The “Radicalization” of Sarah Jeong

Matt Jameson

Matt Jameson is a lawyer and proud Buckeye. Less proud this week. He can be found on Twitter.

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178 Responses

  1. pillsy says:

    The New York Times explains that Jeong’s rhetoric was radicalized but her beliefs were not. Why should anyone believe that? (Hell, why should the Times believe that? Did anyone at the paper—a lawyer, perhaps—consider for even a moment that this unbounded set of several hundred hateful tweets might not fully circumscribe the multiverse of potential problems here?)

    Because that’s the most plausible scenario?

    “I got really mad and said shit I shouldn’t have,” is, in fact an almost ubiquitous part of the human experience. It is, in fact, a much more common aspect of the human experience than bizarre anti-white Asian supremacist racism that starts (and as far as anybody has been able to show, ends) with bad Tweets.

    Indeed, given the general environment of Twitter it’s virtually certain that quite a few other people at the Times have experienced harassment at least as bad as what was inflicted on Jeong, and thus could understand the impulse and the motivations in exactly those terms.

    And she said she won’t do it again. If she does do it again, I assume they’ll can her immediately.

    (I’m not going to address the rhetorical legal question, but couldn’t bear to edit it out of my reply because that would have left an unbalanced left parenthesis.)Report

    • Will Truman in reply to pillsy says:

      That’s fair up to a point, but collides into the “several hundred” part of that…

      That said, the “radical rhetoric but not beliefs” thing is credible. It’s not clear what a defense being a edgelordian excrement-poster is, but that’s the most obvious explanation as far as I’m concern. Which, for the NYT, means that she can turn it off pretty easily. (If it were actual anger, I’d have my doubts.)Report

      • pillsy in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’ve calmed down a lot with age, but I’ve yelled, “Fuckface!” [1] a way more people in traffic than that. It’s not that hard to really mad a lot of the time.

        [1] I understand that OT etiquette suggests glossing this as “Fishface!” but frankly that’s a much funnier insult that would make me sound cleverer, or at least less impotently rage-addled, than I really am.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

          “I got really mad and said shit I shouldn’t have,” is, in fact an almost ubiquitous part of the human experience.

          This is true when we are talking about the brain to mouth filter. The brain to fingers filter, especially when the filter must operate a keyboard of some type and fit the anger into a limited number of characters… Well, people have more time for reflection with regard to what they want to say.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Eh, that’s true for a blog post.

            Significantly less true for twitter.

            Blog posts are the ego as informed by the superego.
            Tweets are the id. Pure. Unfiltered.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

              Nope. Language doesn’t work like that. Especially language that has to be formatted for length.

              Writing engages different areas of the brain, and typing is different from handwriting.

              Both of which require the brain to take time and think about what wants to be said. Ergo, Tweets are not unfiltered, they are very much filtered and represent a truth that words spoken in anger do not.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @oscar-gordon They haven’t actually done those studies with a focus on people who spend most of their time online and type more than 50 wpm.

                We’re continually having to take stock of how much more plastic the brain is than we give it credit for.

                Also plenty of twitter clients handle the length requirement for one. ( I actually thought it was no longer a thing, that twitter’s own stuff was splitting tweets the same way most of the clients do. Wrongo, Maribou.)Report

              • pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

                Yeah I’m not even a great typist but I don’t type all that much more slowly than I speak.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

                Clearly this is why I can never seem to finish my Great American Short Story!Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

                Writing still requires more effort than speech, regardless of how fast you can type.

                And even if, as you say, a person who has grown up on Twitter can allow their Id free reign via writing, then we circle back to Will’s point. A single, or a handful of angry tweets, one could write off as an angry moment. Hundreds representing a near constant stream of anger… That’s either a well thought out schtick, or we should be hoping she doesn’t have ready access to firearms.

                (IMHO, it’s schtick)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                (I always assume that twitter typos of the homophone variant are due to speech-to-text issues.)Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                I remember mixing up “there/their/they’re” and “your/you’re” were ubiquitous on USENET, well before speech-to-text was widespread technology.

                When you get right down to it, our brains are just janky blobs of meat jelly.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                Does Ms. Joeng commit a lot of phonetic faux pas in her tweets?Report

              • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I also assume it’s schtick, I was just disagreeing with the general claim that writing is by nature more deliberate than talking. That’s true for some folks, not for all.

                For me, talking was trained from a young age to be filtered and typing was where no one was going to censor what I said and get all freaked out about it any time I didn’t 100 percent agree with them (in my particular case, violently – but many of my friends felt that way about their parents/other adults without the threat of violence – think of all the queer kids hiding their sexuality in real life and not on the anonymous internet).

                I’m far more brain-to-fingers than I am brain-to-tongue. In fact, brain-to-tongue is a rare and cherished state for me. (and/or something that gets inflicted on Jaybird when I’m at my wit’s end… but 99 percent of the time, rare and cherished)

                Normally before I open my mouth I’ve run through and considered 4 or 5 different ways of saying the same thing – at minimum. That runthrough process doesn’t happen at all in text, it flies out at 80-110 wpm and then I have to read it to see where it went wrong.

                So thank all that’s internet holy we have a 5 minute edit option on here…Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

                Think of it this way. We (in general) learn to speak long before we learn to read or write (and way, way before we learn to type). Processing speech and phonemes is anchored in that early stage brain development. The ‘algorithms’ for handling speech are really damned efficient[1], call it O(n).

                Reading and writing come later, and typing even further than that[2]. The algorithms are still efficient, but less so. I’d say at best, for people who write way more than they speak, it’s on the order of O(n^2) to O(2n+1). This is because you have to not only think of the word, but also how it’s spelled, and how to instruct your fingers to write or type the word. More commands to send out drives up the processing time needed. Excellent muscle memory and lots of practice will drive down the time needed, but it still won’t be as fast as speech CAN execute.

                The fact that a person is faster at writing than speaking says less about how quickly they can write, and more about how consciously deliberate they are when speaking.

                [1] Obviously people with damaged or underdeveloped, etc. speech centers are excepted from all this.

                [2] Although if Bug is anything to measure by, not that much further… Sheesh, hand the kid a tablet…

                PS The latest research a quick Google showed me was from 2015, and it concluded that speech and writing are completely separate areas of the brain. However, it was looking at stroke patients (i.e. not the Twitter generation), and it was not measuring the efficiency of expression of thought. This is to say, I could be wrong. Or not. Either way, it’s fun to kick the ideas around.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @oscar-gordon I’m not consciously deliberate at speaking. That whole process? Involuntary. Unavoidable. The switch that flips to let me stop is also involuntary and unavoidable. And I still speak fluently enough that people mostly don’t have a clue.

                I’ll believe the studies apply to people who are deeply immersed in writing on the internet, and deeply fluent fast readers, when they start doing their studies on people who spend most of their time writing and reading (not liking, or sharing) on the internet, at a quick pace.

                Until then I remain deeply skeptical. Having plausible explanations for why a thing should be so, in the biological – and particularly the neurological – sciences, has less relationship than one might like to things *actually being that way*. Heck, it’s only in the *past two years* that they figured out every neuron is its own computer networked to another computer, not all non-complete parts of one whole…. who knows what else in the plausible explanation department is based on lacking crucial information?

                And yes, the speech / writing thing goes back a lot further than 2015, but again…

                Look, basically I’m suffering from a pet theory here, and that’s that there are two types of writing, and that one is speech-for-little-kids-like and the other is the deliberate, requiring thought version that all writing gets ascribed to. I think the former is novel, less than 30 years old, so no wonder we don’t understand it yet.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

                Fair enough.

                All that said, if you ever find new research regarding it, I’d love to hear about it.Report

          • pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Dude maybe for you but my comments around here get redacted pretty regularly for a reason.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Will Truman says:

        Performance Art? Self Parody? Acting? Channeling anger (or just emotion) into art?

        Of course with Trump, Ann Coulter, etc, after they don’t break character (ever), at some point we should wonder if this is just who they really are.

        We like to think that “racist” and “high functioning” can’t go together, but maybe they really can. By modern standards basically everyone from a century ago was racist and presumably some of them were pretty high functioning.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to pillsy says:

      Here’s the thing: When I’m mad at a person of another race, I don’t launch into a tirade about how members of that race suck. And not just because it’s impolitic. I’m not a racist, so I understand that there’s extremely wide intraracial variation in individual behavioral traits, and that one person does not represent an entire race.

      Consequently, even if I had a Twitter account, there’s literally nothing Jeong could do or say that would cause me to start tweeting out twits about how much Asians or Koreans suck. I’m not holding back a racist rant that’s going to slip out if a member of another race pisses me off enough.

      So it’s really hard for me to buy the claim that Jeong’s extensive history of racist tweets is purely a result of and doesn’t actually reveal anything about her true beliefs. Maybe if it weren’t for the harassment she would have remained level-headed enough to keep a lid on it. But the fact that there was something to keep a lid on at all does not reflect well on her, or on the toxic leftist ideological circles that foster this kind of bigotry.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        “purely a result of harassment and doesn’t actually reveal anything about her true beliefs.”Report

      • pillsy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        What if substantial numbers of Asian acquaintances who you were generally friendly with and trusted were actually (and as far as you can tell sincerely) not offended and even encouraging you to do it on the grounds that this is a funny and effective way to deal with the harassment?

        The biggest disconnect I see here is that there are plenty of white people in the SJ Left circles that Jeong was appealing to who aren’t bothered by this stuff and almost certainly provided a large fraction of the “Twitter engagement” that incentivized the behavior. Call it virtue signaling (sure this is a time where I think the term is applicable) or self-flagellation or whatever, but they’re out there.

        And since white people really experience virtually no racism in the US, there’s no threat ambiguity so from that standpoint it’s not nearly as bad a way to mock and reject the Breitbarts and Tucker Carlsons and actual Nazi shitheads who produce the vast bulk of the complaints that people in that circle see.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    I am not on twitter. I share fellow OT North’s apathy towards the site. I don’t like that putting tweets in articles has become a form of journalism. I don’t like that reporting “X from my time said something sassy about Y from the other team on twitter” is a form of journalism. I did not know who Ms. Jeong was until this kerfuffle.

    That being said I am more on her side than not. Andrew Sullivan has a long history of supporting and making racist argumentation and then complaining when people call him out on it. I also think he is rather sore about how insane right-leaning/conservative politics has gotten because his primary identity mode politically is still hating liberals/left.

    What we have seen right-wingers do on twitter is maximizing bad faith attacks and taking everything out of context in order to smear and damage reputations. They do this against anyone and everyone who they don’t like or who challenges their views. They do this without challenge.

