From Elizabeth Picciuto: The Real Free Speech Violations

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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    One of the people I follow on twitter had an excellent thread that made this particular point:

    I suppose that if I were inclined to make a distinction between “punching up” and “punching down” with the whole Free Speech thing, I could.

    Cancel Culture has done a handful of good things by throwing the bad actions of powerful people in their face.

    Al Franken, for example, deserved to have his behaviors brought out to the light and shown to the world. His accusers deserved to be heard.

    There are other people, though, who might not be doing absolutely awful things but might merely be doing cruddy things. Treating the cruddy things as something worth escalating over (Karens creepily calling cops, for example) is bad.

    Should (insert billionaire here) be punished for saying crappy things in a public forum? Hey, it ain’t cancellation, it’s accountability!

    Should (insert 9-5 schlub here) be punished for saying crappy things on his facebook page/twitter feed? Hey, Adria Richards should have known better.

    In the excerpt of Elizabeth’s I posted above, the main part I disagree with is this:

    Firings, deplatformings, and social stigma for self-expression are not always wrong. They are wrong on a case-by-case basis.

    I would, instead, agree with a sentence that said: “Firings, deplatformings, and social stigma for self-expression are not always right. They are right on a case-by-case basis.”

    Logically, they’re the same sentence. Saying the same thing.
    The escalation of firing and deplatforming and social stigma for most folks is an inappropriate escalation.

    And the letter that started this particular tempest is an example of an immune response to the inappropriateness of the escalations as they have existed in practice.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

      Agree, and it’s something I (& others hereabouts) have said many times, that canceling/deplatforming is too often a mob thing, rather than a careful thing.

      It is, IMHO, the social equivalent of a riot destroying buildings. The riot burning down a police station is one thing. The riot that burns down the local grocery store…

      But, unfortunately, the action is not, actually, about justice. Justice might be a secondary effect of the action, but ultimately the action is about satisfying some desire to feel powerful. And there is a pretty clear line between feeling powerful because you struck back at power, and just being a bully.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        It recently occurred to me that a tendency towards activism and a tendency towards critical thinking are two entirely different personality traits. Recent events have led me to worry that they may be negatively correlated.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

      I once read a definition of racism that went more-or-less as follows: prejudice plus power. I don’t want to get into all the ins and outs of that particular definition BUT… that logic feels a bit instructive here.

      The social backlash of any bad behavior should be proportional to both the badness of the behavior and the positioning of the person to realize the negative impacts of that badness. So if my barista at Starbucks wrote an unfortunate Tweet five years ago… he shouldn’t lose his Starbucks job. Maybe those who interact with him on Twitter should challenge him or push back on him. Anyone in his personal life who was offended by it should feel empowered to challenge him or distance themselves from him. But does he need to lose his job and be dragged through the mud forever? I’d hope not.

      Conversely, does someone who holds immense power in society and who says, “Women shouldn’t hold these kinds of jobs,” have that power wrested away from them if possible through social means? Yea… probably. Because those words likely become actions or policies that have real world, negative, and powerful consequences on many many people. So maybe that guy’s employer should be shamed or boycotted or berated into firing him.

      So… yea… maybe we need some kind of metric that looks at the badness potential of the action and the person’s ability to realize it and then calibrate our response accordingly.Report

      • Avatar Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

        That is an interesting way to look at it. You are right it is one thing to escalate against the powerful, and another to escalate against a James Damore.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

          It’s a quarter-baked though, at best. But I’m always a fan of nuance. Plus, I think if we’re going to (hope to) change minds, we need to create space for dialogue.

          I work with young kids. Kids often say things that are or can be offensive. When we respond smartly, we do NOT shame them. We WANT them to tell us what ideas are percolating in their brains so we can engage and challenge and hopefully help them develop ones aligned with our values.

          That won’t be true or possible for all adults. The guy whose Twitter pic is Adolph Hitler is probably unreachable and probably isn’t gonna find many job opportunities, and probably rightfully so.

          There are folks who should be actively resisted. There are folks we may want to avoid. There are folks we should try to nudge. There are folks we should shake our head at. There are folks we want blasted.Report

  2. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    What I liked about Picciuto’s piece was her use of examples of silencing people in meatspace, real everyday people who aren’t millionaire celebrities or academics.

    Because there is something off-putting to hear shrieks of pain from someone like J.K. Rowling, who at worst has to suffer mean things being said about her on Twitter, and a citizen who gets beaten by a cop while peacefully marching.

    Likewise, the loud complaints about an editor being fired for making an unpopular decision seem flat, when we live in a world where a teacher can be fired for simply being too old, and the Supreme Court upholds the decision because reasons.

    Put together, it all does sound very much like a group of powerful people who take umbrage at criticism.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    This I think is the relevant paragraph: “The Harper’s letter makes the oft-repeated argument, “The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.” What, exactly, is supposed to happen when such bad ideas are exposed? What does it mean for a bad idea to be defeated? How would you know a bad idea was finally defeated unless large swathes of people vociferously disagreed with it?”

    The problem with the Harper’s letter is apparent in the tweet in your comment, it comes off as a lot of “How dare you criticize your betters, you damned upstart crows.” J.K. Rowling used to be a hero to many but now is diminished because of her multiple anti-trans tweets. This is something she did to herself and did again and again. But what she wants is a kind of immunity for her former prestige. She made comments that people perceived as wrong and hurtful. They spoke back against this in tweet and blog. Isn’t this free speech?

    There is a certain kind of person in the media who imagines that all debates can be held in the dulcet tones of a tea party even if the speakers are say a Nazi and a Jewish person like me and the Nazi is going firmly on “The problem with Hitler is that he did not finish the job.” This is clearly bullshit and comes from spending too much time in an arena where writing opinions and takes is a well-paid job and then you go home at the end of the day.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “She made comments that people perceived as wrong and hurtful. They spoke back against this in tweet and blog. Isn’t this free speech?”

      For a very long time, JK Rowling was a liberal hero, because she Pissed Off All Those Bible-Thumping Conservatards.

      Imagine if anyone who criticized JK Rowling had to first explain how they weren’t just a Pissed-Off Bible-Thumping Conservatard. “Look, you obviously think that what you’re saying is important,” they’d be told, “but look at who else you’re standing with. Do you really want to be on the same side as people who want to ban abortion, who think that women should call their husbands ‘Master’? I just think you really ought to consider who your allies are.”Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck says:

        For a very long time, JK Rowling was a liberal hero, because she Pissed Off All Those Bible-Thumping Conservatards.

        Uh…not really?

        ‘Reasonable well respected as a YA author who helped revitalize the genre’ is not the same as ‘liberal hero’.

        Also…Rowling has actually been called out by the left forever. What’s going on now is just the last straw.

        The most recent thing before that was her rather crappy ideas about magic in other cultures. Oh, and refusing to make one supposedly canon gay character _in_ Harry Potter actually gay on screen. Oh, and let’s not mention making the the Jewish-coded main character join the side of the basically Nazi character.

        And that’s _just_ the Fantastic Beasts stuff. Two movies so far.

