Glossary: Fair Game

This is a systematised breach of Play the ball, not the man rule. It happens only sporadically on Slugger, but its intention is to uses the anonymity of the commenting zone to attempt to damage the reputation of some known public figure: politician; journalist; key witness; or even individual bloggers.

The strategy was first outlined by L Ron Hubbard in 1965 as Fair Game Law. Hubbard’s target was in his own terms, ‘suppressive people’:

Suppressive Acts are clearly those covert or overt acts knowingly calculated to reduce or destroy the influence or activities of Scientology or prevent case gains or continued Scientology success and activity on the part of a Scientologist.

As persons or groups that would do such a thing act out of self interest only to the detriment of all others, they cannot be granted the rights and beingness ordinarily accorded rational beings and so place themselves beyond any consideration for their feelings or well being[Emphasis added]

[Update 2015]: It has become a pretty widespread phenomenon on social media.

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  • Ahem

    Look, everyone knows that Pete Baker [May an Eternity of Curses Rain Down Upon this Hog’s Whelp] is worse than a thousand murdering murderers – or have we learnt nothing from the thousand billion smillion smearing postings typed here by the Provette Blog Police? Not until policing and justice powers are devolved (and Pete Baker has his legs broken in a back alley as an entirely legitimate form of communal self-expression) will the occupied six ever know anything like a semblance of true peace.

  • joeCanuck

    Be careful, Ahem. A certain immature individual may come on soon calling you a dog and threatening (hehe) to continue doing so for months.

  • TAFKABO
  • Granni Trixie

    There is clearly something about Pete which is beyond my ken…his blogs seem reasonable to me …could it be I’m a Pete myself?

  • Steve

    Its the insinuations he leaves behind

    Its true he is so subtle that it is hard to show hard points but it is with out question that the snide bias is there

  • Mick Fealty

    Steve,

    That is nothing to the insinuations that are being routinely flung at him. Some of it coming from extremely intelligent people apparently in the grip of some kind of mob fever.

    The latest accusation is that he dared to use an ellipsis in the title in one post. Why is that wrong? Because he allegedly (and rather fiendishly, apparently) intended to make people think!

    Personally, I’d quite enjoy seeing someone catch Pete out (I’ve managed it about twice, I think, in three/four years).

    But the steady invective he’s been enduring recently looks more like frustration than hard ball. Indeed, as Moochin has pointed out on another recent thread: it amounts to a series of ‘own goals’.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Pete is entitled to his opinion.

    His posts may be pedantic and long winded at times but are usually based on facts which is rare enough here.

    Long may he post.

  • kensei

    Mick

    But the steady invective he’s been enduring recently looks more like frustration than hard ball. Indeed, as Moochin has pointed out on another recent thread: it amounts to a series of ‘own goals’.

    It’s frustration because of the way he goes out of his way to rub people up thew wrong way, and because he 1. talks down to people 2. only replies when he’s sure of an answer. You aren’t nearly as obnoxious, so you don’t get half the flak. If he didn’t go out of his way to be, he wouldn’t either.

    He has also developed a habit of not only peppering his own posts with a ridiculous numbetr of backlinks, but posting on other threads solely to do this. If he isn’t actually going to engage, then why bother?

  • TAFKABO

    2. only replies when he’s sure of an answer

    I give up, I’ve tried three different replies to this point, but I keep laughing as I try to type them, brilliant.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    It doesn’t matter why people do it: playing that game is almost entirely self-destructive of one’s own argument/position.

    I understand that people have strong feelings (how could I, after nearly six years of running Slugger, not understand that). In fact we all have those feelings at one time or another.

    But when it comes to public debate, people should at least attempt to sublimate those feelings into robust, coherent argument.

    If not, they run the risk of looking and sounding ridiculous.

  • kensei

    Mick

    String feelings and arguments are nothing to do with it: Pete breaks the Golden Rule by condescending when speaking to others. He gets back what he dishes out.

    To say anything about this would be to play the man: ie not allowed. It does not make it any less true, however.

  • Steve

    Mick That is nothing to the insinuations that are being routinely flung at him. Some of it coming from extremely intelligent people apparently in the grip of some kind of mob fever.

    We arent insuating anything i believe we have clearly stated it and we can’t all be wrong can we?

    He could have easily called that post “Republican exprisoner beaten in his home”, nothing snide or untoward about that title. His title left little doubt that this man deserved what he got and more likely that he was beated because of who he was

    And besides you leap to Petes defense but on another thread Ulster is my homeland was serially abusive and infact quite crude and there seems to be no censuring of him

    Which goes along with my theory that the rules are not applied evenly accross the spectrum

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken, condescension? Really? Surely that’s the equivalent of saying: ‘he looked at me funny, so I glaissed him’?

    Permit me a slight cut and paste of something I put on Brassneck recently. What I see is an argument constructed through references to varied others, but it is not always one he remains completely committed to. See Shane Richmond on this elsewhere (http://url.ie/aal).

    This approach has a long history in literature, science and thought. It might be described as attempting a Baconian history, involving a simple accumulation of facts. Here’s the man himself in the preamble to Novum Organum (1620) (http://url.ie/aai):

    There remains but one course for the recovery of a sound and healthy condition — namely, that the entire work of the understanding be commenced afresh, and the mind itself be from the very outset not left to take its own course, but guided at every step; and the business be done as if by machinery.”

