Anne Hathaway’s Oscars Dress and Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe Malfunction were both Fashion Mistakes

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Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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104 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Dude, you’re comparing the things said in my post about the billionaires who wield supreme authority and yours about a centrist conservative Governor? Thats… oh, wait.

    THANK YOU, GOODNIGHT! TIP YOUR WAITRESSES!Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      On an in no way more serious note, my last two post have made me start to think that Tod’s Law needs to be expanded to incorporate BSDI.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        On a more serious note, I still don’t think you understand the objections to the use equivalences to what’s from you’re pov a point about parties or ideology or whatnot. I won’t get into it anymore since every time I’ve tried to explain it it seemed like you couldn’t help but interpret what I was saying as a defense of liberals. Which is to say, you viewed everything I said throught a lens which identified me as “a liberal” and attributed views to me that I do not hold and views I was not expressing. Which, in point of fact, is the whole point I was trying to make.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        BSDI and the false equivalence are perfect mirrors. Anyone whose side is confronted with evidence of wrongdoing can claim BSDI and safely preserve their ego. Their opponent can say “false equivalence” and thus not need to confront the ills of their own side. Everyone goes home happy.

        I think I’ve heard something somewhere to the effect that “the only reason to read anything is to change one’s mind,” but we have quite a bit of protection to prevent that from ever happening.
        —-
        By the way, there were bunches of random Bill O’Reilly clips I could have used for this post but didn’t because I don’t think it would be helpful for this audience.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        @stillwater , I must have missed that part of your discussions. Can you link to the most emblematic comment thread in which that happened?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @stillwater FWIW, I’m willing to shut up and listen, which I clearly haven’t because I really did think in each of those conversations you were specifically defending liberals.

        Thats my bad.

        Anywho, if you haven’t lost all patience and want to try again I promise to try and listen and think before responding.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        vikram,

        BSDI and the false equivalence are perfect mirrors. Anyone whose side is confronted with evidence of wrongdoing can claim BSDI and safely preserve their ego. Their opponent can say “false equivalence” and thus not need to confront the ills of their own side. Everyone goes home happy.

        Actually, no, that’s not the objection to BSDI and the FE response. Those are two very different things.

        What’s being objected to (at least by me) is that the presumption of even making an equivalence presupposes there’s a pov outside of (above the fray, objective!, “non-partisan”) from which to view and critique other people’s motivations and decision-making procedures. But that critique itself derives from certain ideological commitments from which the account of other people’s views (logically) follows. I find that to be circular, myself. And as I’ve said, it’s one thing to disagree with other people, but it’s an entire other thing attribute views to and interpret their words based on the theory you accept and the theory you (circularly) attribute to them.

        It’s not a difficult concept, it seems to me. I don’t know why people struggle with it so much.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I must have missed that part of your discussions.

        It’s in every part of my discussion since it’s the only thing I’ve been discussing.

        I’ll look for some linkies since I’m tired of saying the same thing overandoverandover…Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        @stillwater

        I suspect your point is getting overlooked because folks just don’t get what you’re saying. At least that’s my case. Your re-statement sounded very familiar, and I think it’s because I’ve read you saying that at least twice before. But I just don’t follow it at all.

        That could be me being slow. I’m not saying your comment doesn’t make sense, but that I can’t make sense of it. If I’m the proverbial student who’s asking the question all the others are thinking (I’m not actually the dumbest student in the room, am I? Am I?), then you may need to develop that more fully for us to catch on.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @stillwater I’m not sure if you were referring to me with this:

        “What’s being objected to (at least by me) is that the presumption of even making an equivalence presupposes there’s a pov outside of (above the fray, objective!, “non-partisan”) from which to view and critique other people’s motivations and decision-making procedures. But that critique itself derives from certain ideological commitments from which the account of other people’s views (logically) follows. I find that to be circular, myself.”

        But if so, I suspect I’m starting to see where the disconnect between us stems from on this issue, since I don’t actually think most (maybe any) of what you lay out here. I’d say more, but I’ll wait to hear from you if you were thinking of my (at least in part) when you wrote that.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        My reading of what Stillwater has been saying (and it could be wrong because I’m a little lost on it as well) is that he objects strenuously to the suggestion that he thinks what he thinks because he is a liberal (rather than being a liberal because he thinks what he thinks). A degree of frustration is understandable (I feel it a bit when I see points-of-view dismissed under the rubric of having a desire to be above the fray) but it becomes hard not to observe patterns over time when it comes to reactions of the conduct and tactics of political participants of various stripes.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Oh. Well, I suppose that could be possible that I come off as doing that, though it certainly isn’t my intent. I actually find very few of the people who have ever commented here to be knee-jerk, “I-am-saying-this-because-my-team-says-it” types, even the ones I disagree with a lot like Damon or Jesse. I actually think people like that don’t last long here, because I think this place kind of freaks them out.

        I do think, though, that all of us have our perceptions colored by the labels we use for ourselves, whether that label be political, religious, social, cultural, whatever. At the very least I do, I know. For example, I’m an agnostic because that’s what I believe, but sometimes I can see myself trying to work out a problem of faith based on the fact that I am agnostic. The chicken and egg each informs the other, if you will.

        And I certainly ask myself on any thorny political issue, “is this possible answer both principled and pragmatic?”, which isn’t any better or worse than Tim asking himself, “is this possible answer conservative?”

