What’s the Difference Between Richard Cohen and John Derbyshire?

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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137 Responses

  1. Avatar North
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    says:

    Astonishing, I had to follow the link and read it on the post before I believed it was true. What a fishing idiot!Report

  2. Avatar Russell Saunders
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    says:

    My only addition to this excellent post, every word of which has my enthusiastic agreement, is to answer Cohen’s rhetorical question:

    Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?

    No.Report

  3. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    I agree Cohen is a monumental dufus. If there is a difference in the “conventional views” statement it is that he isn’t saying it is correct or he believes it, just that people with what he thinks are “conventional views” believe that. I’d wager he is one of those CV people though.

    As an aside the WaPo as somehow liberal is pretty thin. They have been generally hawkish/neo-con on foreign policy for many years and act mostly as the court stenographers for DC. They just really aren’t all that liberal. That being said, they should dump Cohen. His statement on seeing 12 Years and his past thoughts on slavery are sporking mind boggling.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
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      says:

      Leaving aside the nobody-ever-agrees question of newspage bias, I think the evidence that WaPo’s editorial page and content – which is where Cohen writes – tilts to the left is not so thin.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        See my comment below. I guess this is all in the eye of the beholder.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Since editorials and opinion pieces are commentary, it’s not as ambiguous as news stories. “Not as liberal as I am” doesn’t translate into “not liberal.”

        How many conservative opinion-writers do they have compared to liberal ones? How often does the board endorse Republican presidential candidates? How many of their columnists openly supported Republican presidential candidates (versus Democratic ones).

        I’m disinclined to haggle between “They’re center-left” versus “they’re firebreathing liberals” but they’re somewhere to the left, even if liberals read it and think they are not liberal enough (and even if they are, as Greg points out, hawks).

        I do think “notoriously liberal” may be an overstatement (and, as you point out below, they aren’t The Nation or liberal in the same way NRO is conservative)… but that doesn’t negate their leanings.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        How many conservative opinion-writers do they have compared to liberal ones?

        Krauthammer, George Will, Jennifer Rubin? I don’t know the count, but highly partisan conservatives are well-represented there. (Of course, they might publish Rubin just to make conservatives look stupid.)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Mike,
        a fairly nonpartisan way to tell whether a paper is liberal or conservative is to read the opinion articles,a nd see which side is better argued. The paper is on the opposite side.Report

      • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        How often does the board endorse Republican presidential candidates?

        This is just one piece of info and hardly determinative, but, fwiw:

        The Post editorial board has published endorsements of presidential candidates since 1976, when they endorsed Gov. Carter. Since then, they have endorsed the Democratic candidate in every presidential election, except in 1988 (Bush vs. Dukakis), when they made no endorsement.

        Wikipedia tells me that the Post has endorsed some Republicans in down-ticket races: they have generally endorsed incumbent Republican members of the House of Representatives, and at one time the Post endorsed Republican Bob Ehrlich when he ran for governor of Maryland.Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        WaPo is more or less a corporatist technocrati paper with an EXTREME neocon tilt on the op-ed page.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Well, let’s see:

        1) Did they support the Iraq War?
        2) Did they support it like cultists of Mars who were literally erect with bloodlust?
        3) Are the columnists who supported the war, and sold us a bill of lies still on the job, despite being 100% wrong?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to greginak
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      says:

      ” If there is a difference in the “conventional views” statement it is that he isn’t saying it is correct or he believes it, just that people with what he thinks are “conventional views” believe that. ”

      I’m not sure I agree. There are a lot of ways to communicate that opinion that don’t use the phase “must repress a gag reflex.”Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        I do think he is one of those CV type people based on the other things he has written. He was trying to write his feelings in a less direct manner by not ascribing the view directly to himself. Taking his statement as written though, he isn’t saying he feels that way. I agree with your post Tod, but if there is a difference, which i don’t think is all that important, there it is.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Greg – what is a CV type? I have not come across this phrase before.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Conventional Views….i was just being lazy and abbreviating his phrase.Report

      • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        I think Greg has a point here (and I was thinking the same thing). However, with his views on slavery and the ok-ness of shooting black boys in hoodies, he’s lost all benefit of the doubt.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        I would take it a step further, and say that it’s fairly likely the people within his inner circle also endorse some variant of those same ‘CV’ views.

        The slavery thing is almost (but not quite) excusable. It was unprofitable to work a man to death (suppression of gag reflex in writing that) prior to the invention of the cotton gin. After that, the profit motive kicked in, and it became a very nasty business indeed.
        That wasn’t so much an issue with the Spanish and their gold mining exploits. Always profitable to kill a man under such circumstances.

        The “black males are dangerous” thing I attribute more to age. Older folk have some odd beliefs. I know for a fact, because I’m getting older, and now . . . well, ok, I’ve always had a number of ‘odd’ beliefs; so there goes a decent theory down the drain.
        At any rate, better an aging writer with such beliefs than a cop arresting junior high girls. That’s what I’m thinking. Doesn’t make it any better on a personal level though. Just less dangerous. (I don’t really buy into that “Pen is mightier than the sword” thing– I’ve been stabbed with a pencil before, and I’ve seen a man shot. Tremendous difference there.)