    So I like that the Times (who have many faults) decided to standby Jeong instead of reacting like cowards because right-wing white supremacists got butt hurt.

    Donald Trump campaigned on open racism and continues to govern through open and blatant racism. As does most if not all of his cabinet. So I think white guys can stand to take some heat too. I think a lot of the response to Jeong’s tweets is from bullies. Bullies are cowards because they demand giving heat without taking any back in return.


    • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      That being said I am more on her side than not.

      Serious question: how do you square that view of Jeong with your view that NYT was right to fire Williamson?

      So I like that the Times (who have many faults) decided to standby Jeong instead of reacting like cowards because right-wing white supremacists got butt hurt.

      Do some term switching (Williamson for Jeong, progressive left for alt-right) and you’ll see the problem here.

      I’m sympathetic to your view, I guess, but unfortunately the NYT has already pissed in that pot and consistency now requires they give Jeong the same justice as Williamson received. NYT is becoming (even more of) a joke.Report

      • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:

        If the NYT fired Williamson, it’s news to me.

        It’s also probably news to Williamson and the Times,

        The Atlantic, on the other hand, maybe shouldn’t have fired Williamson, but also shouldn’t have hired him in the first place, but it wasn’t just because of his inclination to edgelordism, actual bigotry, or abhorrent opinions, except to the extent that those really clash with The Atlantic “style” of mostly being conciliatory and staid.

        TNC is sort of an exception to this, which may have something to do with why they took a chance with Williamson, but he also became more radical in his time at The Atlantic. And has never really done “edgelord”.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

          Good lord you’re right. Thanks for catching that. I muddled it all up to make a point about consistency regarding Williamson’s firing and forgot he was fired from the Atlantic. Dang!

          Tho I do stand by my claim that the NYT is becoming a joke. 🙂Report

        • Doctor Jay in reply to pillsy says:

          For what it’s worth, I do not find TNC objectionable in the way I find Jeong. I’m willing generally to cut Jeong some slack because, well, oppression.

          Coates will argue controversial positions, and he minces no words about the cult of white supremacy. But he never equates that with white people in general. Is this a simple linguistic trick, or is it an attitude? When I read James Baldwin, I get the same impression. Baldwin doesn’t really even use the linguistic tricks. For instance, he writes, “When the white man learns to love himself, there will be no race problem, for it will no longer need to exist”. Those are strong words, and a blanket statement, but there’s no hatefulness there.

          But what I’m seeing from Jeong’s tweets, and I haven’t read that many, I would not become a member of her fan club the way I’m a member of Coates’ or Baldwin’s.Report

          • pillsy in reply to Doctor Jay says:

            I wasn’t trying to draw a connection between Coates and Jeong, but between Coates and Williamson.

            But yeah, Coates doesn’t really do hyperbolic satire. Jeong did and Williamson does, but Williamson really went back and forth about how much of the stuff he said about abortion that got him canned was hyperbole.Report

          • KenB in reply to Doctor Jay says:

            I’m willing generally to cut Jeong some slack because, well, oppression.

            I know you’re being a bit glib there, but it’s hard for me to see the oppression, either in her life specifically or with Asians as a class. Sure they (we – 50%) are a racial minority and there are some stereotypes, but they aren’t of the sort that causes any widespread economic or social harm. IME Asian-Americans are more likely to see themselves (as a class) as superior to whites than the other way around.Report

            • Maribou in reply to KenB says:

              I have Asian American friends (even a couple of used-to-be-Republican-till-Trump Asian American friends) who have faced substantial discrimination and harassment on racial grounds, including League alumnus Noburu Akimoto.

              Your experience is obviously different, and I hope not only that it stays that way, but that more people’s experience matches yours… but most of the Korean-American or Korean-Canadian people I know, and a lot of the other Asian-Americans I know, have had to handle some serious shit on account of racial prejudice.Report

              • KenB in reply to Maribou says:

                I certainly wasn’t saying there was zero incidence of prejudice — I faced a bit myself, my immigrant father much more so. But prejudice isn’t class oppression. Asian-Americans are more economically successful on average than any other ethnic category in the US, including whites. There’s no reason that as a class they should get any special allowance for racist comments.Report

              • Maribou in reply to KenB says:

                Why is economics the only axis that matters for oppression? Why are we suddenly only talking about class?

                And my friends whose parents lost their farms in CA during WW2 would, I think, argue that they suffered from a form of economically-active racial oppression.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Maribou says:

                One argument is that dealing with oppression based on economics is a lot easier from a law and policy stand point than other forms of oppression. While the more adamant free marketers would argue against this, you can engage in various forms of wealth redistribution even if the wealthy are going to oppose this hook, line, and sinker.

                The other forms of oppression, race, gender, and sexuality, require a lot more social cooperation from the majority to deal with. Government action alone can’t deal with it. Government action to deal with non-economic axis can make things worse for the persecuted group in some circumstances if enough of the majority group is resistant to the idea.Report

              • InMD in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I actually think taking class out is to eliminate the most important context, and not just because of my more class-centric policy preferences. Asian-Americans have dealt with a number of historical injustices. Those include internment of Japanese during World War 2, various exclusions and sporadic episodes of mistreatment primarily in the western part of the country, and they still can be stereotyped in ways that are unfair and I can only imagine are hurtful and very frustrating. But, be it due to their small numbers, or an apparent cultural aptitude to succeed in the American system, or a combination of factors, I find it really hard to characterize the modern Asian-American experience as anything but a success story.

                What I think is most important about Jeong’s background isn’t her race or the fact that she’s an immigrant. It’s that she went to Harvard. There was a much circulated article a year or two ago about well off people in New York sending their kids to elite schools where they get started early on all the privilege checking and other rituals and shibbeloths that are now the norm at elite universities. No one knows what’s in her heart but my guess is that Jeong doesn’t feel much real antipathy towards white people and that most of the (dare I say, highly privileged) people in her age group and who share her status, regardless of race, tweet the same sorts of things. It’s their lingua franca to show they’re in the top tier.

                Now this kind of ultra elitism dressed up as racial grievance and/or wokeness is silly, hypocritical, and mostly counterproductive for our discourse. But then that’s exactly what the NYT sells now. Her defenders and detractors traffic in the same cesspool and, absent a disavowal and retreat I really can’t muster much sympathy for her. That people who look like her have been on the receiving end of some really terrible things in the history of the US is beyond beside the point. She joined the no holds barred feces slinging match and put up her banner. Luckily for her she has enough money, education, and cultural capital that none of this will hurt her long term no matter how it plays out.Report

              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                Now this kind of ultra elitism dressed up as racial grievance and/or wokeness is silly, hypocritical, and mostly counterproductive for our discourse. But then that’s exactly what the NYT sells now.

                This is basically false, but I just now noticed it. The person that the Times opinion section has spending the most time on this beat is Bari Weiss. The people defending Jeong now mostly hate her, and the people who like her mostly hate Jeong. Jeong’s going to be doing tech writing, though, not (so far as I know) woke culture war beat stuff.

                The paper itself has pretty recently run very positive profiles of the “Intellectual Dark Web” and Ben Shapiro.

                Weiss and Shapiro don’t have distinctly less “cultural capital” than Jeong. Hell, Shaprio also went to Harvard Law before getting on the Wingnut Welfare gravy train.Report

              • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

                Maybe what I said was overbroad. You’re right, the NYT is not tumblr and tepid criticism of the wild eyed SJW stuff is still permitted. Still, I’m guessing if Weiss or Shapiro said comparable things about Asians (or basically anyone other than white people) in a public forum they’d be fired pretty quickly. Its obvious where the editorial sympathies are, and that’s fine, but they should remember it when they get all worked up about the MSM’s lack of credibility.

                I also think the exceptions you’re citing kind of prove the rule. No, not everyone who goes to an elite school is out snarking on Twitter but it’s an accepted perspective in that circle that when challenged seems to cause a closing of ranks.Report

              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                I disagree about Shapiro not being able to get away with saying comparable things about people who aren’t white.

                Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue. #settlementsrock

                Weiss isn’t in the same class. She’s just tedious and mediocre and thus completely perfect for the Times Editorial Board.Report

              • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

                I dunno if I buy that example on Shapiro because of the context. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to live in a whole other category with different rules about what can and can’t be said.Report

              • InMD in reply to InMD says:

                Just to clarify I don’t think its good that different rules seem to apply. But if saying racist things about Palestinians was a disqualifier we’d have lines of respectable journalists and commentators at the unemployment office. All I’m saying is I think the weirdness of Israel in our politics makes it an inapt comparison.Report

              • Maribou in reply to InMD says:

                I know a lot of people who are extremely frustrated about the weirdness of white people in our politics (gerrymandering, anybody), or the weirdness of men in our politics (every woman involved in politics or media that I know has been sexually harassed at work at some point).

                I suspect to them this comparison would seem quite apt.

                As I said before, I think Jeong is neither admirable nor particularly newsworthy, but if I had to pick between “says racist things about Palestinians” and “says racist things about white people,” I’d prefer the latter. Because “white people” as a group are in a position to be hella more safe-from-threat than Palestinians are. And that’s as someone who is generally pro-Israel but kinda thinks they’ve gone off the rails in the last 10-20 years or so and need to rein it in, not as some anti-Israeli zealot.Report

              • InMD in reply to Maribou says:

                I think you’re missing my point. My view is that those kinds of comments about Arabs should be treated the same way racist comments about other groups (except apparently white people) would be. I favor consistency and would have no problem with Shapiro losing his job over it. However I think the reason they’re tolerated is because of pro-Israel bias across the media, governing class, and most of the political spectrum. If Shapiro had said something racist about black people for example and kept his job I’d consider that an apt comparison. They’re both double standards that are wrong but IMO are symptoms of very different problems. There’s some overlap but I see one as having more to do with international politics, US involvement in the ME, and corporate media support for those policies. The other I see as having more to do with how we manage to live and work together in a big multicultural polity.


              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                But if saying racist things about Palestinians was a disqualifier we’d have lines of respectable journalists and commentators at the unemployment office.

                Well, yeah.

                I didn’t find, “Can you imagine if she said this about a group other than white people?” a terribly convincing line of argument in the first place.

                But, “Can you imagine if she said that a group other than Arabs or white people?” is infinitely less convincing.Report

              • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

                What would be convincing for me would be a consistent line that polite discourse precludes disparaging comments based on race. I’m completely happy to live within those bounds and for Shapiro and the rump of neocons still running around to lose their mainstream platforms over it. See also my comment to Maribou above. I think they’re both wrong, but one is a lot less hypocritical, if only because of the sorry state of affairs around the Israel issue.

