Re: DSM: Re: Subtle Coercion?

Scott Gray (
Sun, 7 Jan 2001 20:50:54 -0500 (EST)

Hi Alan,

  There I agree with you. There is one problem with this line of
conversation -- it is _so_ hypothetical that each person reads into the
scenario a "back story" which is appropriate to thier own inclinations.
  Whether the response is reasonable in a non-coercive environment depends
on lots of factors; as the relationship between the individuals in
question, the tone and subject of the broader conversation in which the
suggestion was made, and the contents of prior discussions between the two
  I hope that I have adequately explained why in many instances I _would_
object to that dialogue between a staff and a student. However, I will
accept that there are contexts in which that dialogue (about mice or
books) would be wholly reasonable in a non-coercive environment.

On Sun, 7 Jan 2001, Alan Klein wrote:

> ----- 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.
> ~Alan
--Scott David Gray
reply to:
It is your concern when your neighbor's wall is on fire.

-- Quintus Horatius Flaccus

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