Why I’m not going to miss the Tea Party when it dies: Reason #87


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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254 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Nehru believed that one of his greatest accomplishments as Prime Minister of India was getting a communally-oriented religious society to more or less go along with a legal and political system based on the individual with separation of religion and state. Not perfectly of course, but well enough from what he had to work with. Based on Exhibit C, the same observation is applicable in the United States. The decision to separate religion and state was a secular miracle based on the extraordinary Protestantism that many Americans have always believed in.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I don’t think they are any different than any other far right movement. How is Ben Carson’s rhetoric different from the Impeach Earl Warren movement during the 1950s and 60s? There used to be mock Wanted Dead or Alive posters with Earl Warren’s visage on them. There were unsuccessful efforts to remove William O. Douglas (arguably the biggest civil libertarian ever to serve on the Supreme Court) from the bench and Gerald Ford declared himself to be the supreme enemy of Douglas when he was in the house.

    There has always been and always will be a far right movement that declares themselves to be the true-holders and definers of liberty, freedom, and Constitution. They will always use it to really entrench privilege or their own attitudes. Lee is right that there is still a strong evangelical force in this country and they don’t show any signs of making peace with secular society. The fact that American society is so secular is no small miracle in many ways.Report

    • I think the “evangelical force in this country” is probably not as strong and not as irreconcilable with secular society as it might seem to someone who is not a member of it or who feels alienated by their goals. (The following is based on my sense of the matter and on anecdote, not on any systematic evidence.)

      There are some whackos, WBC-style, who are by almost all reckoning truly out there. And most evangelicals probably do not endorse and are probably willing to condemn most of them.

      There are some, focus on the family style or Santorum style, who are probably more mainstream and who probably do win votes or influence votes and in that way still exercise a strong, even outsized influence in our polity. These FoF and Santorums play, often quite successfully, on the types of bigotries and fears that are probably more congenial to evangelicals’ worldview than to others’. In doing so, they advance and promote an agenda whose practical effect hurts and constrains a lot of people, regardless of any good intentions.

      Then there are the evangelicals who work every day and try to live their life. Some of them are preachy and hatefilled people with whom it is possible to discuss almost nothing. Some are honest people who are so loving and accepting that they’re probably more akin to the next Gandhi than to anything else. The rest, what I suspect is the vast majority of evanglicals, are some mix of the preachyhatefilled and the honest/loving/caring. They might think on a theoretical level that religion and secular society can never be completely separated, but in practice they still buy into the idea at some level that there should be a separation of church and state. Even if they vote for the Santorums or the FoF platforms they also have some healthy suspicion of them as power-hungry politicians.

      My point is that they are not quite as solid a faction as they probably appear to someone who doesn’t count themselves among their number or who doesn’t personally know many might be tempted to believe. And aside from a few issues on which they probably have wide agreement (e.g., abortion), their actual policy views can be all over the map.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    using the Constitution as a public relations weapon, without ever really respecting it at all

    This is an American political sport as old as the Republic. I’m perfectly good with calling it out in general*, but I actually don’t really have a beef with the Tea Party in particular for being worse on this score than lots of others. Nearly everyone is opportunistic with their political use of the Constitution; mot have their favorite parts and less favorite parts; etc. It’s just part of our politics.

    * Part of my relative sanguinity on this score is that the “without ever really respecting it at all” part is, to me, much, much more difficult to deal with than we give credit for. I’m sure I don’t always live up to it, God knows, and i’m not exactly sure what I would even prescribe as necessary for others to live up to it. As a result, though, I do consciously try to tone down the constitutionalism that appears in my political argumentation, and on that score, yes, I do find the Tea Party a bit shrill. But others I find the same way. And certainly wouldn’t in general vehemently condemn anyone for making constitutionalistic arguments in the American political arena. That’s pretty much what we do. It’s just not really my cup of tea so much.Report

    • This is all true, but “keeping this in perspective” leaves a lot of room for substantial alarm. Civil wars tend to happen when rebels think they are standing up for something worth fighting for, something they think is very important and therefore that gives them the moral high ground. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes not so much.

      There was an overt desire to launch a coup against FDR, for instance: it would have been very well-financed and might have gotten to the point of soliciting young men with guns willing to march for a subversion of the elected President were it not for the reservations of Smedley Butler to actually follow through on the ideas. Butler did have reservations about it, and it’s unclear exactly how serious the plotters were, but Serious People Of Means were at least playing with the idea.

      And let’s not forget that there was actually overt military resistance to Lincoln becoming President, which took Lincoln functionally all of his service to quell (and which cost him his life).

      So when we read about Tea Partiers who flirt with subversion of laws, nullifying laws they don’t like, and ignoring or squeezing out lawmakers they don’t like, recognizing that our polity has survived their like in the past is important, as is simultaneously recognizing that if permitted license to actually act on their ideas is a very, very bad idea.

      If the Tea Party doesn’t like Obama as President or laws about same-sex marriage or the function of the judiciary within our system of government by laws, let them peacefully politically organize and attempt as best they can to persuade their fellow Americans to join them in attempts to change those laws, to elect different kinds of public officials when Election Day comes around next.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

        How do you feel about the oathkeeper’s movement?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Our polity has… our presidents? not so much.
        Should I give the Kochs credit that they haven’t had BHO killed?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I support oath keepers as long as they are lawful good Paladins.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

        That’s the problem with “Lawful Good”. There are interpretations where Osama was a Lawful Good cleric. Had he cast “Detect Evil” on you, what would he have seen?Report

      • @burt-likko

        I mean, at the point where action comes into play, it seems to me that we have the structures in place to consistently apply the constitution as currently interpreted about as well as we ever can. It doesn’t matter in a court of law if a TPer s making X constitutional argument that elsewhere he makes other constitutional arguments that don’t quite jive.

        I took this to be about people making more or less idle constitutional arguments in one place that don’t line up with their more or less idle constitutional (or extra-constitutional) beliefs elsewhere. I.e., about the ideological inconsistency itself. Where it becomes about action (certainly, action of the kind you talk about), it definitely becomes a more serious issue. but it them IMO becomes less about ideological consistency and more about the particular claims/actions at hand.

        The systems we have don’t care about those actors’ ideological consistency; they just take the claims and actions one-by-one as they find them. And my sense is that our systems broadly can handle even claims and actions like the ones you talk about when they take them one at a time, not worrying about consistency with all other either claims those actors have made.

        Where we tie ourselves in knots, I’d argue largely for not much practical reason, is when we attempt to build overarching structures of conceptual consistency across many claims, when such structures aren’t actually necessarily supported by the underlying content that they base their claims on. (And I’m as interested in studying those overarching structures as the next guy who’s interested in this stuff. But that’s my attitude toward them.)Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        People certainly have wide latitude to be wrong about stuff, and they also have wide latitude to advocate political change. I’m not sure I can sign off on civil disobedience being Constitutionally privileged even when it is obviously aimed at political advocacy.

        Some of what I read in those links doesn’t smell like merely wrong-headed political advocacy and it sure doesn’t smell like urging people to engage in civil disobedience. I find at least one of my hackles in an unrelaxed position after reading some of those links — but I bear in mind those links are written to report events and phrases through a particular lens, one that is intended to make the speakers appear immoderate an dangerous.

        So I’m not gonna lose my shit over it: no laws broken, only intemperate rhetoric indulged in. Feeling a teensy bit wary.

        Not 100% sure what “Oathkeepers” are and now feeling a bit ashamed of my ignorance.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

        From Wikipedia:

        Oath Keepers is an American nonprofit organization that advocates that its members (current and former U.S. military and law enforcement) disobey any orders that they are given if they believe they violate the Constitution of the United States.

        Mother Jones has an opinion of them. They, of course, have an opinion of themselves.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:


        Do they have some sort of collective ethos over what orders do or do not violate? Or is that left up to individual members?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Well, they said “HERE ARE THE TEN ORDERS WE WILL *NOT* OBEY!” and they follow:

        1. We will NOT obey any order to disarm the American people.

        2. We will NOT obey any order to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects – such as warrantless house-to house searches for weapons or persons.

        3. We will NOT obey any order to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to trial by military tribunal.

        4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state, or to enter with force into a state, without the express consent and invitation of that state’s legislature and governor.

        5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union.

        6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.

        7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.

        8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control” during any emergency, or under any other pretext. We will consider such use of foreign troops against our people to be an invasion and an act of war.

        9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies, under any emergency pretext whatsoever.

        10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

        Now, it’s not their promises that bug me as much as the fact that they seem to feel the need to say such things (and seem to feel that need very, very strongly) but, ignoring the whole “wait, why are they saying this crap out loud?” questions, I’m glad that they’ve hammered out that they’re against setting up concentration camps in the US.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:


        I had a few different thoughts as I read through that list…

        “There seems to be enough to here to piss of *both* sides.”
        “What are the odds they receive these orders?”

        Some already seem to be happening (#2 and #3). A few seem like you could make the case they are real or imminent threats depending on how loosely you interpret them. And a bunch seem unlikely to ever happen.

        Here is an interesting (to me! at least) question: Would you feel better if all of our military and police officers took this oath? Or if none of them did?

        I think I’d feel better if they all did.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


        Why should I trust the Oathkeepers about their interpretation of what the Constitution and Law is? Why should I trust their implications about their holy righteousness?

        I am closer to the Mother Jones interpretation. They seem just as likely to stage a coup as Pat Lynch of the NYPD.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


        My issue with the Oathkeepers is that the standard that they hold themselves and it can lead to very subjective judgment.

        I can imagine situations where the Prosecutor gets a proper search warrant and has proper probable cause but some Oathkeeper Law Enforcement Officers decide for themselves that the search warrant is not valid. I can imagine a situation where I cheer this and situations where I deplore this. All in all this seems very dangerous and very coup d’etat like.

        The same thing goes for jury nullification. You can’t have it both ways. If you want it, you have to realize that it will be used like it was in Jim Crow era America, to exonerate whites who killed blacks and other minorities.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

        So according to 4 they wouldn’t have supported the Union in 1861.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Of these, only number two and number three are even remote dangers, the sorts of things that might be put on the table in today’s political environment. Warrantless searches have been going on for a long, long time, and are often constitutional. That doesn’t seem to be what they’re talking about; they appear to be referring to something I can to the general warrants against which the fourth amendment was written. But as phrase, that potential eliminates a large amount of searching and seizing that can be done consistent with well established law, and which is probably necessary for certain kinds of police work.

        As for detention of American citizens as enemy combatants, as far as I know this has only ever been considered for a single US citizen, Alex Padilla. And that’s been backed off from. If they wanted to be principled in their civil libertarianism, they would not limit their refusal to classify as enemy combatants only two US citizens, but instead would extend that refusal to all persons under the power of US authorities outside of active combat zones, including areas such as Guantánamo Bay.

        All the same, I’m glad that there are people in the military and in police forces who are giving thought to the idea that they might be given orders that violate basic liberties. This list of orders-to-refuse does not seem to go far enough in some places, and seems to be aimed at dangers to liberty that are more fantastic than realistic in other cases, but as a general direction of thought for thes folks, I think I approve.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:


        You touch on my point about how “both sides” could very well end up pissed. The idea of disobeying an unconstitutional order is something that some folks on any side of the aisle may agree on. What constitutes an unconstitutional order will remain a sticking point.

        I could see an argument being made on behalf of #1 if “American people” isn’t interpreted as “the entirety of the American people” but instead as “any of the American people”. Suppose an order was given to go in and disarm a militia group that illegally stockpiled weapons. Would they consider that “disarming the American people”?

        Note: I don’t think it is. But a reasonable case could be made in favor of that position.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Why should I trust the Oathkeepers about their interpretation of what the Constitution and Law is?

        Do you trust Prosecutors and Law Enforcement officers who have not joined the Oathkeepers?

        If so, why?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Do you think that the oath keepers believe that literally every American should be able to have a gun if he or she wants?

        How about felons? Wouldn’t an oathkeeper cop confiscate a felon’s weapon? I bet she would, and consider herself to not have broken her oaths notwithstanding.

        It seems most reasonable to believe that what is being referenced is some kind of law or instruction criminalizing the possession of a weapon, or a particular kind of weapon, for the population generally.Report

      • #2 and #3 are probably the most plausible things to be violated, at least today. But some of the others either have traction, or have happened before.

        #4: Sometimes soldiers have been called in despite no request from the governor. E.g., Pullman Strike.

        #7. Japanese internment, 2/3 of whom were US citizens. Hopefully it won’t be a realistic possibility again, but who knows?

        #10. There have been in our very recent past “free speech zones” that at least to the casual observer seem to have less to do with safety and more to do with cordoning off others’ speech.

        I’m being kind of a devil’s advocate here because outside this thread, I’ve never really heard of the oath takers (and also because I believe some of those things, like internment, should be opposed regardless of whether the internees are US citizens).Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Burt Likko says:

        “Do you think that the oath keepers believe that literally every American should be able to have a gun if he or she wants?”

        I believe the non-oath keeper police will shoot you on sight for having a gun before checking and regardless of your constitution or human rights to be holding the object minding your own business.Report

      • Avatar RTod in reply to Burt Likko says:

        FTR, there’s a wee bit more to the Oath Keepers than simply, “guys that won’t follow unconstitutional laws.” They’re pretty much on par with Alex Jones’s lizard people stuff on the wacky conspiracy theory spectrum.

        I don’t know that they are the best example to use here in this thread in the way they’re being used.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Insanity in the defense of freedom is no vice.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    re: exihibit A – there’s at least two (very positive and laudable) name checks to Ben Carson in the Wire, it was a bit odd to come across them when I re-watched the series recently.

    re: exihibit B – Huck needs that woman from the commercial to say to him “that’s not how it works; that’s not how *any* of this works

    re: remainder of the exhibits – Devin Burghart looks like he’s found steady work being a professional troll finder. And it looks like he went to the Glen Greenwald School for the Loquacious and Single-minded.Report

  5. Avatar aaron david says:

    As a libertarian, I will miss the Tea Party, not because I agree with them on social issues, I don’t, but because they drive the left so insane. Also, someone needs to balance out the Amanda Marcottes of the country.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to aaron david says:

      I don’t think there are as many Amanda Marcotte’s as you think they are.

      Also I would reverse it, we need Amanda Marcotte to balance out the wackiness of the Tea Party.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        One Amanda Marcotte is one too many.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Disclaimer: I have a friend from college who is at least facebook friends with Marcotte but I suspect more because they are both internet writer people and Brooklynites. I could be wrong. He is also facebook friends with Freddie DeBoer and Noah Bertlasky.

