Alt-Right Memes Go Mainstream

If you’re like me, dropping into Twitter can be a baffling and agonizing experience. You can get tidbits of information from corners of the Internet not often covered by the mainstream, but it’s also like taking a leisurely stroll through a roach-infested swamp. The anonymity the social network provides can generate truly disgusting behavior from adolescent trolls now freed from social norms and politeness and no group has capitalized on this feature like the Alt-Right.

I argued last year that the Alt-Right was having its moment and moving from its dark corners of the net and vying for some form of legitimacy. This loose collection of right-wing actors has gone from an odd fringe ideology to being knotted to a Republican presidential nominee (who happens to be pulling even with his competition in a few polls).

One of the ways this movement has gained exposure in circles outside of staunchly fascist web boards is by creating and disseminating dank memes that are then re-posted by contrarian types with little knowledge of the image’s origins. One of the most recognizable and popular of these memes has been Pepe the Frog.

Olivia Nuzzi provides some background on Pepe the Frog.

This is Pepe, a cartoon amphibian introduced to the world sans swastikas and Trump associations in 2005, on Myspace, in the artist Matt Furie’s comic strip Boy’s Club, and popularized on 4chan in the ensuing 11 years, culminating in 2015, when teens shared Pepe’s likeness so many times he became the biggest meme on Tumblr. (Furie did not respond to an interview request from The Daily Beast.)

Like all great art, Pepe was open to endless interpretation, but at the end of the day, he meant whatever you wanted him to mean. All in good fun, teens made Batman Pepe, Supermarket Checkout Girl Pepe, Borat Pepe, Keith Haring Pepe, and carved Pepe pumpkins.

But he also embodied existential angst. Pepe, the grimiest but most versatile meme of all, was both hero and antihero—a symbol fit for all of life’s ups and downs and the full spectrum of human emotions, as they played out online.

While Pepe did not originate as a white nationalist tool, it has been modified and adopted by the Al-Right as an instrument to connect the movement’s ideas to individuals not versed in white nationalism. I didn’t realize how far the reach of these memes extended until I witnessed some of my students posting them on their computers. By the time these things trickle down to American middle schools, you know they have found a certain degree of legitimacy and acceptance in mainstream culture.

Rachel Maddow did an excellent piece last week detailing the way memes of this nature have been brought into the mainstream.

Apparently, if Twitter is too sanitized and wholesome for you, the Alt-Right has created its own social network (Gab) that has been described as “an artifact from a dystopian universe where the alt-right completely took over Twitter.” I don’t think I will be dipping my toe into that cesspool.

Gab’s creation does beg the question: how potent and newsworthy will the Alt-Right be when they are regulated to platforms made up entirely of their adherents? One of the ways this movement has generated exposure and momentum has been by committing deplorable cyber acts in “public” spaces like Twitter. If Twitter ends up banning many of the Alt-Right’s most aggressive sponsors, will these individuals find that screaming at like-minded adherents rarely produces the publicity they desire? The Alt-Right has used meme generation as a tool to challenge the mainstream, but if they now retreat to a “safe space” of their own creation, it will likely limit the exposure of their ideas. The Alt-Right already has its own websites free from brand censorship; 4Chan and Reddit have existed as incubators to the movement for nearly a decade. Having yet another forum that acts as an echo chamber is not likely to push the Alt-Right further into the mainstream.

That is, assuming Trump isn’t elected, catapulting this movement into positions of power and authority.


Staff Writer
Twitter 

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father just north of San Francisco who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular contributor at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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508 thoughts on “Alt-Right Memes Go Mainstream

  1. Well according to the Jill Stein/Susan Sarandon lefties the alt rights rise is positive. They won’t be able to do anything really bad and Trump will be out in 2020 which will lead to a real lefty candidate and Win.

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    • HRC’s big lag seems to be among younger Millennials (18-24). These people are too young to remember Bush v. Gore v. Nader and the Flordia debacle but are old enough to have absorbed some of the right-wing’s constant smears against HRC.

      What is interesting is that they are largely going for Johnson over Stein which seems odd because how do you go from supporting the self-described socialist from Brooklyn to supporting the “Capitalism and Pot are Great!! Libertarian?

      I suspect HRC can win enough of these young voters back and that the Trump surge might put enough people into panic mode about “Shit just got real” and there will not be complacence anymore.

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  2. I sent it to Will for Linkage but there was an interesting article in New York Mag’s Tech Blog on the connections between trolling, 4chan, and the alt-right:

    http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/09/how-internet-trolls-won-the-2016-presidential-election.html

    Key portion:

    Part of what makes the Chanterculture confusing and difficult for outsiders to penetrate is that, as Bernstein puts it, “It unites two equally irrepressible camps behind an ironclad belief in the duty to say hideous things: the threatened white men of the internet and the ‘I have no soul’ lulzsters.” That is, some proportion of Chanterculture warriors actually believe the things they say — some dedicated real-life internet Nazis like Andrew Auernheimer, a.k.a. weev, came up in chan culture — while others are just in it for the outrage. (Many channers find the idea of having an actual ideology — or expressing it online, at least — rather distasteful, with the only exception being instances in which cloaking one’s online persona in an offensive ideology can elicit lulz.)….

    But the point is that there’s more — or less — going on here than “just” racism and misogyny. Underlying chan culture is a fundamental hostility to earnestness and offense that plays out in how its members interact with each other and with outsiders. To wit: If you, a channer, post a meme in which Homer and Lisa Simpson are concentration camp guards about to execute Jewish prisoners, and I respond by pointing out that that’s fucked up, I’m the chump for getting upset. Nothing really matters to the average channer, at least not online. Feeling like stuff matters, in fact, is one of the original sins of “normies,” the people who use the internet but don’t really understand what it’s for (chaos and lulz) the way channers do. Normies, unlike channers — or the identity channers like to embrace — have normal lives and jobs and girlfriends and so on. They’re the boring mainstream. Normies don’t get it, and that’s why they’re so easily upset all the time. Triggering normies is a fundamental good in the chanverse.

    And when channer and normie culture collide, normie culture indeed tends to spasm with offense. From the point of view of a normie, why would you post Holocaust imagery unless you actually hate Jews or want them to die? To which the channer responds internally, For the lulz. That is, for the sake of watching normies get outraged, and for recognition from their online buddies. And while channers love to performatively bemoan the fact that their memes — many of which are legitimately clever and have nothing to do with racism or white supremacy — so often get co-opted by the mainstream internet, it isn’t hard to discern that really, channers love the attention, love the outsize influence they have on normie culture, whether the memes they are disseminating are celebrated or reviled. If they didn’t seek and relish this recognition, they wouldn’t spend so much time trying to seed outrage.

    Now part of the problem is that it is almost to totally impossible for a “normie” to separate the sincere alt-right bigots and maladjusted adolescents (or men who never grew out of adolescence) whose basic attitude is the old “Epartier Le Bourgeois.” To a great extent, I don’t think it matters but I am a bourgeois liberal at heart and think that some things are bridges too far for the sake of pissing people off. Yes I might be trying to square the circle a bit with how I can strongly support hip-hop artists and artists like Brecht and Gingsburg in their sometimes “Epartier Le Bourgeois” attitudes while decrying the channers but part of it is because I think something Howl went into “Epartier Le Bourgeois” attitude for a noble purpose.

    The for the lulz crowd seems like they exist as pure nihilism. I imagine many of them are comfortable adolescents or young men as well. When they are adults, they generally seem to have respectable middle-class jobs like ViolentAcrez.

    What remains to be seen is whether this Epartier Le Bourgeois attitude will be abandoned as channers grow up and get jobs or just get older. Will they come to regret their old trolling or will they have spent too much time down the rabbit hole of being surrounded by people who egged them on to be as shitty as humanly possible?

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    • I read that article, and it occurred to me how even the in-it-for-the-luls luzers he mentioned, can still have a tremendously corrosive effect.

      Its the same way a unsophisticated but determined stalker can wreak havoc and terror in a blogger’s personal life, or that even a couple of amateur drifters can pull off the OKC bombing and kill a lot of people.

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      • Yup. Societies have norms and taboos for a reason. I don’t think that there is a society or country or culture that could survive without norms and taboos on what is and what is not respectable behavior.

        Of course the tricky and impossible part is to make the balance between norms and taboos that oppress minorities who need protection or free expression and the norms and taboos which amount to “don’t be a chaos agent for the sake of being a chaos agent.”

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      • A friend from law school revealed she was 11 the first time a man flashed her on the subway.

        This behavior is learned from somewhere but I have no idea where because such things were not taught to me by family and I was too naive/unpopular/dorky to pick it up from the broader culture

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        • What does that have to do with anything? You seem to be trying to push my offendedness button, and I’m not sure I want to let you do that. After all, if some dude on a subway ~20 years ago did something that offends me (like deliberately flash an 11-year-old), that doesn’t necessarily relate to internet assholes of any type. But I suspect you want me to believe it does.

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    • But the point is that there’s more — or less — going on here than “just” racism and misogyny. Underlying chan culture is a fundamental hostility to earnestness and offense that plays out in how its members interact with each other and with outsiders. To wit: If you, a channer, post a meme in which Homer and Lisa Simpson are concentration camp guards about to execute Jewish prisoners, and I respond by pointing out that that’s fucked up, I’m the chump for getting upset.

      I’m sorry, but no. Calling bullshit here.

      Two things:

      1. If you anonymously paint a swastika on a synagog (or, what they heck, set it one fire!) because you’re just being a wacky rascal, the difference between you and someone doing the same because they have deep political convictions is nil to everyone who doesn’t live inside your head.

      2. If a big chunk of the alt-right was really just a bunch of pranksters who just wanted to get a rise out of anyone they could, we’d see them setting their flame throwers in every direction. White people, Christians, and gamergaters can actually take offense to things. The fact that these guys pretty consistently seem to set those flamethrowers toward women, non-whites, and Jews does not suggest a random pattern.

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      • Monty Python were absurdists who used their art – if you were one of the fortunate few who got it – to make some trenchant social and political points. As comic geniuses, they were hugely influential – as the man said, possibly the only truly paradigm-shifting truly British product since the Jaguar E-type other than Concorde. Their social impact was likely nil, since the whole thing was just too weird, flying over, under, through the radar, and wibble.

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      • 2. If a big chunk of the alt-right was really just a bunch of pranksters who just wanted to get a rise out of anyone they could, we’d see them setting their flame throwers in every direction. White people, Christians, and gamergaters can actually take offense to things. The fact that these guys pretty consistently seem to set those flamethrowers toward women, non-whites, and Jews does not suggest a random pattern.

        Except for you to ‘see them setting their flame throwers in every direction’, you’d have to *know it was the same people*.

        Or, to put it another way: There is a racist alt-right, that actually believes their stuff.

        There is also a class of trolls that operate to piss off *whoever*. They pick up racist memes from the alt-right and dump them out in public(1), and probably do a bunch of *other* trolling also, as other people.

        People who want to piss off the left adopt alt-right personas to do so and leap into the middle of moderate liberals and start throwing racist memes. People who want to piss off the *right* probably adopt SJW personas or something and leap into moderate conservatives and call them all racist for random reasons.

        And nothing says it’s not the same people.

        The difference is that the alt-right actually exists and it’s easy to find stuff that will offend people that can be taken from them, whereas, to the extent the extreme left exists, it is either really dense and abstract academic stuff, or just sorta weirdly deferential and whiney and is a hash of trying to weigh too many competing interests, even interests that have no interests in anything…and it’s hard to find things that will just *piss people off*.

        1) In fact, I suspect a good deal of the stuff escaping from the alt-right is actually due to trolls. Pissing people off with overtly offensive stuff *does not accomplish any alt-right goals*.

        The alt-right people who actually *believe* that stuff would rather outside, non-believers read misleading studies about racial superiority or crime statistics and stuff, not jokes about gassing Jews. That’s the *internal* shit that they laugh over but isn’t supposed to get out.

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    • I can believe some are in just for the LOL’s primarily. But it’s ridiculous to think they don’t believe to some degree. Trying to make it all about a punk attitude or pissing off the normies is weak sauce. Maybe you make the occasional risqué joke, that’s one thing. You spend a lot of time pushing vileness, then that is you.

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    • I had two reactions for this, both provided by Walter Sobchek. The first, of course, is, “Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, but at least it’s an ethos.”

      The second, perhaps slightly less obviously, is, “Fair! Who’s the fucking nihilist here? What are you, a bunch of fucking crybabies?”

      For people who believe in nothing, they get awfully bent out of shape when one of their own–be it Milo or ViolentAcrez or whoever–ends up facing the inevitable consequences for being maximally obnoxious human beings.

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    • There is a type of person, usually but not exclusively a young secular white man, who argues that in comedy nothing is sacred and everything is fair game if it makes for a funny jokes. These people tend to be very into what TvTropes calls Dead Baby Comedy. They want to transgress and subvert everything. I think “for the lulz” culture is based on people not quite getting how to transgress and subvert and just do it randomly.

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    • Some of us are in our 50s and just cant stop laughing.

      The fact is that the left always labels US candidates Nazis. It was endemic on the left with Bush, Mc Cain and Romney

      Politics is downstream from culture and what we are seeing is in many ways a mirror of the CultMarx – Gramscian-Marcusean tactics used over the last 50 years by the media-academia-entertainment-luuvvie complex.

      It’s totally inevitable – the left has been becoming an ever more shrill advocate of identity politics, some of the marginalised white, hetrosexual, males are starting to do a ‘we can play this game too’.

      It’s wonderful to behold and I look forward to the Trump-Pepe winning the presidency as the first ever troll candidate.

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  3. “To a great extent, I don’t think it matters but I am a bourgeois liberal at heart and think that some things are bridges too far for the sake of pissing people off.”

    You and I alike. Even in my punk rock days, I generally stayed in the “be respectable and nice and get people to move to our position on DIY esthetics.” Obviously, many of my punk compatriots disagreed.

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  4. One of the things that got me to realize the punk rock nature of the new alt-right was Sam Hyde.

    I first noticed the name when I saw him being confirmed as the shooter after some mass shooting or other. I thought “Oh, my gosh. It’s one of those militia guys.”

    Then I saw that it was him being confirmed as the bomber after some mass bombing or something. I thought “Oh, my gosh. It’s one of those militia guys.”

    Then, after the next mass shooting, I thought “wait, wasn’t he behind the last couple of… wait…” and then I googled and, as it turns out, he’s an internet comedian who has asked his followers to name him as the confirmed mass shooter/bomber/stabber/whatever whenever there’s one of these.

    And I thought “Damn. That’s… Damn.”

    He’s got a show on Adult Swim now. World Peace.

    He has a bunch of sketches that (virtue signaling!) I don’t think are that funny at all but… well, there’s one where a bunch of folks are at a dinner party and one of them gets tripped through a glass table. The woman who went through the table is bleeding and bleeding badly… and everyone else there is discussing the tripping as if it were an academic event. The guy who tripped the woman is denying tripping her, she’s lying on the floor bleeding, and they’re discussing it.

    And that’s the sketch.

    The first time I saw it, I didn’t get it at all. Later on, in the shower, I got that it was a metaphor. “Holy shit that isn’t funny at all! It’s a goddamn strawman!”

    But I saw that it was, in fact, edgy comedy. Really edgy.

    And I thought about Lenny Bruce.

    And about how funny I thought the cows he was slaughtering were.

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    • Hmm Adult Swim. Well i guess he ain’t being repressed by The Man. It’s not really possible to explain humor, but your description sounds like a few different Monty Python sketches.

      What do you think the strawman was or the gag was supposed to be?

      Huh I just saw somebody else noted MP while i was commenting.

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      • It seemed to me that the gag was supposed to be “this was not a situation that called for virtue signaling or civility but that’s what everybody at the dinner party was doing, even in the face of great violence, even in the face of one of them bleeding out into the carpet.”

        He’s not being repressed by The Man.
        Neither were The Sex Pistols.

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        • Interesting. Based only on your description (I haven’t seen the clip), I have a different interpretation: often times we have a tendency to talk about human issues as if there aren’t any real humans involved. We debate our involvement in Syria and start wondering what Reagan would have done and how Jefferson felt about intervention and throw around phrases like “just war” and “state autonomy” and HOLY CRAP SOMEONE IS BLEEDING AT THE DINNER PARTY!

          Syria (or Sudan or Brazil) is the woman bleeding. The rest of the world are the other guests.

          He’s calling out the rest of the world.

          Is he right? I don’t think so. A woman who fell and is bleeding has a pretty obvious path (or two) to solving that problem. Even if we disagree on what caused her to fall, we know how to help someone who’s leg is bleeding without exacerbating the situation. I mean, we can probably do that like 99.9% of the time. Syria? Fuck, man, we probably should at least discuss that before jumping in. Maybe not as much as we tend to do. So I think the analogy falls flat, but I don’t think it is monstrous (again, based on my very limited understanding).

