Shaming, Alienation, and the Exceptions

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84 Responses

  1. The secret to shamming is to pretend to be someone you’re not, which is pretty easy to do online 🙂

    But seriously, I’ll say that I had never heard of Carr or “Weev” before reading this OTC. Now that I’ve heard of them and learned a little bit about them from Mr. DeBoer (and from a wikipedia article on Weev), here’s a tentative answer to your question:

    1. Carr seems like he’s repentant. DeBoer himself says Carr’s a “complicated man.” And DeBoer cites Carr as pretty much copping to his choices.

    2. Weev, from what I can gather, is something of a hero for something he did with hacking something something big corporations something something something. I don’t know anything about his defenders, but I imagine they defend whatever he did with hacking something something big corporations something something something and don’t mention or don’t explicitly defend his neo-Nazism. To me, his neo-Nazism would be hard to overlook even if I did cheer on his hacking something something big corporations something something something.

    I get the impression that the comparison DeBoer is making doesn’t really work that well if we approach what he’s talking about as “are these two people comparable?” and not as whether online shaming is effective or wise. The latter seems to be DeBoer’s point. I think.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      What I’ve seen by way of “defence” of weev has been more like:

      1) That weev is a horrible, horrible person
      2) That weev has on a number of occasions committed crimes for which he ought to be in prison, specifically criminal harassment

      1) That the specific actions for which weev was imprisoned, were a mis-application of the relevant laws
      2) That no useful distinctions were made, either by the prosecutor or the judge, to help hackers stay legally safe when disclosing security vulnerabilities
      3) That such mis-application of the hacking laws applied is likely to create a considerable research chill in computer security
      4) That if it’s not possible to throw weev in jail for his vile behaviours of threatening and criminal harassment, what’s needed is to fix those laws, not to abuse unrelated laws just because they happen to be badly written.

      (often) Concluding:
      1) If the justice system could get its act together a bit, this author wouldn’t have to find myself defending someone like weev who so clearly deserves to be in prison
      2) This author needs a long shower.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    What’s more important? Methods or Outcomes?

    If it’s methods, you’re going to have a much rougher time of things than if you merely have to pick a side and start yelling “YAY TEAM”.Report

  3. Chris says:

    Do you write these on your phone?Report

  4. Geoff Arnold says:

    Please fix the spelling of “shaming”. Because otherwise people are going to laugh at you, rather than following your piece to Freddie’s excellent essay.Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    So I googled “chamois” in order to make a joke and one of the first links was about how bicyclists are supposed to utilize it.

    Which struck me as far more giggleworthy than any comment I could have made.Report

  6. greginak says:

    Shaming only really works if the person has a sense of shame, is shamed by the people they care for and don’t have plenty of people telling them they are just fine the way they are. If you are rich or famous enough you can always have plenty of people to tell you the shamers are just silly haters.

    Also while people love simple ideological rules about how the world should work there is always some context that can change things one way or the other. Yeah context is a pita but that is what also makes the story.Report

  7. Chris says:

    Note that Freddie’s best example involves someone who got so much heat for defending a Nazi that she changed her mind. In other words, it’s a terrible example.

    I know nothing about Carr, but weev’s defenders, in my experience, are not the people doing the most visible “social justice” stuff online.Report

    • Chris in reply to Chris says:

      Put more bluntly: someone Freddie implies is a regular shamer (I don’t know her) was ashamed into not defending a Nazi, but shaming is ineffective. Also, the social shamers didn’t tolerate one of their own supporting a Nazi. In other words, this one example seems to undermine both his points.Report

      • dhex in reply to Chris says:

        i don’t think that’s what he’s saying*, but you kinda hate that d00d.

        * (more like why do some figures escape public condemnation [for a given value of public] despite being jerks or possibly even monsters**)

        ** duh popularity and good pr bro.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Right, but one example of someone getting a pass is a person trying to give him a pass, catching hell for so trying by the people Freddie suggests were also giving him a pass in numbers, and then giving up on giving him a pass. So: shaming worked, and even the person initially giving him a pass stopped doing so. Both his points undermined by one example he used to demonstrate one of those points.

