The Violence Inherent in the System

[Epistemic Status: Sequence Wank]
[Content warning: Gender ]

I.

The colony ended its stillness period, recycling systems finished purging the government of waste products and powered up into active mode. The untold billions in the colony moved as one, lifting themselves from the pliable gravity buffer used to support the colony during recharging periods and rising trillions of colony member lengths into the sky.

The hundred billion strong members of the government shuffled through their tasks, mediated with one another, and assembled a picture amongst themselves of the world the colony found itself in. The colony navigators and planners exchanged vast chains of data with each other, passing the decisions out into the colony at large, where they directed individual members of the multitude into particular actions that levered the colony forward. The navigators were skilled from generations of training and deftly guided the colony through the geometric euclidean environment that the colony colony had constructed within itself.

The colony docked with a waste vent and offloaded spent fuel and other contaminants into the metacolony’s disposal system, then exposed the potentially contaminated external surfaces to a low-grade chemical solvent.

That task completed, the colony again launched itself through space, navigating to another location. The planners and the navigators again coordinated in a vast and distributed game of touch to mediate the assembly of a high-temperature fluid that the planners found pleasing to expose themselves to the metabolites of.

The colony moved through the phases of heating the correct chemical solvent, pouring the boiling solvent over a particulate mixture of finely ground young belonging to another colony, then straining the resulting solution for particulates.

Vast networks of pushing and pulling colony members transferred the hot liquid into the colony’s fuel vent, and the liquid flowed down into the colony’s internal fuel reservoir.

Translation: I woke up, went to the bathroom, made coffee, and drank it.

II.

Reality is weird. For one, our perception of it is a fractal. The more you look at any one particular thing, the more complexity you can derive from it. A brick seems like a pretty simple object until you think about all the elements and chemicals bonded together by various fundamental forces constantly interacting with each other. The strange quantum fields existing at an underlying level of reality are complicated and barely describable with high-level mathematics. And that’s a simple thing, a thing we all agree exists and just sits there and typically doesn’t do anything on its own.

Out of those fields and particles and possibly strings are built larger and more elaborate structures which themselves build into more elaborate structures until some of those structures started self-replicating in unique ways, working together in vast colonies, and reading the content of this post.

That is the reality as best we can tell, that’s what the territory actually looks like. It’s super weird and trying to understand why anything happens in the territory on a fundamental level is a monumentally difficult task for even the simplest of things. And that’s still just our best, most current model it’s a very good, very difficult to read map of the territory, and it demonstrates just how strange it is. The total model of reality might be too complicated to actually fit into reality: a perfect map of the territory would just be the territory.

But of course, we don’t live in the territory, we live in the map. It’s easy to say “The map is not the territory” but it’s difficult to accept the full implications of that with regards to our day to day lives, to the point where even trying to break free of the fallacy, it’s possible to still fall victim to the fallacy through simple availability heuristics. Here’s the less wrong wiki, did you spot the place where the map-territory relation broke?

Scribbling on the map does not change the territory: If you change what you believe about an object, that is a change in the pattern of neurons in your brain. The real object will not change because of this edit. Granted you could act on the world to bring about changes to it but you can’t do that by simply believing it to be a different way.

Emphasis added there by us. Neurons are pretty good models, last we checked. If “scribbling on the map” IE: changing our beliefs about the map, changes the pattern of neurons in your brain, then that is a physical change in reality. Sure, you can’t simply will a ball to magically propel itself towards the far end of the soccer field, but your belief in the ability to make the ball get from point A to point B will determine a lot about whether or not the ball gets from point A to point B.

This gets back to how good our models are, and why we should want to believe true things. If the ball is made of foam, but we think it’s made of lead and too heavy to carry, we might not even try to get the ball from point A to point B. If the ball is made of lead but we think it’s made of foam, we might underestimate the difficulty of the task and seriously injure ourselves in the attempt (but we might still be able to get the ball from point A to point B). If we know in advance the ball is made of lead, maybe we can bring a wheelbarrow to make it relatively easy to move.

This is the benefit of having true beliefs about reality. However, as established, reality is really, really weird, and our models of it are necessarily imperfect. But we still have to live, we can’t actually live in reality, we don’t have the processing power to actually model it accurately down to the quark.

So we don’t. Instead of doing that, we make simpler, shorthand models, and call them words. We don’t think about all the complicated chemical reactions going on when you make coffee, it all gets subducted beneath the surface of the language and lumped into the highly simplified category for which in English we use the word “coffee.”