    And this:

    …when the mind is already, through the daily intercourse and conversation of life, occupied with unsound doctrines and beset on all sides by vain imaginations, that art of logic, coming too late to the rescue, and no way able to set matters right again, has had the effect of fixing errors rather than disclosing truth.”

    Pete’s link backs (though much derided by some individual commenters here on Slugger) must be unique in the blogosphere. Just try surfing back through them and you can see multiple iterations in a single story and you’ll witness just how deep they go.

    They are definitive of what good thinking journalism should be about. And it’s why Pete, at times, exerts a strong (if entirely unbidden) influence on members of the msm and key political players.

    He’s thorough, which is a lot more than can be said of some of his recent critics. If some of our commenters feel condescended to, it may be they are jumping to premature conclusions and not actually reading what’s in front of their nose. But that does not excuse this recent outbreak of man playing and fair gaming.

    Steve,

    This is little to do with Pete and more to do with a concerted attempt to personalise an attack on a blogger. It’s been extraordinary in scale, and for that reason certainly worth marking.

    BTW, you should go to back to that long thread again and read the last post. UIMH has been censured. He can expect to get the chop if he persists.

  • picador

    Mick, you do me a disservice. I am only moderately intelligent (and with the start of the Easter holidays I am becoming progressively less so by the minute).

    As someone who posts as an individual (rather than as part of a mob) I say that fiendish ellipsis of Baker’s was no accident. I fully understand why some posters got upset with him but I do not accept that they should pursue the matter on unrelated threads.

    [a href=”http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/so-he-would-be-very-well-known/”]

    Now I’m off to buy some more beer. TGI Easter 😉

  • picador

    Damn links!

  • Mick Fealty

    <> rather than [] would have done it. Come back after Easter when you’ve finished the beer! 🙂

  • Mick Fealty

    Come to think of it, a straight cut and paste of the url would have done it!

  • picador

    But before I go I must just reply to the statement below, adding a bit of perspective that I believe is sorely required.

    ‘This is little to do with Pete and more to do with a concerted attempt to personalise an attack on a blogger.’

    You make tapping away at a keyboard sound so high-minded (and maybe in some respects it is). Meanwhile, back in the real world, a man made of real flesh and real blood has just been bludgeoned to death.

    I am tempted to say ‘Get over yourself!’ Whoops, it seems I just did.

    The amber nectar awaits..

  • picador

    OK, I really mean it this time. Happy Eashter!

  • kensei

    Mick

    It can be hard in text, I grant but people being wonderfully well tuned social animals normally know when they’ve reached an attitude they don’t like.

    And this:

    They are definitive of what good thinking journalism should be about.

    It really really isn’t. It does not illuminate, it obfuscates. Perhaps this simply offends my good Computer Science sensibilities that look instinctively for simplicity and order and sensible grouping, but if I want a spiderweb mess to follow I’ll go to Google and search myself. What you throw away is as important as what you keep. Second, the break up of the text is terribly distracting. Third, he often doesn’t properly reference the links, he just has knowing asides, which are terribly smug and are no use for tracing anything. Fourth, he pushes the same lines constantly: familiarity really does breed contempt.

    While we are on pet peeves, for the love of God get your web server sorted out. I have loaded this page on an 8 meg connection and still had problems. I also think that one of the many links you have to external sites is causing a bottleneck somewhere, as Slugger will often stop half loaded pulling a link to somewhere else.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    I think it’s the share this script. Site needs rebooting, I’ll get on to them this morning.

    As for the computer nerd thing, yep that works. There are some things algorithms just can’t do, and this is one of them. If your axioms are skewhiff, the best thing to do is start from basics. To repeat Bacon:

    “There remains but one course for the recovery of a sound and healthy condition — namely, that the entire work of the understanding be commenced afresh, and the mind itself be from the very outset not left to take its own course, but guided at every step; and the business be done as if by machinery.

    The rigidities of style are instrumental in recovering contexts that might otherwise be hidden by bland, conventional orthodoxies.

  • kensei

    Mick

    The rigidities of style are instrumental in recovering contexts that might otherwise be hidden by bland, conventional orthodoxies.

    As said by a man who has no idea of the skill and creativity required to produce well designed software. Thankfully I only test most of the time, so merely have to come up with creative ways of breaking it.

    One of the lecturers at uni hammered it into us that we should strive for “clear, concise and elegant”. This is no more than Twain’s assertion that his letter would be shorter, if only he had the time.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    To which desirable attributes, I would also add melancholy.

  • Twinbrook

    Some are equal…

    some are more equal than others..

    “ people who extend civil liberties only to preferred groups and individuals start down the path to dictatorship.”

    When those who make the law, break the law, there is no law”

    Do I need to continue…

  • Mick Fealty

    Twin,

    You need to be a bit more specific. If you are suggesting Pete broke the play the ball not the man rule, then kindly point us to it?

  • Granni Trixie

    I fancy I am quite good at interpreting what others write but on this occasion I am beaten. I suggest that it points to an underlying culture here which I do not really want to penetrate.
    But I still want to know what this blog is really “about”.

  • Mick Fealty

    GT,

    You’ve probably hit on some inexactitude in the definition. Since it’s in the glossary section, I’ll work on it to try to make the definition more accessible.

    In the meantime, here’s a previous post on Slugger which more explicitly demonstrates the connection with the playing the ball, not the man rule. About the same time Pete picked up this priceless clip from World in Action in the late sixties