Re: DSM: Re: Subtle Coercion?

Alan Klein (
Sun, 7 Jan 2001 20:23:59 -0500

----- Original Message -----
From: Scott Gray <>
> The situation: one person says that s/he doesn't like to read.
> The response that one person made: "Oh, well try reading this, it is
> easy to read. I'll loan it to you."
> The response that is appropriate to a non-coercive environment: Talk
> about something that _is_ relevent to the person's expressed interests at
> the time, rather than cajoling her/him to read or otherwise implying that
> reading is so intrinisically good that s/he _should_ try to read.
> The problem is, the response "try reading this" implies that there is
> a problem with choosing _not_ to read. After all, if someone said "I
> don't like pets" not many people would automatically respond "Oh, well try
> keeping a mouse, they are easy pets. I'll give you one."
> There _are_ some behaviors that are a problem (specifically, actions
> which hurt others), but choosing to spend one's time playing bingo or
> riding horses rather than reading is _not_ one of them. I do not operate
> on the assumption that reading is better for _other_ people than riding
> horses, painting, playing bingo, repairing washing machines, knitting,
> cartography, or napping (even though I have my own favorite and less
> favorite activities for _myself_ in that list).
> Does this help?

Hi Scott!

It helps me see what you find objectionable, so thanks.

I don't share your conclusion, however. I agree 100% that reading is not any
better than any other acceptable activity. In your pet example, however, I
DO think that many people would appropriately respond with a suggestion of
an easy pet to take care of. The other person would be fully able to accept
or reject the suggestion.

This said, I do see the relationship between the student and the staff
member as being an important, perhaps THE important, variable in this
interaction. If this were a new student/staff relationship, then I would
like to see the staff member tread more cautiously. In a more established
one, I like to see staff and students be more free in their interactions.


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