        Though I think Chris is one here, Marcotte is like McArdle with the roles reversed. I’m also a bit surprised that Tod hasn’t heard of her before but that is another story.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I haven’t read a word of her in over five years or so, and the last thing I saw had to do with economics. The words “painfully stupid” flashed across my mind, and I’ve written her off since. I have no beef with her personality or her views on feminism (why would I, I was raised by a feminist). I was left very unimpressed to the point where I took the “silence is golden” attitude.

        Yeah, I’m a cranky asshole at times.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Yeah, it’s funny how the Left hates McMegan because she’s a woman and the Right hates Macrcotte for really good reasons.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Want to tell us who you’re actually responding to? ‘Cause damned if I can tell who said anything like that.Report

      • I do recall in one of the recent posts, either mine or Saul’s or yours on Warren, Chris suggested that the fact that Elizabeth Warren and Megan McArdle are women might play a role in the way people respond so negatively to them. I agreed with him and still do.

        I don’t see it with Marcotte, but then I don’t think I’ve ever heard of her before today, and I don’t think I’ve read anything by her.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        What explains the negative reaction to Ted Cruz? Or Rand Paul? There’s a lot of visceral dislike of both those guys. In an era of such ideological hatred, is the ideological gulf not a sufficient explanation? If not, why not?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Martha Coakley lost state-wide elections in Massachusetts because she’s a woman, twice.

        (never mind her AG race nor Elizabeth Warren).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Rand Paul has the unfortunate distinction of having two names that drive liberals/progressives crazy.

        Ted Cruz doesn’t inspire the same sort of hate that we’re talking about. You’re unlikely to see him raised as an example in the way that both McArdle and Marcotte are (as Marcotte was in this thread). In fact, the only time I remember Cruz being brought up here recently is in the other conversation in which you raised him to ask whether he was also an outsider, which didn’t result in much if any Cruz-bashing. You mention McArdle or Marcotte? You’re gonna get some bashing. It’s reflexive, and it’s definitely ideological, but given how outsized it is, I have little doubt their gender plays a role.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Then contrast to Sarah Palin, and I think someone’s point has been made. (not sure which someone, though, honestly)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Bring up Krugman on a conservative site and see what happens. Hell, I’m only vaguely familiar with Marcotte (I’ve only seen her mentioned here, I think) whereas I see vitriol directed at Krugman more or less non-stop. Of course that may largely be a function of the blogs I’m familiar with, but likewise your perception could be the same.

        I’m not confident you’re really operating off evidence about how folks respond to particular men. Confirmation bias seems a real possibility here.

        Now, do I know gender plays no role, or am I arguing it couldn’t? No, absolutely not. I’m just suggesting that the claims so far are purely anecdotal and don’t seem to seriously account for actual responses to certain men. Nor do the responses seem to account for what seems to me to be not-outraged responses to any number of female opinion writers. All of this sounds like very cherry-picked data reinforcing a pre-existing belief. The belief that could be right–there’s an empirical hypothesis there after all–but but it’s being assumed self-evidently true, rather than being even very casually tested.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’m not claiming that men don’t inspire ire for ideological reasons. However, even if you’re dubious, I recommend comparing and contrasting what people say about the men and the women who disagree with them. And why.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’m not claiming that men don’t inspire ire for ideological reasons.

        Which, of course, is not what I said you said.

        However, even if you’re dubious, I recommend comparing and contrasting what people say about the men and the women who disagree with them.

        Well! that’s what I’m asking you to show me, the evidence for your assertions, instead of just the assertions. And not cherry-picked examples.

        And why.

        That’s the inference that would derive from the comparison. You can’t observe why directly.Report

      • What explains the negative reaction to Ted Cruz? Or Rand Paul? There’s a lot of visceral dislike of both those guys. In an era of such ideological hatred, is the ideological gulf not a sufficient explanation? If not, why not?

        Eh, it probably is sufficient. I just *suspect* there’s something gender-related in there. But I don’t have any proof.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Though I think Chris is one here, Marcotte is like McArdle with the roles reversed.

        Uh…no. The only thing Marcotte and McArdle have in common is that they’re both popular female bloggers whose surnames begin with M. McArdle often bends over backwards to be charitable to those who disagree with her, whereas Marcotte can’t even manage fair, much less agreeable. I challenge you to find anything in McArdle’s body of work that could fairly be compared to Marcotte’s recent “response” to Scott Aaronson’s Comment 171.

        I think that Marcotte’s wrong about a lot of things and that her ideology is irredeemably flawed. But I like and respect a lot of people about whom I believe that. Marcotte is reviled because she’s a despicable person.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        McArdle, of course, is rarely responding to blatant sexism the way Marcotte almost always is. But my point about them being the same but in reverse was about the response, of mostly men, to them rather than what they do. And y’all have done well to show that. She’s an awful person because she’s not nice to sexists.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @chris “And y’all have done well to show that. She’s an awful person because she’s not nice to sexists.”

        I confess I’ve only read the pieces she’s done that wikipedia pointed me to, as I’d never heard her name before until this conversation. And while I get that what’s been cited in Wikipedia is not a very fair way to judge her overall oeuvre, to say that the only reason I might find that hyperbolic kind of tribal click-baiting objectionable is that I want her to be nice to sexists is a wee bit eye-rolling.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’ve never read her Wikipedia page, but I imagine it deals with her talk of Catholics and Duke lacrosse. On the former, do we generally think of our own Sam as a horrible human being? Because I doubt his rhetoric is any more temperate on the subject. On the latter, given what women face on the subject of rape, particularly on the internet, I wish we had more Marcotte’s on the subject, even if she was wrong in this case.

        What else is there? Her talking about the cult of life?

        Basically, she goes after sexism hard, and a lot of boys find her rhetoric, which let’s face it is not uncommon among men, even here, clutch their pearls.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Look at the column BB linked to. It’s a thorough exercise in putting the worst construction on everything that was said, so as to be able to describe a cry from the heart as a sexist rant.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “I’ve never read her Wikipedia page, but I imagine it deals with her talk of Catholics and Duke lacrosse.”

        That would be true.

        “On the former, do we generally think of our own Sam as a horrible human being? Because I doubt his rhetoric is any more temperate on the subject.”

        FTR, it is.

        “On the latter, given what women face on the subject of rape, particularly on the internet, I wish we had more Marcotte’s on the subject, even if she was wrong in this case.”

        I’d say that at that level of vitriol I would respectfully agree to disagree, and that part of the very reason I think we have to not make rape an “us vs. them” conversation is so that we *can* try to change the attitudes of those who have grown up in a patriarchal society and who bristle at the thought that they are pro-rape… except that now, of course, I realize that by even having written that I am “rape-loving scum,” so I don’t know that I’d trust someone like me on the subject.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I disagree about Sam on the Church. He’s pretty intemperate, though I see where he’s coming from.

        On rape, it’s good to have people trying to convince. It’s also good to have bomb throwers, because the mainstream discourse has a lot that needs to be blown up.

        Mike, I read his comment as pretty condescending, and the latest in a long line of “I’m not a sexist, I’m a nice guy” responses to accusations of sexism. I’d have ignored it, but she has readers ’cause she doesn’t ignore that sort of thing. I’m not sure what a more temperate response that doesn’t point out its many types of awfulness looks like. I do know that there’s plenty of sexism from the heart, though. Ethics in journalism, and all that.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “On rape, it’s good to have people trying to convince. It’s also good to have bomb throwers, because the mainstream discourse has a lot that needs to be blown up”

        Well, if we’re moving the goal posts from “anyone who would not like her must be pro-sexism” to “even bomb-throwers should have a place in the the conversation,” then yes, we are on the same page.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Yah, those weren’t my goal posts, so if I’ve moved them, I’m not too worried. So far, the criticisms have been, “She’s a horrible person with whom I disagree, but not just because I disagree. Here’s a link to her saying mean stuff about sexists to see how horrible a person she is.”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Ah, sorry. I needed you to explain to me what I was saying.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Fifteen years ago, if you dismissed Dworkin as being so extreme she actually hurt feminism, you were a sexist. Today, if you even mention Dworkin, you’re a sexist because you’re hurting feminism by invoking someone so extreme. And if you can’t keep up with feminist trends enough to navigate that, you’re obviously a sexist. Honestly, who has time for that?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Tod, have you called her an awful person? Have you linked to anything? If not, perhaps I wasn’t talking about you. In fact, I said the same thing before you jumped in, so it’s a good bet I wasn’t talking about you. I do wonder at your taking this/her (having admitted you’ve never read her, except via Wikipedia) so personally.

        To be clear, if you haven’t read her, haven’t called her a horrible person, haven’t linked to her being mean to sexists as evidence of her being a horrible person, and don’t recoil at the very mention of her name, I am not talking about you or comparing you to McArdle-haters.

        Mike, I think you and Marcotte agree on Dworkin, then. She’s basically saying, “Men used to hold up Dworkin as an example of how insane feminism is. Now, since she’s the only feminist they’ve heard of, they all say they’ve read her to prove they get feminism before they say something about women.”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Tod, put differently, I’m not talking about you. If you spend some time reading Marcotte, then come back here and say, “she’s a horrible person, look at what she said to this guy,” then link to her being mean to a sexist guy saying sexist stuff, I will then be talking about you.

        However, my suspicion is that you, like Mike in this subthread, would be more likely to argue she was unfair to someone who wasn’t being intentionally sexist than to just throw a link and assume her lack of humanity is self-evident therein. In other words, I do not fear that in this regard I’ll ever be talking about you (or Mike).Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        The fact that you’re agreeing with a statement that starts “Men all …” is enough to convince me that continuing this conversation is pointless.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I didn’t use the word “all,” you did. I just said men, because I’m pretty sure Marcotte would say that it was almost exclusively men who used Dworkin as a cudgel against feminism, and almost exclusively men who now use her as evidence they are well read in feminism.

        If it’s distracting, just read “assholes, the vast majority of whom are male” in place of “men” in that sentence.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I see that in the section on Dworkin, she uses “misogynist,” a word that can refer to men and women (though mostly men). Since I was trying to characterize her view, substitute that for “men” for more accuracy.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Marcotte’s “argument” in the BB linky is simply a translation of what the dude said, right? Why does anything more need to be said? She was wrong to do that. It was a dickish move. Not only because it intentionally misrepresents his words but because her “theory” somehow entails the “truth” of those translations. QED-for-her.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Quoting Chris:

        they all say Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Mike, so I did use the word “all,” in this case for the same (sort of) folks who used to use Dworkin as a cudgel. I could have been more clear. I apologize, and suggest using Marcotte’s actual word, “misogynists.”

        Still, it isn’t my favorite mode of internet argumentation (I think it stopped being a funny blog post genre circa 2004), but it gets the point across: “this dude is basically saying the same thing sexist dudes always say, but trying to make it look like he’s not a sexist dude in the process.” We can call this the Dawkins Maneuver, and again, while I’m not a fan of the tactic Marcotte uses, mostly because it’s played out, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the user of the Dawkins Maneuver.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Yeah, when I see someone reveal his vulnerabilities, say he doesn’t know what the real answer is, and ask to open a dialogue, the first name I think of is “Limbaugh”, but the second is “Dawkins”.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        If your response to “I get harassed more on this context than anywhere else” is “I’m a feminist, but I was afraid of women, so I’m not so sure it’s worse in that context,” I have little sympathy for you, as I’ve said.

        The Dawkins maneuver is, “I’m pro-feminist, but here’s how your experience is invalid.” I’m sure Dawkins’ defense of nerd sexism is heartfelt as well.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Chris, I agree with you first paragraph about lack of sympathy up there. Not a complete lack of sympathy, but pretty darn close. What he seems to be complaining about is a lack of normal emotional development (or something) and not perverse acculturation due to oppressive feminists. But that doesn’t mean responding to him with derision is warranted. Eg, Marcotte wrote this

        This is a critical passage, because it really lays out his thesis: That fear of rejection is a male-only experience, and one that is so awful that any suffering women have endured through history is a mere pittance compared to it.

        as her take on what Aaronson is getting on about. Which, it seems to me, completely misses the point of his comments, in particular the one which resulted in the quoted passage. No matter how ungenerously a person wants to interpret what he wrote, what he clearly was not saying is thta fear of rejection is a male-only experience. He was talking about his individual experience, which deserves a different type of answer than the one she gave.

        I get that she’s frustrated and impatient with a particular line of argument, and I get that she feels like her arguments are continually misrepresented by folks who disagree with her. That doesn’t excuse confusing and then sarcastically dismissing views she disagrees with. For example, if she made a passing gesture at distinguishing the two issues in play here – his personal experience and how that experience might be construed as an argument against feminism more generally – then the subsequent ripping she gave him might have been easier to justify.

        My two cents anyway.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I sortof agree with @stillwater that it was ‘dickish,’ but also understand that she probably wasn’t thinking of him so much as the hoard of he-man-woman-haters grasping at proofs of their theorem “feminism emasculates.”

        I might condemn how she did this, but that she did it?

        (I had to look Dworkins up, btw. I’m familiar with some of her work as cultural influence, but not first hand. I am a hedgewitch, practicing outside the village wall, and my notions of feminism are my own; I would argue that it’s essentially libertarian — that women deserve the same rights and freedoms in their bodies and their lives as men, and that ingrained traditions are a lodestone against that liberty, and so merit a fair amount of attention and restructuring. That last bit seems to be what irks libertarians; they don’t seem to pay much heed to the destructive capacity of tradition in these ways; they seem to think that if you declare everybody ought free from such forces, that’s enough; thus shirking the hard work part of the ideal.)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I actually agree with you, Still, for the most part. I get why she did it — his response to a woman’s experience is hackneyed and, in its content and conclusion, condescending and dismissive — but it would have been more effective to just point out that the nice guy play is hackneyed, condescending, and dismissive by linking to a bunch of examples of it from other similarly sexist nice guys.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’ll add that Marcotte’s greatest sin here is amplifying the voice in Aaaronson’s tired, manipulative, dismissive, and in the end rather disgusting little missive about feminism and his experience of women over women’s experience of other men with whom he identifies. If she had just given it the treatment it deserved — a brief sneer followed by filing it away in the “nice guys, who are the truly oppressed” file — then Brandon would have to have used another example of Marcotte ripping into a sexist and and we’d be having the same discussion about someone else.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Lest it not be clear, what makes Aaronson’s response a little bit disgusting is that he responds to a woman’s discussing reasons to fear men (harassment, including physical harassment) by saying not just that he feared approaching women, but that the world view that teaches women they shouldn’t have to fear men, was responsible for making his fear of approaching women worse. Heartfelt and risible.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Would you say it’d be like complaining about violence against a comic newspaper and the response be something like “well, blasphemy is very offensive” or something like that?

        Because, if it is, let me tell you that I completely get where you’re coming from.