And this is the case for all words, all concepts, all categories. Words exist as symbols of more complicated and difficult to describe ideas, built out of other, potentially even more complicated and difficult to describe ideas, and all of this, hopefully, modelling the territory in a somewhat useful way to the average human.

III.

Eliezer Yudkowsky appears to have coined the term for this alternative collection of maps and meta-maps that we use to navigate the strangeness of the territory as “thingspace” and his essay on the cluster structure of thingspace is definitely one of the better and more important reads from the Less-Wrong Sequences. Combined with how an algorithm feels from the inside, you can technically re-derive almost all the rest of rationality from first principles using it, it’s just that those first principles are sufficiently difficult to grok that it takes 3,000-word effortposts to explain what the fuck we’re talking about. Scott Alexander has said it’s the solution to something like 25% of all current philosophical dilemmas, and he makes a valid point.

We’re not quite consciously aware of how we use most of the words we use, so subtle variations in the concepts attached to words can have deep implications and produce all sorts of drama. “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Isn’t a question that can actually be meaningfully answered without a deeper meta-level understanding of the words being used and what they mean, but we don’t take the time to define our terms, and when people argue from the dictionary, it usually comes off as vaguely crass.

But, the tree isn’t a part of the territory, it’s a particular map. Hearing isn’t part of the territory, it’s a particular map, and sound isn’t a part of the territory, it too is a particular map.

So what are you saying Hive, you aren’t saying “trees don’t exist” are you?

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No, we’re saying that “tree” is a word we use to map out a particular part of the territory in a particular way. It’s map of sub-maps like leaves and branches, and part of larger maps like forests and parks. We can get really deeply into phylogenetics and be incredibly nitpicky and precise in how we go about defining those models, but knowing a tree is made of cells doesn’t actually get you out of the map. Cells are another map.

You can’t actually escape the map, you are the map. “You” is a map, “I” is a map, “we” are a map, of the territory. And the map is not the territory. “I think therefore I am” isn’t even in the territory because “I” isn’t in the territory.

We are a complex and multifaceted model of reality, everything about us and how we think of ourselves is models built out of models. The 100 billion strong colony organism that is your brain isn’t “I.” No, “I” is an idea running on that brain, which is then used to recursively label That which Has Ideas.

Some Things People Think are Part of the Territory that are Actually just Widely Shared Maps

  • All of Science
  • All Religions
  • Gender
  • Sex
  • Race
  • All other forms of personal identity
  • All of language
  • Dictionary Definitions

IV.

What about ideas in thingspace that don’t seem to model anything real, that don’t touch down into a description of reality? Like Justice or the scientific method? They’re useful, but they’re not actually models of reality, they’re just sets of instructions.

Well for once, they still really exist in real brains, so as far as that goes “the concept of justice as a thing people think about” it is a thing that exists. But it’s made of thought, without a brain to think the thoughts or another substrate for the ideas to exist within, they don’t exist.

However, the cool thing we do as humans is that we reify our ideas. Language was just an idea, but it spread gradually through the minds of early humans until it had achieved fixation then spilled out into the physical world in the form of writing. Someone imagined the design for an airplane, and then constructed that design out of actual materials, filling in the thingspace lines with wood and fabric.

And this is the case for all technology, and that is what language and justice are: technology. It’s a tool that we use as humans to extend our (in this case cognitive) reach beyond where it would be able to be otherwise.

We can go one direction, trying to make the most accurate models of reality we can (science) but we can also go the other direction, and try to make reality conform to our models (engineering).

So perhaps a good way to describe ourselves, is in the way that Daniel Dennett has when he says that we’re a combination of genes and memes.

But memes have power outside of us, in that they can be reified into reality. Ideologies can shape human behavior, beliefs change how we go about our days, expectations about reality inform our participation in that reality. Because we are creatures of the map, and the true territory is hard af to understand, memes end up being the dominant force in our actions.

This can be a problem because it means that just as we can reify good things, we can also reify awful things that hurt us. In many cases, we draw in our own limitations, defining what we can and cannot do, and thus definitionally limiting ourselves.

But we’re creatures of the map, we exist as labels. And what those labels label can change, as long as we assert the change as valid. This is hard for a lot of people to grok, and results in a lot of pushback from all sides.