                Of course I also think the answer to that is to expect consistency, as opposed to what we seem to be doing, which is make more and more exceptions. It isn’t helping anyone’s cause, except for maybe the reactionaries who love to point at episodes like this as an excuse for their own racist rhetoric.


              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                Yeah except we don’t have that. What we have is that some sorts of disparaging remarks based on race are acceptable in elite discourse, and others aren’t.

                If Jeong had earnestly said that white people are genetically predisposed to be dumber than whites, but thrown in a bar chart, she’d be fine.

                If she’d said the stuff she said about Palestinians instead of white people she’d be fine.

                If she’d earnestly said the problems faced by poor and working class white people are due to their own “cultural pathologies”, she’d be fine.

                If she’d earnestly said the problems faced by poor and working class black people are due to their own “cultural pathologies”, she’d be fine.

                If she’d said what she said, but about black people, and projected it onto a cabbie or an imagined version of a “traditional” working class white person, she’d be fine.

                If she was a white woman named Jones and said all the things she said about white people she’d be fine.Report

              • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

                I’m lost as to what is being argued other than the existence of double standards. I grant they exist. If the point is that the blue tribe gets to be racist too then fine, just don’t expect to be taken seriously as ‘anti-racists.’ Different kinds of racists maybe, and with a slightly different racist vision for the society they hope to create, but racists nonetheless. I hope they fail the same way I hope the alt-right fools do.


              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                Because, frankly, nobody really gives much of a shit about much worse racist discourse from the right and the center, and members of the Blue Tribe can smell a tribal hit just as easily as anybody else.

                If this is going to be about tribes and cultural power, fine, let’s play that game.

                If this is going to be about the most effective form of virtue signaling (again, one of those contexts where I find the term appropriate), we can argue that instead, but then let’s be honest that this is exactly what we’re doing: engaging in a supererogatory display of civility to make people feel better about our intentions.

                Our culture, both the local board culture and the broader MSM discourse, is awash in endless attempts to understand and empathize with every dickhead in MAGA hat, presenting their supposed alienation as a vital, pressing problem to be solved—indeed, that must be solved—before we can expect them to stop cheering for ICE kidnapping campaigns.

                But as soon as someone talks some shit about white people it’s time to put the curiosity and desire to calmly address problems away, and start wagging some fingers.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                It’s only a problem if White People start voting as a bloc.

                And only a problem for one of the tribes. The other tribe won’t see it as a problem at all.Report

              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                It’s almost as if white people as a group are “fragile”, and jealously guard a special sort of power, or “privilege”, if you will, that causes them to react by wrecking up the place if they’re subjected to treatment other people are supposed to quietly tolerate and even appease with extravagant displays of empathy.

                Man, I can’t imagine why this state of affairs might inspire contemptuous derision.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

                {{Corey Robin was correct. Man, I remember “discussions” with people who thought his views were ridiculous, insulting, intellectually bankrupt… }}Report

              • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

                This strikes me as a non sequitur. Shes keeping the gig and can say whatever she wants, NYT has a right to hire whoever they want, publish whoever and whatever they want, etc. If Sarah Jeong wants to tweet about how glorious it would be to ethnically cleanse Sheboygan I won’t lose any sleep over her. She has no power and isn’t a threat.

                But that’s not necessarily true about everyone who pays attention to this stuff. I’m not blind to what is happening in the rest of the world or here either. This kind of talk, where race is set as some kind of zero sum game, and that asks people who aren’t to become hyper-sensitive to race, plays right into the hands of those who could do real damage.

                So no, I’m not taking the positions I am because my feelings are hurt or because I think anyone deserves special treatment. I’m taking them because I think the only chance of continuing to make racial progress is through calm, rational de-escalation, and appeal to common humanity and rule of law where people are treated as individuals.

                The most important people to have on board with that are white people because they will continue to be the largest demographic for many years to come, even when they no longer make up an absolute majority. Some of them are and will remain virulent racists, but I believe that the way to keep them at the fringe as society becomes more diverse and egalitarian is reassurance, and refusal to fight fire with fire. I know my approach is profoundly unsatisfying on a gut level but the end goal is different and I think the tactics need to reflect that.Report

              • Maribou in reply to InMD says:

                ” I believe that the way to keep them at the fringe as society becomes more diverse and egalitarian is reassurance, and refusal to fight fire with fire. I know my approach is profoundly unsatisfying on a gut level but the end goal is different and I think the tactics need to reflect that.”

                So maybe we need some reassurance and refusal to fight fire with fire *toward* the folks who are responding otherwise, ie with fire, if we want them to adopt our tactics. not saying you’ve been meeting Jeong with fire, you haven’t, but the general attitude is not “Wow, you’re really over-the-top reactionary about white people and men, maybe give you a wide berth and/or work with you to see if I can nudge you out of this very-low-consequential screwed up habit you have,” but “HOW DARE SHE????” Often from people who see themselves as extremely mainstream (eg Sully) and /or “on the same side”…Report

              • InMD in reply to Maribou says:

                You have no disagreement from me on that. I have a soft spot for Sully because his about-face on the Iraq war, i.e. admitting to an error, without a lot of hedging and talking around it, is so incredibly rare for a writer with a national platform. I also think his approach to the gay marriage debate (which I see as very informative for this particular topic) was by far the most effective of anyone writing persuasively for major publications.

                But he can also get quite caught up in the moment, and consequently lose perspective. I said at the beginning of this that I doubt Jeong or most people who talk like Jeong on social media really feel hatred. Its signaling and performance and IMO really, painfully tone deaf. The thing that sucks most about social media, and why I’m mostly not on it, is because it isn’t conducive to the kind of nuanced and sensitive conversation making a point like that requires.


              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                Its signaling and performance and IMO really, painfully tone deaf.

                Maybe but it actually works better than your description would make me expect.

                I mean one way of looking at the situation is that, contrary to making people hyper-sensitive to race, it’s done the opposite. Why do I say that?

                Well, the most obvious reason is you’ve got a pretty sizable cohort of youngish, progressivish white people standing up for an Asian woman who talked a lot of shit about white people.

                So the people most exposed to exactly this kind of rhetoric seem to, maybe, just possibly, not have become super-sensitized to race.

                As for the signaling function, it’s a mixed bag, but some of the things it signals are signals people really need to be able to send and receive, like, “No matter what you think of me, I’m on your side instead of that of Donald Trump and the alt-right.”

                Some of that gets confounded by some pretty bad incentives, because it works by sending a lot of people into a frothing rage, but the most visible people who get really upset about it are vile and, frankly, it’s fun to watch them rage because they deserve it.

                But if you want people to stop, well, maybe there needs to be an alternative way of signaling, “Actually, I’m on your side, rather than Donald Trump and the alt-right’s.”Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                OK, so it’s a problem if white people start voting as a bloc.

                Do you think comments like Jeong’s make that more likely?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Well, there are three groups of voters.

                1. People who, if they vote, will vote for our guy no matter what.
                2. People who, if they vote, will vote for the other guy no matter what.
                3. People who could swing back or forth either way.

                What you want is to energize the #1s, depress the #2s, and get the #3s to swing your way.

                Is Sarah Jeong energizing the #1s? Is she feeding the energy that is already out there? Getting people even more fired up to vote for our guy?

                Is she helping depress the #2s? Getting people to say “you know… I’m a staunch other guy voter, but I could be convinced to be too disgusted by the whole stupid process or too apathetic to vote for my other guy and Sarah Jeong is helping me maintain that necessary disgust/apathy”?

                Are the people on the fence going to say “Golly, I never looked at it that way!” when they read her stuff and swing toward our guy (or, at least, be too disgusted by the whole stupid process or too apathetic to vote for the other guy)?

                From where I sit, she’s doing a good job of being a wet blanket for the #1s and inspiring the good old “minorities can’t be racist!” argument, firing up the #2s, and making the #3s who care enough to pay attention to say “what the hell?”

                But I know for a fact that my perspective from where I sit is pretty dang limited.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                OK, so it is problem from where you’re sitting.

                This argument we’re having, at least the part about whether it’s possible to be racist against white people? It’s been going on for decades. I bumped into it in the first time in high school, and that was a long time ago, and it wasn’t new then.

                In all that time, this argument from colorblindness and formal equivalence has spectacularly failed to carry the day. Maybe it’s a bad argument, maybe you’re trying to reason people out of something they didn’t reason themselves into, or maybe (my belief) it’s a pretty weak line of argument that is trying to reason people out of something that most of them didn’t reason themselves into.

                So maybe it’s time to try something else.

                If it really is a problem, and you really do want to solve it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I question whether #3s even exist in any significant number.

                We’ve all seen how Trump has a hard floor below which he can’t fall no matter what, but the flip side is that (IMO) he also has a hard ceiling above which he can’t rise no matter what.

                He won by throwing aside all possible policy principles except one, which is white ethnic grievance.

                He has that one trick, one card to play over and over, but only that.

                If you are not already filled with white ethnic resentment, there really isn’t anything Trump or the Republicans can do or say to get you on that train.

                I think what Jeong has done is expose the fragility of white male sensibility, particularly by triggering people like Sullivan.


              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I question whether #3s even exist in any significant number.

                I rejoin: 2016.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                What has happened to Trump’s voter base since November 2016?
                Has it grown, at all?
                Is there any indication that it can?
                Or is he pretty much topped out?


              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I honestly have no idea.

                But I do know that the big problem that the democrats, on a national level, had in 2016 was that they said stuff like “I question whether #3s even exist in any significant number”.

                I think a necessary prerequisite to winning elections against Trump in the future (rather than merely just not losing them) involves saying something like “huh… maybe we should be appealing?”Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I agree with that. The Jeong/alt-right/NYT kerfluffle won’t have a direct impact on electoral politics (two big immovable camps; contra-Jaybird, an unpredictable murky middle) All we know right now is that the left fringe is rallying around her, the right fringe is having a hissy fit, the vast majority of people honestly do not care, and the NYT looks foolish for causing all this nonsense.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I agree very much with this part:

                the NYT looks foolish for causing all this nonsense.

                But I also think that it’ll have consequences for the NYT going forward. Maybe not *LONG* long term. But short-to-middle (for definitions of short-to-middle that include “the next three months which also happen to be the three months before an election”)… and *THAT* strikes me as something worth fretting about.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                The NYT will take a hit, but only by open and closeted Trumpists who are already throwing punches. The folks in the middle (I could be proven wrong of course) simply do not care about this stuff.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                I’m wondering if there isn’t some other stuff working in the background. Like, Jeong is widely regarded as a rising star who’s been offered lucrative positions at other publications and the Times wants to lock her in early in her career.