        There’s plenty of criticism of the original series, too, that I don’t really want to get into.

        Oh, and her treatment of the trans character in one of her mystery books had been criticized ever since it came out.Report

        • Avatar JS in reply to DavidTC says:

          “For a very long time, JK Rowling was a liberal hero, because she Pissed Off All Those Bible-Thumping Conservatards.”

          So here’s the thing — does he really believe this, and if so — why would he beleive something so incredibly stupid? Who is the left in his mind that believes this, and why does he think they believe this? What weird, isolated world is he in that he can say something that ludicrously stupid — that people loved JK Rowling because she stuck it to Christians by writing books about teenage witches — and believe it?

          Or, the alternative, is he knows it’s stupid and dumb — but felt compelled to claim it’s true anyways.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to JS says:

            So here’s the thing — does he really believe this, and if so — why would he beleive something so incredibly stupid?

            He believes it. Because that’s how conservativism works…it’s all about sides.

            And he knew that some religious people on the conservative side had an issue with the books, and hence she had to be a darling of the left.

            They see politics as a football match, where you just pick a random side to root for, and everyone is on a side, and if you aren’t on one you’re on the other.

            This is because the right is full of people who fundamentally think politics _don’t matter_. Oh, they claim they think it does, but they’re in an extremely privileged position and truly think nothing can affect them.

            The left, of course, treats politics as a _real thing_, and thus can say things like ‘Getting young people to read is a good thing, and HP did that, so that’s good.’ and ‘Rowling seems slightly progressive and the message of the book can be understood to be tolerance, so that’s good’. And yet actually still go ‘That are also a lot of issues with the books and how they deal with race, how there seems to be coded antisemitism in there, the treatment of woman is…iffy, etc, etc’.

            Until eventually the problems have piled up so high everyone switches to ‘Look, there’s a lot of better YA _now_, with better authors, and we don’t really need her anymore.’ A lot of the left had reached that point a decade ago. The rest of it…just reached it with the TERF bullshit.

            Honestly, you can see this pattern everywhere. Where the left judges people in some sort of supposedly objective sense (I’m not saying they’re _good_ at that, just that’s what they are trying to do.), and meanwhile the right just…takes sides.

            I mean, the entire thing is very obvious when you realize how often the left ‘attacks their own’….because the left doesn’t believe in ‘their own’. There’s just a bunch of people doing good things or bad things. Meanwhile the right is just ‘What side are you on?’, and that determines everything…it’s like how Trump managed to walk into the GOP nomination despite promoting a ton of stuff that conservatives supposedly thought were bad things, both in the personal moral sense and the government policy sense…because he positioned himself as ‘one of them’ (Even more than other GOP pols!), and that is fundamentally the only thing they care about.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

              I feel the urge to point out some of the Clintons’ various ethical adventures and see if you’re going to proclaim there was nothing to see.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I wasn’t talking about criminal activity. That’s why I say ‘ the personal moral sense and the government policy sense’, not ‘criminal sense’. And I didn’t say there wasn’t ‘sides’. I said conservative have _only_ sides, where as the left has other requirements.

                Everyone has a tendency to believe bad things about people on the other side, and not on their own. It’s why people still defend Bill Clinton, despite him being, at _minimum_, a serial sexual harasser, and possibly worse. They _don’t believe_ it.

                But I’m not talking about alleged crimes. Of which Trump has plenty, but I can understand simply not believing them. I’m not criticizing that. (Well, not here.)

                What I am criticizing is them ignoring stuff we know is true.

                We have audio of Trump saying things that conservatives should not be okay with. This isn’t some debatable thing, no one is arguing the audio is fake, and it doesn’t seem to be ‘Oh, he didn’t really mean that.’ They seem to accept he meant that. It’s just…now okay?

                Unlike, say, Biden, who has had some interesting slips of tongue, but hasn’t, say, talked about going into dressing rooms to see half-dress women.

                But maybe the moral stuff is an aside. The important stuff in a politician is the political stuff, and we can perhaps forgive moral lapses if the political stuff is on target.

                Except…Trump’s wasn’t on target. I don’t want to, yet again, try to figure out what conservativism is, but let’s say three legged stool of social, fiscal, and defense conservatives. Aka, the religious right, the anti-taxers/anti-social services, and war hawks.

                He broke every single one of those leg. Even ignoring the moral failing of himself, he was completely unable to even _pretend_ to be religious. He talked about massive social spending and expanding government healthcare, (neither of which he did because that’s not really up to the president), and withdrawing from free trade agreements, and he actually did that one a bit. He was anti-Iraq-War and talked about withdrawing from military treaties and allegiances. Going isolationist.

                Like, philosophically, there was almost nothing Trump campaigned on that is an actual Republican position. He tore down everything, and he tore it down from ‘the left’. I mean, his were really bad and stupid positions, but I won’t try to claim they’re far-right, they’re more to the center, just…stupid. The Wall was pretty much the only far-right campaign promise I remember, although I get a nagging sensation I’m forgetting one.

                And yet he won the nomination, because he was able to…I’m not really sure how to say without sounding stupid. He was able to convince Republican voters that he was more in touch with them, on their side more, than the out-of-touch coast elites. (I know that sounds really stupid when said like that, but I don’t know what to tell you. It was really stupid.)

                Being on ‘their side’, trumped (pun not intended) everything. That was the most important part, that they felt Trump was on their side, so they voted him.

                Because him being on ‘their side’ was literally more important than _any_ political issue.

                There’s all sorts of things you can say about Hillary Clinton. And Joe Biden. ‘Does not represent their party’s political positions’ is not one of those things! Like, they follow the ‘rules’ of Democrats perfectly well, they didn’t campaign on, for the Trumpish-equivalent, repealing social security, outlawing abortion, and selling off the Grand Canyon.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

                He broke every single one of those leg.

                The religious right gave him a pass on his personal life (and personality) in exchange for a few Supremes (and other judges). That’s why him banging a porn star didn’t make waves. NO ONE ever thought he was a paragon of virtue. He’s not a member of the religious right himself and clearly believes in nothing beyond himself and money.

                However, he made a deal. He kept it. He’s willing to make the same deal again. Maybe they are too. Trump will make a big deal out of “his” new list(s). Heritage and/or some other think tank will be thrilled to let him steal their homework.

                You can support gay rights without being gay, trans rights without being trans and so forth. Trump supports the Right, he is not a member.

                On defense he blew up a guy who needed blowing up and didn’t pull us into any pointless wars or force serious cuts on the defense.

                On fiscal before the virus he was handing in a large tax cut, great economic growth, and full employment. Absurdly large deficit spending even before the virus drove a truck through the budget but he’ll blame the virus for that.Report

              • He was appointing the judges any Republican would have appointed to openings McConnell had already created.

                In foreign policy he was humiliating himself and the country with his weird-ass affair with Kim Jong Un, and his kowtowing to Putin and MBS.

                On fiscal policy, before the virus he was handing in trillion-dollar deficits at full employment.

                The only thing that distinguishes him, besides incompetence, is how much liberals hate him. Which is the whole point isn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                The only thing that distinguishes him… is how much liberals hate him. Which is the whole point isn’t it?