        Now, I think he’s largely right about shaming, and obviously people get a pass sometimes (including Polanski, fairly often), but I’m not sure it’s quite what he’s saying it is, and his example helps make that point for me.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:


        I think DeBoer would include Polanski in the people who does not get a pass. Meaning he sees people not mentioning Dr. Dre’s attack on a female reporter (which I haven’t heard of until now but I don’t follow gangsta rap) would also say that you shouldn’t watch Polanski’s films because of his crimes.

        Now this just raises the issue that complete consistency is impossible for any human to do and we can all have our justifications for when we partake in art even if it was done by a person who committed a horrible act or when we choose to boycott artists who committed horrible acts.

        Roman Polanski committed a horrible crime but Chinatown is about as close to flawless as a film gets and so are many of his other movies. I can’t imagine teaching a class on the Hollywood Renaissance without including Chinatown nor a class on Eastern European Post-WWII Cinema without including Knife in the Water.Report

      • greginak in reply to Chris says:

        Chinatown is overrated. Certainly a very good flick, but hardly flawless or the apex of film making people treat it as. Polanski doesn’t get a pass in my book. However it helped him that he was out of the country so most people forgot about him. Almost the same deal with Woody Allen…yeah he is famous director whose movies are niche movies that go widely unnoticed outside of critics and movie buffs. If either of them were on the front pages of the tabloids or in the regular news their sins, whatever they may be, would be far more talked about.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:


        Re: Chinatown.

        I disagree but reasonable minds can differ.

        I would never say that there is a requirement to watch Chinatown or anything else.

        These debates over whether artist X should be boycotted or not are never resolvable and are barely enforceable. There is never going to be a universal consensus on whether X deserves a boycott or not.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Polanski frequently gets a pass from liberals who would, in many other cases, get their pitchforks of they learned a person was assaulting young women. The Polanski debates on liberal blogs a few years ago were a sight to behold.

        And Woodie. And until recently, Cosby, despite sexual assault and rape allegations being known for some time.

        Passes happen, but more often than not, it’s the serious “social justice warriors” who get pissed about them, because they’re given by other, less social justicy liberals.

        Freddie is reaching this time.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:


        So your position is that you’re not convinced that true SJWs do give passes, at least in any significant numbers in significant instances.

        Because if it’s not then we’re just nitpicking Freddie’s examples on a ppoint we know he’s right about, which is cheap.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        My go to barometer for liberal conventional wisdom is LG&M. The comments section is such an enforced echo chamber that you can learn quite a bit by noticing which minority opinions aren’t immediately shouted down. The score:

        Polanski: Guilty as hell. Hollywood types might defend him because he’s one of them, but that’s disgusting and should not be used to tar all liberals.

        Woody: Also guilty, but if you point out that there’s a single accusation and no pattern of abuse, you won’t be tarred and feathered.

        Cosby: Not only guilty as hell, but it should have been obvious all along from the sorts of jokes about women that he and every other comedian made back in the 60s that he was a misogynist.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Michael, that is basically my point. Or at least, if an SJW tries to give someone a pass, the bulk of SJWs will give him or her hell, as in Freddie’s own example.

        I don’t think this is nitpicking; I think it’s significantly altering the narrative that Freddie is trying to use to land another blow against SJWs. The way I see it, and the way his own example shows it, it’s more a point in their favor.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think Freddie has landed other blows against them, but this one turned around and smacked him in the face.

        RE Woody: good point. It was a set of mostly Hollywood or film-associated liberals who defended him a couple years ago. Polanski too. Cosby, on the other hand, was mostly ignored, even after LGM and others noted the accusations a year ago.

        Cosby was here last March, did some stand-up and then hung out with the crowd. The audience was doting not two months after the reports, and the crowd at SXSW music has a notorious liberal bias.Report

      • zic in reply to Chris says:

        Just to say, that in the examples (Polanski, Allen, Cosby,) we see on display the tricks of the classic tricks of the pedophile; build up such good will in a community that the 1) abhorrent behavior is simply not believed, and 2) victims of the behavior believe it will not be believed and so don’t speak.

        And with that said, I think it’s really, really important to note that because someone does something horrid, that does not mean that this same person cannot also do things beautiful, create beautiful art, for instance. People are not binary, they’re complex; each a spectrum of rot and riches.Report

      • zic in reply to Chris says:

        I also wanna say that there’s this weird expectation of liberals; some notion that they must live by their ideals to some ascetic extreme; give their wealth away and remove any taint of someone who done wrong from their lives or their hypocrites.