                Or … you know … something.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think it’s way more straightforward than that. As pillsy and others have said comments like hers are common in left social media and really much of the upper middle class blue state progressive culture, including among white people. I see similar stuff on my facebook feed all the time. They think its normal discourse and people who have a problem with it are at best out of touch.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:


              • Saul Degraw in reply to InMD says:


                Someone can go to the best schools in the world and still face hostility, bigotry, discrimination, etc. I don’t know what her socio-economic status was before going to Harvard Law. FWIW I knew people who grew up really poor but still had more elite than mine educations because their parents/some benefactor got them noticed and signed up a full scholarship to a hoity toity prep school.

                Needless to say these things are complicated.Report

              • greginak in reply to KenB says:

                Jews have been very successful here and other places. That hasn’t exactly saved them from some degree of oppression. In fact their success, real and imagined, has been used an excuse for said oppression.

                No, fwiw, they shouldn’t get special dispensation for racist comments.Report

              • pillsy in reply to greginak says:

                I think this is a bit of a weird dynamic in this discussion.

                Like, I don’t think Jeong would be in more trouble for making these exact comments if she were white. And indeed white people in more SJ-heavy circles routinely make similar comments.

                It’s not really dispensation for being part of an oppressed group.

                Also while I think the argument that she wouldn’t have gotten away with making formally similar comments about black people don’t imply what most people making them think they do, the premise is undoubtedly true.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to pillsy says:

                This seems exactly right. It’s not about who Jeong is. Anybody could get away with those comments because dumping ironically-but-not-ironically on white people is just about group membership.

                At least, they could get away with those comments if they were willing to give up group membership at Breitbart for a stronger affiliation with NYT. If they wanted to go the other way, they’d have to randomly tweet about black crime and accumulate likes from a different set of fans.

                Both seem like they qualify as signals in the original sense, since you’re burning certain bridges to reinforce others.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Both seem like they qualify as signals in the original sense, since you’re burning certain bridges to reinforce others.

                Yeah, and one of the reasons I’m basically not particularly fussed about what Jeong did from the standpoint of underlying intent?

                Signaling antipathy for the Breitbart set, and forgoing the possibility of affiliating with them, is actually a good thing to do. Ceteris paribus, the world would be a better place if more people did that.

                This still leaves room for complaining about the approach Jeong took, of course. But if we’re going to really think about politics and communications in these terms, well, sometimes they’re mitigating, not aggravating. This is one of those times.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to pillsy says:

                How come we’re not allowed to say “honky”?Report

        • Koz in reply to pillsy says:

          The Atlantic, on the other hand, maybe shouldn’t have fired Williamson, but also shouldn’t have hired him in the first place,

          No, that’s the situation with Jeong. Kevin Williamson legit earned his label a long time ago writing primarily about things that had nothing to do with the reasons he was fired. Kevin Williamson getting fired was like the purveyors of Milwaukee’s Best banning Newcastle Brown Ale from being imported. ‘Cuz let’s face it, if you’re trying to sell Milwaukee’s best, you’re desperate from the get-go.Report

          • pillsy in reply to Koz says:

            I mean what got him fired was an inflammatory statement of a pretty extreme version of conservative politics, which runs through a lot of his writing in one for or another.

            I don’t like him very much but that isn’t even intended as condemnation except in the sense of, “That’s not the sort of thing that The Atlantic publishes.”

            As for the beer comparison, sure. The Atlantic is, at times, similar to copulating in a canoe.Report

            • Koz in reply to pillsy says:

              Yeah, but he’s got a reason to be there in the first place. The thing with Jeong is the realization that she doesn’t.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Koz says:

                Jeong’s a tech writer, and her tech writing is good, and she’s going to the Times opinion page where she’s well above the median.

                I mean she should probably be fired because that opinion section is hopeless and the Times could use that money to publish more Style section pieces about rich hipsters buying artisanal pubic wigs and the paper would still be better.Report

              • Koz in reply to pillsy says:

                Jeong’s a tech writer, and her tech writing is good, and she’s going to the Times opinion page where she’s well above the median.

                Is that so? Well, I haven’t read everything that’s come out of the tech press but I’ve read a bunch of it, and I can’t think of anything particularly important or interesting from Sarah Jeong.

                In this latest controversy, people have mentioned GamerGate. And if that’s her best work, it’s basically a matter of second verse same as the first, “White men suck, what about people of color?”Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to Koz says:

            ‘Cuz let’s face it, if you’re trying to sell Milwaukee’s best, you’re desperate from the get-go.

            Okay, that made me laugh.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater says:

        The Atlantic fires Williamson. Not The NY Times.

        A lot of MSM is screwing up against their core readership in the age of Trump. Especially on op-Ed. I don’t have any breakdowns but my guess is that the average reader of the Atlantic and Times is a college educated professional with liberal politics. Yet the op-ed sections seem to be giving more and more space to right wing views and claiming this as a victory for open debate. The average Times reader probably agrees more with Paul Krugmam and Michelle Goldberg than Ross D, David Brooks, Brett Stephens, and Bari Weiss.

        My view is that Williamson really wants to kill women who get abortions. I don’t think Jeong wants to kill all white people or men. I think the posts are satire and being twisted out of context by racists.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Right, KW was fired by the Atlantic. My mistake.

          I’m still curious about how folks square the view that KW was justly fired and SJ is justly retained. I don’t see much daylight there.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Stillwater says:

            @stillwater I’m not 100 percent sure that is my view, but I’ll give it a go anyway.

            I find it entirely plausible that KW could help push the country toward a situation where women who have abortions are killed by the state. I find it entirely implausible that SJ could help push the country toward a situation where either all white people or all men are killed (by the state or by anybody really). [This also makes me sceptical that she meant those things, given the complete, to me, implausibility of them happening any time in the next 300 years, but that is a sidenote, I don’t actually care about Williamson’s *intent* either.]

            I’m only concerned about the social costs of providing platforms, money, and establishment approval to people whom I think may actually contribute to the realization of their stated goals, so I only care about the hiring or firing of people whose goals seem believably within reach of a majority of hearts and minds.

            If the NYC wanted to give a job to someone whose declared goal was converting America to a nation of people who want to ban all private housing and insist everyone live in single-sex dormitories, whether sincere or sarcastic, I equally wouldn’t care – though I might mock – because IMO that is just never fishing going to happen. It’s not worth bothering about given all the other crap we have to deal with. (And yes I realize the irony of bothering people about not being bothered about things, and spending time on that, but at the same time, I think the country is pretty damn bad at figuring out what is and isn’t bothersome right now.)

            (As I said, not sure that’s really what my view is, but I find it easy enough to justify that probably part of me feels that way.)Report

          • Mark Van Heusden in reply to Stillwater says:

            KDW didn’t joke. He was perfectly serious about abortion being murder and therefore punishable as such and in his preference for hanging as the method for the death penalty.
            Perfectly reasonable, but somewhat controversial, even in anti-abortion circles.

            Jeong was joking, or claimed at least that she was joking.

            If KDW had claimed he was joking it might very well be possible that he would be working for the Atlantic right now.Report

            • Here’s what Kevin Williamson said in an op-ed for the WSJ:

              Trollish and hostile? I’ll cop to that, though as the subsequent conversation online and on the podcast indicated—to say nothing of the few million words of my published writing available to the reading public—I am generally opposed to capital punishment. I was making a point about the sloppy rhetoric of the abortion debate, not a public-policy recommendation. Such provocations can sometimes clarify the terms of a debate, but in this case, I obscured the more meaningful questions about abortion and sparked the sort of hysteria I’d meant to point out and mock.


              • Mark Van Heusden in reply to Jaybird says:

                He obscured. He didn’t joke, he didn’t retract. He was in the podcast perfectly clear that he thought that women choosing for abortion should be punishable as murderers and that if the punishment for murder is execution, that execution was the proper punishment.
                Had he retracted his statements, the Atlantic could’ve salvaged the situation.

                Now they couldn’t.Report

              • Well, here’s from the next paragraph ( link, if you’ve used up your clicks for the month):

                Let’s not equivocate: Abortion isn’t littering or securities fraud or driving 57 in a 55-mph zone. If it isn’t homicide, then it’s no more morally significant than getting a tooth pulled. If it isn’t homicide, then there’s no real argument for prohibiting it. If it is homicide, then we need to discuss more seriously what should be done to put an end to it. For all the chatter today about diversity of viewpoint and the need for open discourse, there aren’t very many people on the pro-choice side, in my experience, who are ready to talk candidly about the reality of abortion.

                Personally, I think he’s guilty of excluding a middle.

                That said, I don’t think that everyone necessarily need come to the conclusion you’ve reached about what his positions actually are.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                I wonder if Williamson himself is sure what his position is.

                Perhaps this is one of those times where the simplest answer is correct.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                There are times and places for nuance, after all.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                He just seems like a guy who actually doesn’t know what he thinks about the issue and at the same time is being weirdly enabled by a Rightwards cohort who keep insisting his oddball outlier opinions are “mainstream” despite the fact that none of them actually agree with him.

                There are many things that interact badly with grenade-juggling hyperbole, and not knowing what your real opinions on a subject are is one of the worst.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

                Maybe he’s just uncomfortable saying the logical conclusions out loud. Capital punishment for women who terminate a pregnancy isn’t a crazy because it doesn’t follow from the premises, it’s crazy for another reason.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                There are the folks who get the “GOSH DARN IT THERE ARE *PRINCIPLES* AT STAKE HERE!” treatment and there are the folks who get the “Well, you have to understand…” treatment.

                It does seem that there’s enough of a pattern when it comes to who gets which to make it downright easy to maintain confirmation bias, though.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird Yeah, it’s the pattern where people whose ancestors have mostly historically been subject to centuries of discrimination in this country get more latitude than people whose ancestors mostly haven’t; and where people who continue to be more viciously targeted by the worst elements of society today get more latitude than the people who mostly don’t.

                See it as conversational reparations, perhaps.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Dude, for once can you just fucking signal that the Nazis are part of your outgroup, and the people the Nazis want to fucking murder are part of your ingroup?

                Because Sarah Jeong did a really good fucking job of that.

                And maybe that’s part of the reason people are going to bat for her when they think that Kevin Williamson is actually a real piece of shit.Report

              • pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

                “My god pillsy such crude tribalism!”

                Goddamn fucking straight it’s crude tribalism. You spend a lot of time talking about low trust/low collaboration when it comes time to excuse or explain revolting behavior on the Right, but never seem to spare a second thought on how it’s affecting the Left.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Well, I kind of think that it will lead to divorce or war.

