Freddie on Chait

Related Post Roulette

223 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    I swear to god that Freddie wrote his response, read it over then said; “Damn it, this agrees too much with Chait… brrr!” And then tacked the first paragraph onto the beginning.Report

  2. Avatar zic says:

    At the risk of BSDI, Rino.

    This isn’t a liberal problem, it isn’t a left problem, and it isn’t necessarily a political problem.

    But here’s the deal: both Freddie and Chiat, and a lot of other people on the left are discussing this. Even people who aren’t necessarily liberal (Sanchez, for instance) are discussing it.

    Show me someone on the right challenging throwing the Rinos out on the same sorts of language/though policing grounds, please, and show me that this is taken up as a serious debate by the right. From immigration to guns to god, you either get with the program or you’re not invited to the party, at least as presented in Murdoch’s corporate world view. Larison? He’s way, way, way outside the fold. Douthat and David Brooks, too.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, that this discussion is even happening suggests something good and strong about liberalism? Perhaps, despite the thought policing on display, the left will live to see another day?Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to zic says:

      This is a good point. The Left is discussing the issue and treating it seriously and wondering whether all this language alienates people.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        Thank you. I’m also wondering about something else here, I don’t know if or how it fits in, I’m only thinking out loud but:

        The examples given are anecdotes, bad stuff that happened to a real, living person. And they’re bad, too. But I also wonder if they reflect a statistical mean of liberal behavior or are they outliers? If they reflect the mean, then there actually is some serious work to do. If they’re outliers, they sort-of remind me of the false-rape discussions; yeah, they happen, and when the happen, they’re really, really awful, but they’re incredibly infrequent compared to the real deal, and aren’t really an argument against addressing rape as a social problem; they’re themselves a different social problem that actually helps illuminate many of the difficulties of dealing with rape is in our justice system.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @zic

        I think these stories are anecdotes mainly because political types like us really overestimate how much time most people spend talking and thinking about politics and policy. The average person does not worry too much about all this language talk probably. But in our circle, this is a big deal.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        Another reason you don’t see this as much on the left is that I think people like Freddie do realize on some level that the left-wing of the Democratic Party is much smaller than the right-wing of the Democratic Party. The real base of the Democratic Party is probably much more moderate than people like Freddie and based among urban minorities who don’t have much time or patience for this kind of talk and want real things done.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        Speaking as a gay man I’m keenly aware that it was not the liberal queer theorists but rather the politically muddled gay normalists who really moved the needle on gay acceptance from begrudging to openly supportive.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @north

        I remember hearing about debates in LGBT ciricles against mainstreaming because some LGBT people wanted LGBT to maintain its status as a radical act of dissent against bourgeois culture.

        The truth is that real progress happens when bourgeois outfits like Tiffany’s and the Fort Lauderdale Tourist Board start start pitching products to you. The next big steps are when we will see suburban car ads featuring same-sex couples and their tykes or financial services companies having joint account ads with same-sex couples.

        There are probably members of the anti-capitalist left that seethe at this.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        I have no doubt Saul. The fact of the matter is that on the subject of gay rights the gay and liberal radicals were, in a way, betrayed; they had hoped gay rights would be the lever to topple traditional gender roles, subvert traditional sexuality and end capitalism. Instead the gay movement retailored itself to be about gays themselves being happy and then made progress. The gay radicals were wrong about how to win the argument but, lest I not give credit where it’s due, the gay radicals were also the ones with the courage and conviction to start the argument in the first place. It was only once the gay transgressive in the assless chaps had gotten beaten up so much that people were receptive to the gay moderates (and somewhere in the midst of that looms AIDS, always AIDS).Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @zic

        The examples given are anecdotes, bad stuff that happened to a real, living person.

        I hear things, from academia, from the world of SciFi/Fantasy authors, from other corners. But it’s just stories, some first hand, some not, and nothing I would call hard evidence. But after a while, you hear enough stories, you have to wonder if there is something there…Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        The truth is that real progress happens when bourgeois outfits like Tiffany’s and the Fort Lauderdale Tourist Board start start pitching products to you. The next big steps are when we will see suburban car ads featuring same-sex couples and their tykes or financial services companies having joint account ads with same-sex couples.

        Mucking about at home during a snow day recently, had the mid-day local news on, then Days of Our Lives came on afterwards. The cold open storyline/flashback was about a (ridiculously handsome, natch) gay couple.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @north says, The fact of the matter is that on the subject of gay rights the gay and liberal radicals were, in a way, betrayed; they had hoped gay rights would be the lever to topple traditional gender roles, subvert traditional sexuality and end capitalism. Instead the gay movement retailored itself to be about gays themselves being happy and then made progress.

        This is something I’ve been wondering about, and I’m glad to see you say it. Back in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, before the AIDS epidemic, I had several friends who were what you call ‘gay radicals,’ the overt faces of the Boston Gay Pride parade and customers of the bar across the street from where I lived (on Queensbury St., of course) which attracted a cross section of cross dressers and the S&M crowd. But most of the gay/lesbian people I’ve known have been almost ultra-conservative in their lifestyles, I presume from not wanting to attract undue attention because they already felt they attracted undue attention. My brother and his husband are incredibly unLoud in their home, manner of dress, foods, and even politics; and this seems the norm, not the exception. I’ve long thought this ‘regular person’ in most if not all other aspects of their lives was one of the things that helped topple opinion; come out, and be normal elsewise. You’ve reaffirmed that observation for me.

        Assimilation, and how you go about assimilating, makes a great deal of difference, it seems.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @zic

        But I also wonder if they reflect a statistical mean of liberal behavior or are they outliers? If they reflect the mean, then there actually is some serious work to do. If they’re outliers, they sort-of remind me of the false-rape discussions; yeah, they happen, and when the happen, they’re really, really awful, but they’re incredibly infrequent compared to the real deal, and aren’t really an argument against addressing rape as a social problem…

        This is an interesting bit of ideological contortion, but it does not change the basic facts of the issue. I’ve never seen anyone anywhere actually argue that false rape allegations are a reason not to address rape. So, if your starting point is that false rape allegations hardly ever happen, so we don’t really need to consider them when thinking about how to investigate and prosecute rape allegations, then there is a good chance that the standards and policies that you adopt will be lacking from the standpoint of a liberal justice system.

        Likewise, if you start from the assumption that yeah, sometimes political correctness negatively affects the wrong person, but for the most part it targets those who deserve targeting, then there is a good chance that you will end up with a discourse that is lacking from the standpoint of liberal speech and expression norms. Put another way, your concern for ideological purity and conformity will end up trumping your concern for the well-being of actual people. And that is the definition of political correctness.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        I’m happy to affirm it Zic, but I’d like to also note that the happiness conservative or moderate gays have achieved was achieved only by marching down a road paved by the blood of our radicals and the ashes of our dead. The radicals were wrong, in the end, about gays en masse but they were also essential for the beginning.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @j-r First, I have seen false-rape accusations proferred up as cautionary evidence about rape repeatedly; the most recent example would be in the comments on the Friedersdorf post I linked to about the Stanford student you commented on yesterday or the day before. Men’s rights postings pretty regularly go there.

        But more importantly, I was simply trying to find an analogy, and as Vikram has so kindly pointed out, that’s fraught territory. Even as any individual wrong is, well, wrong, statistical evidence of the size of the problem helps us understand the resources and attention that public policy might be best spent addressing, given limited resources, etc. A better example might be r&d money a big-pharma will be willing to spend on incredibly-rare illness vs. very common illness.

        So my question is valid; and worth some exploration, and it is not necessarily an expression of any ideology on my part.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @zic

        First, I have seen false-rape accusations proferred up as cautionary evidence about rape repeatedly

        Yes, false allegations ought to serve as cautionary evidence; that is the entire point of my comment. In certain situations, it makes sense to exclude outliers from a dataset, but excluding a significant percentage of observations because they work against your hypothesis is generally not the best method.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @j-r I never said false accusations weren’t important; I didn’t even imply it except in your attempts to misread what I said; which would be, expanded:

        False accusations are guessed to be between 2 and 8% of reported rapes(FBI); and that includes real rapes where the woman decided withdraw charges because of the system she encountered. Unreported rapes are estimated to be about 68% of all rapes (RAINN). You’re a public policy person; where do you put the bulk of your resources?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        I’ve never seen anyone anywhere actually argue that false rape allegations are a reason not- to address rape.

        No, people never explicitly say that. that’d be heartless. What people very frequently do do, however, is argue that the woman shoulda acted with more prudence, or not worn certain clothes, or not flirted since doing so is clearly an invitation to have sex, or want to focus on her sexual history, etc, and so on. In each case, and there are others, the person making those claims is effectively accusing the alleged victim of making some sorta false rape allegation for the sole reason of not addressing the issue of rape.

        At least, that’s how it seems to me.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        The existence of false allegations has one effect – that if it is truly a she-said/he-said situation, the end result has to be in favor of the accused. This is not to mean that we should not expend resources to locate corroborating or supporting evidence with which to build a case (allegations should be assumed to hold water, until they don’t), but only that the rights of the accused still matter.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @zic

        Back in the late ’70?s and early ’80?s, before the AIDS epidemic, I had several friends who were what you call ‘gay radicals,’ the overt faces of the Boston Gay Pride parade and customers of the bar across the street from where I lived (on Queensbury St., of course) which attracted a cross section of cross dressers and the S&M crowd.

        What was the place called?

        Damn I wanna hang out with you someday?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        @veronica-d I honestly don’t remember; Queensbury St., on the side of the street closest to the fenway near where the Rose Garden is, the Gardner Museum/Sears building/Fenway D-line stop end of the street. The Sears building actually had a Sears store in it back then, and the neighborhood was not trendy like it is now.

        Yeah, I gotta get down there; Spring. Winter’s tough on me, and spring comes earlier there.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

        Cool.

        Someone needs to write a history of LGBT Boston.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

      Like Speaker Boehner?