                A President Romney would have taken the office having been branded a white nationalist and deeply unethical.

                Judge Kavanaugh did take his seat after having been accused of sex crimes by 5 different women. Four have since admitted the charges were manufactured and the fifth was somewhere between fact free and facts disproven.

                ANY Conservative President would be hated by the liberals simply because he’s not with Team Blue. You view them as Disney villains.Report

              • And you picked one who really is.

                Would President Romney’s reaction to the virus be not to accept any responsibility? Would president JEB! be firing all the IGs?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                If every GOP official is a Disney villain in office, then none of them are.

                After we get another GOP president we’ll find out how much of this kind of spin/thinking is Trump.

                It will be very amusing if he magically transforms into “someone we could work with” a few years after he leaves office.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Dark Matter says:

                That’s a stupid argument. it’s logically possible for all GOP officials to be any level of viilainous. No contradiction arises from that proposition.Report

              • It’s entirely possible that they’ll continue to get worse, so we’ll always miss the previous ones; that’s why W doesn’t seem as bad these days.

                I mean, it’s hard to picture worse than a racist thief who denies the existence of a deadly pandemic, but do not underestimate the GOP.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to veronica d says:

                After the hysteria dies down, we find believing Kavanaugh’s accusers says more about us than about him.

                The same holds true with Presidents. All of the drama and hysteria leaves with him and we won’t even need rose colored glasses.

                The next guy will also draw Hitler comparisons and once in office won’t set any death camps up.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC says:

          “well there’s LOTS of criticisms of JK Rowling” I didn’t say there weren’t, you idiot, I said that there were, because people making them don’t have to explain why They’re Not On The Bad Guys’ Team.

          PS claiming that JK Rowling’s work wasn’t criticized by religious conservatives in the 1990s is revisionist.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck says:

            I didn’t say there weren’t, you idiot, I said that there were, because people making them don’t have to explain why They’re Not On The Bad Guys’ Team.

            I’m having troubling parsing what you said. I think what you just argued is that liberals…threw away Rowling as she got more and more problematic, because they didn’t want to keep defending her. Right? Telling me if I’m wrong, I’m actually am not 100% sure.

            But if it is…you are completely correct.

            I mean…what is your point there? That people we think are good, like for example, if they have written a book series, which got young people reading enmass, which was direct analogy for fighting Nazis (Or perhaps more neo-Nazis) and had said one of the most respected character was gay, we might think well of them, despite a few cracks in the persona.

            And then later, as we reevaluate her, and find that some of her trouble spots were actually pretty bad looking, especially when put with things we’ve learned later. That we can look at what seemed to be mere vague hints at antisemitism in the book now stand out more with her conceptions of other countries and native populations in her world-building. That some of the criticisms about women in the book that seemed small now show up more as she has been revealed to be a gender essentialist. That her sole retroactively gay character isn’t even going to be gay in the movies series about him and the person he supposedly loved, aka, it was completely unserious to just get ‘progressive points’.

            …yeah, she looks worse and worse.

            And because the left actually has _moral standards_ instead of just waving damn team banners, they have renounced her. Although, again, this was a long process that just now _finished_, not the much shorter ‘throw her out right now’ you seem to be implying. This was the last straw. I literally haven’t even mentioned some of the controversies about her.

            You realize that saying ‘This person we used to like did some bad things and now we don’t like them’ is _way_ more moral than ‘This person we used to like did some bad things and despite that person being clearly horrible, we are now going to defend that person to the death because they’re on ‘our team’ and that is all that matters.’

            You realize the former is better than the latter, right?

            PS claiming that JK Rowling’s work wasn’t criticized by religious conservatives in the 1990s is revisionist.

            Good thing I didn’t claim that in manner whatsoever, then. I literally I didn’t mention _conservatives_ in that post at all.

            In fact, I haven’t haven’t talked about how conservatives feel about Rowling _at any point_ in this entire discussion outside of of trying to describe your statement in my followup response: ‘And he knew that some religious people on the conservative side had an issue with the books’

            You will notice I use the the word ‘knew’ there. When people say someone someone ‘knows’ a fact, and don’t follow up on that, you should generally assume they _also_ believe that fact…if they didn’t, they would have said a word beside ‘knew’, or just said it wasn’t true.

            So thank you for proving my point in the most literal way possible, in that you read my post about how liberals didn’t like something, and somehow walked away with conclusion that I had said conservatives liked that thing.

            Because, again, in your universe, politics is pure teams, and one side liking something is defined by the other side disliking it, and vis versa.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

              …yeah, she looks worse and worse.

              Yes. Seven Galleons for any wand in the store is nuts… especially when he gets a copy of the Dark Lord’s.

              That scene was ripe for something like the following:

              “Hey Bob, I know the Pottery kid is a celebrity and all that, but what happens if he can’t afford a good wand?”

              “…You-know-who kills or enslaves both of us?” :Gulp:

              “Sale time. Seven galleons for… no, not ‘any wand in the store’. Get out the special stock. He gets a wand at least as good as You-know-who.”Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC says:

              I think what you just argued is that liberals…threw away Rowling as she got more and more problematic, because they didn’t want to keep defending her.

              No. I’m saying that because Cancel Culture wasn’t a thing in the 90s, nobody ever decided that Attacking JK Rowling was Actually Supporting Conservative Ideals, even though when Harry Potter first got popular there were any number of conservative criticisms of it. One of the things Cancel Culture says is “My Team is right, the Other Team is wrong, and if you do something the Other Team thinks is right, then you’re wrong too.”

              And because of this it was possible for there to be a liberal criticism of Rowling, just as you describe (although you need to pick more-relevant examples, because the ones you’ve got are all from the 2010s and I’m talking about the 1990s.) Nobody was expected to spend a lot of time explaining how their criticism wasn’t just Enabling Conservative Wingnuts, or Actually A Defense Of Misogyny, or Really Just Religious Zealotry.

              Saul is trying to argue like this is just a Defense Of Privilege By Rotten People, and yeah, for some of them it probably is, but there’s more going on here than that. It’s also–and more importantly–about breaking the reasoning-by-contagion meme, about exposing and discussing this modern process that says “you look like the picture in my mind of an X, therefore you’re an X”.

              In fact, I haven’t haven’t talked about how conservatives feel about Rowling _at any point_ in this entire discussion

              lol.

              “He believes it. Because that’s how conservativism works…it’s all about sides. And he knew that some religious people on the conservative side had an issue with the books, and hence she had to be a darling of the left.”

              So you haven’t talked about conservatives at all in the entire conversation except for the part where you did?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck says:

                No. I’m saying that because Cancel Culture wasn’t a thing in the 90s, nobody ever decided that Attacking JK Rowling was Actually Supporting Conservative Ideals, even though when Harry Potter first got popular there were any number of conservative criticisms of it. One of the things Cancel Culture says is “My Team is right, the Other Team is wrong, and if you do something the Other Team thinks is right, then you’re wrong too.”