        If it’s not, then I’m stuck thinking that if a personal blog isn’t the proper place for a Poor Little Old Me essay, then there isn’t anywhere that’s appropriate for a PLOM essay.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Jay, the analogy would be this: in response to someone saying they were attacked for blasphemy, someone else said, “that’s how you see it, but other people I know feel like they were attacked less when they were blasphemous, and I’m afraid of the blasphemous, so I can’t fully support free speech.”

        Then I’d say what I’m saying now, or something like it.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

      not because I agree with them on social issues, I don’t

      Remember when the Tea Party was supposedly going to stay out of social issues, and focus strictly on fiscal ones?

      Good times, good times.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to aaron david says:

      There are many more Tea Party people in this country than Amanda Marcottes.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “There are many more Tea Party people in this country than Amanda Marcottes.”

        both groupings require a belief that the other deeply outweighs them in both numbers and sinister string-pullers who really run the show (because no one can believe this stuff, it’s crazy and stuff).Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to aaron david says:

      As a sort of libertarian, I wish that they would both go away.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to aaron david says:

      I have to go look up Amanda Marcotte. Are we talking about her here?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

        She’s an example of why it’s necessary to have both sides do it.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Rufus F. says:

        “I have to go look up Amanda Marcotte. ”

        Yeah, me too. Had not heard of her.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Jesus, you guys must be new to blogs.

        Think of Megan McCardle conversations, but reverse the roles of the participants, and you’ve got Marcotte: a smart, if one-note, female blogger. She is mostly run-of-the-mill feminism, with some internet style skepticism (i.e., atheism and “science rocks”). A blue dog, as well. So much so that she, along with Melissa from Shakesville were hired by Edwards in ’08, but let go in a mini-scandal because of intemperate things they’d said on their blogs (about Catholics, if I remember correctly).

        Also, Marcotte is a bit of a poster child for white feminist insensitivity to non-white feminists (and non-white people more generally).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Rufus F. says:

        She was, it should be added, a huge voice in the progressive blogosphere in the Bush years. She’s predictable, but as with McCardle, I imagine, not deserving of the vitriol she inspires simply by virtue of not being not a progressive.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Rufus F. says:


        Pedantic Note time:

        Do you mean yellow dog Democrat? As far I know she is not conservative on much of anything?


      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Shakesville! There’s one that had slipped off my radar screen. It’s probably not fair to say they invented the echo chamber, but they sure did their part in perfecting it.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Saul, I do, thank you.

        James, I got run out of Shakeville for saying that laughing at drug addiction, even Rush Limbaugh’s, was un-progressive. Haven’t been back since… maybe ’07.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Rufus F. says:


        Marcotte started off as a blogger for a site called Pandagon but now mainly writes for Slate or that is where I see her writing most often. She mainly focuses on feminism and pro-choice/abortion issues and does so fearlessly and without the bend of moderation. Chris is right that the ire she draws is similar to the stuff you have noticed about how liberals go bonkers over McArdle.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

        There was a somewhat amusing (in the way that food fights are amusing) scandal back when Marcotte wrote her “It’s A Jungle Out There”. Its chapter headings came with artwork from pulp novels from the 50’s. (I want to say that they were Sheena: Queen of the Jungle drawings but, if they weren’t, just think of those and that’ll get you to the same ballpark.)

        Well, in addition to the usual “Sheena saving the behinds of the pasty scientists from crocodiles” and “Sheena saving the behinds of the pasty scientists from big cats” drawings, there were a handful of “Sheena saving the behinds of the pasty scientists from bemasked spear-throwing native savages” drawings.

        When called out on these drawings as being insensitive, the response was not “Oh, jeez! I’m so sorry! I was thinking so much about myself and my issues that I was blind to how I was being hurtful to my allies!” nor even “Oh, jeez! I’m so sorry! My editor put those pictures there without my approval which, I assure you, I would not have given if I had known!” It was, instead, a variant of the “why don’t you people see that I’m not the enemy here?” response.

        To her credit, Marcotte did see the light after a while.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I got run out of Shakeville for saying that laughing at drug addiction, even Rush Limbaugh’s, was un-progressive

        There’s a fine line between laughing at his hypocrisy and laughing at his addiction, and it’s awfully tempting to cross that line when it’s people we despise. But to demand that someone be “all in” on mocking a person’s addictions is another level entirely.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Saul’s new too if he thinks she started at Pandagon. She was well known in the liberal/progressive blogosphere when she joined that site, and had even won a Koufax, when she joined that site.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Rufus F. says:

        James, right, we could have a discussion about the issue, except at Shakesville, where Melissa doing it meant it was off limits for discussion, much less criticism.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Rufus F. says:


        At least I know who she is.

        Also a Koufax for a lefty blog thing award? Interesting. Mike Schilling must be thrilled.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I’d never heard of “a Koufax”, though the name makes it pretty obvious.Report

      • As I said above, this thread is my introduction to Marcotte. I wonder if I would be as charitable to someone citing an article by her as some here have been to me citing an article by McArdle, assuming Marcotte is truly a “McCardle of the left.” Chances are, I wouldn’t rise to the challenge and I would be just as knee-jerky.

        And people say Original Sin isn’t a thing.


    • Avatar zic in reply to aaron david says:

      I think Marcotte’s pretty awesome; so I’m really curious why you think she merits the silliness badge of someone who has little comprehension of the constitution they’re touting as justification for bigotry?

      Because if you’re going that far out, I would really like to know why. Otherwise, this is just so much whining about a vocal feminist; and that simply doesn’t equate with deliberate bigotry.Report

      • Avatar Iron Tum in reply to zic says:

        To this day, A.M. refuses to admit that someone from the Duke Lacrosse team did not rape Crystal MangumReport

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        Iron, when was the last time she said something on the topic?Report

      • Avatar Iron Tum in reply to zic says:

        During the Nifong disbarment, she was characterizing it as kowtowing to the right-wing misogynists or something similar. I don’t know that she’s written about the subject lately, but when she’s been asked about it, she deflects and says that the question is a distraction from the campus rape epidemic. Comments on the subject get memory-holed.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to aaron david says:


      I would really like to know why. Otherwise, this is just so much whining about a vocal feminist; and that simply doesn’t equate with deliberate bigotry.

      I don’t know if her bigotry is deliberate, but it is certainly there. To say that she is uncharitable to anyone who does not share her version of feminism and progressive politics is a bit of an understatement.

      For instance, here is what she Tweeted just as the Rolling Stone UVA rape story was falling apart – the same day that RS issued its non-retraction, I believe: It’s really time for people to understand that rape denialism is like Holocaust denialism: Broad refusal to accept reality.

      Here is a Worst Hits from her Tweets, and this is just 2014: http://twitchy.com/2014/12/31/the-10-dumbest-amanda-marcotte-tweets-of-2014/ (ps – I don’t endorse the source, but it’s just a list of Marcotte’s own words. Y’all can judge for yourselves.)


      I do not think that McArdle is really the right analouge for Marcotte. For one thing, McArdle is an opinion journalist who has lots of opinions that get under people’s skin. Marcotte is almost purely an activist; her writing is almost always in service of her political agenda.

      Something occurred to me about McArdle after yesterday’s conversation. One of the reasons that progressives find her so infuriating, is that she is often making fairly centrist, often liberal points, but she’s making them towards right-leaning libertarians and conservatives. And that is part of what causes so many on the left to think that she is hopelessly confused on an issue. In fact, she’s just not talking to them. The best example of a McArdle of the left is probably Matt Yglesias. Yglesias is often trying to sell market liberalism to progressives, so he draws flack from the right for being a progressive and from the far-left for being a “neoliberal.”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        I make the comparison only to highlight the reaction to her.

        She says some intemperate things, to be sure, but “bigotry” is probably the wrong word. She’s in the business of expressing her opinions (and has probably written more words publicly than even McArdle), and she expresses them forcefully. This inevitably gives some people, particularly some men, the vapors.

        The “Holocaust denial” thing makes sense, if we treat it as not about one case, but about rape denialism period. Hell, we’ve had a bunch of people hear who swear up and down that the 20% number is wildly exaggerated, even as they’re directed to the research. That’s denialism, pure and simple, and it’s harmful. As harmful as Holocaust denialism? I don’t know how you compare them (what would the metric be?), but it makes her point I suppose.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        She says some intemperate things, to be sure, but “bigotry” is probably the wrong word.

        Here’s the Dictionary.com definition of bigotry: stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own. That is a spot-on definition of Marcotte. She leaves almost no room for the idea that someone might disagree with her and not be a full-on misogynist.

        Hell, we’ve had a bunch of people hear who swear up and down that the 20% number is wildly exaggerated, even as they’re directed to the research.

        I am one of those people and the idea that my opinions on this issue are anywhere near Holocaust denial is really absurd. They are not even differences of degree. They are categorically different.

        And speaking of statistics, here’s something from the DOJ that pretty well backs up my beliefs on the campus rape hysteria issue: http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5176Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        Oh man, that “10 dumbest” link is a perfect example of what I mean.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to j r says:

        And @j-r pretty much covers all of my points.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to j r says:


        Quoting from Twitchy to make Marcotte look bad pretty much proves the point Chris was trying to make. Her mere presence drives the right-wing insanely batty.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        I think that there are a lot of men out there pontificating day after day who hold ‘wrong’ opinions, and it slides. They get mocked for a day or two, and then quoted liberally in their next piece. But Marcotte (and McArdle) seem in for this very specific kind of wrongness — wrong once, always wrong. Point out a more-manly pontificator held to this same standard.

        It goes back to the compelling thing revealed by the difference in performance reviews; men act, women are.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        j r, yeah, she is not kind in her words to describe ideas she doesn’t like, and people who promote them. That makes her a person on the internet.

        And I’m not sure what you think in that study confirms your suspicion that it’s overblown. It gives a pretty high annual rate for both, but suggests (as a lot of people have been saying) it’s an age thing more than a college thing. It doesn’t get you 1 in 5, but we’ve established in past discussions that number is not for rape, it’s for a broader category (sexual assault), and the research is consistent on it (over 4 years). I’ll have to read the methodology of the DOJ study later.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to j r says:

        @zic Now you’ve got me thinking about whether there are men treated similarly and whether or not they are distinguishable. How do people think that the lefty blogosphere’s treatment of, say, Bill Kristol or Ross Douthat compares to McArdle? How about Paul Krugman or Michael Moore compared to Marcotte? I think that this probably bears out your theory, since these people all have much bigger platforms and audiences than McArdle and Marcotte but I’m not sure. Maybe Charles Murray?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:

        Saul, so you’re going to focus on the source and pretend the substance doesn’t matter? Address the substance, man, whether you’re defending it or critiquing it, because it’s not what Twitchy says that j-r is linking to, it’s Marcotte’s own words.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to j r says:

        Zic, Matthew Yglesias is the closest to a male McArdle as there is. I don’t think he gets it quite as bad, but there is some overlap, and I don’t think that gender is irrelevant to the equation. The difference in vitriol directed between Marcotte and Freddie is notable, though, given that I think they commit many similar sins, and I think gender definitely plays a role in that.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        @chris for me, the value in Marcotte’s writing is helping me (and I presume other women) see that the shitty stuff we’ve put up with is, in fact, shitty; we’re not imagining it. It’s sexual assault, sometimes it’s rape, it’s an invasion of our personal space, and it’s demanding we be there for someone else’s eye instead of for our own selves.

        I don’t think anybody I’ve read ever so clearly expressed this, steadily and repeatedly, in a way that, Yeah, shit that makes me feel icky should because it is, in fact, icky. I get that a lot of men might not like this; that it might make them feel bad about themselves. But the answer there isn’t to stop listening to Marcotte, it’s to listen harder, and quit doing icky stuff.

        Just to put my perception of her real value on this record since she’s being held up a the equivalent of buffoons who are going for soundbites about perceived slights against Real Americans TM.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:

        Don Zeko,

        On some liberal blogs, Douthat is regularly referred to as Douchehat, and consistently and viciously reviled. And the right and libertarian responses to Krugman these days are consistently sneery (I read a lot of econ blogs; the authors, being professional, try to be fair, but the commenters sure as hell don’t.)

        I’m going to go ahead and suggest that the claim that only Marcotte and McArdle get treated that badly is based on a hefty dose of confirmation bias.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to j r says:


        My point was:

        Marcotte: Right :: McArdle: Left in terms of the reaction that both produce from the opposition. Twitchy is about as intemperate and partisan a site as the right-wing has. After all, Sullivan defines the Malkin Award as:

        “The Malkin Award, named after blogger Michelle Malkin, is for shrill, hyperbolic, divisive and intemperate right-wing rhetoric. Ann Coulter is ineligible – to give others a chance.”

        So it is kind of rich to use Malkin and her sight as proof that Marcotte herself is intemperate and partisan.

        Most of those tweets did not seem intemperate to me anyway. Most were standard boilerplate stuff for liberal Democratic talking points especially the realizations on gerrymandering and potential long-term GOP control of the House. The only silly one was the first one about the teenage boy asking Miss America to the prom. Why is it shrill, intemperate, or stupid to point out that 22,000 dollars for birth control medicine over 12 or so years is not exactly cheap?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to j r says:


        I would argue that Marcotte has a much bigger audience than Freddie. Freddie is a would-be academic who blogs. I am not sure he even gets paid for his writing. Marcotte is someone who is big (in Internet journalism) circles.

        James brings up a good point about how often the left sneers at Douthat and he has a bigger audience than Marcotte being a New York Times op-ed person. Brooks also gets sneered at a lot by the left.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        The Twitchy link doesn’t have any substance. It’s just “oh, she’s so stupid. She thinks things I don’t!” It’s precisely the sort of mocking that McArdle haters get heat for here.

        @zic I get that. I don’t think her detractors care, though. I suspect that’s part of why they hate her so passionately.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to j r says:


        I read the site and read all the tweets and couldn’t think of a reason why what Marcotte said could be labeled dumb. Most of it seemed fairly obvious and not-controversial. I was expecting something like “Men should be put into reeducation camps” or “Every Republican in Congress should be gunned down” for intemperate tweets but there was nothing like that there.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to j r says:

        Brooks also gets sneered at a lot by the left.
        Sneering is fine, as long as you can explain why. 🙂

        Thing is, humans working as they do — after you’ve read a dozen or so things by some one and found them all problematic in much the same way, you just start dismissing without analysis. By nature, we’re quite quick to find patterns and exploit them to save time and energy.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:


        For pete’s sake, j-r explicitly said he wasn’t endorsing the site, and the issue wasn’t about anything that anyone at Twitchy wrote about the words. The issue was solely about Marcotte’s own words.