      Conservatives are challenging the claim by House Speaker John Boehner that they’re “beating the dickens out of” him just for profit.

      “Well my voting record is as conservative as anybody here. The issue with the tea party isn’t one of strategy. It’s not one of different vision. It’s — it’s a disagreement over tactics, from time to time. Frankly, a lot is being driven by national groups here in Washington who have raised money and just beating the dickens out of me.

      “Well you know, because it works. They raise money, put it in their pocket, and pay themselves big salaries,” Boehner told CBS’s “60 Minutes” for its Sunday show.

      Report

    • Avatar North in reply to zic says:

      Oh I agree entirely Zic my dear lady. The thrust of Chait’s posts was emphatically preventative in nature though Freddie with his more on the ground in academia perspective was also pallative.
      I myself think the GOP is a useful cautionary: if we indulge in PCism excessively we can expect to end up in the state that they’re in. That would be a bloody bad thing.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to North says:

        my dear lady is there a reason for this? Do you use ‘good sir’ responding to men, too?

        /said in humor; couldn’t resist.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        I do actually sometimes use my good sir whenever the tophat mood strikes me. Also my sister has moved to Maine recently (she’s building a clown school with her husband- no really) so I’m feeling especially familial to people in your neck of the woods.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to North says:

        North,
        anything’s better than Comedian Boot Camp.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to North says:

        you’re sister’s doing the clown school? That’s awesome! A very big deal.

        I will have to go introduce myself one of these days, and beg for opportunity for photography and (maybe) an OT blog post on the educational pitfalls of clown schools. Will you please let me know if you ever come to visit?Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        Yes Zic, Katherine Finck err though I’ve forgotten whether she took that cute guy she married’s name.
        And believe me, you’ll know if I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll be walking around rattling a tin can looking for cheap lobster like some beach dwelling hobo.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to North says:

        @north I’ve a friend who’s captain of a lobster boat (and an advocate of open carry, refuses to eat in restaurants that won’t let him in armed, always advertises the fact on social media, which I think only helps drum up more business for those very same restaurants; but I suspect they purchase lobster from his family, so it’s all a net win) from a family with a long, deep history in lobstering and market-garden farming. I’ll be happy to put a tip in your tin can from this very source, fresh off the boat, from the field, and most delicious.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        Thank you my dear lady, you have no idea the desert Minnesota is when it comes to shellfish. It costs 50 bucks for a bug out here that my Grandfather (rest his soul) wouldn’t have seen fit to toss into the garden for fertilizer.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to North says:

        @north

        Part of the reason I will never move back to WI – fresh wild Pacific SalmonReport

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

        @north

        “I do actually sometimes use my good sir whenever the tophat mood strikes me. Also my sister has moved to Maine recently (she’s building a clown school with her husband- no really) so I’m feeling especially familial to people in your neck of the woods.”

        How dare you refer to Princeton that way!Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        MRS: Smoked Atlantic salmon for me all day long good sir. All. Day. Long.

        @saul-degraw I misspoke, it’s actually a circus conservatory in or near Portland. And leave Princeton alone, leave it alone goddamn it! *tears-mascara*Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to North says:

        What are the odds that there would be a US clown college/circus conservatory located in a city called Portland that wasn’t Portland, OR?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

        Is everyone missing the Simpsons reference?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

        “Lisa, do this for me and you can go to any college you want — in South Carolina.”Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to North says:

        “but first generation college students like a first generation, African-American college student from rural South Carolina”

        South Carolina is in Africa?Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to zic says:

      @zic

      This will be of interest. Especially early on in the comments when the author gets one of the objects of his derision to speak up.

      Carrots & sticks, makes a difference.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        That is awesome; thank you, @mad-rocket-scientist for continually restoring my faith in sane gun ownership. Now, if we could just get past the silly notion that owning a gun makes you safer (it doesn’t, for the most part,) I’d be much happier about living in these United States.

        /I have told you that I’ve had guns drawn on me twice in my life? And been in public places in the vicinity of shootings within minutes of the shootings, once at the Brookline Family Planning clinic and once in a restaurant that just happens to be across the street? And lost a cousin and two friends in hunting accidents? No suicides, thankfully.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        zic,
        yeah, I nearly got shot this week.
        (And this is why we do not keep guns in the house.)
        It’s a lot less dangerous when someone’s reaching for a gun that isn’t there…Report

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

        @zic

        Guns make you safer in exactly the same way that a circular saw makes you a carpenter. Most gun owners get this. Pundits, however, can’t seem to express that concept into a sound byte for the LIV.

        Having a gun drawn on you twice in a single lifetime when you are not a soldier, cop, or criminal is something that sounds like some excellent cautionary tales. Although perhaps not. I’ve been involved in three major car wrecks, two of them fatal, which is two or three more than most of the population, and in none of those cases was there anything I could have done different, it was all wrong place, wrong time, bad luck.

        Despite having grown up in WI, never lost anyone close to hunting accidents. Some close calls that were attributed to FIBS from Chicago not knowing hunter safety, and a couple cases of people having their kill taken out from under them at gun point, but no injury or death.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        MRS,
        Yeah? “Having a gun drawn on you twice in a single lifetime when you are not a soldier, cop, or criminal is something that sounds like some excellent cautionary tales. ”

        That cautionary tale is called “Don’t Live in Philly.”Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        “I’ve been involved in three major car wrecks, two of them fatal…”

        omg ur a zombie!!!Report

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

        @jim-heffman

        I know! Talk about being the victim of microaggressions! People running away from you, screaming, other constantly trying to shoot you in the head.

        After a while, you get the idea they just don’t like your kind ’round these parts.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        For being killed twice you’re functioning pretty well. Most people really suffer a real decline after the first one.Report

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

        @stillwater

        Some days, it’s hard. You really just don’t want to bother getting up & sewing your ass back on one more time…Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist
        What, the first time killed you, but the second brought you back?

        My uncle was killed in a hunting accident, he was run over by a train. This is a true story, it happened in the mid ’50’s. His hunting partner, a cousin, later became president of the Sierra Club. Still hunted ducks.Report

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

        @aaron-david

        Nope, still dead, just ambulatory & able to outrun the cart.

        A hunting accident where one was killed by a train (my condolences to your family)? Was he hunting along tracks? Did he shoot the train & it got pissed and went after him?Report

    • Avatar Dan Weber in reply to zic says:

      At the risk of BSDI, Rino.

      See, I have no clue what this means. Google is saturated with BSDI as being the BSD Inc or the health company named BSDI. How am I supposed to teach my son about this?

      (I already knew Rino as Repub-in-name-only, at least.)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dan Weber says:

        BSDI, Rino is an advanced form of meta-political bondage which takes years to safely engage in. Standard safewords are “false equivalence” and “shutyertrap”.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Dan Weber says:

        Two things there, @dan-weber

        BSDI (Both Sides Do It) often offered as proof of false equivalencies, meaning that conservatives also have their circular firing wagons, and RINO (Republican in Name Only) suggesting the proof that both sides do it is Republican politicians and pontificators thrown out of the fold in fits of epistemic closure — hear no evil spoken by that Republican in Name Only. Examples of RINOs include David Frum, Bruce Bartlett, and any Republican who raises taxes; other things that might get you RINOd include supporting immigration reform, public works projects, obamacare (though not it’s policies under another name,) or questioning foreign aggression.Report

  3. Avatar j r says:

    This always struck me as odd that a very expensive private school would have classes in social justice and I wonder if it does more harm than good because it just creates a rhetorical weapon to attack people who went to normal high schools that don’t budget for social justice classes.

    Gee, it’s almost as if the ability to sit around and disinterestedly ponder your privilege is actually a manifestation of privilege itself.Report

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    Notice the difference between Freddie’s examples and Chait’s. I think you’ll see why Freddie thinks Chait is wrong, but also thinks there’s a problem, if you make those comparisons.

    I’ll add that I have seen much of what Freddie talks about. I saw it in the 90s; I saw it in the early Aughts; I saw it as the anti-war movement was failing miserably to even alter the conversation on the Iraq War in the months and weeks leading up to it; I see it now, especially on social media, where it is all too easy to jump on a person for a single Tweet. For the most part, it has always looked to me (and Freddie’s examples bear this out) like young people, overeager, under-experienced, just generally ignorant of life, doing things because it feels good. It makes them feel superior and perhaps more importantly, it makes them feel powerful.

    The flip side of this coin, however, is that these very same young people tend to be parts of larger groups of young people who are at the leading edge of social change, and the resistance they get is often, in fact almost always so much greater than the amount of shame they give out. And much of that resistance comes from “liberals,” as we’ve seen in this very discussion. This does not mean that the amount of shaming coming from these groups for often petty linguistic infractions is not counterproductive. It is frequently very, very counterproductive, and it excludes people it should not exclude. However, as Chait’s article shows all too well, it’s too easy to use the sorts of behavior Freddie highlights to condemn the sorts of behaviors that create change, and to silence those voices that are too easily silenced.

    The difference between Chait, and those cheering him on, and Freddie is that Freddie is genuinely concerned with producing the outcomes that these young people ultimately want, and he finds their behavior disturbing because it can get in the way of doing so, while Chait and his ilk are more concerned with the role that these groups — which they irrationally describe as radical and revolutionary — seek to play in mainstream liberalism. Chait and his ilk are as big an obstacle to change as any college student overreacting to language, and perhaps the greatest sin of those kids is that they give the Chaits of the world more ammunition in their battle against real social change.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Chris says:

      Happily the true leftists haven’t managed to exile people on Chait’s political spectrum from the Liberal tribe (nor even come close).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to North says:

        What I find hilarious about such complaints is that the Chait and his ilk are more common and more powerful on the liberal side of the political spectrum than the people they’re complaining about. Chait and his ilk have done more to exclude the people they fear than those they fear could ever do to exclude Chait and his ilk.