        Stupid to buy into this; too.Report

      • j r in reply to Chris says:


        I also wanna say that there’s this weird expectation of liberals; some notion that they must live by their ideals to some ascetic extreme…

        I don’t know what examples you have in mind, but, if for example, some person is vocally opposed to school choice or vouchers and then has children who he or she sends to private school (or moves to a wealthy suburb to take advantage of a good school district), that person ought to be criticized. What they are essentially saying is “choice for me, but not for thee.”

        Hypocrisy is not the worst of crimes, but it is certainly something that is fair to mention.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

        @chris @mike-schilling @michael-drew

        I am not sure what it means to be giving a “free pass”. He did what he did and I acknowledge that. I also think that Chinatown, The Pianist, and the Ghostwriter are very good movies. These are two separate things. Wagner was a proto-fascist and anti-Semitic but he still changed the course of Western music in dramatic and interesting ways and often ways that I find worth listening to.

        Again this seems to be asking people to only partake in art and entertainment from people who are as enlightened as the Buddha. If we limited all art and entertainment to people who were considered “non-problematic” we would have a very small list and it would largely consist of My Little Pony: Friendship. Art by its very nature is usually problematic. Art that is not problematic is self-censorship.

        There are plenty of people that consider 50 Shades and Twilight to be problematic entertainments and yet Chris was concerned with us talking about them or criticizing them.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

        the easy and morally ethical position is to not financially support those you disagree with.
        Pick your poison — either take as you give, or do not give at all.

        Of course, this is complicated immensely when someone takes multiple nom de plumes…

        Thankfully, most writers and artists are entirely too insecure to even consider that.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:


        As I say, if that’s actually your view, then it’s not nitpicking, or at least not cheap nitpicking, to pick at the examples. If you’re skeptical there are examples of SJWs giving passes to people they like for this stuff, then go ahead and pick at the examples until you can;t deny it anymore. (I might think you;re just being biased in their favor by such skepticism, or depending on how picky you are about possible examples, but that’s a different issue).

        It’s only the cheap kind if you basically grant the proposition that such passes are given by those folks, but are just picking at Freddie’s samples for the hell of it.

        For my part, I absolutely think that SJWs, and everyone else, give lots of shaming passes to people they like. I don;t think that can really be contested, but neither am I going to offer any examples. But then I would also just in general in this age of total social media presence and immediate pile-ons like for passes for a lot of potentially shamable behavior (behavior such as “things like unfortunate tweets and the like,” not “things like how Bill Cosby chose to live his life”) to flow la lot more freely than they do. So I don’t really have a major complaint about the passes we’re considering. I’d like people to try to offer more passes than they do to people they don’t like, since they don’t have much problem offering them to people they do like. But I realize not doing so is pretty much human nature.

        So yeah, I wish SJWs and everyone else would offer more shaming passes to people they don’t like in addition to the ones the give to people they do. But generally, I acknowledge there is really a ton of potentially behavior out there, and I nevertheless would like people to make a conscious effort to follow through on the shaming less often. At least I would like people to always pause to say to themselves, “Is it actually important that I shame here? Is how I feel about this person for unrelated reasons affecting my view of that question? What if I just skipped it this time? Would things still turn out pretty much okay overall?”Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Saul, I think perhaps you’ve forgotten the context of this conversation (and recall that Freddie raised the Polanski example).

        Also, in the other thread I was not expressing concern with people criticizing Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey generally, I was expressing my concern specifically with people who haven’t read the book and (at least as far as we know) have little or no experience with the communities involved criticizing 50 Shades of Grey.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Libertarians aren’t allowed to use roads.
        Christians aren’t allowed to (insert whatever here).

        Hypocrisy is a handy dandy club to use because not only does nobody live up to their own stated ideals, everybody has ideals that are inconsistent with each other.

        That said, there *IS* a rubicon and, for example, Ted Haggard was on the other side of it when he had that one particular incident.

        While it may not be useful to hammer out exactly where “the line” is, I’d think that we’ve enough skill to say “HOLY CRAP THAT’S ON THE OTHER SIDE OF IT”.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Michael, my point, which I take to be in direct opposition to Freddie’s narrative (which is really poorly argued and documented, something unusual for Freddie I think), is that while SJW’s are human like everyone else, and therefore likely to give people passes, they are, unlike many, also very likely to take people to task for doing so. What you see rather frequently, then, as in Freddie’s own example, is someone who may be a SJW (I don’t know that person) giving someone a pass, and then catching hell for it from other SJW’s. This is, in fact, sort of what SJWs do. It’s why we’ve been having a conversation lately about the “left” eating its own.