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            • The thing about commenting is, everyone was always that rotten. It just used to be that they were forced by circumstances to practice their rottenness very locally–in the bar, in the workplace break room, in their home–and it was ephemeral, it wasn’t written down anywhere.

              Now they can be rotten anywhere in the world, and it stays around forever.

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              • Sadly, I can’t disagree. When your asshole co-worker makes a comment that starts “I don’t want to be called a racist, but…” and segues into something extremely racist, it’s lost to the ether. When he goes home and puts the same “joke” on FaceGramMer, the Wayback Machine might still be able to put it in search results after everyone reading this is dead.

                He never was less of an asshole, now it’s just permanent and permanently public.

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  5. Another link. Vox has a long essay on how changes to social order (meaning minority groups have more political-social-cultural power) leads to reactionary backlash and populism.

    http://www.vox.com/2016/9/19/12933072/far-right-white-riot-trump-brexit

    This anger plays some small part, but it doesn’t tell most of the story. A vast universe of academic research suggests the real drivers are something very different: anger over immigration and a toxic mix of racial and religious intolerance. That conclusion is supported by an extraordinary amount of social science, from statistical analyses that examine data on how hundreds of thousands of Europeans look at immigrants to ground-level looks at how Muslim immigration affects municipal voting, and on to books on how, when, and why ethnic conflicts erupt.

    This research finds that, contrary to what you’d expect, the “losers of globalization” aren’t the ones voting for these parties. What unites far-right politicians and their supporters, on both sides of the Atlantic, is a set of regressive attitudes toward difference. Racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia — and not economic anxiety — are their calling cards.

    Now I suppose the Bernie supporter will argue that this is just Vox being its neo-liberal/corporate self. There can also be overlaps. The Washington Post had a really interesting article about a guy who brings his guns in public. He was obviously a loser in the globalization war, he had working class jobs until a heart attack rendered him unemployable for life (while modern medicine means he will probably live another 10-20 years). He has been bankrupt several times yet he came to the conclusion that Walmart stores are likely terrorist targets which is statistically implausible because there are so many.

    But this seems largely right. We are seeing freakouts about the losing of social power and control.

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  6. In general, conservatives are losing the culture war. Look at the emmeys. Jeffrey Tambor called for the end of non-trans actors playing trans roles as he won an award for playing a trans character. Jill Soloway said “end the patriarchy” in her acceptance speech (which always struck me as a phrase that it is easy to say on the Internet and is void for vagueness.) But she said it and she won her award for a show about upper-middle class intellectual-artsy Jews from LA and their turning trans dad.

    So can the right-wing win political power while still losing cultural stuff again and again?

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      • But that is your personal opinion. There are lots of conservatives who seem aggrieved that Hollywood (TV, music, and movies) is largely on the left. They really dislike that a lot of prestige TV is like Transparent and Girls and the Wire. Or that the award winners usually have a liberal bent.

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        • It is my personal opinion, but it is also my personal opinion that said conservative culture warriors would be better served by watching and enjoying stuff that appeals to them instead of being aggrieved that other people like stuff that they don’t. I’m not going to begrudge anyone disliking Girls but I’d think it was weird if they spent a lot of time complaining about it instead of not watching it.

          The whole thing reminds of those twenty- and thirty-something dudes who used to get bent out of shape by the popularity of Twilight.

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            • It was not the most popular show on HBO. Lena Dubham is loved or hated in equal measure but the show was talked about by sites that seem to cater to a young college educated demographic and those sites seemed to think it was their moral responsibility to publish TV club round table discussions for every episode. Gawker did hate reads but The Atlantic and Slate seemed really earnest in discussing the plot twists of girls.

              My guess is the Lena Dunham is seen as reaching a core demographic audience.

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          • I never even watched Transparent, cuz obviously I’m not going to watch that.

            That said, I guess I’m glad Tambor said what he said, although it’s rather thick with irony all the same.

            I mean, I agree with him. And therefore he can fuck off — if you see what I’m saying.

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            • I’ve always had a soft spot for Tambor. He did fine work on the sadly curtailed “Max Headroom” that was 20 minutes into the future and 20 years too soon. And, just look at him, in Hollywood he was always doomed to be “that guy”. At least he rode it to a career, full props.

              That said, I’m right there with you about the comments.

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          • The whole thing reminds of those twenty- and thirty-something dudes who used to get bent out of shape by the popularity of Twilight.

            …that’s not who I remember getting bent out of shape.

            Most of the people upset about Twilight were feminists who pointed out that main character was a motive-less doormat who actually was a pretty horrible person in how she thought about other people, and all the love interests acted in horrific ways towards the main character.

            And the complaint was basically that Twilight should not be presented as any sort of acceptable relationship for women.

            Those were the people *complaining* about it.

            There was also, of course, the standard mockery by guys of anything popular among women, but it wasn’t *exceptional* in that regard, and that wasn’t the actual source of complaints about it.

            The reason that Twilight has a much larger level of backlash than, for example, the Hunger Games (Another YA title with a female protagonist that spends a lot of time on characters.), wasn’t twenty- and thirty-something dudes…it was people saying ‘Erm, perhaps the love interest breaking into main character’s bedroom to spy on her while she sleeps shouldn’t be presented as something *romantic*.’.

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            • Twilight and the Hunger Games were both written by women for teenage girls and women. Apparently, at least in fiction, many women seem to like certain behavior from the love interest that does not work well in real life. Its sort of like how men’s fantasies of a manic pixie dream girl would be more annoying or dangerous in real life than in fiction. Getting rid of problematic fantasies seems futile to me. Your going to have to accept that people are irrational in what they dream about even if they wouldn’t like it so much in real life.

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              • Uh, I believe you *completely* misunderstood basically everything I was saying and the entire point of my comment.

                And also you decided that the Hunger Games would be *included* under ‘fiction that had bad examples of male relationships behaviors’, when I literally mentioned it as a *contrast* to Twilight in that regard. Not quite sure how you missed that.

                The original claim, by Pillsy, was that a certain group of people, 20 and 30 year old men, got upset about Twilight.

                I pointed out that, while there is a sort of background misogynistic mockery of any YA books starring women by some subset of adult men, that is pretty equally distributed across those books, and is *not* what got Twilight all the hate, which was instead due to *other* people, including a lot of feminists, not liking the message(s) of the book.

                Nothing I said gives *any* opinion on whether or not I like Twilight (Or, indeed, the Hunger Games), due to the simple fact I have not *read* Twilight. (Or, indeed, the Hunger Games.) And I try not to state opinions about books I have not read.(1)

                1) Having read plenty of *criticism* of Twilight, though, I’m pretty well convinced I would not like it, and thus I’m unlikely to ever read it. The Hunger Games, OTOH, I might someday, I don’t know.

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                • I saw a lot more criticism of the sparkly vampires than I did of the supposedly regressive relationships. I’ve always assumed that if I read Twilight, I would think it was awful, but based on that assumption I decided to skip it instead of, you know, getting mad about it. A number of guys I knew chose differently.

                  I did read, and enjoy, The Hunger Games. The style and characters were pretty typical of the YA books, but the story they found themselves in was like something out of a Robert Sheckley or Harry Harrison book from the early ’60s. It worked way better than I would have ever expected.

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                  • I saw a lot more criticism of the sparkly vampires than I did of the supposedly regressive relationships.

                    The sequence of events:

                    1) The book is released. It is moderately popular.

                    2) Assholes mock it, like they mock all literature aimed at women. The only thing they knew about is sparkly vampires. But you can find the same sort of shallow mockery about *anything*, especially any fiction not designed for 20-30 year-old penises.

                    3) Critics read it, and go ‘Holy crap, this is actually sorta horrible.’. (Not just in relationships…as I said, the protagonist is a horrible person, and it’s apparently not very well written.) They actually start discussing it.

                    4) Because of #3, the criticism of it extends widely…but, still, all anyone knows is sparkly vampires.

                    Without #3, Twilight mockery wouldn’t have made any headwind. It would just be adult men mocking stuff designed for teenagers, especially teenage girls, like normal.

                    Ooo, this one has sparkly vampires, ooo, this one had teenagers fighting over food, ooo, this one has kids attending a magical school. What losers read such lame things?! Now let’s get back to watching our movies about giant transforming robots based on a children’s cartoon from the 80s!

                    But #3 happened, there was a lot of *serious* criticism of Twilight, and it was popular enough to stay around for a while, so it basically entered the collective hatedom…and all 80% of the people who talk about it know are ‘sparkly vampires’.

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              • A number of people elsewhere in the comments were talking about Lucifer’s Hammer, which is a really entertaining (if flawed) adventure story about what would happen after a comet hits the Earth, wipes out billions of people, and destroys civilization as we know it.

                If there’s one thing that I find endlessly tiresome about the way the “culture wars” impinge on entertainment, it’s the assumption that consumers are all Antonin Scalia, unable to separate fiction from reality.

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                • I agree entirely. A lot of very political and ideological people have this problem. I guess if you believe very strongly in something, anything that goes against it seems evil even if it is only entertainment.

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                  • *nods* of course. Naturally, you haven’t read any entertainment that has MEN as slaves who LOVE it (and only needed to be shown the error of their modern ways).
                    … god, I hated that fucking book…

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                      • I don’t think I actually read the GOR books — unless one of them featured a modern woman getting enslaved. Whatever book I read, it was completely hideous and totally wish fulfillment.

                        I’m complaining about how “it’s easy for you to say that you are okay with something being Only Entertainment — you haven’t had Only Entertainment that said that your prized autonomy was something you Didn’t Actually WANT.”

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              • “Twilight! For those of you out there who thought the Buffy/Angel relationship wasn’t creepy enough!”

                If I didn’t know the writer of Twilight didn’t know anything about vampire fiction (Seriously, she’s said this(1)), I would have assumed she watched exactly one year of Buffy (First season and half the second), and stopped right before the episode ‘Innocence’.

                You know, right *before* the episode where Angel turns into from ‘pathetic older guy stalking and romancing a teenage girl’ into ‘violent sociopath who tries to murder her friends’.

                (Which also means she sadly stopped right before one of the greatest lines in Buffy history, ‘That was then…this is now.’, which I cannot possibly due justice to by explaining.)

                1) There’s a special place in hell for genre writers who refuse to know anything at all about the genre they’re writing in, because they think they’re so much more awesomer than everyone who came before them.

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    • The entertainment industry is certainly supporting the liberal side of the culture war but this doesn’t mean that liberals are winning the culture war. Conservatives are in control of most of the law and policy setting apparatus and are increasing wielding those apparatuses against the liberal side of the culture war like North Carolina’s state legislature and executive fight against transgendered individuals or the police going around out of control despite the growing voices against them. There needs to be widespread and permanent changes in all levels of society for one side to win the culture war.

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      • The entertainment industry is certainly supporting the liberal side of the culture war but this doesn’t mean that liberals are winning the culture war.

        I think this framing has a lot to do with the problems with a lot of “culture war” arguments. There’s no clear distinction between “participating in a culture” and “fighting a culture war”.

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          • On the other side HB2 is a last gasp Battle of the Bulge type thing. The people that passed it gained a short term victory that is going to be reversed at the ballot box or in the courts (hopefully the former) comparatively soon, as reactionary events dealing with individual rights and dignity go.

            (Donald Trump doesn’t even give a darn about this made up issue)

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            • OK, I definitely agree with you about the police shootings thing, but I think if we’re comparing something to the Battle of the Bulge, it probably qualifies as “culture war”. HB2 strikes me as the only unambiguous culture war issue on the list.

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                • I basically see the culture war split into three pieces, abortion, guns and gay rights. I’d say liberals aren’t doing great on the first two fronts, but are basically just mopping up on the third.

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                    • I did, and I think there’s something to them, but at the same time “SJWism” and especially “PCism” now encompass so much that it’s unclear whether they signify anything at all any more.

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                      • My own view is that a thinking liberal may wonder what the hell those concepts mean anymore, but a conservative (thinking or otherwise) holds on to a pretty clear idea of what they mean, and what they do in social dynamics.

                        Personally, I’ve never been on the PC-train, right from its inception. SJWism was a bit harder for me to get a grip on, and I went from a sorta vague apathy to a more pronounced rejection. In other words, I think I get some of the cultural discontent conservatives are barking about.

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                        • PC and SJW have become terms for conservatives to hang their pre-exsistiing beliefs on. Like many other terms they used to have some sort of specfic meaning but now are used so widely they don’t mean much. And i agree with some of the criticisms of SJW’s. Sure they might have some decent points on some things but when not torturing people or not discriminating based on religion are PC then they is pretty darn wide brush.

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                        • “SJW” seems to mean now more or less the exact same thing “PC” meant about 20 years ago, and shares its emphasis on kids at mostly elite colleges doing this thing where they take their politics past earnest and even extreme and end up being downright silly. Which, like, I get disliking it but it’s not clear why it’s a major threat this time around.

                          As for PC now, I’ve seen nominally serious critics of argue that it encompasses things like not committing war crimes or not jailing people who haven’t committed any crimes.

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                  • This might be my own prejudices speaking, but I fully expect the energy currently going into fighting gay rights to dwindle into rear-guard actions against continuing expansion of understanding of non-Levitican sexuality – but mostly transition to “the First Amendment was intended to protect Christianity”, expressed as both blocking other religions/doctrines/etc. and beefing up blasphemy laws like the one that caught that poor kid in Virginia a year or so back.

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  7. I’m honestly surprised that anyone is even bothering with Gab. You can’t troll the normies if you’re off in your own forum, that’s … kinda the whole point. [To be honest, this is most likely part of the mad rush right now to grift the alt right, with the clearest example – naturally – coming from Charles C Johnson and his media startup “GotNews” which primarily posts stories about CCJ’s *other* media startup “WeSearchr”, which itself is a crowd-funding engine for incriminating videos that CCJ found but cannot release until enough people send him cash; a business model that seems to mostly occupy CCJ in flame-wars with jilted donors in the public comments.] Which makes me wonder how much all of this breathless anti-anti-anti-Pepe’ing is actually making things worse. I mean, I guess it’s great that folks have decided to do the “((“” and the “))” around their Twitter handles in response to rampant anti-semitism. I appreciate the solidarity. But I can’t help but wonder if the best response to some neanderthals with a podcast and a few dozen listeners was to mainline their slur into the accounts of hundreds of respected, Pulitzer winning journalists. Even if it is meant as push-back. I’m not sure if we, as a society, have really figured out what to with people whose main goal is to get pushed back.

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    • Even if it is meant as push-back. I’m not sure if we, as a society, have really figured out what to with people whose main goal is to get pushed back.

      I agree. I posted a joking FB status a bit ago saying, “Human beings have not sufficiently evolved to handle social media. Let’s shut the whole thing down and try again in twenty years.”

      The incentives are all screwed up. If you are against what these people are about, the best thing to do would be to simply ignore them. However, there are too many people who are nominally against them, but who make their living in opposing them. They have every incentive to publicize these guys more and inflate their importance and efficacy. And so it goes.

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      • I think we’ve known since Shakespeare that people who are very publicly opposed to some claim or other are more properly considered “in favor of being against the claim”. Fred Clark calls them the Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition. The best option is usually to just not get involved at all; unfortunately it’s hard to spread this norm.

        Those who feed are the greatest of internet sinners, but a long and laborious discussion on feeding isn’t much better.

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        • Yeah. One thing I’m always stuck by in the types of dynamics you’re talking about is that the antagonist in the little drama constructs arguments which (try to) compel everyone listening to take a side on the issue (their side, of course) such that refraining from expressing an opinion is viewed as an endorsement of the vile, despicable, obviously horrible, inarguably evil actions perpetrated by the accused.

          The only way to win that game is to not play it.

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    • I think that the main thing to worry about is some idea that there is an “authenticity” to be found in the uncurated posts at Gab that can no longer be found in the corporatized/monetized Twitter.

      If you want to hang out where you *KNOW* what you’re seeing isn’t censored by some Tony Comstock somewhere, you know you shouldn’t hang out on Facebook or Twitter.

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      • I see absolutely zero evidence that this is actually about being punk and anti-corporate. Punks are happy to hang out in their vomit-soaked punk clubs and engage in their punk activities. This is about freaking out squares. As Roland pointed out, there are already plenty of forums that have no speech codes. It’s just that their members inevitably get sick of trading insults that cause no offense and organize raids on public venues where the normies hang out. Trolls like Milo and Chuck Johnson claim that it’s a badge of honor to be banned from Twitter, but they are *constantly* trying to get back onto it because their brand scheme depends specifically on getting a rise out of big name normies that hang out in places with speech codes.

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            • Honestly tho, when is the last time any of you have been to a punk show?

              For me, last night, although that was Against Me, so maybe that hardly counts. I dunno. The last “basement punk” show was last year some time, so little queer punk band playing a benefit in Allston (literally in a basement) so the drummer could save up for an orchi. I met some cool people at that show.