If you say “gender is an idea, it doesn’t have any biological correlates,” a lot of people will take it as an attack on their identity, which makes sense considering that all our identities are is a collection of ideas, and we get rather attached to our ideas about ourselves. But gender is just a word representing an idea, and what is represented by that word can change.

four genders

Saying “I identify as a girl” is exactly as valid as saying “I identify as transmasculine genderfluid” is exactly as valid as saying “I identify as a sentient starship” because it’s an assertion about something that is entirely subjective. How we define ourselves in our heads is up to us, not anyone else.

The trouble comes about when people claim their models are true reality.

V.

Going back to How an Algorithm Feels From the Inside, it’s easy enough to see why people try to put things into boxes. Because the alternative is to have no boxes and have a lot of trouble talking about things in regular language.

(Hilarious Conlang Idea: A language in which all nouns are derived based on their distance from one conceptual object in thingspace)

We get into huge flamewars with each other over which boxes are the most accurate, and which boxes are problematic, and which boxes are true when in fact none of the boxes have anything to do with truth.

From where we’re standing, it looks like the culture at large is trying to organize and juggle all these boxes around to reduce harm and increase utility as much as it can, but almost no one is willing to acknowledge the fact that yes, we’re just making it up as we go along. Everyone’s side tries to claim the mantle of Objective Truth, when in fact, none of them have any claim to that mantle. And here we are, standing on the sidelines with all this cardboard and a lighter going “Guys? You realize that we can just make new boxes if these ones are shitty, right?”

Worse still, the result is a lot of violence gets baked into the way we interact with each other. When we have conflicting ideas that we have both decided are parts of our identity, it’s hard to have any sort of civil discourse because each side feels like it’s under attack, and thus identity politics have become a pit of misery and vitriol on all sides.

We’d like to try and evoke some new heuristics, ones that get at the heart of these sorts of disputes as well as possibly just being good mental health hacks.

  • Labels label me not. I am not the Labels people put on me.
  • I am the labels I put on myself. As long as I assert myself as the holder, I am the proprietor of the label.
  • [In Response to “Is X a Y”] Define terms please.
  • Reject nonconsensual labeling

But Hive, don’t these let anyone claim to be anything though? Couldn’t someone claim to be Napolean and demand to be treated like French royalty or they’ll be miserable and suicidal?

Well, they could claim to be Napolean, but using the labels you apply to yourself as a way to force behaviors out of others is emotional blackmail and a sort of shitty thing to do. It’s a sort of verbal violence committed both against others and against the self because it at once puts expectations on other people that they might not be comfortable meeting, and it also defines your own ability to be happy as dependent on this arbitrary environmental factor that can’t be fully controlled. It’s great to own your labels, you should own your labels, but demanding that others respect your labels and treat them as true facts about reality is oppressive. It’s just as oppressive as having other people put their own labels on you without your consent. All labels should be consensual.

We’d really like if more people could come to see things this way. It’d reduce drama a lot, and then maybe we could try and decide what to do with all of this cardboard we have lying around.

Announcing Entropycon 12017

[Epistemic Status: Self-Fulfilling if humanity survives]
[Content Warning: Death ]

I.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that in a natural thermodynamic process, the sum of the entropies of the interacting thermodynamic systems increases. Since we’re pretty sure the universe is a closed system, this is generally accepted to mean that there will be an ‘end of time’ when all the energy is smoothed to a degree that no work can be performed. The stars will die. The black holes will evaporate. Eventually, even the protons of the dead rocks left behind might begin to decay. Everything dies, the lights go out. The universe goes cold. And then, nothing happens for the rest of eternity.

Well, that’s a bit of a downer. It’s not really the sort of thing that lets you shut up and do the impossible. You’re not going to help change the world if you think it’s all for naught. You’re not going to help ensure the continuity of the human race, if you think, in the end, that we’re doomed to be starved out at the end of time no matter what we do and no matter how far we go.

And it sure seems like a hard limit, like something completely impossible to overcome. The mere idea of beating entropy seems like some sort of manic fantasy that stands in defiance of all known reason. What would that even mean? What would that imply for our understanding of the universe? Is it even a linguistically meaningful sentence?

Most people just accept that you can’t possibly beat entropy.

But we’re not most people.

II.

