Francione's thinking here, unless he can extricate himself--which neither he nor anyone else has even begun to do.

You see, David, by your saying that my argument is not worthy of serious attention--and I think you have Harvard snootiness down pretty pat in stating matters thusly--you are really saying in effect that what is best for animals in the legislative short-term is not deserving of sober respect. If what is best--or at least "better" as Gary says--for animals in the short-term does not matter to you, then your views do not amount to anything in the court of public opinion on animal law. You at least need to account for this important concern, as you continue not to do. Ask anyone but the types of cronies who appeared on that thread with you. Yes, if you can show that such considerations--and this is merely one--are not "worthy" of anyone's serious attention, then by all means I will concede the point that you do not even bother to argue--as seems typical by now. I will concede that you need not listen to my academic voice. Strictly speaking, you have no such requirement in terms of survival. But arguing well? That is another matter, if you profess to consider what is better for animals but take actions ostensibly contrary to that principle. You owe an explanation that I well believe that you cannot in principle provide.

Disrespecting the other side in a debate carries a real cost. First-rate scholars do so well by respecting their ideological opposites, taking arguments seriously, ably engaging people about matters of fact and argument after paying their dues of real analysis and direct critique. (Also: Sticking to the issues and abstaining from personal attacks, which I acknowledge you apologized for.) People, by contrast, who try to deliver silly sucker-punches eventually risk detection as to precisely what they are up to. If my argument is "old hat," why does it not appear in the book whose contents you presented so dearly? Why has there been no effective, specific rebuttal to this argument, EVER in any public forum that is accessible to the players in this debate? Why, Langlois? Surely you owe people an explanation on this point. You certainly owe it to me and our readers before you pretend academically to "assess" my theories as you do.

Indeed, by expressing a half-baked intent to rebut my essay years ago, you were hypocritically belying your own claim that I am "not a serious entity in the debate," as you phrased it. You could not possibly believe that, deep down, since you already acted as I recount. Unless of course you suddenly changed your opinion--did you, Dave? But that would not square with your offering to look at an essay of mine now, in your most recent letter. But it is not the first time I have exposed your being duplicitous, now, is it? You seem to evidence a talent for seeking ever thinner ice upon which to skate.

Oh, and thank you for your renewed offer of friendship, David. I will duly consider it in the years to come if you show serious evidence of making much better choices. For now, your track record has not yet earned my trust nor special affection--for some reason. You would need unquestionably to establish another, altogether better track of freely chosen actions. It would have to take a long time too, as anyone who is competent in gauging trust will agree.

You plead that in effect you were having a bad day. From the reports of friends whom I do trust and regard affectionately, you must have been having an awful lot of bad days over the years. But I wish you only good days in the New Year. If you resolve to make different kinds of choices, then you will, in a sense anyway, become a different kind of person. I will forgive the offences for which you apologized, but I will not forget them. You and your colleagues have been abusing me severely in public forums, and your apology does not yet have the effect of undoing the abusive harms that you helped to cause without any good justification. Nor your fresh insights that in effect I am a plagiarist who is not even worth attending to, contrary to scholarly norms the world over of respecting peer-reviewed work enough to engage in what is termed "fair comment." You are beneath those norms, David Langlois. In refusing to dish out academic dignity, you undermine your own.

But now that you are "forgiven," I, still unlike you, will give respectful attention to what you have to say as a scholar, and treat you cordially enough. Impersonally, you deserve no less according to any non-violence ethics that honours academic dignity, apologies, forgiveness, and the importance of building and maintaining positive relationships. Let me also sincerely thank you, publicly, for the kindness of giving me your apologies. Believe it or not, I do appreciate it and regard it in a positive manner, although you will have already surmised that I must maintain serious reservations. I have been in highly educational relationships with abusive people before whom I could not avoid. They apologized for their actions, and then carried on in the same way, as though they regretted nothing but just used such words. Like in November 2007, when I documented in my blog how you supposedly apologized the first time for the "creepy" appellation, but readily explained that although you are sorry your charge is true. And although you "apologized," you explicitly stated that you would not mind if you offended me because it was the truth. What kind of apology involves not minding the creation of offence? Honestly now!

Seriously, though, I think that I owe you some benefit of the doubt that you are doing a better job at apologizing on this occasion, David. Yes, even in spite of your offering up of weak excuses for your conduct at the very same time. You requested in your reply to my public posting that you wish to be on civil terms again. Fair enough. And granted. Only not as friends. No, not yet by any means. You have not earned that, Mister. You did me violence, sir. I forgive you in my way, but I also caution you and like-minded individuals: Trifle with me at your own risk.