        If you don’t find them intemperate, that’s fine, because then at least then you’re addressing the substance. But you still can’t refrain from complaining about where the words were found, which is a red herring, totally irrelevant to the subject of the words themselves.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        Oh, and I see now that the DOJ report gives pretty good and comprehensive reasons for the difference of its estimates from those of previous research.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:


        Quoting from Twitchy to make Marcotte look bad pretty much proves the point Chris was trying to make. Her mere presence drives the right-wing insanely batty.

        No, it does not. For one thing, I’m not “quoting from Twitchy to make Marcotte look bad.” I used that link because I’m lazy and did not want to do the work of searching through her Twitter account. It is a collection of her own Tweets; that’s what makes her look bad. If you disagree, that’s fine, but the fact those Tweets happen to be collected under a Twitchy URL is completely beside the point.

        Also, I’m not right-wing and she does not drive me insane. I merely think that she is the perfect example of a certain type of extreme progressive feminism.

        There is certainly validity to the idea that people react to men’s and women’s expressions of ideas and opinions differently. No doubt. In this case, however, not sure that we need to go there. If you want to find the right comparison for Marcotte on the right, try someone like Michelle Malikin (I was tempted to write Ann Coulter, but Coulter is so far into obvious troll territory that it would not be a very good comparison). You want to try to argue that anyone who criticizes or doesn’t take Malikin seriously is only doing so because she is a woman?


        j r, yeah, she is not kind in her words to describe ideas she doesn’t like, and people who promote them. That makes her a person on the internet.

        I think that you are treating this a bit like a binary, when there are very obvious shades of in between. Lots of writers and pundits are uncharitable to people with whom they have ideological disagreements, but lots of writers and pundits don’t rise to quite the levels of a Marcotte or a Malikin. Like I said, I understand why lots of people dislike folks like McArdle and Yglesias, but I would not call either of them bigoted.

        And I linked to the DOJ study not so much because I think it offers definitive proof that I am right. I fully admit that I have no idea what the true rates of rape and sexual assault are (it most likely approaches 1 the wider you choose to define sexual assault, which is itself an injustice).

        In incidents where there is little to no corroborating evidence and all we have is two people’s versions of events, it is highly unlikely that we can know that true number. The best we are going to get is a range and that range is likely going to vary. There is no reason to believe that rates of sexual assault at a 2-year commuter school are going to be anywhere near the rates at a big D-I party school, for instance. So, I think that when you take the rates that you find at the latter and imply that they must be universal, you are making a mistake. That is nothing like Holocaust denial.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        I’d suggest reading the DOJ report before using it. It’d suggest this becausec those numbers mean something different, and it’s precisely in line with the denialism charge to pick numbers one doesn’t understand to support a point the numbers don’t make.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:


        I was not speaking of general public; I was speaking of the people in this very room, both examples of non-TP ‘silly’ were women might be saying something the speakers didn’t really intend to say, they’re actual gentlemen and thoughtful people.

        As to Malkin; I really struggle to figure out how to compare Marcotte to her in any meaningful sense, unless it’s the sense of looking out for the well-capitalized as a right in the same way walking through life without being treated like a sex object someone else has a right to is a right.

        As to your DOJ link, that’s a great link; but I never really subscribed to the notion of campus rape as more important then rape in general, it was just an environment where women actually have some ability to demand action because they’re also paying tuition and there’s a law called Title IX.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:


        If the DOJ report speaks directly against the specific claims that I’ve made, I am interested to hear how. As I said, my point isn’t that “these are the real numbers, all the others are exaggerated.” My claim is that the body of empirical work suggests a range of possibilities and the 1 in 5 number is at the higher end of that range. How is choosing not to use the higher end of a range akin to denying something?

        Also, let’s be honest and say that the statement “X is basically like Holocaust denial” is by no means an argument meant to make a serious comparison. It’s an attempt at a shortcut. Its argument by characterization. If X were really like Holocaust denial in the first place, you wouldn’t have to make the analogy, because the characterization of X would be self-evident.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        See the notes on, e.g., alcohol and drug related assaults. The DOJ study does not suggest different numbers from the other research. It suggests these are the numbers for a subset of the assaults studied in the other research.

        And I’d say more like climate denialiats, butv that too is a rhetorical point.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        @j-r to what purpose?

        You say the 1 in 5 is the ‘high end,’ I’d say that including sexual assault, and clearly define that sexual assault is physical contact forced upon you of a sexual nature, that it’s pretty darn close to 100% of women. Nearly all of them.

        So if it’s only rape, and 1 in 5 is too high, too many rapes, say it’s only 10. That still means that 10% of the population of women is raped in her life here in the US. Is that more comforting to you, or is that still a pissing mad epidemic of violence that should not be fucking happening?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:

        Is that more comforting to you,

        At least I’m not the only one on the receiving end of zic’s nasty insinuations.

        Clearly anyone who disputes the reported numbers on sexual assault is just fine and dandy, totally cool, with sexual assault, as long as it’s a slightly lower frequency than the reported numbers. Because of course that’s perfectly logical, and of course such insinuations are a perfectly legitimate form of argument.

        Maybe next time you can just go ahead and imply he’s actually a rapist.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:

        The Twitchy link doesn’t have any substance. It’s just “oh, she’s so stupid.

        Come on, Chris, the substance was Marcotte’s tweets, not anything Twitchy added. It was obvious from j-r’s post that he was referring solely to Marcotte’s words, and it was obvious from my followups that “substance” referred solely to her words. Neither j-r nor I was referring to any of Twitchy’s own words. For a guy who’s been accusing me of reading you uncharitably, you’ve been pretty frequently doing exactly that to me.

        I read the site and read all the tweets and couldn’t think of a reason why what Marcotte said could be labeled dumb.

        You don’t need to persuade me. I’ve made no claims about the substance of her tweets. This is the comment you should have originally directed to j-r, because it actually addressed what she said.Report

      • Avatar Iron Tum in reply to j r says:


        Dan Quayle?
        Strom Thurmond?
        Trent Lott?

        How many decades until Mitt Romney can open his mouth without some responding “Binders full of women?”Report

    • I used to read Marcotte regularly, a long time back. Before her Pandagon days, even, when she had a blogspot site called Mouse Words. It was really interesting reading to me at the time, and I’m glad I did it to better understand what the heck people are talking about sometimes. It didn’t take terribly long, though, to get the gist of what she was saying, in one form or another, over and over again, and so I moved on. It’s hard for me to maintain reading someone whose responses to just about everything are so entirely predictable, and whose disregard for anybody who disagrees with her in the broad or in the particulars is so emphatic. Especially when you’re one of the bad guys, as I am.Report

      • +1, to the word.

        Part of me still reads her in spirit, even. But not the part of me that actually moves my sightline over computer screens. I’m glad she’s over there doing her thing; I think it’s good for men in general to have to deal with a writer like that until they kind of accept her point of view as legitimate in its way (and I think men who read her tend to hang on until they get what Will & I got out of it). But I, myself, don’t continue to see the time-value of it for me.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        I haven’t read her in years either, though only since she left Austin. I used to get links from her periodically, so…

        But I’d finished reading her by ’04.Report

  6. Avatar James Hanley says:

    The Tea Party will decline, but these folks aren’t going anywhere. The beliefs will not decline, and they’ll just be waiting for, and some looking for or working to create, the next name they’ll rally under.

    That is, there’ll be nothing to not miss except the name of this particular permutation.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to James Hanley says:

      ‘struth, indeed Of course, one might hope that the Right has Learned its Lesson with populism…Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kimmi says:

        The lesson being that it will get you back control of the House of Representatives, net you a few governorships, and earn you a majority of state legislatures just in time for the decennial redistricting so you can maintain your power after the ardor cools?Report

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to James Hanley says:

      The Tea Party, however it started, quickly morphed into the stock Republican base. The loudest, most fervent group of them yes, but they seem to be roughly the same set.

      It was, IIRC, around the time the GOP base was growing very disenchanted with Bush and the GOP over their handling of meltdown, and when the GOP brand itself was really, really unpopular. (They’d just taken a severe loss in the 2006 elections as well).

      Call it the Tea Party, call it Susan. Those particular voters aren’t going away. I suspect they’re even more of a headache for the GOP than for anyone else.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to morat20 says:

        I suspect they’re even more of a headache for the GOP than for anyone else.

        Sure, they cost them safe Republican seats like Dick Lugar’s. My mom was one of those folks persuaded to vote against Lugar in the primary. I chided her because Lugar, despite my policy disagreements with any Republican, is a hero in my book for helping secure loose nuclear materials after the implosion of the USSR, and I think that alone was enough to earn him a sinecure until the end of his days. Then I teased her because the schmo who primaried him lost the Senate race to a Democrat, costing the GOP that seat.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I’m also not convinced that the Tea Party was anything more than ordinary conservative Republicsns trying on some fancy dress. Every self identified Tea Partier acted with in and through the Republicsn a Party. They employed the same tactics against Obama that Reublicans under Newt did against Clinton, albeit in a more extreme form. Their rhetoric and beliefs are those that the Far Right of the GOO advocated since FDR was in office.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I’m reading The Invisible Bridge right now, and it really is amazing to someone like myself that didn’t live through that time how little about the Tea Party is new. The policy particulars may change, but it’s amazing how much the people that supported Reagan in ’76 (and Goldwater, and Nixon, and Gingrich) have in common with the Tea Party today.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to LeeEsq says:

      The TP always was the republican base. They had some costumes, some really self-righteous constitution lovin rhetoric and all. But they were always the R base. Seeing them as anything other than that always required some gullibility.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to greginak says:

        Not entirely. There were a number of libertarians in there, too. And I mean decent people, not just the stereotypical wackos. I remember one of my former co-bloggers expressing bewilderment at how some people were painting these rallies, because in his experience the ones he’d gone to weren’t like the popular representations. That’s when there was still a large element of anti-corporatism in it, before the simple reactionarism became dominant.

        So it didn’t last, but it was there in the beginning. One of the essential difficulties, or dangers, for any inchoate movement is that everyone with an axe to grind looks to co-opt it for their particular grievances. For example, the Reform Party, which was Perot’s vehicle, but which was fought over by various factions who wanted a party other than the Dems or Reps, and didn’t necessarily have much in common with each other or even a whole lot in common with Perot.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:

        @greginak @james-hanley

        I’ve been in numerous discussions with Tea Partiers on-line wherein said Tea Partier tried to convince me that they were for the “little guy”. We just happened to have substantial disagreement on who the little guy is and how to best help said little guy.

        There was a brief moment when people theorized about whether there could be a OWS and Tea Party alliance but that fell apart pretty quickly.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to greginak says:

        I always thought…Santanelli’s? who-ever’s…rant that started the Tea Party label was epically stupid. Whatever that rant was, inspired by the mere idea that maybe home owners should get help in addition to shoveling money at banks.

        Then again, I’ve always been a firm believe in “If you owe the bank a hundred dollars, you have a problem. If you owe the bank a million dollars, the bank has a problem” concept.

        (There were other reasons a home-owner targeted bailout would have been an idea worth exploring. But sadly, mortgage modifications and such would have required taking immediate balance sheet losses. Instead, banks and companies often took possession of houses which then started falling apart as they waited for someone to pay close to the bloated, bubbled price).Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to greginak says:

        @james-hanley I agree with you that there were libertarians in the mix, but I don’t think they were ever in the driver’s seat. As Morat notes, the founding rant was against the possibility that any ordinary people would get the kind of treatment that the banks were getting, and it was a short hop skip and a Fox News sponsorship away from it becoming what it was always destined to be: a movement about resentment of perceived welfare beneficiaries and culture war antagonisms.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak says:

        @james-hanley I don’t particularly disagree. However there is a fair amount of anti-corporate feeling in a lot of R’s, more so in the rural folk. It is the business and DC wings of the R’s that are most full throated in subservience to business. Plenty of conservatives don’t trust big business at all. So the TP was base R’s. It is true there were all sorts mixed in at first but like Saul noted, it was sort of the same thing with Occupy, there were a variety of people and ideas.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to greginak says:

        I note, just in passing, that while technically Obama had funds for a targeted loan modification program, it wasn’t actually used and the White House’s total disinterest in the program was pretty legendary among the Democrats who followed the bailouts and aftermath of the collapse.

        HAMP? HARP? I forget what it was called. Basically the program had a pool of money that could be used to refinance mortgages, work with banks for mortgage reductions, and basically try for a win-win wherein home owners could afford their mortgage and the owners of the note didn’t have a rotting house they’d sell years later for more of a loss.

        In practice, people using the program ended up being abused more than it was used — not by home owners, by note holders.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to greginak says:

        Point of historical order: The Tea Party has roots going at least as far back as 2003, and it was already gaining steam amongst libertarians and actual fiscal conservatives even before Santelli’s rant. Santelli’s rant had the effect of bringing movement conservatives in the fold. Their larger numbers meant that they were inevitably going to hijack the movement’s focus. I interviewed one of the people who quite arguably started the movement back in 2003: https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2010/01/12/from-tea-to-shining-tea

        I don’t think his prediction that the movement could avoid co-option came true, obviously, but at the same time it’s hard to deny that his variety of libertarianism has gained a lot more sway within the GOP through the Tea Party (coopted as it may have become) than it previously ever had.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to greginak says:

        I don’t think his prediction that the movement could avoid co-option came true, obviously, but at the same time it’s hard to deny that his variety of libertarianism has gained a lot more sway within the GOP through the Tea Party (coopted as it may have become) than it previously ever had.
        I’m pretty skeptical of any claims of libertarianism among the GOP.

        Lower taxes, yes. Less regulation? Sorta (in practice I find that the GOP is just as quick to embrace regulation it likes as anyone else). But that’s pretty thin gruel for libertarianism.

        As a cynic, what I saw was more “Quick, high the religious whackjobs” rather than a tonal shift. Which didn’t last long, as the whackjobs then ran primaries and lost Senate seats. (Just today, in fact, there was a fun to-do about abortion that involved ANOTHER comment about ‘legitimate rape’ from an Important Republican. Good lord).Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to greginak says:

        @morat20 I’m thinking more along the lines that there are a small number of federally elected officials who openly subscribe to something approaching libertarianism – Justin Amash, to a lesser extent Rand Paul, maybe one or two others. I also suspect that this faction of the GOP can probably garner about 15-20 percent of the primary vote, which would not have been the case 6 or 7 years ago. That doesn’t translate into control over policy or even much influence, but it’s a far sight larger a role than this brand of libertarianism/fiscal conservatism has ever had within the GOP in the past.