        So it ever was, so it will be for a long time. The white, upper middle class, college-educated city-dweller party, afraid of young people who will be just like them in 10 years.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

        @north

        I think the Left in this country never glomped unto the Democratic Party like the right-wing glomped unto the Republican Party.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to North says:

        Saul,
        1950’s. The Left ran panicking from the communists, and straight into the democratic arms.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North says:

        That’s true, for both the good and ill of both. But that’s the muddle of the left and the Dems- they aren’t as (ostensibly) pure as the GOP and that cuts both ways. Similarily liberals aren’t as entangled in the political machine as conservatives are (for good and ill). But the right has libertarians at least to stand in as the left’s liberal equivalents- pure, untainted by politics, played much lip service and generally powerless.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

        @north

        Re: Political Machine

        I have a hunch that sometimes good government Democrats like Teachout and her supporters (who tended to live in the Wealthy suburbs of Westchester and the Hudson Valley) or New Brooklyn are unwittingly the “I’ve got mine” types because they don’t realize or remember how their great-grandparents or grandparents were helped by Tammany Hall and other machines as new immigrants.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

      I’m sure Freddie is worried about this out of concern for the success of social justice movements. But I’m not so sure he’s only worried about it for that reason. He’s expressed this kind of concern before, and it seemed to me he was concerned about treating people with basic decency even when you think they think or say odious (to say nothing of merely ignorant) things out of commitment to the principles of at least minimal civility and maintaining a climate of open (not merely free) expression in academia, things that are critical to Freddie’s profession.

      In that respect I’m not sure it’s so easy to completely distinguish Freddie’s concern from Chait’s. I think there is an additional concern for Freddie regarding the effects on the success of movements for social change, but there is some concern that is similar in nature to Chait’s and with similar motivation.

      What can be distinguished are Chait’s and Freddie’s basic political commitments, obviously. Freddie often seems as emotionally committed to those as to anything else in his life, so to me it makes sense that he would desperately try to distance himself from Chait when forced to agree with him on anything, which is I think what we see in that post. But on the actual question at hand, I think there is significant overlap in each man’s position as well as on a set of common reasons for it (with an additional set of unshared reasons for each as well).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I still think the examples show the difference. Consider a Chait example:

        Woman on Facebook group suggests people be more sensitive to non-majority members, gets laughed at and told to shush, and then people get angry.

        Then a Freddie example:

        Woman uses the word “disabled” in a classroom and is shamed to the point that she runs from the room crying.

        To me, the difference between these is so apparent that it’s hard for me to believe anyone thinks they’re talking about the same thing. In the former, people react angrily to an attempt to silence concerns about the treatment of non-majority members of a group, in the latter, a woman is abused for using a single word a single time. The latter is clearly an example of word-policing, the former is an example of less-heard voices trying to be heard, and getting angry when they’re dismissed with jokes and shushing.

        To me, then, I see Freddie calling for moderation and decency, and Chait shutting down dialogue.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I do think it’s significant that the examples that Freddie is concerned about are different from those that hair is. So they see the problem differently. But I don’t think that’s enough to conclude that they’re not concerned about essentially the same problem, in part for some of the same reasons. I think that’s true.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        hair = ChaitReport

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        …I was thinking of trying to write on this, but I think Chait does himself a disservice by spending a lot of his article talking about the resurgence of PC in general, describing what it is, etc., rather than focusing on the manifestations of it that he really does find problematic.

        I think he’s expressing dislike of PC, but as I read him only strong disapproval of immoderate attempts to enforce it. I may be giving him too much of the benefit of the doubt, but I have a hard time believing his problem is really with the simple expression of a view that favors racial sensitivity, gender sensitivity, etc. At some level, to me it almost has to be about the nature of the expression at some point or other. He also does cite examples of really immoderate responses. His failing in the article is to articulate where exactly his main concern lies. But I think it requires an assumption of bad faith or at least moral or analytical inadequacy on Chait’s part to see him looking to shut down dialogue rather than being concerned about immoderation in the expression of disapproval for faulty views (which itself shuts down dialogue) the way we credit Freddie with being.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew says:

        To be frank, Chait used examples of things that happened to other people while Freddie used examples of things he’s personally witnessed. I think that was a good decision on both their parts- nothing Chait has experienced could possibly be sympathetic because, let’s be honest, Chait hasn’t suffered too badly from PCism. Freddie’s examples, meanwhile, are flat out examples of liberal PCism driving away converts and allies and defeating itself.

        But basically, Freddie is talking to the further leftists and is trying to persuade them to reconsider PCism run amok; Chait is talking to middle spectrum leftists and is trying to persuade them to not jump on the PCism train or to embrace it further. Beyond that the two of them are saying the same things.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Consider another of Freddie’s example, the students protesting what they saw as racial discrimination in the classroom at UCLA. There is no talk of how, or how much, these kids had complained before the protests, and all Chait does is tell us that it’s about the capitalization of a single letter in a single paper. I consider that a pretty clear sign of bad faith: he’s clearly trying to make the protest look absurd by acting as though it were about one incident instead of what the students say is a culture of insensitivity.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Yeah, I see Chait talking to the white, upper middle class, college educated, urban moderate liberals/Democrats, and telling them to be afraid of these mean, angry subalterns.

        Look again at the examples: Chait talks about people who are either not white (e.g., the Native American students at Stanford) and possibly non-white (the UCLA group seems to be made up of mostly non-white students), while Freddie takes pains to point out that the sins he discusses are committed overwhelmingly by white people.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        UCLA students staged a sit-in to protest micro aggressions 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.”

        Again, I would agree that Chait is too concerned with sketching a broad view of the way the PC has returned to academic and activist culture, and not enough with drawing lines about what kinds of expression thereof are a problem. And that’s the worse because he closes the piece saying that the danger is that movements of change will suffer for the choice to use ‘coercion’ rather than reason to persuade. He doesn’t spend enough time laying out his view of the difference between those in practice.

        But ultimately I just feel like it’s pretty clear that he is concerned with the broadly the same problem that Freddie is.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Yeah, I know he said one of many, but he picked such a petty example, and it’s the only example he offers. It’s clearly meant to make it look like an outrageously disproportionate response, without having to actually argue that it. Like I said, I take it as a clear sign of bad faith.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        It’s a very good point that ultimately the power at any university will reside primarily with white students, so that actual exertions of power in the service of PC will almost always be. Freddie’s observation of that reflects his much great personal experience of the actual phenomenon in question. Chait misses that.

        But I don’t think that really changes much about what each of them is saying. I think it’s uncharitable to say that Chait means to suggest that the resurgence of PC is a matter of minority groups exerting power over the majority. It’s about a notion of sensitivity exerting power over discourse. To me, that is okay, and the issue is the means of such exertions of power. I think for Chait that is also the issue, but he definitely is not as clear about that as I’d like him to be, enough that it is fair to think that his problem is with any exertion of pressure on dialogue in the service of sensitivity.

        But to say that his implied message is to be scared because non-white agitators are coming to bring disquiet to your happily tranquil, unassuming committee of liberal correspondence is… well, I get why you might see it that way. But I think it’s uncharitable.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Chait believes that’s what he’s doing. I think he sees people like him getting criticized, sometimes harshly, and he’s reacting to that. I think he believes his point is the same as Freddie’s. His examples, however, give away precisely what he’s reacting to, as do Freddie’s, and I have much more sympathy for Freddie’s actual point than I do Chait’s.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        …Again, my problem with the UCLA example, and with the whole piece is this: what is he saying about it? I’m pretty sure that a fulsome description of the protest will portray something that can reasonably be described as an example of PC on campus, using a definition we can agree on about what the term denotes, even if we dislike the term. It’s that thing.

        But what is Chait saying about that? It’s not really clear what he’s saying until the end, when he says that reason not coercion should be used to persuade in order for movement to be most successful. So is he saying that every example in the foregoing text is an example of coercion? He can’t possibly be saying that. Whatever you m ight think of the UCLA students’ reason for protesting, the protest itself can’t be seen as an example of coercion, can it? So what is he saying about it? And more importantly, where would he say that the kind of coercion he has in mind starts?

        I agree that if he’s saying that anything like any of the examples he mentions need to stop because they are coercive, then he’s obviously trying to shut down dialogue. But he doesn’t say that explicitly, and I find it hard to believe he thinks that. But he doesn’t say what he is saying about them.

        My generous nature gives me to interpret his in a way whereby he isn’t saying that reasonable expressions of disapproval for certain ideas and treatment is coercive, nor that any call for greater inclusion and social awareness is a suspect example of PC. So to me, a line between the reasonable and the coercive within PC is implied somewhere. But it’s not drawn in the piece, and that is probably a fatal flaw for it as an effective piece of persuasive writing.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Yes, Chait’s examples give away what he’s reacting to and Freddie’s give away exactly what he’s reacting to, but that doesn’t mean that at a less exact and more conceptual level they’re not reacting to basically the same thing, making basically the same point about it.

        It’s doesn’t mean they are making the same basic point either, though. So what are you saying is Chait’s “real point”?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Michael, let’s think about the two essays in terms of their intension and their extension. In both cases, the intension is outsized, unfair, and counterproductive calling out and shaming of liberals/leftists by fellow liberals/leftists. In Freddie’s case, the extension is the tendency, online and off, to police language very closely, and react to even minor transgressions, be they borne of ignorance or malice or something in between, as though they were capital offenses. In Chait’s case, the extension is people protesting perceived discrimination and cultural/racial insensitivity or the silencing/marginalizing of minority groups within the left.

        So I agree with them both in the intension of their complaint, but I disagree strongly with the extension of Chait’s.

