On Charity, Infighting, and Circular Firing Squads

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  1. Avatar LeeEsq
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    A lot of the circular firing squads that occur in American political groups happen because who would be in separate political groups in countries with a proportional voting system and multiple parties are forced together by the American electoral system. LGM contains people who are basically standard liberals to more than a few out right anarcho-syndicalists. In a compressed political landscape, fighting over what it means to be a liberal is bound to occur. The same is true for conservative political circles as well.

    The real problem was pointed out by Julian Sanchez in his response to Chait’s essay or Freddie De Boer’s April 2014 post on Bingo Cards going both ways, it tends to have corrosive effect on the thought process and rhetoric. When you decide that all good and true people believe in X, explaining your position to people who don’t believe in X or don’t even know that X exists becomes a problem.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to LeeEsq
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      “A lot of the circular firing squads that occur in American political groups happen because who would be in separate political groups in countries with a proportional voting system and multiple parties are forced together by the American electoral system. ”

      Chait presents an example of a completely voluntary private group that still ends up screaming at each other, so I doubt that it has anything to do with the American electoral system.

      I think it’s more the tendency, encouraged by modern liberal identity politics, to believe that if I’m angry or upset then it’s because of something someone else did on purpose. Even if they didn’t mean it (or, even, didn’t know they did it.) There’s no excuse and no resolution other than them admitting that they are a bad person who needs to be sorry forever afterwards.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jim Heffman
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        I don’t know if I would limit circular firing squads to liberals. There is plenty of circular firing squads in conservative politics as well. See the sneer against RINOs and the willingness to abandon perfectly safe Senate seats by primarying a long-term Republican like Dick Lugar because of some unorthodox stances.

        There are general points that Feminism can unintentionally be classist and racist. When I too employment law and we discussed the FMLA, one policy thing we discussed is that the law was unintentionally crafted in a way to mainly benefit white-collar professionals and mainly white-collar professional women.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jim Heffman
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        The formal political system also effects how informal and voluntary political groups operate. On most blogs dedicated to a particular point of view, you are going to get a really wide ideological spread. On most of the liberal blogs that I read like LGM, the ideological range is from mainstream liberals like me to really out there anarcho-syndicalists.Report

  2. Avatar Don Zeko
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    I think that there is definitely some truth in Chait’s essay, but it has some problems. For one, it conflates what, seem like two very distinct issues: a tendency on some in the left, largely on college campuses, towards official and semi-official restrictions on speech, and a tendency by the online left to shout down contrary opinions in a way that has a chilling effect. I’m much more convinced that the latter is a real problem than the former, and I wish that his essay had treated that distinction more carefully.

    But the other issue is that Chait is just not the right messenger for this particular message. Don’t get me wrong, I read Chait regularly and like much of his writing, but he just doesn’t have the requisite level of trust on this side of the aisle for his essay to accomplish much. Yes, he’s a heterosexual white man, but the problem goes much farther than that. Chait wrote for TNR for some time, he’s substantially more hawkish than most liberals on foreign policy in general and Israel in particular. He’s strongly pro-Education Reform and anti-teacher’s unions. He writes posts defending teh NFL and NCAA Football from liberal critics. But beyond all that, he disagrees with Liberals on all of these things with the, ahem, lack of temperance that he normally uses to go after Conservatives or, say, George Bush. If he’s right (and I think he has at least half of a good point in the essay) even liberals that might be generally open to this sort of critique (like myself) have a hard time not reading this as just more that good ole hippy-punching religion, rather than taking the critique as an opportunity for self-reflection and self-correction.Report

    • Avatar Joseph t in reply to Don Zeko
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      That’s exactly what sucks so bad about infighting. Nevermind that the guy has a good point he’s been mean in the past so I can dismiss it.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Joseph t
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        I’m not saying that Chait’s point is necessarily wrong. I’m predicting that he will not be effective at persuading anybody, while a different writer saying mostly the same thing in different way might be.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Joseph t
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        @don-zeko

        Can you think of a writer who can say what Chait did and get a more positive response?

        A serious liberal writer because it also seems like Michelle Golberg lost her lefty card when she wrote about Twitter’s Toxic Wars and she was writing for The Nation!Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Joseph t
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        My first thought would be Ta-Nehisi Coates.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Joseph t
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        I dunno.

        As a test case, I feel like Coates writes all the time about how the left in the US is simply differently racist than the right (see for example his great post on Donald Sterling). How does that work out for everyone?

        On the one hand, it doesn’t raise the hackles of everyone the way it would if Chait wrote the same thing.

        On the other hand, the content of what he says in those instances is largely ignored, and I never see it lead to any kind of serious introspection on the Left.

        If we assume the problem at hand is less “who’s in and who’s out on the Left clubhouse” and more “attempting to create create a non-white supremacist society,” I’m not sure I see a difference between piling on Chait and ignoring Coates.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Joseph t
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        I see Chait criticizing the purveyors of Coates’ message who aren’t Costes. When others criticize the racism or sexism of left, they’re being PC, but Coates is safe, so he doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable. He’s speaking hard truths in a manner that lets us ignore him, instead of shouting, “Hear me, damn you,” like some other people.

        Those people are just being leftier than thou radicals.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Don Zeko
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      @don-zeko

      I disagree with Chait on education reform very strongly but education reform is an issue that seriously divides the Democratic Party (who might or might not be liberal based on individual members and politicians). Jamelle Bouie wrote an article that declared common core should be a Democratic necessary point and he is probably to my left on many issues (or maybe not.)

      Israel is another issue that divides the Democratic Party and Chait largely recanted his position on the Iraq War.

      You are asking for a lot of little check boxes to be filled before someone can make a point and that is simply impossible.

      This is what really struck me in Sanchez’s essay:

      You end up with team “x is the problem” and team “x is not a problem,” and ever fewer people prepared to say “x is a problem, but maybe not the most useful lens through which to view this particular disagreement.” When teetotalers are the only ones willing to say “maybe you’ve had one too many,” because your friends are worried about sounding like abstemious scolds, the advice is a lot easier to dismiss. Which is fine until it’s time to drive home.

      You see this dynamic, in fact, with the response to Chait’s essay: Progressives who think maybe he’s kinda-sorta got a point quickly move on, ceding the field to those who want to revoke his ally card and conservatives eager to welcome him, at least for the next ten seconds, to “their” side.”

      http://www.juliansanchez.com/2015/01/27/chait-speech/Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Don Zeko
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      I think it’s ironic that Chait mentioned in his article the phenomena of truth not being acceptable unless it’s told by the right kind of person and you then observing that Chait isn’t the right kind of person to be speaking this truth to the left.

      Saul, I’d also note that Chait flat out discusses in his article that some left wingers he’s discussing are actively devaluing free speech so he definitly isn’t assuming they do value it.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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        Noted North.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
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        Many further left types, Marxists and socialists, see things like freedom of speech as a bourgeoisie freedom. They have the same opinion about bourgeoisie freedoms as they do with the rest of bourgeoisie culture, a not very high one.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        Yes lee, but it’s madness.
        If you degrade or discard free speech you constrain your internal discussions. This cuts you off from information and cripples your ability to adapt to and make persuasive arguments.

        In a democracy the inability to adapt to and make persuasive arguments means marginalization of your ideals and powerlessness. It is that simple.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
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        North, I’m a self-identified bourgeoisie. I agree its madness.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to North
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        I’ll add a BSDI & that this very attitude of X is not the right kind of person to say Y is something of a hybrid of an Ad Hominem & a No True Scotsman fallacy.

        Or perhaps there is a more specific name for that fallacy?Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to North
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        @mad-rocket-scientist It’s not just that Chait is the wrong messenger, it’s that his style as a writer makes this message, despite its accurate analytic point about how online liberalism is getting worse and worse and healthily dealing with internal dissent and debate, totally unpersuasive to the people he’s critiquing.

        Compare Chait’s essay to Freddie’s take on the subject. Personally, I found Freddie’s much more persuasive. Not because Freddie lacks Chait’s history of neoliberalism and fighting other liberals from the right, but because where Chait tells liberals that they aren’t living up to liberal ideals (whereas Chait is), but Freddie tells liberals that they aren’t going to accomplish the goals that he shares with them if they carry on like they’ve been doing. If you want people to listen to you, don’t start by attacking their core political identity.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to North
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        @don-zeko

        Did Chait imply that he is Holy Than Thou when it comes to being a good liberal? He’s always struck me as a moderate and tends to own that, although I admit I don’t read him that often (only so much time in a day).Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to North
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        Liberals believe (or ought to believe) that social progress can continue while we maintain our traditional ideal of a free political marketplace where we can reason together as individuals. Political correctness challenges that bedrock liberal ideal.

        Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to North
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        @don-zeko

        Not seeing how that significantly detracts from his argument. I’ll certainly agree that Freddie did it better, but that just means Freddie should actually be getting paid to write, not that Chait is a bad messenger.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        Don Zeko, the thing is Freddie and Chait are both saying pretty much the exact same thing. Chait doesn’t have as much of the “and also this is going to hurt the movement and hurt the causes you care about” because Chait was definitely directing it at a broader audience whereas Freddie was writing it very much as an internal note to his fellow leftists.

        But they are saying basically the same fundamental things.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Don Zeko
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      But the other issue is that Chait is just not the right messenger for this particular message.

      There is no right messenger for this particular message. To say that Chait is wrong is to fundamentally mischaracterize what political correctness and social justice warriors are all about. Take a person who has standing within this community and have that person start to dissent. What happens? Some will listen to the dissent, more will shout it down. This is a movement/series of movements that eats it young.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to j r
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        Well is the point of Chait’s piece to try to correct the problems with Internet Liberalism, or to pronounce judgment upon it from outside? Chait succeeds at the latter, and I suppose for somebody like yourself, who is not particularly invested in internet liberalism accomplishing any of its goals, that’s enough. For me, not so much.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to j r
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        @don-zeko

        Well, that’s just a matter of personal taste & style, then. Like how Robin Williams had tons of funny jokes, but they didn’t always work without his delivery.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
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        @don-zeko

        That does not really speak to my claim, which is that it does not matter who the person is or what kind of progressive/social justice cred a person starts with, dissent will be treated pretty much the same by the internet hive mind. Heck, half the people who get involved in these internet pile-ons don’t even know what the first order event was or who the people involved are.

        Also, I find it a bit amusing that you think the internet has goals.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to j r
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        @j-r I find it befuddling that you would so deliberately misread me as to not see what I obviously meant, which is that communities of people that arrange themselves on the internet around a common purpose have goals. And if you really think that the messenger and the way that a message is delivered have zero effect upon how it is received, then my friend Bernie Madoff here would like to sell you a bridge.

        And again, for pete’s sake, I agree with the basic analytic point. Yes, internet political communities pile on to dissenters in abusive and dismissive ways. Yes, this is bad. Yes, the internet reaction to Chait’s piece in many corners proves the accuracy of this point.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
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    Andrew Sullivan’s response largely strikes me as correct. Political correctness or SJW speech and the rightist equivalent is really a problem of illiberalism. The most basic idea of liberalism, the one that forms the base of modern liberal and libertarian thought, is that people should more or less be allowed to person their own version of the good life rather than have a good life imposed on them. We disagree on how this might be accomplished but it is the goal of both ideas. There are those that would disagree and would seek to impose their vision of the good life on everybody. Controlling speech is one way to do this.Report

  4. Avatar James Hanley
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    crowd that seems to decry P.C. because it means treating people decently. And they call themselves anti-P.C. as a kind of shield for their own racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, whatever.

    Would that crowd recognize your description of them?

    Is there a relationship of sorts between this description and the concurrent conversation we’re having here about who gets to decide what feminism means?Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to James Hanley
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      There is a certain person who’s upset about speech controls because they feel that controlling speech (or controlling anything) doesn’t stop with Just The Bad Stuff, and leads to some very ugly behavior in the name of controlling.

      There’s another type of person who thinks that a gay blonde nerd lisping jokes about how black people talk goofy is high-larious and gets huffy when you point out how mean it is to make fun of people that way.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy
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    Part of the theory to microaggressions is that intent is largely immaterial. An innocuous but offensive comment can be brushed off. A daily barrage of them takes a psychological toll on the target.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy
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      I get that but I am still trying to figure out how getting corrected on a point of grammar is a microagression especially when the correction comes in a paper from a professor. The student wrote Indigenous with a capital I when they should have used a lower-case i. The professor was protested.

      This seems to implicate that there is carte blanche for declarations of microagressions and no one can defend themselves against any accusation of microagressions. As a lawyer this galls me and strikes me as being an overly zealous type of prosecution. The kind of witchhunt that I normally associate with Nancy Grace and Joe McCarthy types.

      Sometimes in 2014 I remember listening to an interview with a woman who was talking about how her academic department was considering a policy against unwanted sexual advances. She raised her hand and asked “How do you know a sexual advance is unwanted unless you try?” No one in the department knew how to answer that.

      I generally favor a blanket rule against professor-student sexual relationships because of power differentials and ethical issues of favoritism or what happens to the student (or possibly the professor) if the sexual relationship ends (favortism can become shunning and intentional career ruining) but a blanket ban on “unwanted sexual advances”seems silly for the reason mentioned above.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Saul,
        The unspoken word there is “repeated”. The other unspoken thought is “respect my autonomy, dammit!”

        Although, I’d be tempted to sue the woman who kissed an unwilling guy so hard she pulled out a filling…Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Saul Degraw
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        “I am still trying to figure out how getting corrected on a point of grammar is a microagression especially when the correction comes in a paper from a professor. ”

        The assumption by the professor was that the student was wrong. Apparently it never entered the professor’s mind that the student capitalized “indigenous” on purpose. The student assumed that the professor believed it was because the student was One Of Those People And You Know They Don’t Know Proper Grammar.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Yeah, the rhetoric on “unwanted sexual advances” can seem very, very sloppy to those of us who use language with a lot of precision (for example, attorneys and computer programmers share this trait). As Kim says, “repeated” is key.

        Also, what the nature of the sexual advance is matters quite a lot. A sexual advance can be anything from “want to get a cup of coffee?” to grab-ass. One of these, in my mind, should be acceptable, but the other not.

        And since America is a multi-culture, there isn’t one universal standard about what’s acceptable. Autonomy is a slippery concept. To some subcultures, saying “no” the first time is, in fact, an invitation to show one’s “game”. It does not preclude a second attempt, it is merely an exercise in setting limits. This sort of interaction is not my thing, that’s for sure, but I’m pretty sure it exists.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw
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        I would counter that the demand for precise language with regard to complex social phenomena is itself a problem, insofar as it encourages rules lawyering. Sexual advances can be extremely off-putting, and I don’t want to deal with them in a professional environment. It is enough that I have to deal with pushy men in bars and on the subway, who think they are entitled to my time and attention and get shitty when I brush them off. I don’t want that in the office. Keep your boner away from me.

        So unwanted versus wanted — you won’t get firm rules on this point. Cuz we’re not children and this is the “social big leagues”. Figure it out. Use your body language. Read theirs. Flirt carefully and back away fast if they are not interested.

        Can’t handle that? Stick to OkCupid then.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Do you have a link to the grammar story?

        That might well have not been a microaggression. I need to know more.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw
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        It is one of Chait’s examples in his essay.