              Anyway yeah, there aren’t many actual Quincy Punks in the world. The -channer crowd is not punk at all.

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            • So then the overton window hasn’t, in fact, moved that much.

              We’ve merely gotten sick of only being allowed to roast cis-het white men.

              If you liked “punching up”, and you liked “intersectionality”, you’ll *LOVE* Punching Up Plus Intersectionality!

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              • Radley Balko observed yesterday that the Overton window really doesn’t move, it just gets remodeled from time to time.

                eta: but seriously, who is the we that are getting sick, I lost the bubble from when you distinguished Gab from Twitter (which I agree with the purpose of the distinction – it’s how one gets a spectrum from Fox News to Conservopedia on ‘alternative media’)

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                • Who is the “we”?

                  That’s the problem. I think that we’re in the middle of a “preference cascade”.

                  I don’t know how big “we” would be. I think that with every deliberately placed kinetic device that we don’t know whether it’s a bomb, every riot, and every attempt of the media to downplay such, “we” gets bigger.

                  It all gets patted, like a mud pie, into the giant mélange of “we’re in a culture war and we’re losing”.

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                  • I don’t get this:

                    “We’ve merely gotten sick of only being allowed to roast cis-het white men.” is a repudiation – or a confirmation for that matter – that the punk moral ascetic is dead.

                    If we’re being hyper literal, the ‘golden age’ of the celebrity roast was when Dean Martin was hosting them in the 70s, made of of celebrities who made their cultural bones and set their cultural bonafides in the 50s. (or earlier). (and at least one non-white, non-christian was roasted in this era).

                    The point of me bringing up the 50s is that I have seen home movies that indicate the blackface minstrel shows were still an acceptable for of entertainment – in *New York City* (though only documented in uuterborough NYC) as late as the 1950s.

                    So, while popular entertainment (in the Anglo-American tradition) has mocked the rich and powerful and spoken truth to the rich and powerful since the times of Shakespeare and Chaucer, popular entertainment has also mocked and caricatured minority populations for as long. e.g. for Jewish stereotypes,e.g. for Asian stereotypes (the latter cartoon almost in your and my lifetime)

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                    • Thinking about it some more, I think that the alt-right is exceptionally unlikely to remember Dean Martin and only slightly more likely to know, at all, who he is.

                      When it comes to roasting, then, it has to do with who you’re allowed to make jokes about and what you’re allowed to make jokes about and what you’re *NOT* allowed to make jokes about *AT ALL* and these youngun’ very much do not like that last part because, for a handful of reasons, they don’t see why or how any of those reasons apply to them.

                      And so we have a group of people that everybody knows shouldn’t be mocked. It’s not funny.

                      And we have a group of people who say “you know what would be funny? If we asked how many of them it took to screw in a lightbulb.”

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                      • You seem to be using “not allowed” in the sense that, “If I do this, people may think less of me, or say hurtful things about me.”

                        I suppose, to an extent, this makes the original claim true, if not super-interesting [1], it also provides further support for my theory that they really are the nihilists from The Big Lebowski, complaining about how things just aren’t fair. They expect to be endlessly indulged and coddled [2], all while complaining about SJWs and their hugboxes and safe spaces.

                        [1] By that standard, you also “aren’t allowed” to make fun of straight cis-het white men, because people may think less of you or say hurtful things about you if you do.

                        [2] One of the major early drivers of #GamerGate was people who wrote for various online outlets saying mean things about gamers.

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                        • “If I do this, I will impose costs on myself. These costs strike me as being asymmetrical. THAT’S UNFAIR!!!!”

                          Yes, let’s stipulate that they are the nihilists from Big Lebowski.

                          Now what?

                          The fight is now over, everybody go home, the good guys won?

                          One of the major early drivers of #GamerGate was people who wrote for various online outlets saying mean things about gamers.

                          Yeah, Gamergate is one of the phenomenae that gets me to say “Huh. Maybe the internet allows the socially inept to coordinate in a way that interactions within regular meatspace society would never ever have allowed in the past…”

                          Unless, of course, you think that gamergate lost…

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                          • Now what?

                            Well, I’d start by refraining from uncritically parroting their ridiculous excuses about how they’re just freaking out the “normies” by slaughtering sacred cows, or pushing back against in defense of free speech [1], or any of the other half-assed narratives they use to make themselves look less foolish and awful.

                            [1] By supporting Donald Trump! Pull the other one.

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                            • I’m not uncritically parroting their ridiculous excuses.
                              I’m noticing that they’re freaking out the normies.

                              I’m doing a quick search online for the Lenny Bruce bit that ends with him getting arrested and I can’t find it but, if I recall correctly, the part of his show that got him arrested was when he started talking about Elanor Roosevelt’s “tits”.

                              When I got into this argument elsewhere, I had it pointed out to me that Lenny Bruce was different because, hey, people at that time kinda *WANTED* to yell the swear words when they hit their thumb with a hammer and, by extension, we know that the cows that Lenny Bruce were slaughtering were not *REALLY* sacred.

                              I don’t know that they weren’t *REALLY* sacred.
                              I suspect that they took those cows just as seriously as Tipper Gore took the cows slaughtered by Purple Rain.

                              By extrapolation, I wonder if we won’t look back at us and laugh.

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                              • I’m not uncritically parroting their ridiculous excuses.

                                You could have fooled me.

                                Also, Lenny Bruce was different because he got arrested. Even the PMRC thing at least gave people reason to fear that Congress would act to keep lyrics clean [1] and happened around the same time 2 Live Crew had one of their albums banned for obscenity.

                                The sacred cows are dead. The world they purport to want is the one we live in, and now that we live in it they complain because there are no rules protecting them. The “normies” are so goddamned jaded that the only way to freak them out is to be a Nazi or threaten to rape their children.

                                And… what… the problem is that they aren’t allowed to do to say things?

                                Bullshit. They’re allowed to say whatever the hell they want, and they’re just mad that everybody else is too.

                                [1] The quasi-voluntary “explicit lyrics” labels have not had the effect Tipper Gore would have desired.

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                                • Should Lenny Bruce have gotten arrested? I had always picked up that that was a perfect example of the hypocritical excesses of our puritan society back then and his arrest was something that should *NOT* have happened. (Indeed, Lenny Bruce has since been pardoned. Though it’s certainly too little too late there.)

                                  We now live in a society without sacred cows? You could have fooled me.

                                  I can’t help but notice that I feel a lot like how the old people explained that they felt when I was a kid.

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                                  • No, of course he shouldn’t have been arrested. But the fact that he was arrested is what gives the charge that he was just highlighting the hypocritical excesses of a puritan society bite.

                                    And he–or at least the impulse he embodied–won. He was, as you say, pardoned. This is great. I’d much rather live in this world then the old one.

                                    But he actually did win, and now people insist that saying, “FUCK YOU THAT’S NOT FUNNY!” is just the same thing as arresting someone so they can pretend to be victims and/or brave warriors against the establishment.

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                                • 2 Live Crew does pull me over the Jaybird’s ‘side’ (as far as I can tell what that actually is), because nowadays instead of being the vanguard of free speech, they would be condemned and shunned for unironic over the top misogyny.

                                  But again, with the key difference as you say of not actually being banned by a governmental authority.

                                  (though they may be stymied by a more aggressive IP protection scheme regarding their samples)

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                                  • Yeah, they probably would be. Then again, they made a big, glossy biopic about NWA a few years back, and reactions to that were pretty positive. So I think it’s more complicated than that.

                                    Regardless if it’s the “right” reaction to their music [1] in this particular instance–it’s the right kind of reaction. If you don’t buy it, tell your friends it’s disgusting shit, and write an interminable rant about how it on Tumblr, well, you may be playing the game badly but at least you’re playing by the right set of rules.

                                    I really believe the old pro-free-speech saw that the cure for bad speech is more speech. It just seems to me that a lot of people who spent their lives advocating for that are now upset because people took them at their word and are, in fact, proving that it works.

                                    [1] I actually think it kind of is. IMO, if you take away the unironic misogyny and there’s not a whole lot left.

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                        • One of the major early drivers of #GamerGate was people who wrote for various online outlets saying mean things about gamers.

                          Erm, not really.

                          One of the major *early* drivers of #GamerGate was people who wrote for various online outlets pointing out how certain groups had acted *appallingly* towards specific people, and those groups getting angry they were called out for their shitty behavior.

                          Gaming magazines didn’t just randomly start saying bad things about their own damn readers for no reason. And non-gaming outlets weren’t even *involved* until gamers melted down and started lashing out at everyone.

                          I will admit that certain online outlets *eventually* started saying ‘mean things about gamers’, but that was about three cycles in.

                          And that was less a ‘driver’ of their behavior than an *excuse* they used, and a way to trick people into supporting them.

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                          • I’ll stipulate all of that. My reason for bringing up #GamerGate is that even taking all of their claims at face value, they came off as really thin-skinned. Calling their “brave defenders of freedom standing against SJW hordes” shtick tissue-thin is an insult to tissues.

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                              • We don’t need a moral victory. We have an actual victory. They’re pathetic losers. They couldn’t even hijack the Hugos when all the rules were in their favor and they were, by their own admission, master social manipulators.
                                Seriously, they’re the CSA. They were fighting for a bad cause, in a bad way, and they lost. Totally. And still they raise their old battle flag and say “it’s all about pride”.

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                                  • What happened with Gamergate was not really an example of a victory of Gamergate, it was yet another example of Gawker being too ‘outrageous’ for its own good and then saying really stupid shit in response to people complaining about that.

                                    And even then, as that article says, all the problems had basically ended and Gawker had its advertisers back before Gawker lost the case.

                                    Acting like assholes and then doubling down when called out on it is literally the entire history of Gawker. The fact they managed to, in the eyes of advertisers, out-asshole *Gamergame* for a while was an amazing accomplishment, but that’s not a ‘Gamergate victory’.

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                      • Who does the Alt Right remember? Lawrence Welk? Because nothing says punk like a good polka.

                        “And so we have a group of people that everybody knows shouldn’t be mocked. It’s not funny.

                        And we have a group of people who say “you know what would be funny? If we asked how many of them it took to screw in a lightbulb.”

                        If, for the sake of argument, the former group gains some vast amount of social capital that pushes the latter group underground – and then continues pushing so that some 3rd ‘good’ group gets pushed underground – doesn’t that necessarily make everyone who’s now creating and performing underground ‘punk’ by some definitions?

                        I guess I’m not seeing it as any sort of problem if the so called SJW’s overreach. (doesn’t stop me from laughing at them though, when they do). Because as long as they aren’t not using government pressure to push things underground, just social and economic pressure, well, real ‘artists’ don’t care about social and economic pressure, they just create art. (and the bravest ones don’t care about government pressure either).

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                        • Well, we’re now in a place where the underground artists are creating Nazi Frog memes.

                          How in the hell did we get here?

                          Well, one dynamic I think I’ve noticed is that the normals get freaked by Nazi Frog memes. And they freak out hard. Like, Tipper Gore having hearings on Capitol Hill freaking out.

                          When I was a kid, all it took to do that was a Twisted Sister album.

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                          • Taking for granted equal value of ‘freaking out’ Is that not progress? Aren’t Nazi frogs representative of something worse than just someone stating they’re not going to take it anymore. (take what?)

                            I’d also dispute that Pepe is the first underground racist thing discovered by the mainstream – and the only way the mainstream sort of knows about it is the people pointing to the work that are opposed to it.

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                            • It feels like you’re asking me to say something to the effect of “the things that offended my ancestors weren’t really offensive but my generation has titrated, perfectly, the appropriate level of offensiveness and the fact that our descendants are now being offensive means that they’re transgressing actual moral truths, unlike the social constructs that we transgressed.”

                              I could say something like that, but it feels like virtue signalling to the point where I don’t see how it’d actually add anything.

                              But, sure. These kids these days are being for-real offensive. They’re saying things that are dangerous.

                              Not like we did. That was different.

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                              • I’m saying that when we got our hands on Truly Tasteless Jokes Volumes 1 through whatever when we were 12, and then started telling those jokes to friends, the only difference between then and now is that there was no semi-permanent record nor wideband dissemination to get us in real trouble with anyone.

                                What’s not at all different – Truly Tasteless Jokes are Exactly What Is Says On The Tin, then and now.

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                              • I’m thinking about what the response would have been if one of the censorious scolds of the ’80s or ’90s had said that if we didn’t stem the tide of offensiveness now, we’d go from “Darling Nikki” and Piss Christ getting a rise out of people, in a generation people would have to talk about how there should be another Holocaust or talk about raping and murdering kids to even make the squares angry.

                                ‘Cause I think it would have been ridiculed as a preposterous slippery slope.

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                                  • Right, and you can argue whether things are better or worse. Maybe the Robert Borks and Tipper Gores of yesteryear had a point and were farther-sighted than their critics would like to admit.

                                    I don’t think so.

                                    What I do think is that the claim that things are more restricted and the culture is more deferential to pieties, both of the literal sort and the secular, metaphorical sort, just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

                                    As for the next generation, who the hell knows what they’re going to do. Maybe they’ll think it’s weird that we drew the line at being a Nazi… but then again, maybe they’ll be horrified that someone like Anthony Jeselnik could even have a career telling jokes like that.

                                    To the extent that I think there’s anything at all to the SJW thing, I wonder if a lot of it is kids growing up with South Park and Marilyn Manson and self-conscious, performative “political correctness” and rebelling against it.

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                                  • Can we at least place some normative claim that stuff that approaches, or at least gets in the direction of absolute Truth can be judged differently than stuff that is only transgressive for transgressive’s sake? Even if that judgement is deep in hindsight bias?

                                    Like, All Men Are Created Equal, and I Have A Dream were transgressive, but on the Road to Truth. While Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever was also transgressive (even for its time) but distant from Truth and pointing away from it.

                                    Can we also postulate that for some people that are saying transgressive things, but are distant from Truth and heading away from it – some of those people actually mean what they say?

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                                    • Even if that judgement is deep in hindsight bias?

                                      And that there is my problem.

                                      If I wanted to find the biggest examples of modern pieties being rebelled against, wouldn’t I point to the alt-right?

                                      We might have a situation where there are hundreds of counter-cultures in any given culture and only two or three of them (at most!) survive long enough to become the equivalent of a character on Dobie Gillis.

                                      In hindsight, all we see are the Maynard G. Krebses and say how ahead of their time they were while we forget all of the Tammy Grimes counter-cultures.

                                      But I’m seeing a pattern here.

                                      Maybe this time it’ll be different.

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                                      • If I wanted to find the biggest examples of modern pieties being rebelled against, wouldn’t I point to the alt-right?

                                        Why? Because that’s what they say is happening?

                                        It can’t just be because they’ve pissed off a lot of people.

                                        So have their “SJW” nemeses, Black Lives Matter protestors and supporters [1], BDS advocates, and any number of other folks who skew left.

                                        [1] In particular, a lot of people are very pissed at Colin Kaepernick right now.

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                                        • I suppose that’s a good point too. Is #BLM a counter-culture?

                                          Maybe they’re the ones who are going to be ascendant.
                                          Between the two forces of The Alt-Right and #BLM, the latter is the progressive one and the former is the reactionary one. Reactionary ones tend to lose, historically… right?

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                                                • I need to find examples of people condemning the alt-right now?

                                                  Or people condemning #BLM? (You can find examples of those in any given thread on the police shootings online.)

                                                  I’m seeing them in any given conversation online about any given discussion of which they are the topic.

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                                                  • You are making a point that is different than the original point that you made. Which is it?

                                                    Are you saying that there now exists a culture of political culture and mob retribution in which members of a particular tribe are wont to gather their respective posse’s and go after anyone who offends their tribe sensibilities?

                                                    Or are you saying that there now exists a culture of political correctness that keep “cis het white males” under a special target?

                                                    Those are two very different arguments.

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                                                    • I’m saying that the latter is slowly evolving into the former.

                                                      (See, for example, the whole “privilege” set of arguments that we had a few years back. See how those evolve. See how they get weaponized.)

                                                      The alt-right has discovered that the language of grievance is a powerful language.

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                                                  • I’m not asking for examples, I’m asking for your methods–which is, evidently, “seeing them in any given conversation online”.

                                                    On the one hand, that seems like an approach that is likely to lead you in lots of wrong directions. On the other, it’s not like I do anything different.

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                                                      • Oh, I’m sure. It was the same with my examples, with #BLM and the QB whose name I decline to misspell and campus SJWs and BDS.

                                                        We end up with “violating mores in ways that get ubiquitous online complaints”. I don’t think it’s a useless dataset, but it’s got serious limitations.

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              • I don’t know which word of “only allowed to roast cis-het white men” you’re using in a way completely different from the way I would use it, but you’ve gotta be using at least one of them in that way.

                If I had to guess, though, it’s probably “allowed”.