        Does that make sense?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Or maybe Chait used the example he did because he wanted to say “here’s an example of the most inoffensive, self-selected, like-minded group someone could possibly imagine, and it still disintegrated into vicious arguments over who was being meaner to whom and in exactly what ways.” Maybe he didn’t want readers to think “I certainly wouldn’t make a poor disabled girl cry, so it clearly isn’t me that he’s writing about here”. Maybe the fact that his examples were whiter than Wonderbread was the whole point.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I want to be very clear that I think you, @chris , (and Freddie) have a very good point about the difference in examples used. It definitely demonstrates a difference in worldview, perception of this problem, basic familiarity with the actual issues etc. Freddie’s view of this should be accepted basically in place of Chait’s in my view. I just think you’re overplaying it to use it to deny categorically (as I take you to be doing) that they’re looking at basically the same problem, saying things about them that aren’t that different.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Chris, if the intension doesn’t determine the extension, then Chait’s confused, yeah? Is that what you’re saying?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @chris ,

        That makes perfect sense. It just sounds to me like an admission that they are making basically – at least roughly – the same point.

        Therefore I amend/retract my statement that I take you to be categorically denying that.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Stillwater, that’s precisely what I’m saying. Or at least, I’m saying he’s either confused or something else. Charity suggests I assume confusion, but given my experience of interactions between centrist liberals and anyone to the left of them, I admit I’m inclined to not be all that charitable. That is, it looks a lot like his extension serves to conveniently silence a lot of people to his left, by suggesting that any anger they experience is automatically out of bounds.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Michael Drew says:

        RIght. He’s got a set of things, and he’s got a concept which ostensibly determines that set but doesn’t. So he’s either confused about the extension of the concept; he’s working backwards from the set of things to determine the intension (which, as far as I know cannot be done non-circularly:) ); or he’s getting on about something else and is using convenient examples to make that less-than-clearly-stated point. Is that about right?

        If you’re right, it’s noteworthy since Chait is a pretty clear thinker. On the other hand, he did get taken to the cleaners by TNC a while ago over something sorta related.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    On DeBoer:

    I sure as hell don’t want them to be less left-wing. I want them to be more left-wing. I want a left that can win, and there’s no way I can have that when the actually-existing left sheds potential allies at an impossible rate. But the prohibition against ever telling anyone to be friendlier and more forgiving is so powerful and calcified it’s a permanent feature of today’s progressivism. And I’m left as this sad old 33 year old teacher who no longer has the slightest fucking idea what to say to the many brilliant, passionate young people whose only crime is not already being perfect.

    21st century Leon Trotsky shocked and dismayed when left wing movements eat their own.

    Hoocoodanode?Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Freddie on Chait sounds like the worst slash fix ever.Report

  7. Avatar j r says:

    @stillwater said this on the circular firing squad thread and I’ve been thinking of a response, which might be better placed on this thread:

    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…

    First, I have to push back against the idea that reacting to prevailing bad norms is itself always some sort of obvious good. The French Revolution was a reaction to the abuses of the French monarchy and aristocracy that proceeded, as with the Russian Revolution to the Tsars. The Nazi Party had its origins in reaction to the perceived threat of communists. Did they level the playing field in any meaningful way. Real progress has to be accompanied by some sort of principled interest in doing the right thing, not just in flipping the script.

    As others have pointed out, the most relevant part of Freddie’s post is to point out the ways that the abuses of political correctness fall on the supposedly just and unjust alike. To say that politically correctness will place the greatest burdens on the privileged is to simply misdiagnose how the phenomenon works. In fact, my own objections to political correctness have almost nothing to do with feeling bad for men/whites/straights/whatever privileged group you can name. My objections are based in the very real observations that these movements are invariably co opted by the privileged themselves and often used to either maintain the structures of privilege or simply enable a new class of privileged folks to emerge.

    Take the example of affirmative action. Lots of conservatives like to whine about how affirmative action is “reverse discrimination” and deeply unfair in holding whites responsible for things that they did not personally do. I find that objection to be mostly nonsense. That said, I’m not the biggest fan of affirmative action. Mostly because, in practice, affirmative action does not do much to break down how white privilege maintains itself in the world of higher education. Look at the numbers. Schools that use affirmative action tend to admit white students in rates very similar to schools that don’t. The big difference is that the latter let in a lot fewer Asian students. Most of what affirmative action accomplishes is to allow elite educational institutions to tout their commitment to diversity by cherry-picking the top minority candidates. Meanwhile, all the slots that go to legacies, the children of big-donors, kids who can pay the full sticker price, kids on lacrosse scholarships, etc. still mostly go to whites.

    ps – I understand that affirmative action is not political correctness, but I find it a handy case study in how progressive solutions can fail to work and even work against their intended purpose and how the conservative objection is the wrong objection to consider.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to j r says:

      It takes a lot of work to become a legacy “do not admit under any circumstances”.
      Some universities hold grudges.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to j r says:

      @j-r
      I understand that affirmative action is not political correctness, but I find it a handy case study in how progressive solutions can fail to work and even work against their intended purpose and how the conservative objection is the wrong objection to consider.

      Yes. Exactly this. Affirmative action in education is a weird mix of liberalism and progressivism that, in the end, serves to make sure that the top-most minorities might be able to get a good education.

      This is…uh…a very strange and pointless goal. Minorities’ lack of advantages in education cannot be solved by slightly moving the line for them.

      Looking at the problem from a progressive POV…the obvious actual problem to start with is the fact that poor people get crappy educations *before* college, and that probably needs to be worked on before the college thing.

      Looking at the problem from a liberal POV…if the idea that equal access to education is a right…remove all legacies, period. And lacrosse scholarships. Let the best in for free, let no one else in. That is how *rights* work.

      Or, another liberal solution: Do something to stop the incestuous boy’s club of CEOs and other leaders. Make corporations answer the question ‘Is this guy the best person for the job, or did you just hire him because he went to the same school as you?’ Stop that sort of bullshit (Which is done with *other people’s money*.), and we might stop only *caring* about the tiny fraction of schools that somehow produce almost everyone of importance.

      Stupid-ass solution: Make sure that a few minorities come out of those schools, so that club has a few black people in it. And meanwhile do nothing about an *average* black guy that got a crappy education, so ends up stuck washing windows his entire life, while an *average* white guy of exactly the same skill-level and intelligence got a degree in advertising from a state college and is paid twice as much.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to j r says:

      I’ll just jump in here to point out that women have been huge beneficiaries of AA. It isn’t just “minorities”, meaning black or asian or hispanic folk that were let into colleges and workplaces. AA helped to bust down the doors for women and handicapped people. All these various groups had access to jobs and schools they hadn’t previously due to AA. If you think its good more handicapped people can get jobs to support themselves, or far more women able to get many more and better paying jobs then thank AA.

      There are valid criticisms of AA. Unfortunately one that people seem to make is that since all problems affecting minorities haven’t been solved then AA is a failure. In fact its a common criticism of liberal policies: look problems still exist therefore any good that came from liberal solutions is worthless.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to greginak says:

        If you think its good more handicapped people can get jobs to support themselves, or far more women able to get many more and better paying jobs then thank AA.

        Not really.

        First, ‘equal opportunity’ and ‘affirmative action’ are not the same thing. Equal opportunity is merely non-discrimination. Affirmative action is when someone is required to take *positive* steps to actively locate and select minorities.

        With most companies, ‘equal opportunity’ is all they must do. The ‘affirmative action’ part of equal opportunity really only applies to companies that do business with the government. (1)

        To explain how the difference works: Under EO, a company that has ten positions to fill, and only ten white male application actually fit the requirements, will have no problem hiring those applications. There can’t be any discrimination in that.

        But under AA, the company, in theory, should actually go out and try to find some minority applicants, or see if they could lower their job requirements and train a minority. (Not specifically for that example, maybe, but just sorta in general.)

        In education, AA often translates to scholarships instead, or waiving some requirements.

        Affirmative action means literally that…the entity must take *affirmative action* towards the goal, not just ‘not discriminate’.

        Additionally, WRT handicapped people, the laws requiring about employers *accommodate* disabilities are more to thank for helping handicapped people getting job than anything else. Which is also not AA.

        1) Technically, the same is true of education, but *every college* does business with the government, so affirmative action sorta applies to them all.Report

  8. Avatar NoPublic says:

    Where do 18 year olds learn all the social justice language that Chait decries and DeBoer says causes a lot of grief for some of his students because they are not up on the lingo by Freshman move-in day or because of their backgrounds?

    Tumblr.
    Seriously.
    Check it out some time. I’d say better than 50% of the <30 folks I read on Tumblr have their prounouns in their About page* and discussions of ablism and cisnormality and the like are quite common. Admittedly I haunt the left-er edges of Tumblr but still.

    *That is to say what pronouns they prefer to be referred to by (he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs, zie/zir/zis, etc.)Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to NoPublic says:

      Yeah, the internet. It used to be student groups: I joined a couple my Freshman year, and almost immediately became aware of ideas and thinkers I probably wouldn’t have heard of until much later, if ever.

      Students have been at the forefront of pretty much every major social movement of the last couple centuries, from the various Russian dissident movements in the 19th century to the anti-war movement in the 21st. They’re young, they’re passionate, they’re learning new ideas and they are less entrenched and invested in the status quo, but on the other hand they are too inexperienced to have a sense of the most productive ways to express anger and outrage, or even exactly what is worthy of that anger and outrage.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I’ll add that this is, as some have pointed out, timeless: as long as young people are at the front of a movement, they’re going to get out of hand now and then, perhaps frequently. The internet has amplified this tendency, making it easy for people sitting in their comfortable chairs at home to signal their righteousness, and feel the power of the bully, with a few keystrokes at even the slightest perceived indiscretion. It’s disgusting at times, and I’ve actually written about it on this blog before, but it is one piece of a large movement in which more and more people are finding their voices, and more and more people are being heard.

        That clearly scares some people, including some people who would like to think of themselves as the enlightened ones.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        I don’t grant that it scares them (by which I mean Chait), though it might.