        To some extent all of this is unsurprising, as one of the big claims of most SJWs is that most of our biases are unconscious: we often can’t help them, ’cause we’re all human, but we should try to recognize them (through mindfulness, decentering, and other stuff that SJWs like to talk about). Where I agree with Freddie, then, is that shaming is not always, or even often the best way to go about it. I mean, give someone hell for giving someone a pass, but don’t act as though his or her giving of a pass means he or she is an awful human being generally, because it may just mean they’re human, period. Though I’m not sure how much Freddie makes the distinction between giving people hell and shaming them as people, though, even as he gives people hell.

        Here’s Freddie’s ultimate point, concerning shaming:

        But this is the deepest reason: its fundamental fickleness, its singular hypocrisy, the way that these explosions of shame so conveniently map onto the contours of self-interest, popularity, and momentary convenience.

        This is undoubtedly true, but the route by which he got there in this specific post is a false one, as his own example shows. To borrow language from deductive logic, his argument is valid but unsound, and his conclusion is true.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Chris says:

        I can say this, the notion that the “SJW” set is giving weev a “pass” is preposterous. Freddy has no idea what he is talking about here.Report

      • LWA in reply to Chris says:

        Hypocrisy really is a poor argument- I’m guilty of using it myself at times.

        What mostly we forget is that it accepts the basic premise of the opposition.
        If I say a libertarian is a hypocrite for driving on roads, then implicit is the understanding that, were he to stop doing that, well, I would be left without an argument.Report

      • Jim Heffman in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah; I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone write about weev without most of the article being “maybe he’s joking but if he is then he seems to be confused about how far he should push the joke, like even Andy Kaufman would be all ‘dude you gotta ramp it down here’.”Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:


        I don’t think that point is as strong as you think it is, because for it not to be the case SJWs would somehow have to generally act in lockstep on a large majority of possible shaming scenarios. The reality is that there is of course lots of shaming flying around the internet all the time – in-group, cross-group, whatever.

        You’re giving credit to the group for how it self-polices, when really what’s being discussed is the individual decision to give a pass or not to, whatever comes of that.

        But, as I’ve been saying, your point that this particular Freddie post is poorly documented is right and fair enough, especially if you’re willing to deny or be skeptical that SJWs give passes (though not IMO if your point is only that not all do, and when some do, there is in-group shaming/policing on that point. In my view those in-group dynamics are not what’s at issue here).Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I take Freddie’s point about some folks getting a pass from SJWs and some not is meant to make a larger point about how SJWs are inconsistent (as evidenced by his conclusion, which I quoted above), but it doesn’t make that point except to the extent that it suggests, as you note, that SJWs are not a monolithic entity, which no one who pays any attention to SJWs really believes anyway.Report

      • Lenoxus in reply to Chris says:

        Woody Allen may be considered generally indefensible, but I’m not aware of any boycott of Amazon, which will be having him produce a series soon. (I’m personally avoiding them for this reason, but there’s no broader movement I know of.)

        Saul DeGraw wrote:

        If we limited all art and entertainment to people who were considered “non-problematic” we would have a very small list and it would largely consist of My Little Pony: Friendship.

        That’s a slight exaggeration.

        Still, this isn’t necessary a significant point insofar as the same applies when it comes to artistic merit in general. How long is the list of popular books that no critic has ever labelled as “overrated”?Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Chris says:

        Oh, yeah. Those few episodes of MLP that touch upon race address it in super-problematic ways. The only Black (analogue) character is a stock magical negro, while the episode featuring (analogue) Native Americans was easily the worst episode of the series.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

        Did I just see Ms Magazine attempt to fight prejudice by literally pre-judging a piece of arts & entertainment based on a superficial review of the promotional materials?

        Did Tom Smykowski at least get his royalty check?Report

  8. Chai says:

    I don’t know if weev is the best example, because while there may be a group championing weev himself as “a hero and therefore a good person generally,” from what I can see the much larger group is of the opinion that “weev is an asshole but he didn’t deserve to be prosecuted, because what he did shouldn’t be a crime and/or the relevant law is bad because it encompasses other stuff that also shouldn’t be a crime.” The second one seems to be the mainstream consensus (see, e.g., the comments for the relevant threads on Ars Technica).