        I wonder what the guy thinks of Brown v. Board of Education.
        Got an answer there. That didn’t take long . . .Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Will,
        you’d think differently if you knew Father Coughlin.
        It’s a particular type of pen that is more dangerous than a sword.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        The “black males are dangerous” thing I attribute more to age. Older folk have some odd beliefs.

        Urban slums are crime-ridden. Where I grew up, slum homicide rates exceed those of the remainder of the region by a factor of 19.

        Nothing ‘odd’ about what older folks ‘believe’. They are just less willing to strike attitudes.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Art knows nothing.
        Spend some time in Fayettenam before you say another word, Art.
        Jagoff.

        Urban slums are far safer around here than rural areas.
        (It’s the meth)Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Where’s ‘around here’? Are you including or excluding the crimes you have perpetrated?Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Is it really ok for a commenter to accuse another of crimes here?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Honestly, we take a bit more of a “hands off” approach when it comes to Kim, both her and people talking to her. Half the time we don’t know precisely what is actually being talked about. In this case, I don’t have a clue as to what alleged crimes Art is referring to.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        OK, that made me laugh out loud, Glyph. I almost spit out my pinko commie flavored sparkling water.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        You know, I think that Chet Faker guy managed to out-beard Alabama.

        ALABAMA.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        He’s Australian. The combination of Fosters and drinking Koala blood yields spectacular beards.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        That one was easy, though. Kim meant “near Pittsburgh” and Art was just being obnoxious,Report

  4. Avatar NewDealer
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    says:

    Richard Cohen has been called out so many times for his racist views that you have to wonder if he has a lot of dirt on the editors and publishers at the Washington Post. Can he sully the name of the Graham Family and Ben Brantley forever?

    Or is it that the editors know that he is great click bait?

    There is seemingly not a bridge that the man can pass and not get fired.

    Now what I think is that the NRO had to get rid of Derbyshire as a PR move because NRO is an explicitly partisan publication and they are seen as the standard-bearer for the Conservative movement. They need to prove that some views are not acceptable in modern conservatism like racism. They still are ostensibly part of “The Party of Lincoln”

    Has the Washington Post ever presented itself as a partisan and liberal paper? Not explicitly to my knowledge. It is the right-wing media that calls the Washington Post and New York Times liberal/left-wing because they are the mainstream media and hold themselves out as such. They are the elite publications in the US for news gathering. I can point to plenty examples of the left getting angry at stuff published in the Washington Post and New York Times usually these are articles that sum up the difficulties of being upper-middle class city dwellers or in one lovely phrase “very low affluent.” Also the NY Times gets in trouble with dubious trend pieces.

    In short, The Washington Post is not the Nation. They don’t present themselves consciously as a liberal voice as far as I know. So they can publish a whole range of opinions on their op-ed page and be safe.Report

  5. Avatar Dan Miller
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    says:

    I agree that Cohen should be fired, but I disagree with the characterization of WaPo as “liberal”. Ultimately, the question of “who’s a liberal” should be determined at least in part by liberals themselves, and most of the liberal movement wouldn’t call the WaPo editorial board a part of their coalition. Most conservatives, OTOH, would recognize National Review as one of their own, even if they don’t always agree with them. Hell, even TNR has a better claim to being on the left then the newspaper that publishes Krauthammer, George Will, Michael Gerson, Jennifer Rubin, Robert “Entitlement Cuts” Samuelson…the list goes on and on. The Post editorial page isn’t an organ of the liberal movement the way that NR is for conservatives. If the American Prospect or The Nation hired Richard Cohen you’d have a better case–but then, they never would, because they’re liberals.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Having a black wife is bad enough, but two biracial children puts them completely beyond the pale.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    What’s the Difference Between Richard Cohen and John Derbyshire?

    Derbyshire is an extremely intelligent man, able to write well about many subjects, who also has some very unfortunate opinions that he is apparently unable to keep to himself. He’s not an orthodox conservative, and as a skilled writer with an idiosyncratic point of view, he was a real asset to NR before he made himself toxic. Cohen, on the other hand, is a fishing moron and a complete waste of space.Report

  8. Avatar Mo
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    says:

    What’s interesting is VDH made essentially the same point as Derb and was defended by Lowry when he was called out for it.

    [MikeS: The link was broken: I inserted what I think was intended.]Report

  9. NobAkimoto NobAkimoto
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    says:

    Given that the WaPo seems perfectly fine with Jennifer Rubin’s lunatic ravings, I don’t know why they’d fire Richard Cohen.

    On the whole the WaPo has a pretty despicable editorial page, which is one reason I refuse to read or link to them.Report

  10. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    Well, obviously it is because liberals have far greater respect for the 1st Amendment than do conservatives.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        Congress shall [only] make no law respecting an establishment of to disfavor religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble [or board an aircraft], and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        FTFY.

        I have to wonder why “conscientious objecter” status was given to so many during the “action” in Nam, but unavailable to the devout who oppose abortion.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        “I have to wonder why “conscientious objecter” status was given to so many during the “action” in Nam, but unavailable to the devout who oppose abortion.”

        I’m pretty sure that SCOTUS has ruled that you don’t have to be forced to have an abortion — even if you live in a blue state!