                You realized that Harry Potter existed for only two years of the 90s, right? And that was two books she had written were entirely children’s books, in basically a vacuum? So…there basically is no 90s political discussion about Rowling, barring the idiots ranting about witchcraft. The first two books don’t contain anything objectionable, they don’t really contain much at all.

                As someone who has been in that fandom for a while, and also on the left, maybe you could just take my word that Rowling has never been on a pedestal, there’s _always_ been issues with her and her stuff, with just enough vagueness that it could _perhaps_ be shrugged off until this point, when it couldn’t anymore.

                This was the last straw, but the straws had been building since…I don’t know, exactly when, it was already there when I shows up, which was like…2003. I know a lot of people criticized the analogy of werewolves with people with AIDS, and was in the third book, so came out in the US Sept 1999. So I can _maybe_ technically find a criticism of that in the 90s?

                You’re just making a bunch of assumptions how the left thought about Rowling over the years…do you have any evidence at all of this? Have you even looked it up?

                Because I’ve been here 17 years. I mean, it’s died down in a lot of ways, but…I still know what’s going on.

                And because of this it was possible for there to be a liberal criticism of Rowling, just as you describe (although you need to pick more-relevant examples, because the ones you’ve got are all from the 2010s and I’m talking about the 1990s.) Nobody was expected to spend a lot of time explaining how their criticism wasn’t just Enabling Conservative Wingnuts, or Actually A Defense Of Misogyny, or Really Just Religious Zealotry.

                Um, again, as someone in the fandom, yes, there were people who said ‘The books aren’t perfect, but they teach acceptance and whatnot, she even made a gay character, and they’re just children’s book, so let’s not criticize them. On the whole they’re good.’.

                This idea that no one used to say ‘Let’s not attack the people that is mostly good and mostly on our side’, and that’s some new thing just invented with ‘cancel culture’, is absurd.

                The difference between the right and the left, of course, is that the left will _stop doing that_ and kick people out when they cross some line, whereas the right just continues to follow and defend people who have become completely indefensible. (Addition: Well, I guess Milo is proof they won’t follow them _anywhere_. But…they will follow them way farther than the left.)

                So you haven’t talked about conservatives at all in the entire conversation except for the part where you did?

                I didn’t say I didn’t talk about ‘conservatives’. I said I didn’t talk about how conservatives felt about Rowling. It’s right there in the part you quoted. You have the oddest reading comprehension.

                Seriously, people, I don’t even know the fuck’s going on anymore. DD claims something ‘I said’ was revisionism, I pointed out I hadn’t even vaguely said anything on that topic at all, and he quotes me paraphrasing _him_ saying the _opposite_ thing, not as my opinion, but just a summary of his position. Something I actually agreed with, so didn’t address.

                He just apparently decided I was objecting to something because I said he said it!Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      This is one of the major blind spots of many free speech defenders. There are still nazi’s. Antisemitism and general bigotry are common. Free speech doesn’t disinfect. Never has, never will. It’s still good and important, but it doesn’t clean away the moral covid from our society. If we want toxic elements gone we need to make it go away. That is separate discussion about what is toxic and how to do it in a free society. But free speech won’t get us there.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

        It is not clear to me who could be trusted with the power to eliminate toxic elements from society.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

          Like i said that is a seperate discussion from free speech. That whole free society thing means we will have lots of divergent and hostile views in one country. But there is some level of toxicity that is beyond the bounds of what a free society can tolerate ( deliberate use of the word tolerate). We put true threats out of bounds as an example. That is limit on speech most of us are just fine with. Some of us might even say we are to tolerant of threats by dismissing them as just shitposting on twitter or something like that.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to greginak says:

            “We put true threats out of bounds as an example.”

            You know, people love to bring up the example of “true threats”, but that’s a far more limited concept than they’re imagining. Like, there are a looooot of things that have to also be true for a statement to be considered a True Threat that justifies grounds for criminal penalties on the basis of speech alone. It’s really not as wide-ranging and powerful a restriction as would be appropriate to suggest acceptance of the concept of speech restrictions.

            If anything, the notion of “True Threat” is against a call for restrictions, because the idea is so caveated and special-cased and strict-scrutiny-laden that it’s hardly ever used as a charge against someone. (I mean, even in the case where the Supreme Court established the concept they decided that it didn’t apply!)Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to DensityDuck says:

              The point of noting True Threats is to find a speech restriction that has complete( almost i guess) support. Yeah there are a lot of things that go towards making something a True Threat. And still it’s a speech restriction we maintain as somethings need to be out of bounds.

              We are discussing where the out of bounds line, or area, is. Not that there is a line.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to greginak says:

                For one thing, it’s not actually true to say that the notion of True Threats has “almost complete” support; Sonia Sotomayor, not exactly a lightweight, suggested that it needed further definition.

                And even at that, if you want to say “you accept the notion of True Threats, therefore you accept that there are limits to Free Speech!” y’know, it’s not like people are out there every day getting prosecuted for having made True Threats, and the majority of times it’s brought up are to talk about how the situation in question isn’t one. So if you’re trying to claim that True Threats have established what we are and what’s left is just haggling over the price, I’d say it seems like the price is a lot higher than you’re assuming.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

          Dark, our criminal justice system is tasked with *this very thing*, yet you appear to defend it as legitimate as is, going so far as to say (on another thread) that “it’s on their culture to change to fit modern norms” or they get locked up.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

            going so far as to say (on another thread) that “it’s on their culture to change to fit modern norms” or they get locked up.

            I’m confused on what you think I’m defending. I was pointing out that we don’t, and shouldn’t excuse someone’s illegal behavior because of their culture. It’s on them to change, not on us to make them change.

            For anyone who isn’t on that other thread, “their culture” in this case was “killing your children because of their sex life” and yes, anyone doing that does need to get locked up.

            …our criminal justice system is tasked with *this very thing*,

            No. We do NOT arrest, imprison or kill Nazis because they’re Nazis. There are acts (murder and the like) which we’ve outlawed.

            The problem with “toxic elements” is they’re not committing crimes and thus not subject to the criminal justice system.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

              I’m confused on what you think I’m defending. I was pointing out that we don’t, and shouldn’t excuse someone’s illegal behavior because of their culture.

              *Ergo*, the only problem with inner city black culture, and the solution, is that those people need to obey *our* laws. QED.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

            My comment is awaiting moderation but I don’t understand why. No links. No profanity.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak says:

        Free speech is how we determine what is toxic to the body as a whole.

        I mean, it’s a good thing the skin doesn’t get to declare that hydrochloric acid is toxic to the body and should not be permitted anywhere near it.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Free speech is how we determine what is toxic to the body as a whole.

          I’m not sure I understand what you mean here (I mean, beyond the surface language) but this strikes me as wrong. Instead, it seems to me that free speech protections are historically and conventionally viewed as a mechanism to *prevent* toxicity from taking hold in the body.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Free speech doesn’t do that. FS isn’t data about how society or individuals within a society are doing. FS is just one part, an important part, but only one element of a decent society. As an example for a long time sexist comments about women or sluts at gay people were fine and excepted. Now they aren’t generally accepted in the workplace but are still common in a lot of social media. There are even social consequences for those comments sometimes. That could be seen as a decrease in free speech which it is. Some previously fine comments are now out of bounds. But that is also a direct improvement for the subjects of those comments.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak says:

            Free speech allows people to say ‘those comments are sexist and you are wrong to say that’. Free speech permits a consensus of the majority to form and say ‘those comments are sexist and you are wrong to say that’.