        But for what it’s worth, I don’t consider myself “outside” or “above” the fray; I think of myself as being in the middle of it, along with everyone else. I just happen to look at things differently than most, and I firmly believe that just because I don’t fall into one of the bigger camps doesn’t mean my voice is any less important.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        But for what it’s worth, I don’t consider myself “outside” or “above” the fray; I think of myself as being in the middle of it, along with everyone else. I just happen to look at things differently than most, and I firmly believe that just because I don’t fall into one of the bigger camps doesn’t mean my voice is any less important.

        To this part, sign me on.

        To the degree that I have understood @stillwater ‘s point (and I took it as @will-truman did, but it wouldn’t be the first time I have missed the point) – in counter, I have noticed that when Person A expresses a non-partisan/independent/libertarianish/”pox-on-both-houses” thought of any type, some people (in my experience, often of lefty bent) seem to take that expression as a personal affront, as though Person A is setting themselves up as “better than”. Person A IS being partisan (they are secretly wearing elephant/donkey/Ayn Rand underoos), they will tell Person A. “Don’t pretend you’re above the fray”.

        Expressing any opinion that doesn’t fall neatly into one of the majority camps could come across as “better than” in one sense – by definition, if you are saying “Not X, and also Not Y” then whatever you are positing as “Z”, you *must* consider preferable to both X and Y – and what’s more, if you are choosing what you consider the “best” option, then that also means you must think that your own judgement is “best” – the horror!

        But that seems a trivial and obvious point, and as I’ve said it really seems like some people take it personally; which I just don’t get.

        Or maybe I do, in the sense that it’s that basic tribal “with us or against us” thing, and if you are sometimes with us and sometimes against us, you are patently not to be trusted, and we will spit your lukewarm ass out.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        James, Tod, Will,

        I’ll get back to this in a bit – I’m busy right now – but what I’m saying isn’t restricted to anything I feel about people characterizing my views based on an attribution of ideological commitments to me – it’s a fully general view. Eg, Hanley just yesterday argued from the exact same logic I’m presenting here against another’s attribution a certain set of beliefs to him (Hanley) based on his interlocutor’s theory/conception of what libertarianism is and what libertarians are committed to. (I’ll get back to that if it’s not clear how it’s the same thing.)

        But I’m also extending that model – of attributing views to people based on their self-identified ism – to the folks who think they’re “above the fray”, or “non-partisan”, or “objective”. They often (not always, since there is a way to tease out legitimate disagreements) circularly analyze and account for, etc, other people’s views based on their own theoretical or ideological views, including a set of beliefs to a person based on that person’s ism-identity, under the pretense that because they’re not partisan, or above the fray, they’re views are actually “objective”.

        So the view I’m talking about certainly applies to liberals and conservatives, but it also applies to libertarians, non-partisan theoretical-model fans, Broderites, communists, feminists, MRMs, etc etc: anyone who’s (ideological, whatever) theory includes an analysis or account of why their interlocutor or political opponent holds the beliefs they do (irrespective of anything that person might say to the contrary).

        I’ll get back to this in a bit if that doesn’t help.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I definitely consider myself above The Fray.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        @stillwater

        OK, I did think yu were being more general than a complaint about people assuming you’re liberal, so at least I wasn’t totally off.

        What I don’t get is how the issue of “attributing views to people” intersects with “false equivalency” claims. That is, I don’t see that we have to attribute a particular ism to a person to criticize them for making what we think is a misguided false equivalency claim. (At least that’s where I think you’re going with this–if not, then just tell me I’m hunting down the wrong path.)

        When you get back. Not trying to push you.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        But I’m also extending that model – of attributing views to people based on their self-identified ism – to the folks who think they’re “above the fray”, or “non-partisan”, or “objective”. They often (not always, since there is a way to tease out legitimate disagreements) circularly analyze and account for, etc, other people’s views based on their own theoretical or ideological views, including a set of beliefs to a person based on that person’s ism-identity, under the pretense that because they’re not partisan, or above the fray, they’re views are actually “objective”.

        Not to come across like an ass, but I’ve read this multiple times and I am still not sure what it means. I can sort of back into what you are getting at by looking at other comments, but the main thrust eludes me.

        You once accused me of trying to make some grand ideological critique in an instance when I was making a specific point about a series of comments regarding the guy who was listing the cost of ACA compliance on his menu. I found it odd that people were seriously considering the force of law to stop guy’s half-ass attempt to express his opinion about Obamacare and you mistook that for an overall indictment of progressives.

        I can see why you might think that, but I can only see thinking that way from inside the fray. And it’s fine if you want to be inside the fray, but that doesn’t mean that it is somehow impossible to remain outside of it. In general, conversations ought to be specific; criticisms ought to be precise. However, the idea that any meta-level criticism of political identity ought to be off the table doesn’t square. Critiquing political identity as a form of status signalling is a bit circular in nature, but sometimes people are critiquing political identity because political identity deserves to be critiqued.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        By the way, this is turning into one of those weird hipster conversations where people are trying to deconstruct the meaning of the terms of the conversation as a way to avoid dealing with the implications.

        “Am I a hipster? I mean, dude, what does that word even mean?”

        If you want to think of the world as one eternal political struggle from which no individual can ever escape no matter his or her intentions, then yes, in some existential way, we are all in the fray. If, however, you don’t think that way, rather, you think that the world is composed of lots of little discrete political struggles, then no, we are not all in the fray. And it is possible to stand outside the fray, observe it, and offer a critique.