    In other words, the answer to the question “Why does [sic] weev’s hacking exploits get people to handwave away his neo-nazi views on race and his anti-Semitism?” is, “because his neo-Nazi views aren’t relevant to the reason they support him.” Anyone in the mainstream category I describe above is going to say “his neo-Nazi views are horrible, but he still shouldn’t go to jail for what he did.” That’s not handwaving, it’s centering the debate around his actions (and by extension the actions of other, non-neo-Nazi people) rather than his views, which aren’t relevant in that context (he didn’t, say, target the personal information of only Jewish AT&T subscribers, for example).Report

  9. Alan Scott says:

    Surely it’s a lot simpler than that:

    Weev is an internet troll. There’s a nice long list of horrible people who built up reputations being assholes in entertaining ways, whose supporters were then Shocked! Shocked! to find that among all their assholery, they were assholes in a specific way that society particularly disapproves of.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Exactly. Guy who spends all of his time making artwork featuring Nazi imagery is a Nazi? Who would have thought it?Report

      • dhex in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        if that were a useful rule i’d have a lot less favorite albums. the entire 20th century history of industrial music is attempting to understand (or more often merely playing with) fascism and fascist imagery, and its effects on the public.

        i only really like one death in june album, tho.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @dhex – man, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times


      • j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        This implies that there is some clear delineation between “respected artist” and “troll.”

        I find that not to be the case.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        So you like 0verflow?

        Trolls often pose as respected artists. In fact, a well executed troll is art of the highest order. Thought provoking and insightful.Report

      • dhex in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        yes but this is the neofolk jam our country needs

      • Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I gotta say it bothers me that you think this guy deserves to have his art in museums more than Arcangel. (or am I just wrong?)Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Maybe but I am not so sure. I think there needs to be room for artists to use troublesome imagery and not automatically be assumed of being secret bigots, racists, anti-Semites, sexists, etc.

        This means that there are going to be people like Charles Krafft who are really fascist and manage to pull the wool over the eyes of wealthy collectors from time to time. The AK-47 as delftware is still an interesting concept thoughReport

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I don’t think he deserves to have his art in museums. If museums want to stop displaying Krafft’s art I would respect that but I do think that the better response is to educate and to display the art along with stuff about his discovered Nazism and the horrors of Nazism.

        Though the later path is the harder path.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        of course the latter is the harder path. Yet, even with as tepid a support as you’re giving his art — it’s still stronger than your support for Arcangel’s crafting of cat videos into a rendition of classical music.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Cat videos are the decline of culture and intelligence. I am not one for Internet culture being dominant with its over reliance on silliness and childhood nostalgia. It is neuropathy for brain cells.Report

      • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “Death is the Martyr of Beauty”? They misspelled “Mother.”Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @saul-degraw ,
        Pottery Hitlers (or butt-plug balloons) are far more indicative of the decline of culture and intelligence than cat videos are.

        The problem with both the high art world and the internet is that you have cultures that celebrate shock for the sake of shock. Charles Krafft puts swastika pottery in museums. Paul McCarthy puts giant butt plugs in the streets of Paris. Weev belongs to a group called the Gay Nigger Association of America.

        They’re all celebrated as iconoclasts–which is fundamentally stupid because they all operate in a circle where icons have no power. There’s no daring in being shocking as a visual artist. There’s no heroism in being offensive on the internet. And yet the idiots just keep cheering them on–even after someone points out to them that the emperor has no clothes.

        Cat videos? There’s no pretense their. It’s just people who want to look at cats being silly. It’s a basic expression of delight. It’s not the epitome of culture–but it is a positive aspect of culture.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “There’s no daring in being shocking as a visual artist. ”
        I take it you’ve never met someone who’s been arrested for their art?

        A Japanese woman did an entire fascinating visual study on how pregnancy and childbirth functions as a sort of body horror within the Japanese culture.
        Is it shocking? A bit. But it’s also fascinating and horrifying. If you get the chance to view it, I definitely recommend it.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        There is a bit or a lot of Épater la bourgeoisie and I am bored by McCarthy but saying that things should exist at a pure delight level is boring man. There is no meat there. No substance. Saying we shouldn’t shock is also a good away of maintaining the status quo when it should be challenged. Sometimes the status quo is good and other times it is not. People will always disagree about when this is though. Art needs to be about all aspects of human life from the good and beautiful to the darker aspects.