            What I don’t want is for a minority to say ‘those comments are sexist and you are wrong to say that’ and then enforce that through intimidation tactics. Not because I think sexist comments are a social good, but because I see it as a Death Ray.

            As to my analogy, what is bad for X may not be bad for the whole, and may, in a way, be necessary.

            Think of it this way; we can not eliminate Nazi or Soviet Communist beliefs from the social body, because the only way to combat that infection is to constantly expose people to why it is a bad thing. In the process of exposing those ideologies and explaining why they are bad, we will, undoubtedly, expose people to those ideas who find them compelling*, rather than revolting. It’s the risk that we take, because pretending such ideas didn’t and don’t exist is a greater risk. Yet there are people who would much rather prefer that talking about either thing be hate speech, or only be allowed in very tightly controlled settings, etc.

            *This has always been the case. The only thing that has changed is that the internet and rapid travel has allowed what were normally a small, isolated set within any community to find each other across the globe and appear greater than they are**.

            **But, I’m sure someone will tell me I am wrong and these people are Legion, and the greatest lie Satan ever told was that he didn’t exist.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          It doesn’t violate the principles of free speech to say, “Publication X shouldn’t print articles by author Y because their views are bad for reasons Q.”

          It doesn’t violate the principles of free speech for publication X to agree and to cease publishing those articles.

          It doesn’t violate the principles of free speech for a disadvantaged group to collectively speak out against a publication or its authors. It is not wrong to oppose an existing power structure, nor is it wrong to point out that an existing power structure that claims the mantle of objectivity or rationality is in fact neither of those things. Is it not wrong to notice patterns of bigotry that hide behind fake “respectability.” Moreover, it’s not wrong to point out that the very process of fake respectability can cause a great deal of harm to those less powerful because it is a fiendishly effective rhetorical strategy.

          “I’m not a bigot, but what if group X really is Y?” they might ask.

          But group X isn’t Y, and that’s been established, but group X is politically marginalized and relatively powerless, and while we can debate “is X Y?” and we can win that debate, why should we have to do it again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again?

          Why do we have to spend so much of our short, precious lives debating if we’re Y when we’re not Y?

          That’s the privilege, not having to spend your life with your dignity, and its presumed lack, being a constant “public question” asked by malicious people.

          The “just asking questions” or “just discussing valid issues” crowd know what they’re doing. Once we see what they’re doing, why should publications continue to platform them?Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

            Private publications are free to do as they wish. I DO NOT care.

            I care about one thing – non-public figures who are dragged through the mud because somebody somewhere took offense to something they said online and decided to put them on blast for no reason other than it seemed like a good idea at the time.

            I’d love it if Twitter* had an algorithm that watched for non-public figures having a tweet going viral, and if it did, the algorithm would shut it down. Make the account private, and cache all references to the tweet (or screenshots of it, etc.) until the account holder could approve or decline to have it go public.

            I mean, this is my perennial complaint, is it not? I do not care if public figures feel the heat. I care about non-public figures. I care about people deciding that any and every differential in power or privilege is a dragon to slay, even if it’s just a gecko, and regardless of the harm it causes.

            Remember that guy in NY that had the police called on him by a white woman because he told her to leash her dog. She was publicly shamed, and lost her job, and her dog. And the guy is refusing to cooperate with prosecutors, saying she has suffered enough. He’s my hero, because he said enough.

            How many people, do you think, will respect his wishes that it be done with?

            *Or other social media platform of your choice. I’m betting they could do that easy enough, but don’t, because there is money, somewhere, when shit goes viral.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              I heard that people were debating whether his decision “hurt or helped?” Um… what? Hurt or helped what? It’s a personal decision and should remain as such. He doesn’t owe anyone anything.Report

            • Avatar Damon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Yeah, but that guy was an ass for threatening her dog. She went all crazy, but he was involved and contributed to whole thing, but he doesn’t have clean hands and he is partially responsible for what happened to her.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Damon says:

                He threatened her dog? Um, no.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Damon says:

                He never threatened her dog, he told her to follow the rules and leash her dog.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Actually he did, in the video he took h imself He talks about giving the dog a treat, which he specifically said in his post about with the video, that he keeps for just such people who walk their dogs unleashed. What he said was vaguely threatening and he tried to call the over to him.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Damon says:

                You are suggesting he keeps poisoned treats on hand?

                Because I’ve used treats to bring unleashed dogs to me so I can grab their collar, not so I can poison them.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Damon says:

                You clearly didn’t watch the video.

                In the post accompanying the video, he said the following:

                “ME: Look, if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it.

                “HER: What’s that?

                “ME (to the dog): Come here, puppy!

                “HER: He won’t come to you.

                Things just went from bad to worse for Central Park ‘Karen’
                “ME: We’ll see about that…” before adding, “I pull out the dog treats I carry for just for such intransigence. I didn’t even get a chance to toss any treats to the pooch before Karen scrambled to grab the dog.”

                He later added:
                “Christian later explained that he pulls the dog-treat ploy on owner scofflaws hoping they’ll leash their pooches to restrain them from taking the goodies, thus getting them to comply with the rule.”

                Amy Cooper later said her reaction was based in part on her fear of the treats.

                So, yea, if you want to call that “threatening the dog” go for it. It’s a silly semantic argument. But his actions don’t make him an “ass”. She was in violation of both the law and common courtesy, allowing a long to run unleashed in an area where it was prohibited and in proximity to other people. Dog owners who do that are asses. Many people have allergies and/or fear of dogs. They should be able to walk through park areas where unleashed dogs are prohibited without having to worry. Christian Cooper has obviously encountered this before and developed a response that encourages others to not be asses. He tried to do so directly and she refused.

                He’s not the ass. She is. Period. Trying to make this about both of them is just wrong. Stop it.

                I’m not comfortable around dogs. One of my sons likes dogs but is very skittish around them. We’ve been scared by unleashed dogs running at us. Whatever we do in response to that isn’t on us; it’s on the person who decided to break the law AND ignore basic common courtesy.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Kazzy says:

                This video sums it up nicely. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s a threat, it matter is SHE thinks it is.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyyYpOWyhfs

                Relevant time index: 6.35

                And according this this guy, he may have committed a felony. And yes, luring someone else’s dog away from them is a shit move. Now, NOTHING i’m saying is to support what she did. She behaved terribly, and clearly worse than he did, but as always, it takes two to tango.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I think there will always be bigots who say hurtful things and which violence upon minorities. There will also be clueless people will say things that are hurtful without realizing it.

          That being said, there is a sense I get that a lot of people especially prominent writers do get confuse and see the government right of free speech as a right to say something without any negative effects including criticism.

          J.K. Rowling is free to tweet whatever she wants but she seems honestly shocked that her views are losing her fans. She seems to think she should be adored forever by former fans.