P.S. Langlois has signalled by way of reply to this posting that he will not change his conduct. Or so I interpret from, and I quote: "If you plan to wait for me to 'make different choices', as you put it, then I'm afraid that you'll be waiting a long time." Obviously the choices include the offensiveness that I allege. He also disclaims that he is "looking down" upon me. Whatever; he won't condescend to dialogue, despite his offer of meeting with me or commenting if I am working on a paper. He deserves some real credit for that. But I have faith that he will compulsively avoid the core issues just as he did in this recent exchange, keeping with the complete set of his fellows who cannot and so do not address the issue of what is best for animals in the shorter-term legislatively. He knows he can avoid it, and will continue do so. And I believe that I know why. One day I will elaborate the reasons for my hypothesis, that I know many people will find to be of interest.

Switching topics, he seems to have a case of "Harvard Head Syndrome" (H.H.S.--yes, I made that one up, but I'll bet my readers who are intelligent enough to have made it this far know precisely what I mean). Once again he has apologized but continues to carry on offensively. Langlois has iterated his choice consistently to appear in many peoples' bad books. And to show the lack of rational accountability that he offers pretensions of expecting from others. He will still trifle with me and therefore will pay the largely invisible--to him--price. It's pathetic really. Langlois is one of Francione's "elite" favorites, actually getting a doctorate in philosophy from Harvard. He should show such promise in contributing to these debates as he claims to do in a reading group although not so much with internet postings anymore. Such wasted potential really. And I do not see any other Francionist scholars truly stepping up to the plate, as it were, either. Too bad--for them.

With this record of nonsense Langlois himself proposes that we take him seriously? Does that not imply that we view him as:

  1. genuinely apologetic for flagrant abuse?
  2. being a person of integrity, rather than a hypocrite?
  3. directly engaging in academic debate without always finding excuses for avoiding it?
  4. showing understanding of the other side of the debate through analysis?
  5. going further than that and actually having plausible responses to critiques and telling critiques of his own (in short: effective critical thinking)?
  6. having original things to add to the debate, rather than just echoing Francione?
  7. having contributed even unoriginal scholarship in a significant piece of writing or research?
  8. taking animals' suffering seriously rather than dismissively as is the common case with his lot?
  9. not inspiring chuckles at his hypocrisy, which often appears almost clown-like, as in his 2007 stab at so-called apology?

Take your pick of considerations that prevent some people from taking Langlois altogether seriously, and render him an often poorly regarded, minor player in this whole discussion. Yes, his doing a doctorate at Harvard University does give him at least some initial credibility. But this he fritters away fruitlessly. Hmmm... Gee, not one of these criteria tells against my own work. Actually, he is generating some impressive academica qualifications in general, but as for meeting up? Honestly, especially given his "affrimation" that he will not choose differently, I view Langlois as suffering from--but also inappropriately enjoying--a characterologically delayed ascension to manhood. That is, he is something of a "bully-boy." So much for Langlois' latest serving of garbage, folks. Although I was well justified in exposing the abuse on that transcript, here is one of Gary's Gang who is exercising the freedom to talk back. Yet he remains almost as offensive and certainly as intellectually flat-lining (for all he's shown) as the bunch on that forum for Francionist thinkers--or at least talkers. It should add to our amusement that although I am supposedly insignificant to Langlois and the other so-called "Abolitionists," he got back to me about my blog before I even finished writing the final version of my entry! I tend to fuss with it that way. But clearly, the blog was hardly worth fussing about for Langlois and his buddies...ha!


A Selection of Related Articles

Sztybel, David. "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism". Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37.

go there

Short version of "Animal Rights Law".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Sztybelian Pragmatism versus Francionist Pseudo-Pragmatism".

go there

A Selection of Related Blog Entries

Anti-Cruelty Laws and Non-Violent Approximation

Use Not Treatment: Francione’s Cracked Nutshell

Francione Flees Debate with Me Again, Runs into the “Animal Jury”

The False Dilemma: Veganizing versus Legalizing

Veganism as a Baseline for Animal Rights: Two Different Senses

Francione's Three Feeble Critiques of My Views

Startling Decline in Meat Consumption Proves Francionists Are Wrong Once Again!

The Greatness of the Great Ape Project under Attack!

Francione Totally Misinterprets Singer

Francione's Animal Rights Theory

Francione on Unnecessary Suffering

My Appearance on AR Zone

D-Day for Francionists

Sztybel versus Francione on Animals' Property Status

The Red Carpet

Playing into the Hands of Animal Exploiters

The Abolitionist ApproachES

Francione's Mighty Boomerang

Dr. David Sztybel Home Page

No comments:

Post a Comment