        Like I said, the Tea Party movement quite clearly got co-opted by movement conservatives, including in part by the two guys he specifically references in the interview as being Johnny-Come-Latelys.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to greginak says:

        @mark-thompson, I’m skeptical about this to. Once the Tea Party launched onto the National Scene, it became rather clear it was nothing more than Republicans opposed to Obama using another name and slightly different rhetoric. They were always, at best, a barely concealed subsection of the Republican Party. They might seem libertarianish but it was a very rightist form of libertarianism that has no problems mixing in with conservative social policies like opposition to same-sex marriage.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to greginak says:

        I’m with @leeesq on this one; after the obvious foreign policy and economic disasters of 2006/07, Republicans had to distance themselves from the GOP; so the Tea Party was reborn. Like most fashion, it reinvented the past for a new day, but it was the same old frame wearing the clothes.

        that said, I think the bigger change on the right/conservative side of things came before the Tea Party, with the gathering of evangelical tribes into the GOP tent; Rove’s ‘permanent Republican Majority,’ something that took Nixon’s southern strategy and grew it in the South and expanded it into the northern heartland and southwest. That, to me, is much of what you see above, too; there’s no calling for fiscal responsibility, there’s moral crusading. Get the gays. Hang judges who go against God.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to greginak says:


        And you know that how? From media reports, right? And how do you know the media reported it accurately?

        Mark and I have both references people we’ve actually known who were involved, and that’s being poo-pooed by people who are 1) liberal, with the possibility of bias that ideological distance creates, and 2) don’t (yet) give any indication of knowing any actual people involved in it.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to greginak says:

        well, see, you know people who were involved fairly late in the game.
        If you knew the people involved upfront, you might understand why liberals want to label the whole movement astroturf. Santelli didn’t just stand up and start talking without his words being vetted first.

        I’ll grant that some people did get involved who were honest and meant well. And political engagement from libertarians is certainly something I’m glad of, sure enough.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    The exhibits point to a Tea Party – or, to echo other commenters here, a Tea Party brand – that is already in serious decline and perhaps in its death throes.

    The South Carolina convention that gave Mr. Burghart the vapors was a well attended enough affair, but you can get ten times that amount to attend a South Carolina Star Trek convention. There were a few congress critters, all in safe (and Southern) seats, so they can pull the same ‘outsider’ schtick that Senators Warren and Sanders can do. When they came after the king recently, they missed by a mile (though the leader didn’t suffer to badly, unlike some of his cohorts)

    The “Presidential Candidate” list was close to the usual clownshow. Trump beclowns everything he touches, and Dr. Carson has less political experience than Clint Eastwood. Santorum is arguably less of a clown candidate than say, Lindsey Graham would be, because he’s been there done that. On the flip side, he’s been there done that. (and now has Huckabee in his niche)

    Cruz is a fair candidate, not a clown one (until the birthers arise again – most forget that they started with McCain until turning their attention to Obama when he became viable). But the reputation of Cruz is that his practical political coalition and alliance building capabilities make King Joefry look like George C Marshall.

    On the subject of Huckabee, he’s another fair candidate, and he’s another that has been there down that. But has now been out of the game for quite a bit. And he has a peculiar alliance of haters – Glenn Beck personally hates his guts, to the point where Beck took quite a bit of air time on his radio show last week to emphasize his dislike.

    There’s other evidence that the ‘adults’ are in charge now
    1) the failure of the abortion bill today, on the same day as the March for Life.
    2) Rence Priebus’s cakewalk to reelection as RNC chair last week, no mean feat in a party at civil war with itself.
    3) The RNC clamping the number of official debates to 12 (for now). Overall, they’ve done a better job of setting up the rules for the 2016 nomination contest than either party did in the wide open field of 2008.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kolohe says:

      Huckabee’s a fine candidate. Santorum is a grade C politician (but what did you expect from Pittsburgh?)Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kimmi says:

        B. Clinton respected Huck’s political game well enough, but I don’t see how he’s able to break through to even the most dedicated Passion of the Kirk Cameron movie watching base with jabs at Mr. and Mrs. Carter and the Obamas’ parenting choices. We’re not in Tipper Gore’s world anymore.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

        With luck, he wouldn’t have to. His strategy is the same as Obama’s — get the black vote, get the swing vote.

        Huckabee makes conservatism seem NICE, because he honestly seems to be a good person who’s willing to help folks.

        In any sane world, he’d be a Christian Democrat — that’s still his party, even if we call him Republican.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kimmi says:

        Who’s ‘he’ in ‘his’ strategy? Huckabee? I agree that he’s heterodox on economic issues, which helps him with the fabled white working class vote and may make some inroads into the African American community. But calling the Obamas bad parents is the complete opposite of being nice, destroys any hope of the black vote (even Colin Powell’s), and causes the swing vote either go anywhere else or simply stay home.

        That type of code may have worked on the fabled soccer moms in the white flight suburban world of Boomer parenting, but Xer parents have different anxieties, different demographics, and a different social consciousness. (in aggregate).Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kimmi says:

        iow, you know how badly a Sister Souljah moment would go over now? Like a Ryan Lindley pass, that’s how.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Kimmi says:

        @kolohe @kimmi

        Huck’s latest move is to suggest that the States can ignored the Supreme Court if they rule that SSM is constitutionally necessary so he is far from nice. He is going full Faubus…Report

  9. Avatar Kazzy says:

    What were the first 86 reasons?Report

  10. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    To be fair, this is hardly peculiar to the Tea Party, or even conservatives general. Really, it’s a Democratic staple. They’re happy to appeal to the First Amendment when it suits their purposes, but quite happy to compromise it when it doesn’t (Citizens United). Moreover, they revere FDR for his gross abuse of the interstate commerce clause, and I have seen not a few defenses even of his court-packing scheme.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      And the court-packing scheme was unconstitutional because …. ?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Because it left the door open for Dumbya to do it.Report

      • It’s not, technically. I suppose it depends on whether the president and the house being able to effectively displace the Courts as an abuse of the system or a check on judicial power.

        While I am talking about Turtledove’s Southern Victory series (spoilers ahead), there was a story where the tyrannical Confederate president needed to roll over the Confederacy’s hostile Supreme Court. Considering that Turtledove loves to weave real history into his timeline, I was sure that said president would do it via courtpacking. I thought it was brilliant. I was kind of disappointed when he didn’t.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Did the president go to the chief justice’s chambers and beat him almost to death with a cane?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Did Brandon use the word “unconstitutional”?

        If not, why are you challenging him on something he didn’t say?Report

      • I agree it wasn’t unconstitutional, but I do think it was wrong to do it. FDR was also pretty clumsy about it as well. If he really wanted to do it, he should have just asked congress to increase the number of justices without that story about helping out the older members of the court.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Technically, it wasn’t. It was “merely” an attempt to exploit an unintended loophole in the Constitution in order to push through a blatantly unconstitutional agenda which the court had until that point rightly struck down, and in doing so forever destroy the ability of the court to act as a check on legislative power.

        While not technically unconstitutional, it was nevertheless an attack on the Constitution.

        (Kazzy: Edited it for you, BB.)Report

      • @brandon-berg

        I see where you’re coming from, and maybe it does indeed count as a loophole and the founders, if they had seen what would happen, might have put in something, for example, like a “cooling off” period, so that the number of justices could be changed, but the change would take place only five years later.*


        and in doing so forever destroy the ability of the court to act as a check on legislative power

        that claim is a bit overstrong, no? Since 1937-1938, the Courts have struck down Congressional (and state) laws, and the possibility that the Court might do so has likely shaped how such laws were drafted. I do get how the Court after the plan was less of a check against the federal legislative power, especially when it came to economic regulation and taxation and commerce clause cases, but that power wasn’t “forever destroyed” by a long shot.

        *Not that I’m putting my hand over my heart when I say “the founders.” Starting at least with TJ, and perhaps earlier, at least some founders proved willing to try bullying the federal court, with efforts/threats to impeach for what were probably political purposes and by suspending operations of the court for a couple years.Report

      • (I do concede that whatever one thinks of cases like Jones & Laughlin Steel, Wickard seems to go way too far under almost any understanding of the Constitution that does not give the federal Congress pretty much plenary authority. And although I’m not sure whether I oppose the result and even though I think of myself in part as a “disciplined living constitutionalist,” it’s hard to square it with any understanding of the Constitution that I can get behind.)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:


        I read BB that way first, too, but what I think he meant–setting aside the dispute over interpretations of the Commerce Clause–is that if it became normal to respond to controversial SCOTUS decisions by simply adding enough new members to get the decision you want, then the Court’s ability to act as a check on unconstitutional legislation (however any of us happen to interpret that) is radically undermined, if not destroyed.Report

      • Notice what Brandon does say is unconstitutional (blatantly so). The agenda FDR was seeking to get approved. Much of which is deemed constitutional today. Very few actual-existing views about what the constitution allows or prohibits are as clear-cut wrong as we sometimes like to pretend.

        He’s right that liberals have complex views about the First Amendment, though. And TPs have various views. None of which are as easy to show as contradictory with other views of the same interpreter, or just wrong, as we like to act like.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Because all the other examples, and the post the comment was a response to, were about things that are unconstitutional.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        That is, it’s an attack on the Constitution

        * to appoint judges who don’t interpret it the one and only correct way.
        * to attempt to use the power specifically granted to the legislature to change the size of the Supreme Court
        * to agree with the four judges in the minority on Citizens United rather than with the five in the majority

        Very convincing indeed.Report

      • @james-hanley

        Okay, I think I see the argument now. And delimited that much, I think I agree. My main reservations are two:

        1. That power to undermine has always been latent in the US constitutional system. And sometimes not so latent (e.g., my example of TJ above).*

        2. The court packing plan didn’t work. It did, probably, bully the four horsemen into retiring, and it supposedly was the nudge to the fifth vote in the relevant case(s) (I’m blanking on the name, but I’ve heard arguments–from whom, I don’t remember–that he might have switched anyway). But the proposal to pack the court was met with such opposition that FDR did have to retract it.

        These “reservations” don’t refute Brandon’s point, at least as you have explained it. They’re more of an “is” statement than an “ought” statement. But I think the point needs to take those into account.

        *Another example: The federal SCOTUS was reluctant to declare federal laws unconstitutional in the period between Marbury v. Madison and Dred Scott. And the latter was followed by a civil war. And while the civil war was not “caused” by the decision and not an effort to bully the court, the war was an example of the court’s inability to act decisively on that particularly controversial issue.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Mike Schilling says:


        2. The court packing plan didn’t work. It did, probably, bully the four horsemen into retiring, and it supposedly was the nudge to the fifth vote in the relevant case(s) (I’m blanking on the name, but I’ve heard arguments–from whom, I don’t remember–that he might have switched anyway). But the proposal to pack the court was met with such opposition that FDR did have to retract it.

        It not only didn’t work, but Laughlin and West Coast Hotel had already been voted on by the judges and Owen Roberts voted with the majority. There was no “switch in time” and the court packing scheme didn’t push anyone in any direction. It was a bad political stunt that backfired. It was also unnecessary.Report

      • Thanks for the correction, @dave . I was pretty shaky on the timeline.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:


      Except that BB never actually used the word “unconstitutional” at all, so you’re asking me to believe that your assumption that he meant it to apply to everything he mentioned is a fair reading of him.

      And I’d be shocked if you’d be happy with court-packing if it worked against what you wanted. Let’s say, e.g., that SCOTUS for some reason holds off deciding on SSM until after the 2016 election, which is won by Rick Santorum. Then they rule that the 14th Amendment requires each state to recognize SSM, and in response a GOP dominated Congress approves the appointment of 4 new justices (one for each member over 70, as FDR proposed), whereupon President Santorum signs the bill, appoints 4 religious conservatives who are quickly approved by the Senate (after using parli-pro to extend the ban on judicial filibusters to cover SCOTUS nominations).

      And you never ever write a comment on this blog criticizing that for undermining the constitutional separation of powers?

      Maybe. But it sure doesn’t sound like what Mike Schilling would do.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

        And you never ever write a comment on this blog criticizing that for undermining the constitutional separation of powers?

        Not under my own name, after some of the other laws Emperor for Life Santorum pushed through.

        But I think it was a fair question, and Brandon’s response, which I think I read fairly as “It wasn’t technically unconstitutional but it was just barely the other side of the line”, clarified his point, which is not a bad result.Report

  11. Avatar Murali says:

    Ok, these guys are social cons (and quite extreme ones at that), but are they tea party candidates?Report

  12. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    The links to Exhibits C, D, E, and F aren’t working for me. But your point is clear nonetheless.Report

  13. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    @chris “I’ll add that Marcotte’s greatest sin here is amplifying the voice in Aaaronson’s tired, manipulative, dismissive, and in the end rather disgusting little missive about feminism and his experience of women over women’s experience of other men with whom he identifies. If she had just given it the treatment it deserved — a brief sneer followed by filing it away in the “nice guys, who are the truly oppressed” file — then Brandon would have to have used another example of Marcotte ripping into a sexist and and we’d be having the same discussion about someone else.

    I disagree, obviously. I expect that this is one of those areas where no one is going to see anyone else’s point of view very well, but I’ll try again just this one time.

    When I was doing research on the MRMs, one of things that became abundantly clear is that there are certain men who fall between the cracks in today’s world. (There are, in fact, certain *people* who do, but for the time being bear with me and let me stick with men.)

    These cracks can be quite varied. Some are really really horrifying: boys and men who have faced terrible physical, emotional and sexual abuse or assault, for example. As a rule, we as a society are pretty terrible at being willing to do anything about this, both from a prevention standpoint but also from a recovery standpoint. A male who is having issues do to having been abused or sexual assaulted is pretty much told to shut the f**k up and stop bothering the rest of us.

    Politically, there are two groups that ever bother to even address these men. One, of course, is the men’s rights movement and we all know what their message is: feminism is the devil, what happened to you is the fault of all women everywhere, and you need to do everything you an eschew normal, healthy romantic relationships in the future.

    The other group that takes the time to identify these men is a certain kind of feminism, which I will confess to not being able to flavor-identify. Their message is one that attempts to tell victims that the reason they are suffering is the inherent problem with men and/or the patriarchal system, and that if it wasn’t for a world run by people just like the victims that there wouldn’t be any problem, so no, you’re not going to get any services to help you. (That last bit according to the people who run non-MRM non-profits to help victims, who tell me that they always fight a losing and often vicious battle over both public funds and policy that might help male victims.)

    Most victims *don’t* go the MRM route; it’s actually a pretty small percentage that do. But those that don’t find it frustrating that it’s difficult to talk about being victims when those voices most vocal about anti-assault and abuse in most cases make them out to be whiners, “showing their privilege,” or are themselves somehow to blame based on their sex. The victims and the non-profit execs I talked to wish that there was something else out there, that they didn’t have to choose between being silent and in pain or being tarred as a MRM by people who never take the time to get to know them.