          I think it is good for a publication to contain multiple views but this does not mean all views. There seems to be a parlor game done in prestigious media when it publishes something controversial. The Atlantic got in hot water when it published Vermule’s ode to theocracy sugar-coated as “common good constitutionalism” and seemed to think that by publishing a counter, they avoid responsibility for “We let someone publish a defense of theocracy just because thy are a Harvard Law Professor/Very Important Person.”

          There is certainly something to letting someone shoot themselves in the foot in the public square but I also think there is a delusion that all debates can be handled civilly. Sometimes when people write letters like the one in question, I imagine they think something like this can happen:

          Richaed Spencer: I say, good fellow, all Jews should be exiled from the United States and dropped off at the South Pole without any provisions and forced to fend for themselves.

          Rabbi Katz: I must say good fellow that I disagree most strongly with your proposition.

          Richard Spender: Is that so? I guess we must agree to disagree. Would you like a scone with clotted cream before I clobber you to death while yelling the Jews will not replace us?

          Rabbi Katz: That would be most delightful. Thank you, good sir.

          Or look at the recent debate where the Times published an op-ed by Senator Cotton (Fascist-Arkansas) arguing that troops should be brought in to crack the skulls of protestors. BAri Weiss tweeted that the conflict was between under 40 “woke” staff members and over 40 staff members who believed in free speech and rigorous debate. A lot of NY Times employees stated that this was bullshit and that plenty of older staff felt it was irresponsible and dangerous to publish the op-ed. James Bennett admitted or “admitted” that he did not read the op-ed before it was published. James Bennett is the editor of the op-ed section. What the hell is he doing on the job if he is not reading what gets published in his section? I get the concept of exposing your readers to ideas that they disagree with but that does not mean you need to give a platform to someone who advocates violence just because that person is a Senator.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Saul said, and I quote:

            “is”

            I just want to point out that it should be “was“.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

              Fair. He did suffer a reprocussion but Weiss did not despite her obvious lies that she was called out on. But it does raise the following question:

              1. Why didn’t he read the op-ed before it was published?

              2. If he did read the op-ed, why did he think lying about it was a good cover story? Did he think he could get away with it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                1. I can easily see him saying “Dude’s a senator. Of course we’re going to print what he has to say. I might get a promotion because I snagged us a senator! My gosh! I’m going to eat duck for lunch! And since he’s on Team Evil, I don’t even have to *EDIT* it! Ha! He misspelled “brassiere”! That’s how dumb *HE* is! Print it!”

                I mean, I can also see him reading it, correcting misspelled words, and not giving a shit about what the op-ed actually *SAID*. Because, hey. He snagged a senator. That == Eyeballs. Maybe he’ll get a promotion. He can order duck at lunch.

                2. Why did he think lying about it was a good cover story? He probably didn’t. He might have seen it as the best of the available options to him. He was either going to be cancelled because he was an Evil Man giving a voice to another Evil Man on Team Evil who was actively calling for Evil Men to do Evil Things… or he could be a fat and happy lazy guy who just said “hey, he’s a Senator. We’re the NYT. Just put a disclaimer on there that says someone else wrote this, I didn’t. I didn’t even read it!” and came to the conclusion that negligence would be better for his long-term career than a Maoist Struggle session.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                A Times op-ed page editor getting a Senator to write a piece for the Times op-ed page is about as much of an accomplishment as Halle Berry persuading me to have sex with her.* If Bennett actually thought snagging Tom Cotton was a feather in his cap that might lead to promotion, he was too stupid to hold the job he had.

                * My wife and I have a One Celebrity hall pass. Whether this is just a joke or real will be determined when either of us gets a realistic shot at a celebrity.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Maybe he was just thinking “Ugh. Another senator like the last 48 senatorial op-eds we’ve run since I worked in the mail room. Ho-hum.”

                And then when he realized that his options were:

                1: Pretend to not have read it
                B: Enjoy a pleasant struggle session

                He chose 1.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                And you know that how, again?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                How do I know that his options were either:

                A: Admit I didn’t read it
                2: Admit I read it but ran it anyway

                Because I can’t think of a third that is more plausible than those two.

                See it as a limitation of my imagination if you must.

                Oooh! Perhaps you could offer a third option!Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                You should read your own stuff. You said he “chose 1,” Pretend to not have read it. That’s the alternative you chose. You stated as a fact that he “pretended” not to read the piece. He said he didn’t read the piece. That’s a firing offense. You say he lied when he said he didn’t read the piece. You know that how?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                Oh, I don’t *KNOW* that he didn’t read the piece.

                I assume that he read it completely dispassionately, scanned it for errors, and then published it.

                I don’t *KNOW* that he did that… but I assume that he’s one of the olds who still had pre-woke ideas about publishing op-eds from senators.

                I certainly agree that it’s possible that he told the truth. “Nope! Didn’t read it! I sure should have, though! Golly! I wouldn’t have run it, if I did my job!”

                That just strikes me as straining plausibility.

                But, hey. Maybe he’s an alcoholic. Lemme google.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                That certainly clears things up.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                If the argument is that I don’t *KNOW* that he was lying, you’re absolutely right.

                If the argument is that it’s more plausible to believe that he was telling the truth than that he was lying… well, lemme just stop you there. It ain’t.

                But if you’d like to put down an argument that it is, I’d love to read it.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                People don’t usually tell lies that hurt their own interests.

                Telling the world that you’re exceptionally bad at the job you’re resigning from damages your reputation and severely limits your prospects for further employment.

                He could have said any number of other things that would have hurt his reputation and prospects for further employment far less, such as “I stand on the decision to publish the piece on principle” or “A newspaper has a right to decide what it wants on its op-ed page and who should be in charge of those decisions on a day-to-day basis. My newspaper has made its decision and that’s an internal matter about which I have no comment.” Or he could have said nothing.

                He chose, instead, to say something that made him look foolish and incompetent.

                It’s conceivable that he would say such a thing simply because it’s true. It’s implausible that he would tell the very lie that would do him the most damage, especially if better lies were available, as they clearly were.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                And, again, I think that it’s more than reasonable to think that he saw the Maoist Struggle Session awaiting him for admitting malice as more unpleasant than the mere retirement that awaited for admitting incompetence.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                Now that’s an argument.Report

  4. Avatar veronica d says:

    I know a certain transgender journalist who has been denied membership on this one private journalist chat group. Why? Because the people who moderate it wish to protect a few well established and transphobic journalists who post there. The moderators believe that having this trans woman on the chat group would, in a sense, stifle the speech of the transphobes.

    This is not a made up scenario. It’s real.

    Note, this effects her career, as a lot of networking takes place on this site. Furthermore, one of the transphobes once got her fired for publicly criticizing him.

    He signed the recent letter. How ironic.

    This is the thing about free speech. When it comes down to platforms and communities, speech cannot actually be free. It doesn’t work that way, because people don’t work that way. Words have meaning. Sometimes those meanings challenge the humanity and dignity of those reading the words. Moreover, platforms come with power. When terrible people have power, vulnerable people get hurt. Thus it is expected that people will fight over who controls which platforms and what their standards will be.