        “UCLA students staged a sit-in to protest microaggressions such as when a professor corrected a student’s decision to spell the word indigenous with an uppercase I — one example of many “perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies.” A theater group at Mount Holyoke College recently announced it would no longer put on The Vagina Monologues in part because the material excludes women without vaginas. These sorts of episodes now hardly even qualify as exceptional.”

        http://dailybruin.com/2013/11/20/students-defend-professor-after-sit-in-over-racial-climate/Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw
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        “This seems to implicate that there is carte blanche for declarations of microagressions and no one can defend themselves against any accusation of microagressions.”

        Well, yes, but only if the approach to responding to microaggressions is accusation and punishment. I reject that course. Engage in a conversation. “Hey, I know you thought you were offering a compliment when you said I speak English really well, but I actually found it offensive because it seems based on an assumption that I shouldn’t speak English well. Why would you think that? I was born in Des Moines.”

        In my experience, the vast, vast, vast majority of responses to microaggressions is silent acceptance. Some are handled the way I advocated. And some result in much heat and little light. Unfortunately, that last category gets all the press and becomes the way in which we frame the conversation.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @saul-degraw

        To frame that as a protest over a grammar correction vastly oversimplifies. The students used that as an example of a broader issue they were attempting to bring attention to. And there is actually a lot of dialogue about the capitalization of certain identifiers. This professor should engage his students on both the particular topic and the way in which it can contribute to a climate of hostility. Reducing it to, “Uppity students got mad because they were corrected on their poor grammar” is itself arguably a microaggression.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Yeah, you see what Chait is doing there? He’s diminishing the concerns by making it seem like it’s about the changing of a letter on a single paper. Ugh.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw
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        “Look, I’m one of the good guys. Look how petty these POC’s concerns are? A professor changed a letter. Circular firing squad! Perfect the enemy of the good! Cliche, cliche, cliche, diminish, diminish, diminish!”Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Kazzy,
        if this is a large and preexisting conversation — one that the prof could be assumed to be privy to, well, yeah, there’s a reason people are getting a bit teed off.

        I kinda want to back off and say, “wait, your professor just made an editing decision. Can’t you just get back to him and say “here’s why I’m not changing that”?” It’s important for writers to realize that editors don’t get to win 100% of the time.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @chris

        Can’t tell if you are being serious or facetious…Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw
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        I’m suggesting that’s what Chait is doing.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @veronica-d What you describe sounds like something I’d want too. In fact, I’ve been annoyed by what was apparently sexual advances in my workplace by a woman. I didn’t like it. It was distracting and irritating, especially since I wear my wedding ring openly. So I’m with you there.

        I do not, however, think that my preferences are universal, and I doubt that yours are, either. (Though I quite accept that they are common.) Some people like to flirt pretty overtly, and to them it is meaningless, while there are others who do not understand that it is meaningless, and still others for whom it is meaningful, but within bounds of behavior, and still others for whom the transgressive nature of it is part of what makes it so fun.

        I think that one of the ways that the culture can often mess with the minds of women is by convincing them that they should simply give when asked, and never set limits for themselves, or advocate for their own needs. There are definitely men, me included, who have this same issue – I don’t want to be too essentialist. But it’s more of an issue for women, it seems to me.

        Which makes this discussion difficult. Because here, you are advocating for yourself, and the focus of your advocacy is “I don’t want to have to advocate”. I think that ability to do that in the moment is a skill that can be learned, and that someone who has the ability to set limits and advocate for their own needs will be better off than someone who doesn’t.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw
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        DJ,
        truth. But work is not the place for frenching the receptionist. V’s right that some things are totally over the line, and on the first instance the bloke needs to be fired.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @doctor-jay — I have literally no idea why you think I don’t advocate for myself. Trust me, I do. I’m actually quite good at telling annoying people to go away. Furthermore, brushing off aggressive men is a skill most women learn. For myself, I took the crash course and got good fast. That is not the point.

        For the record, I have no problem with flirting. Nor do I think people should be outright forbidden to hook up at the office. At my workplace, for example, we are allowed to date within the company (with some obvious caveats). I think this is fine. Many of my coworkers are completely adorbz, and I will almost certainly sleep with a few of them. (Pending some issues in my current relationship. It’s complicated.)

        The rules against unwanted sexual advances are different. They protect people, mostly women, from relentless, crass sexualization. They protect us from the endless, stupid come-ons from men who do not interest us, and the ensuing passive-aggressive Nice Guy bullshit. It gives us a tool to push back against sexually aggressive men, or men with poor boundaries, or men with no clue, and so on. It shuts down bro-culture, and its nerdy cousin, wannabe-bro culture.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @veronica-d I didn’t think you were bad at advocating for self. All the evidence I have – these posts – suggests the opposite. I was commenting on the oddity that your advocacy, in the post I responded to, was of the form “I don’t want to have to advocate”. I guess I can relate to that.

        You say you like flirting. I do, too, provided I’m allowed to apply my own definition of flirting, and what my boundaries are. These things aren’t universal. Thus my reply to your complaint about demands for more specificity.

        This is not a demand on my part. You don’t have to tell me anything. You don’t have to clarify yourself. But if you don’t tell me, I won’t know. Whether or not you care is up to you.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Reducing it to, “Uppity students got mad because they were corrected on their poor grammar” is itself arguably a microaggression.

        I’d put it more strongly – reducing it in that way is way more of a microaggression than the original correction, probably actually more than a microaggression – more of a deliberate misreading of the situation founded in a preconceived notion that the PC police are out to take away all our freedoms.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Kazzy
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      This is part of my problem with the theory of microaggressions. Do we have any empirical proof that this is true?

      In most areas of study, a theory is something to be tested, to be validated. When it comes to the theories of the social justice crowd, it seems the exact opposite. The truth of the theory is treated as self-evident and it becomes the measure by which to subjectively judge the world. This is backwards.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r
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        @j-r

        There are studies that document worse health outcomes for Black Americans relative to White Americans even when accounting for age, socio-economic status, and a variety of other factors. It is far from definitive proof but it points to the possibility of racism (in all its forms, including microaggressions) as a unique stressor with measurable effects. Obviously, more work is necessary.
        @chris can probably weigh in more, but mental/emotional trauma is harder to measure and document than other forms of harm. And the mindset you offer here is why it took so long to recognize things like workplace sexual harassment as real ills (and while many still deny that they are). Or why people think that rape and sexual assault is simply a physical/violent crime and therefor if the victim orgasms or doesn’t have a torn anus, they weren’t really a victim.

        What would it take to convince you that microaggressions are a problem? If a person who is targeted by them says, “Every time someone asks me how I learned to speak English so well — despite the fact that I was born in this country — I get angry. Sometimes, I snap,” is that sufficient to accept that microaggressions A) exist and B) are harmful?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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        Microaggression is something that’s being actively studied, but the research is in its infancy:

        http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12552-013-9107-9?no-access=true

        There is some evidence that it has some very real effects on people, but there’s a lot of research to be done.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
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        @kazzy

        What would it take to convince you that microaggressions are a problem?

        There are a lot of dimensions to this question. For instance, a problem for whom?

        If we define microagressions as a form of nuisance, then by definition they are a problem. Like all nuisances, however, the effects are going to vary from person to person. Some people have thick skin and are barely bothered by all sorts of outrageous insults. Others are incredibly sensitive and the smallest perceived slight is enough to cripple.

        We once had an exchange here where you said that Bill Simmons “Reggie Cleveland All-Stars” bit was racist or at least racially insensitive. I couldn’t disagree more. Or rather, if it is racially insensitive, it’s the kind of racial insensitivity that I enjoy. Which one of us is right? And what does it mean to be right in this particular situation.

        My belief, and this is a personal belief that many will simply not agree with, is that the focus on microagressions does more harm than good in the long run. To me, it’s another form of trying to child-proof the world and shield young people from having to do the hard work of dealing with a myriad of awkward and uncomfortable social interactions. Part of being a happy, well-adjusted adult is learning to deal with a$$holes without breaking your stride.

        This is not me saying, “bring back bullying.” This is me saying that we will never be able to fully eliminate bullying from the world; therefore the best thing that we can do for our kids is to give them the tools that they need when they encounter bullying. And those tools ought to go beyond, go run and tell the nearest authority figure.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to j r
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        says:

        jr
        yes, make sure you give people the proper tools.
        Otherwise a simple Kirk Versus Picard will turn into one man screaming at another, non-stop, for 10 minutes. (not kidding, either. man had issues).

        If nothing else, the idea of microaggressions is to give people Another Framework to process “why I am getting yelled at” (in short: “Having a Bad Day” and “It’s not totally your fault, but pet peeve!”).

        I think some people around here (look at MRS) are quick to assume that we’re jumping the whole way to mollycoddling or arresting people.

        Just start talking about a concept, introduce other people to it — sometimes that’s enough to get the desired results.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r
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        says:

        @j-r

        “To me, it’s another form of trying to child-proof the world and shield young people from having to do the hard work of dealing with a myriad of awkward and uncomfortable social interactions. Part of being a happy, well-adjusted adult is learning to deal with a$$holes without breaking your stride.

        This is not me saying, “bring back bullying.” This is me saying that we will never be able to fully eliminate bullying from the world; therefore the best thing that we can do for our kids is to give them the tools that they need when they encounter bullying. And those tools ought to go beyond, go run and tell the nearest authority figure.”

        Again, that assumes the only response to microaggressions are rules and punishment. I do not subscribe to that approach. I agree that we should empower people to have agencies over themselves and to not create victims. But I also think we should encourage thoughtfulness, respect, and empathy. Many microaggressions are indeed innocuous and require no more than a friendly reminder. Some might be more insidious but still require very little in the form of correction. To use myself as an example, in high school (late 90s), I used ‘gay’ in a derogatory way practically every other sentence. It wasn’t said with vitriol but nonetheless had the potential to hurt. One day, I dropped it in line in the cafeteria and a kid I didn’t know well but whom I liked and respected and who was gay said, “Hey man, that’s really not cool. It offends me when you say it.” And pretty much from that day forward, I’ve worked to scrub it and similar references from my vocabulary.

        I’m not saying we ban words or embark on 24/7 sensitivity classes. I’m saying a little bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way. Thinking before you speak. Considering the potential impact of your words. Etc. All of that is also part-and-parcel of being a well-functioning adult. For whatever reason, if we encourage that same sort of mindfulness around race, some people’s heads start to spin.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
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        says:

        For whatever reason, if we encourage that same sort of mindfulness around race, some people’s heads start to spin.

        Whose head is spinning?

        I am all for mindfulness, but that can mean any number of different things to any number of different people.

        I agree that we should empower people to have agencies over themselves and to not create victims.

        Then we are in agreement.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to j r
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        says:

        Oh yeah, microaggressions are totally a thing. Which is to say, we didn’t always have a word for this, but we knew there was this thing, this day-in-day-out of petty abuse. Just the dirty looks I get, the dumb comments, the old Southie fucks who think they get to comment on me. It can be really subtle, but it’s hard to miss when you are the target.

        Regarding getting a tough skin — motherfucker, I have a tougher skin than you will ever. As if you would make it through my day.

        Which is to say, I think boxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu are great sports that more people should do. Things like taking a punch and going the distance — those are what I respect, the willpower to keep fighting after your body quits. When things get tough, get tougher. Fuck yes.

        But microagressions exist. Of course they exist. People cross the street for black people more than white people. Black people notice this. Trans folks get dirty looks, misgendered in obvious ways, but nothing over the line. The same dumb comments, the same not-funny jokes, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Just drips and drabs. This shit adds up.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to j r
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        says:

        @veronica-d I have a question about microagressions that to be honest I’d never considered asking myself until right now — and I feel like you are the best person to actually ask:

        Are microagressions unilateral, or bilateral?

        To be honest, I think I’ve always thought of them as being unilateral — e.g: someone like me can’t really be a victim of microagressions; my wife, however can. I view them, in other words, as flowing the opposite direction of power. But the way you just described them make me now wonder if this is because of the political context in which I hear them used.

        I’m guessing I’m not the first person to ask this question… is there an agreed upon answer?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to j r
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        says:

        On micro-aggressions, I recognize them as a thing. They used to be called the bigotry of low expectations or comments like your a “credit to your race.” The problem is that I can’t think of any good way to deal with them. Many micro-aggressions are intended to be comments by people who really don’t know better. As the argument on how indigenous is supposed to be spelled makes clear, it is very easy to make an inadvertent micro-aggression. One person’s proper grammar is another’s micro-aggression. If actually intended to be insults than its done by trolls you really won’t care if you shoot back. The reaction to a fight against a micro-aggression will most likely be defensive or a bully reaction. Trying to get rid of micro-aggressions is Herculean.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to j r
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        says:

        @tod-kelly — The Twitter social justice answer is that no cis-het man can ever experience anything slightly bad since you guys rule the world with your insecurity and egos! 🙂

        The reality — I guess, sure, you can get microaggressions. People are people. Our minds are very much alike. But do you?

        Part of it seems to be having a marked identity, which Serano talks about in Excluded, which contains the best theoretical model I’ve seen for this stuff.

        If you are marked, then stereotypes stick to you, people feel entitled to comment on you, to interrogate your life, and so on. You face double standards, double binds. But more, this stuff sinks in. You start to wonder if it is true.

        You build tools to deal with this, but the tools don’t really work because the problem is not your response; it is the double standard itself.

        Hollywood stars are marked. However, no one feels sorry for them because they tend to be marked as high status. A lot is given to them. They live pretty good lives.

        Women, queers, and minorities are also marked, but we are marked low status. This happens relentlessly, every time we walk out the door.

        For you, as a cis man, if someone tries to invalidate your gender, you’ll likely just laugh. When it happens to me, it stings. For me, my gender is a constant struggle both inside and out. Black men (we can suppose) struggle with their validity as men. (It is not accident that “boy” was used as an anti-black slur.) This is a struggle for black men, and when you attack their dignity, you hit them with a sharper knife than what is used on you.

        Well, probably. You know your own story.

        If you are on the subway, and the person next to your points out some ordinary looking man and says, “Check that guy out,” you’ll wonder why. Like, why single that guy out? If they do it to me, you’ll know why right away. And I know you know. And I can guess what people are saying when they look my way and mumble to their partner.

        (And I’m probably wrong sometimes, but not all the time.)

        I got rude comments today, just as I left the hair salon, feeling really good about my cool new hair, except some bro-dude decided to scoff at me, I suppose to take me down a peg.

        It didn’t work. I don’t care what that fucker thinks. But still, it is a weight I carry. I’m strong enough, but in a better world he gives me a smile.