                I just sort of got tired of saying “dude, that’s where this is leading” and I’m pretty sure that I only reached that point of being tired of saying it long after everybody else got sick and tired of me saying it.

                But, sure. I oppose Nazis. I’m just sort of skeptical that the small batch artisanal Nazi detectors used by the progressive “social justice” crowd are somewhat significantly differently calibrated than my own.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                I don’t think you need any particular subtlety to determine that the a guy who screenshots a bunch of people who were defending Jeong and put little blue Stars of David next to their names, and directed a bunch of anti-semitic slurs at same, is a Nazi.

                I’d link to a record except that Twitter actually banned him. Which was nice.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Oh, is that who we were talking about? (I thought we were talking about people adjacent to Kevin Williamson.)

                I completely denounce the gone twitter guy.Report

              • mike shupp in reply to pillsy says:

                What I’ve read is that Williamson himself was an unwanted child, that if abortion had been available during her pregnancy his mother would have had one, and that he was informed of this rather frequently while growing up. So, in a world acceptable to “pro-choice” advocates, he would not exist.

                I think he gets to be …. ambivalent … about abortion and the arguments for it and the absolute moral virtue of abortion supporters.Report

              • Maribou in reply to mike shupp says:

                @mike-shupp There’s a big difference between ambivalence and wanting people to be subject to the death penalty.

                And I can feel bad for Williamson but *also* not want his childhood trauma to inform whether I can safely get an abortion I don’t want, but absolutely need to be *able* to have.Report

              • pillsy in reply to mike shupp says:

                Yeah and if he were just ambivalent about abortion, well, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                Exclusive the middle is a logical fallacy that other people do. He did it towards people who hold anti-abortion views.

                The problem is, he _also_ holds those views, and he doesn’t get to complain that he’s misrepresenting his own beliefs. (?) If he thinks that people who want laws banning abortions _must_ treat women who get abortions as murderers, and he wants laws banning abortions, then, ipso facto, he must think women who get abortions should be treated as murderers.

                That part is not any sort of rhetoric device, as far as I can tell. It is complaining about how other people are using ‘murderer’ as a rhetoric device, but isn’t a device itself.

                This argument, weirdly, is literally one I’m made on exactly that topic, although I, of course, was arguing anti-abortion people don’t really think it’s murder, whereas he seems to be arguing they should think that.

                He then proceeds to walk off the slippery slope he just built with even more silliness about using punishment for these ‘murders’ that we don’t use anymore. That probably is a rhetoric device.

                So we’re left with the conclusion that he doesn’t want women who get abortions actually hanged, he just wants them…treated like murderers, up to and including the forms of capital punishment we actually do practice in this country? (But not hanging, which we don’t…as far as I know.)

                And also he says he’s ‘generally opposed’ to capital punishment, but I’m not sure why we should assume that ‘general’ opposition should coincide with abortion…honestly, the premeditated murder of young children is generally considered an especially bad crime, so if he thinks abortion is murder, he logically should think it is one of the _worst_ forms of murder. Maybe he thinks capital punishment should only be reserved for mass murder or something? But his comment is pretty unclear, which is really stupid in a supposed ‘clarification’.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

                No, I think he went meta. He said that if it’s murder, then we should treat it like murder.

                And if it’s not murder, it’s like having a skin tag removed and we should treat it like having a skin tag removed.

                He said this right here:

                If it isn’t homicide, then it’s no more morally significant than getting a tooth pulled. If it isn’t homicide, then there’s no real argument for prohibiting it.

                This seemed to be the cornerstone of his argument. Sort of an oblique “look, guys… quit arguing about abortion” thing. But, as a conservative, he can’t say “QUIT WHINING ABOUT ABORTION!”

                He can only argue that the two options are the death penalty and not giving a crap and, he points out, he’s generally opposed to the death penalty.

                Which leads me to the conclusion that he doesn’t give a crap about it and is trying to point out the absurdity of the people who do give a crap about it.

                But he’s got those conservative handcuffs on, man.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                While I’m uncertain about his intent and so on, I do think this is the easiest way to square the Williamson abortion-argument circle. From my pov, he’s offered a reductio which, if written by a choicer, would be resoundingly mocked by conservatives as a disingenuous strawman of pro-lifers’ views.

                Williamson should be applauded – by lefties! – for presenting the radical pro-life position with enough intellectual honesty to follow the logic to its ridiculous conclusion.

                Unfortunately for him, I think he does reject the conclusion but is unwilling to run all the way out of the rabbit hole and surrender on the arguments main premise.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                This is why I don’t understand any of the “but he’s so brilliant a writer” stuff.

                He seems to have a shakier grasp on logic and human relations than any random internet commenter.

                All the lame ass arguments we see online- (e.g. there is no difference between a fertilized egg and a newborn baby) are his stock in trade.

                And his surprise that people would be shocked by his logical conclusion of abortion= murder= hanging offense is either dishonest or manifestly stupid.

                Maybe this shtick really slays them over at Reddit but I’m not seeing any insight or thought.


              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If you think there’s something inherently morally human about the zygote resulting from human spermz and eggz gettin busy, you’re in a tricky spot when it comes to imposing punishment for the crime of deliberately – willfully – killing it. I don’t think any of this is clear, myself. It’s all very slippery. Liberals kid themselves that it’s not.

                In my own case, I think the right of the mother to control her own body trumps the rights of the fetus (influenced no doubt by JJ Thompson’s paper), but that argument works less well the closer the fetus is to term (until it pretty much stops working altogether).Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Yeah. This take squares with my own. I think that abortion is an act that can contain moral content. (Assuming morality, of course.) Sometimes this means that, sometimes, the act will be morally wrong.

                But where people tend to get tripped up is this weird assumption that if a thing is morally wrong, then it ought to be banned.

                And I’m not arguing that it should be banned. Indeed, I think it should *NOT* be banned.

                Which gets other people to argue that if I think that it shouldn’t be banned, then therefore I must not *REALLY* think that it can sometimes contain moral content.

                But I’m not saying anything we’ve not said a hundred times before.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                We might disagree about the rights of a blastocyt, tho. Or a zygote. I don’t think those (living) things have all the rights of a human person. But *even if those things did*, I think the rights of the woman trump the rights of the fetus.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                It certainly wouldn’t make government intervention worthwhile. That cure would be (and was!) worse than the disease.

                No play on words intended.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                Abortion specifically, and nature more generally, frustrates our legal structure’s need for bright clean lines separating things.

                There isn’t a bright line between unconnected sperm+egg cells and a newborn baby. “Conception” is an arbitrary line we draw to make the messy natural world clear when it really isn’t. There isn’t a crackle of lightning, or blast of trumpets heralding a new soul.

                Pointing to a fertilized egg and declaring “Behold, a baby!” is as ridiculous as pointing at a 9 month old fetus and declaring, “Behold, a clump of cells!”

                Reducing the complexity and ambiguity of the natural world to a series of simple legal formulations is the weakness here.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                I stand by my hypothesis that he’s the one who’s confused (or perhaps “conflicted” is fairer), and no wonder the rest of us are kind of going, “Huh?”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                He’s conflicted between what he thinks and what his audience pays him to have insight into thinking and he doesn’t want to touch that particular third rail.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Could be. Not sure, “It was actually triple-reverse fakeout trolling!” wouldn’t have helped him with The Atlantic‘s audience (and at least as importantly newsroom).Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                Which leads me to the conclusion that he doesn’t give a crap about it and is trying to point out the absurdity of the people who do give a crap about it.

                So I went and read his response. And he said, in a _response_ to this, that ‘abortion is an absolute evil’:


                And also says ‘I differ from most pro-lifers in that I am willing to extend criminal sanctions to women who procure abortions and to those who enable abortions, assuming they are mentally competent adults ordinarily answerable for their actions.’

                Now, he does claim that he isn’t in favor of harsh punishment, but it seems mostly because he _doesn’t think that’s the way to stop crime_. Which…I mean, I guess good for him for having reasonable views about criminal justice.

                So having read that, I suspect he’s not in favor of any sort of capital punishment for women who get abortions (Much less hangings)…but that’s because he holds the (correct) view that capital punishment is a dumb way to stop crime, and normal imprisonment and various penalties would be fine.

                But there’s absolutely nothing in that article that implies he thinks we shouldn’t treat an abortion as murder. (He seems to think for _practical_ matters it might take a while, but nothing says that’s not his gal.)

                Like I said, he built that dumb exclusion of the middle himself, and then firmly took a position on the pro-life side…if not explicitly in that post, in other comments and whatnot.

                …and then made a dumb joke about the death penalty as a self-own or something.Report

          • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:


            You may be thinking of Quinn Norton. I don’t remember hearing about that controversy but my understanding is she was pre-emptively fired after some past tweets using derogatory terms were discovered. That’s the comparison that keeps coming up.Report

            • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

              Past Tweets and a public friendship with a Nazi. Like, literally has a swastika tattoo Nazi.

              Which was a complicated and fraught thing that Norton explained in a way a lot of people (myself included) found intensely off-putting… but it was still a complicated and fraught thing.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Well, at least we know that Sarah Jeong doesn’t have a past affiliation with this same guy.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s weird how many people did. The whole thing is a bizarre corner of Internet history that I keep brushing up against in my endless and likely totally fruitless quest to write a review of Kill All Normies that wouldn’t be anywhere remotely as good as this one anyway.Report

              • KenB in reply to pillsy says:

                a public friendship with a Nazi.

                But she didn’t agree with his beliefs in any way, or support them, right? I think this is a horrible reason to think less of her — it’s hardly obvious that reaching out to such people is a less effective strategy than shunning them. It used to be a liberal idea that compassion and understanding are better than harsh judgment.Report

              • pillsy in reply to KenB says:

                Yeah, it was complicated.Report

              • pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

                But you know what? Fuck Nazis. They deserve neither compassion nor understanding.

                They want some of that? They can stop being Nazis.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

              I remember the Quinn Norton dustup. {{So perhaps NYT had already peed in the well…}}Report

        • The goal isn’t necessarily to please the average reader. It’s to please the person who is debating whether to read and/or subscribe or not.