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              • We’ve merely gotten sick of only being allowed to roast cis-het white men.

                Let’s inject a little reality here. Ever watch a Comedy Central roast? Most of the roastees are “cis-het white men,” but that’s partly a function of whose famous enough to get a roast. They also roast women. More importantly, they all roast each other. So for every joke about Charlie Sheen or David Hasselhoff, there are many more about Andy Dick maybe being gay or Lisa Lampinelli maybe wanting black d****. Heck, Brad Garrett had one of my favorite roast jokes, when talking about Howard Stern sidekick Robin Quivers, he said, “if I wanted to hear a black woman step all over a joke, I’d catch a showing of The Hangover at a Magic Johnson theater.”

                As far as I know, Comedy Central is still broadcasting and still putting on roasts. And I am not one of those people who denies that political correctness is a thing, but let’s stop pretending that it is more than it is.

                And more importantly, are you really going to pretend that being the butt of some jokes or not being able to make other people the butt of your jokes is some kind of actual victimization? Like I said, PC is a thing, but let’s add up all the wrong and all the misery caused by political correctness and then add up all the wrong and the misery caused by racism and sexism and homophobia and the like. How do those columns compare?

                And we don’t even have to go that far back to make those lists completely off balance. I’m 41 and in my lifetime I remember a point where MTV, when it played music, wouldn’t play black artists. And this isn’t some area where you can make a plausible argument that blacks weren’t qualified. This is music. Music!!! And we’re not talking about classical music or country music. We are talking about pop music. That’s like having an athletic league that barred blacks from participating…

                So, can we at least admit, at least among those of us who aren’t willfully ignorant or just plain stupid, that there is nothing to the narrative of white male victimization/marginalization/whatever?

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                • And more importantly, are you really going to pretend that being the butt of some jokes or not being able to make other people the butt of your jokes is some kind of actual victimization? Like I said, PC is a thing, but let’s add up all the wrong and all the misery caused by political correctness and then add up all the wrong and the misery caused by racism and sexism and homophobia and the like. How do those columns compare?

                  Okay, no. Not being able to make jokes is not actual victimization.
                  Killing homosexuals is wrong.
                  Killing African-Americans is wrong.
                  Killing Jews is wrong.
                  People shouldn’t kill anybody.
                  People shouldn’t tell jokes at the expense of others.

                  We should all be nice to each other.

                  Now.
                  I do think that there are dynamics that are going on in society that exist independently of these truths.

                  Mostly involving the extent to which people born in (year after MTV started playing Michael Jackson videos) should feel like they will receive social punishment for telling a joke and hear that one of the reasons that they shouldn’t tell that joke is because MTV used to not play African-American artists.

                  I denounce Stalin’s holodomor. I think that it was one of the worst atrocities of the 20th Century.

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                      • I think anyone who wants to have a gun should be able to have one.

                        I think anyone who wants to have a joke should be able to have one too.

                        I think one should have training, use discretion, and aim carefully when using either arms or comedy. And if one finds oneself consistently subpar when measuring the results after target practice, even after lots of practice, one should probably find another hobby.

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                        • “if one finds oneself consistently subpar when measuring the results after target practice, even after lots of practice, one should probably find another hobby.”

                          But if you suggest that Kapernick taking a knee during the national anthem comes off wrong then screw you for being a pro-police racist.

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                      • I will say one way we may be on the same page, JB, is the recent Jimmy Fallon kerfuffle where he was judged too simpatico with Donald Trump because Fallon petted Trump’s hair, and too mean to Hillary Clinton because Fallon doneed a surgical mask and gloves when Clinton walked onto the stage.

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                  • A few things:

                    – You completely ignored the first part of my comment, noting that these prohibitions against telling jokes about non-white males don’t really exist. So what precisely are these dynamics? Show me that they exist outside of the realm of perception.

                    – My point wasn’t even to talk about true atrocities, but to talk about the myriad of very small ways that being a non white male exacts a relative cost. Even if I were to steelman your position, it becomes a complaint that the cost to being a white male went from zero to some number lower than everyone else. There are probably individual cases that I would call unjust, but as an overall phenomenon, I’m just not ready to call this an injustice.

                    – You don’t get to play the ‘we don’t have to make comparisons about who has it worse’ game, when your complaint is specifically a claim that white males suddenly have it worse. Either accept that comparisons or apt or stop arguing about the relative position of white males.

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                    • If you want to argue that you can still kill people, you just get arrested and go to jail, does that make a particularly good argument that, technically, murder isn’t forbidden because of radical existential freedom in a godless universe?

                      It used to be the libertarians who denied the existence of social controls.

                      Now it’s the liberals.

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                      • No. Murder has a cost. As you point out, you get arrested and you go to jail.

                        Show me where the cost is to being a white male making jokes about non white males. I can go on YouTube right now and find multiple examples of white males doing exactly the thing that you claim is not forbidden. And they haven’t been drummed out of show business yet. Jeffrey Ross has a very successful career. Lisa Lampinelli has a very successful career. I bet Don Rickles is out there somewhere still making off-color insult jokes.

                        Heck, even Ann Coulter and Dinesh D’Souza have very successful careers targeting the very people who you are claiming are now off limits.

                        I am asking you to show your work.

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                  • Jaybird: Mostly involving the extent to which people born in (year after MTV started playing Michael Jackson videos) should feel like they will receive social punishment for telling a joke and hear that one of the reasons that they shouldn’t tell that joke is because MTV used to not play African-American artists.

                    That seems like a very strange reading of the argument being made, which is actually, “Receiving ‘social punishment’ for telling a joke that offends people isn’t oppression.”

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                • Honestly, I’ve become rather convinced that is himself the textbook example of an “aggrieved white cis dude,” except he’s just clever enough to not wear the mantle himself, so instead, incessantly parrots the arguments of the “alt-right” and the #gaters and so on, with the refrain “but what about these guys???” It’s kinda transparently pathetic.

                  Dude, we see through you.

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                  • Erm. Okay.

                    In truth my life is actually pretty good. I’ve got a pretty good job, an awesome wife, some cats that are fairly okay, and entertainments that overrun the cup.

                    I have this thing, though, where I left the church because trying to figure out the way that the world really worked was more important to me than saying things in unison with the group.

                    There’s probably a lot of emotional baggage that comes with that… among which is that I’m a little hyper-sensitive to use of the whole “he’s not *REALLY* one of us good people!” tactic when I see it come from the mouth of a Person With Great Moral Authority By Their Own Lights.

                    I’m trying to figure out what’s going on.

                    And figuring that out is more important to me than speaking in unison of the things That Are Known.

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                    • Jaybird:

                      There’s probably a lot of emotional baggage that comes with that… among which is that I’m a little hyper-sensitive to use of the whole “he’s not *REALLY* one of us good people!” tactic when I see it come from the mouth of a Person With Great Moral Authority By Their Own Lights.

                      I cannot see how to possibly square this statement with the stuff you say about the alt-right.

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                      • The stuff I’m seeing with the alt-right is the evolution of a system that would evolve the way it would evolve whether or not I lived or died.

                        The stuff that Veronica said about me, personally, was stuff that was said about me, personally.

                        If you’d like me to spend a few moments talking about how I find the alt-right to be evil, I will. Would that make you feel better? It seems to me to be the equivalent of asking lefties to spend more time denouncing Stalin, but if it’ll make you feel better, I’ll say that I find them morally repugnant.

                        I find them morally repugnant.

                        But, even as I say that, I can’t help but remember all of the things that I thought were morally repugnant when I was a kid.

                        Do you feel better?

                        I don’t.

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                        • But, even as I say that, I can’t help but remember all of the things that I thought were morally repugnant when I was a kid.

                          So you know, maybe it’s morally repugnant to prevent #WhiteGenocide by deporting or murdering millions of American Jews, but you thought that as a kid, too, so you can’t really be sure?

                          I can’t see why anybody might take that sort of thing personally!

                          And you know the reason it’s generally unfair to ask lefties to denounce Stalin has a lot to do with lefties not usually taking Stalin’s claims at face value and suggesting that, really, he had his good points, right? Lefties who actually do act as Stalin apologists [1] deserve the question.

                          [1] And yeah, they exist.

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                          • 20 years ago, I knew a set of things.
                            Today, I know that about half of those things were false.
                            I am not confident that, 20 years hence, I will not also know that, 20 years ago, half the things I knew were false.

                            I am more interested in figuring out that half than in communicating to the group that I am a member in good standing who can recite things by heart.

                            I’ve been there. I’ve done that.
                            I got the t-shirt.

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                            • You do you, but, “You shouldn’t draw negative inferences about my beliefs just because I refuse to communicate them clearly, or indeed, at all,” is, well, not a particularly persuasive position, especially when you don’t extend much benefit of the doubt to the people you’re communicate with.

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                              • If you wish to draw negative inferences about my beliefs just because I refuse to communicate them clearly, or indeed, at all, then do so.

                                If I think you have reached an incorrect conclusion, I reserve the right to tell you that you’ve reached an incorrect conclusion.

                                If there’s a little itch in the back of your head that tells you that your conclusion is a little too pat but that same conclusion gives you stronger ties to the rest of the community, then I suggest that you ignore that itch and hug tight to your community.

                                Community is a wonderful thing.

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                • Mmm. I’m pretty sure I saw The Jam, and Big Country, and Power Station, not to mention some little purple guy whose name I don’t really remember (but that’s OK because he conveniently forgot it every five years or so) – all in the 1982-1985 era, which is practically cheek-to-jowl with the Buggles.

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    • “I’m not sure if we, as a society, have really figured out what to with people whose main goal is to get pushed back.”

      Actually we have. Don’t you remember your mother telling you that the way to deal with a bully was to ignore him?

      The problem is everyone who thinks that ten thousand retweets means that they can finally, finally stand up to that bully and kick his ass the way they always dreamed about doing.

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      • Don’t you remember your mother telling you that the way to deal with a bully was to ignore him?

        I do. It was terrible advice, because a lot of bullies aren’t going to ignore you just because you ignore them. Life got much better once I rejected it.

        “Bullying” covers a wide range of behavior. Some of it is best ignored. Some of it isn’t. Distinguishing between the kinds isn’t always trivial.

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  8. Frankly, I don’t find the frog that funny, in any form. I’m oldschool. I liked “pedobear” and the site: encyclopedia dramiatica. God I miss that site.

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    • ED always struck me as kind of try-hard. Like, wow, you sure did just randomly insult some huge swath of people in addition to the nominal subject of the article, but when that’s every other sentence…

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      • When wikipedia starts looking like ED, it’s time to hide until the sleeper agents go away.
        “It’s Simon and Garfunkle, not Garfield, and I don’t care what you and your thousand sleeper agents say”

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    • You totally should read the script for that Grimm episode on Pedobear (No, I’m not even trying to write it germanically).

      Shouldn’t surprise you that I know some folks on ED…
      [Now banned from Australia for making fun of Aborigines! Stand UP for free speech.]

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  9. Remember everybody freaking out about Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals?

    The alt-right (or a handful of key figures), as far as I can tell, has read it. “Hey, we should do that.”

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    • As a life long liberal i’d never heard of alinsky until the RW media started to freak out about him as the key to understanding Obama’s secret plots to destroy the country or something. So this is just more of the same then.

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      • No, not really more of the same.

        The RW media freaked out about Alinsky as if they were saying “man! This guy is awful! We should smear Obama by using guilt by association!!!!”

        The alt-right is saying “Man, this guy had some good ideas. We could make this work.”

        If you see the distinction.

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          • I’m not sure I am familiar with those. I’m also not sure I understand the M&M meme. I mean, I get what they’re trying to say (“A sizable portion of men pose a threat so women are right to be weary”) but I don’t think the analogy holds.

            “This M&M has a 10% chance of being poisonous. Do you want to eat it?”
            That is different than…
            “One of these 10 M&Ms is poisoned. You can eat the whole bunch of pass.”

            In the former, you run a certain risk but may also be able to take steps to mitigate it. Maybe you can learn subtle differences between poison M&Ms and non-poisonous M&Ms. You probably can’t bat 1.000, but maybe you can get your odds down to 5% or 2% or less. And then you can make a decision whether to proceed or not.

            In the latter, you are guaranteed to eat poison and die.

            But maybe I’m misunderstanding all this.

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            • Good, now take a step back. How persuasive do you think women found the #NotAllMen arguments?

              In any rhetorical argument, do you think that the men who explained to women that they need to understand risk profiles were likely to do a good job of explaining how to best pare bad m&ms out because, seriously, most m&ms are perfectly fine?

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              • You are asking me to make an assessment of arguments I am unfamiliar with.

                I don’t know what argument the M&M meme is putting forth.
                And I don’t know what the counter (#NotAllMen) arguments to that were.

                What I do know is that saying we should bar an entire country’s worth of people from coming here because some non-zero percentage of them pose a risk is wrong.

                And if women were advocating that we bar all men from doing, well, anything really because some non-zero percentage of them pose a risk, I’d tell them they were wrong, too.

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                  • Well, even if not, we’re going to replay the 90’s again in this little dinky tempest in the teapot.

                    2014 == The Clarence Thomas Hearings
                    2016 == Paula Jones/Juanita Broderick/etc

                    We can watch the people who argued on the one side contort themselves into pretzels arguing the other.

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                    • But that is true of *both* sides.

                      Either you are okay or not okay with punishing the group for the sins of a subgroup. I am not okay with that. So I’m not doing any contorting. If MRAs want to use that M&M argument to support their cause, go for it! But that requires they acknowledge the legitimacy of the M&M argument when initially made. It also requires that they show the two situations are similar.

                      Which even the examples you gave here do not. Comparing Clarence Thomas to Hilary Clinton doesn’t work because Hilary Clinton didn’t do what Thomas was accused of doing. Bill was accused of it. And if we want to have that conversation, let’s! But saying, “Thomas was attacked because of how he treated women so it is only fair we attack Hilary because of how Bill treated women,” is, again, not an apples to apples comparison.

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                      • But that is true of *both* sides.

                        Yes. That’s how I intended “the people who argued on the one side contort themselves into pretzels arguing the other” to be read.

                        Comparing Clarence Thomas to Hilary Clinton doesn’t work because Hilary Clinton didn’t do what Thomas was accused of doing.

                        I wasn’t comparing Clarence Thomas to Hillary Clinton. Or even Clarence Thomas to Bill Clinton.

                        I was comparing Team Red to Team Blue and the arguments that they were wielding like cudgels against each other.

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                            • No. The cudels were different.

                              One cudgel said, “Oppose a man accused of sexual harassment.”
                              The other said, “Oppose a woman because her husband is accused of sexual harasment. GOOSES AND GANDERS!”

                              Only those aren’t gooses and ganders.

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                                  • Clarence Thomas got nominated to the Supreme Court. During the hearings, it came up that he had engaged in some behaviors with a former co-worker that might be considered inappropriate. Discussions of sexual harassment, hostile workplace environment, etc, followed.

                                    If you’ve ever heard someone ask “who put this pubic hair on my Coke?”, the question originated from here.

                                    See also: Long Dong Silver

                                    Anyway, Clarence Thomas got nominated in this *HORRIBLY* acrimonious process. It changed discussions of such things as sexual harassment, hostile workplace environments, and so on for a while.

                                    Then… Bill Clinton got nominated as the Democratic Candidate for President.

                                    You wouldn’t *BELIEVE* what he got accused of! Anyway, one of his accusers was Paula Jones, who accused him of inviting her to his hotel room and then dropping trou.

                                    There were, seriously, discussions about how this was completely different from what happened with Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill.

                                    What made this interesting was because the time difference between the Paula Jones accusations coming to light (1994) and the Anita Hill accusations coming to light (1991) was a short enough time that people could do research on what prominent critics had said in their own libraries.

                                    This was juuuuuust before the internet, but it was still possible to go to the library and look up that issue of Time/Newsweek/US News& World Report and see what so-and-so had said back then and compare to what they were saying now.

                                    You may be surprised to hear that people who argued one thing on one day were arguing the other thing on the other day.

                                    And, yes, both sides did it.

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                                    • People are fooling themselves if they don’t think Slick Willie is still finding interns to shag.

                                      Oy, have you heard of the actual origin of the term “soccer moms”? Someone… didn’t hear the whole conversation.

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                                    • I’m not one of those people. So what does any of that have to do with this topic?

                                      If your point is that many people are hypocritical, I agree. That hardly seems worth all the air here. I don’t care what people said or did in the 90s. I’m attempting to engage with your point about an M&Ms analogy and suddenly we’re talking about Pauls Jones. Why?

                                      I’ll say it again: I reject the logic employed by the Skittles meme. If you think I’m wrong, make the case. Pointing to others who agree with me here but have been hyocrites elsewhere is not a counterargument.

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                                      • How persuasive do you think women found the #NotAllMen arguments?

                                        Start with the premise that Jaybird is not insane.

                                        Then ask yourself why he would bring up that subject.