        I forget the exact name of the case, but I’m pretty sure it was the one that also found that straight singles don’t have to be forced to have gay weddings.Report

      • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        @tod-kelly Thank heavens for that! Do you have any idea how tedious it would be trying to get straight guys interested in finding the perfect china pattern?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        I have to wonder why “conscientious objecter” status [is] unavailable to the devout who oppose abortion.

        What activity would conscientious abortion opponents be opting out of? (Other than, as Tod notes, abortions.)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        Russ,
        my husband likes vitreous china.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        That’s actually what I was getting at; the big Fluke ordeal, and pharmacists dispensing abortificent medications.
        But really, both topics bring up lots of labor law I really don’t care to go into right now.
        (Personally, I think there’s a win-win situation to be engineered in either case, but ensuring that one side need necessarily lose seems to be too dominant a dynamic to consider otherwise.
        I was just pointing out the absurdity of duress as enforcement of option as a necessary and moral good.)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        I imagine it was pretty difficult to claim conscientious objector status after you’d enlisted. No one’s drafted into pharmacy school.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        I imagine it was pretty difficult to claim conscientious objector status after you’d enlisted.

        A couple of asshats tried that in the Iraq war. Putzes who signed in the Guard or Reserve for the bennies, then were shocked to be called to active duty. I’m very pro-CO, and was vocally anti-Iraq war from the very beginning and have never wavered on that. But if you sign up, that’s part of the game.

        If you sign up to be a pharmacist, the name of the game is dispensing the drugs the doctor and patient agree upon. The pharmacist’s job is to control the dispensing for the purpose of keeping control of controlled substances and to backstop doctors on potentially harmful interactions between various medications. It is not part of their job to make independent decisions on whether its morally ok for a patient and doctor to agree to a a particular drug, and it’s certainly not their job to try to make reproductive decisions for their clients. There are professional standards on that.

        For what it’s worth, I would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense them, but with the condition that they must allow another pharmacist in the same office to do so, or to recommend the patient to the nearest available pharmacy that will dispense them. And then I’d wait for the complaint to Wal Greens, Wal Mart, K Mart, CVS, etc. corporate office and enjoy watching them get fired. And then watch them get dumped on by their professional standards folks.

        As it’s a moral issue, they may have legitimate rights here. But that doesn’t mean they’re not fishing asshats who should be treated with respect.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        That’s sort of what I was thinking: Have another pharmacist available that has no such moral qualms, making the one with such pains of conscience to disclose this to the employer in advance.

        I don’t buy into the “They’re there as a human coke machine” bit; maybe because of the notion of someone with a scipt for valium from five different doctors coming through.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        will,
        a good ehealth record should prevent the vallium issue.
        I agree, it’s fine if there’s someone else at that facility.
        This is essentially penalizing small places that might
        want to hire anti-abortion folks (in that they need to
        hire two pharmacists, and they might not have that much work)
        but i’m okay with that too.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        I remain somewhat sympathetic to the pharmacists for the same reasons that I would be angry as hell if someone said “If your wife didn’t want to perform abortions, she shouldn’t have gotten that training in obstetrics. No one forced her.”

        At the same time, it does seem perfectly reasonable to say that employers should not be required to hire people who are not willing to do their jobs (as employers see it). I am also on board with saying “If you can’t do it, you have to be willing to direct them to someone who is willing to do it.”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        @will-truman & @will-h

        See this argument about lube jobs, especially the part about smaller or homogenous communities:

        https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2011/10/05/the-intersection-of-government-coercion-and-private-discrimination

        And replace “get your oil changed” with “get prescribed medication.”Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        Thanks for that, Tod.
        But I don’t think it’s an exact parallel.
        Where it breaks down is somewhere between bundling of services and referrals.
        Say, if you take your car to the shop, and the guy is charging you labor & parts, but you have a wait, because the parts runner has a set route he follows, you can ask the guy where to pick up the parts and go get it yourself to reduce your wait time (and likely the price), if it’s worth it to you.

        I can’t help but think that a doctor prescribing a medication, and particularly one that might be somewhat controversial, would have something of an idea of where the prescription might be filled in the immediate area.
        Not really bundling of services, but not far from it.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        There is a difference between choosing to provide specific services and choosing not to provide services to specific people (or discriminating on price). This is why I consider the obstetrics/abortion example. My wife could perform abortions (she is capable, has the training, etc.), but isn’t required to. Why should a pharmacist be required to provide services that they find immoral?

        The best reason I’ve heard touches on yours, which is to say that not everywhere has a plethora of pharmacists available. I think this problem is overblown, and largely hypothetical. The law of the land in most places – particularly places with large rural populations – is that pharmacies don’t have to provide birth control if they don’t want to. But we don’t hear a whole lot of stories of people not actually having access to them (we hear stories that they had to go to a different pharmacy). Most pharmacies aren’t willing to forego the money because by not providing birth control access they are not only losing the business of women wanting to buy birth control, but of families where there is a woman on birth control (If Safeway didn’t fill my wife’s birth control prescription, I’d get all of our drugs at a place that would. Not even for moral cause, though that enough might compel me to do it, but because I don’t want to deal with two pharmacies).