    People who say things like comment 171 strike me as being somewhat akin to those victims. They too are kind of people that have fallen between the cracks; they too are just trying to get someone to listen to them and acknowledge that pain. They aren’t victims, of course, and just because they are in pain doesn’t mean that we necessarily agree with them. But at the risk of showing my privilege, saying that the pain doesn’t matter because they see the world differently is a bad excuse to treat them like s**t.

    That doesn’t mean that they aren’t wrong, and it doesn’t mean that you have to accept what they say without arguing with them. But I sincerely wish that if someone came around here in a non-trollish way to say, “this is why I feel this way, this is why it hurts, can you explain to me what I’m missing?,” that we wouldn’t just run him off (or just “sneer and … file him away”). It’s that very moment when we stop seeing a person as a human being because they make a better point or or against out -isms that makes me so damn wary about political causes.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Tod, I actually get his experience. The problem is not the personal testimony, but his use of it to dismiss a woman’s experience of harassment, and throw in feminism to cut off criticism. He basically says, “you implicate men like me,” though she doesn’t mention him at all, “and because I was afraid of women, that can’t be true.” He then argues that men like him, namely shy geeks, are the least privileged people in society, definitely less privileged than a harassed woman at a conference, so she must be wrong. And feminism can’t help you here, because it’s part of why you’re wrong.

      I suppose this is as good evidence that the concept of privilege is misunderstood and might need to be scrapped as any.

      Also, it’s a shame if feminists don’t try to argue that patriarchy hurts men, but instead try to argue that patriarchy is men even even it hurts them. The latter is neither fair nor accurate, and will definitely alienate potential allies, as I think many men who’ve been harmed by antiquated notions of masculinity and gender roles could be.

      Finally, if a guy comes in here and says, “I fell between the social cracks, and it was really painful,” without dismissing women and their experience, I too hope he’s be listened to. In fact, we have a commenter who regularly says that and blames women (sometimes in seriously problematic ways), and he clearly still feels welcome here.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        @chris You make a good argument — one that I agreed with before we even started — about why the guy is wrong. You make a less convincing one about why he needs to be publicly tarred and feathered.

        I’ll try one more time before I go the agree-to-disagree route…

        One of the things I have noticed about the pushback against the so-called “nice guy” urgent and terrible threat to feminism everywhere is that it is always framed around a picture of a gross or clueless dude just wanting to get laid. I think this is unfair, and perhaps unfair in a way that’s purposefully cruel. For someone who is straight and not asexual, intimate relationships with someone of the opposite sex isn’t just about sex. You and I are lucky; we are both in great relationships with wonderful, amazing women, and so I suspect neither of us really knows what it’s like to go one’s life desiring not just sex, but emotional and non-sexual physical intimacy. You better than anyone else here should realize what all of this means to us and our brains being mammals.

        I can’t go into such an alternate universe, of course, but I suspect that if an obese woman wrote a mirrored Comment 171 — one that lamented a similar plight and blamed other people and forces for her misery — that we would come down pretty hard on someone that did to her what Marcott did to this guy. At least I hope we would.

        Yes, the man’s reasoning was faulty; and yes, he’s clearly in a place where he thinks people like him are the most put-upon, sorry-ass folks that ever walked the planet. For each of these crimes, I think, we can file him along with basically every other person ever at one time or another in their life. And yes, I agree that someone should push back and attempt give him the clue that he is clearly missing.

        But that’s not what I get when I read the piece by Marcott that BB linked to up above. What I get is this: A person happily taking someone on the obese-woman-level-of-socially-accepted end of the spectrum, and publicly and mercilessly grinding him into the dirt for the pure sport of it. Macott may be right in her position and her actual reasoning in her disagreement with this guy might be spot on. But the fashion with which she responds in the forum she does strikes me as hitting all the same pleasure-buttons for her and her readers that picking on the kid with DD on the playground in front of the class does.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:


        At what point does Aaranson say anything that is mean to dismiss women’s experiences of harassment? If anything, Aaronson is conceding almost wholly to the accepted feminist narrative, but simply questioning the role of nerds/geeks/whatever in that narrative. And that was his biggest mistake, conceding his own guilt to begin with and arguing only over the level of his guilt.

        It’s worth noting that feminists simply don’t go after other sub-cultures (finance, athletics, music, entertainment, etc) to the same extent and with the same zeal that they go after geeks. Want a pretty good understanding of who Marcotte is? Read her response to Aaronson and compare it to Laurie Penny’s (I’d link, but don’t want to trigger moderation; both can be found quite quickly on Google). On the substance, I disagree with both Penny and Marcotte, but at least Penny comes across as remotely human.

        After reading Marcotte’s response, I am left wondering: what is the meaningful difference between the way that feminists go after geeks and the way that any group of mean girls might go after geeks?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

        at least we don’t glorify stalkers. or treat rapists as funny anymore. (Just got done watching an episode of Deep Space 9 that seemed out of the 1950’s… truly, truly dire television, and awful characterization to boot.)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        @tod-kelly I suspect we’re more in agreement than disagreement here. I’ve said from the start that I don’t read Marcotte anymore (and haven’t for years). The main reason I don’t read her anymore is that she really only has a few things to say, and only a few ways to say them, and I don’t need to ever read her again to know exactly what she’ll say, and pretty much how she’ll say it, on just about any issue that touches on progressive, feminist, or secularist values. But I’ve also never liked her style. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for stridency and fervor, but I got over the knife-pointed blog fisking many years ago when it made up like 50% of political blogging.

        That said, I fully get where she’s coming from. The “nice guy” may not be the biggest threat to women, but it is in many ways a very serious one, because the “nice guy,” harmed as he may be by it, embraces patriarchy and in the end blames women for his ills: it’s feminists, it’s women who prefer assholes, it’s women who pretend to not be shallow but really just look at guy’s looks and their wallets, whatever. It’s a self-view, projected outward into a world-view, that leads to some very sharp, and very dangerous hatred and belittling of women. If I were Marcotte, I’d have no patience for it either.

        Now, it’s a shame that Aaronson ended up in her crosshairs, because I see no evidence that he is, in the end, deeply, dangerously misogynistic, as so many “nice guys” ultimately are. I’m quite certain that Marcotte didn’t bother to note the existence of that distinction, much less look for it in this case. Is this evidence that she’s in fact a horrible person, though? Or rather someone who writes a whole lot from a particular perspective, and has to rely on the material that comes into her inbox or Google Alerts or however it is that bloggers with that kind of output find stuff to write about?

        Because the examples we’ve gotten that justify bringing her up as a contrast to the tea party, and to demonstrate her awfulness as a human being, are this one and some tweets that suggest birth control is expensive, spanking is both bad and popular among conservatives, our relationship to gun and cop violence is dysfunctional, question Republicans motives in demanding the name of Kristen Gillibrand’s harasser, and suggests that Republicans rely on bad faith arguments, so Democrats should not do so. Too harsh on Aaronson? Probably (but every time I read it, I want to say nasty things about him, I admit). Unusual among partisan political bloggers, though? Or is it her content that leads so many men here and elsewhere to see her as evil and crazy?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        @j-r , the entire point of his comment is to question the experience of the woman whose writing he’s commenting on. Remember, his comment includes the assertion that “other women have other experiences,” and then his existence proof that geeks are not worse, because of what his life was like before he became successful.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        For what it’s worth, when asked about where people were saying that the people who blasphemed had it coming, my immediate intuition was that everybody who was focusing on root causes and whatnot was saying that because that was the point of their whole comments.

        It wasn’t until I got into the whole “I need to find something to quote here” mindset that I found that the positions of those folks were a lot more nuanced than “we need to censor French people because we need to make concessions to other cultures”.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        One of the things about other people is that they think about their views much more than we think about their views. This is part of why they’re hell.

        So today I went over to Pandagon (I knew it was at Raw Story, but had forgotten; also, it looks like it’s just Amanda now? I kind of miss Jessie), and man was I right. It might as well have been Pandagon (Marcotte’s output only) in 2006.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        Maybe. I think for me at least there is a palpable difference between going after, say, Obama/Cruz/Paul/Palin/Limbaugh and going after this guy.

        As for the rest, I agree with you… mostly.

        The one caveat might be that this idea of many women being attracted to men for less than idealized reasons isn’t actually a thing nerds made up off the fly. Rather, it seems to be the other side of that coin where (some) women lament that men just want a young woman who has a body that looks like X: There’s some truth to it, and even though we all know that it isn’t universally as true as the person saying it makes it out to be, the degree to which it *is* true makes us all a little uncomfortable.

        And while I don’t know that there’s really anything to be done about that (for either side of the coin) other than to say some type of softened up version “sucks to be you, overweight gal/nerd guy,” I’m not sure that it requires the level of effort, vitriol or condemnation it merits on the internet these days.

        Because again, I don’t have the sense that “nice guys” who wish women would be attracted to them are given the amount of pixels on the internet they are because they are the great threat they are made out to be. I think they’re given the amount of attention they are because they are so many steps below most of us on cool-kid ladder that it’s fun to beat up on them.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:


        I think they’re given the amount of attention they are because they are so many steps below most of us on cool-kid ladder that it’s fun to beat up on them.

        I’m sorta shocked by this. You really Marcotte was motivated to respond to Aaronson like she did because she likes to beat up nerds? Really?

        Dude, you gotta read more Marcotte…Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        @stillwater Oh, that’s no doubt true. As I said above, I’d never heard of her until this week and my sum experience of her now is this post and a few posts mentioned in Wikipedia, which is not a very fair way to judge someone’s writing career.

        But I was talking less about Marcott with that line than I was the intertubes in general. The railing against “nice guys” who wish women were attracted to them seems to be a rapidly growing meme/cause these days (or at least it is on the sites I frequent), and is treated as A Very Big Issue That Must Be Dealt With. And maybe it is — but I doubt it.

        I suspect that a much more likely answer as to why it’s such a rapidly a growing meme is a combination of a few factors:

        1. Men who feel sorry for themselves because they can’t get a woman to notice them are pretty damn easy to find on the internet,

        2. When you mock them in public they respond with anger, often awkwardly and/or with a level of social skills that make it easy to keep attacking and scoring with little effort, and

        3. No one really ever wants to defend them, because they’re pretty far down the social pecking order.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I’m pretty convinced that the “nice guy” gets the attention he does, in 2015, because he’s so prevalent and if you follow him around the internet you’ll find some very serious misogyny, prefaced on his blame of women putting him into the “friend zone” or whatever.

        That said, Still’s right, Marcotte is not picking on Aaronson because he’s socially marginalized. Really, until her rather large blogging success (a meteoric rise from nobody to well-known among progressives to someone just about anyone who reads political blogs knows between 2004 and 2007 or so), she was pretty much a member of only socially marginalized groups: punks, hipsters before they were cool, feminists, Texas progressives, and so on. She was not, again until her blog became huge, one of the cool kids by any stretch of the imagination. Her reaction is based on something else. I think it’s frustration with the particular view of women and his relationship to them that he expresses, but I could be wrong.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

        Tod et alia,
        I think there’s a very big difference between mocking/trolling Chris-chan, and going after your generic Nice Guy. For one thing, I’m pretty sure Chris-chan has some serious mental issues that prevent him from being part of normal society.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:


        The entire point of the comment was to respond to another commenter who said this:

        In fact I think a shy/nerdy-normed world would be a significantly worse world for women.

        To read Aaronson’s comment as anything beyond that requires an uncalled for bit of mind-reading/psychoanalyzing. You yourself said above that nerds and nice guys aren’t likely to be the biggest threat to women.

        Aaronson’s biggest sin was that he dared to question the orthodoxy of “male privilege.” That is, he said something counter to the ideology of feminism, not something that was in any way misogynistic or hateful or threatening to any actual woman. That sums up my dislike of the Marcotte’s of the world; they spend more time policing ideologies than they do focusing on real harm to real people.


        I’m sorta shocked by this. You really Marcotte was motivated to respond to Aaronson like she did because she likes to beat up nerds? Really?

        I’ve read a lot of Marcotte and this is pretty much the case.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah, I don’t think Nice Guys get the attention they get because they’re easy. I think Nice Guys get the attention they get because almost every incident of Nice Guy Syndrome is accompanied by some very explicit misogyny, often bordering on rape apologia. We’ve seen it at this very blog (see, e.g., our last thread about rape and consent).

        Now, you and I may think they’re ultimately harmless, but we’re not the subject of the anger, hate, and dehumanization that arises out of their social marginalization.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        And if someone grew up marginalized and then became cool, they’ll always remember what it was like to be part of an out group and show compassion.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        @j-r , now you’re being disingenuous. His comment was in response to a woman saying that she was sexually harassed, and he pretty clearly says “that’s her experience, but…” and then says he knows other women who don’t feel that way and here’s what life was like for me as a geek. He’s explicitly dismissing her experience, it’s the whole point of the comment. It’s what he begins by doing, and what leads him into the personal testimony and anti-male privilege message. He basically ends by saying geeks are the least privileged, again, in response to a claim that geeks were harassing a specific woman at a specific place.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        “Cool” is such a weird place to find myself.

        I’m fat, bald, and in computers.

        I merely think that I’ve found a social group within which I am a valued member… but if I were to hang out with people who were “cool for real”, I’d be the fat, bald guy who was in computers.

        I’m just in a cloister where “cool for real” people don’t show up.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Mike, that’s not what I’m claiming. I’m simply pointing out that she’s no stranger to being on the outside looking in, socially. I suspect the bulk of her readers are as well, even today. They’re not going to take kindly to her attacking a person for being socially awkward, but that’s not what she’s doing. That his missive is heart-felt is simply irrelevant. To be honest, it just looks manipulative to me. And now Marcotte has shown herself to be just the sort of crazy bitch that the Nice Guy always rails about, so look, he was right!Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

        the real world is crazy, and often ugly to boot.
        Who wouldn’t rather look at nice pretty things, rather than deal with reality?

        Reality and liberalism aren’t exactly on speaking terms.
        Liberalism, taken broadly, wants to assume that everyone is pretty much a decently rational person who can be trusted to make good decisions in their best interest.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        All I know is that I, personally, should have been a pair of ragged claws….Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:


        I’m not being disingenuous at all. More likely that we are both reading Aaronson’s comments through our own particular lenses. My lens is particularly dismissive of feminist conceptions like “the patriarchy” or this particular application of “male privilege.”

        There is a deeper discussion to be had, but this is probably not the place for it. More than anything, perhaps, what we can take away from this is the problem of trying to blame whole groups of people for the behaviors of individual members of a group.

        I will share a secret, though. To be completely honest, I think that the nerds do deserve it, just for a different set of reasons.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        And now Marcotte has shown herself to be just the sort of crazy bitch that the Nice Guy always rails about, so look, he was right!

