tom moody

keen social insight via photography

I can't say I haven't posted photos of overweight Americans in airports -- but I didn't caption them "Bush's America." My ill-advised snapshots from 2003-4 would have done nothing to stop Bush's reelection, anyway, and insulting voters turns out not to be a winning strategy, as we just saw. I'd like to think I've had some growth since fledgling blogger days, unlike Crooked Timber:

crookedtimber

Will let you know if that comment passes moderation but I don't expect it to.

Update: Henry says the point of the photo is that one of the Trump Americans is wearing a neo-Nazi website T-shirt. Therefore, one supposes, it's OK to generalize about everyone else in the pic, because they are tolerating his presence. We must be eternally vigilant, etc. My comment was posted -- apparently Henry has dual comment threads depending on whether you click the photo or the blog title, very confusing.

Update 2: Henry says the dual comment threads are a Word Press glitch.

Update 3: Rationales for the photo changed a few times in yesterday's thread. For some, the T-shirt reference was clear. Some missed it. One commenter noted it was supposed to be a trick, as advertised by the website: "You will get a rush secretly wearing a Nazi t-shirt in public without having to suffer the consequences." I was trying to keep up with some of this and changed my update above a few times, trying to stay accurate even though I still hated the generalization "Trump's America." Henry noted a few of these changes and described them with trainspotter detail to discredit my criticism as some sort of fuzzy logic. Weak, but that's what he went with.
However, this comment was allowed to pass without paragraphs of exegesis about the "model of argumentation":

Donald Johnson 07.23.17 at 5:22 pm

The problem for me is that the title Trump’s America gave me the impression you were condemning all those people– initially I didn’t even see the Nazi T shirt and wondered what the heck you were doing. Then I thought you were condemning all those people for tolerating or being friends with a guy wearing a Nazi T shirt, which would only be fair if they knew what it was. It turns out you only meant to condemn the actual wearer (and presumably any friends in the photo who don’t mind his choice of attire).

I think it was a confusing post.

Update, July 25: Am still mulling over Henry's sophistry (he teaches political science at a major university and presumably is applying professional jiu- jitsu here):

You got your initial condemnation wrong, which is fine – it happens. But then, you replaced the condemnation with a grumpy statement to the effect that I was now in the game of condemning people for controversial t-shirts, which you then deleted, and have now replaced with yet a third unrelated complaint about how I am supposedly slurring the bystanders for their toleration. As far as I can see, the only common thread in your argument is that I am wrong (for three successive, but completely different reasons) and that you are completely right in your initial decision to be critical of me. I recommend Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber’s fantastic new book, The Enigma of Reason for a detailed discussion of what lies behind this model of argumentation (see especially the final chapters) – while, as they argue it can be harnessed for useful purposes at the collective level, it can also look a bit ungainly at the individual (consider this intervention the kind of social correction that Mercier and Sperber call for, and an invitation to reconsider your style of arguing and reasoning).

My "initial condemnation" (not deleted -- it's still at the top of the page) had a couple of elements: posting photos of random overweight people and sneering at the opposition as some kind of unwashed Other. Henry seems to think that once he informed me of the "gotcha" (one of the people in the photo is wearing a Nazi shirt) I should approve the photo and caption and back off. Did the "gotcha" change my feelings about his tactics, or that picture? Not really. I wrote the Update to acknowledge the "gotcha" and struggled a bit finding the right tone to convey that I still hated the photo and its premise. My error was live editing a blog update with such a fanatic self-justifier lurking around. He builds a case that these edits (done over a few hours but eventually gelling as the first Update above) were a flawed "model of argumentation," and then does some more sneering.

When I called out Henry for stalking my live edits, here's how he responded:

You first accused me of classist attacks on overweight people. Then, when I pointed out that this was wrong, you proposed in succession a variety of other attacks, which all seemed to me to be efforts to shore up your original position that there was something odious about the post, without ever quite managing to settle on a precise claim as to what that odious quality was. Obviously, this is a storm in a teacup, and none of us are at our best in comments threads, but I don’t think that your claim is correct. If you object to me pointing out the inconsistencies as “minutely tracking the revisions” (not actually so – I just happened to open up the page last night, and not finding the tab easily again this morning, opened it up again to find an entirely different claim as to why I was in the wrong), then I suppose, feel free to continue as you were.

He seems incapable of understanding that someone could hate his "Trump's America" photo regardless of the "gotcha" reveal of the Nazi T-shirt wearer. There were a few others on the thread who were troubled by the photo -- its tone, but also privacy and guilt-by-association issues -- yet escaped all this clever pushback.

- tom moody

July 22nd, 2017 at 4:56 pm

Posted in art - others, photo 2