          If the left does put its foot down and declare that the NYT is there to service them and provide them perspectives they agree with, it’ll be interesting to see what happens. With enough discipline and unanimity,as newspapers rely more on subscriptions and less on advertising, they could probably get their way.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


            Perhaps so but I think squishy moderates are becoming an endangered species. The Democratic Party is moving to the left and this is a national trend. This includes in deep blue districts like N-14 and in more moderate districts. Vox had an article about Tuesday’s special election in Ohio. This is a deep red district that hasn’t elected a Democrat since the 1980s. We might have a chance to do so on Tuesday with a moderate. The guy isn’t quite AOC but he isn’t calling for entitlement cuts either. Democratic voters in his district also seem very friendly to Medicare For All even as their candidate calls it sloganeering.

            I think a lot of the media is gobstruck by Trump’s victory still and thinks that they are going for a kind for forgotten man kind of person with anti-ant Trump opeds or Trump-curious opeds. I don’t think they realize how much they are pissing off a lot of their readership. I don’t really read the op-ed section and I think the NY Times publishes some of the best indepth and investigative reporting in the United States despite claims of FTNYFT times from LGM and Stillwater’s comments and Pilly’s comments.

            Yet I think it is wrong that Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic and Bennet at the NY Times thinks it is some form of brave truth-telling to publish people like Williamson or Bari Weiss or some other Trump apologist. I don’t think there are that many readers to be gained from this tactic and it feels very self-congratulatory. As Chip has said, it makes the comfortable journalist class look like they treat politics as a gain.

            Interestingly there might be an anti-elite rebellion brewing on the left just like one brewed on the right many decades ago. You see this in the pushback against pieces that are “The Liberal Case for Conservative Policy or Appointment X” especially Judge Kavanaugh. I can think of three essays off the top of my head that tried to be the liberal case for Judge Kavanaugh. All faced blowback.

            The most recent one was an essay in Politico called “I am a liberal feminist. Here is why Democrats should support Judge Kavanaugh” by Lisa Blatt. The article failed to point out until her little blurb at the end that Lisa Blatt was a big corporate lawyer at Arnold Porter Kaye Scholer who argued 35 cases in front of the Supreme Court and more before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment helps her corporate clients more than it hurts. So a lot of liberals rightfully saw this as blatant careerism and bad faith.

            I make no claims about whether there will be a Democratic majority from the 2018 elections or not. I do think that there are still a lot of people who think Trump’s victory is something more than a freak occurrence. I agree that Trump is very popular among his base but this has never translated to a positive polling above 45-47 percent. Considering the positive state of the American economy, this is surprising. But a lot of people (often white guys whether they like Trump or not and our media) just don’t want to admit that Trump is deeply unpopular for reasons I find perplexing and confusing.

            Kevin Drum had a post this week about how college-educated women who vote or identify Republican are a nearly extinct species. This has only accelerated since Trump became President. But a lot of people are in deep denial that this is happening or a potential problem for the GOP.

            I do think that a lot of white guys (usually) are suffering from severe anxiety about losing their status as the dominant force in the United States especially as more women than men are going to college and graduate school but also because there are more and more not-white Americans becoming dominant players in American politics and culture.


            • pillsy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              FWIW I think the Times opinion section is incredibly awful, but the actual reporting they do is often excellent.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to pillsy says:

                The WSJ too, without all the concern trolling. It’s been accepted that their editorial page is just plain nuts for decades. (Literally decade: it was pushing Hilary killed Vincent Foster when she was still First Lady.)

                But an editorial slant that’s left-liberal is much worse than if it’s right-psycho.Report

            • Koz in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              The goal isn’t necessarily to please the average reader. It’s to please the person who is debating whether to read and/or subscribe or not.

              Interestingly there might be an anti-elite rebellion brewing on the left just like one brewed on the right many decades ago.

              I think you’re both right, in way that explains a lot of the motivation to have somebody like Sarah Jeong at the NYT.

              In the middle of this intra-Left civil war, between the Establishment upper-middle class white Dem libs and the the lower middle class white Left, there is definitely common ground against the alt-right. But they don’t want to have to actually explain or interact with them, in fact that’s the point.

              So having somebody like Sarah Jeong on board actually serves the tactical needs of both sides.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Koz says:


                It is a bit more complicated because the American elite is super-stratified. By all accounts, I am very well to do or elite in terms of my educational level, where I went to school, and income. But I am not part of the same level of elite as someone like Lisa Blatt who argued 35 cases in front of the Supreme Court.

                I think there is a class of super-educated people that go between civil service and/or private industry depending on the administration. This is an area where people in both parties have known each other since they were 18 and are friendly with each other.

                A lot of the blowback against “Liberals for Kavanaugh” essays are not from working-class Lefties but from slightly lower levels of the upper-middle class elite who realize the stakes are different than awkwardness at cocktail parties.


            • I don’t think you can really say these hires are a part of an effort to appeal to the “forgotten” Trump voters. A big part of the schticks of Williamson and Stephens is telling those voters to go to hell in pretty definitive terms. They’re not even like Michael Brendan Dougherty (or Douthat, for that matter) where they dislike Trump but want to champion a lot of his supporters. Williamson loudly believes they need to get off their asses and move and be economically productive. Stephens says they’re less valuable Americans than immigrants.

              I do agree that there is some ego involved. It’s kind of funny how fast the gears shift from “They’re obviously doing this left-favorable thing because they’re capitalists and looking after their financial interests” shifts to “They’re obviously ignoring their financial interests for ego reasons when they hire conservatives”… but I think they’re all combinations of both.

              In that sense, it’s true that the New York Times and The Atlantic don’t want to be leftward equivalents of the National Review. In that sense, there is ego involved. But if we’re going to talk about financial incentives, trying to appeal to their existing base isn’t the best argument. Even when The Atlantic cut Williamson loose, it wasn’t because of the readers or a first-factor fear of losing them.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Will Truman says:

                I have absolutely no idea why the Times hired Stephens.

                Unlike some of the other Never Trump crowd, he doesn’t write at all well, has no interesting insights about anything, and just endlessly churns out banal trash like some sort of Rightwards Frank Bruni. And he’s still Never Trump so he’s not really representing mainstream opinion on the Right.

                I think MBD and Williamson are both pretty odious but at least they’re also interesting sometimes.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to pillsy says:

                I have no use for him. My guess is they needed to replace Barro, wanted to do so with another Republican, and he was looking for a new gig. Should have gone with Henry Olsen, if I had to pick a name. Report

              • Koz in reply to Will Truman says:

                Henry Olsen is the bomb, surprisingly and unfairly obscure. If anybody actually cares about the reality of American in the age of Trump, instead of simply defending a side, he should be reading Olsen already.


        • Murali in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          My view is that Williamson really wants to kill women who get abortions.

          I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. I remember reading somewhere when this was all fresh that he
          a) opposes the death penalty.
          b) believes that if we are going to have the death penalty anyway, it should be done by hanging instead of lethal injection because i) the former is more humane and ii) does not involve doctors violating their hippocratic oath and
          c) believes that abortion is murder and should therefore have the same penalties as murder even in the case where the penalty for murder is death.

          None of this adds up to Williamson wants to kill women who have had abortions except in a very stupid de re sense in which anyone who thinks some crime should have the death penalty wants to kill people who did that crime.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Murali says:

            “in which anyone who thinks some crime should have the death penalty wants to kill people who did that crime.”

            I don’t think that’s stupid at all. The only crime for which I think there should be a death penalty is certifiably repeated attempted or successful murders combined with high likelihood of jailbreak or in-prison recidivism (honestly, I suspect execution would be more humane than life imprisonment in solitary for most people, or I wouldn’t even want that for those people). I would happily take the sin and the mortal (and even afterlife consequence) onto myself of killing all those people if I could wave a magic wand tomorrow, kill all of them, prevent any of them from existing in the future.

            If I thought fetuses == babies, which I don’t, I believe it is much fuzzier than that, I would feel the same way about people who had more than one abortion, because it doesn’t matter WHY you murder people to me, it just matters that we stop you from doing it.

            So when Williamson says he wants to treat abortion exactly like people want to treat homicides, I believe him.

            And I feel threatened, because I believe there are enough people with enough power who agree with him in this country, or far more importantly, *could be swayed to do so*, that it could happen.

            I’ll concede that I didn’t used to feel that way. If you told me I would someday feel that way in 2012, I would have scoffed. “The US has a lot of problems and we do a lot of harm, but SURELY, that would be beyond the pale.”

            Then I watched people fall for Trump (and regardless of what people on this site are like, or my smark friends who separate the man and the outcomes they are excited about while having tunnel vision about the outcomes they find appalling… plenty of people I know literally DID fall for Trump, hook line and swoony fishing sinker), and I realized some of my assumptions about the United States, including the one where it made sense to talk about “we” as if I belonged here, as a person afforded equal dignity under the law despite my non-citizenry, were quite wrong.

            I’m still *quite* confident this will never become a country that murders all white men, or all whites, or all men. But whether it will regress to being a country that murders women under the cover of the state? Yeah, I’m not willing to be sure of that any more.

            I certainly don’t believe it’s a foregone conclusion, either, or I wouldn’t bother to stay and fight, and I don’t think it’s *nearly* inevitable, or my fighting wouldn’t consist of carping in a highly selective list of reasonably okay venues.

            But I do worry a lot more than I used to.Report

            • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

              (That murders women, or life imprisons them, or even fishing fishes up their lives more than they already have been, for something I think is one of their fundamental rights, albeit a heartbreaking and traumatic and “in a just world this would never need to happen” one, under cover of the state. To be absolutely clear.)Report

            • Murali in reply to Maribou says:


              I would happily take the sin and the mortal (and even afterlife consequence) onto myself of killing all those people if I could wave a magic wand tomorrow, kill all of them, prevent any of them from existing in the future.

              I think that this congruence between the desire to kill someone and the endorsement of the death penalty for that person is coincidental in your case or at least the latter flows in part from the former. My point is that one can consistently accept that person A deserves the death penalty without having killing intent towards that person.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Murali says:

                @murali My point is that I believe one ought not to.

                It’s not *coincidence* that I don’t want to accept, let alone condone, the application of the death penalty to anyone I can’t imagine taking personal responsibility for killing, and that I don’t think anyone else should either, it’s … I don’t know, my type of libertarianism, or my Catholic upbringing or something. I have a strongly held moral belief that the two things should be congruent. More strongly held than the idea that the death penalty is wrong, fwiw.

                So I’m not blowing off Williamson’s nuances by assuming if he asserts the validity of the death penalty for something, he probably means it fully and wants those people to die. I’m …. as far as I can manage it for someone who so regularly is a jerk to other people… attempting to assume his values are consistent and within his own worldview, make moral sense. That he wouldn’t welcome the death penalty for things that he personally wouldn’t be able to hang people for.