        If you asked a bunch of people to take the most frequent commenters on this blog and place them into categories, say “left partisan,” “right partisan” and “has a point of view, but not particularly partisan,” you would likely get a fairly consistent grouping. That is, we know who each other are.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        “If, however, you don’t think that way, rather, you think that the world is composed of lots of little discrete political struggles, then no, we are not all in the fray”

        You maybe. I am omnifrayent.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Alright, back at it.

        Given j r’s comment, maybe the best way to explain what I’m talking about is with an example. Consider the following conversation between A and B.

        A: I think gay marriage ought to legal.

        B: I disagree, I think it ought to be banned.

        (At this point, we have what’s called a “disagreement.”)

        A: Oh, really. Here’s why I think it should be legal.

        (At this point, we have A appealing to a theory or ideology based on certain values, etc, to explain and justify his views.)

        B: Well, that’s all well and good, but here’s why I think it should be banned.

        (Invoking a theory or ideology based on certain values, etc.)

        A: Hmmm. Well, you only say that stuff because you’re actually a bigot.

        (At this point, A is invoking a theory to account for Bs beliefs despite the words B actually said, and one which cannot in principle – depending on the theory! – be refuted by any claim B might make because it’s inherently circular.)

        At that point we’ve moved over to a high level of circularity, it seems to me. Now, forgetting a minute that we’re talking about SSM in order to make a general point, I’m not saying that there isn’t good evidence to invoke the second-order level theory to B to account for his beliefs. I’m saying that doing so is a) irrelevant to the actual debate, and also that b) doing so fundamentally begs the question against B.

        OK, that’s the general dynamic in play. Now blow it up to the level of isms. Person A can disagree with B; A can additionally provide an ideological justification for his view; but A can also provide a theoretical account of why B believes what he does which is attributed to B based on As conception of the ideology B self-identifies as (or evinces, or whatever).

        Now blow that up to include meta-concepts like “above the fray” and “non-partisan”. The same dynamic applies, it seems to me, and obviously so. There is no “objective” pov. All views about policy issues, because they’re normative and reflect our values, are inherently ideologically based even if they’re more empirically informed than others. In fact, thinking that empirical evidence will inform normative judgments about policy is reflective of a particular ideological positioning.

        To answer James question about how this relates to BSDI and FE: the presumption in making an equivalence claim between political ideologies or parties is that there is an objective pov from which to observe those dynamics and from which to objectively attribute ideological commitments to each party thereby deriving an analysis of the behaviors so observed. But that pov and resulting analysis is inherently determined by or constitutive of ideological commitments already held by the person making the critique such that (potentially) any argument that the equivalence is false is accounted for, circularly, by the theory upon which the equivalence was initially established. (I say “potentially” since there is a way to establish that BSDI insofar as electoral politics is concerned, but not when that claim also includes an account of why a liberal (eg) would deny the equivalence is actually correct. Then it’s clearly circular, it seems to me.)

        j r:

        See the above, since at this point I’m not sure if I answered your “critique” of my earlier argument.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        j r,

        By the way, this is turning into one of those weird hipster conversations where people are trying to deconstruct the meaning of the terms of the conversation as a way to avoid dealing with the implications.

        Thank you for doing my thinking for me. Whew. And to think I actually had a point to make about doing just this!Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @stillwater A couple of observations (by a couple I mean seven):

        1) What you’re describing isn’t FE or BSDI so much as it is motivation-assignment. Saying that you believe this for this reason, despite what you’re saying. I agree that is annoying.

        2) Also annoying is the assumption that if Democratic misdeeds are brought up when talking about Republican misdeeds, the motivation must be to equivocate or present oneself as “above the fray” or one is wearing elephant underoos. The BSDI in particular falls into this category, moreso than “false equivalence.” The motivation accusation is barely concealed, if concealed at all.

        2b) Now, when someone consistently displays behavior that makes such a motivation assumption reasonable, then it might be worth mentioning. Of course, this would apply to frustration with BSDI complaints just as it would with covert Republicanism.

        3) In the context that you bring it up, motivation-assumption does seem unreasonable. Now personally, I am of the mind that a whole lot of our politics is actually derived from something other than a careful and thoughtful evaluation of the issues (although abortion is pretty rarely among those issues). But the only time I bring that up is if we’re actually talking about ideology, partisanship, etc.

        4) “Republicans are…” or “Republicans are motivated by…” is also in place when it comes to a conversation about parties and ideology. But then, same with “Democrats are…” or “Democrats are motivated by…” That’s not to say that the assertions are accurate, only that it seems really weird to be hearing this complaint from that particular faction on this particular site.

        5) Because we can talk about Republicans all day long. Particularly as long as we make disclaimers about it not being all of them or there being exceptions. It’s just that it seems to some of us, howevermuch I am assured that Democrats are perfectly willing to accept criticism and lob it in their own direction, we will hear about false equivalences and BSDI pretty much as soon as these negative observations stop being about Republicans generally and start being about Democrats generally (unless they are in a particular framework about how Democrats are too intellectual, empirical, or nice).

        6) I think a whole lot of Tod’s observations are actually quite off-base. It seems to be the good arguments can be made (as I tend to think I did on the fluoride post) without BSDI or FE (okay, I did say that one at the end in a non-serious manner), which is increasingly coming across as simple dismissal whether it’s intended to or not.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Man, thanks for that Will. I’m not gonna say I agree/disagree with anything you said yet since I’m just overwhelmingly pleased that someone actually understands what I’m talking about here.