        Also, the example of the “single pharmacy within 100 miles” is, at most, extremely rare. Most places with one pharmacy actually have more than one, and most of the places with more than one have at least one corporate pharmacy, which is far less likely to make an objection. My dinky town out west had three pharmacies, plus a fourth a half-hour away, plus a bunch more an hour away. Not ideal, but living in the sticks leads to many such inconveniences.

        Or put more simply, I need to see a problem before I agree with restricting religious and commercial freedom. A problem that doesn’t have another, superior solution (such as beefing up mail-order prescriptions, or just allowing this stuff OTC).

        Now, one thing that Republicans argue that I will not is that religious objection by a pharmacist ought to be accommodated by employers as a matter of law. I disagree with that because I think that Safeway ought to be able to insist that its pharmacists do the job that Safeway hires them to do, and that should include not alienating potential customers that want birth control.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        I don’t buy into the “They’re there as a human coke machine” bit; maybe because of the notion of someone with a scipt for valium from five different doctors coming through.

        Analogy fail. That’s a regulatory issue, not a moral issue.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        Now, one thing that Republicans argue that I will not is that religious objection by a pharmacist ought to be accommodated by employers as a matter of law.

        If they got away with that one, I’d be tempted to go to pharm school, get a job, and then insist that my deity strictly forbids any dispensation of drugs for any reason. I’ll be over here reading a book, thank you very much.Report

      • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        Like Will Truman and J@m3z, I’m provisionally OK with an individual pharmacist declining to fill a prescription, so long as there is another pharmacist or pharmacy that the patient can then go to.

        There have been a handful of cases (like this one in Madison, Wisc.) where an objecting pharmacist not only declined to fill the prescription, but refused to give the prescription back to the patient to be filled elsewhere. That, I think, crosses a line (and then some). But such cases as that are quite rare, I believe.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        “At the same time, it does seem perfectly reasonable to say that employers should not be required to hire people who are not willing to do their jobs (as employers see it).”
        @will-truman

        This can easily be abused.

        Say I own a store that is open 7 days a week. I need people there 7 days a week, but no one works more than 5 days a week. I could make it such that “doing their job” entails being available to work Saturdays, even if a schedule could easily be constructed such that someone would not have to work Saturdays and still fulfill their job, and thus make it such that I don’t have to hire Jews.

        At the same time, requiring employers to bend to any and all religious needs of their employees can also be rife for abuse. Watch out, current employer, the Church of Kazzy demands thrice-hourly breaks!

        So, I’m not sure what the ideal balance is. I suppose you could craft the rule such that you look at what is integral to a job, though you still run into issues with definitions.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        @troublesome-frog

        If they got away with that one, I’d be tempted to go to pharm school, get a job, and then insist that my deity strictly forbids any dispensation of drugs for any reason

        This is why I am becoming less sympathetic than I used to be for the idea for a religious/freedom-of-conscience exemption from dispensing BC, or morning-after pills, or whatever. Where does it end? Can I get my pharmacy job, then convert to Christian Science and dispense prayers-only? Mormons (and I think Muslims maybe?) are supposed to abstain from stimulants like caffeine – can I convert to those religions, then turn down your prescription for your kid’s Adderall?Report

      • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        I’m not sure what the ideal balance is. I suppose you could craft the rule such that you look at what is integral to a job, though you still run into issues with definitions.

        Kazzy, I’m not an employment law expert, but I think the law as it currently stands requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations,” and then Congress has left it to the federal judges to decide what is reasonable in any given context.

        (I think that’s what the law is. Says nothing about what the law should be.)Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        an objecting pharmacist not only declined to fill the prescription, but refused to give the prescription back to the patient to be filled elsewhere.

        I would hope that’s actually against the law, and not particularly because of abortificants, but as a general rule.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        Pub, that case in Wisconsin looks pretty cut-and-dried to me. Holding on to the prescription is more than just religious objection, it’s actively interfering with care (as opposed to declining to assist).

        Kazzy, what Pub said. The question is whether the required accommodation is reasonable. In the case of birth control, I’d argue that it’s generally not reasonable given that birth control accounts for a rather significant portion of prescriptions.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        Wouldn’t that just be “theft”, like if the 7-11 clerk not only refused to hand me the cigarettes I asked for, but also refused to hand back the money I put on the counter for them? I mean, it’s possible the doctor technically “owns” that scrip, but technically, the US Govt. “owns” that tenner too.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        Will,
        I’m absolutely certain that a ton of places are losing a lot of business by not dispensing birth control. I’m also certain that the “not dispensing birth control” isn’t being brought to light for a variety of reasons (mostly that it occurs towards the powerless — which, um, means that I very much disbelieve that the problem is “morality”).

        Of course, we perhaps ought to answer the question of why there are places in this country where people are enduring near-constant sexual abuse and rape.Report

  11. Avatar Art Deco
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    says:

    You have a reading comprehension issue. He is quite clearly imagining the mentality of ‘people of conventional views’, not identifying with it. (He does not get people of conventional views, either, at least those who devote some time to public affairs).Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Art Deco
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      says:

      I think you’re right about this one, even if his choice of words (particularly “conventional”) might have been ill advised. The “I just learned that slavery was bad” column, on the other hand, was just awful.Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to Art Deco
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      says:

      I suppose that was just a matter of time.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to RTod
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        says:

        Eh, I really think that’s what he’s doing. I think he’s wrong, but the whole column is talking about how the Tea Party feels like there’s been a “tectonic shift” in the culture, and compares them to the Dixiecrats, whom he explicitly notes wanted nothing more than to maintain institutional racism. It’s a poorly written article, and it’s clear that he doesn’t understand what racism is, with both the poorly written part and the lack of understanding on display in the shift from this:

        Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party

        to this:

        People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.