    This recent letter, which proponents describe as a modest and unobjectionable support of free speech, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has a context. That context is unchallenged bigotry. One of those who signed is a very major author who is pretty immune to any real “cancelling.” She’s a billionaire. She is also a loudmouth, ill-informed, incurious bigot who won’t shut up. She spreads misinformation about socially and legally vulnerable people.

    “Deplatforming” means “expecting publishers to have standards.” Moreover, it expects them to stick to those standards. This isn’t about the free exchange of ideas. The ideas are out there. It is, however, a simple matter of logistics: publishers can’t publish everything, so they have to choose. What they choose to publish reflects their values. We are allowed to criticize their values.

    Deplatforming bigots is good actually.

    “But what about mob justice and Contrapoints and all of that.”

    Oh I agree. The Twitter mobs kind of suck. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about major public figures in big publications who have a lot of social power. If their ideas are terrible, and if they won’t shut up about them, then major media outlets should stop publishing them. They should lose their jobs at big magazines. Their books should be cancelled. Their films shouldn’t get made. They should lose their social power because they’re hurting people.

    “But can’t you outdebate them?”

    Yes, we can actually. But our debate points are unheard, while theirs are broadcast widely. Moreover, often their “debate points” are buttressed by an irrational sense of disgust. It is easy for people to hate outsiders, the poor, the queer, the brown, etcetera. Thus any debate isn’t “facts over feelings.” Instead, it’s about our dignity versus their disgust.

    Of course, their disgust is concealed. In fact, they’ll deny it with skilled words. That’s their job: to present bigotry with anodyne statements that deliver their subtext unchallenged. Thus we challenge not only their ideas, but their ability to deliver their payload of hate. Our job is to strip off their mask and reveal what they are. Next, our job is to say to publishers, “Stop letting them do this.”

    We can believe two things at once. We can believe the Twitter mobs are full of passionate idiots and at the same time look at their latest target and say, “Oh wait. Actually they have a point.”Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

      ” The moderators believe that having this trans woman on the chat group would, in a sense, stifle the speech of the transphobes.”

      well, yes!

      Instead of having a discussion about anything, it would be screaming about You Fucking Transphobes. Anyone who tried to talk to them would get screamed at for Talking To The Fucking Transphobes. If they tried to start a conversation, this person would proudly smear shit all over it and congratulate themself for Shutting Down The Fucking Transphobes. Eventually, everyone would leave the forum because it had turned into Screaming About The Fucking Transphobes, and this person would say “welp, guess that’s what you get when you allow yourself to be a home for Fucking Transphobes.”

      The hardest thing about moderation is recognizing when someone who’s a good person, correct in all the right ways, definitely morally superior, is nonetheless a bad choice to have in the discussion.

      “Deplatforming bigots is good actually.”

      Building a Death Laser is bad actually, even when you promise you’ll only zap the Bad Guys with it, because you cannot build a Death Laser with a Bad Guys Only filter. (unless, of course, you find the strength within yourself to declare that anyone zapped by the Death Laser was secretly a Bad Guy all along.)Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Instead of having a discussion about anything, it would be screaming about You Fucking Transphobes.

        Either you’re implying that the discussion list is full of transphobia at all times, or you’re implying that trans people will just random scream about the existence of other people that they think are transphobes, but haven’t said anything transphobic.

        The first is actually very bad if it is happening.

        The second is sorta a stupid idea to think about trans people.

        Eventually, everyone would leave the forum because it had turned into Screaming About The Fucking Transphobes, and this person would say “welp, guess that’s what you get when you allow yourself to be a home for Fucking Transphobes.”

        And…here’s the thing: That is what happens when you allow yourself to be home to any sort of bigots.

        Because eventually, someone who actually takes issue with the bigots will show up. Or they were there all the time and just…stopped holding their tongue. The person that veronica mentioned just _happened_ to be a trans woman, so the list admin is _assuming_ she wouldn’t silently let transphobia go past, and maybe they’re right in that. But the thing is…neither will a lot of other people.

        So eventually, someone will stand up to the transphobe’s shitty ideas, and the list will devolve.

        And it won’t just happen once. It will happened again and again. And as it repeated, other people will get sucked into this.

        The hardest thing about moderation is recognizing when someone who’s a good person, correct in all the right ways, definitely morally superior, is nonetheless a bad choice to have in the discussion.

        Or…and bear with me a second…perhaps an even harder thing would be to decide not to have the bad people in the conversation?

        Like…maybe a list for journalists should have rules about being bigoted, and say ‘We don’t do that here.’

        In fact…they probably already _have_ that rule. They are just not enforcing it, because there’s a certain type of transphobes that are particularly good at couching their speech in feminism.

        Which is…sorta the entire problem, honestly. Bigots have gotten _really good_ at saying things that sound reasonable, but have been disproven, and shot down, and they _have_ been outdebate, outscienced, outeverything.

        And yet…they still get a fucking platform. Over and over again. Everything has to be repeatedly debated. And it’s never winnable. It’s never settled. Except it has been settled, but reality is not real anymore, because literally nothing _sticks_, and bigots create their own reality, where they just keep saying gibberish, over and over, and people keep handing them fucking microphones.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

          Everything has to be repeatedly debated. And it’s never winnable. It’s never settled. Except it has been settled, but reality is not real anymore,

          And yet we still have gay marriage when that was so impossible Obama had to run on opposing it.

          These sorts of cultural shifts take decades to thrash out.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

            And yet we still have gay marriage when that was so impossible Obama had to run on opposing it.

            These sorts of cultural shifts take decades to thrash out.

            No one is talking about political shifts. I am talking about actual facts. Although homosexuality isn’t actually a bad analogy. I’ve actually mentioned this before, but I’ve written some stuff set in the 50s, during the Lavender Scare. Let me give a fun history lesson that almost certainly got left out of everyone’s textbooks: (No links, I already am falling into moderation for no reason I can tell, but all this stuff is trivially googleable.)

            There’s a report that came out in 1950, generally called the ‘Hoey Report’. It claimed things like all of the government’s intelligence agencies ‘are in complete agreement that sex perverts in Government constitute security risks.’ and talked about they were ‘moral degenerates’ and whatnot.

            This report was basically entirely a lie (And only parts that weren’t ‘lies’ were the parts that were pure opinions about morality.), and everyone involved knew it. The Hoey Report was bad science. And it was bad medical information, which was also pointed by psychiatrists _before the very committee_. It misrepresented testimony given to the committee, it made up facts out of thin air, it was complete and and utter bigotted gibberish and they knew it AT THE TIME.

            It took only seven years to _finish_ a report by another agency, one who _actually_ cared about ‘Is this something that is actually a threat to the country’. The US Navy came out, in 1957, with something called the ‘Crittenden Report’, which pointed out faults in it:

            ‘”Many common misconceptions pertaining to homosexuality have become exaggerated and perpetuated over the years. As additional facts have been gathered in recent years, the fallacies inherent in these concepts are being demonstrated with increasing frequency.’ and ‘No intelligence agency, as far as can be learned, adduced any factual data before that committee with which to support these opinions’

            This isn’t something that we look back at from 2020 and say ‘Man they were wrong back then.’ Everyone with any knowledge pointed it out back then.