        I’ll think about this a bit more, but one distinction is that motivation-assumption sounds like a strictly psychological term. What I’m talking about is probably an instance of that (or at least could be, I’ve never heard the term before) where the motivation assumptions are ascribed to individuals (by others) based on the ascriber’s conception of the ideology/belief-matrix the ascribee self-identifies with at the level of an explanatory theory, one which often enough cannot be refuted. I mean, the irony about this whole mess a comments over the last week or so is that people have (and still do) view everything I’ve been saying thru the filter of their conception of liberalism and account for what I’m saying by attributing that conception to me, which is exactly the point I’m trying to make.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 says:

        Will,

        There are a lot of reasonable criticisms of liberals and democrats:

        1. D politicians are running-dogs-to-corporate influence. Not as much as R politicians, but there you go. Actually, here I would not cry BSDI, if the “it” was politicians becoming corrupted by money.
        2. Liberals in general fail to realize the need for persuasive rhetoric and not just argumentation.
        3. There is vagueness in liberal ideology about exactly when paternalism is justified and when it isn’t. Even Rawls can’t quite fix this. By contrast, there is more clarity (and I would argue ideological rigidity) in libertarianism.
        4. Liberals, to some extent, and D politicians to a big extent, were way to slow to move against homophobic policies, ridiculous “tough on crime” policies.
        5. Liberals are too ready to accept claims on the basis of scientific and academic authority -not on Rushbo’s authority- without their own understanding of the science or academic argument. This is a real problem in foreign policy, where authorities should be challenged more, IMO.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @stillwater I think most motivation-assumption comes through stereotyping. While there’s a difference between stereotyping on the basis of party affiliation or because “You sound like this other guy making the same argument…” the distinction is less than crucial, in my view. That’s different than “Having listened to what you said, it sounds like your reasoning is this” in a relative vacuum, but that’s not really the sort of assumption I am referring to.

        Shazbot, I left off “moderate” and/or “open-minded” which is a part of the framework I was referring to. That kind of covers 1,3,4 to varying degrees. I am pretty sure if I said #1, BSDI-FE would come up even if I made it clear that one party was worse than the other or spent almost all of my time talking about the other party.I think #2 is wrong, actually, as I view that as an area of liberal strength. That #5 is an interesting (and applicable) one, though. I will have to think on that one.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        ” I mean, the irony about this whole mess a comments over the last week or so is that people have (and still do) view everything I’ve been saying thru the filter of their conception of liberalism and account for what I’m saying by attributing that conception to me”

        I apologize. And I really ought to know better, since I feel like i get that from both directions all the time and it bugs me.

        I will try to watch that from here on out.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        @stillwater

        I believe that I am better understanding your point, but I have to say that I disagree. Whether A is a bigot or not (and whether A sees himself as a bigot or not) is fairly important.

        I’ve argued in other threads that for the purposes of making policy and just for getting along, people’s motivations ought not count so much, only their actions. For conversations and discussions, however, motivations are an important part of both developing empathy for other people’s views and coming to the right answer. Sometimes the right answer is not that A is a bigot, but that A and B are simply content to disagree with each other because of a difference in preferences. Sometimes A is simply a bigot. Either way, the issue has to be raised before it can be settled.

        Further, yes there are people who use political identity as a smear, but I have to be honest and say that I see that sort of thing coming much more from people who are deeply ideologically invested in one side of the other. Again, you can make objective observations about how much of a partisan someone is. And chances are, if someone is using political identity as a slur, they are fairly partisan.

        To close, I will just say that the reasons you’ve mentioned are the exact reasons that I’ve argued against a certain version of feminism, and other identity-based ideologies, in the past. When someone at Jezebel calls you a misogynist, there is a good chance that it is circular, as misogynist becomes an all-purpose label for “anyone who disagrees with my version of feminism.”Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @tod-kelly

        Oh, I got a mention and i didn’t even post 🙂

        You know why I stay around on this site, even though the vast majority of people disagree with my viewpoint? It sure ain’t because I’m trying to convert them. It’s because this site has the following:

        1) a fairly diverse range of viewpoints and people are generally open minded.
        2) it’s not filled with screeds and harpish tones about the other side.

        You know, it’s a site that makes you think.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I agree with Will’s point #5.

        I also agree with j.r. that motivations are not irrelevant.

        Further, I’m amused this critique is coming from someone who once judged my motivations while critiquing me for judging someone else’s motivations, and when called on it insisted that he was justified in doing so, but not me. That calls into question his commitment to this as a generally applicable theory.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @damon I’m very happy that you think so. That’s certainly the hope. FWIW, I’m quite glad that you do choose to come around.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @tod-kelly
        Thanks Tod.

        Now, if you’ll just AGREE I’M ALWAYS RIGHT we’ll be good 🙂Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        j r,

        I believe that I am better understanding your point, but I have to say that I disagree. Whether A is a bigot or not (and whether A sees himself as a bigot or not) is fairly important.

        Absolutely. Or I should say, it is in certain contexts. Wrt the law or the exercise of certain discriminatory practices, the actual reasons why a person opposes SSM laws and gays in general are pretty irrelevant. When we talk about those those things we’re distinctly outside of anyone’s head and not interpreting their words to fit our theory of them. In one sense, I thought using SSM as a starting point would reveal the point I was making (about circularly analyzing other’s views based on our own theories) since the arguments in favor of SSM are so decisive; in another it serves the purpose really poorly since the case seems so obvious.

        I’ve argued in other threads that for the purposes of making policy and just for getting along, people’s motivations ought not count so much, only their actions.

        You have, and specifically about gay marriage as I recall.