        So can an able-bodied, neuro-typical, cis-het, white, middle-class man get hit by microaggressions? Probably not, honestly, since isolated bullshit does not a microaggression make. But turn the knob a bit, make yourself autistic, or fat, or socially hapless, then yeah, probably. Things exist by degrees.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to j r
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        says:

        @veronica-d Thanks. I think that’s the way I saw it; I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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        says:

        Those are more like full-sized aggressions.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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        says:

        That was to Lee, sorry. I typed too slow.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r
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        says:

        (A dumb example from my high school experience: I was rockin’ the waterproof yellow “Sports” Walkman ™ in the line at lunch and listening to the Who Made Who soundtrack to Maximum Overdrive by AC/DC because, hey. It was 1989. One of the JD’s who was about the size of a shed asked me “What are you listening to?” and I said “AC/DC” and he laughed and said “I didn’t know that nerds listened to AC/DC” and I just put my headphones back on. I probably haven’t thought about that since two or three days afterwards. If asked to describe it, I’d probably put it somewhere around “light bullying” prior to learning the term “Microaggression” but “Microaggression” is probably the perfect term for that particular interaction. And I’m probably microaggressing against the guy by calling him a JD and saying he was freakin’ huge. Were this a perfect world, I’d probably have more compassion for him.)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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        says:

        The microaggression I’m able to see the easiest, because it affects me even if it isn’t directed at me, is what’s sometimes called “white of way” or “white of passage.” It happens so often to R. when we’re walking on sidewalks that I shudder to think how common it is for all non-white people.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to j r
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        says:

        A common example we’ve all talked about before – the tendency of some people to be just amazed when a man is an active & engaged father. Or, when some people automatically defer to the wife/mother when talking about kids, as if the dad standing right there is clueless by default.

        Another is the attitude of some that veterans are all trained killers & snake eating bad-asses, or not intelligent (because smart people don’t enter the military as enlisted, or at all).

        I’ve encountered both, among others. It’s the comments that hit the sense of identity that hurt the worst. Being a good father is important to me, as is being a veteran. Being considered a silent parent, or being looked upon as a violent sociopath, strikes at the core of my identity.

        Certainly there are micro-affirmations, & macro-affirmations, that can counter it, but people don’t always get those, or they are hollow (I appreciate when strangers thank me for my service, but it’s empty). This is not to disagree with what @veronica-d is saying, as it is certainly true that ‘marked’ persons get it in spades, but…

        Perhaps this is part of why we tend to sort, because the sort will reduce the frequency of these micro-aggressions we endure, and inflict (this matters to anyone who has a healthy sense of empathy). Being part of this OT community can be, at times, an effort. I have to try to keep in the forefront of my mind that the posts & comments are not always intended to insult; and at the same time, I have to make the effort to remember who is here, and who I am talking to, and try not to deliver unintended slights. It’s so much easier if everyone I interact with is like me, with the same sensibilities & sensitivities, so the aggressions are naturally kept to a minimum.

        Anyway, my point in all this is that a micro-aggression is about unintentionally attacking a persons identity through the expression of ones internal prejudices. Everyone experiences them, some marked persons considerably more than others, but it is a shared experience. The reason I say this is because being able to internalize the experience, to understand ways in which it was brought to bear against the self, is how you learn to not do it to others. Telling Tod he isn’t suffering micro-aggressions isn’t useful. Telling Tod he’s probably experiencing a light rain while you endure a hurricane, however, let’s everyone understand they are still getting wet.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
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        says:

        In most areas of study, a theory is something to be tested, to be validated.

        And then there’s economics.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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        says:

        Oh man. I’ve gotten some pushback on this blog in the last couple weeks, but nothing like that time I questioned the rigor of economics as a science. 😉Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
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        says:

        I would have pushed back too. It’s not a question.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
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        says:

        @jaybird
        He didn’t say “I asked what you were listening to, not what you are”? You had an inferior class of bullies.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r
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        says:

        It’s all part of a tapestry. Make this bully quicker on his feet, suddenly he has an entirely different group of people he’s inclined to microaggress.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to j r
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        says:

        You had an inferior class of bullies.

        Huh, never woulda taken Schilling for a bully snob (“Our bullies were totally better than your bullies!”)

        Also, if we could get bullies down from regular aggressions to micro ones, I might count it a win.

        (Also also, anyone who doesn’t know what “microaggressions” are, has never been married. HEY-O!)Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to j r
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        says:

        Let me add, I think that sexually unsuccessful, nerdy men probably do experience microaggressions. I doubt they do so at the same level as minorities or women, but yeah, they get some hard shit dumped on them, particularly during the high school years. In fact, I think this should be obvious. In our culture men are expected to display their status according to their sexual success. This message is reinforced constantly, tons of little things in every movie and TV show, in each little interaction on the playground, when the other girls and boys ignore the nerd-guy. Many of us here know this feeling well. These are microaggressions and they suck.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r
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        says:

        I considered putting in a disclaimer like “Oh, I’m sure that the microaggressions that I had to deal with were not as bad as the microaggressions experienced by women and minorities had to deal with” and then I thought “Should I include homosexuals? The differently abled?” and then I imagined that the sentence I’d end up with would look like a microaggression in itself so I thought it better to merely speak to my own experience without talking about other peoples’ experiences because I felt like, no matter what I did, I’d end up writing a comment like this one.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
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        says:

        “Hey, nerd! When you try to fish a girl, that’s a micro aggression!”Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
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        says:

        …nerdy men probably do experience microaggressions. I doubt they do so at the same level as minorities or women…
        I agree with this, but the key word is level. On an individual level, this may not be the case. Imagine three students from a high school class. Jamal is the tall, athletic, confident QB of the football team. Jane is the queen bee of the most popular clique. And John is a shy nerd with bad skin and an unimpressive physique. In that particular setting, John is likely to get the worst of it. Fast forward five years and each of the three have to send out resumes with their names on them and the conception of privilege shifts.

        Privilege only makes sense as a ceteris parabis concept. And as a ceteris parabis concept it is very useful, but it has its limits. That is, it will often be very accurate, but not particularly precise. My biggest problem with what we are presently referring to as political correctness is that it often simply ignores the precision element.

        Or to put it another way, this way of looking at the world, which is partly about helping people transcend the racism and sexism and homophobia, etc. that reduces people to their demographic characteristics will often end up doing just that, reducing people to their demographic characteristics.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to j r
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        says:

        Or to put it another way, this way of looking at the world, which is partly about helping people transcend the racism and sexism and homophobia, etc. that reduces people to their demographic characteristics will often end up doing just that, reducing people to their demographic characteristics.

        This is an eloquent way to say something I have struggled to say before – that this is a USEFUL lens, but if it becomes one’s ONLY lens, it risks making some of the same essential (pun intended) errors that racism etc. make.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to j r
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        says:

        “Hey, nerd! When you try to fish a girl, that’s a micro aggression!”

        It can be.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to j r
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        says:

        I have a very clear example of a microaggression aimed at me.

        I was having breakfast at a hotel in Wyoming last summer, at the sort of do-it-yourself buffet that many hotels have. This one was equipped with fancy new waffle makers. I love waffles, so I ladled some batter on, and then sat there trying to figure out how to turn the thing on.

        A woman perhaps 60 years of age reached over and flipped the thing over, which turned it on. She said, “You’re probably used to being taken care of at home,” with a recognizably scornful tone.

        As it turns out, in 25 years of marriage, my wife had never made waffles. I’m the waffle maker, and I’m a traditionalist. I use an old-school wafflemaker that has a hinged top and small squares. In this, I follow a masculine tradition – my father made all the waffles in our house growing up. I know how to make waffles. I don’t know how to use this particular waffle maker, which didn’t have any obvious directions, and which I’d never seen before.

        But there she was, bringing down a full-on stereotype threat. I didn’t respond, why start a fight in a hotel with someone you’re never going to see again? But hell yes, that was a micro-aggression.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to j r
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        says:

        Yep. That’s a microaggression. Another one men face is this: it is risky for a man to pay attention to other people’s children, for example in line at a grocery store. If a woman smiles at someone’s kids, the parents will tend to be relaxed and welcome the attention toward their child. When a man does precisely the same behavior, the parents will be at best guarded and possibly hostile. This is a microaggression against men. It sucks and I hope someday it stops.

        ######

        Note, I believe quite firmly that women, queers, and minorities get it worse. Much worse. Overwhelmingly. However, I think it is important to show how men (and cis folks and straight folks and so on) also face weird double standards. This will possibly help people relate. If you can understand how these small or infrequent microaggressions hurt you, then magnify that. Imagine it was relentless.

        I recently quit a writing group I was a member of. It was a really cool group, but it was mostly cis lesbian (or otherwise AFAB queer). I was the only trans woman there. So I had a weight to carry, both outside and inside, regarding my validity as a woman. That effected my writing to some degree, cuz as I wrote I couldn’t shed the idea that some of these women probably don’t quite see me as a woman and that everything I did was suspect, that I could never cast aside the trans thing and just be.

        Then one day they confirmed my fears. Three of the women started with some subtle but unmistakable anti-trans-woman bullshit. It really upset me. I couldn’t write. So I quit.

        It fucking sucks.

        Thing is, I did not have to quit. There others in the group who totally accepted me. The rules of the group accepted me. I had allies. But still, those women were quite welcome, and two of them were high status members who got much praise. These were big players in Boston-area dyke space. And I was a horrible tranny who no doubt they tolerated only cuz they had to.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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        says:

        “Hey, nerd! When you try to fish a girl, that’s a micro aggression!”

        When I read that, I thought of “Elevatorgate,” and how that was essentially the response: “It was just a guy talking to a woman. If we can’t even talk to a woman without being accused of harassment…” Dawkins’ use of that response was the beginning of a major rift in the skeptic community.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to j r
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        says:

        On elevatorgate: can someone give a link to any feminists demonizing the guy who propositioned Watson. I know she did not. In fact, she made it quite clear that he was just some hapless dude, and it was his specific behavior she objected to. Her whole message was, “Guys, don’t do this. It’s creepy.” Her message was never, “He’s a bad person. Let’s get him!”

        Which, I agree with her. Don’t corner me on elevators. Yuck!

        She never named the guy. As far as I know no one really wanted her to. There was (near as I can tell) literally zero desire to punish the man in any way. Nothing.

        The response by the nerd-bros to elevatorgate, on the other hand, was fucking shameful. While the man on the elevator was not singled out for any abuse, Watson certainly was. Some of those same men, btw, are now involved in gamergate and trying to abuse and intimidate Quinn and Sarkeesian (and Wu and on and on and on).

        Elevatorgate was one of those Internet squabbles that is utterly one-sided. The bad guys are really obvious.

        (Okay, so look. The Internet is a big place, and I’m sure somewhere out there is some woman who said something shitty about elevatorgate dude. No doubt this exists somewhere. But the point is, can you find it? I’m honestly curious. It would be a neat historic artifact.)Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to j r
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        says:

        @veronica-d

        So can an able-bodied, neuro-typical, cis-het, white, middle-class man get hit by microaggressions? Probably not, honestly, since isolated bullshit does not a microaggression make. But turn the knob a bit, make yourself autistic, or fat, or socially hapless, then yeah, probably. Things exist by degrees.

        As a father of an autistic child, the answer is yes, not probably. However, seeing as the term “microaggression” entered into my small brain a couple of days ago (I almost wish it didn’t), I never viewed such acts as “microaggression”. I have other ways of describing them and I think I’ll continue to use those instead.

        I know I didn’t provide any examples, but since you already conceded that “microaggression” could happen with autistic children, I’ll take that as us having agreement with me confirming it through experiences I have little interest in sharing. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that the idea of being a victim of something, especially in the case of my son, goes against my mindset.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Except intent has to matter, or we’ll all be ruled by those with the most delicate of sensibilities.Report

  6. Avatar Doctor Jay
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    says:

    The quotation that has most inspired me over the last five years comes from James Baldwin. I think it’s directly relevant, though in an abstract sort of way:

    White people will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this — which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never — the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.

    Also this, also from Baldwin:

    I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

    There is a lot of pain there, and a lot of shame. People routinely run hard from feelings of shame, and shame can be a kind of hot potato that we toss at other people.

    The only way to dissipate that shame and hate is to stop running and stop tossing the hot potato. However, that’s difficult, because it hurts. The hurt goes away after a while, but before it does, things will be very unpleasant. I see so much of this behavior, such as the Women in Binders dispute that Chait describes as “running from the pain”.Report

  7. Avatar North
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    says:

    I, of course, liked Chait’s essay and view it as a necessary medicine against leftish illiberalism. I am not as blasé as you are, Saul, about illiberal leftism. As Chait noted the internet has connected us together in a way that it hadn’t in the 90’s and PCism run amok genuinely could present a threat that could transform the mainstream liberal/left movement into a stultified echo chamber.

    Obviously there’s a complicated grey field between being considerate of people’s feelings and being mired in political correctness but we can’t dodge that conundrum by pretending it doesn’t exist.

    Also as an aside I find it enormously amusing how Freddie and Chait are pretty much in perfect unison on this subject though Freddie’s comments on it included the very valuable assertion that leftists should seriously consider how badly excessive political correctness policing undermines their greater goals.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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      says:

      I am still not sure. Are these illeberal leftists going to try and take over the Democratic Party or are they the kind of people who never considered the Democratic Party good enough.

      I missed the original P.C. wars of the early 1990s but vaguely remember them because I was entering teenage hood at the time and was old enough to remember the news. I was 12-14 during the original P.C. wars. But my big college debate was the “Are Bush and Gore the same?” because I was a junior during the 2000 Presidential election and there were lots of Naderites on my undergrad campus. There were very few Bush supporters though. The main fight was Gore v. Nader and a lot of the Naderites felt like voting Democratic was just being dirty. I wonder how many of them still feel this way.

      The big issue for the further left (not necessarily the illiberal left) is that there really are a minority and possibly even a minority in the Democratic Party. Social Conservatives can make a majority or at least a strong pluarlity in the Republican Party. Reasonably liberal to further left people are only about 25 percent of the United States and possibly that much of the Democratic Party as well. I’m probably pretty liberal as Democratic Party supporters go but there are plenty of people who make me look like a squishy moderate.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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        You and I share similar age cohorts so I likewise goo-gooed my way through the last wave of PCism.

        I think Chait’s assertions are defensible, particularly when you consider the modern conservative movement/GOP as a cautionary example. That movement, unlike the left, had a built in authority which they pay excessive deference to and have become closed off and handicapped in their ability to argue leading to stagnation and stultification of their ideology. In that the left/Democratic Party is threatened by PCism that could produce a similar “authority” on the left I think the danger of us following the path of the GOP/right is certainly a plausible one.

        I agree with your analysis but Chait’s article is intended, I think, to push back of the spread of PCism which has the potential to be able to encompass the disparate components of the left. Every minor group of the left coalition has some things they hate talking about and are generally willing to stay mum on their co-allies similar sensitive subjects. In that this could become a universal leftwing shibboleth the danger of following the GOP’s authority-calcification path is serious. It’s especially serious since the GOP’s authority, religion and jingoism, is at least somewhat appealing to people outside of the right whereas PC generally doesn’t move the needle.

        But yeah you hit the nail on the head. The PC prioritizing left is a minority even within the Dems/Left in general and if they embrace PCism excessively they will either dwindle to a smaller less influentian minority or they’ll infect the overall left and cause it to diminish.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @north

        I think one of the reasons Chait is getting so much pushback and that we are seeing this kind of cropping put up in general know because it is something that the farther Liberals and the Left can do and maybe have some effect instead of generally admit to not having much power within politics.