        It is just so boring to have everything be squeaky clean. And I think having a Paul McCarthy is worth it if it also means having a Robert Mapplethorpe, a Tony Kushner, a Karen Finley, a Kara Walker, a Judy Chicago, a Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett, etc.Report

      • dhex in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        ““Death is the Martyr of Beauty”? They misspelled “Mother.””

        heh. it is a really good album from front to back, which is kinda weird because i do not care at all for almost everything else douglas p. has done. and there’s a lot of death in june albums (31 if discogs is to be believed)

        my tastes in neofolk tend to the emotionalist crypto-coptic jabbering side rather than androphilic julius evola marching music.Report

      • dhex in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        “Art needs to be about all aspects of human life from the good and beautiful to the darker aspects.”

        it’s hard to get more “shocking” than a modern american with neo-nazi sympathies (or a willingness to play at such sympathies), at least for the audience of “ART”. generally, when folk talk about “challenging boundaries” the boundaries being challenged are not their own, or are enthusiast-oriented and thus inapplicable to wider groups.Report

      • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I can’t say I’ve ever listened, but if they’re alluding to “Sunday Morning” in songs, I pretty much have to now.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        That is true for almost any group. I am probably more likely to be shocked by the contents of Christian Rock or the art produced by various conservative artists (the paintings that like to show Obama ripping the Constitution to shreds or getting mowed down by Chuck Norris/Ronnie Reagan firing an Uzi) than I am by Karen Finley or Robert Mapplethorpe but so what?

        And I am not sure I fully agree. Kara Walker’s Domino Sugar Sphynx is very much about issues that shock all Americans including slavery and the growth of the American Economy, the dominance of European standards of beauty, etc. Maybe this stuff does cause conservative pearl clutching but that doesn’t mean the issues are not worthy of exploration. I am not offended by the sculpture but it does make me think.

        Charles Krafft is probably a bad idea. A lot of people in the Stranger comment admit that he was tolerated for years in Seattle and would not have been in NYC or Boston.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        There is also an issue that the artists themselves might come from the backgrounds that they are challenging and trying to shock but are generally selling to people who might come from more liberal and secular backgrounds.

        This is an interesting problem.Report

      • dhex in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        “I can’t say I’ve ever listened, but if they’re alluding to “Sunday Morning” in songs, I pretty much have to now.”

        it is good stuff, but again androphilic julius evola marching music. which doesn’t bother me much, but is not for everyone.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Saying we shouldn’t shock is also a good away of maintaining the status quo when it should be challenged.

        I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that shock has become part of the status quo. It’s been part of the status quo for decades.

        Is their really much value in Robert Mapplethorpe when 50 Shades of Grey is the biggest movie in America? Is the message of Tony Kushner lessened because nobody finds it to be shocking? For good or ill, the heirs of Brecht and Beckett aren’t on stage, they’re on the internet, right next to the cat videos.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I think I see the cause of our disagreement and misunderstandings. I don’t disagree with your assessment on shock culture and that there is interesting art being done on the Internet.

        At least I don’t completely disagree.

        I think Charles Kraft and McCarthy belong in different categories. Before Krafft was revealed as a Nazi, I think his art was desirable not because it was shocking but because it was seen as being an ironic commentary on war by combining something traditionally violent and deadly (like an AK-47) with a medium known for delicate beauty (Delftware). The Hitler stuff was supposed to be an ironic comment on the kitsch that a lot of Totalitarian regimes seem perfectly capable of putting out from the Nazis to North Korea.

        McCarthy is that kind of shock for the sake of shock but he still managed to shock the Parisians with his butt plug Christmas Tree. If he didn’t, the Tree would have stayed up and people would have taken kitschy selfies in front of it.

