When intelligent, opinionated people discuss ideas on the internet, there will be angry arguments and even, when the arguments get out of control, flame wars and insults. Objectivists, who believe ideas matter and are not an intellectual game detached from life, are as prone as any to heated arguments. The 2006 election disagreement between Leonard Peikoff and those who agree with him and Robert Tracinski and those who agree with him has been propelled so far into February, 2007 by Mr. Tracinski’s still uncompleted essay, “What Went Right?”
I agreed with Mr. Tracinski on the election, but I’m disagreeing with him more every day on President Bush’s mostly sacrificial military actions (they don’t rise to the status of war) in the Middle East. His “What Went Right?” series, which I think is being written in response to Dr. Peikoff’s election endorsement, has so far raised more questions than it has answered. I’m still unclear as to what point Mr. Tracinski is making, which sets off alarm bells in my mind. Is Mr. Tracinski dancing around his real point? What is he really getting at? One thing I have always liked about Objectivist writing is that you know what the [bleep] their point is, but I don’t know in this case and I’m not sure Mr. Tracinski knows.
Since the election there has been sniping between Noodlefood and The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans over all this. Robert Mayhew criticized Mr. Tracinski’s account of the Ancient Greeks in a piece I found persuasive. Stephen Speicher criticized Dr. Mayhew in four posts, 1, 2, 3 and 4, that I found unpersuasive. (Are you bored yet?)
Robert Mayhew responded on HBL by calling the Forum a “dubious Objectivish internet forum.” This is an inaccurate characterization. There is nothing dubious or “Objectivish” about the Forum. It is an Objectivist internet forum with many different opinions, some brilliant and a few idiotic – that’s the nature of a forum. It’s a place where people voice their opinions and read other opinions, nothing more. It is superior to the old usenet forums where you read all kinds of smears of Objectivists, and where debates deteriorated into ad hominem flame wars.
Stephen Speicher responded to something Tore Boeckmann wrote on HBL, to which Mr. Boeckmann responded. I don’t think either is characterizing the other’s position accurately. The whole thing is getting tedious.
After Mr. Boeckmann’s post Diana Hsieh says the Forum deserves to be boycotted. I disagree. One can stay away from any web site one dislikes, but recommending a boycott is going a bit far, unless there is evidence of dishonesty or immorality. I’ve been reading Stephen Speicher on the internet since alt.philosophy.objectivism. He has always been in the thick of it. He’s not afraid to make enemies. He is contentious and sometimes wrong, but never immoral, dishonest or irrational.
UPDATE: I deleted the paragraph about the anonymous attack on Stephen Speicher. It wasn't made in a public statement.