        Erik Loomis and the LGM crowd are a good example here. Erik Loomis is aware enough to realize that sometimes the more radical labor movements did not really understand what the workers wanted like the IWW. But he does not seem aware enough of his own contradictions and stridentness. He likes to post about how everything in the oceans is dying and we need to do real stuff for the environment right now but you can’t criticize the loggers because they are workers. Also police brutality is bad but you can’t criticize the police union because they are just doing what unions do.

        But what the farther left can do is cause on-line grief for people or form their own complaining communities. WBAI is a good example. They were really hot during the 1960s and were interestingly one of the first (if not the first) American media organization to broadcast reports from Hanoi during the Vietnam War but they quickly descended to infighting and factionalism and became irrelevant because of it.

        I don’t think a lot of radicals on the left or right realize that people don’t want revolutions because revolutions lead to violence and suffering. There is a big difference between wanting a more equal society and wanting to radically change the rules of how society operates.

        I suspect many campus activists will moderate though or at least learn how to function within the parameters of the real world because they have to.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        He likes to post about how everything in the oceans is dying and we need to do real stuff for the environment right now but you can’t criticize the loggers because they are workers.

        Example?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        Also, it’s interesting that you equate people of color expressing their views and concerns, and criticizing those who ignore them, to “revolution.”Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        @chris

        That is a dangerously close bad faith argument and you are also assuming that you speak for all people of color.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        To get all twitter on you, oh ffs. I’m not assuming that I speak for anyone.

        You haven’t answered anything I’ve said. I’ll talk to you again when you provide an example of Loomis doing what you accuse him of (and I say this as someone who can’t stand Loomis) or actually address a point I’ve made with something other than a vague, probably entirely imagined trend or tendency.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        ” I’ll talk to you again when you provide an example of Loomis doing what you accuse him of (and I say this as someone who can’t stand Loomis) or actually address a point I’ve made with something other than a vague, probably entirely imagined trend or tendency.”

        “Also, it’s interesting that you equate people of color expressing their views and concerns, and criticizing those who ignore them, to “revolution.””

        Ahem.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        @chris

        FFS yourself. I never claimed to be radical and I am not flat out denying the existence of microagressions either. You are asking for a lockstep definition of ticky boxes on who can and who cannot be called of the left and who can and who cannot say somethings.

        As far as I can tell most of the blowback to Chait comes from other white progressives like Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti and LGM and the upper-middle class “burn it all down” (but not my Pac Heights mansion, we can host parties there) crowd at Salon.com.
        These are the people who mockingly call for revolution without realizing that actual revolutions lead to death and suffering and famine.

        Most people just want a decent life with healthcare, good pay, and to be treated with dignity and decency. They do not want to overthrow the entire system of economics and government in the world or even the U.S. And this is one reason why the I.W.W. never caught on.

        Are you capable of dealing with liberals who might not be as far to your left without a general feeling of “ugh?” I sometimes think you would rather just deal with people who identify as being right-wing because they are openly opposed to your politics as opposed to making some moderations but agreeing on broad points.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        @chris

        http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2014/12/police-unions

        Loomis:

        “While I have linked many times to incidents of police violence, I have very little to say about the actions of police unions, largely because I don’t care about them since they do not show solidarity with other workers, or any other cause I believe in. I will say this–the leaders of police unions may be horrible human beings. But a) they should have the right to collectively bargain and I categorically reject the idea that the police should not be unionized, b) getting rid of police unions will do nothing to reduce police violence nor will it preclude other police officers’ organizations from presenting the same positions, and c) there is no evidence I have seen suggesting that non-unionized police are less effective in promoting these positions than unionized police forces. So criticize the actions of police unions all you want to–I certainly won’t say anything against that. But I don’t think articulating the position of anti-unionists will help.”

        The Police Unions have largely won the pay and benefits issue and now they are going for bigger deals which is being able to do their jobs without any citizen oversight or criticism.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        Tod, this is Saul’s response to protests on campus mentioned by Chait:

        I don’t think a lot of radicals on the left or right realize that people don’t want revolutions because revolutions lead to violence and suffering. There is a big difference between wanting a more equal society and wanting to radically change the rules of how society operates.

        I suspect many campus activists will moderate though or at least learn how to function within the parameters of the real world because they have to.

        If I’m misreading him, I apologize, but I don’t believe I am.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        Saul, in that case, Loomis is not saying “you can’t criticize the police.” So it’s not an example of what you accused him of, or even close to it.

        And just because you only read white people doesn’t mean that only white people are responding. I only heard of the Chait article because of the responses of non-white people all day yesterday, which were pretty harsh.

        And Tod, notice that once again, he’s basically gone again to “revolution” and “overthrow.” I’m not makin’ this shit up.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m with Chris wrt reading Saul’s claim about lefties advocating revolution. That’s the way I read it as well. I’d also note that there are people out there who think taxing folks to fund another person’s education or artistic endeavors is radical mutatis mutandis (!!) and can lead to violence and all that.

        But more to the point, I wanted to respond to Loomis’ take on police unions. I think he’s for the most part correct that unions in and of themselves aren’t the problem here. I think the problems we see (insofar as they’re real problems) are the result of much bigger stuff – cultural, institutional, inertial!, etc – than merely that. Where I disagree with him is when it comes to solutions: given that there are problems within some of our criminal justice practices, does the existence of a cop union make changes harder enact? I’d say the answer to that is a hearty hells yes! they do. So I think he’s in a bit of a pickle on that score, caught between a defense of the right to collectively bargain and the negative effects of acting on that right. I mean, that’s the rock-hard-place place I find myself in as well.

        But none of that can be construed as a fundamental incoherence. It’s a practical problem, one which might reveal an incoherence depending on the scope of possible solutions.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
      Ignored
      says:

      Michelle Goldberg is also very good on this issue. As to Freddie and Chait being on the same side, politics makes for strange bedfellows as they same. A lot of the more radical feminists were able to make a peace of sorts of the Christian Evangelicals over pornography of all things.

      I’m with you on the dangers of lefitist illiberalism. Freddie, like Sanchez, has a good point on the intellectual and rhetorical dangers of political correctness and epistemic culture. When you believe that all good and true people believe X than you are likely going to consider non-believers evil. If you believe non-believers evil than you are going not vest much in convincing them about the justness of what you want.Report

  8. Avatar Tod Kelly
    Ignored
    says:

    A few quick, random thoughts:

    1. “When I interviewed, I was told that there were two factions and these factions hated each other with an extreme passion”

    Is there a surer sign than this to knowing in advance you will absolutely, positively hate working for a company?

    2. I find the LGM rebuttal and the links they provide to be interesting, in that they engage in a bit of what I have come to call the Free Speech Jujitsu Throw. I see employed this tactic being used more and more on the Left these days as a defense against criticism it is uncomfortable with addressing head on.

    FTR, the Free Speech Jujitsu Throw can be distilled down to some version of this:

    Random guy: I am starting to wonder if this somewhat innocuous belief might have some underlying merit.

    Random response from blogs/social media: YOU ARE A TERRIBLE HUMAN BEING!!! YOU MUST BE PUNISHED!!! WE MUST SET IT UP SO THAT EVERYONE WHO GOOGLES YOU FROM HERE UNTIL THE END OF TIME BELIEVES THAT YOU ARE BASICALLY DEFENDING SLAVERY, THE EXTERMINATION OF JEWS, AND WOMEN BEING BAREFOOT AND PREGNANT!!! WE WILL PICKET YOUR HOME AND PLACE OF WORK AND HARASS YOUR WORKPLACE UNTIL THEY FIRE YOU!!!!

    Random guy: Um… That’s a bit of overkill, don’t you think? I didn’t even say half the stuff you’re telling people I said. It’s a little weird that in a country that values free speech, you think that people who say fairly innocuous things shouldn’t be allowed to hold a job.

    Random response from blogs/social media: Your complaint about over-reaction is itself a call for the limiting of free speech. Therefore are all of your complaints and observations about our actions are now null and void, and we officially absolve ourselves from any and all introspection about our reaction.

    To me, the Free Speech Jujitsu Throw is purposefully coy and dismissive. Ultimately, it’s basically the Right’s “If you believed so much in diversity and tolerance you should allow me to discriminate against gays, women and minorities — that you are against it proves that you are intolerant and do not honor diversity” repackaged for the Left.

    3. As with 4Chan, Tea Parties, and Anonymous, I think the phenomena Chait is describing comes down to what occurs when a group of people discover they have a power over others that those others are incapable of properly defending themselves against. Ultimately, the reasons for exerting power over a specific weaker individual become less important than the exertion of power.

    4. Chat talks about PC pre-Clinton and notes that it’s making a comeback, but kind of hedges around the question of “why now?” The obvious answer to that question, in my mind, has nothing to do with the political landscape so much as the technological landscape.

    People are doing it now because they can — in a way they couldn’t before.

    And that doesn’t stop with the mobs of leftists looking for an outrage of the day. The same tech that allows them to do the things Chait describes in his piece is the same tech that allows people to casually harass Anita Sarkeesian or Amanda Hess without consequence.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      I like the Free Speech Jujitsu comment and generally agree.

      Technology is probably a key here as well as to why this is happening now and again. The Internet does allow for a good deal of mob justice. I often worry about writing personal stories or examples because my immediate thought is that someone is going to say “that is not a real X” when I am trying to do (in my mind) a good faith showing of empathy and respect.

      The Internet allows for easy strawmen and an extreme on giving of charity.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      I think this is largely correct. 3 and 4 would not be possible without the spread of the Internet. In pre-Internet days, the type of instant response to articles like Chait’s would not be possible. Fewer people would be aware of it and the only way to respond would be to send in a letter to the editor or discuss it amount friends. The Internet allows an instant pounce as North noted above. People could respond with moral indignation, like your 2, with lightning quick speed.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      “If you believed so much in diversity and tolerance you should allow me to discriminate against gays, women and minorities — that you are against it proves that you are intolerant and do not honor diversity”

      Holy crap! Did you see the size of that strawman?

      No, but it lifted dad up by three feet!Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david
        Ignored
        says:

        Strawman? Not really, sadly.

        I wil tell you that in al of my years of listening to talk radio, I could probably count the days on one hand where I have not heard some version of this argument being made by a host or a caller.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to aaron david
        Ignored
        says:

        Sorry @tod-kelly , still strikes me as a straw man. Unless you got some kind of linky…

        One of the things that I have noticed many of the people on this blog doing in regards to conservatism is to completely assume that conservatives do not believe the motivations that they profess to believe. That they simply want to keep people down, start up slavery and make woman wear chastity belts. Much like your post on the 10 lies cons told regarding the gov’t shut down. A quick perusal of your list and a knowledge of what they actually believe showed that every one of those lies was simply a difference of opinion. I pointed it out in that post.

        Now, as I can’t actually look at any quote that supports your claim, I can only assume that you are creating a strawman.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ll let you do the perusing yourself, but here is what you get when you google “liberals are intolerant” and here’s what you get when you google “liberals are against diversity.”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david
        Ignored
        says:

        And FWIW, this..

        That they simply want to keep people down, start up slavery and make woman wear chastity belts.

        … is something I think you will be hard pressed to find me arguing, and I’ve been writing about movement conservatism here for a long time. In fact, I think if you go back through my stuff you’ll see that I actually pretty consistently argue the opposite of this.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to aaron david
        Ignored
        says:

        @tod-kelly
        So, I clicked on your first link, and then clicked on all of the links provided, so I guess that I see where you are coming from.

        Do conservatives think the left is intolerant? Yes. Full stop. No surprises there, and from their point of view the left is. That is the thing with opinions, everyone has one, and they are all different. As we have seen with the debates on Free Speech here at the OT, there are widely different ideas on that.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to aaron david
        Ignored
        says:

        Also, @tod-kelly
        “… is something I think you will be hard pressed to find me arguing, and I’ve been writing about movement conservatism here for a long time. In fact, I think if you go back through my stuff you’ll see that I actually pretty consistently argue the opposite of this.”

        I wasn’t directing that bit at you, rather general opinions of conservatives that get thrown around here. Now, I am not a conservative, but years ago I started to read from conservative sources as a way to broaden my thinking (this, by the way was an idea I got from PJ O’Roark.) This habit, more than anything, has shown me that much of their complaints are things that should be at least listened to, and that much of what passes as cometary on this from the left is just strawmaning. And that helps exactly no one.

        And in some cases, moves people such as myself, to find a party that is a better fit.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david
        Ignored
        says:

        FTR, I agree with you completely.

        One of the unfortunate byproducts of the right going so far off the rails* that doesn’t’ get enough attention, IMHO, is that the left side of the fence has become far shoddier without a better force competing against it.

        *(or at least the most visible parts of it)Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to aaron david
        Ignored
        says:

        “One of the unfortunate byproducts of the right going so far off the rails* that doesn’t’ get enough attention, IMHO, is that the left side of the fence has become far shoddier without a better force competing against it.

        *(or at least the most visible parts of it)”

        This is something that I disagree with you on some aspects of, but that is a discussion for another day. (Hopefully you will finish your series. Hint… Hint…)Report

  9. Avatar Chris
    Ignored
    says:

    I will be the first to admit that in the age of lightning fast social media, the ease with which the mob mentality is activated amplifies both good and bad tendencies to a level that can range from counterproductive to deeply harmful. I understand, then, why someone like Jonathan Chait might feel that things have gotten out of control: one doesn’t have to look hard for a Twitter mob that has gotten completely out of control in its excoriation of someone for a single tweet. Of course, this hasn’t silenced people like Chait, who is decrying leftward language policing in the New York Magazine, and is a well-known and widely read writer, but it is definitely a problem, and one that needs to be addressed. And of course, it’s not only, or even primarily a problem of the political “left”: one only need spend a few minutes scrolling through the Twitter mentions of Anita Sarkeesian, for example, to see that the Chaits of the world are getting off pretty damned easily, for the most part, but just because it is a problem, perhaps significantly more of one, in other sectors of the online world, does not mean that it is not a real and important problem on the political “left.”

    That said, even putting aside that in no real sense is Chait or people like Chait, the people for whom Chait is making a plea in his article, being silenced, I can’t help but feeling that Chait doth protest too much. His example of the Facebook group for female journalists, Binders Full of Women Writers, is a perfect example of what I mean. In that example, a woman suggests that people might be more sensitive to the way that some threads are perceived by people of color. The response to her suggestion, which is not among the things that Chait appears to take issue with, is twofold: jokes, and a suggestion that they speak more quietly (that is, that they message somewhat privately) about such things. Without even being aware of the overall context of the group (is there existing tension on racial or other lines?), it’s pretty easy to see why some might react angrily to that response. Is the all-caps rant called for? Without more context, it’s difficult to say (something tells me this was not the first incident, but we can’t know from Chait’s description), but I definitely understand the anger behind it.

    Chait, unsurprisingly, does not understand this anger. It’s people like him who are the targets of the anger, and I imagine they, and he, find it unsettling. Here they were, thinking they were good, non-racist, non-sexist, and so on, liberals, and now people are taking them, him, to task for not being sensitive to issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. I imagine that for someone like Chait, it’s easy to feel that one has been unfairly chastened, and to feel that one’s subsequent self-censoring is even more unfair. Why should Chait have to watch what he says, simply because he’s a straight, white male? Why should the straight, white women of Binders Full of Women Writers have to do the same? Aren’t we ignoring the more egregious, more pernicious examples of racists over there? Why are we shooting ourselves in the foot, making the perfect the enemy of the good, and other such clichés?