                                        Yes, you may need to go do some research to get the context.

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                                      • Well, it all has to do with what I think are the dynamics behind the election.

                                        An SJW meme was repurposed to become an alt-right meme.

                                        It took minimal effort.

                                        And now we’re back to the question of #NotAllMen and its persuasiveness to those on the fence.

                                        I’ll grant you that the pro-refugee forces are unlikely to be swayed at all. Please grant for me that you’re cool if we’re not discussing them.

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                                        • We’re back to that question because you took it back to that question.

                                          You have this tendency to steer the conversation in a very specific way to something you clearly want to talk about — but always under the guise of a meta discussion — and then say, “Hey… it’s not me saying this… this is the conversation!”

                                          Maybe it isn’t you saying it, but it is you pushing the conversation. We could be talking about any number of things. You chose to talk about this one thing. Which is cool. I’m not interested in that conversation so, yet again, I’m bowing out. Peace.

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                                        • An SJW meme was repurposed to become an alt-right meme.

                                          It took minimal effort.

                                          And now we’re back to the question of #NotAllMen and its persuasiveness to those on the fence.

                                          Oh come on, you of all people understand the difference between advocating for cultural enforcement vs advocating for government enforcement. The SJW meme is about group X choosing to be weary of a group Y, the alt-right meme is about the government placing outsized restrictions on group Y. The memes are obviously, fundamentally different, and so the #NotAllY response is also going to be treated differently.

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                                            • You are offended by someone saying “I won’t eat M&Ms” for the same reasons as someone saying “The government should discriminate against Skittles”? Seriously? And you think the backlash should be treated interchangeably? I definitely didn’t expect that.

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                                              • No, I was offended by the meme. I didn’t see it as a “this is why I don’t date” argument, for the record. I saw it more as a “guilt by association” argument.

                                                Now, when I say “offended”, I don’t mean it in the sense of “I’m going to buy art supplies and make a sign and carry it in a march!” offensive but in the “huh, that’s pretty offensive” and move on sense of the word.

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                                                • Maybe this is the crux of my confusion. The M&M’s meme, in my opinion, is clearly saying “this is why I’m weary of men”. You would have to dig far and wide into feminism to find someone making the argument that all men should be treated as rapists *by the state* (and that part is important). I don’t even know how that would work … would we jail men until they prove they haven’t raped anyone? Which is why the #NotAllMen rebuttal falls flat – “I’m a good guy, so you should let your guard down around men beyond your comfort zone” is me telling an at-risk person that they should have the priors that I want them to have.

                                                  The Skittles meme, on the other hand, is clearly advocating for how people should be treated *by the state*. And we know this because the GOP candidate who has a >40% chance of winning has outlined a specific proposal to do just that. Haven’t we covered state vs. individual decisions over and over in this forum? Why is this so complicated?

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                • What I do know is that saying we should bar an entire country’s worth of people from coming here because some non-zero percentage of them pose a risk is wrong.

                  Why is it wrong? Or perhaps more narrowly phrased: why do you think it’s wrong for someone to hold that belief?

                  Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the case against taking in Syrian refugees is overdetermined: we already have too many immigrants competing for too few jobs; radical Islam is a legitimate domestic worry; we have no moral obligation to take them in anyway, regardless of their ethnicity or religious identity; the moral view that we should take them in freerides on the cost being born by US tax dollars (which could go to different uses); etc.

                  In what sense can the above views be regarded as wrong without begging the fundamental question at issue: that we, as a society, should take them in?

                  Btw, I’m not saying that those views can’t be defeated. Instead, I’m saying that defeating by appealing to the moral claim at issue begs the question.

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                  • Let me back up a bit, because you make very good points.

                    I am not comfortable punishing an entire group of people because of the sins of a few. Especially if what they have in common is something as broad as religion or race or ethnicity.

                    None of that goes towards whether we should or shouldn’t accept Syrian refugees/immigrants. But if the argument is SOLELY that some of them are dangerous… that is true of any and every group and isn’t a particularly useful argument absent others.

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                    • But if the argument is SOLELY that some of them are dangerous… that is true of any and every group and isn’t a particularly useful argument absent others.

                      I think the type of harm or danger immigrants present plays a big role in this debate, and in particular, that the type of harm presented by Muslims-qua-(potentially radical)Islamists is different than the type of harm presented by Muslims-qua-human beings, The second is just the normal harms normal people normally inflict on one another. Personally, I think that’s where you disagree with notme (at least if we view notme’s comment charitably :).

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                          • Well there is a significant difference in risk if the numbers are 50%, as opposed to, lets say, .000001%. In addition, Kazzy already mentioned using that risk profile to try and mitigate any potential harms.

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                            • Sure there’s a difference, but one that would matter only to a person who’s priors commit them to the belief that we should take em in.

                              Here’s another way to say it: consider two stereotypically ideological people, C and L. C’s view on taking in Syrian refugees is that we shouldn’t and hence, an affirmative argument must be made to agree to that policy. L’s view is that we should, hence, they merely need to defeat “defeaters” to accept that policy.

                              Bringing that back to your point, Cs view the bare fact that the increased risk is non-zero as a “defeater” for the policy in question, one whose precise number Ls quibble over but generally accept as within a justifiable risk-level to achieve other goals.

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                              • I’d just note that the law currently allows syrians/middle easterners/muslims into the country. It’s on C’s to make an affirmative argument as to why we should change policy. They have chosen to argue the increased risk of terrorism, at which point, how much the risk has increased is very much up for discussion.

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                                • 1) The actual risk cannot be determined in advance of the policy being enacted, so an insistence that it should be (as a response to a person you disagree with) sorta makes no sense.

                                  2) Even if the risk assessment could be and in fact were determined, people could still disagree about whether that particular number is above or below the threshhold of acceptability since there’s no fact of the matter by which normative “acceptability” could be determined (ie., is-ought stuff). For example, comparing the supposed threat introduced by Islamic extremists to the threat presented by motor-vehicle use isn’t valid since the positive utility gained from car use is already well established, whereas the utility gained from taking in Syrian refugees isn’t.

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                                  • No disagreement with 2. Unclear on 1.

                                    Again, there are ample arguments for and against immigration/accepting refugees.

                                    “BUT SOME ARE DANGEROUS!” is, to me, not really an argument. Everything poses risks. Saying, “There is a risk associated with that action,” is of little value.

                                    I mean, unless you steadfastly reject all action because all action contains risks.

                                    But then… Even inaction carries risk.

                                    We can’t know with absolute certainty the outcome of any choice. But we can make reasonable predictions based on available evidence. We should do that.

                                    I also support a vetting process. If we have means to identify the poison Skittles or even separate very high risk from high risk from low risk from almost no-risk, I’m all for it! But to say, “That guy is a greater risk because he was born in the same country as those well-known monsters,” is wrong.

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                                    • Part of the problem, Kazzy, is that folks who are distrustful of Syrians are also distrustful of gummint’s ability to adequately vet the refugees. Hell, I bet lots of people here who reflexively view government as incompetent and corrupt would agree with that assessment irrespective of the context we’re discussing.

                                      But look, I’m not defending the argument that we shouldn’t take Syrian refugees, I’m defending that argument from a trivialization which makes those folks look like deplorable racists or complete fucking idiots.

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                                      • Gummint is a strange beast, apparently.

                                        Utterly incompetent to adjudge the guilt or innocence of a Syrian immigrant, but uncannily accurate in predicting the guilt or innocence of an arrested American.

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                                            • Ha. I actually think that government can run an email server for high government officials but certain bugbears in American politics, mainly fears about corruption and Americans get upset easily about government spending without thinking, make the ordinary operating of any government agency really hard. Corporations don’t have to worry too much about shareholders getting upset when they order too many printer cartridges for their employees to be safe. Government does have to worry about taxpayers getting upset about buying the best equipment possible for civil servants and officials or other expensive but efficient things. You also have to go through many more rituals to avoid the appearance of corruption.

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                                        • And we’re perfectly willing to let in fanatic clerics, knowing full well that their children won’t assimilate – as long as it’s Christians from Canada. Ted Cruz has already done more harm to this country than all the children of all possible Syrian refugees could do even given all their druthers. But he’s still the darling of the right, because he’s on their team.

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                                    • “to say, “That guy is a greater risk because he was born in the same country as those well-known monsters,” is wrong.”

                                      an impassioned defense of #notallmen. Well done.

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                                      • I tend not to get behind hastags and bumper sticker statements because there is usually much more to any of these issues than that which can be conveyed in such limited space, so they often stand for something more than the words conveyed.

                                        So, yes, I would apply that same logic to the thinking that all men should be considered threats because of the actions of men who do rape and engage in other forms of sexual assault/violent.

                                        But I’ll stop there with regards to #notallmen because you and I both know it is about more than just that.

                                        The funny thing is, you’d be really hardpressed to find me ever saying much of anything that contradicts that. For some reason, you and Jaybird seem to want to make me out to be some sort of pro-M&M meme person. I’m not. I never even saw it before. And looking at it here, my thought is, “That analogy doesn’t hold.”

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                                        • “you and Jaybird seem to want to make me out to be some sort of pro-M&M meme person. I’m not. ”

                                          Oh, we’re quite certain that you are not.

                                          What we’d like to establish is why your reasons for being not-pro-M&M don’t apply to other things. They seem like good reasons; well-spoken, cogent, rational, intellectually-supportable. Why aren’t they generally applicable? Nothing in them suggests that they’re confined solely to the M&Ms.

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                  • Why is it wrong? Or perhaps more narrowly phrased: why do you think it’s wrong for someone to hold that belief?

                    Because, given the parameters outlined by [1], there’s actually no way to apply the argument consistently. He would, presumably (and rightly!), reject it out of hand if it were being applied to allowing US-born Skittles to buy AR-15s, or imprisoning blue Skittles after they shoot people without requiring a jury to convict them first.

                    Even if allowing Syrian refugees into the country were literally the worst public policy idea anyone has ever had, some arguments against it would still be wrong.

                    [1] Where the magnitude of the risk is asserted to be immaterial.

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                    • Even if allowing Syrian refugees into the country were literally the worst public policy idea anyone has ever had, some arguments against it would still be wrong.

                      From one pov, perhaps. Here’s notme’s view on the issue we’re discussing:

                      Sure, if that fact could be known. But since it can’t be known, it’s best just to avoid them altogether.

                      This strikes me as a perfectly rational position to take. In effect (as I see it) notme is saying that all other things being equal, it’s best to avoid policy decisions which increase the risk to US citizens. In fact (ceteris paribus!) it’s irrational to make a decision that would increase the liklihood of harm.

                      So that claim, it seems to me, needs to be defeated in order for the “take ’em in” argument to prevail. But one thing I don’t think works is claiming that the view is irrational because the risk increase is less than X, since at that point the interlocutor is agreeing that accepting Syrian refugees actually does increase the risk.

                      So without a compelling affirmative argument justifying accepting them, one sufficient to justify the increased risk, the argument for accepting them doesn’t get off the ground. IOW, notme’s view about the increased risk seems to be agreed to and accepted by everyone engaging in the debate (hence, it’s not a bad argument.)

                      (Also, as a secondary point, over the years notme has linked to many articles detailing problems Syrian refugees have caused in other countries, fwtw.)

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                    • That seems to be about right. All sorts of policies increase risk to Americans by an infinitesimal amount. Eliminating the national speed limit killed tons of people and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future. We just ignore it because we’re bad at assessing risks like that and while the cost side is hidden and diffuse, the benefit side (“Yay! I can get where I’m going faster!”) is obvious and immediate.

                      I’m willing to stipulate that allowing a bunch of refugees in from a wartorn place that also is the operating base of a terrorist group that wants to infiltrate the US will increase my risk of dying from a terrorist attack by an infinitesimal amount. But that’s pretty minimal compared to any number of other policies I support. And while the benefit side of the ledger isn’t immediately obvious to me, it’s sure obvious to the refugees who get to escape Hell on Earth.

                      So the analogy sucks partially because it gets the probabilities all wrong and partially because the benefit of eating a handfull of skittles isn’t comparable to the benefit of rescuing countless families from a terrifying war zone. You can’t weigh identical risk numbers (even if they’re calculated correctly) against vastly different benefit numbers and claim the analogy holds.

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                      • Except that it is patently false to say that the best way to rescue those folks from their suffering is to import them here to the US. Ee could easily fund camps in turkey or other places. It may be best only in the sense that it gives liberals a whole new welfare class and voting bloc.

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                        • Please define “best” in this case and compare it to the other options by those metrics.

                          I mean, I’m all for other neighboring countries with more compatible cultures assimilating refugees into nearby locations that they’d settle into more easily. But I’m also all for there not being a civil war and an Islamist would-be state rolling through the region, and we can see how well those wishes are being granted.

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                            • So it’s not false that it’s the best? Or it is? I mean, you didn’t really address his claim at all.

                              If you have other policy options that we could choose, I’m genuinely curious. I suppose we could roll the military in full-force and settle the whole Syria thing by wiping out the fighting factions and installing a government, but that seems like it would probably have unintended consequences and cost a bunch of our blood and treasure. If the other option is we do nothing and shake our heads that other countries are also doing nothing, that’s definitely a cheap option, but it doesn’t seem especially effective.

                              So what’s your ace in the hole? ‘s claim that just letting people move from one place to another and start living their lives is a pretty cheap option that does mitigate the problem, and that doesn’t seem like something we can dismiss as obviously wrong.

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                            • “Give me your tired, your poor,
                              Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
                              The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
                              Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
                              I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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              • — There is an obvious difference between immigration policy and women making personal choices on how to approach dating. The #notallmen and #yesallwomen stuff plays out in the day to day, but no one is suggesting mass deportation of men. It’s just not the same thing.

                And hey! I was sexually assaulted again this weekend, by a man!

                So anyway whateverthefuck. #yesallwomen (except not literally all women, but most of us).

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                • Sure. Of course. And the people behind the various attacks that happened over the weekend were US Citizens.

                  #NotAllRefugees is going to play poorly among those whose votes are swingable.

                  And “Those People Who *STILL* Haven’t Made Up Their Minds? Fuck Those People” is probably something that can wait until mid-November to say.

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                  • — Are you suggesting that sometimes people believe dumb arguments, or are you arguing that the arguments are actually good?

                    Cuz on the first point, sure, but that’s obvious. Grass is green. The sky is blue. You’re cynical. I get it.

                    If the latter, then you got some work to do.

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                        • That more people can be swung by pitifully dumb arguments than one might like to think?

                          “Half the country is Deplorable.”

                          Maybe Clinton could use that as a campaign slogan to maximize outreach. {I’m sure SOMEONE in her camp has trotted it out already!}

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                          • “Half the country is Deplorable.”

                            Well, in @jaybird’s hypothetical, a good deal less than half the country are voting while being ignorant and inattentive, and thereby swing the election. Thus, we’re–evidently–supposed to take the arguments that he asserts are going to swing them seriously.

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                            • So, only SOME of Trump’s supporters are deplorable racists, and only SOME of his supporters are dumb and inattentive.

                              I assume those are non-overlapping groups. In which case I wonder if, in your view, they don’t comprise the entirety of Trump’s base?

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                              • Well, I don’t generally expect “deplorable racist” and “ignorant and inattentive” to be disjoint sets, so I certainly wouldn’t expect them to be disjoint sets when we’re limiting our consideration to Trump supporters.

                                Nonetheless, the ignorant and inattentive folks I’ve been discussing with aren’t Trump supporters, they’re undecided/”swingable” voters.

                                In any event, I don’t think the deplorable racists and rubes exhaust Trump’s base.

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                      • Repeat after me. Donald Trump is not winning the election.

                        He has certainly tightened the polls. This is something Democratic voters should be concerned about but he is not winning.

                        All the major polling and aggregate sites give HRC a 60-something percent chance of winning (538 on the low end) to an 80 something percent chance of winning (Princeton/Sam Wang on the high end.)

                        Yet you are still here saying Trump is going to crush it and based this off vague feels from seeing MY and Gamergate on the Internet over polling and statistics. This is just as much a hot take as Peggy Noonan’s feels for Romney in 2012.

                        What the hell is it gonna take for white guys to admit that they are no longer the center of gravity, especially in the Democratic Party and that is okay.

                        I think way too many white guys are in full existential threat mode because they lost to a Black guy twice and now there is a pretty decent chance that an old white guy loses to a woman.

                        The world turn on its head!! No more Boys Keep Swinging!!!

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          • Um… sort of? The large majority of the #NotAllMen arguments I’ve seen have been aimed towards defending, or at least excusing, women being anxious around men and acting, in their capacity as private individuals, on that anxiety. You don’t have to necessarily agree with all, or even any, of those arguments to think the analogy is more than a bit ridiculous.

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            • The large majority of the #NotAllMen arguments I’ve seen have been aimed towards defending, or at least excusing, women being anxious around men and acting, in their capacity as private individuals, on that anxiety.

