X-Message-Number: 23749
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2004 17:55:04 -0800
Subject: Re: risk coercion
From: Kennita Watson <>

> Charles Platt <> wrote:
>> Alcor's PR is far less than perfect -- enough less that I
>> feel I have significant value to add by going to FDGD.
> If you want to do PR (which I consider an eminently sensible
> suggestion) why pick an unrewarding opportunity which creates
> a risk of legislative backlash?

I consider the potential reward much larger, and the
potential risk much smaller, than you do, even a priori,
and I believe good preparation and execution can affect
> In a very small organization which has not yet achieved much
> market penetration, the most productive use of your time is
> to go after the easiest options, not the hardest.

Easiest and hardest for whom?  The most productive and
easiest option for me is the one I most want to pursue.

> You want to
> do PR, go talk to libertarian groups or computer nerds, the
> two largest constituencies of Alcor members.

No thanks; I want to do PR at FDGD.   Partly because there
are plenty of more knowledgeable Alcor members from which to
pick someone to talk to those groups.  Partly because I prefer
talking one-on-one to talking to groups.  Partly because
I want to try something that hasn't been tried before.
And oh yeah, partly because it sounds like a LOT of fun!

> This also has
> the advantage that it does not entail the risk of associating
> cryonics with do-it-yourself flakes.

I have presented, and will continue to present, what
I consider to be good reasons why the risk is small
and likely to become smaller.  Nothing in life has
zero risk, including stepping into your shower.

>> It does no good for us to preach to the choir.
> Nonsense. We have signed up less than 1 percent of the choir.
> Therefore this is exactly where we should be preaching.

By "the choir", I meant "people who are signed up for, or plan
to sign up for, cryonics".  What is the group you're saying
we've signed up less than 1 percent of?  By the way, my goal
at this point is to raise awareness and clear up
misconceptions, not to sign people up.

>> Actually, to the extent that the comment was meant
>> seriously at all, it was presenting the choice between
>> taking a risk of having Ted-williams-type jokes about
>> "Alcor at FDGD" on Jay Leno or not.  The "go for it!" was
>> an assessment that going is worth that risk.
> This is what really makes me quite angry, because, it is NOT
> YOUR RISK. It is OUR risk. You do not have the right to
> create that risk for other people. We have not given our
> consent for you to endanger our freedom of choice. Even if
> you are raising the risk of hostile legislation by a very
> small amount, still you have no right to do this. But, you
> are giving yourself that right. I see this as a form of
> coercion. You are forcing me to take your risk.
> Do you believe in coercion, Kennita? Do you see any flaw in
> my logic, here?

Many, actually, starting with a disagreement on what
constitutes a "right", continuing on to what "freedom
of choice" entails and what "endangers" it, and
weaving through "what constitutes coercion?", with
discussion of real and perceived risk and fear.  I could
double the length of this message going through the
philosophical and psychological underpinnings of all
that, and I don't have the time to say it well.  So I
will fall back on real-world analogy.  John Webster is a
Bay-Area member of the Libertarian Party,and a perennial
candidate for public office.  He is also a convicted sex
offender who's been trying to be exonerated for many years.
The local LP sees him as a big black mark, and quite a
few people have tried to dissuade him from running, but
no one, even the ones most doctrinaire about non-coercion,
suggests that he doesn't have the right to run.  Instead,
In 2002 I ran against him (to my knowledge, the first to
cause a contested Libertarian primary in CA) and lost;
this year Mike Laursen ran against him, and Laursen is
currently winning by one vote (official results due 3/30).

Another analogy:  whenever I get into my car and drive,
I create the risk that will be I will be involved in an
accident. Is it unacceptable for me to create that small
risk for other drivers?  What about for pedestrians?

Another point:  I feel that not going to FDGD is a
greater risk than going, because it allows more people
to come away with an uncontested view of cryonics as a
frivolous scam that could never work; so I could call
it coercion for you to restrain me from doing what I
feel is in the best interests of the cryonics
community.  (Oh, and going to Nederland may give us
leverage to overturn their anti-cryonics ordinance,
which may have positive effects elsewhere.)

> Also I think it might be productive for you to examine your
> personal motives for seeking out environments where you are
> likely to find hostility--e.g. your story about the gay pride
> parade, and your apparent insistence on alienating people in
> the libertarian party, in exactly the same way that you are
> alienating people here. This is not a good pattern.

I think you misunderstood me.  The Libertarian Party
said they wanted me to be in the Gay Pride Parade, but
kept coming up with reasons it couldn't be done (i.e.,
"overconstraining the problem"), so they gave up.  I
decided it made no sense to do nothing just because I
couldn't do the grand plan, so I picked a small thing
and did it.  I was happy, the Party was happy, the
parade-goers were happy (a few, who didn't know me
from  Adam, booed me on principle because I was a
Libertarian.  I didn't alienate anyone there.

My personal motives for seeking out environments where
other people think I am likely to find hostility (this
is great; it really gets me to think) include:
proving them wrong; turning around any hostile folks
(they mostly don't seem to stay hostile for long)
(and for our studio audience -- I think I know what
you're thinking; the ones who stay hostile are usually
that way out of fear, which is easier to deal with in
person than over email); inspiring others to try
things that look scary; challenging myself; having fun.

I avoid environments where I am actually likely to
find hostility, especially when accompanied by bladed
or projectile weapons.

As far as "alienating people here":  not so many, I
don't think.  Frustrated at my bullheadedness, yes;
bored by my longwindedness, yes; bothered by the
amount of abuse I put up with and insist on
responding to, sometimes -- alienated, mostly not
(at least not on my account).

For what it's worth, I still like you.

Live long and prosper,
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
none but ourselves can free our minds.
           -- Bob Marley, "Redemption Song"

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