    Flip things around for a moment, though. It’s likely that many of the non-white, non-straight, non-CIS women members of that Facebook group are women who’ve spent much of their lives censoring themselves to avoid conflict, to avoid shaming and derision, even when talking among liberal, straight white folk. They are people who, again, even among liberal, straight white folk, have underrepresented and underheard voices. And when they do speak up, they get what? Jokes and shushes. Chait has unwittingly provided a good example of what members of marginalized groups face every day. Do they sometimes, in reaction, speak a bit too harshly, a bit too loudly, a bit too personally? Perhaps, but if the only result is that folks like Chait are a bit more careful about what they say, then I can’t help but thinking that in the long run, it is a move in the right direction.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
      Ignored
      says:

      “Why can’t you people understand that I am not the enemy here?”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Exactly! That’s what Chait’s doing.

        “I’m on your side! Look, we’re both liberal! You should be yelling at them! We’ll never get anything accomplished, as liberals, if white folk can’t do and say what they want when they want without fear of shame and recrimination from people of color.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        I can’t help but think that this ties together with the (sorry to pile on, Saul) Privilege argument we had yesterday.

        “But I’m not *THAT* privileged! My grandparents merely worked hard and saved up! Why are you yelling at me for privilege instead of the people that make me feel like I’m not that privileged?”

        It’s a relational thing rather than an absolute one and it takes a monumental effort of will and/or a pretty decent culture shock to shake oneself out of “I am the baseline, my life is the baseline. Everybody ahead of me doesn’t deserve it and everybody behind me should have worked harder.”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Perhaps the uniquely liberal or “left” aspect of this is that liberals tend to be people who’ve convinced themselves that they’ve already confronted their privilege, at least in many ways, and therefore any criticism on that dimension is unfair. If you are enlightened, then criticisms of you as unenlightened can’t be fair, can they?

        I talk as though I’m speaking of other people, but I am the same. I know how much it stings to be criticized in ways that you thought you’d overcome, and more than that, the overcoming of which forms part of your identity, part of your sense of who you are.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Chris
      Ignored
      says:

      “one doesn’t have to look hard for a Twitter mob that has gotten completely out of control in its excoriation of someone for a single tweet.”

      #hasJustinelandedyetReport

    • Avatar j r in reply to Chris
      Ignored
      says:

      I understand, then, why someone like Jonathan Chait might feel that things have gotten out of control: one doesn’t have to look hard for a Twitter mob that has gotten completely out of control in its excoriation of someone for a single tweet. Of course, this hasn’t silenced people like Chait…

      Here is another situation where we can read the same thing and come to quite different reactions and conclusions. For me, it is pretty obvious that Chait is not writing this piece because he feels that PC is a threat to him. In fact, he says at numerous points throughout the piece that his objection to PC is that it stifles debate and often ends up targeting the very people that is supposed to be empowering.

      The social justice warriors read Chait and respond with some version of look at the privileged white male complaining about being silenced, when Chait barely mentions himself in the article at all. And the feminists read Aaronson and say stop blaming your lack of success with women on feminism; women don’t exist merely to sexually affirm your existence even though Aaronson never even came close to implying that he felt that he had a right to any woman’s sexual affections.

      When an ideological point of view comes to rely so heavily on assuming that everyone who disagrees must be acting in bad faith, that is a pretty good sign that ideology is, itself, acting in bad faith.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        My point is that you don’t see people who don’t look like Chait complaining about this very much. You see a lot of people who look like Chait complaining (see, e.g., this thread).

        And as I point out, his examples illustrate this pretty clearly, even if we exclude him entirely from the conversation.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Also, his initial promotion of the article on Twitter, which is what got him a lot of heat, said something to the effect of, “Can a white guy…” He was pretty clearly talking about himself.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        “My point is that you don’t see people who don’t look like Chait complaining about this very much. ”

        That’s because people who do look like Chait generally figure that their failures to achieve self-actualization are their fault, not someone else’s. I guess you can call that a privileged viewpoint, too; the privilege to not have to go through life assuming that there’s a vast conspiracy on the part of entrenched interests to screw you over in any and every way possible.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Jim,
        Yeah. They don’t rig the world to drag YOU down.
        Controlled descent can be very profitable, if you’re in finance.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @chris

        If your point is that we should dismiss or devalue Chait’s opinion because he is a white male, then that is pretty solid proof that these sorts of identity politics and social justice concerns are indeed illiberal.

        Some might say that being politically liberal is not the purpose of the social justice movement, social justice is. And that’s fine. It just identifies another point at which I disagree with the social justice movement.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Is there a chart somewhere at Liberal HQ that lays this out in simple fashion to save time?
        For example I’m gay so I presume I can comment and criticize X and Y but since I’m CIS I can’t discuss Z but since I’m middle class I can’t talk about A or B and since I’m a guy I can’t talk about C or D and since I’m white I can’t talk about E but wait, I’m married to a black man so do I submit to the Office of the Beurocratized Privilege Monitors for an exception so I can talk about E?

        I think there should be a chart, some kind of interactive thing maybe, it’s 2014 for fishes sake, it shouldn’t be hard to make some webtool that can tell you who you have to be in order to know what kind of water fountains you’re allowed to drink fro-sorry sorry what kind of subjects you’re allowed to talk about.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        If you wanted to be able to talk about being oppressed, maybe you shouldn’t have fought quite so hard for gay marriage acceptance.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        you don’t see people who don’t look like Chait complaining about this very much

        Well if they’ve actually been silenced, they wouldn’t, would they?

        There’s a reason we say absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. You could be right, but how would we know you’re right and Chait’s not?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        North,
        the general point is to listen to people around you, and if someone with more knowledge on a subject starts getting pissed at you, shut up and listen. Everyone’s allowed to comment, though some comments will get you shunned.

        It’s also possible to gain some amount of “cred” by talking/living/working with people. Blaise might not have been born in Africa, but if he wanted to talk about the dangers of using corncobs for fuel, I’d have listened (that’s not a Blaise example. Someone else I know).

        White folks have a perspective, and get to have “cred” there too, ya know? We just had a post up about why blue collar whites from the South vote Republican.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        If your point is that we should dismiss or devalue Chait’s opinion because he is a white male, then that is pretty solid proof that these sorts of identity politics and social justice concerns are indeed illiberal.

        My point is not that we should dismiss it, but as we’re talking about people who are generally marginalized, we should at the very least be skeptical of claims that they are limiting discourse by shaming people who haven’t, generally, been marginalized.

        This is, as I’ve said a few times now, a skeptiicsm borne out by Chait’s examples, e.g., the one in which people of color express a concern and are dismissed, or the one where Chait himself minimizes the concerns of protesters by suggesting it’s about a single letter.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @north , I don’t think we need a chart. We’ve had enough conversations ’round these parts about the sources of privilege and the ways in which it manifests for most of us to understand the way this stuff works. There are times when you will certainly be privileged, and when you will not. This is true of almost anyone.

        But again, look at Chait’s Facebook group example: a woman suggests, fairly politely it seems to me, that people be aware of what’s going on in their specific threads when it looks like those threads are not very diverse. At the very least, this seems like a good opportunity to have a conversation about diversity, right? And Chait seems to be suggesting that this is what we should be aiming toward. Instead, one person tells her that she should take it private, and another makes jokes (which Chait says led to more jokes about the post). I’m sure you can easily imagine that, if you’re frustrated that people aren’t taking the concerns of people of color seriously, you express this frustration politely, and the replies you get are jokes and “it’s inappropriate for you to say that publicly,” you’d probably be pretty pissed too. But Chait takes the anger that results as yet another sign that discourse is being undermined.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        “Instead, one person tells her that she should take it private, and another makes jokes (which Chait says led to more jokes about the post). ”

        Maybe the person suggesting they start in private was trying to avoid a giant flamewar over “policing” and “silencing” by giving the people in question a chance to work out the misunderstandings and inadvertent insults between each other, rather than having to fumble around in front of a huge audience.

        Maybe the response to jokes is “ha ha, funny, but seriously guys your unconscious assumptions about life experience are making it difficult for some people to feel like taking part in these discussions”.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @north I actually wrote a post that charted that out. And then I was afraid to post it — the first and to date only post I have ever been afraid to post.

        To this day, it sits is a dark, dark folder in the back corner of my hard drive.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @north

        For instance, you can only talk about how some men find it difficult to talk to woman and that makes them unhappy if you’re kind of a jerk. Because the last person who’s allowed to say that and expect anything but derision is a nice guy.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Tod, I dare say that reinforces Freddie and Chait’s (and they are pretty much identical) points.

        Mike, I’ve heard that referring to one’s self as a “really nice guy” is a big red flag, for instance:

        Report

  10. Avatar LWA
    Ignored
    says:

    This is also an example of how people like Chait- white male members of The Establishment are having to cope with a world in which they no longer get to write the script.

    Liberalism came out of the Enlightenment, which itself was the product of the white European gentry. Even in our day, liberalism consisted of us privileged ones tolerating and being sensitive to the concerns of others.

    Except now those others have a voice of their own. And not only that, we are coming in contact with cultures for whom the Enlightenment didn’t resonate, or hold much value.

    Chait- and my liberal brethren- like to define the terms of engagement with universal norms- e.g., the solution to blasphemous speech is more speech.
    Strict neutrality is to be observed, and decisions should be made on objective terms, not subjective values.

    OK, but what if the other cultures don’t want to play by such rules?
    What if they point out that cultural neutrality only works within a relatively narrow bandwidth, and the very framing of liberalism imposes a subjective value upon the world?Report

    • Avatar North in reply to LWA
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      says:

      Then they can continue wrapping their girls in burkas, stoning their gays and generally killing each other then we’ll let their kids decide who’s society they want to live in?Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to North
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        says:

        Or the Greater Caliphate makes a deal with the Christian Dominionists to divide up the world into spheres of influence, and you and I get to choose which one to live in.

        One thing I have been considering a lot lately is that liberalism and the Enlightenment itself, could be gone within a generation. History doesn’t run in just one direction.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        LWA,
        The enlightenment requires constant vigilance.
        I know who our enemies are.
        [The Right has only one head, but the Left has as many as it pleases. The Left is thus much harder to coordinate, but also harder to kill].

        **for the purposes of this discussion, everyone reading this is probably part of The Left.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        says:

        LWA, I’ll start worrying about that possability when the European and American religious unaffiliated numbers start plunging instead of relentlessly rising and if, after a couple generations, people of muslim descent still cling to fundamentalist Islam rather than ditching it like a soiled turban like all the previous immigrant groups did. Read Rod Dreher if you can stand it. He talks about how many Europeans have stopped even viewing the religious as threatening but rather as just odd alien gnome people.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to North
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        says:

        @north
        I don’t have such a luxury- I already live in that multi-cultural world the liberals are always talking about where I am a minority both in ethnicity and religion.

        We always assume that technology and secularism go hand in hand- notice how all the science fiction of the 50’s foresaw the future as inevitably secular, where religion vanished.
        Yet Dune and Star Wars saw a different vision, one where technology and religion coexist happily.

        I think of the 9/11 hijackers ISIS fighters, who easily use the most cutting edge tools of the West in pursuit of a 12th century vision, or the Chinese and Russian governments who use the same tools to create a neo-feudal society.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        says:

        LWA, that’s a good point but not as good a one as you may think. Indeed Islamic terrorists exploited an American vulnerability on 9/11 but it was a social vulnerability- not a technological one. The 9/11 hijackers exploited a mindset that said ‘if your plane gets hijacked sit tight and don’t make waves. You’ll get an unpleasant side trip to Cuba or some other backwater but you’ll eventually be released safe and sound.” That mindset died and the final hijacked flight plunged into a Pensylvania field to make a funeral pyre for that mindset. Now days the bigger question in avionics is if someone stands up and says something crazy on an airline flight can the flight attendants keep the passengers from killing their asses before the pilots get the plane onto the ground.

        Dune and Star Wars meanwhile? Well if we can escape the terran gravity well the risk of Dune of Star Wars is something I’d happily accept though I think Dune especially was predicated on some technological flaws that don’t work in the real world.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to North
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        says:

        It’s important to remember that the premise of Dune is “what if humanity’s expansion into space came from a religious crusade rather than scientific utilitarianism?”Report

      • Avatar Zac in reply to North
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        says:

        @lwa “Yet Dune and Star Wars saw a different vision, one where technology and religion coexist happily.”

        Okay, I hate to flash my nerd card here (oh, who am I kidding, I love it), but:

        Dune has as its historical foundation a religious jihad against AI and high technology to the point where society has an entire role built around humans doing the work formerly done by “thinking machines”. Star Wars has the high-tech mechanized forces of the Empire ruthlessly exterminating the religion of the Jedi. In neither of these settings can technology and religion be said to “coexist happily.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to North
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        says:

        I wrote a little story ones that ends with Skynet saying “I didn’t expect a sort of Butlerian Jihad.”Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        says:

        I think it depends on whether one accepts the newer books as cannon.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to North
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        says:

        As far as I’m concerned they should be shot out of a cannon.

        The point of the Butlerian Jihad was not “war with Skynet”, the point was that it’s the future version of keeping kosher. There is no actual problem, in the Dune universe, with using machines to calculate numbers and store information; just like there is no actual problem, in a modern context, with turning on a light switch or eating a cheeseburger. It’s just a historical holdover from a time when those things were a problem, or at least so close to a problem that they got proscribed out of an abundance of caution.

        Like, let’s say that a large coronal mass ejection triggered a global EMP event that wiped out most financial data. After that, people would be understandably cautious about keeping data in computers without hardcopy backups; perhaps there would be laws written about it, even. And ten thousand years later it’s morphed into “thou shalt not use machines to think”, even though nobody can really articulate why that is.

        Or, maybe, what if the global-warming zealots get their way and fossil fuels are banned. Ten thousand years later it’s “thou shalt not burn for heat”.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LWA
      Ignored
      says:

      I am with North here while I see your general point. Lee pointed out above that there were always elements of the Left that considered freedom of speech to bourgeoise freedom but this was also the Enlightenment that turned Jews into full citizens in Europe and the United States and very slowly but surely gave liberation and full rights to other minority groups. The Enlightenment is what MLK meant by everything being long but bending towards justice. The rise of LGBT rights is a product of the Enlightenment and that very enlightenment document known as the Declaration of Independence and the lines about “all men being created equal and being endowed by their creator certain inalienable rights….”

      So there is an irony here. Previously disenfranchised and marginalized groups are getting power and recognition and equal rights as part of the march of Enlightnement but they are also taking down people for supporting the ideas like free speech and being critical over P.C. This is what Tod called Free Speech Jujitsu.

      How would any civil rights movement from abolition to suffrage to the 1960s Civil Rights movement to LGBT rights happen without free speech and being allowed to declare things openly? How would talk of microagressions happens without free speech?Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        Apparently this discussion is much wider- right after my comment I noticed this over at the Atlantic:
        http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/france-muslims-liberalism-crisis/384901/#disqus_thread

        I’m not making an attack on the Enlightenment or secular liberalism so much as pointing out that its appeal, which seems so natural and self-evident to us, is not universally shared.