              Really?
              The #NotAllMen arguments that I’ve seen are tone-deaf MRAs arguing (mansplaining!) that women are being the real sexists.

              It’s the #YesAllWomen arguments that more closely fit what you’re describing there.

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              • Yes, I see #NotAllMen so rarely used without irony that I just assume that any invocation of it is ironic; I do indeed mean #YesAllWomen. In my defense, the “poisoned candy” thing does seem to better support a #YesAllWomen argument.

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                  • OK. So despite getting the number of layers of irony wrong, that is exactly what I was envisioning.

                    Like my grad school advisor used to tell me, “The difference between a good physicist and a great physicist is that a great physicist always makes an even number of sign errors.”

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                  • This analogy of men-as-rapists to immigrants-as-trerrorist is overly contrived.
                    The number of women who suffer attacks from men dwarves the number of Americans who suffer attacks from immigrants. Estimates are somewhere between 10 and 30% of women will be attacked or coerced into sex at sometime in their lives. The number of Americans who are attacked by fire ants is higher than the number of Americans attacked by immigrant terrorists.

                    Accusing all men of being potential rapists has a much higher degree of accuracy than accusing immigrants of being potential terrorists.

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                    • How “good” a prejudice is is partially a function of its accuracy. If 100% of Syrian refugees were terrorists, I’d say it’s probably OK to exclude them. At 99%, I’d say the same thing. Sucks to be the 1%, bu that’s a pretty big issue.

                      But the number is more likely an extremely small one, so at that point the cost/benefit analysis is very different. And even further, even if it increases the risk of a terrorist attack by a noticeable amount (let’s say 5% to take a generous figure), it still increases the risk to any one of us by almost zero.

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                        • “I’m sure that fact that the risk is very small is cold comfort to those that die in mass shootings or their families.”

                          “I’m sure that fact that the risk is very small is cold comfort to those that are shot by cops for no reason or their families.”

                          “I’m sure that fact that the risk is very small is cold comfort to those that die from particulate pollution spread by burning coal or their families.”

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                        • Do you mean the terrorist attacks perpetrated by the US Government? Those terrorist attacks?

                          There’s rare. And then there’s Vanishingly Rare. And then there’s “Didn’t hurt an American Soul”

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                        • Does that analysis hold for every other government policy? Like the small number of unnamed people who die if we tweak the allowable pollutants in drinking water a bit? Or the people who will die if we don’t mandate collision avoidance systems in cars?

                          Because those are bigger than the numeric margins we’re talking about here, and the people who are freaking out over terrorist victims don’t seem to be nearly as worked up when we tune those other knobs. This smells a lot like the identifiable victim effect.

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                          • “Does that analysis hold for every other government policy? Like the small number of unnamed people who die if we tweak the allowable pollutants in drinking water a bit? Or the people who will die if we don’t mandate collision avoidance systems in cars?”

                            You’re…not actually saying he’s wrong, sir.

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                            • No, I’m not. I’m just saying that like all of those other policy questions, unless he’s actually willing to do the real cost/benefit analysis, we can’t possibly say he’s right. You can’t just say, “There are costs to this,” and wash your hands of it as though you’ve demolished the very idea that the policy could be a good one. All policies have costs.

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                              • “like all of those other policy questions, unless he’s actually willing to do the real cost/benefit analysis, we can’t possibly say he’s right.”

                                Half of his point is that there is a cost/benefit analysis here which is being ignored by people saying “we HAVE to take in the refugees and you’re RACIST if you suggest anything else!”

                                The other half is the actual analysis, but if you say “I did one and you’re wrong” then you do at least agree that there was a possibility of “too dangerous”–and, in fact, that as new evidence comes to light you might change your analysis.

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                              • tf,
                                How much does it cost your soul to murder someone?
                                Because if we’re looking at “we can’t afford 2/3rds of the people we do have” (fifty years down the line) — every person you bring in is another person you have to kill.
                                (and yes, you want murder. starvation breeds disease).

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      • I love Skittles. My favorite mass-produced candy.

        I shall not forgive Donald Trump Jr. for appending this significance to the act of eating Skittles. Just like I shall not forgive his father for appropriating a very good Rolling Stones song at the RNC.

        Skittles and Stones. What else shall you take from me, O Clan of Trump?

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        • My mother-in-law once, quite on purpose and with deliberate malice, mixed M&Ms and Skittles in the same bowl and didn’t tell anyone.

          Not that it’s a horrible taste combination per se, it’s more that….if you’re not paying attention you make a default assumption “That is a bowl of Skittles” or “That is a bowl of M&M’s” and then you take some and the taste is not what you were expecting.

          And your first thought it not “Oh, there’s M&M’s in here” it’s “Why do these Skittles taste so bad? Are they tainted? Oh god…”

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    • Totally. Breitbart was an egotistical piece of … work but he had clearly digested and internalized Alinsky’s ideas. The funny thing about Rules for Radicals is that most conservatives seem to think it’s some kind of radicalization manual and treat Alinsky like he’s Al Awlaki for anarchists. In reality, the book is all about how to impose rules *on* would-be radicals so that their message can actually get traction. Many of the guidelines are about abandoning aggressive acts that are usually self-defeating and working on coordinated, non-violent ways of raising awareness and strengthening community bonds. The specific message didn’t even really matter to Alinsky, he just wanted people out of power to have tools to get their message taken seriously by people in power.

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  10. Donald Trump, Jr. used another alt-right rhetorical tool to describe the Trump position against admitting Syrian refugees. He compared them to a bowl of skittles with some poisoned ones. The company that makes skittles was not amused.

    It occurs to me that many people on the alt-right aren’t very bright. Since they assume that they are the only intelligent ones, they make the dumbest analogies possible to make their point and it pisses most people off.

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      • in a very, very, unenthusiastic mitigation, the “SOME SKITTLES ARE POISONED” rhetorical turn is how everyone argues about risk in america these days.

        guns? SOME SKITTLES ARE EVIL!
        gender-neutral bathrooms? SOME SKITTLES ARE EVIL!
        drugs? SKITTLES ARE TALKING TO ME OH LORD NO ONE TOLD ME THEY COULD FEEL PAIN

        SKITTLES FOR THE SKITTLE GOD

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          • dank nazi feminist trumpian memes.

            thank god for the intravenous dmt drip that is america 2016.

            it’s gotten so bad that i read an andrew sullivan piece the other day and didn’t vomit blood. i thought (between dry heaves) “he’s actually making an ok point here and there.”

            if i ever write that about david brooks please lead me out to the forest and tell me about the rabbits before you put one in the back of my head.

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  11. I’m thinking about the “channers” article Saul posted (which Jason K shared out on Facebook, that’s where I first saw it):

    http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/09/how-internet-trolls-won-the-2016-presidential-election.html

    And the OP’s link to the Nuzzi piece:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/26/how-pepe-the-frog-became-a-nazi-trump-supporter-and-alt-right-symbol.html

    I think there’s something in here worth figuring out but chewing on it (so far hasn’t gotten me much of anywhere except to say that the externality of anonymous free speech might actually be quantifiable in some way in another two decades, though)

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  12. Moving downthread. I would like to propose a thought experiment.

    1. Suppose in mid-2015, HRC and Bernie Sanders both died or were otherwise incapacitated and could not run for President.

    2. In this vacuum, the 2016 Democratic Primaries are between Sherrod Brown of Ohio and O’Maley. Brown wins.

    3. Brown is a very liberal guy. But he is also a run of the mill white, guy protestant.

    The questions:

    1. Does Donald Trump have a pathhold to becoming the Republican nominee in a primary race where the opposition is largely between a woman the GOP hates with passion and a self-described Jewish socialist from Brooklyn? Suppose the GOP field remains the same.

    2. Suppose Trump wins, does the alt-right/Gamer Gaters have anything they can latch on Brown? Would we be talking about alt-right memes involving parathenses, skittles*, etc.

    My suspicion is that the answer to both questions is no.

    *Depending on how you see it, the skittle thing is literally descended from Nazi propaganda.

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    • That’s an interesting thought experiment.

      For #1, I have no idea. He might become the Republican nominee… but I don’t see the path to the presidency if he had a competent opposition.

      For #2, I don’t know… but I think that a refugee policy argument that works against Hillary would be effective against anybody no matter who they are if they have the same refugee policy as Hillary.

      As for it descending from Nazi propaganda, my understanding of its genealogy goes through the SJW crowd.

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      • It is more convulted. The Nazi’s chief propagandist wrote a children’s book called the Toadstool in which a German mother tells her German child that Jews are like toastool mushrooms and one toadstool could kill an entire nation.

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          • I remember that infographic and I remember thinking that it sounds like a pretty good reason to not go around putting random men in your mouth. That is to say, in the real world how we interact with each other is nothing like reaching your hand into a bowl full of candy and randomly eating. In real human interaction, we keep people at a reasonably distance and over time develop varying levels of intimacy, those levels and the amount of time being a function of judgments about individual people.

            So, it’s perfectly normal and not particularly controversial for any woman to say, “given the likelihood of being victimized, I have to be wary about which men I interact with and under what condition ,” but that is a significantly different statement that something like, “I have to assume that one out of every ten men is a rapist.

            Likewise, saying “when I walk through Neighborhood X (where X has both a high population of black residents and a higher-than average crime rate), I am on guard and careful about where I walk,” is a significantly different statement than saying “I assume that 40% of black men I encounter are criminals.”

            Continuing on to immigration, it makes perfect sense to screen refugees from war zones or from populations that contain folks who have an elevated chance of bearing hostile intent to U.S. citizens, but that is exactly what we already do. Refugees spend months in camps being screened before being admitted to receiving countries. Likewise, the process to get a visa into the United States in no way resembles Uncle Sam dipping his hand into a bowl of Skittles.

            In a saner world, our political conversations would revolve around the relative efficacy of various policy alternatives. Instead, they revolve around which tribe you claim.

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      • I think HRC is pretty competent. I don’t think Sanders would be doing any better despite what the Bernie Bros say. Sanders still gets the benefits of being unknown. I suspect that the RNC would fully launch into his Jewishness and secular nature. Not to mention the socialism.

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      • My point is a lot of Trump’s propaganda and support comes from really openly racist bigots. Maybe the refugee stuff would be the same but I suspect that Brown’s generic white guy ness would tamp down on the more outlandish aspects of what Trump and supporters say because there would be no existential threat of a non-white male becoming President twice in a row or even being the nominee of major party twice in a row.

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                • Fair enough.

                  I’m currently in the “which presidential candidate will cause the (whatever it is somewhere between the spectrum of peaceful secession and civil war) more quickly?” question (as well as the more important “which presidential candidate will cause it to be closer to peaceful secession?” question) area.

                  I can see strong reasons that both might be worse.

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                  • We seem to be approaching things from a very different starting point, then, since I’m fairly confident we’ll see neither civil war nor peaceful secession in the even vaguely foreseeable future. I’d expect a general muddling through with ebbing and flowing levels of civic discord. How well we run our affairs through all that is an open question. And yeah, it still boggles my mind that any intelligent person can look at Trump and not immediately consider him the most divisive/awful/unbelievably stupid thing to happen since I don’t know when, but I’m trying to not repeat a variation on that every time I comment.

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                    • Between and , Colorado seems to be this weird center of belief that America is going to break up within the lifetime of anybody currently on this site or their children.

                      I mean, there are people here in Seattle who talk about Cascadia, but it’s 95% joking and 5% nuts.

                      If anything, as a nation, we’re more interconnected than ever and as a people, more spread out than ever. Sure, if you’re some pissed off white dude in Colorado Springs or Texas or Alabama who thinks he’d be better off if the “West”, “Texas” or old Dixie was a separate country away from the evil liberals, I think a meeting with their bosses bosses bosses would disabuse them of that notion on purely economical terms.

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                      • I agree with you — and say so, regularly — that a one-sided secession attempt based on getting away from the evil liberals (or getting away from the evil conservatives) is unworkable. My hypothesis has two regions separated by economic interests, and political interests that cut across liberal/conservative lines.

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                    • Trumwill recently pointed out that one of his friends said something to the effect of “if you and your crew vote on what to have for dinner and the vote is 3x for pizza and 2x to kill and eat you, you have a problem, even though pizza won.”

                      I’ve been thinking about that a lot.

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                    • >>And yeah, it still boggles my mind that any intelligent person can look at Trump and not immediately consider him the most divisive/awful/unbelievably stupid thing to happen since I don’t know when

                      I just spent the day at the DMV sorting out some bureaucratic screw-up and this lead to a lot of interesting interactions.

                      This branch has a deli-counter system, where you get a ticket with your zone + number listed on it and then a computer read out periodically announces which numbers have to report to which counter for service. I wait for an hour or so and my number gets called, and then another number YYY gets called to the same counter immediately after. I go to the counter and give the clerk my ticket and say “I think you just queued up the next guy too” and she says “I did not, I hit YYY and that’s him *[pointing to the other guy coming up]* so you need to leave”. The other guy’s sort of confused/angry right from the get go so I say “Okay, maybe I got the wrong counter, can you check what my ticket was assigned to?” and she responds “You need to move out of the way NOW”.

                      I’m not seeing a resolution here so I go back to the main ticket clerk and explain that there was a screw up and if she can put me back in line or tell me what counter I was supposed to be at (I hear the next number in my zone get called, so my opportunity to resolve this without pissing off a lot more people is shrinking). She gives me a slip of paper and says “You’re all set”. The paper is just another ticket. And the ticket says ESTIMATED WAIT TIME 1.5HRS. We go back and forth a bit more and she directs me to the supervisor, who happens to operate the counter right next to the one I was called to.

                      So I’m waiting for the supervisor and the original clerk is staring daggers through me. I try to break the ice by shifting blame “they’re having me talk to the supervisor but maybe you can just double check that I’m not at your counter and this is a simple mix-up”. She does this weird “no-duh” face and goes “That’s not my business, you need to stand over THERE”. So that’s how it’s gonna be then. Supervisor shows up and I explain. She turns to the clerk, “He’s your customer, you have to see him next”. Advantage! Then she turns to me, “You went to the wrong counter, did you explain to her what happened?”. I don’t even bother disputing the first point, “I tried”. She turns back to the clerk and says “Did he explain to you what happened?”. And she goes – I swear – “Not in a way I could understand”. Supervisor says, sternly, “You should have explained it to her”. At this point I’m starting to get very confused about who’s responsible for what here.

                      Now, while all of this is happening the very same clerk has accumulated a small line of people who were *also* called incorrectly or delayed because of our interactions with the supervisor. The supervisor sees that there’s a sub-line situation forming here and offers to process me right away. Somehow this is all getting resolved! I hand her my form. She looks at it. “What is this?”. I read her the title of the form and start to explain my situation. “But what is this?”. I start trying to rephrase my previous statement. “No we can’t take this, it has to look like THIS”. And she shows me an identical form to mine. “You have to get THIS from your insurance and bring it to us, we can’t take THAT” she says, again pointing to the form that I’ve just given her. “They have to EMAIL it to you”. This is, in fact, exactly the process that my identical looking form took to get in my hands. I show her that the forms have the same exact title and information. “No, it has to look like THIS”. “Is there some information that’s missing on my form?” “Like THIS. It has to look like THIS”. We stare at each other and she finally says “with all the LINES”. Then it clicks. The form she’s holding up has printed black lines dividing the sections, mine doesn’t. Maybe it’s the pdf, or the printer, or something else, but here we are. I try to explain that it’s the same form, sent by my insurance. “it has to look EXACTLY like this, you’ll need to come back”.

                      I walk away from the desk in a daze, doing the calculations for whether I should commit the rest of the work day to this or take another half-day later. As I’m walking out of the terminal of counters I see an empty PC in a corner with a sign stating PUBLIC COMPUTER. It is unlocked. It has a functioning printer next to it. It works, I’m able to pull up the documentation I was emailed and print it again in high contrast so the border lines show up. Miraculously the form does indeed come out of the printer. I do a 180 back to the supervisor. “Look he found it!” she says to the clerk next to her. That’s an odd way of describing what happened but I don’t quibble. Look I found it! She scans the form, I pay, she gives me a receipt, I leave. Everything is fine.

                      On the cab ride back to the police station (don’t get me started) I think about how every single interaction functioned as if we had a language barrier. That all of my intuitions for how to deal with miscommunication – make it clear that no one is to blame, restate the situation using different language, try to find incremental solutions – not only didn’t work, but actually seemed to make things worse. This is the kind of voter miscommunication happening between me and the people who lined up for Trump and Sanders. And I’m trying to understand it by reading hot takes on Twitter from journalists and statisticians who have nothing in common with them and would have been stuck in that DMV just like I was.

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                      • Alternate explanation: She was dumb.