        Aaronson wasn’t ranting about crazy bitches, but hell, if we can’t stereotype nerds we’d have to give up the Big Bnag Theory.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah, we’re definitely going to disagree on feminism. I think privilege and patriarchy are important and revealing concepts, and I think that the people who rail against them tend to demonstrate a remarkable lack of understanding. C.f. this testimony by some MIT guy named Aaronson, who is probably pretty smart, but writes pretty dumb.

        But I thought that before I’d ever read I Blame the Patriarchy, which was well before it was a blog that people who think that “male privilege” has something to do with getting laid were citing it to demonstrate their feminist cred. I mean, I remember when many self-respecting mainstream feminists felt they had to distance themselves from Twisty and her radical view of a genderless society in which children are raised communally, and no one would cite her as an influence, with her views on heterosexual sex (i.e., mostly rape), in a missive about their lack of a sex life with women. But I’m old-fashioned in my view of online feminism. (Trying not to be mean to the poor dude and his manipulative, self-serving testimony. Trying.)

        (I realize I’m being dismissive by making it about “getting laid” rather than about human connections. As a social misfit myself, I understand the longing for connection.)

        And I don’t think that “the nerds deserve it,” whatever it is. I just wish that misogyny, objectification, and violence against women weren’t such big parts of nerd culture. And I wish the Nice Guy Syndrome didn’t feed into that, or out of it, whichever the case may be.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah, the crazy bitch part was not fair to Aaronson. I apologize.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        As part of the contradictions being heightened, the group of people who are going to be “nice” to the “nice guys” (and, by that, I mean say something like “dude, I know exactly where you’re coming from and I know how much it can hurt emotionally to be rejected by society to this degree” or some other touchy-feely crap) will be the Red Pill guys and MRM types.

        Dorky Guys who were taught all about feminism by their moms and the guides to young people dating written in the early 50’s that they find in the attic will find themselves confused by the disconnect and if the only people they find are people who are preaching to the choir, they’re going to end up in the choir where they find themselves to fit in.

        There needs to be a better job of preaching to the heathen out there.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Also, I’d love to hear what Brandon, J R, et al. think of Twisty. If Marcotte is a “horrible person,” painfully stupid, “one too many” of her ilk by herself, someone who needs to be balanced out by the Tea Party, and a bigot, Twisty must be satan incarnate.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

        Punks and hipsters may still be socially marginalized groups somewhere, but they haven’t been so in America for a minimum of two decades. They most assuredly are (or see themselves as) the Cool Kids Who Set the Agenda for What is Fashionable in Clothes and Politics, and have been for a long time.

        And even leaving that aside and assuming she was an outsider, the worst bullies are often those who are themselves bullied. Some small status gain or reclamation of power can hope to be achieved by bullying the perceived next guy down the ladder.

        Is Marcotte always an uncharitable bully? Dunno, I haven’t read a ton of her stuff, though I was familiar with her well before this surprisingly long-lived thread, and was previously fairly neutral on her.

        But in this case, she sure as hell comes across as one to me, and that particular column of hers is IMO a nasty piece of work. At worst, Aaronson seems to be missing the point, which is something that can be easily said without imputing to someone all manner of perfidy. I don’t think Being A Dick (For Feminism!) really helps anyone. This seems like the equivalent of the Dawkins/Myers shtick you hate, in that it seems likely to alienate the very people who might otherwise be persuadable.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        “No MRAs. And no Nice Guys either!”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        My first experience of Twisty was when she was trying to moderate a fight between the “pet ownership is anti-feminist” people and the “leave my cats alone” people.

        (The basic concept being argued was that training an animal to be dependent on you for food and to give you affection in exchange for sustenance was too much like what men have traditionally done to women. I admit that even as I see the underlying point, I can’t help but notice how alien I find the concept. I’m sure that my vision is further limited by the things associated with me being a cat person.)Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:


        Who or what is Twisty? And what is their relation to Chubby Checker?


        I think it gets complicated. I would largely say that hipsters are not marginalized and probably never were. Hipsters were always probably largely college (and above) educated Boho types who will live in upper-middle sections of cities and suburbs. They will always be the type of like to stay up on current trends in various art worlds even if they become suburban parents.

        Punks are a bit more complicated. I know kids who were punks in high school and dressed the part, listened to the music, skateboarded, and now they are and look like suburban parents who were Khakis and dress shirts to their engineering jobs.* Then there are the punks who seem to stay more true to form and get neck tattoos and end up working inwarehouses, coffee shops, dive bars, and at Amoeba records because those are the only places where you can get employed and have neck and knuckle tattoos.

        *Social media makes it incredibly odd when I see people from high school who are now in their mid-30s because in my head, they are still 1990s high school students with the same fashions like choke collars and those punkish tennis dresses.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        I remember that discussion. I think the point Twisty was trying to make is that subjugation is a bad bad thing and in fact inconsistent with her conception of feminism. She blames the patriarchy insofar as it oppresses people even tho her attention is focused primarily on how it oppresses women. But she was crystal clear (seems to me) that her brand of feminism was part of a larger attack on institutions derived from perpetuating oppression. Having a pet isn’t an example of that, but having a pet to express a power relationship over it is. (At least that was my take on it.) Twisty’s view of feminism is very similar to zic’s expressed elsewhere on this thread.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        Apparently the chief feminist role model is Leo Durocher.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        For the record, I’m opposed to having a pet to express a power relationship over it, too.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        You have cats. It’s the other way around.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

        I’ve read I Blame the Patriarchy (I came to it through whoisIOZ) and I can’t say that I have anything resembling hate for it. The best I can muster is bemused indifference. Twisty is so obviously expressing a specific understanding of the world based on her particular point of view that I really have no common ground from which to object.

        My dislike of Marcotte is mostly rooted in her role as a partisan hack, which is why I compared her to Michelle Malkin.

        In general, I have nothing against feminists. I just don’t agree with them on enough things to call myself one.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Saul, Twisty is the author of I Blame the Patriarchy, the standard reference for radical feminism in the blogosphere. And unlike the usual “radfem” nonsense (nonsense Aaronson himself trades in), she really is radical. I wasn’t joking about her views on gender, raising children, and sex. There was a time when, though Pandagon, Shakesville, and other mainstream feminist blogs might occasionally link, at arms length, to something Twisty wrote, she was pretty firmly contrasted with mainstream feminism in the feminist blogosphere. Perhaps this is still the case in circles where all feminism isn’t evil, but as I don’t read many blogs anymore, I have to go with what I see ’round here, such as the Aaronson comment.

        Glyph, perhaps those are cool, but I think it’s safe to say that she moved in a small circle of misfits, at least when she was in Austin.

        And I just can’t bring myself to have much sympathy for Aaronson, because I see his testimony less as a heart-felt one than a manipulative one. I don’t see her as bullying, because I don’t think he was making a truly heartfelt confession. Perhaps I’m biased, but I’ve seen that many times. We see it here even, anytime issues like dating, or even rape, come up.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Part of the meta-point of his comment is that it seems to have resonated for a number of guys who see themselves as “nice”.

        While it’s probably true that many, if not most, of them are right bastards, I do also suspect that he’s tapped into something that actually might be out there.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        Sure it resonated. In a nutshell, the nice guys have a bunch of unmet needs/desires which they blame women for failing to satisfy. Even worse, lots of “nice guys” quite often view their own sex/gender related suffering to minimize or reject feminists’ claims that women are systematically targeted (or whatever) and then go into detailed explanations of why feminsts are wrong. When feminists express frustration about all this, Nice Guys resort to saying “But I’m a nice guy! I’m filled with sympathy and view myself as a feminist! You’re being very big ole meanies! How can you be so dismissive of a Nice Guy?”

        And so on and on. Even up to and including Aaronson. I won’t go as far as Chris has in defending Marcotte here, but I don’t have much sympathy for Nice Guys like Aaronson either.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        And if they cannot have their first-order needs met, they will try to have such things as their second-order needs met (e.g., sympathy).

        At least the contradictions are still being heightened.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

        I find it interesting that people keep talking about Aaranson in terms of how sympathetic he is or is not as opposed to how accurate he is or is not. And that is my biggest beef with feminism and other post-structuralist/progressive ideologies; they are far too concerned with labeling and identifying sympathetic groups and constructing hierarchies of privilege.

        Personally, I do not feel very sympathetic towards Aaronson at all (I do empathize a bit, though). A good deal of his agony came from taking feminist characterizations of masculinity seriously in the first place. He only remains a feminist whipping boy so long as he chooses to care what feminists say about him. Perhaps he and all the other geeks of the world will realize that the only way to win that particular game is to stop playing it.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        @j-r , that’s ironic, in this thread, given who it is who’s been hammering on him being sympathetic, and who is talking about hierarchies of privilege (namely, Aaronson).

        Feminism, at least when doesn’t well, doesn’t talk about hierarchies of privilege, but sources. The anti-feminist mistake is to frequently interpret it as a hierarchy, or as a zero-sum game, rather than as a matter of context and source. Then blaming this misunderstanding on feminism is pretty much precisely what Aaronson does, while bringing in his own hierarchy.

        Now, I’m quite certain that if you were to look around the internet, you’d find some not terribly bright feminists talking about privilege hierarchically, but if we’re going to go by such people, all of our ideologies are fucked.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

        @stillwater if @chris ‘s description of Twisty is accurate, that is not my brand of feminism, though I do think much of misogyny is institutional/traditional. I certainly don’t think sex is rape, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people having sex with whomever they want, so long as the other person’s willing, and they do so responsibly (when it comes to pregnancy and disease, in particular), and with respect to commitments they’ve made to life partners.

        Most of all, I don’t think women have gotten enough respect for the burden of family they’ve shouldered (without recompense) for ages and ages, and in particular, for the double burden of being both provider and household manager in the 1980’s through the 2000’s; I’m glad dudes are more willing to step to the plate with both childcare and housework; they deserve the right to so engage with their family life; it’s rewarding, and men and women both deserve the right to balance work and family in their lives.

        I also don’t think we’ve accurately assessed the damage to our social structure that happened when women went to work, the neighborhood volunteerism, the parents-looking-after-children after school and on sick days, the whole realm of stuff women did when they had time because they weren’t supposed to go to work at a job. There was a lot of stuff that got done without pay that doesn’t get done now, community-building stuff, because it was supposed to be done for free by stay-at-home mom’s, and so not worth any monetary recompense. I actually agree with social conservatives that there’s some social decline going on, but I put it there, not on changing sexual mores or single-parenthood or SSM or any number of other things: rather, a disinterest in the wellbeing of children not our own, their well being and security seems serious social decline (more than half attending public school in poverty?!?). Sending our kids to schools that we’re very vocal about telling them suck and how horrid their teachers are seems a huge problem; is it any wonder they don’t take to education? Burdening them with student-loan debt to be productive members of society is a huge problem. I realize that much of that isn’t ‘sexism’ or ‘feminism,’ but I do believe it happens for lack of appreciating and valuing the work women did before they became bread winners; and I believe it’s still all to common to underpay the paid jobs that fill these niches and emasculate men who take those jobs or opt to stay home.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:


        I was referring to this comment:

        I would argue that [feminism is] essentially libertarian

        And in terms of Twisty specifically, it isn’t essentially libertarian, just deeply infused with libertarianism or something libertarianish.

        Sorry to attribute that view to you. ALso, I have no idea what views on sex Chris is talking about. Not saying Twisty hasn’t expressed em, just that I haven’t read em.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Just to flesh out what I am talking about here a little bit more, compare Marcotte’s take on Aaronson to Marcotte’s take on John Edwards: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/apr/24/john-edwards-shameful-prosecution

      Low-status, geek male like Aaronson makes a politically incorrect blog post and it is an opportunity for Marcotte to lecture him on what a misogynist he is. High-status, alpha male cheats on his dying wife and uses campaign contributions for hush/cover-up money and it is an opportunity for Marcotte to lecture the general public on its tawdriness.

      It’s almost as if this isn’t really about the patriarchy at all.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        Not sure how the two cases are at all analogous. Putting aside that Marcotte actually worked for Edwards (however briefly), Marcotte has never suggested that she’s not sex-positive, or that infidelity is a specifically feminist issue.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r says:

        While I might be willing to agree, for the sake of argument, that it’s true that we really can’t judge men who cheat on their wives because, hey, we don’t know whether the wife is cool with her husband tomcatting around, I admit that starting there isn’t what I’d usually expect from a feminist author.

        But I carry many stereotypes within me.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    James touched on something the other day in the cake thread that might be part of the disconnect. The whole “introvert” vs. “extrovert” thing.

    Extroverts, by their nature, are better at getting to know a lot of people in a relatively short period of time than introverts. “Nice guys” will probably all be introverted and a chunk of them will be painfully so.

    Sexism has morphed in previous years in the same way that racism has morphed. Back in the 40’s and 50’s, “racism” meant hating black people on a personal level. Now it is possible to have racism without racists.

    In the same way, we’re moving somewhat toward an analogous paradigm and a lot of these painfully introverted “nice guys” are encountering words being used in ways that they are completely unfamiliar with. Sexism without sexists. They’re probably thinking “I don’t even *INTERACT* with women who aren’t my mom!” when the arguments are coming down on them as if they were George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door.

    Personally, I think that the response of Marcotte to Aaronson will do a better job of heightening the contradictions than, say, actually teaching Aaronson anything about sexism as it exists as a dynamic in society today… but, you know.

    I’d merely suggest that we spend less time hating the players and more time hating the game.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Jaybird says:

      But the players are eminently hateable, nobody on earth would blame us for doing it, and it feels so good to hate them. And we don’t even have to worry about feeling guilty for hating them because they’re so clearly Bad Guys, as evidenced by their repeated attempts to point out that, under the rules of the game we’ve set out, they’re not actually bad. (Because who other than a bad guy would spend so much time asking how to not be a bad guy?)Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Jaybird says:

      Personally, I think that the response of Marcotte to Aaronson will do a better job of heightening the contradictions than, say, actually teaching Aaronson anything about sexism as it exists as a dynamic in society today… but, you know.

      It is a bit odd to say that Aaronson needs to be taught about sexism and its present-day dynamic. By my reading of Aaronson’s comment, he is already there. He already accepts the overwhelming majority of what feminism would teach him. He is just dissenting on the particular conception of male privilege as original sin.

      In other words, Aaronson’s offense is not that he is anti-feminist, but rather that he is a heretical feminist.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        Saying that you are a feminist does not mean that you are a feminist. The reason I called it the Dawkins Maneuver above is that Dawkins frequently does something like this: first, say that he’s a feminist, and even that being a feminist is the only possible ethical position, then in the next breath, go after women for accusing one of his friends of sexual harassment or even assault. In fact, the “I’m a feminist” was a setup for the next move, to preemptively eliminate possible criticisms.

