Thursday, April 02, 2009

SCANning the flames of open-mindedness

[Edit: On June 3, 2009, I retracted part of my comments below in the following blog post:]

Recently, I responded to the previous months' minutes of a local community association, which included a mention of the recent panel discussion held by People Against SCAN, an event I blogged about shortly thereafter (as did zoom!).

The minutes included the following review of the SCAN meeting:
From the minutes: "[Person] reported on the anti-SCAN meeting at the library where an NDP MPP from Toronto made disparaging remarks about SCAN and neighbourhood watch groups."
Now, I don't know what was said at the community association meeting, as I had a prior commitment the previous month, so I have no way of telling whether the summary accurately reflected the discussion on the SCAN event. But I do know that this one-sentence summary does not come close to reflecting the concerns raised by the anti-SCAN people. It would have been just as useful(less) to say 'There was an event about SCAN, but it was organized by people who don't like SCAN, so it's not important.'

So I responded:
From RG: "I'm quite concerned at this summary of the SCAN meeting. Whatever 'disparaging remarks' might have been made by an MPP from Toronto (boo hoo), there were legitimate concerns raised by the organizers of the meeting about the negative consequences of SCAN legislation which do not seem to have been raised in this report.

"I was at the [anti-SCAN] meeting and frankly I think that SCAN legislation is both unnecessary for Ottawa's environment and highly excessive for what it proposes to do. It was unfortunate that Mr. Naqvi had to leave the meeting right at the beginning of the question session, leaving nobody to respond to the concerns raised by members of the audience.

"I suggest that Board members have a glance at the website of People Against SCAN, who organized the meeting, and have a look at the summaries of that meeting that are referenced on their front page:

This drew a response from the [person] mentioned in the minutes. Among her other comments, with which I disagree but nonetheless are reasonable (I've commented them out in the HTML code of the message if you really want to see them), was this final line:
From [Person]: "Moreover, I resent the use of this format [i.e. e-mail] for bullying and inflamatory and unproductive comments not unlike the ones made at the anti-SCAN meeting."
I can't figure out what in my comment was "bullying" (nor of whom), and why it's "inflammatory" to call someone out for an ad-hominem attack. Maybe "inflammatory" is to debates as "safer" is to legislation, where if someone applies the label, it must be true.

I'm also trying to figure out how a piece of legislation can have feelings, and why this person feels that it's relevant to the community association when an NDP MPP from Toronto hurts those feelings. [Edit 2009-06-03: As clarified in my partial retraction of my comments, she was referring to "disparaging remarks about ... neighbourhood watch groups," specifically a comment where NDP MPP Cheri Di Novo compared such groups to Stasi. Not "disparaging remarks about SCAN [full stop]".]

And when I point out further resources on the legislation, it's "unproductive", whereas the irrelevant comments made by [person] somehow are not.

I didn't bother to elaborate these points by e-mail. Instead, the substantive part of my subsequent response was thus:
From RG: "The onus is on the proposer of legislation to prove that it will not have negative consequences, and it is the responsibility of all concerned to raise concerns about such legislation. Dismissing such criticism is harmful to democracy."
And I left it at that.

The complaints made by [person] are very similar to the common accusation of not being "open-minded". I fully admit that this person did NOT say anything to that effect.

But imagine my delight tonight when I stumble upon Dan Gardner's blog, Katzenjammer, wherein he's posted this delightful video explaining what it really means to be open-minded.

While, again, [person] didn't accuse me of being close-minded, she seems to use the very same arguments and techniques explained in the video:

In fact, after watching that video, I can confidently claim that [person] is being close-minded, and I'd love to see her prove otherwise.

[Edit 2009-06-03: she did prove otherwise, as she and I had differing interpretations of the draft minutes, as discussed in my partial retraction of my comments. Spoiler: her interpretation was more complete than mine.]

- RG>


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well put. Can't say I'm surprised in the slightest.

somerset said...

I must have too much free time, because I had to read this post three times to figure out what you were upset about. The crux of it is that someone was dismissive of the anti SCAN meeting, and since you yourself happen to oppose SCAN, you find this offensive.

Your main point, however, is that people who disagree with you on SCAN are to be dismissed as closed minded. People who disagree with you on the parole office, however, are to be dismissed as bigoted.

The sociological question is this... why do people who think like you always end up on:
a. condo boards
b. community associations
c. blog rolls

Give it some thought. Or rather, find a way to dismiss it. That way, you can be shocked all over again when people stand up at a meeting and express opinions different from yours.

RealGrouchy said...

somerset (stephanie?) - My concern is that SCAN legislation has some very negative (though quite likely unintended) consequences, which SCAN proponents dismiss because of what they see as its benefits.

I continue to ask, and have never received a reasonable answer, what SCAN can accomplish that warrants giving such powers that have the opportunity for abuse? And further, why the "bad" parts of SCAN must be approved along with the "good" parts of SCAN (whatever they may be).

These questions were attacked by [person], which continues the state where they are unanswered. Your comment does the same.

I am asking the question, "Why is SCAN a good thing?" and I never get an answer. If people are so in support of SCAN, surely they would be able to respond to this question better than simply attacking me by asking why "people who think like me always end up on condo boards, etc."?

Without having heard a good reason to support SCAN, it would be senseless for me to do so.

- RG>

RealGrouchy said...

I should note that after further clarification brought to my attention tonight, I have issued a partial retraction to the comments made and referred to in my post.

The retraction is at

- RG>