        But in general, you don’t begin by comparing people you like to the Dixiecrats, particularly when you’ve just acknowledged what racist jerks the Dixiecrats were.

        I haven’t really read much Cohen beyond these two articles, but together they suggest he’s a bit of an idiot, and a really, really terrible writer, but this is nothing like the Derbyshire column, in which he basically said, “Here are my racist views, which I’m proudly passing on to my children.”Report

      • Avatar RTod in reply to RTod
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        says:

        Yeah, I’m going to call bullshit here.

        Saying people of conventional tastes “must repress a gag reflex” when seeing an interracial couple have kids is in a pretty different ballpark than saying Tea Partiers are racist.

        It’s like when someone says that they don’t have a racist bone in their body, but we really have to understand that reasonable people logically conclude that black people are inherently dangerous — which, of course, Cohen does as well.Report

      • Avatar RTod in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Also, I should say that believing conventionally thinking people repress a gag reflex at mixed race kids is pretty in line with believing conventionally thinking people don’t see what all the fuss about slavery might be. And it’s equally telling.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Yeah, “conventional” was a poor word choice, but his conclusion was that Chris Christie isn’t “conventional” enough for them, and he’s specifically referring to Tea Partiers.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        I suppose if the argument is that he should have made a different argument with totally different words that would not have been so offensively racist, I guess I agree?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Eh, if he’d said, “traditionalists” instead of “conventional,” would you still interpret it the way you do? Because let’s face it, “traditionalists” are freaked out by things like that. “Gag” was also probably the wrong word to use, but it’s pretty apt too, because I’ve seen folks like that basically gag when confronted with a similar couple (I am with a black woman, and I see them have basically that reaction upon seeing us, occasionally).

        The only thing I find off about that, other than the word “conventional,” because I don’t think that means what he thinks it means, is that he doesn’t recognize what he’s describing as blatantly racist. He doesn’t endorse it, though, and he doesn’t even suggest mild agreement, though he clearly thinks he understands it.

        If I were going to indict him for something, it would be for being a privileged, rich, white asshole who probably doesn’t have any real experience with people who aren’t like him, so he doesn’t know what he’s talking about anyway.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        “Yeah, I’m going to call bullshit here.”

        So what was that people keep saying, here, about when someone insists on taking the least charitable interpretation of an ambiguous quote presented out of context?Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris, I suggest you read some actual ‘traditionalist’ literature. Try The Latin Mass, the New Oxford Review, Modern Age, First Things, &c. Miscegenation is not an issue discussed in these fora. The von Mises Institute has had neo-confederate types on the staff and Chronicles have had the same as contributors, but it’s not their organizing principle and its a small part of their inventory (and not concerned with miscegenation either, at least not in a direct and explicit way). Samuel Francis was a white supremicist. He also died in 2005 and was a fairly singular figure in that circle.

        There are contributors to The American Conservative who have visible ethnic animosities, but it’s Jews they object to, not inter-racial marriage. The fragmentary bits of that sort of thing you see in Catholic traditionalist publications also have Jews as their object (and Catholic RadTrads have an affinity for palaeoconservative politics).

        Same deal on the ground. I’ve attended Latin Mass and Eastern-rite parishes for a dozen years. Go there, look at the literature they have on the table, and talk. Inter-racial anything is just not on their list of concerns.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Art,
        I thought the new fad was hating Muslims/arabs?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Art Deco, I’ll give you the same suggestion I gave ND the other day: come to Texas. I’ll introduce you to them. I’m sure within the “traditionalist literature” (and I read some First Things blogs, but none of the other sources you mention) doesn’t spend much time on its views of interracial dating. I’m also sure the “traditionalist literature” only represents a fairly exclusive subset of “traditionalists.”Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        I suppose a professional writer of umpteen yrs experience (not in the Hendrix sense, mind you) will occasionally show a poor choice of words.
        And I suppose, on occasion, the editor of a nationally distributed newspaper will let some shoddy wordsmithing fly (it’s not a mixed metaphor– it’s a newspaper).

        But then again, I think, “He’s a sh!tty writer working for a sh!tty paper,” was more or less my take-away.
        Insofar as being overtly racist is sh!tty, of course.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        There are contributors to The American Conservative who have visible ethnic animosities, but it’s Jews they object to,

        Not that there’s anything wrong with that.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        People can hold all sorts of idle opinions.

        The producers of such literature are an exclusive subset. The consumers are drawn from the same lot who follow public affairs generally. There is also a correlation between the consumption of such literature and activity.

        You’re positing a distinction between core and periphery that certainly can exist (people who run religious denominations have different objects than their clientele). It just does not apply in this case.

        You see people demonstrating against abortion and public expenditure (not miscegenation) because they are vexed by abortion and public expenditure. Leftoids look at that and see it as code for ‘screw-the-blacks’, not because it is code, but because that’s how leftoids roll.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Kill all humanoidsReport

      • Avatar Chris in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Leftoids

        Eh, every time I start to take you seriously, you remind me that there’s a reason why I generally don’t.