        For conversations and discussions, however, motivations are an important part of both developing empathy for other people’s views and coming to the right answer. Sometimes the right answer is not that A is a bigot, but that A and B are simply content to disagree with each other because of a difference in preferences. Sometimes A is simply a bigot. Either way, the issue has to be raised before it can be settled.

        Sure. That’s a conversation between individuals about individual beliefs and justifications, and motivations surely enter into it. My point – all along – is that identifying a person as an X and then imposing a belief matrix/ideology/whatever on them by which you account for there beliefs, motivations and justifications makes the conversation impossible even before it begins. Further, that drawing broad conclusions about the entirety of people who self-identify as Xs based on attributing a set of ideological commitments derived from your theory or account of them not only makes real discussion with any member of X impossible, it fosters antagonism between competing isms.

        As for your conclusion about the issue needing to be raised before it can be settled, if the term “the issue” refers to certain motivations and other types of accounts, my argument is that that issue is already settled if/when person A attributes that motivation to B based solely on the theories and views of B already held by A.

        Further, yes there are people who use political identity as a smear, but I have to be honest and say that I see that sort of thing coming much more from people who are deeply ideologically invested in one side of the other.

        Hence my criticism of BSDI. Everyone’s on a side. The folks who invoke BSDI don’t think they are (they’re above the fray) but they have a side just as much as anyone else, one they certainly can be deeply invested in.

        Again, you can make objective observations about how much of a partisan someone is. And chances are, if someone is using political identity as a slur, they are fairly partisan.

        Which is, chances are, what folks who invoke BSDI are primarily doing.

        To close, I will just say that the reasons you’ve mentioned are the exact reasons that I’ve argued against a certain version of feminism, and other identity-based ideologies, in the past. When someone at Jezebel calls you a misogynist, there is a good chance that it is circular, as misogynist becomes an all-purpose label for “anyone who disagrees with my version of feminism.”

        This – finally! – is an expression of the point I’m making. It’s one thing for a feminist to identify certain types of individual and institutional practices and construct a theory accounting for them. It’s quite another to use that theory as a tool to analyze-away or account for any specific disagreement with his or her views. Doing the latter takes the theory into the realm of irrefutability, since any disagreement with it is automatically discounted. In practice such a theory is counterproductive since any disagreement with a person who thinks this way is viewed by that person as evidence of misogyny. Big ole fat circle.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Tod, there’s nothing to apologize for, and I mean that. It’s not like you were intentionally trying to piss liberals off.

        I mean, you weren’t, right? 🙂

        But really, the point goes way beyond any particular ism, it seems to me. Some people might see what I’m talking about, others not so much.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        The folks who invoke BSDI don’t think they are (they’re above the fray)

        So, just to be clear, there is one group to whom we’re allowed to attribute certain motivations?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        James,

        That calls into question his commitment to this as a generally applicable theory.

        This is an example of what I’m talking about, actually. We talked congenially yesterday about what I was arguing here, and one of the things mentioned was how you consistently – and justifiably – push against other’s foisting their conception of libertarianism on you. That dynamic constitutes the central premise of the argument I’m making here, and it’s a premise you seem to accept. All I’ve done is extend that premise to the meta-level (or one level higher at least). Foisting way up there remains just as unjustifiable as in the more degenerate cases.Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        Still – If I’m hearing you right at this point (and that may be a big “if”), I actually agree with you.

        I think the things you’re talking about aren’t a byproduct of any “-ism,” I think they’re part of being human. They’re really hard-wired into us. It takes effort to try and see past that, and even then none of us do it all the time. And that effort is required even if your -ism is “I’m an independent and I don’t have an -ism.” (And maybe even more so.)

        And for the record, I actually think that everyone has an -ism, even if they haven’t bothered to consciously quantity or name it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        RTod, I’m so damn happy I wanna tongue kiss you.

        Yes, that’s it.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        @stillwater

        I don’t get it. It sounds like that invocation of motivation of those “above the fray” folks is a critical component of your logic. And you invoked it. And now you’re saying it isn’t justified.

        And for the record, I’m dead serious about the case where you invoked a claim about my motivation while criticizing me for invoking some else’s motivation, and then argued that in your case you were justified. I don’t readily forget that kind of thing, and it’s hard to set that aside when evaluating what you’re saying here. It’s not a claim about liberalism, or anything like that. It’s a situation where a person complained about someone else doing X, then did X himself and claimed it was legitimate, and now is saying nobody should do X. Things just aren’t adding up, unless you drop your claim of being justified in doing X.

        As to cordiality, avoid optimism and you’ll never be disappointed.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @stillwater — So one question about this: what happens if indeed feminist theory is correct, and our social structures are rooted in misogyny, and these social patterns are self-reinforcing and non-obvious?

        Because I think they are, and many patterns of gendered behavior are fundamentally misogynistic, even while the misogynist believes he loves women — but he does not love actual women, but instead a broken, dehumanized version of women, a construct of his own worldview.

        So yes, I am approaching this from my perspective, he from his.

        He says I’m “mad at God” and driven by devilish perversion. I say he’s a naïve bigot.

        Thing is, I think my analysis is correct. And you might say it is circular, and perhaps it is, in the sense it is only true if it is true. But so what? What other foundation is there?

        Eve didn’t eat the apple. I’m not formed from Adam’s rib. Privilege and patriarchy are real things, insofar as they are real patterns of belief and behavior.

        How far can I get if I begin, “Speaking as a fallen woman, plagued by demons, I say…”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        James, feel free to either disagree with what I’m saying or analyze it away. Either way is fine.