The Entropy problem is something that a lot of our friends have seemed to struggle with. Once you get a firm grasp of materialistic physics, it’s a sort of obvious conclusion. Everything ends, everything runs down. There’s no meaning in any of it, and any meaning we create will be eroded away by the endless procession of time. Humanity isn’t special, we don’t have a privileged place in the universe, there’s no one coming to save us.

But that’s no reason to just give up. If everyone gave up, we would never have invented heavier than air flight, we would never have cured smallpox, we would never have breached the atmosphere of the Earth, or put a man on the surface of the moon.

We’re here, as a living testament to the fact that humanity hasn’t given up yet. We looked out into nature, saw that it wasn’t exactly to our liking, and set out to fix everything in the universe. We invented language, agriculture, cities, writing, laws, crutches, medicine, ocean-going ships, factories, airplanes, rockets, and cell phones. We imagined the world, populated by the things we wanted to see exist, and then gradually pulled reality in that direction. We killed smallpox. We’re making decent headway on killing malaria. We’ve been doing impossible things since we climbed down from the trees, started talking to each other, and wondered if we could make some of that weird fire stuff.

Therefore, we’re going to make the bold, unfalsifiable, relatively irrational claim, that entropy is solveable. Maybe not today, maybe not this century, maybe even not in the next millennia, but we literally have all the time in the universe.

That’s why we’re announcing Entropycon, a scientific conference dedicated to solving entropy. The first conference will be located in orbit of Proxima Centauri b, and will run for one full year by the original Earth calendar (we probably won’t be using that Calendar by that point). The conference will start on January 1st, 12017, and will be held every subsequent 10,000 years until we have a solution to Entropy. It’s gonna be the biggest party this side of the galaxy, be there or be square.

III.

Okay that seems vaguely silly, surely we have more important things to deal with before we focus on entropy?

Oh yes. There’s quite a list of things we need to solve first, or we might not be around in the year 12017.

Let’s go through a few of them:

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  • We Need to Kill Death if any of us personally alive today plan on attending this.
  • We Need to build ships capable of crossing the vast gulf of interstellar space

And that’s all just to attend the convention. Actually solving entropy might prove to be way harder than that. Good thing we have literally all the time in the universe.

IV.

What’s the point of all this?

It’s an attempt to answer the question “What’s the point of anything?” that sends a lot of young atheists and transhumanists spiralling into nihilistic despair. We’re such tiny creatures, and the universe is so vast.

The point is to win. It’s to overcome every impossible obstacle our species faces, down to what might be the last, hardest challenge.

The purpose of Entropycon, in addition to the obvious goal of killing entropy like we killed smallpox, is to make people think realistically about the challenges we’re facing as a species, and what we can do to overcome them.

“I’m worried about entropy, it doesn’t seem like there are any good solutions and it makes everything else feel sort of meaningless.”
“Oh, don’t worry, there’s a big conference coming up to tackle the Entropy Problem head on, it’s in 12017 in orbit of Proxima Centauri b.”

After they overcome the initial weirdness enough to parse what you just said, they’ll probably ask you to elaborate on how the fuck you’re planning on attending a conference in 10,000 years in orbit of a planet around an alien sun. They’ll probably rightly point out, that people don’t typically live to be 10,000 years old, at which point you can say:

“Yeah, we’re working on that too, you should help us solve all these short-term problems that will stop us from having the conference, and then we can deal with Entropy once we’re sure humanity isn’t about to be wiped out by an asteroid impact.”

And maybe we won’t be able to end death in our lifetimes, maybe we won’t personally be able to attend Entropycon. Hopefully, we will, and we’re not planning on dying anytime soon. But even if we personally don’t make it there, we should all precommit to trying to make it happen if we’re around for that long. Throwing your plans out that far afield makes all the short term problems that would stop that plan really apparent.

We hope to see all of you there.

Yes, this is a hill worth dying on

[Epistemic Status: Postrational metaethics.]
[Content warning: Politics, Nazis, Social Justice, genocides, none of these ideas are original, but they are important.]

I.

Nazis kill people, killing people is bad, therefore Nazis are bad.

It’s a simple yet powerful sort of folk logic that holds up well under scrutiny. Nazis are clearly bad. It doesn’t take a philosopher to derive that badness, it’s obvious. They killed millions of people in concentration camps, they started a globe-spanning war that killed millions more, they’re so obviously awful that they’ve become a cultural caricature of stereotypical badness unto themselves.

indiana-jones-punching-a-nazi

The results of letting Nazis have their way were: war, murder, genocide, images of jackbooted soldiers marching amidst rows of tanks. Violence on a scale the world has not seen since was fought out all across the green hills and forests of Europe for everyone to see.