        But I’ll grant that is disgusts and angers them. But you said it’s disgusting at times. So why shouldn’t it? Why shouldn’t they express that?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        If I thought that’s what Chait was doing, if his examples of what he’s talking about were of the disgusting sort, I’d have no problem with his article. I suspect that if you scour the responses to Chait on the left, you’ll find a bunch of people like Freddie who also think there’s a problem, but who think that Chait has gotten it all wrong in large part because he completely mis-locates the problem. Chait exists in a world in which people on the left have been pretty vocal of this problem for some time now — at the very least since a woman lost her job for a single tweet, while she was on an airplane — and what I see Chait doing is picking up that conversation and extending it into a place where it doesn’t belong.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Chris says:

        So basically, you agee with Chait and Freddie.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I agree with what Freddie is saying. I don’t think Chait is saying the same thing. I think he’s trying to make it look as though he is, and hell, he may even believe that he is, but because of his examples, I think he’s saying something quite different.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        Well, what?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

        Wait, what? Who was on the ‘let’s step away from the Justine Sacco pile-on’ either in real-time or in retrospect? Sam Biddle only stepped away from the pile on when he himself got caught in, chewed up, and spit out by the mob. Biddle was still on a passive aggressive shame slinging circuit months after the initial incident occurred.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Kolohe, Twitter, which is where most of it went down, was full of people saying, “Woah, what the hell was that?!” the next day.

        Also.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        “Well, what?”

        Answered above, thank you.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to NoPublic says:

      @nopublic @chris

      That makes sense for now but I was an undergrad in the pre Web 2.0 and pre-Social Media days and there still seemed to be a whole lot of language that many (but not all) of my classmates new and the Internet was starting as a mass communication form during my high school years.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        As I said, I joined student groups, and that’s how I learned about it.

        When you go to college, you immediately encounter a bunch of new people who have all sorts of different experiences and ideas, who’ve read a bunch of stuff you haven’t even heard of, and who are eager to talk about it. People don’t cross the boundary from off campus to on and suddenly know this stuff, but if you’re interested, if you’re intellectually curious, there is a lot of new information waiting for you the moment you start talking to other people.Report

  9. Avatar morat20 says:

    To be honest, it seems like 90% of this is college age kids doing it amongst themselves, with everyone else just catching the fringes — often from college kids.

    And since college is the part where you’re like 19, argumentative, free from parental authority and basically forming and unforming groups entirely on your own authority and volition, questioning beliefs (theirs, their parents, their government’s, their culture’s) as part of forming an independent identity.

    You’re getting the tools and mind-set of adulthood, without much experience in using them. Especially in college, where you’re rubbing shoulders with the pysch majors who just learned the term ‘micro-aggression’ or ‘trigger warning’ and history majors reading about minority liberty movements and the ways in which majorities and governments have used and misused powers (tyrannies obvious and subtle)…more and more openly gay or trans kids…

    Yeah, college aged kids (in or out of college) are going to use sledgehammers to swat flies. Even if the flies aren’t bothering anyone. Left, right, I don’t think it matters — and I don’t think it’s new, either.

    It’s just….kids making themselves different from their parents, mostly. It’s a time for causes and idealism and being 19 and enthusiastic and also totally inexperienced in ways that really, really show.

    It’s not like you can tell online which is which. And if they’re appropriating language used more formally, more exactly by their elders — what else is new?

    Maybe there’s some mass movement that’s passed my 40-year old lefty eyes by, but frankly it seems a combination of the typical college-aged stuff (it certainly is on Tumblr. It’s all teenagers and college kids trying to change the world in the usual way kids that age do — that is, absolutely hilariously wrong. Which I know because I was once that age and screwed up in much the same way).

    And maybe a side order or people like Chait having to deal with commenters (whose age and experience level are hard to tell. Is that a 60 year old Democrat or a 19 year old kid who just got out of freshman psych?) who, well, aren’t exactly polite. It sounds a lot like the whole ‘get off my lawn’ irate tantrums about bloggers who fact-check and argue and basically come mucking about in the business of the professional pundit or journalist.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see some big come back of PC or left-censorship. I see a bunch of argumentative kids doing what kids their age have always done. Pick up the ball and run with it. Often in the wrong direction, under rules they don’t understand and are often from another sport entirely. It’s just, you know, these days they do it online where we ALL see it instead of in their dorms or apartments or college squares or whatever.

    The internet makes ANYONE with enough spare time look huge, and who has more free time to wander around arguing on the internet than the 15-24 crowd?Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to morat20 says:

      “I don’t see some big come back of PC or left-censorship.”

      The issue isn’t what happens now, it’s what happens five years from now. How do you deal with disagreements in a professional context when you’ve been trained to think that any time someone disagrees with you it’s because they’re viciously and intentionally exploiting the privileges that they have and you don’t? How do you find the courage to express an opinion when you’ve been taught that the slightest error or inaccuracy will be mocked by everyone in the world forever afterwards?Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to morat20 says:

      @morat20

      The internet makes ANYONE with enough spare time look huge, and who has more free time to wander around arguing on the internet than the 15-24 crowd?

      Not sure if we should just ban anyone under the age of 25 from commenting on the internet, or just require that their real age be posted next to their screen name, so we know when we can safely ignore them… [end facetious}Report

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to morat20 says:

      w do you deal with disagreements in a professional context when you’ve been trained to think that any time someone disagrees with you it’s because they’re viciously and intentionally exploiting the privileges that they have and you don’t?
      Well, I plan to relax and figure that things will work out, just as they have for every other generation.

      “Kids today!” has been the sneer since Plato, and yet each generation has worked it out.

      It’s almost as if — and call me crazy here — kids go through this process wherein they apply their own understandings to the world around them, often failing, and through this somehow grow into fully realized adults.

      Now, I admit — I’ve got a great perspective on it. I have an 18 year old son, and a wife who teaches seniors. Which means I see idiot kids doing idiot stuff year after year, often the SAME idiot stuff, and somehow they work it out in the end. Year after year after year. I’ve also got a solid portion of developmental theory that puts a pretty good framework (biological and psychological) on the whys and where-fors.

      But go ahead, work yourself into a tizzy about the social justice warriors coming to make you feel bad because you used the wrong pronoun. Maybe that hellish dystopia will come true.

      I suspect, however, that what we’ll get is a generation that’s a bit more self-aware about gender differences and privilege. It won’t be because of anything they learned in college — it’ll simply be because they grew up in a period of changing gender roles and understandings, AND a period in which the dominant white culture* of America began it’s obvious decline.

      Growing up in a period where both gender and power dynamics were in a state of flux is going to leave it’s mark. I’d be more surprised if the kids weren’t struggling with some method of addressing it, because lord knows the adults don’t have any firm answers. We’re living through it to.

      *I don’t mean this as a slur to white culture .I mean this is an honest to god fact — whites are in increasingly smaller demographic and pretty much everyone is aware that they’re not going to be a majority any longer. White males even more so, as women begin to push for more and more equality.It colors everything — from politics to pop culture.Report

  10. Avatar Chris says:

    Man, even revolutionary leftist Matthew Yglesias’ reading of Chait is not far from mine.

    http://www.vox.com/2015/1/29/7945119/all-politics-is-identity-politicsReport

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

      He’s right on identity politics, but Chait’s piece didn’t lean very heavily on that construction at all. Yglesias cited Scheiber’s treatment of DeBalsio’s governance so far, and I think Yglesias’ point is much more apropos there. I think Yglesias’ reading is primarily not of Chait’s piece, even though it is directed partly at it.Report

  11. For my part, PZ Meyers gets to what I’m concerned with regarding Chait best of anyone I’ve seen:

    “What exactly do you want, Jonathan Chait?”

    I don’t really have a problem with Chait going after the left here, as to my mind he’s attempting an exercise of implying by exclusion, “Of course the Right does this; they’re beyond my contempt.” (Of course that can also be read as primarily a greater interest in tamping down even well-formed criticism of his part of The Left by other Parts Thereof. I don’t, but it can be.)

    My hackles are also not raised straight from the onset by the term PC. Yes, the term refers only to the left’s version of this, and contains all kinds of assumptions meant to undermine any point anyone making a PC point is trying to make. I don’t love the term. but I also do see the thing it’s a name for as, roughly speaking, “a thing.” And, objectively, for me “PC” has come to fairly clearly denote that thing. So it’s a term that fairly directly conveys a meaning we all pretty much get, even if we hate the connotations.

    But Meyers’ basic thrust is exactly right: what of the revival of PC anyway, Jonathan? Just per se, a rise in consciousness and expressed desire for people, for lack of a better turn of phrase, to “check their privilege” and try to be more sensitive can’t really be a bad thing, can it? I mean, can it?

    It has to be about the means people use to express that desire. And to some extent that can be about not just the “tone,” but the quickness that we might show in rising to help educate (with civility) some poor unenlightened soul regarding her unawareness of the different perspectives of others. We can certainly express the desire that people try to be a bit more forgiving and patient with people before adopting the position of peer-educator on these matters. (We can also not particularly care that people show that willingness to wait.)

    But any true condemnation – and to me condemnation of some sort has to be the intention behind any attempt to ‘silence’ – as far as I am concerned must be saved for truly immoderate, uncivil, or harmful modes of expressing displeasure with unenlightened attitudes.

    The problem with Chait’s article that Meyers points up well is that Chait seems to make no such distinction. “PC” is one, big, encroaching ideological system that is making “Everyone… so scared to speak right now.” (Not an assertion of Chait’s, but a quote of a former Feministing editor.)

    Well, it sucks that they are scared. But it matters what they’re scared of. Are they scared of civil engagement about what is perceived as their unexamined privilege? That can get annoying, but it can hardly be seen as terribly threatening (though for fellow sanctimonious liberal types, being called out publicly and identifiably for such a thing I’m sure can seem threatening). Or are they scared of physical manifestations of resistance to their ideas in their places of work or homes, or rash, intolerant actions aimed at removing them from their jobs for one or two stray comments? Those are indeed more threatening responses.

    Meyers is right that what matters is that our response to speech we dislike remains in the realm of speech and is kept reasonably civil, so long as there isn’t extraordinary cause given to escalate to those means.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Myers’ conclusion happens to be exactly the one I’ve been arguing here.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah, I thought that, too. For the record and FWIW and all that.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I dunno what to think when I’m agreeing with LGM, Yglesias, and Myers.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        The conclusion being “I find fault with Chait’s argument?”