        I also think that there are a lot of people whose ideas about art are highly representational and they are still shocked by Picasso and Matisse even though the Park Avenue Armory Show is now 101 years old.Report

      • dhex in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        some people love iconoclasts – but only in theory. in practice, at best, they’re generally a complete pain in the ass. krafft is a good example of that. (i do like his bust of crowley though)

        most of the yakety sax about “destroying boundaries” and stuff like that is complete nonsense. they mean other peoples’ boundaries, not their own. an america in which more artists were dedicated to an inversion of their own values would be…interesting? fun, at least. a lot more fun.

        i mean, walker’s sugar sculpture is very cool, but at this point is left-wing messaging in the arts particularly notable? it’s shocking to an imagined audience that, presuming it exists, would never actually experience it.

        generally speaking, it’s only when someone actually breaks the mold – or completely poops on it, a la krafft – that political art actually stands out as being unusual.Report

  10. Michael M. says:

    Since high school (which I attended in the Pre-Internet Dark Ages) I’ve been perplexed by the difficulty some people have in accepting that any given individual is capable of doing interesting, provocative, thoughtful or beautiful things and also doing boring, reprehensible, cruel or ugly things. A person’s capacity for generally praiseworthy good stuff does not mean that person is incapable or even unlikely to have a capacity for bad stuff. Something about multitudes and the containing thereof?

    Culturally, we generally seem more accepting of this concept when it comes to judging artistic merit. Most reasonably thoughtful people don’t seem to have a problem understanding that a good writer can write a bad book or a musician whose talent is limited can nevertheless create some good music when the stars align. But even there, so-called “fanboy” attitudes means that the output of some artists is, to a certain group of devotees, beyond reproach, even when the overwhelming consensus is that that artist has stumbled.

    Isn’t the desire to shame an individual for something or another just the flip-side of this kind of hero-worship? At some point, people probably get a place where they understand that you can praise someone without putting them on a pedestal and criticize them without condemning them to eternal flames. But it takes time to understand that people are complicated and require a complicated response.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Michael M. says:


      I think a lot of people just have trouble dealing with the grey and ethically murky nature that is much of life. DeBoer says it right at the end when he notes that people are complicated. What I’ve noticed in a lot of people is not wanting to deal with this messy nature and just wanting everything to be as pure and simple.Report

    • Jim Heffman in reply to Michael M. says:

      It’s like when people say that it doesn’t matter whether Ron Paul wants to end the drug war and foreign military intervention because back in the eighties he might have written something that was in a racist newsletter.Report

  11. j r says:

    I don’t think there are any easy answers. As long as there are rules there will be exceptions to the rules and people will probably be highly subjective in when they make exceptions.

    Quite the opposite. The answer to why people are continually making exceptions to their own priors is very easy: hypocrisy. It may not be a very satisfying answer, but it is an easy one.

    SJWs are hypocrites, just like movement conservatives are hypocrites, just like mainstream Democrats are hypocrites, just like… you get the idea.Report

  12. Jim Heffman says:

    “How do you think the exceptions to the rules get created? ”

    The answer is that you’re starting at the wrong end of the question. Everything is an exception until we need to be The Guy Who Is Smarter Because He Knows Stuff You Don’t Know.

    It’s the impulse to say “well, ACTUALLY…” and drop a truthbomb on someone to make yourself look superior; the intellectual equivalent of negging.Report

  13. Doctor Jay says:

    It seems to me this is all about status and group affiliation. The two are related – “status” is always in reference to some group.

    So, people that have high status are really hard to make shame stick on, because at its core, shame is about shunning, about casting someone out of the group as unworthy. But if they have high status, there’s a disconnect, and if the shamer’s status is lower than the shamee – well, it isn’t going to work.

    Which is why it’s really hard to address misbehavior by high-status individuals – except through rule of law. (Even there it’s difficult, but it’s possible at least in concept – the runes on Wotan’s staff bind him as well as others.)Report

    • LWA in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      This is correct, but there is a slight flexibility in the rules.
      Whether shaming sticks depends partly on the status of the offender, and the status of the victim.

      I’m thinking of how in the middle ages, landed gentry could get away with murder, literally, so long as it was a peasant they killed.
      But if say, a bishop or vassal lord offends the king…well then, its a good chance that a head is going to roll.

      If Bernie Madoff had bilked a bunch of poor black welfare mothers, he would be featured on the cover of Forbes.
      But as it is, he offended Those Who Matter.Report

  14. Saul DeGraw says:


    OT and down here.