        How we cope with this fact is up to us. But I don’t think we can simply pound the table louder and chant the mantra of individual freedom and expect results.

        Between the rise of China and the Asian economies and the birthrate in the Muslim world, the grip that the European/ American secular culture has is weakening, and our ability to dictate the terms of engagement are disappearing.

        The norms that we live with are going to need to be renegotiated, with others at the table. And as with any negotiation, its hard to see what the outcome will be.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        LWA,
        Scaremongering. I’m not going to say that KSA has been completely neutralized, but they know who butters their bread.

        Our enemies often are closer than you think. And, you realize, are quite talented at the scaremongering game.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        LWA, with affection China has a window, a narrowing one, in which to develop her economy and government before the demographic surge passes and her ecology entirely implodes in which case she’ll be a global basket case. Her more stable neighbors are little European and USA clones. Gagnam style is an example of the exuberant neoliberal screech of a young vibrant South Korea. Muslim birthrates, meanwhile, have dropped significantly IIRC.

        Now as the world develops the ability of the US and Europe to dictate terms is fading as the relative economic gap between us and everyone else fades, but the ideological gap between us and everyone else is fading too. The most successful countries in this new world are the ones who have relatively few substantive differences to quibble with us over. Neither South Korea nor Taiwan have any deep reasons to curse the Yankee devil overmuch.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        And I haven’t even begun talking about the Republicans and their pursuit of the Handmaid’s Tale…Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        They do seem to like creeping in that direction a little. The real risk, though, seems more that they’ll manage to ban abortions for poor people rather than ban abortions in general.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        @north

        Did you see that Michelle Obama refused to wear a headscarf or burqua while in Saudi Arabia?

        Re: Abortion. You are probably right about what will happen.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        I haven’t seen it Saul. Sully just announced he’s shutting the Dish down.. or something like it.. and I’m still WTFing over that.

        But if she has, good on her.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LWA
      Ignored
      says:

      If you are right than Chait, Mahr, Sullivan, and company are doing good work by advocating and defending the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment and its subsequent ideological developments, liberalism and rationalism, has done more to spread human freedom and human happiness than any other intellectual movement in the world. We might not be able to get the illiberal, on the left or the right, to accept Enlightenment principles but we can defend them. The best hope for the world is to make the majority of humans bourgeoisie.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        In the 1980’s I got to know quite a few Iranian exiles, who fled the Ayatollah.
        Iran under the Shah was a very secular place, where women wore western dress, discotheques played Kool & The Gang, pornography was easily available, and everyone drank alcohol. At least for the small elite who ran things.

        Yet these wonders of the Enlightenment were lost on the majority of the population, who preferred the savagery of the medieval Islamism.

        All snarkiness aside, what tangible benefits do you imagine the Enlightenment brought to those people? Or the Afghans? The Uighurs? The Tibetans? The South Africans? Zimbabweans?

        We look at the Enlightenment and see Voltaire, Locke, the Age of Reason, Science, Progress and all manner of Good Things.

        What do you think they see?
        I guess what I keep thinking is that we can’t complacently assume the marvelous benefits of the Enlightenment- we need to make the case to the satisfaction of the rest of the world.

        And at this moment, I don’t see new converts being made.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        @lwa, one reason that the Islamists managed to cease control in Iran after the fall of the Shah is that they played the secular opponents decided to bring them into the negotiations to create the post-Shah political order.

        I agree with you and the articles that you posted, that to a lot of Muslims the Enlightenment has no appeal. For the ones in Europe, I think thats because the European governments poorly managed the assimilation. Due to a weird combination of believing that most of the Muslim immigrants would go home and guilt over the recently ended Imperialism, even in European countries that never had colonies or only a very short and insignificant colonial history like Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland the assimilation of Muslim immigrants was messed up. The post-Christian nature of many European countries also made assimilation difficult because reasonable accommodation of religion proved to be impossible. The greater religiosity of the United States made assimilating religious Muslims easier.

        As to Muslims in Muslim-majority countries, the Enlightenment has no appeal because of rural and urban divides. The rural areas of the West also resisted Enlightenment hard and long. If the Muslim world does not adapt than they will suffer.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        @leeesq
        I was with you, up until the last 3 words.

        What makes you think they are the ones who will suffer?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        @lwa, one reason is that Muslim theocracies seem really poor at running a modern economy if they don’t have a high-priced natural resource at their disposal. They will suffer materially. Poverty doesn’t seem more bearable when your government is an Islamic theocracy rather than a secular strongman. The other reason is that while many Muslims say they want a non-Enlightened Islamic theocracy, evidence from Iran, Nigeria, and ISIL held territories suggest that they don’t like the results much after awhile depending on how heavy handed the regime is. Even in the much less burdensome Muslim countries, like Malaysia, a lot of young Muslims find the restrictions of religion chaffing. They see the fun that Chinese and Indian Malaysians get to have an want in.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        LWA and Lee,
        You guys don’t know many people in Iran today, it is obvious.
        Iran is a VERY Complicated place.
        LWA — are you aware that women serve in the Revolutionary Guard? In the shah’s day that would have been unthinkable.

        Besides, Iranian Islam in the middle ages was not savage. The Ayatollah was a literalist, this is not saying he was a mysogynistic asshole.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Lee,
        Cite me some damn sources on that, because I’ve previously cited a book around here (Nine Parts of Desire) that says otherwise. (note: book’s old enough that I could easily be wrong). I’m seeing most people in Egypt (or at least a dangnab lot of them) — including most democratic-supporting people (according to Gallup’s poll of the Islamic word) supporting “extremist” Islam.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @leeesq

        They also have a secular neighbour to the south/west which shows them that secularism does not spell the end of civilisation.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @kimmi, extremist Islam polls well in Egypt but only because Egyptians did not have the joy of personally experiencing it for long enough. Endured exposure would correct these things.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Lee,
        OOOKay, that’s a decent point… if you aren’t counting Iran as Extremist Islam (which, um, you’d better not be. Literalist Islam is not Extremist Islam — there’s a very good argument that the Ayatollah’s takeover opened up a lot of women’s rights for the average woman in Iran).Report

  11. Avatar LWA
    Ignored
    says:

    The fact that this future- one where white Europeans are not in control of things- is frightening, is itself the problem.

    The fear is what drives people to do stupid and ugly things.

    The Tea Party nuts screaming at busloads of immigrant children, the Operation Rescue zealots gunning down doctors, secular liberals demanding that Muslims genuflect before a quotation from Voltaire…these things are all linked by the same sense of losing our role as arbiters of cultural norms.

    From my vantage point, non-Enlightenment cultures are not all scary and ugly. They have a lot of commonalities with us, and there is plenty of territory where we can find common ground.

    But triumphalism breeds its opposite self. The rigidity of liberalism exemplified by Charlie Hebdo is absurd, and deserves its own pushback.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to LWA
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      says:

      I don’t find the future where white Europeans aren’t in control of things particularily frightening. Heck they’re not in control of things now, the Asians run Asia- the Hispanics run Latin and south America etc…

      Could you expand on the last paragraph a bit?Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to North
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        says:

        @north
        What I mean by triumphalism is the maximalist position on Enlightenment liberalism, which for me was exemplified by the Charlie Hebdo affair. People suddenly rushing to insist that freedom of speech demands, without condition, the right to say the most blasphemous and ugly expressions.

        The salient part of this is the “without condition” part. Where there can be no hedging or movement or qualifications of expression, lest “the terrorists win”.

        That sort of all-or-nothing stance is triumphalism, and usually provokes an equally absurd stance in return.

        I am reminded of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, where the Usual Suspects took the usual stances; National Review regularly ran dark and ominous warnings about how dangerously Trostkyite the IRA was (replete with quotations and anecdata) and that there could be no accommodation, none whatsoever, and we all needed to keep a Churchillian resolve and crush that movement.
        And, of course, my Marxist friends had their opposite and equally dark warnings.

        Which turned out to be total nonsense.

        Once the negotiations occurred, and a slow building of trust was made, the extreme voices began to lose power.

        I think its facile to suggest that a rosy scenario is awaiting us if we only hold hands with ISIS.
        But the idea that Muslims have some innate savagery to them, that all 2 billion are simply salivating over the anticipation of cutting off my head, and that we can not budge one inch on Western liberalism, sounds remarkably familiar.

        What parts of Enlightenment thinking are absolutely essential? What parts can be negotiated? What parts are we willing to moderate?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
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        says:

        I’m willing to put the equality of minorities, women, and homosexuals on the table.

        I’m not suggesting that we go as far as some other cultures would, but I think it’s important that we show that we’re willing to compromise.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to LWA
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      says:

      The fact that this future- one where white Europeans are not in control of things- is frightening, is itself the problem.

      Nonsense. I have absolutely no fear of a future where white Europeans are not in control of things. I have plenty of fear of a future where those in control are politically illiberal.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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        says:

        Not nonsense. There are people who’ve expressed that very fear on this blog.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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        says:

        I believe even particularly non-Tea Party people like Will (though see Cheeks, Bob).Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
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        says:

        Yes, there are people who fear a non-white European dominated world. Steve Sailer is a real person. Dinesh D’Souza is real and likely speaks for a significant number of people.

        @lwa’s contention, however, that disagreeing with political correctness or speaking up for political liberalism and Enlightenment thinking is just some thinly veiled version of Stuff White People Like is just plain bogus. There are objective reasons for speaking up in favor of political liberalism that have nothing to do with demography.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to j r
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        says:

        Hasn’t Bob been off of this Blog for going on four years now? God(ess?) has it been that long?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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        says:

        Ah, yeah that’s nonsense.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to j r
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        says:

        @j-r
        I’m not saying the defense of liberalism is thinly veiled Stuff That White People Like.
        There is no veil whatsoever!

        It is bald, exposed, naked Stuff That White People Like.

        I don’t mean white as in American Caucasians. I mean white as in those who hold the European Enlightenment values, which was created and promulgated primarily by white Europeans. Even when these values are held by black people or Asians, it is an inheritance from Europe.

        And more importantly, it is not at all universally shared. It very particular to one culture, which is no longer dominant.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to j r
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        says:

        @j-r, I don’t think that is what @lwa is saying. @lwa is a staunch defender of the Enlightenment and political liberalism in his own way. What he is pointing out is that there is a rather large group of people on this planet who do not accept the principles of the Enlightenment/Political Liberalism because it is not part of their cultural and intellectual heritage. To a large extent, many of these people see it against their cultural and intellectual heritage. He is further arguing that the ability of the Enlightenment parts of the world to argue for or defend the Enlightenment is in decline for a variety of reasons. We, the Enlightenment part of the world, must therefore find a way to come to terms with them.

        @lwa is over stating his point. It is true that the desire for some mythical theocracy is popular among many Muslims these days but we already have a cure for that, give them what they want. Many young people in Iran, the first modern Islamic state, are tired of Islamic theocracy. They want the same thing young people in the West want. The sheer murderous brutality of ISIL and Boko Harem is also doing great damage to the Islamist cause. The Muslim Brotherhood overplayed its hand. In Tunisia, the people voted an Islamist Party out of power and replaced it with a secular one. Its going to be a long slog but the Enlightenment can and will win.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
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        says:

        @lwa

        I’m not saying the defense of liberalism is thinly veiled Stuff That White People Like.
        There is no veil whatsoever!
        It is bald, exposed, naked Stuff That White People Like.

        That doesn’t make you argument any better.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to j r
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        says:

        @leeesq
        ” LWA is over stating his point. ”

        Yeah, I do that sometimes.

        And you did restate it very well.Report

  12. Avatar zic
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    says:

    One fine day at the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while George W. Bush was president, I was out surfing the web in all my finest Liberal Rage™, and the waves of the web led me to a post on The American Conservative by Daniel Larison. I was outraged, I say, (though I cannot remember why, it was not about the wars, or American emperialism, I know that because of what I’m about to tell you). Whatever Larison’s topic, I left some comment dripping with sarcasm that since conservatives were so wrong about war that I found it hard to take concerns like this seriously.

    Larison responded, in a rather startling way, asking if I’d ever bothered to read anything else he’d written, and telling me in no uncertain terms that that’s what he did regularly — too the right to task for their foreign aggressions.

    Now me, being me, I went and read some more Larison, this is why pretty regularly at least peruse TAC. But what I did is, I think, what Chiat’s grousing about, too. Folks out there, surfing about, with their own particular sets of biases and outrage and responding to people based on that and without knowledge of the body of work, the actual complexity, of someone’s work. (I see this stuff happen here a lot, actually. Sometimes, I’m probably guilty of doing it, though I do admit I took my experience with Larison to heart, and at least try not to do this anymore.)

    But I think there are two things going on: one is that sort-of casual net-surfing outrage; it’s typically meaningless, it’s probably a form of trolling, and it doesn’t matter who’s doing it, left, right, or androgynous. This is not real discourse, it just appears to be real discourse. It’s why Sully doesn’t (didn’t? Sniff) allow comments.

    But to mistake that sort of casual-crappy behavior for the level of politically correct (in it’s genuine form) is also sort of crazy. Political correctness means being aware of when you’re being rude; being culturally sensitive to others to that you don’t offer slight you don’t actually mean to offer out of ignorance. It’s not that difficult.

    And there’s also one other: you speak in the public sphere, and people have the right to criticize what you say, be it serious and thoughtful of your particular body of speech or made out of outraged trolling, people have the right to respond no matter if you like it or not.

    People, when they’re ignorant about a topic often let some cultural signifier stand in for knowledge; I see this in environmentalism, education, ethics, and all sorts of public debates. They want to be included, and there’s way too much for us to all be deeply informed on every topic that impacts our lives.

    So I guess I think attacks on people who are ‘politically correct’ as if being sensitive and polite are wrong strike me as particularly silly and misguided. And knee-jerk trolling, like I did to Lariosnbased on cultural signifiers instead of knowledge, is just plain rude, and all too common. But that’s not political correctness, either, it’s simply being rude, and we’re all guilty of it.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to zic
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      says:

      Warren Ellis suggested that the internet has become the world’s largest Milgram Experiment; you push a button and a stranger in a room somewhere feels pain, and everyone tells you that it’s what you’re supposed to be doing so it must be OK.Report

  13. Avatar zic
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    says:

    Since there’s so much discussion of microaggressions, I’d ask doubters to take a look at this post from Feminist Frequency, one weeks worth of the stuff she gets on twitter for writing about the representation of women in gaming.

    Presuming that’s representative of what she gets each week, tell me: how she supposed to just let that role off her shoulders? If you were on the receiving end of those insults and threats, could you just let it go?Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
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      says:

      Yeah, that’s not microaggression, that’s outright, conscious, intentional aggression. Rather sickening aggression.

      And we’re talking about a guy complaining about some liberals being mean to others.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Actually, that’s some pretty common crap to hear if you push the right buttons; I’ve gotten comments like that on the street for some of the journalism I wrote that stepped on toes of the folks who thought they have the right to make decisions outside standard rules and laws. I’ve a friend who manages a bar, and when she shuts folks off and makes last call, she gets called all sorts of crap; though typically muttered so they think she can’t hear. I asked her once if she knew, and she said she collects the most creative ones.