        Because you haven’t been saying much at all about means of expression, and that’s what Meyers’ point is.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        I also like that Myers is cognizant of the original functional purpose of the term “PC” – it was used as an attack by conservatives against liberals – and disparages Chait’s use of it. I tend to be pretty agnostic about these sorts terminological issues but on this topic, what with Chait using as well as embracing the original conservative meaning of the term, I agree with Myers on this.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        ..But if I’ve been missing that, fair enough. Then we agree on the problem with Chait’s piece.

        My resistance to you was to your saying that his point is a different one altogether from deBoer’s, rather than deBoer’s argument for it being better than Chait’s.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        Chait is consciously critiquing people on the left for PC. He’s using the term that applies to them because that;s whom he’s critiquing. I don’t understand the criticism of his using the term because it attacks the left, except insomuch as he just shouldn’t be attacking the left. I understand criticizing him for using the term because it’s an inherent dismissal of whatever merit there might be in whatever PC arguments might be being made. But I don’t get criticizing him for using it because it inherently attacks the left. It’s okay to attack the left. That’s what Chait’s doing, and he’s using the language for it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        MD, Chris’ argument – as I understand it – is that Chait’s examples don’t support his conclusion. Myers basically says the exact same thing when he writes

        But all of his examples are of people debating vigorously!

        Chris went on in his argument to the ask more or less the same thing Myers is asking in the title to his piece: given that you’re arguments don’t support your conclusion, “what are you arguing J. Chait?”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        This is what I mean by his conclusion:

        My impression from this essay is that in his perfect world, everyone who is more liberal than he is would be simply shamed into silence.

        Which, I admit, I also take to be Saul’s (see, e.g., his comments about revolution). Unlike Saul, I think Chait sees issues of race as largely being more liberal than he.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Still is right about where Myers and I agree as well.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        Chris,

        I think both you and Myers are wondering the same thing for the same reason: since the examples he provides don’t support the conclusion the he advances we’re sorta required to speculate about what point he’s really trying to make here. Part of that is just a principle of charity, given that Chait is a really intelligent and usually very careful writer. Why there’s a glaring gap in his reasoning requires an account. Or not, of course. Depending and all that.

        It’s also sorta in line with Yggles comment about how a certain type of privilege allows an individual to view their own political beliefs as merely that while they view everyone else’s as a form of identity politics.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        …Now that I look again, you probably mean this

        My impression from this essay is that in his perfect world, everyone who is more liberal than he is would be simply shamed into silence. [I see now that it is.]

        …Which in contrast to the body of Myers post laying out the difference between legitimate argument (though I think he badly botches the “our epistemological and methodological commitments have been repeatedly questioned by our classmates and our instructor”) and tactics that silence debate, is utterly baseless and not remotely argued for in the post.

        Chait thinks political correctness marginalizes debate. Presumably he would like people to relax a little bit and try to make those they disagree with a bit more comfortable expressing their views than they are currently. That is not an aim to silence anyone.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Still, right.

        Michael, yet each of his examples seems to just be stuff he disagrees with. I mean, what did the Native Americans students at Stanford do to warrant inclusion?

        That’s the source of my suspicion.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        Chris went on in his argument to the ask more or less the same thing Myers is asking in the title to his piece: given that you’re arguments don’t support your conclusion, “what are you arguing J. Chait?”

        Actually, that’s what I asked in the thread. Chris took the road of talking about his “real point.”

        The difference is that my way allows for the fact that he is addressing effects that are similar to what Freddie sees: people made to feel extremely reticent to participate in debate at all, even though the causes he points to are less problematic than are the ones Freddie points to. Where I (and Myers, up to the point where he leaps to Chris’ conclusion about Chait’s purpose with him) focus on the rhetorical failing of failing to identify what actual behaviors are the problem, Chris (and unfortunately Myers at the very end) leap to the conclusion that Chait’s purpose must simply be to substantively silence people making arguments he doesn’t like (i.e. anyone to the left of him).

        That’s not asking”what are you arguing?” as I did. That’s answering that question.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        each of his examples seems to just be stuff he disagrees with.

        “Just” does all the work there. I don’t accept the claim on your say so because you are obviously consciously interpreting every part of his piece as uncharitably as suits your needs, but neither am I inclined to do the work to figure out in which instances I disagree, nor to be put in the position of defending Chait’s execution of this piece. Suffice to say, I don’t think your approach to analyzing the meaning of each example he cites in the way you do justifies reaching such an uncharitable conclusion about his “real point” – not when he has as many on-the-record accounts of the effects on the felt freedom to openly engage in discourse that some trend or other is having. Even if he utterly botched his account of the causal rhetorical tactics, in my view the actual concern of the piece in my view clearly is how disinclined to participate in debate people are being made to feel by… something.

        To think that it’s just a desire to silence the more-left-than-him part of the left takes… a decision to do so. Nothing more, nothing less.

        And your, “it’s not his point or purpose in his mind, but it’s still his point” rejoinder is utter tripe. If you want to say that this is the effect of the piece, great. I can see that people may feel that the effect of his argument if heeded is that they will feel slightly constrained from saying exactly what they wanted to say before, exactly how they wanted to say it (silenced!). But that’s not what you’ve been satisfied with contending today. It’s been all about his intent and his “real point,” not the effects of his argument.Report

    • You (and Meyers) may or may not be right.

      But FWIW, this argument — the whole, “but aren’t we on the right side, does it really matter who we alienate if we’re on the side of Truth, if we raise awareness about our movement does it really matter how we do it in the end?” thing — is the exact argument the Right used to justify every dopey decision at just about every turn they made during their long, downward spiral.

      Again, doesn’t mean that the argument is inherently wrong. But if you’re someone that watched the right turn itself into a joke over the past two decades wondering, “how the fish did they ever let themselves come to that?” Well, it seems worth keeping in mind.Report

      • “but aren’t we on the right side, does it really matter who we alienate if we’re on the side of Truth, if we raise awareness about our movement does it really matter how we do it in the end?”

        WTH are you talking about? I’m not saying that; I don’t see Meyers saying that.

        How is that a decent characterization of anything anyone’s saying?

        It’s just your generic way of saying that any mea culpa you see is not unqualified enough for you.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I appear to have misread you. Apologies.

        “It’s just your generic way of saying that any mea culpa you see is not unqualified enough for you.”

        No idea what that means.Report

    • …At the same time, Meyers goes way too far for me in defending successful campaigns to prevent people from speaking on campus.

      His examples are Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Condoleeza Rice. Regarding Ali, his complaint is,

      Ali has a very complicated reputation: she’s against Islam, but she’s suggested that Christian priests be sent to Islamic countries to convert them. She’s a feminist on a very narrow dimension; this is someone associated with a strongly right-wing, no-nothing conservative think tank. Why shouldn’t students be encouraged to protest against such people, and any others who they feel poorly reflect their values?

      They should protest. But set as the aim of their protest that the person not speak, because she belong to a right-wing think tank? How closed-minded is that? Universities are places for people to speak. If you want to be involved in who gets to speak at your university, get involved in the process legitimately. But once your university decides who will speak, allow them to be heard. Go out into your campus and make clear how much you revile them and their views. But help your university maintain itself as a forum for open exchanges of views.

      As for Condoleezza Rice, Meyers says,

      Chait says nothing to justify her status as a highly paid speaker. I guess as someone who was in favor of the Iraq War, he’s not going to have any ready objections. But I do. She’s over-priced as a speaker, with a history that makes her a war criminal, or at the very least, a collaborator with war criminals. I am so freaking happy to see students rising out of passivity, drawing a line, and refusing to endorse such people.

      The fee issue I suppose adds a wrinkle here. But to me it’s not such a pressing issue that it shouldn’t likewise be dealt with in the university’s normal planning processes for engaging speakers. If those processes don’t involve students enough, then that is the fact that should be targeted with action. Not each sleeker individually, targeted for silencing, based on the content of their views. No process can satisfy the heckler’s veto in that way.

      Again, I think Meyers is right that Chait fails to draw the line about what PC responses are okay and which are illiberal, or, in Chait’s view, “coercive.” To me, the line between protesting to express contempt for the views a speaker will express (or just for the speaker) and protesting to deny that speaker the opportunity to speak on your campus is just that kind of line. For Meyers it isn’t, which is fine – a substantive disagreement, albeit one I wanted to make clear I have with him.

      The problem with Chait’s article, which I agree with Meyers about, isn’t that Chait is in the wrong place on where that line should be. It’s that he’s AWOL on the question altogether. And it’s the question.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Ali has a very complicated reputation: she’s against Islam, but she’s suggested that Christian priests be sent to Islamic countries to convert them.

        I wan to say this as sensitively as I can: When it comes to using pronouns, Myers is differently abled.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Drew says:

      I wonder how Myers would characterize people who told him that his antics with the communion host were insensitive. Overly PC?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I know very well what he’d say, because he said it about me more than once. He even mentions related stuff in his post.

        Chait is concerned that UCLA students are protesting for reasons related to race.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        IIRC, I’m pretty sure he knows that was offensive. I think he did that on purpose.

        At the heart of the whole ‘pc’ notion — heck, the heart of the entire kurflufffe (which, again, I’m not convinced is anything more than kids being kids, as it were, rather than the death of civilization) — is the notion of ‘offense’. Specifically, PC covers the ‘unintentional offense’.

        As in “Dude, you were just really offensive to X” where X is..some group.

        And at the absolute heart of THAT is the two ways of dealing with it “Chill out and stop being offended” and “Stop being offensive”. It’s about blame. Should you learn the thousand myriad rules to make sure you don’t offend someone? Or should the offended just let it roll by, assuming (undoubtedly correctly 99.99% of the time) that there were no ill intentions?