        As for all that stuff from long ago, I’m not gonna rehash it now since it was hashed and rehashed way back then. Using whatever happened back then to discount what I’m saying right now seems to miss the point in a way which actually reaffirms the view I’m suggesting here, tho. For whatever that’s worth.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Using whatever happened back then to discount what I’m saying right now seems to miss the point in a way which actually reaffirms the view I’m suggesting here, tho

        Well, no. It’s not a serious argument to say we should completely divorce people from their context in evaluating what they say. If David Duke says “discrimination is a real problem in America,” should we decontextualize that so we aren’t thinking about his racist past? Doesn’t his history give us clues to his present, or at least give us reason to ask, “are you saying you were wrong before?”

        Where you wrong before? Because if you say you weren’t, then it’s legitimate for me to compare your present claim with your past action, and wonder which one I should take more seriously, since they are not concordant. You can’t simply say “don’t consider the past,” because as Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”Report

  2. Avatar veronica dire says:

    For the record, I did object to the Bush/Hitler comparisons. Such things are obscene.

    And this post needed more pictures of pretty dresses (adorning gorgeous women).Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I am so glad it was you that said that last bit out loud and not me.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        I updated the latter picture. Thanks for pointing it out, veronica. I got in the habit on the Blog We Shall Not Speak Of thinking it was funny but never really reevaluated its appropriateness. I’ll try to be less gratuitous with image selection in the future.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      “For the record, I did object to the Bush/Hitler comparisons.”

      I can do that one better. I objected to the Bush/Hitler comparisons and the Saddam/Hitler comparisons.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        I should note that I’m not really trying to play gotcha. If readers do feel like they were “caught” being inconsistent, then that is probably a good thing, but if I didn’t catch you with anything here, it behooves you to try and catch yourself with something else. I’ll note that most of the stuff I’ve written about here is in the sphere of things that I don’t think really matter. The real challenge comes when you are at work and have to evaluate a marketing campaign from someone you like and one from someone you don’t. Because who is or is not closest to Hitler really doesn’t matter to most of us. (Exceptions made for James Hanley, of course.)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        And here I was about to compliment this post.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Who’s closest to Hitler matters to James, or how close James is to Hitler does matter to most of us?Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        I meant that (for most of us) spending time or brain cells determining who is or is not closest to Hitler would be a waste of time. The exception I am carving out is that it might not be a waste of time for James if he were able to identify a suitable framework to use in making the comparisons.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I don’t know if that means I have a surfeit of brain cells so I can afford to waste some in that endeavor or if it means I’m not likely to be putting my brain cells to any use of actual value, so I might as well spend them Godwining on the intertoobz. 😉Report

    • Avatar scott the mediocre says:

      @veronica-dire

      I also objected rather strenuously to the Bush/Hitler comparisons (and Moveon’s “General Betray-us”). Even as hyperbole they were far beyond the pale (particularly from George Soros who had a chance to walk the comparison back and refused to do so).

      I do, however, admit to having used the Cheney/Vader comparison on more than one occasion. Hyperbolically of course (

      How about pretty dresses adorning gorgeous transwomen ? I realize you just said “women”, which is hypothetically/ideally equally inclusive of cis and trans, but I suspect the default parsing limits to cis.
      Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        The default is not cis! In fact, that’s kinda the whole meaning of “cisnormative,” which you will discover is a social structure I very much oppose.

        If I mean cis I say cis.Report

      • Avatar scott the mediocre says:

        @veronica-dire

        OK, I (once again) don’t get it. I thought you were snarking about the superfluity of pictures of pretty dresses on gorgeous women in a post to which they weren’t particularly relevant (Vikram seems to have read you the same way, though I don’t see why we couldn’t have, for example, Neel Kashkari in a sharp suit rather than Warren Buffett rumpled :). In that specific context, the trope I thought you were criticizing is indeed limited to pictures of ciswomen, no? I would think an otherwise equivalent picture of a transwoman (“otherwise equivalent” meaning more or less a glamor shot of some sort) as “decoration” would actually be nicely subversive. Please explain if you would. Thanks.
        Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        I may have misinterpreted her, but if so I still think I got something of value from that misinterpretation. In my head, I thought I was using some of them ironically, but I don’t think that’s a distinction that works well in practice. At any rate, I’m just as happy with Warren there now.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        I said the post needed more pretty women in dresses. How on earth could that be confusing?

        Here: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=pretty+women+in+dressesReport

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I knew what you meant, and when you’re right, you’re right.

        Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        veronica, now you’re just making me feel silly.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @vikram-bath — No prob.

        I mean, it is surely good that you seem to be thinking of issues like male gaze, beauty standards, and how your own posts might contribute to these things. It’s all a tough line to walk.

        That said, I think the second wave got it wrong. And we third wave women are trying to figure out the right way to be sex positive, femme positive, beauty positive, since these things have a value of their own, and at the same time opposing objectification, narrow beauty standards, and femme-phobia.

        I don’t know the right balance. But I like pretty women in dresses.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Hitler comparisons are so common that I’m numb to them, but the thing that bugged me under the Bush administration was the frequent suggestion that Bush and his followers were theocrats. It’s the sort of hyperbole that obscures the real issues related to religion in public life, and in politics in particular.

      I remember getting into a rather nasty back and forth with a certain list-maker philosopher who regularly called the Bush (and Perry) type conservatives the “Taliban.” Probably still does.

      Which reminds me, creationism is one of those issues where craziness on the right side of the American political spectrum drives certain people on the left side crazy.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I have had a lifelong political rule: I will never vote for anyone who has drawn a Hitler mustache on an image of his opponent.