    My favorite version of LGM lockstep is that they don’t understand the difference between a Zionist and a Likkudnik and they seem to think Zionist is worst than being a Likkudnik.Report

    • Chris in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

      Do you have an example? I suspect I know the threads you are referring to, and while there was an explicit linking of Likudism and Zionism (though not an equation of the two, and it was explicitly stated that Likudism was worse, but that Zionism is in some way responsible for it), there was also plenty of pushback without those pushing back being vilified. In other words, they weren’t at all doing what you’re suggesting. But perhaps I’m thinking of the wrong threads.Report

  15. Burt Likko says:

    It turns out, people are complex. Roman Polanski is at once a brilliant filmmaker and a pedophile (I say “is” rather than “allegedly is” because IIRC he entered a guilty plea). Bill Cosby is at once a gifted entertainer and allegedly a rapist. Michael Jackson — again, a gifted entertainer with a personal life containing elements that would inspire horror in any parent.

    I confess to have been rather taken aback at all the eulogizing about David Carr, who I did not particularly follow during his life. I guess his writing was important to a lot of people, and his personal story of overcoming addiction and finding success was inspiring to them. But I wasn’t one of them.

    I haven’t a clue who this Weev person is or what he’s done that is purportedly deserving of admiration. He’s described as a “hacker” which suggests to me that in addition to obnoxious views about race, he primarily engages in antics that are on the edge of legality, so my instinct based on that description is that there is nothing at all to admire there. But again, I must confess ignorance of the particulars.

    Perhaps the reason that there is so much resistance to unalloyed condemnation, and claims of situational ambiguity, with respect to these figures is because they’ve been so entertaining, because they’ve generated so much good feeling that we the audience have participated in. I’ve only been impressed with a few of Woody Allen’s many movies, so perhaps that’s why I find myself more ready to listen to Ronan Farrow or to sneer at the bizarre origins of Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn than I am with even Roman Polanski, whose movies I have very much enjoyed. Although the truth of the matter is, Woody Allen’s movies and his decidedly peccable personal life are not significant concerns of mine.

    It’s easy and fun to characterize someone who you first learn about by way of their misbehavior as a villain and subject them to shame, especially if there is some sort of positive feedback cycle going on to encourage ever more vicious and escalating levels of obloquy. It’s seemingly instinctual to take someone who’s done something you like and suggest that they are heroes, and for admirers of that person to double-down when faced with an accusation suggesting that their hero has feet of clay after all.

    But people are rarely purely heroes or villains. Maturity demands that we segregate good deeds from bad, recognize both for what they are, and simultaneously reward the good and punish the bad. That’s less fun, more difficult, and it is what navigating the real world requires.Report

    • Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Despite Saul’s apparent misunderstanding, Freddie isn’t referring to defense of the work Polanski, or Cosby, or Carr, or weev as a hacker; he’s referring to defense of their despicable acts, or at least a defense of them personally in the face of them. So, for example, he talks about Carr’s domestic abuse being potentially dismissed because he was a coke addict at the time, then wonders why Polanski, who was undoubtedly on drugs at the time he committed the crime for which he remains a fugitive, doesn’t get a pass for that (instead, Polanski gets a pass for other reasons, which seem to amount to a lot of people in the film biz, including some critics, liking him personally). This is the sort of “pass” everyone’s talking about. The only thing it has to do with their work, in this discussion, is that people who like their work are more likely to give them this sort of pass personally.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Try to explain to anyone that someone can be truly a person with a heart of gold, perfectly selfless, practically a saint, and yet drive his wife to kill him with wicked insight, too cruel to be kind.Report

  16. Stillwater says:

    How do you think the exceptions to the rules get created?

    A rule is an application of a principle. Sometimes rules are very coarse grained. Exceptions to coarse grained rules are often enough based on the application of a different and not necessarily inconsistent principle/rule. Seems pretty straight forward to me.

    But I’d just say that the idea that people’s behavior ought to be ANALYZABLE in terms of rules and closely-held-rule following is sorta ridiculous, actually. People act as they do, and some outcomes are better than others. That much is true. But the idea that the action-outcome dynamic can be codified into fully general rules with normative content entailing judgment of others is based on something independent of a trivial action/outcomes analysis. Seems to me, anyway.Report

    • Owen in reply to Stillwater says:

      Exactly. People have intuitions first and come up with rules to match those intuitions. Accusing people of violating their own rules just encourages them to adopt a new, more finely-grained set of rules. That’s why calling out hypocrisy has successfully persuaded approximately no one of anything ever.Report