        However, that doesn’t cover deliberately offensive acts. And I’m pretty sure that wafer thing was done in the explicit knowledge it would offend. (Albeit to make some sort of point I don’t remember, and deliberately offending some norm or person or what not is a common tactic).Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew says:

      It has to be about the means people use to express that desire. And to some extent that can be about not just the “tone,” but the quickness that we might show in rising to help educate (with civility) some poor unenlightened soul regarding her unawareness of the different perspectives of others. We can certainly express the desire that people try to be a bit more forgiving and patient with people before adopting the position of peer-educator on these matters.

      Didn’t we just have a conversation concerning “liberal snobbery”?

      The danger of Political Correctness (and I think everyone here gets this, even if it hasn’t been said aloud yet), is that during a conversation, there is a massive difference between a person offering a correction with a polite, “Dude, that’s not cool. Here’s why…”, and somebody essentially screaming “Check Your Privilege!”

      Like I said to Zic somewhere… Carrot… StickReport

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        We can’t all be as civilized in disagreement as the NRA.Report

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

        @mike-schilling

        Give it up. It isn’t funny, or witty, or clever. It’s drool & woefully off topic.Report

      • Didn’t we just have a conversation concerning “liberal snobbery”?

        Some of us tried to. But not everyone agreed to its terms or accepted any of the lessons some were trying to impose.

        I reject the relevance here.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I’m quite serious. If all you can say after any incident, no matter how awful, is it wouldn’t have happened if there were more guns around, you’re just alienating people who you might otherwise have some chance of persuading.Report

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

        @mike-schilling

        If all you can say after any incident, no matter how awful, is it wouldn’t have happened if there were more guns around, you’re just alienating people who you might otherwise have some chance of persuading.

        Exactly WHERE in this conversation, or in any of the recent conversations, have I said anything remotely like that? Or are you arguing with your fantasy version of me?

        As a matter of fact, I pretty sure you’ll find the places where I make anything approaching that argument to be few & far between, because it’s not something I believe. Certainly not that simplistic caricature of a position. What I believe is considerably more nuanced than your strawman argument there, but you go right ahead and keep propping him up.Report

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

        @michael-drew

        I reject the relevance here.

        You are probably right, since it’s less liberal & more untempered youth.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Why do you think I’m referring to you? I said “NRA”, very clearly. In capital letters, in fact.Report

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

        You said it in reply to my comment, why wouldn’t I think it aimed at me, especially given I’m one of the more ardent 2-A supporters who frequents here? This would not be the first time you’ve equated me with the NRA. The NRA has not, to my knowledge, entered into the comments anywhere on this post, so why bring it up? Is there some additional context you’d like to provide to your comment, to tie it into the current discussions? Maybe some NRA press release or interview you’ve seen lately that I missed (I miss most of them, you know; I’m not a member & only peripherally pay attention to them)?

        Please, enlighten me, tell me how your original comment is relevant to this thread or some other thread within this conversation?

        Oh… wait… you’re saying the NRA is an argumentative one trick pony! Fine, that’s a given, still not seeing how it’s relevant, but whatever…Report

  12. Avatar Owen says:

    Freddie’s argument is a bit better than Chait’s because his examples are better chosen to illustrate genuine harms, but honestly, it’s still very limited in scope. Take out college campuses and Twitter, and what the hell is left of this supposed PC epidemic? IMO, this whole incredibly tedious meta-debate could benefit from a broader perspective on what “public discourse” actually encompasses.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Owen says:

      That’s a really good comment, @owen — especially the last sentence.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Owen says:

      I agree, good point.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Owen says:

      I will echo that this is a good point.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Owen says:

      Yeah. I forget who said it, but somebody said something to the effect of, “One of Chait’s editors should’ve told him to not look at Twitter for two weeks, then ask himself if he still wanted to right the piece.”Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Owen says:

      I also will nod in approval at the point. Well done sir. Comment more.Report

    • Avatar Dand in reply to Owen says:

      Under the doctrine of hostile work environment PC carries the force of law. If someone uses a term that offends someone the offended party can file a claim with the EEOC and the employer will then have to devote resources to handling the complaint. Since employers don’t want to do that they will often prohibit any speech that even offends anyone. Government creating incentives for employers to censor speech runs counter to the First Amendment.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Dand says:

        A somewhat more nuanced version of this scenario motivates the criticisms of antidiscrimination law proffered by Eugene Volokh (and others, though Prof. Volokh is probably the most prominent). The point to remember is that there are two standards for offensiveness before this really comes into play: subjective discomfort, meaning that the complainant personally is made to feel uncomfortable; and objective discomfort, meaning that a reasonable person of the relevant demographic category would have felt uncomfortable. A successful plaintiff must prove both.

        This does not directly address your concern about transaction cost, however. Even responding to a meritless complaint costs time, money, and other resources. But the alternative to expending resources responding to complaints, some of which turned out to be meritless, is not having a venue for any complaints at all. I submit that enduring the transaction costs of dealing with meritless or unreasonable complaints is less bad.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Dand says:

        I don’t buy this. Creating a work environment where a woman doesn’t have to hear “hey, nice tits!” from a co-worker in no way runs counter the First Amendment.

        There are some pretty significant differences between maintaining a non-hostile work environment and enforcing political correctness in a work environment. You don’t make a particularly compelling argument when you conflate the two.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Dand says:

        @j-r

        The presumption that these things aren’t ok takes time; somewhere there has to be some social trigger to that change. Yes, we often overreact and go to far, pendulums and all that. But because the pendulum swings in the other direction isn’t a valid reason for not recognizing the initial complaints, either. It’s really important to put these things in context of change over time, and not just evaluate in this moment. You would probably recognize that importance in evaluating unintended consequences; there are overtly intended consequences of failure to respond, too. It’s the balance, over time, that’s the real measure.

        Once upon a time, America’s favorite TV show as Jackie Gleason, and his ‘Alice, too the moon’ comments were considered funny. They aren’t funny; and it took a lot of work, a lot of PC effort, to change that framing. Once upon a time, it was ok to make overtly racist remarks about someone right in front of them, and it took a lot of PC effort to change that. I wouldn’t not have had that effort despite the silliness that results, as Burt says, better to have an access to remedy then continued acceptance that it’s okay to threaten to knock someone to the moon.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Dand says:

        (and JR, just to be clear, I’m agreeing; and sort of building on what you said, not arguing; I don’t think I made that clear in my comment, and I apologize if that’s the case.)Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Dand says:

        You can also just see the doctrine of the hostile work environment as an extension of the right to fire at will if the hostile work environment is created by workers without managerial authority. Most states give employers the right to fire any employee at any time for any reason with some caveats for anti-discrimination law. If some co-workers are bullying another co-worker than the employer has the right to dismiss the bullies to create a stable workforce.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Dand says:

        Just because we want PC to carry the force of law in the workplace, and just because it doesn’t run counter to the First Amendment, doesn’t invalidate @dand ‘s point that is does in a fashion carry the force of law in the workplace. Or could.

        And it’s great if we want to say that there has been a lot of good PC work don in order to advance past a point where “To the moon Alice” is funny and racist jokes abounded in workplaces. But I actually think that “PC work” is a very good way to describe the kind of work that’s been done, and if that’s the case and we want to strongly endorse that that’s been the case, we maybe need to get down off our high horses about the term and own the term.

        “You know what, yeah, PC is not bad, it’s good. It describes an agenda for social advancement on the left, and we endorse that agenda, and we endorse most of the means that have been used to advance it. And we endorse the term.”

        Maybe that’s what we should say, if we believe it.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Owen says:

      @owen

      IMO, this whole incredibly tedious meta-debate could benefit from a broader perspective on what “public discourse” actually encompasses.

      This is an excellent comment. I am going to keep this on hand the next time I see one of those eye-rolling liberal vs. libertarian meta-debates on markets. Like you, I prefer addressing real world details.Report

  13. Avatar Francis says:

    If Freddie really doesn’t know what to do, maybe he could ask around? Does intervention work? How about setting ground rules for debate?

    He is, after all, an academic. Research is what he is supposed to do. Claiming that he is defenseless against an onslaught of arrogant 18-year olds is just not that impressive. 18-year olds have always been arrogant little shits.

    I certainly remember being one and that was more than 30 years ago. The Dartmouth Review was very active at the time (early 80s)and did its best to set a particular standard — mostly snark and puffed-up outrage. Some student groups met them on an equal setting; others tried to elevate the dialog. (Some even lowered the standard, and that took some work.) The Administration made some enormous blunders but eventually started setting standards for how students were to conduct themselves in different environments. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. In other words, a relatively normal campus experience.

    As for Chait, as best I can tell he is complaining about other people complaining. Putting aside the amusement value in that, by what neutral standard can we figure out that his complaints are righteous and appropriate, but those other complaints are inappropriate? For example, to me the campus invitation issue makes no sense to me. Interrupting an invited guest is one thing (clearly wrong as far as i’m concerned), but merely protesting an invitation is completely appropriate.

    Just down the street from Chait’s point of view is professional scolds and self-righteous moralists like Rod Dreher. Liberal elites are corrupting the fabric of true america! True social conservatives are now an oppressed minority, terrified to speak out! Really? A bunch of college professors and college undergrads are now setting the social standards for proletariat Americans?

    As far as I can tell, if you’re feeling oppressed the best thing to do is stop telling people how oppressed you are and start showing them instead. Gay marriage became a thing when gay people came out of the closet and showed how normal they are and how little they want. SoCons might want to try the same approach. Maybe they win, maybe they lose but at least the quality of discourse approves.Report

  14. Avatar North says:

    Also, as a total non sequitur, the Daily Dish is going dark, could someone throw up an off the cuff something about it so I can cry and pant into a paper bag over it? Or maybe I should guest provide one myself.Report

  15. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    lectured for inadvertently using the word term

    Wrong term. I spent a minute or two wondering what could be offensive about “term.” I hadn’t heard of that one, but at this point there’s not much the Social Justice (sic) movement could that would surprise me. Other than acting reasonably, of course.Report

  16. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Saul wrote:

    So you have rich and privileged 18 year olds feels high and might about knowing some bell hooks.