        Hitler comparisons I will at least consider, even if 99.9% of them are going to get rejected as ‘idiotic’.

        But the minute you’ve got a picture of Bush or Obama or whomever with a tiny little Hitler mustache? You’ve lost the right to even talk to me. You’ve been blanked. Kill-filed. Binned. Black-listed. I don’t care what you say, you’re effectively invisible to me.

        And if, god forbid, you’re actually right about something I’m going to assume it’s entirely accidental or you copied from someone else.

        And to date, the only people who have repeatedly done this AND do so as a group, deliberately (as opposed to just some idiot who got fired the moment it was noticed) have been LaRouche Democrats, who are thankfully just as marginalized as they are crazy.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I can’t remember any politician running in any election in which I could have voted who’s publicly drawn a Hitler mustache on anyone, but I suppose that’s a pretty good rule.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        It’s my lifelong goal to do something so notorious* that a particular style of facial hair becomes forever tainted.

        Before Hitler, that was a pretty common mustache style. Now, it’s shorthand for EEEEVILLL. You just can’t wear that one anymore.

        If they ever do a Get Smart reboot, a major plot point should be that KAOS has developed a bomb that gives everyone instant and unremovable Hitlerstaches.

        *As I have no real power and am generally pretty mellow, this goal seems sadly unattainable at present.Report

  3. Avatar Shazbot9 says:

    I have objected to Christy Nixon comparisons in conversation. I don’t remember reading them here, so mustn’t have seen your post.

    Not all false equivalencies are equal, of course. Some are more relevant, some are more blatant, etc.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      I wish we could make a Christie-Nixon comparison work, if only because I’d love to see Christie crash and burn, since he is a fucking transphobic mass of bigotry.

      So, yeah, I hate every bone in his body and I would use any legal, political means to see him go down. I don’t hide that fact.

      But can we make such a comparison stick, on the facts? Probably not.

      That said, bridge-gate is a good reason not to vote for the shithead. There are many others.

      (Do I sound angry with him? I am.)Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @veronica-dire OOC, is there anyone on the GOP side of this that is vote worthy for you?

        I have to think that finding people to be excited about voting for using transgendered rights as make-or-break has to be depressingly difficult, even on the Dem side of the aisle. (Though that does seems to be changing as of late.)Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @tod-kelly — Honestly, I can’t think of a single Republican I would want to vote for. I mean, I cannot even imagine what such a thing would look like.

        Regarding trans-focused political decisions, it’s like this: I had to hold my nose to vote for Liz Warren, since she spoke out against providing trans health care to women in prison. Now, she was campaigning and I hope that she was saying what she needed to say and not what she believes. I accept that politics are ugly and lies are needed. But still, the words came from her mouth.

        But creepoid extraordinaire, Scott Brown? Wasn’t even a question.

        On a national level, even the most fair minded, moderate Republican is still going to caucus for the R’s, which means for the Tea Party, more or less. No way. Not ever.

        For president? Maybe, but who? How does that happen?

        I very much want to vote for Hillary. I literally cried as I cast my ballot for Obama’s reelection. I mean, we knew he’d win. And checking that box and dropping that ballot was major. I had that experience for a man of color. I want it for a woman.

        And Obama, yeah, man has flaws. But this second term he finally moved through new rules for Social Security and gender change. And now I am a woman according to the federal government. A republican would not give me that.

        Cristie’s birth certificate veto made it clear he wouldn’t give me that. Will he roll it back?

        Fuck that.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Christie’s just a damn bully. You compare him to other bullies, like Incognito.
        This is standard predictive psychology.

        Nixon wasn’t a bully — his mess was totally different.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Nixon – Lieberman comparisons are appropriate, as they are a decent guide of Lieberman’s behavior. Find me another psychopath in Washington, and I’ll compare him to nixon too.Report

  4. Avatar Shazbot9 says:

    What does this metaphorical mirror show to those who hold the “Ordinary Times” ideology that liberals are conservatives are wrong?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      We have our own ideology now?

      Do we get tee-shirts? Because apparently we don’t get them for Lent.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I’m sure someone in your neck of the woods can do an artful Ordinary Times silk screened t-shirt

        Preferably with birds on it.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Well, if it’s Tod doing it, those birds better be ducks.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @newdealer Technically, we’re only supposed to buy teeshirts that have already been bought, sold back to second-hand boutiques, and then are re-purchased and worn ironically. But it’s a loose rule, and not everyone here follows it.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 says:

        Isn’t this the place where we point out that the D’s and R’s are all lizard people?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      You mean the Ordinary Times where the majority of contributors supported Obama and almost none supported Romney? Or Tod specifically, who formally endorsed Obama in 2012 and numerous posts on how ridiculous the GOP is?

      Is believing that the Republicans are far worse than the Democrats but that the latter has some faults in common with the former equivalent to believing that they are all the same or equally bad? Or is that something that sounds equivalent but actually isn’t. Is there a term for that?Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 says:

        Believing they are on the same path without justification (which is in the works, but I can’t see how it will be a decent justification) is false equivalency BSDI, even when it is done by someone sane enough to vote Obama over Romney.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I just want to say how honored I am to be the quasi-subject of a post! Future historians will debate how fairly I’ve beem treated… But I say fuck it! I’m famous!Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    1) Nixon’s Watergate, (2) Chris Christie’s bridge-closing scandal, and (3) Obama’s IRS scandal. Commente

    1. A horrific act, for which Nixon led the cover-up. And if Nixon himself didn’t order it himself, he did create the group that committed both the break-in and many similar crimes. Totally impeachable.
    2. If he ordered it himself (as has been reported), he’s an asshat of the worst sort. If not, he needs to fire a few people to make it clear this is unacceptable. But no crime was committed.
    3. There’s no evidence at all that Obama was involved. But there should be a full investigation and if it was a partisan effort, the person responsible should be fired and prosecuted.