        So I sort of disagree that these aren’t ‘microagressions,’ I just think it’s so concentrated that they make it obvious that microagressions are, in fact, usually aggression and outright hostility and contempt.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Microaggression is meant to refer to unconscious, unintentional acts. This has some good examples:

        http://www.buzzfeed.com/hnigatu/racial-microagressions-you-hear-on-a-daily-basis?s=mobileReport

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        @chris

        Out of curisoity, does the “where is your little hat?” comment count as microagression or not?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Sounds like it, though if someone is deliberately mocking you for being Jewish, it’s just aggression. I was going to use your examples of people just assuming you’re Christian, but I couldn’t find the comment(s).Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Chris
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        says:

        @chris @kolohe

        I suppose I should be relieved that this is not ‘microaggression’ and just plain old-fashioned aggression.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic
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      says:

      Like someone else on this thread or another, that’s not micro. That’s head on aggression and harassment. (and if she were an airline, the ANG would be scrambling F-16s and the FBI would be investigating)Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to zic
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      says:

      Sounds like the kids are getting nasty again. I got some of that when I was playing online games. But people react with a lot of venom when they get attacked…or when something they love, gets attacked. That’s no excuse, but some of it is to be expected. Perceived anonymity is empowering of some of humanity’s nastiest traits…

      What, you thought we were “civilized”?Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to zic
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      says:

      If you were on the receiving end of those insults and threats, could you just let it go?

      As @chris points out, these aren’t microagressions. They’re just Tweets from a$$holes, full aggression.

      To answer you question though, I could absolutely let it go. I honestly would not care at all if a bunch of people on Twitter started to go all Two Minutes Hate on me. Now, that’s just me. I’m not implying that Sarkeesian or anyone else ought to feel the same way. Different strokes…

      Also, Sarkeesian got a whole lot of Twitter hate for work, but she also managed to raise $160k on Kickstarter, partly because of some of the hate that she got. That’s not a particularly bad trade off. My guess is that a significant number of people would take that deal if offered. Compare it, for example, with the $47k that former high school football player Brian Banks was able to raise to fund his documentary. All it took him to get there was ten years spent in prison on false rape charges.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Ah yes, ignoring the fact that I’ve read some pretty not that great reactions from you to a few bad comments in threads on this very website like all of us have, so I somehow doubt you’d be a cool stoic to hundreds of Twitter mentions calling you a scam artist and so on, we get the little “oh, somebody’s not as much of a victim because they managed to be marginally successful as a side effect of it” with a side of “somebodies had it worst, so why should we really care about her harassment – after all, she got rich off it.”

        Ironically, you’re using Gamergate’s arguments against Anita without even being part of it.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        “I somehow doubt you’d be a cool stoic to hundreds of Twitter mentions calling you a scam artist and so on”

        Jesse, stop minimizing his emotions and shutting him down. Who are you to tell him how he should or shouldn’t feel about things?Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      zic,
      Uggh. How can people get upset with someone discussing tropes??
      You discuss tropes to LEARN about them, and learn from them.
      Almost any trope (even “Rape is Funny”) can be done well, or done really, really poorly.
      Some tropes are so awful we really wish people would kill them off (see aforementioned “Rape is Funny” — circa 1950’s TV).Report

  14. Avatar ScarletNumbers
    Ignored
    says:

    The p.c. style of politics has one serious, possibly fatal drawback: It is exhausting.

    ApplauseReport

  15. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    @veronica-d

    (HI AGAIN, BY THE WAY!)

    “For you [ @tod-kelly ], as a cis man, if someone tries to invalidate your gender, you’ll likely just laugh. When it happens to me, it stings.”

    As I read your comment, a thought came to me and then I reached this point and I think it confirmed me. I wonder if there is an extent to which micro aggressions are balanced against whatever we’d call their opposite (micro affirmations)? Tod — and other cis men — will likely laugh because society constantly affirms their gender. A micro aggression would be the equivalent of shouting in the wind. Conversely, for you, it is not a singular micro aggression but the sum of many, many, many micro aggressions, which eventually cease to be isolated incidents but instead form a single, solitary message: you are less than.

    Thoughts?Report

  16. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    @j-r

    “”For whatever reason, if we encourage that same sort of mindfulness around race, some people’s heads start to spin.”
    Whose head is spinning?

    I am all for mindfulness, but that can mean any number of different things to any number of different people.”

    What I mean is that if we say, “Hey, you should think about how your words might impact others,” most people will nod and say, “Well, sure, that is a generally good idea.”

    If you say, “Hey, you should think about how your words about Topic X might impact Group Y,” some subset of those who previously nodded will say, “OH, SO YOU WANT A BUNCH OF BRAND NEW SPECIAL RULES BECAUSE YOU THINK I’M A SOMETHING-IST?!?!?!”

    Those people are very difficult to engage with.

    Note: I do not consider you among that subset.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      Just because someone is difficult to engage with doesn’t make him incorrect.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      “OH, SO YOU WANT A BUNCH OF BRAND NEW SPECIAL RULES BECAUSE YOU THINK I’M A SOMETHING-IST?!?!?!”

      You are correct that there a whole bunch of reactionary types who like to yell things like this. But there are also a whole bunch of social justice types who do want brand new special rules. And they are not any easier to engage with.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @j-r

        Straying a bit from the central point here, I am continually concerned/confused by the knee-jerk tendency of some folks to think that any and everything needs to be solved by a rule. I see this happen in interesting ways in my school. THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO SOLVE “PROBLEMS”, PEOPLE!

        And I put “problems” in quotes there because “This created demonstrable harm” is not equivalent to “This happened in a way other than I expected/preferred”. There is some overlap, yes. But not nearly as much as the people who reflexively conflate the two seem to think, turning non-problems into problems and problems into PROBLEMS!!!11!1!

        I will also say that my anecdotal experience tells me that this tendency knows no ideological bounds. A close study might reveal some interesting trends, but I’m talking about a broader tendency among vast swaths of the population who immediately invoke “There oughta be a law…” type thinking.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @kazzy

        Damn right. Nothing worse than people trying to craft a law to address some butt hurt they got. The other example is the “think of the children”. The Simpsons does it well:

        Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        This is sort of fascinating:

        @j-r says: But there are also a whole bunch of social justice types who do want brand new special rules. And they are not any easier to engage with.

        @kazzy responds: I am continually concerned/confused by the knee-jerk tendency of some folks to think that any and everything needs to be solved by a rule. I see this happen in interesting ways in my school. THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO SOLVE “PROBLEMS”, PEOPLE!

        Then @damon jumps in: Nothing worse than people trying to craft a law to address some butt hurt they got.

        (And I am not trying to pick on any of you!)

        We start at rules, which can mean anything from social convention, (please and thank you and don’t use the ‘N’ word and hold the door for the person behind you) to laws (hiring discrimination and physical assault). This place has rules; and if it didn’t, I probably wouldn’t commit so much of my time to it; the rules make it a safe place to express divergent opinion and to complain about the lack of divergent opinions and everything in between.

        But at the end, we get to rules=law, and I wonder if that’s part of some discomfort about these types of meta discussions? If someone who has some social-justice topic to mind speaks, does that speaking lead to new rules and laws that might discomfort me and turn me into a rule breaker or even a law breaker?

        I think there’s a lot of angst about changing social norms (and laws) that inevitably turn the good buys into bad guys. When I say ‘guys,’ in that cliche sentence, it’s in my Maine vernacular, does not mean ‘men,’ it’s a pronoun for a group of people instead of a single person. I learned this when my cousin moved here from CA while we were teens, and she complained that people kept saying, “hey guys, wanna. . .” and she’d look for the boys but it was always a group of girls; this constantly disappointed she was a bit boy crazy, and would get all excited there were boys when it was only us girls.

        Should I stop saying ‘you guys,’ because it might implicate a bunch of men only to someone from elsewhere, and leave out women doing exactly the same thing to their ears? Does discussing that subtle difference in colloquial vernacular suggest a new rule, perhaps even a law, about how Mainers should speak or how a rule about how non-Mainers should be sensitive to how Mainer’s gonna speak no matter if you think it discriminates against men?

        At some level, the distinction between social justice, our right to speak about social justice, and pointing out injustice vs. crafting law gets very confusing, and what I say (hey guys) and what you hear (hey men) depends on your tribal affiliation. The remedy (use better pronouns if I want to be clear and not slight some group) does not necessarily mean a law; but if my cousin hadn’t pointed that out — hadn’t discussed it with me, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

        @kazzy wins this one. There are many ways to solve problems, and discussing the problem doesn’t automatically mean ‘new law about to be imposed.’ Often, we don’t even know there’s a problem until we discuss it. Fear of a law, a new rule, is not reason to not discuss, though it’s often reason to discuss not discussing. Sometimes, we discover it doesn’t really matter, and I feel perfectly free to keep saying you guys are funny and amusing and sometimes profound when we go all meta talking about how we talk about things.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @zic

        Yes, when I say “rules”, I mean that which we enforce with authority.

        I do not think white people should use the N-word. If I heard someone use it, I might even say, “You shouldn’t say that.” But the only mechanism through which I’d actually try to stop them would be education… Dialogue… Conversation.

        Does that mean I think “White people shouldn’t say the N-word” is a “rule”?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t know, @kazzy

        Then there’s stuff like this, which just hit my in-box; it’s from a Chamber of Commerce, promoting a restaurant under new management:

        Wednesday is Ladies Day at (name and location removed). Ladies can enjoy a half price entree or small plate when another entree or small plate of equal or greater value is purchased. This special cannot be combined with other offers or discounts. Discount applies to the less expensive item.

        I can’t exactly say why, but this certainly raised my ‘there oughta be a rule,’ to prevent this kind of marketing.

        This is obviously anecdotal, but I cannot think of a single ‘ladies night’ promotion offered by a restaurant/bar managed by a woman; every single one I’m aware of (and I did check on the local events) is the brainchild of a man.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        “They’re doing the same thing they did in the Deep South back in the 1950s. Having to buy a $350 bottle of watered down vodka – that’s the ‘sitting in the back of the bus’ for us!”

        That alone should have lost him his case, and maybe his law license. By the way, why did he want to get into that club so badly? Because it was full of pretty young girls.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        That alone should have lost him his case, and maybe his law license.

        Frankly, it should have gotten him the firehose.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @zic

        Out of curiosity, what gets your goat about Ladies Night marketing?

        Also, I fully endorse making rules concerning behavior that you don’t like. I just prefer that the rules be of the “I won’t spend my money establishment that…” variety, as opposed to the “let’s shut the place down!” variety.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Kazzy says, “I am continually concerned/confused by the knee-jerk tendency of some folks to think that any and everything needs to be solved by a rule.”

        People are pathologically conflict-averse. If there’s A Rule About This then they don’t have to get in a fight over someone’s bad behavior; just point to The Rule. You don’t have to pretend like it’s your opinion, you don’t have to justify your accusation or worry about being wrong. There’s the rule, you broke the rule, I can’t possibly be wrong about pointing out that you broke a rule, so I’m not fighting you I’m just correcting you.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        +1,000 @jim-heffman

        @j-r I don’t think it’s cool to have different price structures for different customers, that is a form of discrimination, first off. Imagine if it was Whitey’s Night or Latino Night, instead. Horrid. Secondly, it relies on this back-handed misogyny; it’s mostly an appeal to men (maybe even nerdy men) that, hey come in here, because we’re giving the ladies a discount so there will be LOADS of them here for your pleasure.

        If I were a man, I’d probably find another man and go to that restaurant and demand the same ‘ladies’ discount for our dinners, just on general principal. Because you know they’d never offer a ‘Men’s night’ discount on the hopes of attracting ladies to the bar, and if they did, you know the ladies would probably call it discrimination, which it is.

        (That brings up another topic that’s beginning to intrigue me: women and minorities are, I think, better advocates for themselves then men in general are; and for men who are victims, say of domestic violence or sexual assault or in custody cases, that failure is sad. Might stem, in part, from men letting the fringe men’s-rights movement be too politically incorrect.)Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Back when sodomy was illegal in my state, I remember having this conversation with people who were upset with gays.
        Them: I don’t hate them, but they are advocating an illegal lifestyle.
        Me: Illegal?
        Them: Yes, sodomy is illegal.
        Me: But isn’t that a stupid law? Why should the state regulate how you have sex in your home?
        Them: It might be a stupid law, but they’re breaking the law!
        Me: But it’s a stupid law.
        Them: I can’t speculate about that, I’m just against people breaking the law.

        And so on, ad infinitum.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Nowadays, that’s a feature of the debate about illegal immigration: it’s common to point to “illegal” and stop there.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @zic, ladies nights are probably violating a whole bunch of existing laws. The same ones that prevent male only establishments from existing. It’s just that nobody ever thought to bring suit to stop them.

        Somebody once explained the economics of ladies’ night to me. I just forgot them.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        People are pathologically conflict-averse.

        Not true. Some people are pathologically conflict-averse. But lots of people quite clearly aren’t.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Somebody once explained the economics of ladies’ night to me. I just forgot them.

        I can’t speak to the economics, but I can see venues wanting to entice female customers regardless.

        I rarely ever frequented establishments that hosted Ladies’ Nights (because they tended to be places that played music I didn’t like, and I was never really into the club/bar-as-meat-market scene) but I can certainly say that I always preferred to go to bars, clubs or parties that had roughly 50/50 parity, and if they leaned more toward female numerical superiority, so much the better.

        As I said, this was not for pick-up purposes (generally not my thing); but in my experience, venues with too many (hetero*) men and too few females are more prone to violent incidents and general jerky jackassery, as the knobs there vie for limited female attention and/or are not as concerned about showing their asses, as they are when there are females present.

        Maybe it sounds old-fashioned to say, but in my experience I see the presence of sufficient females as having a civilizing influence. And more civilized is more fun, unless you’re Begbie in Trainspotting.

        *the above doesn’t apply to gay clubs; in fact, our favorite club when I was younger was a gay club, obviously mostly male crowd, and one of the reasons it was our favorite was that violence and jerkiness were exceedingly rare there. Accidentally bump into and spill some dude’s drink at a straight club, you might get in a fight. At the gay club, one simple apology and replacement drink later everyone’s having a great time again.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        “Somebody once explained the economics of ladies’ night to me. I just forgot them.”

        It’s using women as loss-leader advertising. Men come into the bar because hey, it’s Ladies Night, that means there will be more Ladies present than there might otherwise be.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Baseball teams used to have Ladies Night too (maybe some still do? Not mine, which sells out every game anyway.) That was more about attracting a demographic that wasn’t all that into baseball, and persuading couples that a ballgame was a good place for a date.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @jim-heffman

        Excellent point about people wanting to rely on authority rather than themselves to negotiate conflict. Though @stillwater is correct that this does not apply universally to all folks.

        @zic and others

        I have issues with Ladies Nights, for many of the same reasons Jim offers. We should not allow discriminatory pricing. I will admit to being unclear on whether I extend this principle to “senior discounts” and children’s pricing. I have to think more about whether those are categorically different or whether I am being inconsistent.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Glyph,
        You’re not alone on preferring bars where a lot of women are.
        [I am, for the record, way too cheap to go to a bar.]Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t actually have a problem with the concept.