                But then, I don’t understand how people can willingly eat meat if they’re not willing to kill an animal themselves, either. (Theoretical willingness is fine, I don’t expect every meat eater to go out and demonstrate by learning how to butcher.)

                I am quite willing to concede I have a different sense of moral responsibility than Williamson, and thus cannot interpret him correctly.

                But that sense of moral responsibility doesn’t come from “some very stupid de re” perspective. It just is what it is.Report

  3. Doctor Jay says:

    I not only don’t read Twitter, I don’t read the NY Times. Call it west coast reverse chauvinism if you will. But my world never seemed to matter to them, so why should they matter to me?

    So I have a big bowl of “I don’t care” served up before me.

    That said, I think it’s quite possible to talk about the racism one faces and the sexism one faces without resorting to blanket statements, slurs, or screaming. I’ve read several.

    Ms. Jeong’s Twitter history says good things about her courage and willingness to mix it up, but it says terrible things about her judgement. I can’t imagine her being a person I would find to be very interesting or persuasive.

    And, in this age of trollery, I can also well imagine that she would drive readership.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    Out of curiosity, are there any among us whose priors were *NOT* validated by this? Youngish or oldish? Lefty or righty? Virtuous or Libertarian?Report

    • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

      @jaybird We live in an age of the validation of priors.

      Though I will say that personally, the NYT standing up for Jeong did not validate my priors whatsoever. The idea that the NYT would stand up for anyone was quite surprising to me, and made me less irritated by them (by a smidge).Report

      • pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

        The only one they haven’t stood up for was Quinn Norton, AFAIK. Who, IIRC, was being considered for the exact job Jeong got.

        But it was the right call IMO.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Maribou says:

        Fair enough.

        So the progressivish position is something vaguely like “wow… they stood up for her! They actually *DO* have principles!”?Report

        • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

          @jaybird Dude, don’t pull this with me. You asked a question, I answered it. You of all people should know that me not having my priors confirmed is not at all representative of “the progressivish position”.

          Plus shortering is really obnoxious, even/especially if you do it to someone you’ve known for twenty years.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Maribou says:

            Okay, fair enough.

            So I should just read “The idea that the NYT would stand up for anyone was quite surprising to me, and made me less irritated by them (by a smidge)” as standing by itself and as an example of the NYT actually bolstering itself for one person… but that take probably isn’t universalizable.

            So, for you, if the NYT fired Jeong (or terminated their relationship before it officially began), then *THAT* would have confirmed your priors?Report

            • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

              Yes dear, that’s what I already said, though I don’t understand why you need to paraphrase me when I was being perfectly upfront in the first place.

              And yes, this has caused me to re-examine a couple of my priors.

              And yes, I confess to still expecting something more like them firing her once the attention has died down, as you reference “the worst possible outcome” to be elsethread.

              So my priors that are being re-examined are on notice, not discarded.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Maribou says:

                Okay. Cool.

                I’ve recalibrated.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                Next time you ask a question “out of curiosity” it might prove more useful to recalibrate before responding to people who respond to your question in the affirmative, not afterward.

                I mean, if curiosity is why you are asking.

                Because pouncing on people who answer you honestly (even when it makes them look kinda dumb) is not likely to encourage people to answer you honestly in future.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Maribou says:

                I didn’t think it made you look dumb at all.

                I was thinking something like “everybody knew that this was how it was going to shake out, no matter which side they were on” and now I know that the position that “no, there was at least one person who seriously thought that the NYT was going to cave on this” is out there.

                And since I know that the one person in question is *NOT* dumb, I’m willing to suspect that there are other not dumb people who are likely to share a similar position (but, of course, not all of them).Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                My point wasn’t that you think I look dumb.

                My point was that I took a chance, by initially responding to you, on giving you information that *I* think makes me look dumb, and in response you more or less shortered me.

                Which really didn’t make me feel like taking a chance on giving you that kind of information in the future.

                And if it makes *me* sceptical of responding to you because of the expectation of being inaccurately near-shortered, imagine how very very many other people might not be giving you useful information because they’ll have to persist and insist before they feel like you heard what they said. That strikes me as something you don’t want to happen.

                I wasn’t expressing offense, just giving advice.

                Anyway, it’s not a big deal, and I don’t mean to hector you. Just thought it might be an instructive example.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Maribou says:

                I didn’t think that my “shorter” was mocking the position as much as trying to restate it accurately in such a way that, if someone else asked me the opinion, I’d be able to restate it in a way that was fair to your opinion. Kinda making sure that my map and referents were matching up with your map and referents.

                Ah, well.

                Now I am able to suspect that, had the NYT fired her, there’s someone on “the left” who would have posted something like “are there any among us whose priors were *NOT* validated by this?” and someone else on “the right” who would have said “Not mine.”Report

    • KenB in reply to Jaybird says:

      I had no prior relating to this, but it’s pretty funny.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to KenB says:

        Oh, gosh. The absolute worst possible outcome is the NYT fighting to protect her today… and then quietly letting her go in October or something (“irreconcilable differences”).Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      I don’t have any priors here that I can see, except that I neither know nor care about this Jeong person.

      (Also, now that I’m no longer white, I can’t see that whiteness has much to recommend it. Y’all should consider getting your ethnic groups declared non-white too.)Report

      • Maribou in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        @mike-schilling For my people, that way lies the potato famine and centuries of being colonized …

        (Jokes aside, I think safety is probably the number one reason why ethnic groups who could fight to be considered white, have done so instead of or in addition to making common cause with those other groups who were on the outs. The kyriarchy hurts everybody.)Report

    • lessdismalsci in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’ve been kind of impressed by Jonathan Haidt’s stance here. I have an irrationally strong dislike for him at times, but he is pretty clearly standing by his actual principles here, saying that he thinks she’s tweeted some awful stuff, but NYT really shouldn’t fire her for it, and we need to have a cultural norm of not firing people for bad tweets, period.Report

  5. Maribou says:

    Two things I wanted to note:

    1) “How can the Times’ explanation possibly map onto hundreds of tweets on dozens of different subjects over several years?”

    Asking that question indicates an online experience very different from my own, and, I suspect, from Jeong’s. I don’t cotton to her methods, obviously, but I can *very easily* imagine that she would have been viciously name-called and repeatedly harrassed hundreds of times on dozens of different subjects over several years, given that most women (and especially women of color) I know who are at all loud or oppositional to men on the internet have had similar experiences. (If the audience is guessing that no self-identified men of color have name-called or harrassed me, they’d be correct.)

    Heck, I think of myself as mostly having not been subject to those things compared to most of my female peers, and yet “hundreds” is an order of magnitude too small to describe my experiences.

    2) If I thought this was deliberate I would have addressed it before proofing and scheduling your post, so please don’t think I’m accusing you of deliberately doing anything of the sort. I’m not, and I wouldn’t want to censor a writer in this way. That said, as a person who is fairly aware of the racial animosity and condescension directed toward various groups in the US over the last 100 years, and the precise language that got picked up and repeated over and over about different races, any time someone refers to an Asian American as “tiny” and “inscrutable”, my hackles go up a bit. No need to defend yourself – I understand the denotations of the words and that you have a fair reason to think they’re the right words to use – it’s just that given the connotations, I found those choices kinda weird. If you continue to argue this point, it may be useful to you to not pick physical size, or “inscrutability” (even sarcastically), as things you want to bring up. It made it harder for me (than it already was) to respect your arguments.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

      (Sorry – I don’t think this was clear and it should have been – I *do* respect your arguments, and the skill with which, generally speaking other than those two words, you made them. I don’t agree with them, but I do respect them. And I’m glad to have my ideas challenged.)Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    I just had it pointed out to me that the NYT did not, in fact, fire Bari Weiss.

    And here *I* was thinking that they fired Weiss and kept Jeong.

    They should just yell something about Freedom of Speech includes hate speech if the hate speech is ironic and trust that everybody will move on to something else by 9AM Monday morning. (Wait, they kinda did that. Okay. Well, then. Carry on.)Report

  7. North says:

    Ok I’m enormously confused. Ever since the website change I’ve struggled with some challenges with the site. The work filters blocking it is just painful but manageable but I feel like the site keeps eating my comments or vanishing them. Are they disappearing or I just can’t see them on my browser?


    • Maribou in reply to North says:

      @north Just in the last couple of weeks we’ve had a lot of problems because Will had to set the spam filters to “throttle” to appease our server hosts. He’s eased up on them now but it usually takes some time for it to get better.

      Any real comments that get eaten/vanished into the spam filters have to be manually approved by someone with fairly high-level site permissions. So, I know I’ve been manually approving dozens, sometimes hundreds of comments a day, Will’s been doing more than me, some other folks have been helping. I know I approved some comments by you when I first woke up this morning, so if you were to peruse the site, you might see comments posted now that you thought had been vanished earlier. We suspect but are not sure that some comments may have disappeared entirely instead of spam-filtering, and Will’s working on that. (I’m hopeful, at least, that *that* will stop after the thing he just tried a couple ours ago.)
      And for the “normal” getting-stuck-in-pending issue, he’s got the site as an alert on his phone so most of the time it’s a 30-60 second delay. Just, neither of us can literally stare at that filtering screen reloading it every 5 seconds to catch new comments and approve them.

      It’s a giant pain in the ass for us but I’m sure far more disconcerting and bothersome commenters, and I hate it and I’m hoping it will stop being a thing we have to deal with very soon. It’s hard because the “do everything you can to fix it process” is slow and incremental, unfortunately.

      I hope you can bear with us.Report

  8. Troublesome Frog says:

    A couple of thoughts on this:

    1) As some of us were discussing on Twitter, this is basically the left’s version of posting selfies guns and drinking straws or showing off how you’re rolling coal with a link to your Patreon account. It’s just attention seeking behavior and it’s depressing to see people on my side of the fence who presumably occupy the space of “public intellectual” doing things I’d expect from a bikini chick on conservative Instagram trying to “trigger the libs.”

    2) I’m totally down with transgressive jokes and crossing the line for satirical effect, but it only works under certain circumstances. First, being funny helps. Second, some sort of a tight satirical point is good. Third, the group you’re needling needs to pick up on the fact that while there’s some hard truth in the joke, it’s in the spirit of friendship.

    I could make a teasing joke at my wife’s expense about something that was a real flaw of hers and it would be OK, once. It’s between us and it would be received in the spirit in which it was given. If I did it again and again, that would grind on our relationship. It would not be fun and it would not be a healthy way of communicating. And if I did it constantly in front of my friends for their approval, basically using her as a prop, that would be downright toxic and she should probably stab be in my sleep for it.

    This is not good behavior, and it’s not good that the incentive structure for public intellectuals is starting to encourage it.Report

    • I think these are really good points. In the main I agree with you – especially about the selfie-equivalency.

      But how do you account for real discrimination and power differentials among the people who are doing these things? Like, what if the person you are needling is not your wife, but your shitty neighbor who always pisses you and your other three neighbors off with her shitty behavior (eg letting her dog poop all over your lawns), but she owns her house and you’re all renters whose landlords are friends with your shitty neighbor… so what recourse do you have other than to needle, and to needle in such a way that you give you and your friends at least a temporary feeling of relief?

      I think I just did a terrible thing to your elegant analogy, for which I apologize, but I really would like to know how you think the power (or lack thereof), racial discrimination (not mudslinging on a group level but actual personal harassment / loss of opportunity) or lack thereof, etc., fit into your interpretation of events.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

        Are you needling in front of the crappy neighbor and all her friends, or just with your friends while killing a bottle of wine in your living room?Report

        • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          You’re needling on one of your porches, sitting with all your friends while killing a bottle of wine, even though you *know* the neighbor can hear you and she’ll tell all her friends (her version)….

          because you’re just so sick of this shit that you cannot even be bothered to pretend any more.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

            I’m not arguing it’s a good idea to do the needling or even that the Times should have hired her in the first place (oh for the days when I didn’t give a shit whom any big fancy media outlet hired or didn’t hire). I just think it’s a stupid idea to turn something so human into this huge giant blow-up deal when there are so many actually bothersome problems going on. Like, the problem in this scenario, big picture, is not *primarily* that you are being stupid about your needling protocols.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

            I guess the question then is, “who is the audience”?

            Is it your very sympathetic friends, and maybe the crappy neighbor?

            Or is it other people with whom you’d like to build support in order to gather the power necessary to deal with the crappy neighbor?Report

            • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              The fact that it’s the former is why I don’t think the Times was wise to want to hire her, or that she’s a particularly happy person.

              But the fact that it’s the former is why I also really don’t think it’s worth spending energy on being bothered about her. She reads to me as someone who feels hopeless, has given up, and is acting out of the having given up. “Writing about things in a thoughtful and measured way just gets me endless abusive trolls, I might as well tweet from the ID since those posts are the ones that get all the attention anyway.” That’s not a dangerous person. It’s actually somebody I feel kind of sorry for, and want both to avoid and to avoid hurting further. Because even if I tried to help her with her metaphorical neighbors, she’s past wanting that help.

              Meanwhile there are a million (actually many million) beautiful people of color out there trying to make common cause and to connect, and getting *nowhere* with white people because we’re all over here obsessing about Sarah Jeong. Paying attention to her and not so much them, or treating them like her the second they huff an exasperated, “Ugh, white people,” in response to yet another shitty experience of racism, is sending a signal every bit as loud as the one Jeong sends, to all those people who are trying every day to build common cause. And the signal it sends seems to in part consist of, “we don’t care what you’re trying to do. might as well give up and join the wine/ranting party over there….”

              I don’t like it and I don’t want to be part of it. But by inveighing against it, I become part of it. I read about 300 percent fewer useful, insightful essays by people of color today than I do most days… in part because my attention and my energy were bent on getting people to stop caring about Sarah Jeong.

              It’s a conundrum.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

                Honestly, before this hit the feeds, I had no idea who she was, and I stopped caring after I decided this is her schtick.

                Anything past that is just me yapping about it with some friends while killing a metaphorical bottle of wine (although this morning, it’s a berry smoothie). If we all changed the subject to, say, the Linky post for today, I’d happily switch gears and never look back.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @oscar-gordon Mmhmm. That’s what makes me feel bad (about myself, to be clear). I mean, am I putting in the effort to put those writers forward and get people to talk about them? Maybe a little – I did post a link to my friend’s writings on the other comment thread. But as much as I could be? Probably not.

                And for the last few days I haven’t even been reading the new essays like that such that I could, in theory, share them if I wanted to.

                And yet…Report

      • pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

        Yeah I also agree with the selfie-equivalency. It’s sort of the one thing that’s given me the most pause about the whole thing.

        At the same time, like, seriously, the people who were and still are getting most bent out of shape about this and her [1] are exceptionally shitty people. Alt-right and alt-right-adjacent.

        People sometimes talk about how the various excesses of the Left inflame or inspire bad behavior on the Right, and allege, for example, that overuse of terms like “racism” and “bigotry” dilute the terms and take all the sting out of them.

        But, well, what happens when you have a bunch of Pepe asshats and anime Nazis throwing around the term “white genocide” to describe interracial dating or porn or some other mind-bendingly stupid thing? People are just maybe gonna start treating the idea of killing all the white people as a joke.

        Because at this point it really is.

        Do I know how much of this motivated Jeong? Not really.

        But I’m goddamn sure that it’s motivating a lot of the people who dug what Jeong was doing then, or are defending her now.

        [1] And no one here remotely qualifies. Just to be extra clear.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Maribou says:

        There are some toxic people that are just impossible to deal with beyond ignoring
        them. They aren’t doing anything that is strictly illegal but their behavior is at best severely obnoxious and can escalate all the way to abusive. Yet, because of power differentials or circumstances you really can’t do much about it.

        The dance scene has two related problems with toxic people. The more serious problem is that partner dancing gives harassers a lot of plausible deniability to get away with harassment. Inappropriate touching can be hid as mistakes and while you need to ask somebody to dance with you, getting informed consent for sexy moves in mid-dance is not going to happen. The other problem is that there is a lot of social posturing in dance. Many advanced dancers really don’t like having to deal with dancers they consider having lower ability ask them to dance on the floor. Argentine Tango is particularly infamous for this.Report

      • Troublesome Frog in reply to Maribou says:

        I was using the spouse analogy as an optimistic one, but I worry that your analogy is closer to her world view. I was initially thinking along the lines of this Jay Smooth commentary. We’re only allowed to walk that line if we’re friends, and if we’re friends, we should want to be careful about how we walk that line. Not being careful is being unkind to our friends and abusing a liberty that is afforded only to friends, and she’s clearly trying to be the opposite of careful.

        So I suspect that Jeong and white people aren’t really friends. That’s what makes the defenses of her behavior so inconsistent, IMO. That Jeong is actually just engaging in a little friendly teasing with a group that is dear to her is one possible defense. That Jeong is justified because white people really are garbage and saying so for likes on the Internet is her only recourse is another. But the two aren’t really compatible. She and NYT seem to be going with the first one, maybe, but with the second as a good fallback? So I think your analogy is actually closer than mine: white people are her shitty neighbor and she sees grandstanding in front of her friends is the right way to interact with them.

        As for the power differential on the group level, I think it’s fine to argue that a white person saying the same thing about Asian people would not be analogous. I’d agree. It would be worse for a lot of reasons. But people seem to think that it follows that Jeong’s behavior is not bad at all, or that it’s actually laudable. It can still be somewhat bad for a whole host of reasons. I’m not in the “run her out of town on a rail” crowd, but there’s a lot of room between that and being hired to speak for the supposed paper of record.

        I’m not sure what you mean when you say “not on the group level” so don’t how to answer that part. From where I sit, her rationale seems to be that a lot of individual white people were legitimately bad to her on a personal level, so it’s cool for her to say that white people as a whole are trash “ironically” because she doesn’t really mean it and also because it’s kind of true.

        Anyway, when I started following her, her tweets in my feed were mostly news and analysis. For some time, they’ve just been, “White people suck. Please clap,” which suggest that those are the tweets of hers that get the most likes. Incentives are what they are, and a job at the NYT seems to be the reward for it, so while I don’t think this is healthy or good, we should expect more.Report

        • @troublesome-frog thanks for elaborating.

          fwiw, what I was distinguishing between was “people in group x are all trash” or “all dragon mothers” or “all useless” or whatever dumb thing, which I see as hurtful, potentially triggering or super upsetting for some folks, but not personally traumatic overall, just generative of some level of mistrust and pain (trust me, just as a person in a visibly female body, I get tons of this kind of mudslinging every dang week), versus “you, person Q, are a [insert slew of slurs and invective related to their membership in group X here]” or the far worse IMO/E not hiring, physically attacking, financially rejecting, or undermining the safety of via vicious personally-directed threats of people or doxxing of someone, based on their membership in group X.

          Both sets of bad behavior are motivated by racial bias. First one strikes me as a problem that contributes to the other, regardless of who is publicly declaiming what, within it … but the other strikes me as the far more serious set of problems that, far more often, aren’t getting addressed because of systematic failures. And here in the States, at least, I’m pretty clear about where the majority of that second set of problems come from, and which people need to paid negative attention to (or countervailing positive attention to! or kind but intervening /protesting attention to!) in order for those problems to be addressed and fixed. (No way in hell, for eg, I know enough to untangle the racial violence issues in Malaysia with any degree of skill, even in the confines of my own head. But I’ve been living in America for 20 years, and reading bell hooks and james baldwin for 30 [and heck, william buckley for all his sins for 20, in part to understand The White Man Who Thinks He Is Superior in one of its more eloquent and relatively less nauseating forms], so I have *some*, not perfect, minor clarity on the situation here.)Report

        • pillsy in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

          This is where I think the analogy kind of falls apart.

          White people aren’t her friend, spouse, or neighbor, because white people are a bunch of people, not a single person. Does she have a generalized affection for white people as a group and view them as dear to her?

          No, of course not. Most white people don’t feel that way either. The sort of white people who do feel that way and say so…? I mean it’s not quite universal but in general that’s creeptastic white nationalist territory.[1]

          The “signaling” motivation we discussed elsewhere, and the straw selfie analogy for that matter, scramble this reasoning all to hell.[2]

          People can and will still be offended, and intent is not, as they say, magic, and this sort of thing is going to play quite badly with folks who are not Extremely Online and may in general by a bad and counterproductive approach to dealing with an incredibly shitty, vocal, and recently empowered group of bad actors.

          But if we’re talking about underlying motives and mindset? It matters a great deal.

          [1] This is where the whole “oppression” calculus fits in.

          [2] Whatever you think of conservatives posing with straws to own the libs, the one thing I’m dead certain about is that they aren’t actually saying, “Hey, straws are really great!”[3]

          [3] I’ve seen some surprisingly compelling and even moving defenses of plastic straws from people who advocate for the disabled, though. I don’t think any of them were from conservatives, but if they were, they certainly weren’t aimed at owning anybody.Report

  9. Oscar Gordon says:

    This is interesting and (if true, I haven’t verified it) seems to support the whole ‘schtick’ idea (and doesn’t paint Jeong in a very nice light).Report