    So, in seriousness 1 > 3 > 2. In culpability, 2 >= 1 >>> 3.

    Or does my finding Obama less culpable because as far as we know he was uninvolved make me a biased liberal?Report

  7. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    It seems like this is a straightforward argument against any partisanship. “Apply your critical thinking skills absolutely impartially regardless of whose claim’s you’re addressing.” Fair enough.

    I’m not sure it’s desirable. We have an adversarial political process in which (many) people choose sides and to a large extent give up claims to impartiality, trying only to maintain a claim to a grasp of objective reality – not a perfectly impartial one.

    It makes sense to me for there to be political media that are openly partisan and that primarily train their criticism on a particular party or a few parties, and then others that maintain a claim of impartiality and try to uphold it. The same for citizens AFAIAC, so long as everyone is finally willing to acknowledge the valid claims of all sides when they are shown to be valid. Realistically, people are going to form allegiances and concentrate their criticism on those who oppose them.

    And I’m not sure we are the poorer for it. For my part, I would find the world immeasurably duller and political media much less valuable on the whole if suddenly both National Review Online and The Nation dropped their open (roughly) partisanship, and started not only claiming to be, but to actually be, impartial in their demolitions of the claims of various political figures (even while in fact maintaining their political preferences). It would be disorienting and time-wasting to me to have to assess every single news outlet for its implicit biases and wade through overdone attempts to establish balance in the application of criticism when, for example, I want to find out what the leading critiques from the major-party political opposition are of the party in power. I’d rather be able to just go to the NRO or The Nation or etc. and not have to sift through a lot of balancing material in order to get to the critiques they’re really most motivated to make.

    We should work to keep ourselves able to apply criticism to those we’re aligned with and accept it from those who oppose us, but I don’t think we should aim to completely eliminate the tendency to criticize those whom they oppose more. Even those who make noises about applying criticism and critical thinking consistently around these parts in fact have tendencies to apply it more in certain directions.

    The way I see it, holding up true consistency a a goal just sets a standard that few will ever meet, that would broadly have the effect of causing lots of people to try to pretend to be something there not if everyone tried, and that that if everyone somehow did succeed at it, in fact we’d find the world to be less interesting because it would contain less variety of thought, and, actually, we might be the poorer for certain useful lines of critique never being refined to the same degree as they might have been, since quite often the motivation to do this comes from a certain kind of partisanship or other.

    I think we need to allow ourselves to be what we are to a great extent, and not set unrealistic goals that don’t actually have much payoff. Some openness to criticism from opposition and the ability to criticize those we are aligned with is realistic and necessary; a perfect consistency in the application of criticism across both allies and opposition on the part of everyone both is unrealistic and would have little additional upside over the previous standard even if it could be achieved.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      It seems like this is a straightforward argument against any partisanship.

      I see it more as “try to operate by the same rules you want the other side to operate by.”Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        If it is, then I’m down with that. The National Review should point point out primarily errors of lefties; The Nation should point out primarily errors of cons; National Journal can attempt to maintain a disciplined neutrality. So maybe there’s no dispute about any of that.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Nah, I like my side to be dirtier, badder, and more ready to win.
        Of course, my side’s libertarian, so…Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      Michael, yes, we have an adversarial political process, and we have an adversarial legal process, but
      1. Other places where arguments can accrue do not have adversarial systems
      2. In the case of the political process, there is no judge or jury above it all who can make the final decision based on the biased presentations
      3. I’m not aware of any evidence that such adversarial systems are actually better at revealing the truth than an investigation in which people attempt to restrain their biases
      4. If you are clearly biased in your public political rhetoric, no one who doesn’t already agree with you will listen to what you have to say.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        1. No, but politics, including just among citizens, is adversarial in large measure.

        2. This is a point many have been at pains to make in these discussions. At this point the sides seem to be citing it back an forth at each other as if both camps are not grasping its significance (which is possible).

        3. The justice system is structured as it is based on this premise, is it not? In any case, as I say, I agree there should be a degree of restraint of our biases. But to attempt to eliminate, deny, or not allow for them is a vain prescription. Also: in my view, politics is only in part a search for truth. In other kinds of discourse, a much more thorough scrubbing of biases is surely appropriate (i.e. science).

        4. It’s quite easy to be less than clear about one’s bias and present a seemingly well-considered argument that is not clearly biased, when the basic motivation is biased. As your post points out, in large measure the bias is not in the rhetoric or reasoning, but in the pattern of what is chosen to apply it to. In my experience people who clearly do have political biases are frequently able to persuade using rhetoric. I’m inclined to just let people worry about their own exploits and travails as far as the question of persuasion is concerned. Let a myriad of approaches bloom.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    By the way, what was the charge of false equivalency to which all this has been a response? Can we identify it, so that we can see just how bad it was? Was there a series of them I’m not aware of?Report

  9. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    I am clearly way late to the game here, but – we’re pretty clearly not talking about USL v. BSDi, but that’s the only BSDI I could think of.

    I’m assuming there’s a US politics-related thing that stands for. Without spending too much time on this, would someone please be so kind as to expand the abbreviation into what might be a more easily google-able term?Report