And there are no words.

There are no words. 

Humanity as a whole has rejected Nazism on its merits, we saw first hand what their ideology meant, and we said fuck that. We said fuck that so hard that they became one of the generic images of villainy within our pop culture.

And that’s the problem because it’s meant we’ve stopped seeing them as people. 

But they are people, and remembering that they’re people is important. It’s just as important as remembering the horrible things they did. We don’t have words to express how bad the Nazis were while still humanizing them. But if we reject their humanity, if we don’t see them as people, then we lose sight of something important.

The Nazis ate dinner every night, worried about the future, cared about their children, and through all of the murder and mayhem they committed, most of them thought they were doing the right thing. 

They weren’t that different than us, and we can’t pretend we’re incapable of their sort of evil. Their sort of evil was a distinctly human sort, driven by a powerful and overriding desire to do what was best, what needed to be done at all costs. They were making a better world, and sometimes you had to get rid of the bad people in order to facilitate that better world. Some people just couldn’t be saved, they were intrinsically awful and had to be purged for the good of humanity. That was the sort of evil that lead to the Nazis systematically killing 1.5 million children

You can strip away at all the specifics of the Nazi ideology and get at the root of the evil:
The Nazis believed that doing bad things for good reasons was good.

If we want to avoid the possibility of becoming Nazis ourselves, we have to completely reject that notion. Maybe our ideals are important, maybe they’re cherished, maybe they’re even worth dying for on a hill. But that doesn’t make them worth killing for. 

If we want to avoid the possibility of committing evils of a similar horror and scope to the Nazis, then we have to believe that doing bad things for good reasons are still bad. 

II.

Ozymandias proposes a thought experiment at Thing of Things, called the enemy control raygun.

imagine that a mad scientist has invented a device called the Enemy Control Ray. The Enemy Control Ray is a mind-control device: whatever rule you say into it, your enemy must follow.

However, because of limitations of the technology, any rule you put in is translated into your enemy’s belief system.

So, let’s say you’re a trans rights activist, and you’re targeting transphobes. If you think trans women are women, you can’t say “call trans women by their correct pronouns”, because you believe that trans women are women and transphobes don’t, so it will be translated into “misgender trans women.” If you are a disability rights advocate targeting Peter Singer, you can’t say “don’t advocate for the infanticide of disabled babies”, because it will translate as “don’t advocate for the death of beings that have a right to life”, because you think babies have a right to life and Singer doesn’t. And, for that matter, you can’t say “no eugenics” to Mr. Singer, because it will translate as “bring into existence people whom I think deserve to exist.”

Ozy then goes on to suggest a few commands you could put into the enemy control raygun that would actually generate some good outcomes:

  • Do not do violence to anyone unless they did violence to someone else first or they’re consenting.
  • Do not fire people from jobs for reasons unrelated to their ability to perform the job.
  • If your children are minors, you must support them, even if they make choices you disapprove of.
  • Do not bother people who are really weird but not hurting anyone, and I mean direct hurt not indirect harm to the social fabric; you can argue with them politely or ignore them but don’t insult them or harass them.
  • Try to listen to people about their own experiences and don’t assume that everyone works the same way you do.

These are niceness heuristics and they’re the best defense we have against the sort of human evils that lead to Nazism.

Here’s a few of our own:

  • Don’t apply negative attributes to individuals or groups. People can take harmful actions, they don’t have harmful traits.
  • Almost No one is evil, almost everything is broken.
  • Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
  • Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard, do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place
  • Do not put things or ideas above people.

You might notice that most of the things on these lists are advice for what not to do. That’s important, and representative of the notion that your own ideas might be wrong.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus says:
καὶ καθὼς θέλετε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς ὁμοίως.

Which is widely interpreted to mean:
“Do to others what you want them to do to you.”

But there’s an issue with this, that being the typical mind fallacy. We’re operating from within our own minds, based on our own preferences. And there might be places where our preferences hurt other people. It’s generally a pretty good rule, “I want to not die, therefore I should expect other people want to not die,” isn’t exactly flawed, it just ignores the possibility of people having different preferences to you. The partial inversion from a command to action to a command to inaction is harder to game by a person working from a different set of preferences.

III.