        Anyway, the truly dedicated anti-abortion protestors I see aren’t going to Tea Party rallies. And the people I know who are going to Tea Party rallies don’t read First Things. What’s more, the ones I know well enough would almost certainly be upset if their daughter(s) dated a black man. Not all of them would gag at the sight of an interracial couple, but some certainly would. And traditionalists is a pretty good word for them: they liked the world as it was prior to, say, December 1, 1955, if not earlier, even though many of them were either not alive then or to young to really remember that world. They are Evangelicals, with a few conservative Catholics thrown in for good measure, they would favor reinstating sodomy laws, they want “God” in the Pledge, prayer in schools, and Christ in Christmas, and not a few of them are YECs, and so on. They’re not educated, for the most, beyond high school or technical school, they don’t read the stuff you read, and they think of themselves as informed, though you and I might disagree.

        You’re citing the intellectual “elite” of a group as representative of a group (and really, I don’t think the people to whom you’re referring are even in the same group that Cohen and I are referring to), and that’s just going to lead you to conclusions that have nothing to do with reality.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris,
        heh. at least I ask for y’all to not take me seriously.
        (do you have any idea how inconvenient it would be if you believed me?
        with some of the shit I sometimes say?)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Kim, I just wonder if you believe any of the stuff you say (also, stop saying people should be shot!). I mean, do you really believe you live in the “whitest city in America,” by any measure, even in a realm that could warrant hyperbole? If you do, what the hell? If not, why the hell do you say stuff like that?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris,
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittsburgh_metropolitan_area
        Nearly 90% white. Find me one that’s whiter.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        You see people demonstrating against abortion and public expenditure (not miscegenation) because they are vexed by abortion and public expenditure. Leftoids look at that and see it as code for ‘screw-the-blacks’, not because it is code, but because that’s how leftoids roll.

        And I suppose it is only a coincidence that the public expenditures that these people are demonstrating against just happen to be the ones that they view as benefiting the poor and minorities and not the one they see as benefiting real Americans (ie defense spending, Medicare and Social Security, the War on Drugs, building a wall at the Mexican border, farm supports, etc.).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris,
        SLC’s MSA clocks in at 86% white. I think it’s fair to say that pittsburgh is the whitest city in the US. We’re whiter than Oklahoma City’s MSA.
        http://geography.about.com/library/weekly/aa122099c.htm
        (I’m not saying this is something to be proud of, but, it is in the data).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Your MSA is not your city, but it looks like you’re right, Pittsburg has the whitest major MSA in the country.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        You’re citing the intellectual “elite” of a group as representative of a group (and really, I don’t think the people to whom you’re referring are even in the same group that Cohen and I are referring to), and that’s just going to lead you to conclusions that have nothing to do with reality.

        You do not have to be elite to read Crisis or Our Sunday Visitor. Neither is any more demanding than the newspaper editorial page. You just have to be the sort of person who was at one time in the market for magazine literature.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        You certainly don’t have to be “elite” to read it.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        And I suppose it is only a coincidence that the public expenditures that these people are demonstrating against just happen to be the ones that they view as benefiting the poor and minorities and not the one they see as benefiting real Americans (ie defense spending, Medicare and Social Security, the War on Drugs, building a wall at the Mexican border, farm supports, etc.).

        You really do not get that level of specificity out of committed TEA partisans. I’ve made the attempt. If it pleases you to imagine it that way, go ahead.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to RTod
        Ignored
        says:

        Eh, every time I start to take you seriously, you remind me that there’s a reason why I generally don’t.

        You’re not making any sense with that remark, but never mind.

        Chris, stop and think about what those employed in the higher education apparat obsess over, and what those in the teacher training faculties obsess over, and what those in personnel departments obsess over. That’s them. That’s not us.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Art Deco
      Ignored
      says:

      da fuk? No, but seriously. You go to the most racist places in this country,
      and they don’t think this shit.
      No, seriously, they don’t.

      Shit like that MIGHT have been true fifty years ago.

      You WILL have people honestly telling you (yes, even the liberals) that they’d
      be concerned with their kid marrying an African American. Stuff Happens, they’d say,
      and it’s not all pleasant. Not everyone’s gonna take it kindly.

      not EVEN in the most backward states do you have this rotten pile of steaming bullshit.Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        You’ve never lived in Oklahoma then?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        Squee,
        Nope. Never going to go either, I know better.

        But are you truly trying to tell me that OK has more inbred folks than West Virginia?

        (Note: I get to make fun of inbred folks. I’m Jewish).Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        Specifically Atoka, Oklahoma, where I can assure you this sort of sentiment is very much alive. Much as it is in a large part of the country outside of cities. The more rural you get, the more regressive the culture and the more the old racist attitudes still hold firm.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        Squee,
        Really? That’s upsetting.

        PA gets to be kinda rural in parts (pennsyltucky they call it), and we have our share of satanists and 88ers — but it’s not most people.
        Some black people move into a town, people get all atwitter about “what if they’re not good people?” but they get over it pretty quick, when it turns out that they’re just “normal folks”.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        “You go to the most racist places in this country, and they don’t think this shit.”