                        The reason you can’t understand why people support Trump is that his message is not *for* you. It’s for people who respond to someone who sells himself as The Baddest Motherfucker Who Ain’t Follow Your Faggot-Ass Rules. Anyone who has the capability to put two thoughts together sees why that’s completely inappropriate for a President, but those people were already not going to vote for Trump so there’s no point going after them.

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                        • Yeah, pretty much this. The issue is that this forum, the media, Clinton’s advisers, the blogs we read, etc. would not be able to explain to a Trump voter how to piss on us if we’re dying of thirst in the desert. And the skills that we’ve developed to “explain things in unexpected situations” would only make it worse. Which makes me think that the skills we’ve developed to figure out WHY something unexpected is happening are only taking us further away from the truth.

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          • Should we not call a spade a spade? Mr. Trump himself as made the most vile accusations against millions of people in the most deplorable language possible. Many of his supporters visibly cheer him for doing so and go on to do violence against those they hate. Should we not call them out? Shall we cower under the iron fist of racist power?

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                  • Well let’s see here. Slate has been compiling a list, and while a number of them are overstated or unfair, let’s pick out some of the ones that I find pretty unambiguously terrible:

                    You’ve got a number of statements advocating war crimes, torture, and the deprival of due process of terrorists, criminals, and immigrants. There’s his allegation that the judge in his case can’t be impartial because he is of Mexican descent. There’s that time he made fun of a reporter’s disability, and generally his many promises to loosen libel law in order to sue papers that say things he dislikes. You’ve got his promises to deport US citizens whose parents are immigrants. He defended the internment of Japanese during WWII, he insulted John McCain’s war service, praised the Chinese government for the Tiananmen Square crackdown, implied Megyn Kelly attacked him during a debate because she was menstruating, said men who change their children’s diapers are “acting like a wife,” and repeatedly lied about muslim-americans celebrating 9/11 and collaborating with the Orlando shooter.Is that enough for now, or do absolutely none of these things bother you?

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          • Yes. Yes I would. Trump is playing with white ethno-nationalism more so than any other candidate for President in my life. There might have been a congresscritter here and there with Trump’s rhetoric but in terms of Presidents, he takes the cake.

            For all of his many faults, Bush II was no bigot. McCain denounced bigotry when he saw it on the campaign trail, and Romney while tone-deaf on economic issues did not make any dog-whistles to race that I remember.

            Trump zooms past all of them with an absolute glee that is morally appalling and appalling to anyone who cares about democracy, rule of law, and the constitution.

            It is not my moral or ethical responsibility to defend the “alt-right” and make excuses for them because it is totes interesting performance art dada. It is not my moral or ethical responsibility to make excuses for white guys who feel the need to carry semi-automatic rifles to Walmart because they lost their jobs/ability to work and now need to feel empowered. I am fine with calling a spade a spade. If someone is posting racist memes simply to get a rise out of bourgeois liberals than they are no better than people who really believe in the stuff. Milo Y is puerile nothing who needs to grow up and get over Epartier Le Bourgeois, he is not 12.

            Trump is an ultra-sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic and quite possibly anti-Semitic garbage fire. He called for lynching wrongfully accused black men as early as the 1980s with his ad against the Central Park 5. His son is going around spreading alt-right/white supremacist memes.

            So no, I don’t think HRC was that far off with her basket of deplorables comment. That is certainly a strong element of the corrupt man’s campaign.

            Dude, Trump called for overturning the 6th Amendment after the NYC bombing or ignoring it. When are you going to realize that this is not a normal Republican candidate and be less ohh ohh Gamergate, ohh ohh Milo Y. Or do you also agree with the basket of deplorables?

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        • A couple of thoughts:

          – I see this point a lot, about white folks fearing women and minorities in positions of power and it is a perfect example of why you ought to question assertion that fit perfectly with your pre-existing worldview and paint your ideological opposites as the perfect cartoon villain. More importantly, it is a fundamental misunderstanding of how racism and sexism work. Margaret Thatcher has long been a favorite of the right. And there is a whole troop of black men (Ben Carson, Alan Watts, Sheriff David Clarke) who primarily exist to let white folks remain comfortable in their bigoted opinions. The people who are deeply invested in white supremacy and patriarchy have no problem with minorities or women in positions of power, so long as they are people who don’t threaten to disrupt the status quo.

          – Secondly, this whole deplorables thing is a perfect example of something that happens in politics that is really… deplorable. Some politician or pundit deploys a description or a metaphor to describe something and everyone gets spun up debating the metaphor instead of the underlying comment. Never mind that the metaphor is a thing that literally does not exist in any meaningful way. There is no such thing as a “basket of deplorables.” “Binders full of women” means nothing.

          Hillary Clinton is right that there is an awful lot of condemnable behavior underlying support for Trump. That said, and this may just be my catholic schooling kicking in, it is generally better to condemn behavior and avoid condemning people. In the realm of politics, condemning people is a dangerous game. It may work in mobilizing people against those deemed deplorable, but it also doesn’t give those people any quarter. And if it turns out that group is bigger than you expected, or has more sympathy than expected, then you’ve just mobilized a whole lot of people against you.

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          • “The people who are deeply invested in white supremacy and patriarchy have no problem with minorities or women in positions of power, so long as they are people who don’t threaten to disrupt the status quo.”

            What does it mean to be “deeply invested in white supremacy and patriarchy”? Does it mean explicitly so? Or just the people who have the most invested in these systems perpetuating? Something else?

            And are you talking about a given individual’s actual threat to the status quo? Or the perception? Because one thing I’d venture to guess you agree with is that neither Obama nor Hilary were very large threats to the status quo. Despite much of the rhetoric otherwise (pro-Obama before the election, anti-Obama afterward), he has largely been a centrist and has carried forward some of the more ghastly elements of the status quo. And Hilary may been an even bigger centrist with more pro-corporate and hawkish sympathies.

            And yet we see much mobilization against them both because certain elements worked very hard to paint them as threats to the status quo, often playing on issues of race and gender.

            So while I agree that we should resist the really easy, self-affirming narratives, I’m also not sure how to parse out all the different pieces as neatly as you seem to suggest.

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            • I used the term deeply invested, because I want to make a distinction between the overwhelming majority of us who are to some extent invested in white supremacy and patriarchy and those who are really committed to it. Some of those folks are openly committed and some don’t even realize it. It’s complicated. And I am not suggesting that anything is neat. That is the opposite of what I am saying.

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          • The people who are deeply invested in white supremacy and patriarchy have no problem with minorities or women in positions of power, so long as they are people who don’t threaten to disrupt the status quo.

            The people who are deeply invested in white supremacy and patriarchy have no problem with *small amounts of* minorities or women in positions of power, so long as they are people who don’t threaten to disrupt the status quo, and *as long as the top position is clearly retained by a white male*.

            Margaret Thatcher has long been a favorite of the right.

            Margaret Thatcher also has never held any position of power in this country.

            And, yes, she’s popular with the British right, but I think it’s a mistake try to for too much of analogy of American and British right.

            In America, women’s rights got tied up in counterculturalism and the left, and there’s a hell of a lot of combination misogyny and racism that go hand and hand.

            In Britain, that’s not really how it works, as far as I can tell.

            And, least we forget, there are a lot of things that ‘the right’ seemed to like, a lot of norms it used to obey, that just apparently disappeared out the window very recently in America as the right turned into something else. Does the American right, or, rather, do the Trump-ists, *still* like Thatcher?

            And it might be interesting to go around asking the British First people what they think of Thatcher.

            In the realm of politics, condemning people is a dangerous game. It may work in mobilizing people against those deemed deplorable, but it also doesn’t give those people any quarter. And if it turns out that group is bigger than you expected, or has more sympathy than expected, then you’ve just mobilized a whole lot of people against you.

            Clinton at least condemned *supporters of her opponent*. And only half of them at that, giving the rest a way out.

            It was much smarter than Mitt Romney condemning 47% of the country, which certainly included some of this supporters.

            I’m not sure it was a good idea, but I don’t know it was a bad one, either. And I do think it was a calculated idea. Although I’m pretty sure she wasn’t supposed to say *half*.

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            • Honestly, and I didn’t think of this until you made the point, it does feel a lot like Romney’s 47% comment. Whether or not you actually can reach them, publicly declaring a substantial subset of the electorate to be unreachable by and irreconcilable to you is a terrible idea if you actually want to win the election.

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              • It was a bad mistake for Romney because he needed some of that 47% to win.

                What Hillary was *intending* to say, and had said previously, was that *some* (not half, that seems to have slipped out) of Trump’s supporters were horrible racist and sexist people…and I’m pretty certain she’s *never* been counting on their vote.

                See, the thing is, a lot of hay has been made about her comment, but do we really have any evidence that it’s causing people who were previously on the fence to *not* support her? (As the 47% comment *did*.)

                The entire point of that comment was to make some subset of Trump voters (the reasonable people, the people voting Republican out of a sense of tradition or duty or dumb economic reasoning) to reconsider their vote, and, at minimum, stay home and not vote. And maybe even become Hillary supporters. (Heck, just making them *embarrassed* of being associated with those people, and not *openly* supporting him, is a minor win, even if they personally vote for him.)

                The fact it made some other subset of Trump voters *angry* doesn’t actually matter…those people weren’t even close to ever being Hillary voters to start with!

                I.e., it was an attempt to cause dissension in the ranks by saying ‘Why are you reasonable people standing next to those horrible racist jackasses?’.

                That, I think, was the *theory*. Whether or not it actually *managed* that is another question, as is whether or not declaring those two parts to be ‘halves’. It could, indeed, have been a miscalculation.

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            • A lot of British feminism got wrapped up in the British equivalent of the counter-culture and many Further Left feminists hated Maggie Thatcher for not being the right first female PM of the United Kingdom.

              I think the big difference between the United Kingdom and the United States was that support and opposition for the social changes of the 1960s and 1970s was more split in the United Kingdom and more top-down than bottom up. The death penalty was abolished despite of mass popular support because enough Conservative and Labour MPs hated it. The British historian Dominic Sandbrook points out that it took until the 1980s for support for the death penalty to fall bellow majority support. The same is true for the other social reforms. It was based on elite rather than popular support.

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              • My point is the fact there’s no reason for *American* conservatives to have a problem with Thatcher. Not only is she safely in the past, she didn’t actually *do* anything to America, not being an American leader. She’s not any sort of threat to an *American* misogynist.

                As for why the British right liked here…the British right is pretty different than the American right.

                Additionally, it’s with pointing out the British right didn’t elect her PM, because that’s not the PM works.

                I think the big difference between the United Kingdom and the United States was that support and opposition for the social changes of the 1960s and 1970s was more split in the United Kingdom and more top-down than bottom up.

                I think a bigger difference is that, with multiple political parties, the extremist right stuff got safely (until recently) out of the Conservative party and ended up in the BNP.

                Even in positions where the Conservatives are still socially conservative, there appears to be a debate *within* the party as to what extent that makes sense. There are two wings, traditional and modern.

                This is unlike how the right works in the US, where any movement even *slightly* away from the far right results in primary loses.

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  13. Here is why I think the polls are really screwy this year. This is 538’s projection on the Senate

    http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/senate/

    538 gives the Democrats much better odds at retaking the Senate than Sam Wang or the Upshot. Sam Wang and the Upshot have the Senate at a basic tie. 538 seems to have the Democrats winning back Indiana which is a state sure to go for Trump in the electoral college. Meanwhile they think PA will be close while most other sites have PA being solidly for the Democratic Senate candidate or at least more so.

    So how can the site that is most doubtful on HRC’s chance for the Presidency be the most strong for the Democratic controlling the Senate?

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    • Here are things I understand:

      1. HRC winning the Presidency and Democrats taking control of the Senate and/or House;

      2. HRC winning the Presidency and one or both houses of Congress staying in Republican hands or the Senate is 50 plus Tim Kaine; and

      3. Donald Trump winning the Presidency (shudder) and the GOP maintains their advantage in Congress.

      Here is what I don’t understand:

      4. Trump wins the Presidency and the Democrats win the Senate. This objectively makes no sense.

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  14. I think it might be a good idea to do a revisit of this earlier post: https://ordinary-times.com/2012/09/10/what-a-progressive-conservatism-looks-like/, in light of the rise of the alt-right and other reactionary ideologies (Putinism, ISIS, European nationalist populism, etc.) in recent years.

    I think we might need a progressive conservatism now more than ever. A lot of the “old-school” American conservatives (Limbaugh, Coulter, etc.) have become indistinguishable from reactionaries. And reactionaries, keep in mind, are not conservatives. Progressive conservatism seems to the be the only conservatism strong enough to act as a consistent antidote to the alt-right.

    It seems like a good idea for progressive conservatism in 2016 and beyond would be a philosophy based around the following basic ideas:

    1. What reactionaries call “modern” or “Enlightenment” ideas and values (and subsequently reject) are actually anything but. In fact, many of these ideals (universal human rights and dignity, respect for women and children’s rights, altruism as positive good, rejection of narrow tribalism, racism and “might is right” thinking) go all the way back to the ancient Greco-Roman world. Say what you want about Rome, it wasn’t reactionary (at least not in the sense of being ethno-nationalist; quite the contrary it was about as multiculti as you can get. Byzantium saw itself as the ecumene (“inhabited world”) rather than as a nation-state; it was more like the USA or even the UN than an ethnically defined nation).

    These ideals were subsequently picked up by Christianity and even, for a period, Islam (during the medieval era, the Islamic world was heavily influenced by Hellenism). They were reaffirmed by Renaissance thinkers too. To some extent, therefore, we can say that progressivism itself is traditional and is worth conserving. Obviously there are a lot of modern distortions of progressive ideas that need to be rejected, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater like the reactionaries want to do. Progressive conservatism is “trans-modern”, rather than being pro- or anti-modern, since it supports a lot of ideas seen as “modern” but views them as rooted in antiquity rather than the Enlightenment.

    2. Many of the ideas reactionaries support as “traditional” are also not traditional, but have their origins in 19th century Romanticism and related movements. In particular, “Identitarian Christians” claim their version of Christianity is the original one, but this is quite plainly not true; the first “identitarians” among the early Christians were the so-called Judaizers, and their side lost. Others seek a return to state-church unions (i. e., they are trying to resurrect the so-called “Constantinian Parenthesis”, named by analogy with the Gutenberg Parenthesis). A prog-con would accept that the Constantinan Parenthesis is over and not support attempts to revive it, or any other reactionary attempt to reconstruct so-called “golden ages”. If there’s anything to be learned from Augustine’s City of God, it’s that those trying to resurrect any so-called golden age from the past (which is inevitably a delusion since no golden ages actually existed in the first place) are no less dangerous than those utopians on the left who want to build a brand-new futuristic golden age in the present.

    3. While the alt-right is right-wing but not conservative, progressive conservatism is conservative but not right-wing (instead, it aims to transcend left-right distinctions). Thus, they both diverge from 20th century conservatism in opposite directions.

    4. Progressive conservatism rejects the “culture war” metaphor as unhelpful, because no matter which side wins the so-called culture wars, often the only result is more authoritarianism and/or social fragmentation. Culture warring also leads over time to a tendency among its participants to dehumanize and vilify the “other side”, and this can lead to violence (and has in the past). Thus, progressive conservatives do not aspire to be culture warriors in the same sense reactionaries and 20th century social conservatives did and do. They resist the urge to think in “us and them” terms.

    Thus you can be a Christian and part of this movement, but you can also be an atheist who nonetheless appreciates some of Christianity’s contributions to political thought and views “prog-con” Christians as a “lesser evil” compared to reactionaries of either the secular or religious variety. Or you could even be a Muslim or a Jew or a Buddhist. Or even an LGBT person who disagrees with the churches’ teachings on sexuality but finds commonality with them on economics (e. g., by supporting distributism rather than hard-left socialism or Rothbardian capitalism).

    You could say this movement would be a Christian movement in some sense, but not a movement exclusively catering to Christians. The ultimate big tent.

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    • “respect for women and children’s rights…go all the way back to the ancient Greco-Roman world.”

      what the fucking fuck

      women in ancient Greece and Rome DID NOT HAVE NAMES

      they were referred to as “Wife”, “Daughter Number One”, “Daughter Number Two”, and so on

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      • (We have plays from that era that have named female characters. We have works that survive that refer to females by their names. Xanthippe was the first to come to my mind. Lysistrata was a close second. If we want to run with “those were nicknames!” or something, we have to look at stuff like “Plato”.)

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    • I think it might be a good idea to do a revisit of this earlier post

      That was a lot of text saying what the conservative movement should be, and even more saying what it shouldn’t…

      …but almost no comment on *what its goals are*.

      Likewise, the post you linked to gave one example, which was that Prog-Cons would be in favor of gay marriage…just *slower*. Huh?

      While I, personally, would be overjoyed at a ‘Conservative movement’ that wants everything the left does, just a decade later, I have to point out that such a thing is *not actually a political movement*. Or, if it is, it’s called the ‘moderate left’.

