I just attempted to join the Houston Objectivism Society. The director is Brian Phillips and he is in the process of vetting me. It just occurred to me that there may be others here who know a lot about the Houston Objectivism Society. Duh!
What am I getting myself into (assuming I make it through the vetting process)?
Ed, you will be required to stand on one leg and recite John Galt's speech from memory.
You will then go into a strange room. A man will offer you two pills, a red one and a blue one. If you take the blue pill, you will be escorted to the White House and be given the honorable position of presidential adviser. If you take the red pill you will receive a less honorable position as truth-finder, but you may also save 15% or more on your car insurance. Choose wisely.
That reminds me that, if asked, I'll have to remember to include Tara Smith's "Viable Values" in the list of Objectivist-friendly books which I've read. That ought to "get me in good" with the regulars.
Vetting? That reminds me of Harry Binswanger's loyalty oath requirement. Ed, you'll never make it. If they find out you're on RoR, you're toast!
I sort of understand why they're doing this. They don't want any trolls or people who would try to sabotage their activities. But, if they're like Binswanger, they'd be so strict, you'd be walking on eggshells, for fear of offending them and getting yourself kicked out. I've been banned from one (ARI supported Objectivist Club for simply asking critical questions, and Diana Hsieh kicked me off of Noodlefood for simply disagreeing with a point that others had raised.
I don't think these folks are helping their cause with this kind of policy. I understand that there have to be guidelines, but they tend to be far too dogmatic and repressive. You have to allow some room for civil disagreement. Otherwise, people are afraid to voice their true feelings without first seeing if the leadership finds them acceptable. Who wants to belong to a club like that?
Thanks for the feedback. I actually let Brian know about RoR after he said it was in his interest to vett me [Hi Brian! (if you are reading this)].
I thought to myself: "Hmm, I have over 10,000 posts at RoR. If, by chance, anyone ever wanted to vett me for something, then that's probably enough information right there at RoR!" Now, Cardinal de Richelieu thought differently when he said:
If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.
But when Brian mentioned a vetting process, it sounded innocent -- because meetings are often held inside of members homes (rather than in a public place). I could understand why it is that someone would want to know a fair amount about a stranger, before letting him in their home. However, if Brian's motive is actually more sinister -- like the examples of Binswanger and Hsieh -- then I am more than likely "toast."
By the way, sorry to hear about the negative experiences that you -- as an honest man -- have had to deal with with some of these forums and clubs. But, if you think about it, it's their loss.
The link in Post 0 no longer works and I am sure that is what Brandon meant.
I suspect the "vetting" process will fall along Binswanger lines rather than "standard criminal background check" lines.
The easiest way to overcome these difficulties is to use public venues like coffee shops. This is what our local group does. Trolls tend not to bother themselves with making appearances that require commuting and the public venue radically reduces stalking risks. A good group organizer grounded in Objectivism who understands the opposition and remains committed to the principles takes care of the rest.
Ed, if you need help creating your own local group, let me know.
It was exactly as you had suspected in post 9: guilt-by-association. He didn't even make the effort to meet the de Richelieu minimum (see post 11 above) -- the standard of finding "six lines" written by my hand -- in order to metaphorically "hang" me. I was rejected not because of anything I said or did, but because of who I have consorted with in the past. The only name that came up was Barbara Branden's, but the only thing I remember ever doing with her was argue (about the morality of a global war on terror)! I never sent her flowers or a thank-you note. I never had tea with her. I never called her or sent her a private email. But apparently, since I got close enough to argue with her (online, mind you!), I'm toxic. Think about that for a moment. All I did was disagree with a woman -- but I still interacted with her, so now I'm tainted or stained. Think about that mindset or outlook. Put yourself in his shoes. [Brrr] It gives me the shivers.
Like I said, Bill, it was just as you had suspected.
Ed, if this group rejected you for ANY contact with Barbara Branden - one of the original contributors to Objectivism and a person who has never changed any of her beliefs regarding those principles, then they are a group I'd pay NOT to join.