        That’s exactly what Aaronson is doing. Unless he’s written about feminism in other posts, I see no reason to take his word for it, particularly since it’s clear he doesn’t understand some basic concepts.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:


        I think your comment implicitly rests on feminism being monolithic, or at least there being an indissoluble core of feminism that includes the particular X that Aaronson and Dawkins have violated.

        But there are multiple feminisms; that is, multiple theoretical approaches to feminism and understandings of what feminism means and encompasses. There may be an indissoluble core common to each of these feminisms (I at least suspect there probably is one), but what that core is is probably contestable, and consequently whether it encompasses the the X that Aaronson and Dawkins have violated is contestable.

        Consequently I think it’s probably too simplistic to dismiss them as not feminists. I’m not saying the case that they’re not feminists could not be argued; I’m saying it has to be argued, rather than asserted. And we need to be careful that we’re not dismissing them as not-feminists because they don’t meet all the standards of our own preferred approach to feminism.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        @chris I admit to some confusion of Dworkin/Dawkins in this conversation; Aaronson cited Andrea Dworkin, no? I’m not a big fan of the whole ‘all sex is rape’ and ‘all porn is bad’ threads of feminism; but I can understand why she might feel that way about both given the historical power differences when it comes to sex, her pretty brutal life experience, and her professed gender preferences.

        As for Dawkins, I honestly don’t know why he’s so influential in these conversations; he’s repeatedly displayed outright misogyny, and the only thing that seems to suggest he’s got anything of value to offer is the confluence of atheism and feminism as related subjects by many traditional believers and critics of social change.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:

        Addendum: Of course you’re right that simply calling oneself a feminist does not mean one is, and I’m not trying to suggest otherwise.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        @zic , that’s my fault. I’m making allusions to other conversations and assuming common knowledge, which given the depth and breadth of the internet, is not fair. Dawkins has, as you’ve noted, exhibited some fairly severe misogyny, worse than anything Aaronson does, but the “I’m a feminist, but here’s some anti-feminist stuff I believe” maneuver is one Dawkins has perfected, and I saw it in Aaronson’s comment.

        Dworkin would probably really, really dislike Dawkins on many levels.

        (Side note: we’ve spent much of this conversation talking about the ways in which Aaronson’s comment is or is not anti-feminist.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r says:

        It is a bit odd to say that Aaronson needs to be taught about sexism and its present-day dynamic.

        I’m saying that Aaronson is still approaching feminism as if it was a problem with how he, himself, views things rather than something structural. Were he to start seeing it as something structural rather than something that he needed to change in himself, he’d be a lot closer to accuracy *AND* he’d be able to stop feeling guilty about quite so many things.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        I should have added a middle paragraph there that if that’s what Aaronson had internalized as ‘feminism,’ it’s no wonder he was highly confused.

        I agree with James here, it’s subscribing to a monolithic view — or only seeking out a single view point; a fault most of us have in some areas, and probably related to cognitive bias.

        All this seems rather odd to me; I don’t doubt that anyone here would argue that I’m a feminist, but I have never sought out these feminist texts, and I don’t think I’m not a feminist because I’ve never taken a women’s studies class. I am a feminist because I don’t believe I’m less a human by coincidence of being female, yet my lived experience has shown me that in many ways, being female is reason enough to treat me at less than fully human.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        @jaybird that’s an excellent insight.

        I think that’s also the root of why so much of all inequality discussion goes sour; inability to distinguish one’s own experience with structural/institutional experience.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        @j-r hermetical might be a better choice of words here, he seems to have settled on a specific feminist creed (all sex is rape), and failed to see that there are plenty of feminist who would think a good romp in the hay is to be celebrated.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        No. I quite literally mean heretical. Here is the precise point where Aaronson runs afoul of feminist orthodoxy:

        Alas, as much as I try to understand other people’s perspectives, the first reference to my “male privilege”—my privilege!—is approximately where I get off the train, because it’s so alien to my actual lived experience. This is not, insanely, to suggest a lack of misogyny in the modern world! To whatever extent there is misogyny, one could say that there’s also “male privilege.” Rather it’s to suggest that, given what nerdy males have themselves had to endure in life, shaming them over their “male privilege” is a bad way to begin a conversation with them.

        But I suspect the thought that being a nerdy male might not make me “privileged”—that it might even have put me into one of society’s least privileged classes—is completely alien to your way of seeing things. To have any hope of bridging the gargantuan chasm between us, I’m going to have to reveal something about my life, and it’s going to be embarrassing.

        The bolded part was added later, so read that how you like. Also, here is Aaronson describing his beliefs: http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2119

        You can choose to read him that way, but, for me, he is quite obviously not pulling a Dawkins. That is, he is likely not invoking his own feminism as a rhetorical tactic to attack feminism. He was only voicing dissent about one particular conception of male privilege. You could say that a failure to accept that conception of male privilege is enough to consider someone not a feminist, but that only reinforces my point about heresy.

        All that said, in my opinion, Aaronson would do better to stop dancing around these ideas trying to gain acceptance and simply come out and say, “yeah, maybe I’m not such a feminist after all.” And of course, most of this is conjecture. I have no real idea what it is that Aaronson believes or why he decided to offer the comment that he did.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        Yeah, that’s not where he runs afoul. That’s where you, and he, want to think he runs afoul, but as I’ve said repeatedly, that’s not where. That’s not what Marcotte gets on him about, even.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        He was only voicing dissent about one particular conception of male privilege.

        First, in this discussion, he’s ideas aren’t shaped by Dawkins, they’re shaped by Dworkin, Andrea Dworkin. That’s what he said.

        You’re making the same mistake he made: taking one particular strain of thought and applying universally. There are as many strains of feminism as there are people to think about the strata of human problems that may be gender based; and many forms of feminist thought would recognize that extreme social anxiety is a problem for many people, not just for nerdy men, because that concept of feminism is based on recognizing people as human, with a full slate of human problems. I’m repeatedly on record here defending the rights of women who want to look like Barbie, of men who want to fill traditionally feminine role in their families, of sex offenders to not be publicly humiliated by registries, and of people who opt out of using contraception. Feminism, for most people, is not solely focusing on some privileged class as more human, it’s on recognizing the humanity in each of us. That’s exactly why hermetical is the appropriate adjective; he’s pulled out this one strain of feminism, used it as a way of rail against his own social anxiety, and then failed to examine the standards of masculinity that also contributed to that anxiety. That hermetical approach to his anxiety caused him a lot of discomfort, and probably, some pretty great public discomfort.

        You might suggest that some responses to him (Marcotte, for instance) were heretical, but even here, that only works in a hermetically, sealing Marcotte off from the wave of misogyny her posts always seem to generate based on some weird presumption that getting laid is a right and not a privilege, and that feminism is why nerdy guys don’t get laid. We get beyond that, and nerdy guys can learn social skills without blaming women, and we might also notice that there are plenty of women who also don’t get any.

        (I don’t condone Marcotte’s tone, it was cruel; but I won’t condemn it given the vitriol she’s received, either.)Report

      • Avatar Guy in reply to j r says:

        @zic If Aaronson hadn’t cited Dworkin, what would you say?

        Suppose for the moment that he had just said something along the lines of “nasty people calling themselves feminists keep attacking me and mine, and then guilting us for being hurt”. And then he compiled a whole bunch of lists of that kind of thing happenning. What would you say then?

        I ask because what I just said is the main point of his post, and the Dworkin bit is, at least as far as I can see, incidental. also, if you read what he wrote, you’ll note that he never actually claims any kind of right to sex. He just wants people to stop telling him that, by expressing interest in someone, he is claiming that he has a right to sex with that person, because that is not what he’s saying.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        @guy I think he used Dworkin’s version of feminism (particularly the ‘all sex is rape’ creed, which I reject,) to blame his social anxiety and fear of his own sexual urges on feminism, to say that even though he wasn’t sexist, etc., he’d been made to feel bad about himself because of feminist ideology.

        I get the impression (and it could very well be wrong,) that he was exposed to a lot of the fringe feminism that never really embraced women as sexual beings while he was sexually maturing, and mixed that with his own sexual anxiety, resulting in a pretty toxic stew. If that happened (or some similar thing,) I feel really, really bad for him. But the radical feminism was not to blame for his anxiety, any more than porn is to blame for rape.Report

      • Avatar Guy in reply to j r says:

        @zic I don’t think radical feminism, specifically, is to blame for Aaronson’s anxiety, and I sincerely doubt he does either. However, there are some very toxic people who currently claim the label “feminist” who seem to be doing the best they can to exacerbate his anxiety and shame him for it. What he is asking for is some sympathy from those feminists who do not want to do that. Here’s how he ended the post:

        Now, the whole time I was struggling with this, I was also fighting a second battle: to maintain the liberal, enlightened, feminist ideals that I had held since childhood, against a powerful current pulling me away from them. I reminded myself, every day, that no, there’s no conspiracy to make the world a hell for shy male nerds. There are only individual women and men trying to play the cards they’re dealt, and the confluence of their interests sometimes leads to crappy outcomes. No woman “owes” male nerds anything; no woman deserves blame if she prefers the Neanderthals; everyone’s free choice demands respect.

        That I managed to climb out of the pit with my feminist beliefs mostly intact, you might call a triumph of abstract reason over experience.

        But I hope you now understand why I might feel “only” 97% on board with the program of feminism….[long bit about privilege/victim blaming omitted]

        And no, I’m not even suggesting to equate the ~12 years of crippling, life-destroying anxiety I went through with the trauma of a sexual assault victim. The two are incomparable; they’re horrible in different ways. But let me draw your attention to one difference: the number of academics who study problems like the one I had is approximately zero. There are no task forces devoted to it, no campus rallies in support of the sufferers, no therapists or activists to tell you that you’re not alone or it isn’t your fault. There are only therapists and activists to deliver the opposite message: that you are alone and it is your privileged, entitled, male fault.

        What he was asking for here, very literally, was for people to stop saying to him, “you can only be a source of problems”. And people responded by saying “this man is the source of all of these problems he’s complaining about”. He asked for sympathy and got an acid bath. What Aaronson needs is not for everyone to tell him that no, actually, he needs to acknowledge that it’s all his fault; he needs a self-described feminist who isn’t interested in attacking him to come in and say, “actually, Scott, based on what you’ve said, you’re 100% on board with most kinds of feminism, here are people who are saying things like what you are saying and here is some support from other feminists”.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:

        Guy, I just now finally went over and read Aaronson’s piece that everyone’s talking about, and that part you quote jumped out at me (and then I returned here and saw you’d quoted it, nice timing on your part!).

        I think that part’s being too easily dismissed by some folks here. And the part where he talks about being suicidal and actually asking a psychiatrist to prescribe drugs to “chemically castrate” him? I think anyone who skips over that and attacks him for not being feminist enough is a pretty horrible person. And everyone who’s dismissing him for not really getting the experience women have is hypocritically not really getting the experience he’s had.

        I’m pretty sickened by our blog right now.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to j r says:

        can you post a link to that blog? Everyone’s been blathering without reading it.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        He got an acid bath because feminism doesn’t recognize that some men have anxiety issues?


        He got an acid bath because he cited a specific strain of feminism for his anxiety, and then goes on to say what a great guy he was because he managed, despite that anxiety, to hold onto being a feminist.

        Because some men feel anxiety doesn’t mean they feel that way because women would like to be treated equally; that he felt this anxiety might have as much to do with the notions of masculinity that reinforce the notion your not a man if you’re not getting sex. That’s a big part of what some people label toxic masculinity.

        Having had a child go through transitioning from male to female, she has the unique perspective of how her body reacted as male, and the lust and rage she described before transitioning sounded incredibly similar to what he described; medically, I think there may well be some sort of hormonal imbalance that we don’t understand yet contributing to this kind of anxiety, but I’m only guessing.

        I don’t think it’s simple, I don’t think women owed him an apology for how he felt, and I don’t think anything to do with feminism was at the root of what he described, but he attributed it there and claimed surviving despite blaming. The very fact that he picked feminism as why he felt unable to admit that he felt lust for women and felt guilty about feeling that lust is just weird; but it’s not feminism that caused that, and he went far out of his way to put it there.

        This isn’t about feeling women ought be equal, it’s about how he felt as a sexual person — he was crippled with anxiety. I know women who’ve felt that way, too. Some because they might be rejected. Should I blame pickup culture for that? That’s sort of what he did. It’s looking for an external reason for the cause of internal anxiety, and that’s not a great way to deal with anxiety.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        @james-hanley And the part where he talks about being suicidal and actually asking a psychiatrist to prescribe drugs to “chemically castrate” him?

        That was what reminded me of what my daughter went through and why I pondered there being some other hormonal problem. Before transitioning, she said that very thing to me many times. She was also very suicidal. I don’t think this should be overlooked, but I think it goes to hormonal/medical/mental health issues and the anxiety the produce, not to issues of gender equality.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:

        Kimmi, here.

        Zic, I’m not arguing about “why” he got an acid bath. I’m saying that here’s a guy who was so traumatized by something that he actually asked his shrink to chemically castrate him, and the response to him lacks any noticeable concern for his actual experience, and is just one long howl of he’s blaming the wrong target!!!.

        Sympathy for his experience? Some understanding that maybe someone who’s been that traumatized might not precisely identify the problem? Fuck that, let’s rip the guy a new one because he doesn’t see the world just as we do.

        Horrible. Just fucking horrible. However bad anyone thinks he is, the person thinking that is just worse by several orders of magnitude.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        Don’t call me horrid on this one. I’m still processing it.

        I told you what his description of what he experienced reminded me of; and I hesitate to go further, because we are still living in a world where this kind of feeling is really, really hard to get help for. But, I do believe that somewhere on the path of mental-health treatment, there might be room for asking “Do you feel like you might be a happier person if you were the other gender?” Even asking that, however, casts something I don’t want to cast.

        I lived though a child having the same anxiety. I lived through suicide attempts, depression, crippling anxiety, self-isolation. It’s horrible to see in your child, and that cannot even begin to compare with actually going through it in person.

        The path out isn’t in finding some other reason this was forced on you, no matter if it’s being in the wrong gendered body or being highly anxious. (A lot of the path out is better mental health care that does study severe sexual anxiety and gender anxiety; he’s right about the tasks forces not looking at his particular problem.) But that’s not happening because feminism get’s some research money and study; it’s not happening because we haven’t grappled with how serious this kind of anxiety can be.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r says:


        I was responding to the first two–dismissive–paragraphs of your first comment. I know that you, for yourself and your child, are in position to think seriously about what Aaronson’s life was like. If you’re processing that, that’s what I’d ask for. Just don’t dismiss it and act as though the most important thing is that his view of feminism is less than fully non-problematic.Report