        Note that most of the people who file sex-discrimination lawsuits over “Ladies’ Night” are doing it with the same intent as Billy Jack claiming religious discrimination because a bakery won’t make an anti-same-sex-marriage cake for him. That is, it’s not actually a beef with Ladies’ Night, it’s a beef with the fact that it’s illegal to have a Guys’ Night.Report

  17. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    Chiat defines “politically correct” as:

    Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate.

    This is Mirriam Webster Dictionary:

    agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people

    This is wikipedia:

    an attitude or policy of being careful not to offend or upset any group of people in society who are believed to have a disadvantage. Mainstream usage of the term began in the 1990s by right-wing politicians who used the term as a shorthand way of conveying their concerns about the left in academia and in culture. A 1991 article used the term to refer to U.S. academic policies that sought to increase multiculturalism through affirmative action, prevent “hate speech”, and change the content of the university curriculum. The term was also used by conservatives to criticize progressive teaching methods and curriculum changes in U.S. secondary schools. These debates about curriculum changes have been referred to as a Culture War. In the 1990s, the term was increasingly commonly used in the United Kingdom.

    In modern usage, the terms PC, politically correct, and political correctness are generally pejorative descriptors, whereas the term politically incorrect is used by opponents of PC as an implicitly positive self-description, as in the cases of the conservative, topical book-series The Politically Incorrect Guide, and the liberal television talk-show program Politically Incorrect. Disputing this framework are advocates for ending discrimination and scholars on the political Left who suggest that the term was redefined in the early 1990s by conservatives and libertarians for strategic political purposes.

    The Urban Dictionary:

    A way that we speak in America so we don’t offend whining pussies.

    The Free Dictionary:

    Conforming to a particular sociopolitical ideology or point of view, especially to a liberal point of view concerned with promoting tolerance and avoiding offense in matters of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

    But most interesting to me is the Mirriam-Webster for English-language learners:

    agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people

    So much depends on which definition you hear when you hear the term. I hear taking care not to use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people; and I mostly think that has to do with microaggressions of language. I think that’s a very good thing; it’s considerate. And I would not say that suppressing speech is what I’d consider politically correct.

    A better term for speaking thoughtfully and considerately is probably needed; but the very notion at the root strikes me as a net good. And I find it incredibly sad that somehow, the worst meaning seems to have stuck, that it reflects the attitude that liberal = a dirty word, and embraces the notion that it’s about limiting speech instead of embracing people.Report

    • Avatar Citizen in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      “And I would not say that suppressing speech is what I’d consider politically correct.”
      What is the goal of your politics?

      Why do they use “groups” and “disadvantage” in the definitions?
      The truth be told every sovereign individual scratches their own line in the sand about where the live and let live mandate begins and ends. There is no obligation to know where those lines are for everybody. I think the problem with liberal agents is they wish exceedingly that those lines were within some reasonable metric and well defined.
      I think it was Micheal Drew who metioned something along the lines of “answers will vary”. Damn skippy!

      What we are really left with are levels of awareness/ignorance of those lines and how we spend the tokens of risk in their midst.

      (The Chait essay is a awful example to parse as there are dozens of parameters in play.)Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        I dunno, Citizen. When PC first became a thing in the ’90’s, my kids were going to school in a very diverse schools; kids from all over the world, 40 languages spoken, and white-Christians were the majority, but still a minority, making about 40% of the student body population.

        So PC made a lot of sense in that context.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        There are probably somewhere around as many goals as there are individuals, on average. (Some people will share a goal, others will have multiple… it probably averages out.)

        As such, asking what the goal is probably needs to be unpacked. I’m pretty sure that (Feminist #1)’s goals are not (Feminist #2)’s goals despite them both being on the same side. It’s like asking what the goals of a culture are.

        A farmer has different goals from a Wall Street banker if you want to get really atomic but they have the same goals if you want to pull back and get really big picture.

        Political Correctness, at its best, levels the field for discussions. At its worst, it makes the field unlevel in a mirror image. (And, of course, the banker will usually complain* about how it’s unfair that it’s not unbalanced in his favor anymore. I’m not sure we can really use his reactions as the measuring stick.)

        This is why I kind of like the Rawlsian veil of ignorance when it comes to trying to come up with rules… but that’s probably another discussion entirely.

        *not all bankersReport

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        This

        At its worst, it makes the field unlevel in a mirror image.

        I think I agree with this, but only sort of. If we think of PC along the same lines as feminism, say, then it’s important to remember two things: that the ism is a response and what it’s a response to. So while I agree that on a narrow focus, looking at the two isms statically so to speak, at its worst, it may tilt just as much as the actions and behaviors of the views it is at odds with. But given that PCism or feminism or anti-racism or anti-homophobism (etc) are inherently relational and reactive to prevailing norms and behaviors, tilting things in a mirror image can be viewed as merely leveling the playing field all on its own. Almost by definition, of course, the folks who are made most uncomfortable by various PC-based criticisms are the most inclined to find the imposed demand the most burdensome on their behavior. So, can the use of PCism (feminism, etc) as a tool go so far into the ethosphere that folks using it are looking for facts to fit their theory? Sure. But it’s equally true that lots of people go to equally strenuous lengths to deny obvious facts to fit their “theory”, namely, that certain types of behaviors are harmful to others or that other folks are justified in calling them out on it.

        Have to think about it a bit more, but something like that.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        True. A turning of the tables is a wonderful device in the short term to open the eyes of the people who benefit from a stacked deck. Insofar as it’s used to that short-term end, I’m a big supporter.

        Once we start talking about the middle-term, my opinion changes.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        Kuznicki said something to the effect of “we shouldn’t be arguing over whose turn it is to hold the whip!”

        That’s as awesome of a way to put it as I’ve encountered.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird

        Does telling people not to say the n-word or Oriental or broads or the f-word qualify as “holding the whip”?

        I’m serious about this, mind you.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        No, absolutely not. To be honest, I’m pretty sure that if that’s what it’s for.

        I’m talking about, for example, unironic use of the term cracker, hillbilly, redneck, etc when you’re around people who have done a fairly decent job of no longer using the n-word, Oriental, broads, etc.

        “No, but it’s okay to say hillbilly because they’re members of the dominant group.”
        “I don’t understand why he can call himself a redneck but I can’t agree with him.”

        (Again: I’m down with turning the tables. I’m less down with the argument that the tables need to remain turned.)Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        @kazzy

        Does telling people not to say the n-word or Oriental or broads or the f-word qualify as “holding the whip”?

        That completely depends on how you tell people and what sort of punishment you intend to enforce on those who dissent.

        Allowing social norms to evolve and trying to speed that process by means of rational discourse and a certain level of activism does not involve holding the whip. Attempting to seize control of the means of cultural production (whatever that may mean) and enforce the preferred new norms by authoritarian means does involve the whip.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        @j-r

        I don’t know if you are so much responding to me or to those who might generally be on “my side”, but where have I advocated any sort of authoritarian response?

        More importantly, where do you draw the line between “[a]llowing social norms to evolve and trying to speed that process” and “[a]ttempting to seize control of the means of cultural production”?

        I’m actually really curious about that last part… SOMEONE has to control the means of cultural production. Do those people have the authority to produce culture as they see fit?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        To elaborate on that last part… Is Murdoch cracking the whip when he uses his media empire to create a conservative-leaning news channel? Is Andy Cohen cracking the whip when he promotes gay-friendly programming on Bravo?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird

        I would similarly object to the language cited and actually think we don’t take seriously the classist and racist implications of those terms.

        I remember being impressed during an episode of “The Apprentice” from years ago when Trump took a contestant to task (and ultimately fired him, if memory serves) when he referred to himself as a redneck or some such term. While the guy was trying to be self-deprecating, Trump made a pretty solid point about the offensiveness of that term, even used as it was. And not in a typical Trumpian-blowhardy way but in a, “That is a term we throw around too easily and really shouldn’t. It has no place in the board room.”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        I probably call someone a redneck or a hick at least once a week.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        SOMEONE has to control the means of cultural production.

        What are we talking about?

        There’s a very, very weird dynamic where art is created by artists but purchased by squares. Squares, as you may know, aren’t really *THAT* much into the weird stuff as they are into the familiar and comfortable. Even the novel has to be familiar and comfortable. As such, art’s tendency to push boundaries is kept in check by the pocketbooks of the artists themselves. What good is a (come up with a weird example of art here) if no one will buy it? You’ve either got to have a patron who wants something like that or afford to make something like that on your evenings/weekends.

        But this is the argument we have over and over again about whether the government should fund (come up with a weird example of art here).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird

        What I mean is that culture doesn’t just happen. Artists control the production of art. I’m not arguing for centralized control; just recognizing that control is exerted over culture and the production/evolution of culture in a number of ways.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        @kazzy

        My comment was not meant to implicate you or anyone else in particular. It was just a response to how I conceive of ways that do and do not involve wielding the whip.

        I consider myself an anti-authoritarian, but that does not mean that I oppose any and all instances of authority. What I want is for authority to be used appropriately and in its proper place. If Murdoch or Cohen want to use the authority of their positions to produce a particular type of content, I have no beef, so long as that content is offered in such a manner as to give people a choice of whether or not to consume it.

        Part of being anti-authoritarian is allowing other forms of authority to co-exist.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Citizen
        Ignored
        says:

        just recognizing that control is exerted over culture and the production/evolution of culture in a number of ways.

        There have been plenty of movies made about the Iraq War. Stop/Loss, In The Valley of Elah, Rendition, Lions for Lambs… but it seems that the one that made a splash is American Sniper.

        The squares wanted to see one of those, but not the others.

        You can only buy something that is on the shelves. You can’t make people buy something just because you put it on the shelf, though.

        And culture evolves accordingly.Report

  18. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Because there are certain circumstances under which “both sides do it” illuminates more than it obscures, I was fumbling around for the equivalent of what right-wingers do that is very much like Political Correctness.

    And then I stumbled across the term “Patriotic Correctness”.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Which is 2 pounds lighter.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      @jaybird

      Language-wise, the turnabout intrigues. Moot, as in a moot (meaningless) point comes from the Moot, the town-meeting sort of thing; a moot point, originally, meant an important issue for the tribe to discuss.

      Myth, too, is not sort-of inflated with ‘fairy tale,’ but myths often have real stuff at their root, and, dilluted by time, lack of documentation, and retelling, turn into something not quite real; yet the common usage is not to imply ‘false.’

      And so, now, Correct falls to it’s antonym meaning. If it’s correct, it’s wrong. It’s just not right. Or Right. Patriotic, too, seems to be going that way. But, hey you guys, here in Maine, when something’s really, really good, we say it’s wicked. And patriotic correctness (flag pin on every lapel) is wicked.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        (and the myth ‘not’ should be ‘now’)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        Could be wrong, but I seem to remember reading an analysis of the PC movement’s history. The actual term was first coined by conservatives as a pejorative for liberal efforts to shape language use and whatnot. Course, nowadays liberals use the term as if it were their own.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        @stillwater

        IIRC the original use of politically correct comes from the 1930s during the Stalinist Purge trials and the fights between Stalinists and Trotskyites over who were the real Communists. Politically Correct came from the Comintern and reflected quick changes in Stalinist viewpoints and meant “correct by fiat.”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        Saul,

        My comment was about the term’s use in the US to refer to language policing. Any ideas on that?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        @stillwater

        Are you really saying that you can’s see how the original conception of the term, as @saul-degraw mentions, is a direct antecedent to the contemporary usage?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        j r,

        So, do you know the origins of the term’s use here in the US? Don’t leave me in the dark, bro!Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        Wasn’t it an old Bill Maher show?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        Good ole Wiki to the rescue:

        Mainstream usage of the term began in the 1990s by right-wing politicians who used the term as a shorthand way of conveying their concerns about the left in academia and in culture. Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        And now it’s used by moderate liberals convey their concerns about less moderate liberals possibly influencing the direction of American liberalism.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        I had started a comment about the truth independence of political/patriotic correctness but I didn’t like where it took me so I stopped writing it.

        Which is, I suppose, ironic.

        The gist was the corner of political/patriotic correctness that was recently described as “living in the land of mokita”. (Insert handful of disclaimers about how not all political correctness is like this and not all smackdowns should be assumed to be smackdowns that are truth-independent and so on.) It’s the “you shouldn’t say that because it’s not helpful” variant.

        I mean, if you want to argue against a position, it’s best to choose a false position to argue against. You have a whole lot of tools to choose from. “That didn’t happen.” “It’s not X%. It’s barely X/4%.” “What you have said is false.”

        Heck, even arguing against positions that have a squishy/unmeasurable truth value or arguing against positions that rely a lot on personal preference can be done fairly easily.

        Arguing against a position that is kinda true? Political/Patriotic Correctness is as good an argument as any. If someone criticizes, say, the use of torture at Abu Ghraib, you can be upset that they didn’t spend a few minutes giving disclaimers first. You can be upset that they didn’t talk about how Saddam was worse. You can be upset that they didn’t acknowledge how much good the US was doing elsewhere in the region. You can get upset that criticizing the US instead of all of the other things that deserve criticizing is focusing on how, seriously, we’re not the bad guys here. Oh, and why would you spend more time caring about KSM than the people who died when the towers fell?

        And so on.

        Arguing against the truth leaves a person with a much smaller toolkit. Political/Patriotic Correctness, when used against the truth, is stuck with those tools.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        zic,
        Did the verb come first? You moot a point by making it irrelevant — by bringing up a different point that takes the conversation in a different direction.

        Classic: The argument was whether paper or plastic bags were better for the environment.
        Now Mooted By: “let’s just get reusable bags, guys”
        (yes, this was the eighties).Report

  19. Avatar Jesse Ewiak
    Ignored
    says:

    Chait should stick to tearing apart Paul Ryan’s bullshit on the budget and the GOP’s bullshit on health care. He’s fine doing that.

    But on this, and on race, and many other cultural moments, he just sounds like a sheltered nitwit. Sure, take his argument to an illogical extreme so far on the end of the slippery slope you can see Alaska from your house, and free speech is chilled by an army of PC thugs wearing pink. OK, it could happen.

    But, ya’ know, a few ancedotes of frankly, college students being college students, and old PC wars from when many activists were in preschool, along with dismissal of the value of shorthand like “mansplaining” aren’t really a glittering edifice of an argument, and his continued insistence this was some damaging new/old trend wasn’t very convincing. I mean, ya’ know why the reason why “mansplain” took off? Because it happens to women, a whole hell of a lot.

    Only recently has it become possible for women, people of color, or other marginalized voices to say, to people beyond their living room or workplace, “actually, these people are assholes,” like say, when Rand Paul tried to educate students at Howard that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Yes, some take it too far, because in everything, there are asses who take it too far, but Chait takes thousands of words bemoaning this particular outrage

    I mean, I’m a straight white male, so maybe I’m a traitor to my tribe, but I’m happy that social media and other forms of communication have allowed voices that were previously unheard voices to have the ability and opportunity to tell straight white guys to kindly sit down and shut up about stuff they don’t understand. For centuries, straight white guys have had the cultural megaphone to themselves, and Chait’s article is largely a wounded cry those days are ending, especially on the liberal side of the ledger. And frankly, I don’t have a problem with a social cost being affixed for spouting ignorance or bigotry. It’s not a 1st amendment issue when people think you’re an asshole for saying assholeish things.Report

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