      What are the *goals* of this ‘Progressive conservative’ movement? What are the *ideals* of it, beyond ‘Rejecting some conservative goals’?

      And, considering all the conservative goals you rejected seem to be *social* ones, how is this different from libertarianism? Or libertarianism except with some moderate social conservativism in it?

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      • I’m not talking about whether Insty is a dickhead.

        Let’s take that as a given.

        I’m talking about this in the context of the original post’s question:

        Gab’s creation does beg the question: how potent and newsworthy will the Alt-Right be when they are regulated to platforms made up entirely of their adherents?

        Do you want to get Gab off the ground?

        This is how you get Gab off the ground.

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                • People have always self segregated for some activities or behaviors. Nothing new there. Maybe if people want to be threatening nasty jerks they should just find a nice quiet on line presence to do it quietly amongst themselves. Lord knows plenty of people do that with their hobbies.

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                  • It’s not skepticism.

                    The OP wrote the question: “how potent and newsworthy will the Alt-Right be when they are regulated to platforms made up entirely of their adherents?”

                    Well, it seems to me that the Instapundit incident means that more than merely the Alt-Right will be going over there. It looks like mainstream right will be going over there as well.

                    I’d suspect that many folks who have found themselves frustrated with Twitter’s curation of their timelines will find themselves there.

                    I’ll repeat myself:

                    Do you want to get Gab off the ground?

                    This is how you get Gab off the ground.

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                  • I’m old enough to remember how the Internet was going to be where peoples’ ideas could be discussed independent of the context of personal feelings, where philosophies could be examined and turned over and the truths beneath them uncovered and turned into newer, better ways of thinking.

                    Turns out we’re all just supposed to sit at our own lunch tables and never talk to anyone from outside our tribe, just like we did in high school.

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        • >>This is how you get Gab off the ground.

          Instapundit has many online forums in which he can speak openly and freely, so why is it important for him to have access to the twitter audience? What service is twitter providing that other social forums do not? Does Gab provide this service?

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          • so why is it important for him to have access to the twitter audience?

            It’s not. It’s not at all.

            What service is twitter providing that other social forums do not?

            They were first to hit it big, but it looks like services like Gab will be made available as well.

            See also: Digg as an alternative to Reddit.

            Does Gab provide this service?

            As far as I can tell, it does (or it will when it leaves beta or whatever). Assuming it doesn’t crash under its own weight.

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            • But Instapundit *already* has access to other forums? Why would he put up with twitter’s corporate policies and scrub his own tweets unless he wants something that is uniquely available on twitter? I highly doubt he’s doing it because he really likes the 140 char limit or the twitter UI, I’m guessing it has something to do with the unique audience that twitter provides.

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              • From what I understand, he’s quitting.

                TWITTER HAS UNBLOCKED MY ACCOUNT ON CONDITION OF DELETING THE OFFENDING TWEET. But lest I be accused of airbrushing, it’s preserved here. Still planning on quitting Twitter, though, after making a few points. Earlier post is here.

                So, if he’s not lying (which he might be!!!), he’s no longer putting up with twitter’s corporate policies.

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                • That would be a watershed moment (even if it’s in the planning stages, whatever that means) but I’ll believe it when I see it given that it’s totally at odds with all of his actions so far.

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                    • Half of Twitter is “hey look at this thing” with a sentence or two commentary on that thing – which was the exact thing Instapundit pioneered.

                      So to me, Instapundit is what is redundant these days (even puting aside his now decade long brand of reactionary libertarianism)

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                      • Note: I just tried to sign up for GAB. I was told I am 66177th in line. An email indicates they are still in Beta and it may take several weeks before I can join.

                        Also, this is part of their “Guidelines”:
                        “We have a zero tolerance policy for violence and terrorism. Users are not allowed to make threats of, or promote, violence of any kind or promote terrorist organizations or agendas.”

                        Now, maybe that is just in there so they can keep ISIS off. But what are the odds it results in liberals who even toe that line being booted? And would the “Run them down” stuff have violated this? I mean, encouraging others to run people over with a car seems like a pretty clear threat of violence. But… who knows!

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                      • If it becomes Breitbart when all predictions were that it’d become Stormfront?

                        I’d certainly say “exceeds expectations”.

                        But that’s playing “if”. We still don’t know whether it’ll crash under its own weight.

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                        • What matters more: outside predictions or internal expectations?

                          Better question that my initial one: If it becomes the comment section at Breitbart writ large, how influential will it be?

                          Will people looking to have influence at a high level choose that version of Gab? Or Twitter?

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                          • Which is what makes Jon Gabriel’s defection so noteworthy.

                            Jon Gabriel is the honcho of Ricochet.com. Arguably the smartest Conservative discussion site out there.

                            Additionally, it’s not just the blatantly political portion of Breitbart on Gab. There’s also the Milo portion of gamergate over there.

                            How influential?

                            If it’s an underground sort of place having underground sorts of discussions, it’s like asking “how influential is 4chan?”

                            On one level, there’s a huge number of people who have never (and will never) hear about 4chan in any meaningful way (maybe O’Reilly will talk about it on the Talking Points again… nothing really beyond that)

                            On another level, 4chan leaks into Reddit leaks into Twitter/Facebook and even the normies know who Scumbag Steve and Good Guy Greg are.

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                • Relatedly, we had a long discussion about why twitter doesn’t do a better job of communicating with the user about precisely which content was in breach of terms. So they did in the Instapundit case … and the tweet was turned into a trending hash tag and spread via screenshots.

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        • So a win win then for everybody. The people who are into death threats and lol-racsims have their spot. Either no one will pay attention to it or people will screen cap it to show how sleazy it is. I imagine some of the Gabber’s will absolutely hate not having people pay attention to them or people to troll.

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        • Insty is a dickhead, but this is completely revolting:

          The University of Tennessee at Knoxville says it’s investigating a law professor’s tweet suggesting that motorists “run down” protesters blocking traffic following a fatal police shooting in Charlotte, N.C. The professor, a popular blogger with the Twitter handle , says he hasn’t been contacted by the university directly, and many free speech advocates say that his remark — however objectionable — should be protected.

          Twitter is a private company that provides a free service. They can kick users for any reason or no reason for all I care.

          The Univeristy of Tennessee is a state school bound by both the First Amendment and longstanding traditions of academic freedom. Even hinting at the idea that they might discipline Reynolds for this is far worse than him being a pluperfect douchebag on Twitter.

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          • Hypothetically speaking, if next semester every student in the law school refused to take a class offered by the guy — and made it explicitly known that it was because of this tweet — would that be fireable? Would that still run up against 1st Amendment issues?

            I realize that is highly unlikely. I’m just trying to understand how this all works from a legal/constitutional stand point.

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            • I don’t know how the legalities would shake out, but if it actually happened that a professor could be fired for that, it would be a complete disaster for academic freedom. Say what you will about Reynolds, but the dude really made the right career choice for someone who wants to say horrible shit to a large audience without endangering his job.

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              • But is academic freedom absolute? I mean, if a math professor submitted “Lies 101: How Calculus Shows the Holocaust Never Happened” would a university be forced to continue to employ him AND offer that class? If a professor can’t get a single student to take his class, a university has to continue to pay him to sit in an empty lecture hall? If a professor stands up in front of the African-American history course he’s been assigned to teach and just yells the N-word for 55 minutes every time, he’s protected?

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                • Academic freedom isn’t absolute, but firing professors because a large group of students find their out-of-classroom speech reprehensible is just not going to work. This is pretty different from professors refusing to do their job, verbally abusing students in class, et c.

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                  • Agreed. And as shows below, that seems to be how it works.

                    I’m ccurious what this investigation involves. I agree that an investigation itself can have a chilling effect on speech. At the same time, don’t we need some mechanism to determine if a line’s been crossed and, if not, can’t that end up affirming the freedom?

                    “We understand there was concern about what Prof. Smith said. We looked into it and determined his comments fall under the umbrella of academic freedom we hold deer. We may disagree with Smith but what is a university for if not principled and civil disagreement?”

                    Will that happen? No idea.

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                • : I think there’s a misconception of how tenure works. Once granted tenure, you can only be fired for breaking the law; academic fraud; or gross violation of university policy or responsibility (sleeping with a student, coming to work drunk, not teaching your classes, etc.). You are not, however, immune from disciplinary action, and you are *definitely* not immune from investigation. Most people get tenure 1/4 or so through their faculty career, if the university just gave them a blank check then it would soon stop functioning.

                  The examples you mention would fall under clear disciplinary guidelines: the math professor is introducing topics that have no relation to the class and in which he has no claim to scholarship, the professor of African-American history is not conducting himself professionally with colleagues and students. The professor whose class is undersubscribed would just get their class cut (this happens all the time), and if it happened repeatedly they would be directed into teaching gen eds. Disciplinary action runs from being asked to issue a statement to the students, to being blocked from open-ended classes for some time, to not being promoted, to being being suspended without pay. All of the traditional employment carrots and sticks are still in place after tenure – except for termination.

                  The way academic freedom fits into this is that you cannot be told *what* to research or *how* to teach a class (beyond topic-neutral guidelines of integrity, professional competence, etc.). If you’re researching and publishing things that the university does not like, there’s basically nothing they can do aside from refusing to nominate you for prestigious promotions. If you’re teaching in a way that the university doesn’t like, they can use student evals or other metrics of performance to limit your class time and move you into admin roles. For outside the classroom stuff, here is the policy from UT that Instapundit agreed to in taking his position:

                  When, as a citizen, a faculty member speaks outside the classroom or writes for publication, he or she should be free, as a citizen, to express his or her opinions. Each faculty member should conduct himself or herself professionally, should be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make clear that he or she speaks for himself or herself and not for The University.

                  If they really wanted to pursue this, they could force the professor to issue a public statement, or possibly limit their options for promotion. Obviously that wouldn’t happen in this case because the incitement is mild and was followed by multiple apologies.

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          • >>Even hinting at the idea that they might discipline Reynolds for this is far worse than him being a pluperfect douchebag on Twitter.

            In general I’m with you that behavior off-job should have zero impact on academic employment. However, death threats and inciting violence falls into complicated territory because it has a direct, view-point neutral effect on the teacher/student relationship. It doesn’t matter if you’re a conservative or liberal; if you know that your professor is willing to incite violence, that has an impact on how you interact with that professor. In the case of Reynolds, the context and subsequent apologies make it clear that he had mis-tweeted and the threat is not serious. However, a university (particularly a state school) doesn’t function like you or I where some admin can just look at the tweets and clear them. There has to have a protocol for how they treat threats that is neutral and consistently applied – this protocol is what the university calls an investigation. I think Reynolds should be investigated and found not in breach and I hope that academics advocate on his behalf (as has already happened at Crooked Timber and LGM). But the initial tweet and twitter censorship for incitement is certainly enough evidence for the university to examine what happened.

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            • Yesssssssssss.
              Take my hand.
              Take my hand and we will destroy tenure together.
              To hell with Reynolds.
              He always sucked anyway.
              Take my hand and we can make sure that college professors always have to worry about what they tweet, what they write, and even what they say in an intimate setting.

              Yes.
              Let’s do this together.

              It will be beautiful.

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            • “death threats and inciting violence falls into complicated territory because it has a direct, view-point neutral effect on the teacher/student relationship.”

              It’s sort of like when teachers call for violent expulsion of unwanted citizen-journalists from a political rally! They should DEFINITELY get in trouble for that!

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              • Dude, Melissa Click is *exactly* the kind of person that tenure should not protect from an investigation. But Jaybird beat you to it. You need to get further ahead of the curve and insinuate that I want professors fired for wrong-think because they suck. Hurry, there may still be time to get a Harrison Bergeron quote in.

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              • Well, they not only definitely should get in trouble for that, they definitely did get in trouble for that, in that Melissa Click was charged with a crime, plead guilty, and was subsequently fired.

                The difference between what she did and what Reynolds did is the difference between incitement and being a run-of-the-mill asshole. If a student can’t handle being taught by a run-of-the-mill asshole, they’re going to have a lot of trouble in college (or law school).

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                      • I think that the academy is toxic and would benefit from a complete overhaul.

                        Ignoring/breaking tenure is an important next step to completely overhauling everything.

                        Getting the leadership of prestigious colleges to see their mission as not “providing an education” but “maintaining and growing an endowment” was what got us here.

                        Nothing’s going to get us out of here except for a large fire.

                        Abandoning tenure is the match.

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                        • Wait, if the problem is how administrators are doing things, why are you going after professors? I’m not saying that your diagnosis of the problem is wrong, but this is kind of like saying someone has a broken leg, so the best course of action is to hit them in the leg again with a baseball bat.

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                        • Abandoning tenure is the match.

                          Maybe. I mean, I agree it’s a match, I’m just not sure it leads to a conflagration. (I’m also uncertain that tenure is a cause, even a minor one, of everincreasing tuition.)

                          One thing I puzzle over is the nonprofit status of almost all Institutions of Higher Education (Trump U!). I wonder to what extent changing that status, and requiring these institutions to pay taxes on “all income from whatever source derived”, would curtail some the administrative exuberance we’ve been seeing since … well, non-dischargeable guaranteed student loans became a thing.

                          It seems to me universities operate in a prototypical market and play a role indistinguishable from players in any other market: making a “profit”. But they aren’t subject to one of the mechanism by which market activity is often constrained: covering the tax nut.

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                          • I’m also uncertain that tenure is a cause, even a minor one, of everincreasing tuition.)

                            I don’t think it is either (and, if so, only indirectly that colleges without tenured professors are seen as unserious).

                            Touching non-profit status is one heck of a third rail. I could see doing it to universities only if it were done to churches at the same time.

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                              • We need some sort of non-prifot explainer here, because every time people start talking about ‘taxing non-profits’, it always turns into silliness.

                                Mainly, if you tax a non-profit like a for-profit, you would not really get much money. Corporations are taxed on their corporate income, and non-profits have almost nothing that would fit that definition. They do not pay dividends, they do not do stock buy-backs, they do not have high executive compensation.

                                Non-profits are not just for-profits that magically are not taxed. Non-profits *do not make a profit*, and corporate profit is *literally what corporate income tax is trying to tax*. (Yes, it’s called ‘income tax’, but it’s really ‘profit tax’.)

                                You can, at most, tax non-profits based on their ‘net monetary gains’ over the year. I.e., if they start with $1000 in the bank, and end with $2000 in the bank, you can tax taht $1000. But there a bunch of different ways around *that* in tax law. (Buying inventory, etc.) That’s the sort of corporate income that corporations always manage to avoid.

                                And this, hilariously, would result in exactly the *opposite* thing people who talk about taxing non-profits often want. If you’re concerned that non-profits are paying employees too much…well, congrats, your ‘let’s tax them’ plan just resulted in them dumping their extra cash into Christmas bonuses for employees so they don’t pay corporate income tax on it! Not really sure that did what you wanted.

                                Also…uh, guys, the University of Tennessee is not a non-profit.

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                                • Non-profits are not just for-profits that magically are not taxed. Non-profits *do not make a profit*, and corporate profit is *literally what corporate income tax is trying to tax*.

                                  Only via the magic of the US tax code.

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                  • Well, Click was right there, telling other people who were right there to commit assault on a specific journalist, and those other people upon being told to commit assault did so. She then plead guilty to a misdemeanor for doing this.

                    None of those aspects are present in Reynolds’ case. He was just talking–well, Tweeting–shit.

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                    • Very different indeed. If someone did follow his advice and cite him as the reason, would that matter? I’d say no absent more evidence that he wasn’t just taking tough and got taken up by a monster.

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            • I’m a really big fan of the idea that Twitter should be pretty free with bans and suspensions, and that given the nature of its service and business model, people are being kinda silly to want clear standards and transparency and any sort of due process when it comes to bans and suspensions. I think they went well beyond what was necessary here in terms of communicating clearly.

              All of that means that I’m really kind of an un-fan of an employer taking their employee’s getting banned from Twitter as evidence of anything at all unless being on Twitter is an integral part of their job.

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              • The thing is, people aren’t saying “Twitter just randomly bans anyone for whatever reason, or maybe no reason.”

                I’d actually be OK with Twitter saying “we’re going to ban people who call for violence, harassment, and assault of other persons”. (Of course, they’d have to do that for a lot of people, and more of them would be on the political-left than the political-right solely because of the demographics of Twitter’s user-base.)

                I’d even be OK with Twitter saying “right-wing extremism, or things that look like it, will get you banned”. Because at least then we’d know where we stood.

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              • Twitter banning the user or deleting the tweet should serve as evidence that the tweet existed. A real tweet that appears to incite the public to commit violence should be investigated by the university. The idea that academics should be immune to *investigations* is the kind of policy that would be decried as ivory tower unaccountability in any other circumstance.

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            • Question for the lawyers: Is this something that would legally be considered an incitement to violence, as opposed to merely an expression of disdain for the protestors and their actions?

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