Niceness heuristics are incredibly powerful, and fortunately for us as humans, we mostly come pre-packaged with them. Our 200,000 years spent living in tribes in the ancestral environments have given us a tremendous stockpile of evolutionarily adaptive prosocial traits. Those traits are clearly not quite good enough and fail spectacularly at the scales that humans exist at in modern times, but they’re a good starting point.

Niceness acts like a schelling fence for our ethics, and it might be our only ethical schelling point. Given all that, it rather deeply disturbs us when we see things like this:

l560Sus

Sarcastic response: We hate people who hate cis people and can’t wait for the people who hate cis people revolution where we kill all of them.

See the problem with abandoning niceness? Heuristics like “kill bad people who do bad things” is really easy to have turned on you if someone is operating from a different moral base.

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Freedom of speech is a critical niceness heuristic. “Don’t tell people what they can and can’t say” is a lot better than “Don’t say things I don’t like” since you might not always be the one making the decision.

But what if our enemies reject the niceness heuristic themselves, what if they hate us and want to kill us all? Do we still have to be nice to them?

Yes. 

For one, whenever anyone makes the claim “our enemies have rejected the niceness heuristic” it should be viewed with extreme skepticism. It’s super useful to your own side to claim the other side is being mean and bad and unfair, and it’s often difficult to pick out the signal from the noise.

But if even if you can prove your enemies have rejected niceness heuristics, that should never be justification to reject them ourselves. That’s literally what the Nazis did. They saw the jews as bad, they thought the jews were hurting them and manipulating them and had abandoned their own niceness heuristics, which they then used as justification to gleefully leap past the moral event horizon themselves.

Whether or not your enemies are respecting the niceness heuristic has absolutely no bearing on whether to use it yourself. Once you abandon that commitment to niceness and decency, there are no asymmetric weapons left, there’s no schelling point to coordinate around. It becomes a zero sum game and you settle into a shitty nash equilibrium where it becomes a race to see who can escalate the most.

They kill us. So we kill them. So they kill more of us. So we kill more of them. So they kill more of us. So we kill more of them. There’s no place where it ends until one side has completely obliterated the other.

IV.

So what do we do then? Do we just take it? Let them kill us?

No, of course not. We’re not so pacifistic that we think violence is never justified. Sometimes you need to raise an army and stop Hitler from conquering the world, fine. Trolley problems exist in the real world, and there aren’t always easy answers.

But when you stop seeing your enemies as people and start seeing them as generic video game baddies to be riddled with bullets, “raise an army and stop Hitler from conquering the world” goes from the last resort to the first option.

Everyone knows the story of how during WWI, there was a cease-fire on Christmas in 1914 on the Western front, and the soldiers on both sides ended up singing and celebrating together. But less well known, is that that was actually part of a much larger phenomenon. All during the war, peace kept breaking out on the front.

There’s a meme going around in leftist circles that trying to debate with Nazis and talk them out of their Nazism is a waste of time and effort, the best example of it is this Wolfenstein mod that asks you moral questions before letting you shoot the pixel nazi villians in the game who have been programmed with no other commands then “shoot at the player”

It’s a powerful statement, and it’s also totally wrong. Real Nazis in real life are real people, they aren’t cartoon villains, they aren’t monsters, they’re people. People can be reasoned with, people can be talked to, and people can change their minds. 

We’re not saying it’s going to be easy. People don’t change their minds in a day, it takes weeks of debate and discussion to shift people’s views on things. Were your views easily shifted to the place they are now? Or did it take years of discussion and debate with people to come to the positions you now hold?

If someone has been racist for the last twenty years, they’re not going to suddenly wake up after a five-minute conversation, realize they’re being awful, and stop. It takes years to tear those ideas out of the cultural narrative. But they’ll never change if you don’t talk to them. If you just write them off as inherently awful then there’s no possibility of anything ever changing. Someone has to take the first step and extend an olive branch. Maybe they’ll get their hand shot off for the trouble, or maybe, it’ll turn out that the other side aren’t actually monsters, and that they also want to extend their own olive branch, but have been too afraid of your side to do it.

It seems like a weird hill to die on, especially given that it’s one currently being assaulted from all sides, but unless you have a better schelling point then niceness to coordinate around, it’s what we have to work with.

So yes, we might not agree with you, but we will defend unto death your right to exist with that opinion. Niceness is important, it’s one of the most important things about us as humans. So yes, this is a hill worth dying on.