Re: Are some ideas wrong?
From: Tom Smyth (
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2016 08:42:25 -0800 (PST)
This conversation has meandered significantly I think since its inception
to the point where I'm not sure what 'diversity' even means anymore. Here
is what I think:

*Are some ideas wrong?*

Absolutely. Belief that whites are inherently superior as a race -- wrong.
Belief that our society and institutions are not systematically racist --
wrong. Belief that most white people do not have an inherent bias against
people of color -- wrong. Belief that humans are not causing dangerous
climate change -- wrong. Belief that most poor people are poor because they
are lazy -- wrong. The list goes on. There is irrefutable scientific
evidence that all these ideas are wrong, and thinking they are right is *very

*Are all conservative or Trumpist ideas wrong?*

Certainly not. For instance, I also don't like free trade, which is a good
example for the next section...

*Are some ideas debatable?*

Of course! Free trade is a good example. Nobody can say whether it is
ultimately a good or bad thing with the same degree of certainty that we
can say humans are causing climate change. It is a much more difficult
question and there is plenty of room for debate.

I think it's important to understand that of the 'ideas' we are all vaguely
referring to in this discussion, there are a mixture of the above types.

*Should we engage in discussion and debate with people with whom we don't

Absolutely. Politely and compassionately. Both in regard to the "definitely
wrong" ideas and in regard to the "debatable" ones. But in regard to the
former, we need to be firm, and not view it as an acceptable "difference of
opinion". To do so is to descend into ultimate moral relativism.

There does come a point, though, when certain "ideas" become so distasteful
that we back away from people who espouse them. The word for this is
"taboo". The belief that slavery is acceptable or even beneficial, for
instance, is taboo. Nobody here would argue with that, even though it was a
quite acceptable view just 150 years ago. The belief that it's okay to have
sex with children or consume child pornography is also taboo even though it
has been quite acceptable at some points in history. You don't politely
debate these ideas. You express horror at them.

Let's think for a moment -- are any of the ideas I listed in the first
section likely to become taboo in the next 100 years? I hope all of them
will (the first one already is). But they certainly will not if we all just
agree to "co-exist" with a "diversity" of them as if they are a difference
in one's favorite ice cream flavor. We need to *fight* these ideas until
they become taboo. That doesn't mean hiding from people who espouse them,
but it also doesn't mean politely agreeing to disagree either. On that

*Should we develop and affirm vision statements for our communities that
some may not agree with?*

Yes. There is nothing wrong with explicitly stating that as a community you
reject white supremacy and actively work against it, or that you
acknowledge anthropogenic climate change and actively work against it, for
instance. If you put that out there from the start, it's up to people
joining to take note of it. Will this maybe make your community less
"diverse"? Perhaps by some twisted definition of the word, but I'm not
interested in that definition, and I don't quite understand who would be.

*Should we subject current or incoming residents to some kind of
ideological test?*

Of course not. I'm not sure where this came from but I haven't heard anyone
suggesting this. I think we should just make the views of our communities
clear and well known (via things like vision statements) and hopefully
racists, bigots, and climate deniers will stay away.

Thanks everyone for this debate. It has been useful to really consider what
is meant by "diversity", since the word gets bandied around here a lot.



On Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 8:45 AM, Jessie Kome <jehako [at]> wrote:

> Hi-
> I agree with Crystal and Patti that the conservative voters I know saw the
> choice this election differently than liberals, and I also think that
> engaging in discussion with them about why they made their choice is going
> to be more productive than projecting my (or anyone else's) values and
> judgment on them.
> In thinking about diversity of thought, belief, and morality, I found this
> TED talk piece about moral views of conservatives and liberals to be useful
> background:
> mind/transcript?language=en
> I sometimes wonder if we struggle in cohousing with the in-group and
> authority and purity dimensions of group dynamics because liberals have
> trouble understanding that for half the population these are highly valued
> additional dimensions of morality, in tension or balance with openness and
> limitation of harm? (Maybe if we had more conservative values, we could
> keep the kids room and the share closet clean?)
> My two cents. YMMV.
> Jessie Handforth Kome
> Eastern Village Cohousing
> Silver Spring, Maryland
> "Where we just celebrated another anniversary together with a big party."
> >
> >
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Tom Smyth

Worker-Owner, Sassafras Tech Collective
Specializing in innovative, usable tech for social change *·* @sassafrastech

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