    The only bell hooks I’ve read was Feminism is for Everybody and I only wish more feminists wrote like her and followed her example. I’d say the flaw is in them not knowing some bell hooks, but knowing exactly which hot potato of shame to throw at other people to distract them from their own privilege.

    In Feminism is for Everybody hooks says

    Simply put, feminsm is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression. […] I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy.

    I have no problem signing on to that.

    Here’s another interesting quotation:

    Even though individual black women were active in contemporary
    feminist movement from its inception, they were not the individuals
    who became the “stars” of the movement, who attracted the
    attention of mass media. Often individual black women active in
    feminist movement were revolutionary feminists (like many white
    lesbians). They were already at odds with reformist feminists who
    resolutely wanted to project a vision of the movement as being
    solely about women gaining equality with men in the existing system.

    That may have been deserved, but ouch. Some groups are still dealing with this. Or rather, avoiding dealing with this by pointing at someone else and crying, “Shame!”

    I feel that this is a hot potato of shame, and the social justice classes offered by elite prep schools can be a way to toss that hot potato to someone else. For instance, my daughter is in art school. She plans to work for pay, but some of her classmates call this “selling out”. The most vocal of those, she notes, is a young woman that is a trust-funder.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      @doctor-jay @chris

      Re: bell hooks and Tumblr:

      I saw this yesterday:

      http://savedbythe-bellhooks.tumblr.com/

      It seems cute enough but then it does seem to allow for taking things out of context. Here is one of the quotes:

      “It always fascinates me what white people are allowed to write about.”

      On the one hand, there are plenty of people including a lot of white people who do write about what they have no knowledge on and they do so with an air of smug superiority,

      On the other hand she used the word allow which raises in me an “Excuse me????” to my beliefs in free speech as a near absolute. The word allow implies thinking that it should be illegal for certain people to write about certain things. What would the punishment be for breaking this transgression. My view is that everyone should be allowed to write about everything. Would bell hooks say that Dieudonné M’bala M’bala should not write or speak about the Holocaust because he isn’t Jewish?

      Now maybe she talks about this in whatever book the quote comes from and admits that the punishment or solution is worse than the problem but I think that this just takes a quote out of context and leads to someone being smug and righteous without a counter view.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        It’s from an interview, not a book. She’s not suggesting that white people should not be allowed to write certain things. It’s not a comment about what white women should or shouldn’t be allowed to write at all. She’s suggesting that, as a black woman, she’s criticized for writing things that white are not criticized for writing. That is, she’s saying that she is not allowed to write about the sorts of things that white women are allowed to write about.

        This, by the way, is an excellent example of why you agree with Chait and I do not.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Now maybe she talks about this in whatever book the quote comes from and admits that the punishment or solution is worse than the problem but I think that this just takes a quote out of context and leads to someone being smug and righteous without a counter view.

        Sheesh, talk about being smug. And shutting down discourse ta boot. Maybe she’s just making an observation, Saul, and expressing her amazement at what she observes.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @saul-degraw The book I quote from is available as a pdf. It’s very short. I encourage you to download it and read it. I think you will better understand how she uses language.

        I understand free speech to be a legal concept, and I strongly endorse that legal concept. Nevertheless, there are comments I will not allow on threads on my Google+ feed. I will just delete them. I am not the government. My house is a “speak freely but with respect” zone. It is not at all the same as speech in “the commons”. This tends to degrade the commons, but that’s the price you pay.

        So I understand hooks to be describing the difference in social reaction between a white writer and a black one. I learned all this at the feet of Ta-Nehisi Coates, who was not afraid to use his banhammer in comment threads, though he used it in a very non-arbitrary way.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @stillwater

        I remember when you said your dislike of me was driving you to libertarianism and now it also drives you to the far left, interesting….

        @doctor-jay

        I agree. I am probably just being very cranky about the word allow. The word allow implies legality to me.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        [Deleted my profanity-laced comment before hitting publish, but %^e$ @$#%@# @#$%$@# %$@#%@#$!]Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        It should be pretty obvious what the “allowed” is meant to signify in that statement, and it certainly doesn’t imply anything about what should or should not be legally permissible.

        At the same time, however, @saul-degraw has a point. Whenever critics of political correctness talk about being shouted down, the social justice crowd invariably responds by pointing out that being criticized is not the same as being censored. Yet, here in bell hooks words about how elements of the larger society react to the writings of a black woman, we can see exactly how being criticized can be akin to being censored.

        This sums up my problem with post-structuralist ideas in general: they are quite good at offering interesting and meaningful critiques of traditionalist point of view, but are quite adept at resisting and deflecting those same critiques when they are directed at post-structuralist ideas.

        Also, as an aside, it also seems pretty obvious that hooks is delivering the “allowed to write about” line, with a bit of humor.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Saul,

        Well, interpreting the word “allow” narrowly to imply she meant “passin a law!” makes discourse pretty dang hard. And isn’t your whole point in these posts that excessive language policing shuts down discourse?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        J R, right, she’s lamenting the way her own writing is received, and doing it in a joking way. But sensitive white liberal sees black woman’s lament as scold is pretty much par for the course.

        Also, “politically correct” was used pretty liberally (pardon the pun) in the 70s and 80s by the theory folk as a form of mocking self-criticism, so…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Charitable reading: Everybody should be able to write as freely as white people are “allowed” to write.

        Uncharitable reading: White people should be able to write only as freely as those in everybody who are not also White people are “allowed” to write.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @chris

        I did not scold her and I did not disagree with her broader point.

        Maybe if you can get beyond your gut “liberals suck” reaction, you could see that.

        Sometimes it seems like you would rather deal with an out and out fascist reactionary that you disagree with completely rather than a liberal who agrees with you up to a point. Life is much easier when dealing with those who disagree completely.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        You didn’t scold her, you read her as scolding. You didn’t take the 2 minutes… 2 minutes (1, if you recognized that the quote might not be 100% accurate in the tumblr) to find the quote, look at the context, and realize that your interpretation of it was completely wrong. Instead, you assumed that she was talking about what white people (or at least women) should be able to write about.

        And when you were told otherwise, and linked to the source, you ignored it and continued to interpret it as a scold. Which, as I said, is par for the course.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “You didn’t scold her, you read her as scolding. ”

        It’s extremely amusing to read the OP and then scroll down here to a discussion about how totally unacceptable it is to take a single quote out of context and use it to dismiss the entirety of someone, and how it’s important to understand what someone means and not merely what they wrote, and so on.Report

  17. Avatar NP says:

    I went to an extremely left wing private school in a particularly affluent (and white) part of the San Francisco Bay Area. We didn’t have a “Social Justice” class, but this was only because most of our English and History classes fit the bill. In English, for example, we all talked about the demonized Other and internalized oppression. Given my background, I now find in college that by far the easiest way to get through an English essay is to write a diatribe accusing an author or work of sexism. I generally agonize over essays, but I know the sexism script so well that sexism essays practically write themselves. (Of course, the more reflexive those essays become, the more unoriginal and unconsidered they become as well. They also run a greater risk of being unfair to the author or work.) Even with that background, however, most of the social justice vocabulary I now know — intersectionality, heterosexism, the gender binary, neurodiversity, etc — I learned from the internet (Tumblr, etc) or from college classes and classmates, not from high school classes. I imagine that many of these perfect students have learned their vocabulary from various communities on the internet and from their peers, online and off. But regardless of where students learn this language, it becomes a marker of cultural capital in liberal institutions. So I think it’s no surprise that this language is sometimes spoken most fluently and policed most fiercely by white, highly educated elites. We must be careful that we do not let the language of standing up to privilege become another language of privilege, another way to silence those without privilege.

    Believing that those who do not use this language perfectly are therefore necessarily horrible people is, in my opinion, about as ridiculous and offensive as believing that atheists simply cannot be moral. Yes, discourse should be critiqued. But to ruthlessly excoriate and silence people who are speaking without malice is to discount their humanity out of hand. Browbeating people like this doesn’t educate them — it alienates them. It often only accomplishes exactly what it purports to fight. And it makes liberal ideas into little more than dogma. Liberal ideas deserve better.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to NP says:

      A general +1.

      regardless of where students learn this language, it becomes a marker of cultural capital in liberal institutions. So I think it’s no surprise that this language is sometimes spoken most fluently and policed most fiercely by white, highly educated elites. We must be careful that we do not let the language of standing up to privilege become another language of privilege, another way to silence those without privilege.

      This is the main point Freddie has made about this, and it’s one that (@chris is right) Chait does seem to miss with his choices of examples. I do suspect he would readily agree with if it were raised to him, but I admit I am giving him some benefit of the doubt here. I see glimmers of understanding of it in hi s response to his critics.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to NP says:

      @np

      Lick Wilmerding or Urban? I know a lot of people who went to Lick.Report

  18. Regarding my point above about owning our affirmative belief in PC if we hold it, here is Belle Waring, who is emerging as a leading voice being linked approvingly to in opposition to Chait’s argument, in conversation with me at Crooked Timber:

    […]PC is, as I said, a rare source of power for liberal causes in society. Slowly, ever so slowly, it is becoming unacceptable to call things that are unsatisfactory “gay.” This seems trivial but I think it matters a lot to children who feel they might be gay. There is a huge world of human interaction in which people say varying terrible things to one another all the time. I got called a cunt about three hours ago by an MRA who disliked my views on whether women owed men attention in clubs if the men bought them unsolicited drinks. I get called that on a pretty frequent basis if I comment with a female handle and argue about feminism. I think that concerted efforts to enforce minimal standards of politeness are much more likely to help than to hurt, and seeing powerful white men struggle to find victims makes me suspicious of their motives.

    Report

  19. Avatar Eric Jaffa says:

    You seem to be assuming that a class on social justice tells people to avoid phrases such as “man up.”

    Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe the social justice class is about poverty, not about which phrases offend some people.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *