Beto: Appetite For Destruction

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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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215 Responses

  1. Avatar pillsy says:

    Remember how LAME Tipper Gore was?

    I do. I do very clearly. She flipped out over Prince. I mean c’mon.

    Sometimes it seems like we’ve just sort of forgotten how enthusiastic about censorship allegedly serious people were in the ’80s and ’90s. Like now people start hinting darkly that you’re a censor if you criticize a work for its content, or decide that you aren’t interested in selling it back then, but back there it was everywhere.

    There was Tipper’s PMRC. 2 Live Crew were arrested for obscenity just for their lyrics. There was the VCHIP. There was the freakout over Mortal Kombat and Doom and the rest that got us the ESRB ratings to head off government censorship.[1]

    Remember when Joe Lieberman was nominated as VP? Wild, huh.

    And yeah, this was also the first round of complaints against PC which really haven’t changed much in a quarter century.

    And some of my earlier memories from politics was the sort of anti-porn hysteria that gripped Capitol Hill in the ’80s. Since I was like 8 at the time, I really didn’t have much context for what they were talking about. To the extent “porn” meant anything it meant Playboy, which was forbidden and mysterious but not so forbidden and mysterious that I didn’t know it meant pictures of boobies. So it was a little mystifying.

    So anyway people wanted to rebel against all that shit. Who wouldn’t?

    And people were right to rebel. But along the way the rebels won. Maybe it’s not a surprised because in addition to being incredibly uncool and boring, the people they were rebelling against also tended to be either dumb, religious fanatics, or dumb religious fanatics.

    But people younger than us grew up in a world without this. I’m enough on the trailing edge of Gen X to know and be friends with a lot of Millennials, and for them South Park is just entertainment, not rebellion. And without that context of rebellion, the stuff that is just gross and mean can get kind of overwhelming.

    People talk about the SJWs or “intersectional Left” or whatever, and I think some of those folks were just rebelling in their own we against a world we’d made.[2] If you grow up in a world where nothing is sacred, maybe you want to make some shit sacred again. In a world where nobody is supposed to take anything seriously enough to be offended by it, maybe you strike out by taking stuff seriously enough to be offended.

    Or, you know, you keep looking ever further for boundaries to push and end up telling a lot of hilarious jokes about the Holocaust and molesting children.

    That seems to have happened too.

    [1] It wasn’t civic spirit or an interest in transparency that made the video game industry start slapping those “Rated M for Manly” stickers on its games.

    [2] Younger folks always seem to have a lot more impact on pop culture than they do on politics or industry or the like.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to pillsy says:

      I think it is its own form of rebellion, or at least a fashion shift. When nothing is sacred the most rebellious thing you can be is pious. Scott Alexander had a post on this I thought was good.

      https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/04/22/right-is-the-new-left/Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

      One thing this rant serves as is a reminder that presentism isn’t really fair as a criticism of the artist. It’s one thing to look at a work and say that it wouldn’t fly today, it’s something else to damn the creator for creating something that was completely acceptable at the time.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Very much this. Context is everything. With this topic in particular I think you also need to look at Columbine as a watershed moment. Stuff that was obviously derivative of popular counter-culture (think Natural Born Killers) suddenly became a warning sign.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        I think it’s fair to criticize the art [1] but people always want to carry past that and damn the creators or the audiences, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        For whatever reason I always come back to Heinlein for this. A lot of stuff in his book reads as pretty racist now (and some read as pretty racist then, by all accounts), but politically he was really anti-racist and that also shows through in his books.

        And actually investigating that kind of nuance is IMO a lot more informative and interesting about how things were then and how they are now than staking out some black and white position.

        On the other hand if something really bugs someone it really bugs someone and that’s cool. It’s fine to not like things.

        [1] In part that can reveal interesting things about its circumstances, and in part because a lot of the most tedious aspects of Culture Warring involve policing other people’s reactions to stuff they like or dislike.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

          “…a lot of the most tedious aspects of Culture Warring involve policing other people’s reactions to stuff they like or dislike.”

          This. It’s one of the reasons I pushback so hard against certain posts here. I get really cranked up when I see a post that appears to be a virtue test. For example, I write a post about a restaurant that serves puppy burgers. 99.99% of the population agrees we shouldn’t turn puppies into burgers. Readers have two options A) Agree this is outrageous thus signaling their virtue or B) Take a contrarian position to try to be interesting and actually have a conversation. So maybe they take Option B and try to talk about how historically there have been cultures that love puppy burgers and they are actually a good source of vitamin K9 and maybe we should be understanding. The majority of the commentariat now begins the police action of telling them what vile pieces of trash they are for even suggesting an alternative to the moral position of the OP and now we are off and running. 250 comments later, the virtue test has been successful in generating lots of page clicks and now everyone else files this away in their memory banks for later reference. 2 months later they will pull quotes from the puppy post to remind a fellow commenter that they have already demonstrated they are a morally repugnant person when really, that commenter was just doing what their GenX DNA told them to do i.e. destroy.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            For example, I write a post about a restaurant that serves puppy burgers. 99.99% of the population agrees we shouldn’t turn puppies into burgers. Readers have two options A) Agree this is outrageous thus signaling their virtue or B) Take a contrarian position to try to be interesting and actually have a conversation.

            So it may (not remotely) surprise you that I really don’t agree with this part.

            Not as some sort of absolute, but as a set of social norms that work in the contemporary (especially) Internet-based environment. It requires a lot of trust to do that on both sides, because everybody has to understand and agree that this is an intellectual exercise that is valuable, and also that the person isn’t actually doing it to just make people grossed up and upset (and for that matter isn’t a puppy eater).

            A lot of things degraded this trust over the years since the late ’90s. One that probably doesn’t get enough attention is just the huge explosion in usage and reach of Internet-based communication, meaning you know longer had the kinds of implicit agreements governing conversations that once held sway.

            There’s also been a real uptick in the amount of harassment of various sorts that were far beyond what you would have expected back in the day. This includes high volumes of hateful and even threatening email, campaigns to get people fired, stalking, and SWATting.

            So yeah, trust degrades and you need to spend a lot more time signaling that you’re trustworthy.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              I guess maybe it’s a difference between first pass conversations and 10th pass conversations. If someone posted about a puppy burger joint, holy crap we have never had that conversation before. Where does everyone stand on that? It’s an interesting thought exercise. The 10th post about how outrageous it (still) is that any Americans would like soccer? We already know where everyone stands on that, so that is where I think the virtue signaling comes in. It’s like going to church every Sunday. I’ve already establish I am a member of this religion. God knows it. But I go to church every week to re-affirm that to the community (in case anyone wasn’t sure).

              And of course even on the 10th post about soccer obviously if the new commenter chimes in about how seriously terrible it is and that Americans who watch it are posers, I guess that is interesting because they are starting to establish their online identity within the group, but not so interesting for the rest of us that have already had the conversation nine times.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              Amen to that.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

      To be sure, 2 Live Crew should not have been censored. But do we really want our children listening to music that treat women like objects? Shouldn’t 2 Live Crew know better than to create such art in the first place?

      I’m not arguing for censorship.

      I’m arguing for prior restraint.

      No, not even.

      I’m arguing for a culture full of people to whom it would never occur to make music like that.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

        OK.

        There’s always going to be sorts of art that are more or less unthinkable in a culture. Thinking about what they are, and what they should be, sounds like a fruitful topic for debate.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

          Yes, hammering out which idols really do referent actual deities is usually pretty fun.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

            This analogy reminds me of nothing so much as the fundies who would insist to me that I was about to go out and start murdering folks because why wouldn’t I if I didn’t believe in God.Report

            • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to pillsy says:

              I always worry about those Christians who have such a strong desire to murder that they would start killing people if they did not believe in God.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

              Yeah, the fundies that I grew up with were more into getting people to not say things.

              The ones who asked me about how I could possibly act ethically without a morality that agreed 100% with theirs were funny, though.

              I found that discussions helped get them to understand things… even though they usually wanted me to not talk and expose the weaker members of their community to infohazards like “not being afraid to talk about how hollow the idols are”.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Beto wants to be president like I want to go to my cousin Brenda’s bridal shower on Saturday, which is to say that it sounds pretty lame and I’m desperately hoping I develop explosive diarrhea so I can stay home but I guess I wasn’t doing anything anyway.

    Damnit, I was drinking coffee when I read that! Now it’s dribbling out of my nose…Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David says:

    “My generation has lived long enough to see the people who were raised in an unjust and oppressive world rise up and destroy that world to create another unjust and oppressive world that happens to suit them a little bit better.”

    Awesome.

    Beto has always struck me as one of the least authentic politicians in an era of inauthenticity. If he wrote a “ZOMG it has badthink” poem, then good on him.

    Nice rant by the way. For one brief, shining moment, the wife and I notice that advertising was being directed at us. Two Gen-Xers watched, listened and shopped in awe to the sounds and sights of our people. And six months later, it was gone.Report

    • I actually remember that same 6 month period of Gen X advertising Aaron!

      Thanks for reading!Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

        I think I wrote once about Surge Soda here. But to date myself as part of the group we’re talking about here, the taste of Surge evokes some kinda Proustian memories for me because it was offered for free at every outdoor music festival I attended that one summer with the first girl I was ever truly in love with. I remember watching Luscious Jackson with my arm around her hip. Sigh.

        Incidentally, you can still find Surge in a few southern states. I drank it last time I was in Florida. But it is definitely an example of how nutso marketers went for Gen Xers and how quickly that approach could sink a product.Report

  4. Avatar pillsy says:

    Anyway I liked this so much I tweeted it out there and tagged Kristen.

    Unfortunately for her, this means that her mentions are now aflame with ’80s kid nostalgia.Report

  5. Avatar InMD says:

    I enjoyed this piece, thanks for writing it. I don’t have quite the level of nostalgia, being one of those xennial cusp types with one foot in each generation. Your description of high school is closer to how I remember it than, say, what my younger brothers went through with intense standardized test regimes, etc. I started writing a bunch of edgy and in retrospect kind of cringeworthy things I did but decided I’d rather not share.

    One thing I lament about the modern world is that we seem to have lost the capacity to allow some failure, not only academically but also socially. I think anyone who doesn’t look back on their past selves and cringe (but also laugh) probably hasn’t done much growing.

    My worry about the college stuff isn’t so much about the kids. I think most of them will look back at their past selves and cringe but also laugh at the silliness of all this self-serious school marm stuff. If there was ever a time to experiment with stupid ideas college is it. My concerns about it are the signs these concepts are being institutionalized both at places of higher learning and via novel administrative interpretation of federal laws. That kind of thing has a way of outliving undergrad fads.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to InMD says:

      Much of my fear re schools are as you put it; institution and interpretation. But the difference I see is that this will become ingrained to a generation and that they will eventually rise to take leadership positions in society and bring this crap with them. The idea of “I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It” is quickly, and quite sadly falling by the wayside. We see this daily. What is replacing it is sort of a vast no-mans-land of a cultural split.

      This only leads to a true anti-intellectualism and furthers us from searching for truth.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Aaron David says:

        If I’m not mistaken you work in higher education, correct? Is there really no one pushing back?

        I admit, I try not to believe everything I read on the subject or at least take it with the assumption that I’m only seeing the really weird stuff from small elite schools.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David in reply to InMD says:

          I don’t work in Higher Ed but my wife does and I come from an academic family. But, those small schools are often trendsetters in the academic ecosystem. In other words, someone who goes to a small liberal arts school for a PhD will wind up teaching at a much larger state school, bringing those “ideas” with them. See also the Obama era Title IX Dear Colleague letter. And like many things, it starts small but snowballs out. A big chunk of this stems from how PostModernism took over the humanities dept. in many of these schools in the wake of the STEM take over when Comp Sci became such a money maker. Something had to fill the vacuum created and Derrida and Foucault filled the void.

          Academia is mainly left-leaning at this point, and so much of this seemed like good, natural ideas to that community. But yes, there is starting to be pushback, mainly from alumni donors and boards of regents at the state level. There is a bit of “I didn’t think they would come for me” starting to go around, Also with enrollments, for example, both Evergreen and Missouri have had enrollment drops of over 20%.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Aaron David says:

            I did not realize the enrollment drops but I guess it makes sense, especially given the price tag. God knows I wouldn’t want to pay tens of thousands or more to have my kid brainwashed or end up tarred and feathered by some mob.

            Maybe money will cause it all to work itself out.Report

      • Avatar Jesse in reply to Aaron David says:

        “The idea of “I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It” is quickly, and quite sadly falling by the wayside”

        Let’s ask Communists in the 50’s, black people for most of the history of this country, women up until a few years ago, and so on, and so forth whether this actually existed, except in the minds of white dudes.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse says:

          Yes. People who believe things should not believe them because different people were hypocrites about these same things 30 years prior.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jesse says:

          Way to completely prove my point.

          Civil rights are not a zero-sum game. We need to both look at the past to help us spot our failures, and work for the future to be more expansive. This is one of the things that make a pluralistic society function. And right now, we need more of it.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

      I’m from the same not quite Gen X and not quite Millennial group. The high school experiences of people just a little younger than I am was extraordinarily different form my high school experience, where SATs and AP exams were a thing but not the thing. People just a few years younger, meaning they are in their early thirties now, had a much more disciplined high school experience.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’m not sure if it was a culture shift or No Child Left Behind or what but the things I heard from my brothers were really mind blowing, especially from the youngest.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to InMD says:

          A lot of it was just that a lot more kids were applying to college, which means that the standards for getting into a good one got much higher.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to pillsy says:

            Gen X and the Xennials were a Baby Bust, so getting into semi-elite and elite colleges was less difficult when we applied. Great GPAs, standardized test scores, and a decent batch of ordinary extracurricular activities could do it. A few years later, not so much.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yeah 79er and I remember sort of going through school as it was something you had to do but the cohort right behind me apparently got the fish ground out of them by the gears that were forming on either side as I came through.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Let’s imagine that Beto was really actually trying to write an erotic poem about a cow.

    Then something something Devin Nunes.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    This was SO GOOD Kristin. Seriously, one of the best descriptions of our generation that I have seen. I will definitely be sharing it.

    “We thought that our role was to sit at the back of the class and point the truth out to the people who didn’t see it.”

    This has pretty much been my strategy for my entire time in Corporate America. For most of that time, I took my career lumps because I was the guy who needed to keep his mouth shut in meetings. Luckily I found myself in the Quality department several years ago and suddenly they now pay me to do this. Amazingly, I got promoted for doing that. My boss encourages it. Wonders never cease.

    Also, if anyone wants a good take on the early stages of GenX contrarianism, check out Deadly Class on SyFy. It’s full of it (and a fun show)Report

  8. Avatar bookdragon says:

    I’m on the border between Boomer and Gen-X, a Xoomer I’m told. So I remember the general cynical and irreverent mindset that only children of children of the hippy era could have. But I hit my teens during the backlash to that: the Moral Majority, the uptight Greed is Good and getting ahead is all that matters 80s. Preppies, Polos, Nancy Reagan suits, “D&D is a trap of SATAN!” nonsense. I suppose it’s no surprise that society tried to counterbalance that with shock jocks. Certainly we teens were mostly on the side of the shock jocks there.

    But once you’ve pushed all the usual icons over, there’s a limit to what’s left to induce shock. And a lot of what’s left is truly nasty and repulsive, so no big surprise if the next generation looks at aging Xers still trying to play the shockingly irreverent rebel and collectively responds with “Ewww.”

    So, I agree with you that holding anyone to account for stuff they wrote as teenagers is dumb. Teens are trying on all sorts of thought processes and identities, trying to figure out who they actually are (while also navigating hormonal surges, rapid changes in growth, and the cess pit of jr high and high school social interactions). I fact, I’m even inclined to give a pass for a lot of stuff from 20-somethings. For most people there’s still a lot of growth and experiementation, both psychological and social, going on during that age bracket.

    On the other hand, joking about rape or pedophilia or the Holocaust or the trauma of kids who saw classmates shot by a lunatic when you’re over 30? Yeah, not so much… At some point as an adult you have to be old enough and mature enough to have some responsibility for what you say and do. I support free speech and wouldn’t want to see people banned from speaking just for being asshats, but I don’t see a problem with employers, advertisers, or audiences in general deciding that they don’t want to support them.

    as usual there is an xkcd for that.

    https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/free_speech.png)Report

    • I understand what you’re saying and I don’t disagree that out of politeness and kindness, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. But comedians and artists and pundits and journalists, I believe, have to exist outside of the boundaries of politeness and kindness in some sort of otherworldly land where the same rules don’t apply.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        I don’t disagree with that. I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to the days of police raiding comedy clubs because someone on stage said something offensive (btw, if you haven’t watched The Marvelous Ms Maisel you really should).

        But I do object to idea that no one should have the right to object or say “Hey, that’s offensive.” If you recall, right after Charlottesville the alt-right was loudly claiming that the people who counter protested were ‘anti free speech’ because they didn’t sit down and shut up and just let neo-Nazis have the public square.

        Being able to call someone out for being an awful and nasty is also free speech. In fact, given how quick people are to jump on you for being a SJW or whatever for doing it, it might even count as this generation’s version of being edgy. 😉Report

  9. Avatar Maribou says:

    I enjoyed this post a lot.

    I did want to quibble with something though (you know I always want to quibble with something… as a Gen Xer, something something something 😉 )

    ” how we’ve replaced the overbearing Christian busybody thought police”

    We haven’t replaced them. They’re still very active (I live in Co Springs and they’re blooming everywhere). They just get ignored because the left thought police and the alt-right thought police get busy going after each other, and ignore them.

    But they’re there, and doing the same sorts of things they used to do … they’re just a bit more clever and more subtle (and yeah, less powerful but that ain’t NO powerful) and more focused on less national levels of government. They’ve learned to pick their battles.

    I go back and forth between whether I’m more worried about the out-in-the-open obvious-targeting thought police or the smoothly-integrated-into-society thought police…

    And it’s also the case that a lot of the Gen X watch me be edgy stuff was just. Plain. Mean. And very male and very cocooned. There’s a “thought police” aspect to not being allowed to hang out in the hallway all day, calling girls gross names and rating them out loud when they’re just trying to use the water fountain, but I’m okay with that, you know? And disrupting that particular practice at my high school was as “Gen X” as anything else I did…Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

      And it’s also the case that a lot of the Gen X watch me be edgy stuff was just. Plain. Mean. And very male and very cocooned.

      There was. And if you were very male and very cocooned you might not how just plain mean it was.

      A lot of what made me into the anti-anti-SJW that I am today is having people point out (with varying degrees of patience, which I would accept with varying degrees of grace) how much of that meanness there was that I didn’t recognize, and sometimes even repeated.Report

    • No, it’s not thought police when it is holding people to a standard of behavior in a school setting.

      Not harrassing women in a hallway is a reasonable, decent standard to hold children to. Part of the job of being an adult human being is teaching the younger human beings how to act. This is especially true in a school setting since that’s really their job. It’s also about keeping the girls safe and able to learn. Not thought police.

      Worrying about what is happening in someone’s bedroom or about what they say or think in adulthood is different.Report

      • Avatar Maribou in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        @kristin-devine

        It was definitely the sort of behavior that was categorized as thought police, freedom of expression should matter, etc., at the time by people in other schools that I had the unfortunate occasion to know. Lots and lots of more elite, crueler and less violent bullies did this exact sort of bullying in school and then made these kind of faux-impassioned, self-protective arguments about it and about it being “thought police” to punish them. And it often *worked* for them to do that, though now I suspect that had less to do with what they said and more to do with who their parents were. (I dunno WHY certain people – not you – always set up this strict dichotomy between male physical violence and female social cruelty – the socially cruelest people I knew were all rich guys who were also physically violent and damn, they were vicious. In both ways.).

        In my school, my disruption took the place of interfering in something that never directly involved me (because they liked me and I was a senior with social standing) — telling the ringleader and his minions to Fuck the Fuck Off with this Fucking Bullshit, at loud volume, in the middle of said hallway, and not because of any righteousness of my cause, or any administrative involvement, or plausible argumentation, but because said ringleader was not actually one of those socially cruel elite bullies but rather a garden variety hood and drug dealer who happened to already respect me, partly because I had chutzpah and partly because I was never afraid of him.

        It only took being called out by someone he respected once for him to stop doing that (in front of me at least) ever again.

        But I didn’t “hold him to a reasonable standard” and there was certainly no adult around who was effectively able to do that. (Plus frankly, I think he was 22 at the time – part of his drug racket involved failing just enough classes every year that he never got around to graduating.) I shamed him. Really loudly and publicly. I saw exactly how small and petty he was being, and he saw me seeing it, and he was ashamed. And that is, to some degree, a “thought policing” approach – even though I agree with you that it was far more about behavior than thoughts. MOST thought policing stuff is about behavior not thoughts – if you consider speech a form of behavior, which I generally do.

        And it worked where all kinds of well-meaning teacherly nudges over (in his case) 22 years of schooling had not. Now, perhaps it wouldn’t have worked were there not teacherly nudges.

        But I wasn’t forcing some behavioral change by approved means. I was demanding he see subjects, not objects, where he was clearly seeing / treating girls like objects. And, at least in that moment, partly because he and I had known each other for 3 years and I’d always expected him to treat me like a subject (which to his credit he had), his perceptions flipped.

        I *very literally* was aiming at his thoughts, and hit them.

        I’m okay with that, but calling it something different than it was doesn’t make it into that other thing.

        Some thought policing is good, just like some kinds of policing are good.

        Knowing where to draw the lines and when it is and isn’t appropriate to act on one’s thoughts about other’s thoughts is part of working out how to human, not something people shouldn’t be dabbling in ever for any reason and if it looks like you should, well, it must be something different.Report

  10. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Based on what I’ve saw from 1970s television in re-runs, I don’t think that Gen X was raised to be cynical. The kid’s entertainment from the 1970s seems to have what you can call mainstreamed Counter-Culture ethics. A sort of weak hippiedom, where peace is good, early girl power feminism, multiculturalism, back to earth granolialism was going to save the world. The cynicism came because all of this abruptly changed when Gen X had their puppetry and adolescence during the 1980s, a much more materialistic and cynical time when the values of the counter-culture rotted. It was too jarring for Gen Xers. So we got Nirvana.Report

  11. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I enjoyed that. I agree. I just want to bring two quibbles. I’m not an Xer, I’m a Boomer. Not even a Xoomer, though I was born on the downslope, and we more watched older siblings do all the Boomer things.

    The 60’s happened because of The Pill and The War. Though, yes, it did become cool to be a rebel. Here’s a funny story. To most people watching Roadrunner torment Wile E. Coyote, their sympathies were with Wile E. But not for Boomers, who saw themselves as Roadrunner. But I think this is consequence, not cause.

    The other point is that while I have read “A Cast of Amontillado” and liked it, they never made me read it in school. This makes me curious as to whether there was a generational shift, or simply your school was a haven for a cult of Poe Lovers.Report

    • Avatar Marianne Aldrich in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      @doctor-jay I had to read a lot of Poe in high school too, so I think it was generational… I mean, I was in a different country on the east coast, so while 2 points don’t make a data set, the odds are in favor.

      (Actually, thinking about it, the junior high school curriculum was even darker. *That*’s when we first read Cask of Amontillado, read the Monkey’s Paw, read some of the most depressing Bradburys…. etc etc.)Report

      • I had to read Amontillado in every grade from 8th on. Maybe I was just very unlucky and happened to land in the classes it was being taught but as a random sampling, they certainly weren’t shying away from letting us read that sort of stuff. Overall, they really pushed a lot of very dark and not at all uplifting literature on us from junior high on. I’ve talked to lots of people in my age cohort, not only from my school but all over the place, and we were all reading that type of stuff. Flowers for Algernon, Gatsby, The Pearl, The Stand (yes, one of our literature tracks read The Stand), Lord of the Flies, and even an edited version of A Clockwork Orange.Report

  12. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    This was really good… clever and perceptive – the fact you that could even weave Beto into the story is contrapuntal genius. Well done!

    The problem of Authority never goes away, but we were the first generation (in a while) to actually believe. We *believed* that no Authority could be trusted. The boomers talked about it, but were parasitic on its background structure… it was a luxury at which they could scoff. But we? We lived among the ruins and believed. Its our signature triumph and our besetting sin.

    I also think you touch on another thing that defines us… we contemplated death. A lot. There are lots of reasons for this… but our pop culture is shot through with death (so to speak) – not glamorized, but cynical… existential.

    Rivalling Poe had to have been Camus’ “The Stranger”… which is echoed in The Cure’s “Killing An Arab” not to mention very nearly the entire oeuvre of the Smiths culminating in the absurd “Girlfriend in a Coma” Even the normies had the alt-crossover pop hit, 99 Luftbaloons. Death was always just one minor mistake or a misplayed computer game away.

    At some point our existential contemplation of Death crossed over into something different… something the Xennials and Millenials live with now after Columbine. No generation is innocent in the harm it perpetuates forward; progress is inevitable.

    But from death, Authority. There’s no escaping Authority, only the shaping of it.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Marchmaine says:

      @marchmaine

      “The boomers talked about it, but were parasitic on its background structure… it was a luxury at which they could scoff.”

      I really didn’t understand my parent’s generation until I was in college and took a class titled ‘History of the 1960s’. The professor, also a Boomer, referred to his generation as ‘the most spoiled generation in American history’. It definitely opened my eyes to some things.

      “I also think you touch on another thing that defines us… we contemplated death. A lot. There are lots of reasons for this…”

      I hadn’t really thought much about this but I guess it is true. For me, I was terrified of nuclear war. I still probably think about death more than is healthy. I’m constantly worried something will happen to me and I will have left my wife some kind of clerical mess to deal with. Having to handle my dad’s estate when I was 21 was certainly some of the genesis of that. I’ve never been scared of dying for myself – just scared of leaving a mess behind for someone else to have to clean up. Or my wife reviews my browser history and well, that’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss when she joins me in the afterlife.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Yeah, if I was smarter and more artistic I’d find a way to say that Nuclear War was the only Authority we respected.

        Come the 90’s we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. So we let Grunge happen, I guess.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Yeah, it was weird for me in the sense that I didn’t have all of that angst in the 90s. Probably helped that I was a stoner and followed Phish around for most of the decade. Pretty positive crowd. So I never really got into the grunge scene at all, and still don’t see what all the fuss was about.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Your comment reminds me of one of my strangest educational moments.

            It will be funny to exactly 6 maybe 7 people in the world… maybe you are one of them.

            Round about 1992 I sat in on a class held in Andrew Nelson Lytle’s livingroom where a devotee of Phish attempted to explain to the then ancient Southern Agrarian Poet what exactly Phish music approximated (his term) and what a Phish Concert Experience was like. To Lytle’s credit, he was enthusiastic in his engagement with the young fellow; even if it was clear that the very idea of Phish was almost incomprehensible.

            Um yeah, maybe you had to be there.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Marchmaine says:

              That’s a really good story. I will have to share that with a couple of my friends. I think i did one of my speeches in Intro to Public Speaking about seeing a Phish concert. We were supposed to take a single song and talk about what it meant to us but I decided to use it as a gateway to talk about seeing them live, because I was a contrarian and rules being damned. Now that I think about it, yeah, I was a grunge kid even when I didn’t want to be.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Marchmaine says:

          It’s kinda weird for me. I graduated in ’89, lived in a small left coast college town with a professor for a parent, 15 miles from a reactor/power plant. But I never had that worry. I always thought the nuclear war as impending death meme was WAY overblown.Report

    • Thanks, that was very insightful!

      Yes I remember one of the literature tracks did “The Stranger” and they were all walking around with the book for several weeks (it had a very creepy cover).Report

  13. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Two things about That Generation.

    One is something Hunter Thompson wrote in the 80s, slightly paraphrased here: “The current generation has been raised to believe that sex would kill you, that the rain was poison, and that they’d see the world end.”

    Another is something I worked out: That we were too young to be The Youth Vote For Clinton and too old to be The Youth Vote For Obama so nobody cared about our politics, and that our 25-34 spending years hit during the Dotcom Crash and our 35-49 spending years hit during the Great Recession so nobody cared about our economics.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    You know where this is really apparent, now that I think about it?

    The Daily Show.

    When it started, it was a goofy show making fun of the breathless way that news was covered. It’s Comedy Central’s version of The News!

    The stuff that might show up in a “News of the Weird” column was given a full-press treatment by Craig Kilborn. And it was funny! It was all of the stuff that was funny about Anchorman without any of the stuff that wasn’t funny about Anchorman.

    And then… sigh… the show got Important. Meaningful.

    9/11 brought us all together. And Jon Stewart was there. No longer the guy from Half-Baked who wanted to know if you’ve ever done something-or-other “on weed”, he was now America’s Conscience.

    Remember the Rally to Restore Sanity?

    And now we’ve got Trevor Noah explaining that Elizabeth Warren’s appeals to her Native American heritage was, technically, problematic. They’re discussing problematics! On the Daily Show!

    Not *BEING* problematic. They were *CALLING OUT* for being problematic!

    Ugh.

    Give me South Park, any day.Report

    • It was one of my great moments of disillusionment when (I always watched the Daily Show and Colbert with my teen boys to discuss the stuff in the news) Obama was elected and I said “now watch, they’ll start sticking it to Obama too, they’re fair like that” and then they didn’t. They just kept attacking Bush even though he wasn’t even the president any more. It was weird.Report

  15. Avatar Jesse says:

    I think what’s actually happening, is for the first time, in the history of the world, is that the targets of “edgy” jokes can actually respond about how they actually feel about the edgy jokes they’re hearing, since instead of a few newspaper letters to the editor or whatever, there’s the Internet.

    There were probably plenty of people who thought the overwhelming so-called edginess of the Gen X era was just an excuse to be assholes to people unlike them. Obviously, there’s places where it goes overboard, but I prefer the Millennial and Post-Millennial generation largely (aside from loser teens on Reddit, YT, and other places) want to work to call out the bad sides of the world instead of shrugging and going, “both sides are bad, man.”Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse says:

      “…I prefer the Millennial and Post-Millennial generation largely …want to work to call out the bad sides of the world…”

      But geez, that is EXHAUSTING. It’s not like Millennials confine their complaining to the big important stuff. They complain about E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. It’s no wonder they aren’t having sex. They are too tired from all the whinging.

      Report

      • Avatar Jesse in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I find older white people whining about people of color, women, and LGBT folk complaining about things that the old white dude doesn’t see as “important” to be far more annoying than any culture criticism that I personally disagree with, but that’s just me.

        But to be frank, Mike, your comment about your daughter over in another thread shows what you’re really upset about and why almost every comment thread includes you complaining about overbearing SJW’s – that your daughter fundamentally disagrees with you about a whole bunch of things and you can’t convince her to “do the right thing” in your view.

        Which is fine, but quit complaining about a whole generation “whining” when what you’re truly upset about is that your child hasn’t grown into the women you imagined her to be.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse says:

          @jesse

          Since you don’t know my daughter you’ll have to trust me when I tell you this: I have never tried to convince her to be anything other than herself. I never tried to force her to do the things I like to do, or believe the things I do. I have never made her go hunting with me, hold the same spiritual beliefs, told her how to vote or tried to persuade her to do anything more than be a good person. (I mean, I do recommend movies, TV and music to her, but this seems fairly benign). Despite the fact that I kill animals as a form of recreation, I also cook vegan food for her and a husband at every family get-together. I was sad for her when Bernie lost the nomination because it was the first time she was engaged politically. Honestly, I take great pride in her being different from me in those ways because it is proof that I succeeded as a parent, not failed.

          So…you’re going to have to try again there. My daughter is a lot like me and a lot different than me but she’s basically a badass. Who happens to complain a lot. Because she is a Millennial. And because she is an SJW. But she is STILL a badass. Couldn’t be more proud.Report

        • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Jesse says:

          Hm, I thought there was a rule on here about applying personal psychological motivations to people’s posts?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kristin Devine says:

            Thank you Kristin, but this is fair game for Jesse. I talked about my daughter which means I was putting it out there. I don’t fault him for referencing it, although his armchair analysis was really far off. Like, I’m probably going to share it with my daughter the next time I see her because she will get a chuckle out of it.Report

            • Avatar Fish in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              You’re very gracious, but it felt out of line to me, too.

              “Honestly, I take great pride in her being different from me in those ways because it is proof that I succeeded as a parent, not failed.”

              Hear! Hear! The point is not to raise clones of ourselves. The point is to raise someone who will hopefully one day become a full-fledged person.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Fish says:

                One of my coworkers is a very devout Catholic and has 8 kids. I asked him once, “Why so many?” His answer was that he wanted more people that thought like him in the world. I realized at that point that he was from Mars and I was from Venus.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse says:

      haw. “GenX thought it was being edgy, but it was just an excuse to be assholes! Not like MY generation, who are TOTALLY SINCERE in their calling-out-the-bad-sides-of-the-world and DEFINITELY not just using it as an excuse to be assholes.”Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jesse says:

      I think this is part of it but a lot of Gen X’s edgy humor was aimed at traditional authority figures like parents, teachers, politicians, and business people or rather anodyne targets than minorities.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Indeed we aimed things at authority figures, so a degree. Not always. We had our share of “AIDS jokes” and so on.

        About which, here’s a true story, sometime in the late 80’s. A guy wonders into my work and say, “Hey, wanna hear a joke?”

        “Sure.”

        So he tells a repulsive AIDS joke, the details of which don’t matter.

        I pretend to laugh, as one did at the time.

        Then he says, “Okay, I have another one — oh wait! — you’re not Irish are you?”

        I give him a deadpan look and say, “How do you know I’m not gay?”

        It was funny.

        Anyhow, yeah we mostly mocked authority figures, but sometimes we bullied gay kids. We loved to say the n-word, except my parents wouldn’t let me use it in the house.

        Once in grammar school, I mocked a Native American kid for having long hair. He beat me up, which good for him.

        Everyone wants to glamorize how rebellious they were, and how great that was, which fine. I hated mall cops as much as the next skater punk. I had the green mohawk and the Black Flag tee shirt and the attitude and the drug habit, etcetera. It was fun, until it wasn’t.

        Rebellion is really important, sometimes. Other times it’s awful. It depends. There are the facts of the case, the particulars. Rebelling against “condescension” is too abstract. Who is condescending about what? Those facts matter, the details, the particulars.

        Consider this: perhaps people want to see these issues in the abstract because they know the particulars will make them seem horrible.

        #####

        I’m glad my parents were “silent generation” and not boomers. For all that I fucked up, they managed to sneak in some real values, when the television wasn’t looking.Report

  16. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    “their children never believed, to begin with. Destruction scares them and they’re easily frightened. ”

    I think it’s telling that a very popular form of fanfic these days is the Coffeeshop AU, which is where a bunch of characters (sometimes from one story, sometimes from several) just…hang out, like, go to a restaurant and have lunch and nobody’s fighting or dying and nothing’s in trouble and there’s no problems or battles or struggle and everybody is friends and EVERYTHING IS JUST NICE AND QUIET AND FINE.

    Which, y’know, not a bad thing to imagine, but certainly a telling one.Report

  17. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Wow. This is a great post Kristen. Amusing, insightful. That bit about Beto still has me chuckling.Report

  18. Avatar Kolohe says:

    This is great.Report

  19. Avatar Fish says:

    Spectacular, and you didn’t even mention the eternal threat of dying in nuclear fire.

    Talking about how we X-ers were raised reminds me of how my mother never even hesitated to buy me Mötley Crüe’s “Shout At the Devil” at the height of the “satanic panic.” Good times.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Fish says:

      Yep that’s how my mom was too – for better or for worse. She didn’t censor anything even when I was really really very young (too young.)

      The downside was, at the same time she really did expect me to somehow understand that some things were off limits and that there were lines that weren’t to be crossed, and I honestly had no clue. The poem I wrote about the teacher dying, she was horrified by that and I was totally blindsided when she was upset with me over it.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Fish says:

      My parents never censored anything at all, except for comic books, which for some reason were forbidden to me. I remember I would sneak into the local Waldenbooks to try to read them sometimes.

      I saw A Clockwork Orange before I read an issue of X-Men.

      It was kind of weird.Report

  20. “My generation has lived long enough to see the people who were raised in an unjust and oppressive world rise up and destroy that world to create another unjust and oppressive world that happens to suit them a little bit better.”

    A world in which an unbelievably privileged group of people have to, occasionally, think more critically about what they are going to say and/or is neither unjust nor oppressive. The claim that it is remains a truly bizarre one; it asks us to believe that the bully who is no longer allowed to bully without consequences is suffering in the same way that those he bullied did.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      Is bullying any better than it was in the 1980s? The only consequences that seem to carry any weight these days is being doxxed, forced out of your job, etc by the outrage mob. That sort of feels like the bullies policing the bullies.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        The ghost of Matthew Shepard would like a word.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          There it is again. This keeps coming up a lot lately. I guess I’m not clear why liberals see anything short of death to be significantly less tragic. Given how much you all talking about the ill effects of poverty, racism, etc I would think of you would have a more expansive view of ‘harm’.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          OK, corrected:
          All the actresses who were forced to sleep with bosses, the women who were slapped around by their powerful boyfriends or husbands, and all the victims of police beatings, murder and frameups would like a word.

          IOW, the complaints about white men being the victims of oppression seem petty and childish compared to the very real suffering which has traditionally been a feature of American society.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            @chip

            The ghost of every soldier who was conscripted and sent off to fight a war between rich people would like a word.

            When we start comparing suffering, this game can go on forever.Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              It makes sense to discuss the relative difficulty faced by women versus men when discussing sexism, as that suffering is part of the very dynamic under consideration. Likewise, when someone gripes about “SJWs”, it is valid to discuss the effects of bigotry, because the bigotry is “on the table” so to speak. It’s an aspect of the conversation.

              This is very different from bringing in other “suffering” that is not related to the topic. To complain about conscription would make sense if we were debating foreign policy. After all, calls to engage in war lead to people fighting wars. However, that is rather unrelated to women calling for better treatment, nor the nature of racism or homophobia.

              In other words, just because you can always engage in facile “whattaboutism” does not imply that you cannot bring in relevant facts about how people are treated in society.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d

                Conscription is historically everywhere and always applied in bigoted ways. Usually but not always only to do with classism. Sometimes other things get mixed in there too. (Racism during America’s Vietnam War; anti-francophone rule by WASP elites during WW2 in Quebec, just to pick the two most obvious where class wasn’t the only major bigotry factor.)

                It’s absolutely related.

                Have you studied conscription at all?

                Now – I don’t think it’s so much a *counter* example in the way Mike is trying to use it, as it is *yet another* example.

                But declaring it to be very different from the other examples just demonstrates a poor understanding of how conscription works.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

                The Russian Empire used conscription as a tool to get rid of their Jewish population. The idea was that you steal all the Jewish boys around age twelve and keep them in the army for twenty to twenty-fives and get Christian Russians at the end.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d says:

                There are absolutely contexts where “conscription” is an apt topic, but not here, not now.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d You seem to be mistaking topics you are not interested in including in the conversation for topics that are not germane to the conversation.

                I think conscription is absolutely germane to any discussion of bullying and bigotry. Particularly in the context of Boomers (who fought conscription) Gen X (who feared nuclear war) and the current political climate, which is the main thrust (besides Beto) of this topic overall. Conscription ALSO ties in to the topic of shaming and thought police in interesting ways.

                Why is it so bad to take the topics of one’s interlocutor and incorporate them into one’s discussion, rather than constantly attempting to sort the sheep from the goats? This was an extremely freewheeling discussion in the first place.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d says:

                My point, it’s hard to see how one can turn this into an attack on “SJWs”, given that we are pretty solidly anti-war. Thus the answer to “but whaddabout conscription?” is — well, yeah it was horrible. It was unjust. It it existed today, then the people advocating for social justice would be actively opposing it, along with actively opposing war itself.

                (To offset distraction: yes, if you kick over enough rocks, you’ll find some “SJW” somewhere who is pro-war and pro-conscription, but they’ll be a pretty odd duck.)Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d

                Then maybe see it not as an attack on SJWs, but as an attack on the extremely glaring ability of Chip to ignore the role of classism in enabling oppression even among people of the same race and gender, as evidenced regularly on this site, by statements such as the one he made here “the complaints about white men being the victims of oppression seem petty and childish “.

                *shrugs*

                I tend to feel more attacked by financially comfortable white men who are supposedly on my side but who keep saying plug-ignorant things than I do by people who are overtly anti-SJW (including many of those who directly threaten me) though, so I’m sure that’s part of my lens.

                I mean, I don’t think that’s what he MEANT to mean by that statement, for what it’s worth. But I do find it telling – and extremely alienating, class-wise, not because I’m anti-SJW but because I expect *better* of so-called SJWs – that he makes such statements frequently.

                PS “if it existed today?” Are you joking? It exists today all over the damn world, including, in muted but easily revivable form, in this country. And don’t think it wouldn’t be extremely bigoted in how it was revived into full-blown style, were it so revived.Report

          • Avatar Maribou in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            @chip-daniels Some complaints about white men – particularly the well-off ones – being the victims of oppression are petty and childish.

            But attempting to play Oppression Olympics with other people’s oppression is also petty and childish.

            And, frankly, something that I mostly see being engaged in by straight white men who are in relatively secure socio-economic standing, regardless of who they’re trying to put on top. (#notallstraightwhitemenwhoareinrelativelysecuresocioeconomicstanding)

            It’s like you all are playing from the Fakebook, but you don’t actually know the tune.Report

      • Why should bullies feel free to bully without consequence? There would be no response without the original action. That those folks who used to engage in the original action without fear now worry that there may be consequences for doing so is a good thing, not a bad thing. Why on Earth would we want those folks to feel comfortable harming others?Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

          @sam

          No one is suggesting that bullies shouldn’t be called out. We’re suggesting that in the case of the SJ Left the people calling them out have become the bullies themselves.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            FSVO “no one”.

            To quote Scott Alexander:

            The moral of the story is: if you’re against witch-hunts, and you promise to found your own little utopian community where witch-hunts will never happen, your new society will end up consisting of approximately three principled civil libertarians and seven zillion witches.

            Of course, he, like you, is worried at least as much about the SJ Left as he is about the Right, if not more so. But he points out something that I think gets missed too often: they’re reacting against something they’re actually seeing.

            Just like I bet Sam could spend all day naming actual bullies.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              @pillsy

              I align with the IDW set on this issue. What I value about that loose group affiliation is that it’s bipartisan (despite claims to the contrary). We see the regressive tendencies of the SJ left as something akin to puritans or the religious right. It’s zealotry with good intentions, but grossly wrong about its methods and really having lost sight of reason. I mean, the witch burners thought they were doing good too…right?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @Mike

                Some on the IDW are like that, but (perhaps of necessity, given the loose and socially-cliquey nature of the group) a lot of them are pretty clearly the witches of Dr Alexander’s metaphor, carving out a place for themselves where they’ll be able to be as malicious and awful as possible.

                So the whole exercise is repeating the dynamic in the essay, where the IDW pulls away out of a perceived Leftist and illiberal bias (which has some basis in reality) but ends up so full of the kind of people that folks on the SJ Left quite understandably find revolting that the whole process repeats itself and entrenches the distrust further.Report

              • Avatar Jesse in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                If somebody claims they’re a conservative, but spends 95% of their time attacking conservatives, I’d have no issues with conservatives not believing that person is actually conservative in any real sense.

                If members of the IDW are actually “liberal”, then perhaps they should spend even 1/3 of the time they currently spent acting like it’s the end of free speech talking about the liberal political views on regulation, spending, taxation, welfare, abortion, etc.

                But, of course, they can’t do that, because their Patreon bucks and current level of fame depends on almost always punching Left and absolving the Right.

                Which hey, is a beautiful grift and I congratulate them for it.Report

              • If somebody claims they’re a conservative, but spends 95% of their time attacking conservatives, I’d have no issues with conservatives not believing that person is actually conservative in any real sense.

                This isn’t even a hypothetical. Two immediate examples that jump to mind are Bruce Bartlett and Jennifer Rubin. So it’s a thing. Both sides!

                I think Quillette/Areo et al actually provide a worthwhile voice in the discussion, and I wouldn’t use the above to describe the whole extended network, but it certainly fits for some.

                This doesn’t apply to everybody in that extended network (IDW), and I think Quilette thrived in response to something, but it certainly does some of them.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @Jesse,

                For me it’s not even a left v. right thing. It’s that despite the fact that some of the people involved are interesting and well-intentioned, it’s hard to avoid all the horrible people that accrete to it.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @Will,

                Everybody who I like who’s affiliated with IDW/Quilette I liked beforehand, and the best it’s done for any of them is failed to damage my opinion of them.

                It clearly has a lot in common (both ideologically and in terms of membership) with the old “New Atheist” and “Rationalist” communities and seems to be deadset on falling into all the same ruts as they did.Report

              • That’s sort of how I feel about Vox. The whole devalued the sum of its parts. I can’t speak universally in either case, but there is a tendency…Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Quillette is a cesspool of aggrieved bigots. We have no reason to take them seriously.

                On the other hand, there is a real problem with (what we might call) “social media overreactions,” which I think fuels much of what is happening. This, however, happens pretty across the political spectrum. It certainly isn’t limited to “left wing overreach.” After all, how much “social media overreaction” surrounded the gamergate nonsense or any number of other “look at this villain” screaming matches.

                I have personal friend who were “called out” by Milo-fucking-Y. And yes, they were harassed at work.

                I think one big difference between the Quillette-crowd and the SJ-crowds is simply this: very often the targets of the “SJWs” are actually racist shitheads. Very often our attacks stick because what we’re calling out is in fact unjust and loathsome.

                But not always. Nor is the target always high profile enough to really justify the level of attack. In other words, it is a problem of social media dynamics more than moral values. As a culture, we haven’t adjusted to the unpredictable nature of social media outrage. It’s too random. The swings between being ignored and being pilloried are too large.

                This is a real problem. However, it’s not a problem centered on the left. Nor does it imply that we should ignore bullies and bigots.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @veronica,

                I can’t see how an allegedly intellectual movement that formed around a nucleus of New Atheists who thought Ben Shapiro was cool could have possibly gone wrong.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to pillsy says:

              “he points out something that I think gets missed too often: they’re reacting against something they’re actually seeing.”

              The invasion of Afghanistan was a reaction against something that had actually been seen.Report

    • That is NOT the world the Baby Boomers created. They didn’t create some egalitarian paradise that I’m railing against. The Baby Boomers are by any metric more racist, sexist, and homophobic than Gen X and their beliefs and hypocracies in those departments are well woven into the structure of our society and are barely challenged (see Lori Loughlin, see Harvey Weinstein)

      You can try to move the goalpoasts however you like in order to run your playbook, but I think most people understood exactly what I was driving at with that statement.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        I think his intent is that this newfound respect for free speech and protection of minority rights is not the result of any enlightenment over how rotten you are, but rather from the Fear Of A Black Planet-style paranoia that the cishetwhiterichpatriarchy might soon stop being in charge of things and so suddenly you’re really interested in enshrining the protections that your privilege used to grant you.Report

      • Baby Boomers are, generally, awful. I’m not going to bat for them. They received every imaginable advantage, and have spent the rest of their lives doing their best to deny those same advantages to everybody younger than they are.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      I really don’t understand what the point of posts like this is, unless what you’re going for here is “bullying is just fine so long as the good guys are the bullies”, which is yet another break with the typical GenX upbringing (cf. “bullying is wrong and bad no matter who does it”).

      But hey, y’know, I understand the frustration of not being allowed to indulge in the freedom of pure uncomplicated angry hate. I can see how that comes out in weird ways.Report

      • Bullying means very different things to very different people. The bullying that I’m worrying about involves actual harms being visited upon actual people. The “bullying” that some people are worried about, though, are consequences for bad acts being visited upon people who had previously enjoyed committing bad acts without fearing their consequences. That isn’t bullying, and the idea that these folks are owed something – up to an including the days when they could harm others without fear of consequences – is bullshit.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

          But Sam, it hasn’t been limited to bullying being visited on bad people doing bad things. It’s also been visited on ordinary people doing ordinary things or even disadvantaged people doing normal things. It’s been used to get cafeteria workers (black ones no less) fired at university cafeterias. It’s been used to demand the censoring and removal of art both valuable (a painting of Emmitt Till’s funeral) and mild (displays of Japanese Kimonos). It’s been used to dog pile ordinary teenagers doing anodyne things like wearing an Asian themed dress to a prom and civilly protected things like protesting public policy (Covington). And this is to name just a handful of instances of call out culture raining suffering down on the undeserving.

          Ya don’t get to say call out culture is fine and then sweep the instances under the rug where it’s horrible, mean and makes its supporting ideology look like monsters. I 100% recognize that all the horrible examples get signal boosted and thrown up on a 1000 foot screen by conservatives who have nothing left in their ideological quivers but trying to make the left look monstrous. That doesn’t excuse the instances where callout culture fails; it can’t.

          I recall regular instances of hearing leftists ilk wonder why most liberals don’t join them in their righteous crusades and even have the temerity to oppose them. Liberalism is vast so I can’t claim to speak for it all but on my own level I am old enough to have seen what happened to the ideals that were championed by humorless, shrill, sphincter puckered scolds when they bestrode the civic landscape as I was growing up. I can’t join the leftists in their callout righteousness because I value the ideals they’re pushing far too much to let them follow down the socialcons well-travelled path.

          I think that the older liberal and gen-x notion that bullying is bad in either direction is the sounder principle. We beat the social cons using those principles. Why the fishing fish should we now, in triumph, discard our winning weapons and take up the failed stratagems of our defeated foes?!?Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to North says:

            @North,

            Why the fishing fish should we now, in triumph, discard our winning weapons and take up the failed stratagems of our defeated foes?!?

            Because we don’t think they failed, perhaps. We think, or fear, or suspect that they’re the dominant strategies. We can point to evidence, quite a bit of it, in fact, to support this view.

            People on the SJ Left are often terrified, and while some of that is a hell of their own devising due to the forces they unleashed with “callout culture” and the like, the vast majority isn’t, and honestly a lot of that fear comes from very real places.

            Maybe if you don’t want them (or us, or however you parse it) going down that road, you ought to be thinking about ways to make them less scared and anxious, and more trusting and confident.Report

            • Avatar Jesse in reply to pillsy says:

              This is basically my view. Does callout culture go too far sometimes? Obviously.

              But, it’s still a better culture than the civility fetish of not being mean to your opponents because some weird liberal value than calling out racism, sexism, or bigotry is only allowed when a majority of the population agree something is racist, sexist, or bigoted, because otherwise, you’re a “humorless and shrill,” which of course is what people like Rush Limbaugh have claimed feminists have been for decades.

              Also, we haven’t beat the social cons. We won one victory, largely because there was no way for conservatives to avoid having gay children, siblings, or co-workers.

              OTOH, the social cons are winning by passing hundreds of abortion restrictions and are likely to cut Roe to ribbons within the next couple of years, unless John Roberts thinks that will lead to court packing.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jesse says:

                It’s interesting that you note abortion because that’s the only social conservative area where social cons can even pretend to have made any progress and even there only at the cost of throwing their principles and their future on a bonfire in front of altar of Trump.

                But yeah, on all the other fields the social cons have lost in a route. Frankly the only way I see their ability to persecute single women or gay people is if we somehow revive them by overreach. They aren’t filling the pews with the youngsters right now.

                I recognize that there’s a endless yin and yang tug of war between in advocacy between the radical and the advocate. The moderate advocates weren’t the ones on the leading edges getting their asses kicked to start the whole conversation on minority rights. But the radicals didn’t bring out the sympathy of the masses and bring in the fence sitters to turn advocacy into mass support for things getting better. I don’t see call out culture as part of that dynamic though. It is so lazy, so thoughtless and so fishing easy. I don’t see its value to our side. I only see it used as a rally point against us. Sure the social conservatives will find a reason to denounce whatever minority rights advocates do but we do we have to make it so fishing easy for them?Report

            • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

              @pillsy
              “make them less scared and anxious, and more trusting and confident”

              I’m curious on this pillsy.

              a.)what reason do you have for thinking they can be changed?

              b.)can you see that task may be a lot like emptying the ocean?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                A. Because a lot of their fears are rooted in fairly basic problems, revolving around employment (and lack thereof), health care (including mental health care), and social anxieties that are often rooted in very real hostility they find directed their way that leaves them feeling friendless and isolated.

                That isolation has a lot to do with the toxic callout culture and outrage mob behavior that freaks IDW types out so badly, I’d say.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                B. I don’t think so. I think some kindness, understanding, and compromise would go a long way for the bulk of the them, and a lot of the outrage is magnified by the way their social networks are structured. Not that they’re unique in that.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to pillsy says:

              I would ask, with great confusion, what exactly you see in the history of social conservative strategy and tactics, from where they took up their cause and tactics in the middle of the last century to where they are now, that is admirable or worth emulating?

              Sure, minority groups are afraid and call out culture is a phenomenon that naturally evolved out of the intimate communities they formed to help them bear that fear. But I don’t see call out culture working correctly outside those communities. It just makes them look like rampaging idiots. And it bears noting that the most frenetic call outers and so called SJW’s are not themselves minorities but rather are non-minority allies. So where the fish is the fear they are suffering under?

              Being gay myself (and liberal which is why I say us) I’m not exactly a stranger to these emotions and impulses. I have, by virtue of my own personal history and age, dodged the worst suffering that gays historically labored under but I was arguing gay rights on the internet from the late 90’s on and it wasn’t exactly an Oxford cocktail party. When I look back and imagine how things would have gone if gay rights advocates had simply pointed at everyone else and screamed “homophobe!” over and over again I can’t see it turning out well.

              And yes, the fear is real and it’s a hell of a lot worse for other minority groups than some almost 40-year-old homo. What I fail to see is how call out culture helps with that fear at all. As you note it just has become a new thing to fear will happen to you on the internet. We can fight for laws and norms against persecution without call out culture; frankly I’d say it’d be easier to do so without it. We can fight to increase understanding and combat bigotry without call out culture; again I dare say it’d be an easier fight without it.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to North says:

                see in the history of social conservative strategy and tactics, from where they took up their cause and tactics in the middle of the last century to where they are now, that is admirable or worth emulating?

                I don’t think anything is admirable.

                I am afraid that emulating their rage-filled and vicious tactics may be the only way to defeat them, and thus be the lesser of two evils.

                I think the assumption that we are just on a trajectory where social liberalism is going to win, even after any number of setbacks, has been pretty thoroughly destroyed during the last few years.

                I mean if you want people to not pick up those strategies you gotta at least face the fact head on that they swept Trump into office when virtually everybody thought he was doomed. They’re no longer obviously self-refuting.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to North says:

                Why yes Pillsy, they elected an adultering, multiple time married, man into the presidency who’s done pretty much nothing to advance social conservative goals beyond appointing the exact same judges any old conservative would.
                In the mean time public opinion continues to turn against social conservative ends (with the debatable exception of the eternal matter of abortion). Hell even the Trumpian wing only half heartedly mouths social conservative nostrums.

                And all this bounty they gained merely throwing their claims to moral consistency and credibility overboard while their church attendance is in free fall. By god(ess?) if this is social conservatives winning I sure hope they suffer a lot more of it and not because I wish the buggers well.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to North says:

                @North, Jeff Sessions made a very large difference simply by choosing which cases the DOJ would enter, and which side they would take.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to North says:

                MIchael, I’d firmly agree that -advancements- on legal rights for minorities has definitely been stalled in the halls of government. They continue to advance socially and in the business world in the mean time.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to North says:

                @North,

                Sometimes I think you’re right, and sometimes I do not.

                I’d firmly agree that -advancements- on legal rights for minorities has definitely been stalled in the halls of government. They continue to advance socially and in the business world in the mean time.

                Stalled and even reversed in the halls of government.[1] And people are pretty scared of the government. Trump wields the power pretty ineptly, but he also wields it cruelly, and a lot of people I know (with some justification) believe themselves to be in the cross-hairs of the state.

                Not to mention the way a lot of bigots have become emboldened by him, which makes me (and not only me) a lot less sanguine about the trajectory of social attitudes. I’ve encountered more overt anti-semitism (offline, mind you) in the two years since Trump was elected than in my entire life before that. And it’s the same with a lot of other bigotry, though I admit that doesn’t sting personally.

                It was fear as much as anything that drove the Right into Trump’s arms, and while it was largely baseless, it still worked. All the more reason, I’d think, to try to address people’s fears constructively, but what do I know.

                [1] Especially for immigrants and trans people.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to North says:

                Sure Pillsy, and I get that but again where does call out culture help with any of this? If anything it makes people more afraid and lends ample grist to a conservative noise machine that specializes in grinding grist.

                I will agree that there’s been a Trumpian moment for his allies lately, but if you consider what they accomplished with their window of total control of the government it was pathetically small. If you consider it from a social con point of view it’s especially feeble and nothing that couldn’t be reversed* in the first month of a friendly administration.

                *With the exception of judges.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to North says:

                @North,

                If you consider it from a social con point of view it’s especially feeble and nothing that couldn’t be reversed* in the first month of a friendly administration.

                I think you’re underestimating the extent to which SoCons are invested in the anti-immigrant and especially anti-Muslim elements of Trump’s programs.

                If anything it makes people more afraid and lends ample grist to a conservative noise machine that specializes in grinding grist.

                Who does it make more afraid, though?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to North says:

                @pillsy

                Yes and No. I have some devoutly Catholic coworkers that are actually very pro-immigration from Mexico and South America. Why? Because most of the immigrants are Catholic.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to North says:

                @ Pillsy

                Well I follow social con writing to a limited extent. I think they’re rather muddled on immigration in a way that they aren’t muddled at all on other social issues. Even if I grant that point, though, Trump has so far accomplished pretty much bupkiss on immigration that isn’t easily reversible too.

                As to who callout culture makes more afraid? Leftists and leftist liberals would be #1 on the list I’d expect since they’re the ones who actually give a crap what those social circles think of them. I’d guestimate a small number of left oriented politicians and a lot of entertainment figures, academic figures and journalists would be #2 since, whatever they think of the left, they’re career oriented and callout culture can present a serious threat to their careers. Then probably way down on the list are actual racists and “deplorables” who probably relish being the victims of callout culture up until the point where doxing and the like impact their meat space lives. Though, of course, those guys can at least call on the right and have a non-trivial prospect that sympathetic right wingers will come through with a financial lifeline or a gig in right wing entertainment news.

                So yeah, callout culture, terrifying our allies and annoying yet gratifying our opponents while routinely making us seem like insane kooks to the low attention masses. The more I think about it the dumber it seems. Are we sure it wasn’t invented on the right?Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              @pillsy

              “Because we don’t think they failed, perhaps. We think, or fear, or suspect that they’re the dominant strategies. We can point to evidence, quite a bit of it, in fact, to support this view.”

              So you’re firebombing Tokyo because there are no civillians in Japan?

              “Maybe if you don’t want them (or us, or however you parse it) going down that road, you ought to be thinking about ways to make them less scared and anxious, and more trusting and confident.”

              That almost sounds like victim blaming. 🤔Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to pillsy says:

              Interesting, tell me more about how bad behavior is justified because the person is scared, and how it’s on the targets of the bad behavior to allay that fear.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to North says:

            “Why the fishing fish should we now, in triumph, discard our winning weapons and take up the failed stratagems of our defeated foes?!?”

            Because it feels good, man.Report

  21. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Good stuff Kristin.Report

  22. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Somewhat off topic criticism, but….

    I think you may be mistaking “Generation X” for “my witnessing of youth and growing up.”

    You could swap out the name of any other “generation” (each a totally arbitrary set of birthdates, largely created by advertisers for the purpose of getting corporations to buy ad content) and I bet it would still read true to everyone here who thinks it nails Gen X so perfectly.Report

    • I don’t think I could.

      I know some people don’t believe in generations, but I do. I think the time and place you grow up in matters and I believe I have more commonalities with people who grew up in the same sort of time and place that I did vs. people who grew up in a different time and place.

      I appreciate your reading and commenting, as always, Tod.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        “I know some people don’t believe in generations, but I do.”

        I will cosign this. Cultural experiences are extremely important and the way we process these depends at least in part on how old we are at the time.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          One example: my daughter absolutely adored the TV show “Friends.” 🙂Report

        • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          I agree with this but I am skeptical that the existing named categories really captures it. For example, I was born in 1960, so technically the tail end of the Boomers. But my sister, born 16 years before, is also a Boomer and we had dramatically different cultural experiences growing up. The Forever War of Vietnam was on the nightly news with Walter Cronkite reciting the latest casualty statistics until… it wasn’t, when I was still in Junior High. But that was immediately followed by the Watergate scandal. That combination, along with the drug culture of the Hippies minus the political activism really shaped my cohort. The Xoomers, I guess? We had really good music, though.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Road Scholar says:

            The Baby Boom officially lasted from 1946 to 1964. This meant that the older generation were in their teens and twenties during the height of social change during the 1960s. The youngest boomers were either too young to really be aware and more concerned with what toys will they get for their birthday when the Sexual Revolution, a classic part of Baby Boomer mythology, occurred.Report

        • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Adding: Our conflicts in the Iraq and Afghanistan are now old enough to drive. Afghanistan is almost old enough to vote. That sort of thing has to leave a mark on a generation.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I don’t know. For one thing, yes, those generations may largely be a feature of marketing, but that marketing works (or else the corporations wouldn’t bother spending so much money on it), and the whole “generation” concept pulls it up by its bootstraps.

      But in my experience talking with folks both older and younger than me, they tend not to have experiences like the ones Kristen described, but they remind me of my own childhood and young adulthood so much.

      I guess I’m trying to say that consumer culture is still culture.Report

    • Avatar Jesse in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Yeah – according to a lot of people on this website and in other places, the 90’s were this magical place of a booming economy, peace, and prosperity. I’m not saying that wasn’t happening for many, but as somebody who is the child of a single Mom w/ MS living off SSI and Social Security death benefits, that wasn’t the feeling I got from the era at all. Whatever prosperity there was, it sure didn’t show up where I was.

      I mean, yes, I have some nostalgia for certain parts of it because I grew up with the same media, but the nostalgia for the politics and supposed optimism of the 90’s is something that is totally alien to me.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jesse says:

        During the 90s, the Cold War and Apartheid were finally over, the Middle East and the Troubles in Ireland seemed to be calming down, the Koreas were coming together, the crime rate was dropping, everybody in Europe was happy about the European project, etc. The Balkans were a mess and there was Rwanda but the general sense was that things were going in the right direction. The level of international conflict seemed manageable. The economy was generally booming.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse says:

        ” I’m not saying that wasn’t happening for many, but as somebody who is the child of a single Mom w/ MS living off SSI and Social Security death benefits, that wasn’t the feeling I got from the era at all. Whatever prosperity there was, it sure didn’t show up where I was.”

        It’s interesting because you are the last person I’d expect to roll out the “my PERSONAL experience was not especially great so PRIVILEGE DOESN’T EXIST” argument.Report

        • Avatar Jesse in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Oh, privilege exists and part of the reason I know it exists is the way I was treated as a poor white kid, and even as a teenager, even if I didn’t know the word, it sure seemed weird to me that despite, by the facts on the ground, that I should’ve been treated far worse by the school or say, security at a grocery store or a Wal-Mart because I was poor, but nobody gave a damn about me, because frankly, I was a normal bland white kid.

          But, my larger point was, while there’s a general cultural tide during a time period, the current nostalgia of the 90’s has never really took hold for me, just like it’s probably never taken hold by a lot of people laid off because of NAFTA, and the other people who didn’t win as a result of the continued neoliberalism of the 90’s.

          How a “generation” gets canonized is really determined by those who are lucky or successful enough to tell the stories of that generation a couple of decades down the line. The good thing is, thanks to a more distributed and less gatekeeping society, there are more voices, so it’s not quite so same-y, but it’s still a lot of luck and being able to get your voice out there in the first place.

          To push it away from my personal story, for every Wonder Years style home, there were plenty more with different stories to tell, but in the time of Boomer Nostalgia, there was nobody around to tell those stories.Report

  23. Avatar Dave says:

    It’s an interesting post, especially in light of some of the reading I’m doing – especially Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition.

    “The thing about Gen X is that something went terribly wrong on us. The regularly scheduled programming didn’t take. Whatever confluence of hippie sentiment and cynical overcorrection roiling through America from the late ’70s through early ’90s curdled us. Even though no one actually raised us, and we were told there was nothing worth believing in, we were raised with a belief, and that belief was that there was merit in cynicism, in questioning everything, in pointing out how stupid things were. We were raised to believe there was merit in embracing controversy and walking the knife’s edge and pushing the envelope right off the edge of the table sometimes.”

    Looks like a kind of source code to me. Feels like it’s timed right too.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Dave says:

      What Fight Club started as (and why everyone loves it) is found in this post.

      What Fight Club turned into is the new generation.

      The narrator in Fight Club is all of us reading this, horrified at how the people before us didn’t get why we made the thing and at how the people after us are using it the wrong way. The point was never to break things for the lulz. The point was not that civilization was a failure.Report

  24. Avatar pillsy says:

    @North,

    I’m pulling this back out to keep it from being smushed up against the right edge of the page.

    As to who callout culture makes more afraid? Leftists and leftist liberals would be #1 on the list I’d expect since they’re the ones who actually give a crap what those social circles think of them. I’d guestimate a small number of left oriented politicians and a lot of entertainment figures, academic figures and journalists would be #2 since, whatever they think of the left, they’re career oriented and callout culture can present a serious threat to their careers. Then probably way down on the list are actual racists and “deplorables” who probably relish being the victims of callout culture up until the point where doxing and the like impact their meat space lives.

    Yet in practice, Leftwards appear to be for the most part pretty unconcerned with it, while Rightwards are much more worried. I suppose we can stipulate that the Fox News meat puppets and the pundits of NRO, The Federalist, and the like, may be overstating things for partisan purposes, but I don’t think that’s the case with Mike Dwyer et al.

    The basic argument everybody seems to be making is that callout culture is bad. And indeed it seems to have many awful features, spreading moral panics, calling outrage mobs down on the heads of the undeserving, placing some reasonable-seeming positions outside the bounds of acceptable discourse.

    And these are things that I see all the time on the Right, that they’ve used, as far as I can tell, as effective tools to get and retain power for over 20 years, all while losing a single Culture War battle extremely badly, but having most of the others be more or less a push.[1] People on the SJ Left see this, see it work, see most of the complaints (which come from the Right or from hand-wringers with high profile media platforms) as being made in bad faith, and disregard them, because they have every reason to believe this stuff will work.

    Against that, you have… that a completely shambolic political party with a direly incompetent president and no coherent policy agenda hasn’t been able to get much accomplished legislatively? Sure, but they actually managed to push perhaps the single most unfit major party candidate over the finish line. They’re fighting with both hands tied behind their backs and have control over the Senate and secured the Supreme Court for a generation.

    The way to have a norm vanish like morning mist is for one side to violate it repeatedly and profit (or at least not suffer), while the other side respects it and loses (or at least does not profit). Pretty soon breaking the norm in question looks like a dominant strategy, and adhering to them looks like a sucker bet, especially when 80% of the people most visibly arguing for them benefit from breaking them.[2]

    Maybe the folks on the SJ Left who see this and understand it intuitively are wrong (I think it remains an open question), but failures to actually reckon with what they’re seeing are going to be horribly unpersuasive. Appeals to civility, decency, and free speech that only ever bind the Left, while Rightward violations are regularly ignored or even cheered on by the people scolding the Left, are going to be extremely counterproductive.

    Are you doing that? No. Nor do I think Mike Dwyer, et c. are doing that. But this site, and the broader political media culture, have been awash for ages in explanations for why MAGA types support Trump, often couched in language that suggests that if only the Left, or the Democrats, or for that matter the SJWs, were more understanding and offered them solutions for their particular sets of problems, they wouldn’t do incredibly stupid shit like voting for Donald J. Trump.

    And that kind of reasoning seems to virtually never apply to the SJ Left, or for that matter any other Leftward constituency.

    [1] Some of this probably has to do with the bounds of what you regard as the “Culture War”. If you consider gun control a Culture War issue, the Right has been hugely successful there, with two major SCOTUS cases going there way, the spread of “Stand Your Ground” laws, all while making virtually zero concessions in the face of a steady drumbeat of mans shooting atrocities.

    [2] The issue isn’t just hypocrisy, it’s that the injunctions appear to be made specifically to keep the other side from using tactics that work.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy says:

      It could be my old fogie surfacing, but I find myself wary of new terms like “callout culture”.
      Is this a new thing, without parallel in the human condition?
      Of course not.

      If “callout culture” means people protesting “Hey, I’m offended by that!” well, it is as old as humans themselves. I mean, it was within my lifetime that books would carry a stamp from a Church official saying “Nihil Obstat”, “No Objection”, and comic books and movies had a seal showing they contained no objectionable material and TV networks had an official censor to scan every show for offensive scenes.

      And for TV censors, the baseline sensibility was assumed to be a middle aged white Protestant woman in Middle America.

      I think what is new are the participants, and who the targets are.

      I think its noteworthy, the intersection of “civility”, i.e., a restraint of speech, and “freedom to be uncivil” and how these tools are used in various combinations for political gain.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Civility can be weaponized by those who can foster an air of “respectability,” which fine I guess. However, it’s pretty easy for a whitebread dude in tweed to calmly explain why {minority group} have the mental power of apes, while expecting a member of {minority group} to calmly respond. But how can they? Should they? Should they just punch him in the jaw?

        Those are complicated questions that depend on context.

        I understand the desire for civility, but I don’t think we should fetishize it. Horrible things can be said in a measured tone. Righteous anger exists.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to veronica d says:

          Yeah and even if you believe actual physical violence should be out of the question (yes, IMO), expecting them to calmly debate the issue is both unjust and unrealistic, and hand-wringing over people expressing themselves angrily, or engaging in boycotts, or arguing that private actors should disassociate themselves from blithering racists really undercuts the legitimacy of “free speech” advocates.

          “Now, now, the cure for bad speech is more speech!”
          “OK, here I’m going to engage in more speech by saying that newspapers shouldn’t publish your column because it is dumb and bad.”
          “No, wait, not like that!”Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        I do think a lot of the freakout about “SJWs”, “callout culture”, and the like is simply people being unhappy that the civility norms they’re used to are being replaced with ones they find unfamiliar, and often which would hamper what they would say instead of hampering what other people say.

        And indeed, a lot of the actual controversies that have sprung up have conflated censorship with complaint,[1] in an eerie mirror of the fatuous “speech is violence” argument that the SJ Left gets a ton of deserved shit for.

        Not that civility norms are perfect no matter where they come from. In addition to what @veronica said about them being weaponized, they can lead to all sorts of silly circumlocutions, misunderstandings, and rituals that are kind of absurd. There’s a reason “comedy of manners” is a genre after all.

        However, the people opposing this shift are a coalition of people who have different interests here, and the coalition would almost certainly fracture into ineffectual pieces if the conversation went in this direction, and the content of the new civility norms, as well as the old ones, became the focus of debate.

        [1] Once upon a time, “writing a strongly worded letter” was a joke, a hallmark of ineffectual liberalism. These days, it’s the jackbooted heel of SJW oppression grinding into the faces of bold free thinkers everywhere.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

      @pillsy

      “The basic argument everybody seems to be making is that callout culture is bad. And indeed it seems to have many awful features, spreading moral panics, calling outrage mobs down on the heads of the undeserving, placing some reasonable-seeming positions outside the bounds of acceptable discourse.

      And these are things that I see all the time on the Right, that they’ve used, as far as I can tell, as effective tools to get and retain power for over 20 years…”

      Take, for example, the recent example of the Sarah Lawrence group, outraged over an op-ed written by one of their professors, who then published a very long list of demands. A few choice examples:

      – We demand a mandatory first-year orientation session about intellectual elitism and classism.

      – Students of color should not be forced to resort to racist white professors in order to have access to their own history. It is crucial that the College offer courses taught about people of color by people of color so that students may engage in and produce meaningful work that represents them authentically.

      – We demand there be new tenured faculty of color – at least two in African diasporic studies, one in Asian-American studies, one in Latinx diasporic studies, and one in indigenous/native peoples studies.

      – We demand there be at least three more courses offered in African diasporic studies taught by Black professors.

      – We demand that the College offer classes that embody intersectionality, as defined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and address the racial diversity of the LGBTQ+ community instead of centering whiteness.

      – The aforementioned classes must be taught by professors who are a part of the culture they are teaching about.

      – We demand the College provide and support at least:
      – One new Black therapist
      – One new Asian therapist
      – One new Latinx therapist

      – We demand all students have access to unlimited therapy sessions through Health and Wellness.

      – We demand the College provide transportation to students with weekly therapy in the Westchester area.

      http://www.sarahlawrencephoenix.com/campus/2019/3/11/demands-westlands-sit-in-50-years-of-shame

      Sarah Lawrence is one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. Unfortunately, these kids will eventually be the leaders of our government, large corporations, etc. But they have been so indoctrinated by the SJ Left that they see all of this as completely reasonable. I get that kids will be kids, but at campuses across the country they are supported by professors and administration in these goals. PCU has become reality. Keep in mind that this dynamic of college campuses being the factory that created good progressives was the stated goal of the Port Huron Statement, so it’s not like the 92% of us to the right of that group are just spreading a conspiracy theory.

      Also, I get that the Right did a lot of bad stuff like this, primarily through the alliance with evangelicals (much to my chagrin). That’s why we’re pointing it now on the Left so maybe someone can try to slow down the train.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        So I was expecting to be challenged on the actual mean and scary stuff that the SJ Left sometimes gets up to, and basically lay down the argument that at a certain point norms decay to the point where the logic of, “Do unto others, but do it first,” takes over.

        But this… just doesn’t seem mean or scary.

        Sure, some of the demands strike me as dumb or nad, but… activists make dumb demands all the time. Even when they aren’t students. I’m not sure the mere existence of activists asking for foolish things is scary. It’s just people.

        Even some of these demands actually being met is not scary. Take this one, for instance:

        We demand a mandatory first-year orientation session about intellectual elitism and classism.

        This seems kind of harmless at worst, and potentially useful at best. Maybe it’ll be a waste of time. Maybe it will do some good for the many upper middle class kids who’ve never really interacted much with people who aren’t UMC.[1]

        My guess is it will be more towards the former, but eh.

        We demand there be at least three more courses offered in African diasporic studies taught by Black professors.

        Or let’s take this one. This seems like a demand that has all sorts of problems with it. So I can see the objection. But is it scary? Not really.

        Honestly, this seems like one area where actually having a debate might help. I really don’t think an academic norm that only members of the relevant cultures can teach courses in Asian-American studies, but it may not be entirely obvious that this is the case, it may be that the students actually have half a point (in that the classes are badly taught or there’s unmet demand), or it may be the whole thing is silly and nobody would actually take those classes.

        But even if it is silly, I don’t think it’s particularly more silly than the stuff Quillette publishes.

        But they have been so indoctrinated by the SJ Left that they see all of this as completely reasonable. I get that kids will be kids, but at campuses across the country they are supported by professors and administration in these goals.

        Maybe. Seems like they disagree, though, or else why would they be demanding a whole bunch of new professors to teach the various courses they want taught?

        And sure, some of these kids will go on to bigger and better things, and I expect most of them will maintain at least some of the political orientation of their youth. But I dunno, when I think back to the stuff I thought was cosmically important in college, most of it doesn’t seem terribly meaningful at all.

        There’s also the question of how many students are actually making these demands? Sarah Lawrence is a pretty small school but there are still over 1 000 students enrolled. How many are demanding this? How many are completely indifferent?

        [1] And I dunno, I think the SJ Left, for all that I generally sympathize with them, is often incredibly bad about classism, so I’m a a bit heartened to see them even acknowledge the issue at all.[2]

        [2] And really I’m pretty bad about classism myself, though I try to be aware of it and catch myself.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

          The problem with the demands from Sarah Lawrence is that they are reflective of a larger trend on the SJL. It’s the idea that race itself comes with some kind of unique perspective or insight. It’s identity politics taken to its logical conclusion. Some level of this is happening on many of the most prominent college campuses and like I said, they are the ones educating our future leaders.

          I’m also kind of surprised at how you are sort of dismissing the identity stuff as silly activists when you have been one of the ones most loudly beating the R-A-C-I-S-M drum. obviously that stuff is really important to you.

          And if you’d like to see something more scary, read up on what happened at Evergreen State.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            The problem with the demands from Sarah Lawrence is that they are reflective of a larger trend on the SJL. It’s the idea that race itself comes with some kind of unique perspective or insight.

            That is a somewhat popular idea on the SJ Left, but I’m not entirely sure it’s new.

            It’s also not, I believe, entirely wrong, though I think demanding that only members of a given culture teach courses in studies related to their culture is a very bad approach to the problem.

            Above all, though, it seems like the kind of premise someone interested in resolving these kinds of issues through debate might find, uh, debatable.

            I’m also kind of surprised at how you are sort of dismissing the identity stuff as silly activists when you have been one of the ones most loudly beating the R-A-C-I-S-M drum. obviously that stuff is really important to you.

            :shrug: I’d be very surprised if the student activists weren’t reacting, at least in part, to real structural racism on campus. But a lot of the stuff they are proposing is plainly unworkable.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

              The students were reacting to an article by a professor that hurt their feelings. The point is that free speech is increasingly being restricted by the SJL. People are already being threatened with arrest for things like misgendering trans people on Twitter in the UK. Canada is heading in that direction. De-platforming, internet mobbing, Twitter banning, doxing. These have all become tools of the SJL to limit debate and discussion. From my perspective, this is no different than someone screaming about the Tea Party in 2008 and Republicans just dismissing them as silly.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                The students were reacting to an article by a professor that hurt their feelings.

                Great. I mean it. Protesting professors saying stuff is a time-honored tradition for student protesters.

                It’s not anti-free speech, it just is free speech. It may be silly speech, or ignorant speech, or rude speech, or even hateful speech, but those are all still free speech.

                People are already being threatened with arrest for things like misgendering trans people on Twitter in the UK. Canada is heading in that direction

                Do you have links about the “arresting people in the UK” thing?

                De-platforming, internet mobbing, Twitter banning, doxing.

                The problem with these complaints is that they lump together a ton of behaviors, which range from the benign, to the excusable, to the actually illegal.

                Which is a problem. It is, in fact, a similar problem to the one that comes up a lot in SJ Discourse where speech is conflated with violence, or “cultural appropriation” covers everything from minstrel shows to eating a taco. It makes it difficult to meaningfully discuss or debate them.

                And a lot of the benign and excusable stuff is free speech.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                https://www.dailysignal.com/2019/03/19/police-question-uk-journalist-for-misgendering-a-transgender-woman/

                I don’t have a problem with students protesting. I have a problem with them de-platforming and trying to create a segregated curriculum. That’s part of what I have been talking about lately. Lowering academic standards in the name of diversity and unapologetic bias.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @Mike,

                Thanks for the link. It raises a question for me, but one which involves some boilerplate stuff that I suspect we probably agree on.

                The UK has laws that ban speech for being “grossly offensive”. This is, I think a terrible idea, would clearly be unconstitutional in the United States, and despite the fact that the constitutionality argument is inapplicable in the UK it severely compromises free speech there.

                So, that being said, what makes this instance particularly concerning compared to all the other instances where it’s been enforced for other kinds of “grossly offensive” speech?

                I don’t have a problem with students protesting. I have a problem with them de-platforming and trying to create a segregated curriculum.

                Sure, but you, like any of us, have problems with lots of things people advocate. Since you are/identify as Right-of-center, you probably have more disagreements with the modal student activists than I do. But you find this specific kind of wrongness particularly worrisome, which strikes me as somewhat odd, because it seems to me that even wrongheaded or overreaching positions about a university’s curriculum are reasonable things for student activists to be interested in and protest.

                Why? (Also, what constitutes de-platforming in your mind? I still hate how vague that term is.)Report

              • Avatar Mike F=Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @pillsy

                “…what makes this instance particularly concerning compared to all the other instances where it’s been enforced for other kinds of “grossly offensive” speech?”

                They are all problematic, but I highlighted this one because trans issues have lately come to the forefront of the SJL and I think it’s going to be a much bigger issue next year during the Olympics. What I also don’t like about this particular attack on free speech is that compelling someone to use a pronoun based on someone’s gender identity is not just about hate speech but about compelling acceptance of the concept. That seems like a bridge too far.

                “…it seems to me that even wrongheaded or overreaching positions about a university’s curriculum are reasonable things for student activists to be interested in and protest.”

                Again, this isn’t really about protests. These universities have become beholden to their SJ students and it is affecting scholarship. There are dozens of examples of professors who have abandoned research because they were told the SJ backlash would destroy their careers. One example:

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia_transracialism_controversy

                At the end of the day, as a political person maybe I shouldn’t care about this stuff because it’s driving all kinds of smart people towards the center and the IDW crowd. On the other hand, as someone who considers my time in college as one of the most important things I have done, and I plan to go back someday to do my post-graduate stuff, I absolutely care about what is being done to the academy in the name of social justice.

                Why? (Also, what constitutes de-platforming in your mind? I still hate how vague that term is.)Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Did the students carry rifles and forcibly takeover the building?
        http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2009/04/campus-takeover-symbolized-era-change

        No?
        Pfft. Lightweights.
        Back in our day, students forcibly took over campus buildings at Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, and others. They burned things, scrawled graffiti, and threatened violence.

        Kids today just don’t have the same moxie and gumption like their parents. They’re too coddled and weak to properly intimidate and terrify university administrators.
        They don’t even wear onions on their belts.Report

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