        Cohen *thinks* that’s what they think, though.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        Jim,
        yeah, that kinda makes him a racist.
        (yeah-huh, he can be a white racist against whites.
        he’s clearly stereotyping them way beyond the bounds
        of “generalization”).Report

  12. Avatar Squeelookle
    Ignored
    says:

    National Review hired Jason “blacks are inferior” Richwine too. You might want to dock them a point for that.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Squeelookle
      Ignored
      says:

      No, he is an occasional contributor. National Review has very few people on salary. John Derbyshire was also a contributor, not a member of the salaried staff.

      Dr. Richwine composed a dissertation and appeared in a panel discussion on the question of the implications of between group differences in IQ scores for immigration policy. He was writing and speaking about mestizo immigrant populations, not the domestic black population.Report

      • Avatar Squeelookle in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        Pull the other one.

        Richwine’s actual statement was: “Race is different in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ. Decades of psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks. These are real differences, and they’re not going to go away tomorrow.”Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        So what? Is he lying about the score differentials, or is he promoting these scores as measuring something salient and interesting when they do not, or is he wrong in his prediction that the score differentials are not evanescent?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        Art,
        Oh, he’s ignoring obvious and blatant hidden variables (if he actually has done any research AT ALL on immigration, the man deserves to be fucking shot, his methodology is so freaking poor), and going instead to something that’s basically fucking stupid.

        The selection of people in AMERICA is not RANDOM. (and if the soddin’ bastard actually looked at black immigrants over the past generation or two, he’d find a radically different IQ score. Because Selection Bias).

        Plus, as I might have mentioned above, IQ is a variable statistic, and inbreeding is NOT HELPING.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh, he’s ignoring obvious and blatant hidden variables (if he actually has done any research AT ALL on immigration, the man deserves to be fucking shot, his methodology is so freaking poor), and going instead to something that’s basically fucking stupid.

        What was he attempting to do that made his methodology ‘poor’? Have you contacted his dissertation committee with your wisdom? How often do we shoot people (or ‘fucking shoot’ them) for poor methodology (which was evidently not so poor that the committee would not sign the dissertation)?

        The selection of people in AMERICA is not RANDOM. (and if the soddin’ bastard actually looked at black immigrants over the past generation or two, he’d find a radically different IQ score. Because Selection Bias).

        Where do you find a 60 year old dataset of the IQ scores of Caribbean immigrants?

        Plus, as I might have mentioned above, IQ is a variable statistic, and inbreeding is NOT HELPING.

        I had not noticed that cousin marriage was all that common in this country.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        Art,
        1) I mention inbreeding. You think cousinmarriage. You’re weird. I’d have assumed you’d be thinking incest (perfectly valid assumption, and it has a higher rate of occurrence than cousinmarriage, I’m willing to bet).
        2) Enough people get disregarded in the scientific literature for poor methodology. You may consider my hyperbole posthumorously retracted.
        3) Bit biased, but you should be able to grab one off the military… freedom of information act, and all that. (also, yes, we are dealing with biased samples the whole way down. Turtles!)Report

  13. Avatar Squeelookle
    Ignored
    says:

    Help? I’m leaving comments and getting a lot of messages saying duplicate comment, but then my comment isn’t there?Report

  14. Avatar Jim Heffman
    Ignored
    says:

    Gotta agree with Art Deco, here. I immediately recognized that Cohen was talking about “people with conventional views”, not declaring himself to be one of those people.

    On the other hand I understood the plot of “The Matrix” the first time I saw it, so maybe I’m just super-smart.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Jim Heffman
      Ignored
      says:

      That’s how I read it, mostly because it’s really hard to believe that any of the other possible interpretations being allowed through the WaPo editing process. But jeez what a mess that was, shifting points of view without a clear indication of where, even though the reader knows it’s probably in there somewhere. “This is what Bob would say that Harry thought about what Wilbur believes,” is a messy enough type of construction when you explicitly write it that way.

      “Conventional?” By Cohen’s definition, by the Tea Party definition, by the definition of the people who Cohen may or may not disagree with but who are also commenting on the Tea Party? Not to mention that when editorialists say, “What most people believe…” they really mean, “What I and the limited number of people I spend my time with believe…”Report

  15. Avatar Roger
    Ignored
    says:

    Cohen’s comment is totally unacceptable, as is the Post’s continued support of this racist scum bag.Report

  16. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    Will: “The slavery thing is almost (but not quite) excusable. It was unprofitable to work a man to death (suppression of gag reflex in writing that) prior to the invention of the cotton gin. ”

    Um, first of all it frequently was (see the history of the sugar plantations, and why South Carolina is batsh*t insane, even among a bunch of nasty states). Second, not literally ‘working a man to death’ included a host of horrors.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      If you’ve ever been exposed to hexavalent chromium, asbestos, benzene, or any of the other nasties I come across in the normal course of my job, you would be very sympathetic to the notion of working a man to death.
      Sometimes death comes quick, sometimes slowly.
      The same degree of death, nonetheless.

      That sort of thing is still going on, albeit in a different form; and that’s what makes me gag when I think about it.
      Things along the lines that it’s ok to poison little kids if there’s money to be made in it, provided they live on a farm, and the like.
      How long does it take a man to go blind?
      I really don’t know if I’ll be able to see 20 years from now. That’s fact.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Will H.
        Ignored
        says:

        I realize that may have come out as more harsh than what I intended; and it wasn’t meant to kill exchange, but to note a distinct point of contention.
        I’ll say here that I do feel quite strongly about this, but the anger is more directed to the people who should know, and who do know, but don’t care.
        And what I’m thinking about are some blue paper suits that you have to wear to enter a vessel where hexavalent chromium is particularly high. That area is shrouded to prevent contamination, and there’s a trash barrel there to throw the paper jumpsuits away after you exit the vessel.
        And there are guys that I work with that don’t think twice about walking out of the contamination zone wearing that blue paper jumpsuit. “I’m not afraid of it,” they say.
        Being from my own union, I can’t report them to safety. There would be tremendous repercussions were I to do so; all on the sly, mind you.
        The darker side of unionism.
        That’s what’s got me wound up.

        Sorry to trouble you with my concerns.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Will H.
        Ignored
        says:

        But I’ll say here that I sure hope that no one at the Phillips 66 refinery in Wood River, Illinois thinks I’m talking about them, because every man in every local across the nation (and likely Canada, too) already knows about their reputation for blacklisting people in that local.

        And I don’t want any of my fellow employees at Lucas Company, especially that young guy from Missouri, or that fellow from So. Illinois, to think I’m talking about them.

        That would be bad.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Will H.
        Ignored
        says:

        Hmm,

        Hexavalent chromium, etc., with the legal right to leave and look for other work vs. being whipped, having my wife raped, and my family sold away from me, and having no legal right to leave and look for other work.

        Sucky choices, but I think I’d rather risk the chemicals.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will H.
        Ignored
        says:

        Will,
        What disturbs me is not how awful a person I am (I’ve earned filthy lucre paying for people to get black lung, and not actually done a damn thing about getting them health care)… but how many people out there don’t even know how many people they are killing on a day to day basis (stock market hides a lot of ills for dumb money)Report

  17. Avatar j r
    Ignored
    says:

    All of the people commenting that Cohen was talking about other people are really missing the point. Who cares whether he was making an admission about himself or attempting to channel some imagined conventional voice? The problem with the statement is that he attempts to excuse blatantly racist attitudes by excusing them as “conventional” or “traditional.” Not only is that empirically incorrect, as many have pointed out, but it is the very definition of racism.

    Personally, I don’t care if WaPo fires him. I’m not a regular customer of the publication and I’m not the kind of person who demands that people get fired for holding unpopular and wrong beliefs. However, I would hope that the editorial board of a major newspaper would have higher standards for their columnists (and yes, I know that most don’t).

    If people want to be racist. That’s fine with me. It’s a free country. Let’s stop pretending though. Have the intestinal fortitude to quit with the mealy-mouth excuses about conventional beliefs and just come out and say that you regularly make sweeping judgments and generalizations about people based on the color of their skin and that you believe that race does and ought to play a major role in structuring individuals’ roles within society.

    If grandpa regularly drops n-bombs and you say some silly isht like “oh he’s not racist; he’s just from a different time,” then you’re being an idiot. I guarantee you that in whatever time grandpa came from, people knew what they were doing when they said the n-word. Don’t play dumb. I don’t care how far back in history you go, people knew what was right. Lots of people just chose to not do the right thing, because doing the wrong thing was easier and more beneficial to them.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to j r
      Ignored
      says:

      Here, I want to say that a lot of the blanket judgments that we see attributed to racism are also discernible by means other than race. Some of the others that I’ve seen first-hand would include: immigrants (or how far removed from immigration ancestors were), social status (with third-generation sharecroppers’ descendants still suffering from stigma), manner of speech (as with the guys from the TVA (backwoodsmen, sure, but not ignorant) that I was working with in Wisconsin (though Badgers tend to be a friendlier sort than most Midwesterners); and the list goes on.

      I don’t see how racism, in itself, is any more horrid than any of the others mentioned.
      It’s just another means of alienating people by blanket judgments. No better, no worse.Report

  18. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    Will: “How many conservative opinion-writers do they have compared to liberal ones?”

    Mike: “Krauthammer, George Will, Jennifer Rubin? I don’t know the count, but highly partisan conservatives are well-represented there. (Of course, they might publish Rubin just to make conservatives look stupid.)”

    And note that the three mentioned (as well as Bush’s speechwriter and torture defender Gerson) are not sorta-right, but are far right to insane whacko people.Report

  19. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    Kim

    “Mike,
    a fairly nonpartisan way to tell whether a paper is liberal or conservative is to read the opinion articles,a nd see which side is better argued. The paper is on the opposite side.”

    That only applies in an alternate universe where the Efficient Market of Ideas Hypothesis (and the strong form at a that) applies.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      Actually, I can think of quite a few reasons for this:
      1) Editors are lazy, and hate having to read tons of flames.
      2) Editors/papers like to educate people — and having tough ideas helps with that.
      3) If the conservatives were as lazy as the liberals (or vice versa), they’d really sound stupid.
      And making your ideological opponents sound stupid is a ticket to not being taken seriously.Report

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