            The Hoey Report continued to be used to set US policy for the next 40 years. Meanwhile, the Crittenden Report remained secret until 1976 until most of it was grabbed via a FOIA.

            And…just in case people aren’t clear…I know everyone thinks ‘things always get better’, but…they don’t. Before the 1950s, homosexuality certainly was not accepted, but it sure as hell wasn’t anywhere near as illegal. Things got a lot worse for gay people in the 50s, specifically because Hoover, a goddamn fascist asshole, decided he wanted more power as director of the FBI, and needed enemies. And failing to find communists, he started looking for homosexuals, which he did find. Other politicians got in on it, and the government started spewing misinformation.

            This isn’t some hypothetical thing, this is real history. I’m not making this up or exaggerating this, or even interpreting it beyond guessing at some motives. But lies, that anyone with any knowledge knew werea lie, resulted in a ‘cultural shift’ where ‘homosexuality’ became almost indistinguishable from ‘communism’, and both of them were painted as serious threats. (When in reality, neither of those groups were. The homosexuals obviously weren’t, and they weren’t finding the actual communists infiltrators, who were not stupid enough to subscribe to The Worker or join the Communist Party of America.)

            The thing about ‘cultural shifts’ is not that they take a long time. It’s that they happen due differing understanding. And that understanding is due to the information people have.

            Thus, there’s a large large large group of people dedicated to making sure people have misinformation, both old misinformation and any new misinformation they can come up with, so those cultural shifts don’t happen. And they repeat this wrong information over and over again, because the point isn’t to have actual information, it’s to keep a level of misinformation in the background so that people’s opinions don’t change.

            So…I’m not talking about isn’t some ‘cultural shifts” or ‘moral belief’. I’m talking about deliberate misinformation, for decades, to prop up those beliefs.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

              The cultural shift I’m talking about is “are we going to accept trans people”?

              And yes, there are personal “truths” that are other people’s “deliberate lies”. It’s sort of like how “hands up don’t shoot” was a thing from BLM for quite a while even after it was clear Mike Brown was shot attacking that cop.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

                The cultural shift I’m talking about is “are we going to accept trans people”?

                She wasn’t criticized for ‘not accepting’ trans people. She was criticized for lying about them. Specifically, lying about ‘Do men pose as trans women and attack women in women-only spaces.’

                That_is_ an actual objective fact. It’s a statistical thing, yes, but it’s still a fact, does it generally happen or not? And then answer is…no, it doesn’t, it doesn’t generally happen, it doesn’t seem to happen at all. It’s hard to find any examples of it whatsoever!

                Women have a much much larger chance of being attacked in women-only spaces by men breaking down the doors and leaping in, or walking to and from that space. This is a ‘winning the lottery while getting struck by lightning’ situation to worry about.

                Meanwhile, keeping trans women _out_ of those spaces, and more importantly putting them into men-only spaces which is often the alternative, gets attacked at high rates than anyone. So this a real concern.

                The first bit, ‘Who should be in women-only spaces?’, is an opinion. And Rowling could technically hold it with no justification beside ‘I don’t don’t believe they are really women’. But she was also spreading the bogus facts to justify that opinion, because that opinion is pretty hard to hold if you believe the _actual_ facts about reality.

                Opinions don’t appear out of nowhere. They are created from information.

                And the actual problem happening in this society is spread of misinformation used to justify _really bad_ opinions.

                And yes, there are personal “truths” that are other people’s “deliberate lies”. It’s sort of like how “hands up don’t shoot” was a thing from BLM for quite a while even after it was clear Mike Brown was shot attacking that cop.

                See, there’s _you_ arguing that misinformation can be lead to incorrect opinions…although honestly that’s such a small part of a much larger pattern it affects very little WRT opinion. Like, that entire instance could be revealed to be alien mind control and not the fault of anyone, and…that doesn’t really change anything about the rate of black people being shot indiscriminately by police and the police not slightly being punished for it.

                But…you still think it’s important enough to mention. To discuss, to debate. And it _is_.

                This is because opinions are generally based in some sort of information, and it worth arguing when the information is wrong, even if people have the right to whatever ‘opinion’ they want…because most people like to think their opinions are based in reality.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

                Everyone is the hero of their own tale. Everyone thinks they’re wearing a white hat.

                And everyone has subjects we’re not rational on. Subject for which we think our feelings are facts. Then we take that stance and look for facts (or even just statements) which support them.

                Some people are better than others at changing our opinions when presented with conflicting facts, but most of us aren’t great when it comes to war, religion, personal relationships (i.e. sex), and politics.

                She probably believes what she is saying. She presumably is wrong, but she doesn’t believe that.

                If and when enough of society accepts Trans, she will be forced to change her mind, shut-up, or lose sales/friends/etc. That hasn’t come yet.

                that doesn’t really change anything about the rate of black people being shot indiscriminately by police and the police not slightly being punished for it.

                OK, full stop there. I pointed out that “hands up don’t shoot” was based on a lie. You’ve responded by claiming the larger narrative it represents is, in your opinion, correct. So, the literal truth of “hands up” doesn’t matter.

                If she knows she’s wrong (and she might not), she’s doing the same thing you just did just with a very different larger narrative.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Oh balderdash. There is a real world with material facts. People indeed have different values. Their perception shapes what they believe, but when hateful zealots push bullshit, we can notice and call them on it.

                It’s funny, though, when people suddenly decide to swerve into full on relativism. When the facts are on their side, sure they’ll stick to facts. When the facts are not, suddenly everything is a vague wash of spineless opinion.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

                If and when enough of society accepts Trans, she will be forced to change her mind, shut-up, or lose sales/friends/etc. That hasn’t come yet.

                She’s been increasingly criticized for this, for years, until she openly went all the way, and certain segment of people have had enough. And that is where we are at. We shall see if it has an effect on her sales, but honestly that doesn’t really matter to her, she’s already a billionaire. So I don’t really follow the point you’re making here? She’s not ever going to ‘forced’ to change, unless decides she dislikes everyone hating her.

                You’ve responded by claiming the larger narrative it represents is, in your opinion, correct. So, the literal truth of “hands up” doesn’t matter.

                No, I’m arguing that there are so many instances that no individual examples matters. That a systematic thing can’t be disproved by disproving the details of an individual instance.

                That’s how how systematic oppression is always argued against. People try to pick apart each individual example, and assert there is no bigger picture.

                What is happening with black people and their police interactions is a bigger picture, one that can easily be seen with statistics. And limiting it to _deaths_ is really silly. Like, there’s a huge amount of police violence against black people that doesn’t result in death, and even more discrimination that isn’t violence, including a lot that have literally been decided in courts of law. Because, in a systematic problem, there should be very large amount of examples, from top to bottom. And there is.

                If she knows she’s wrong (and she might not), she’s doing the same thing you just did just with a very different larger narrative.

                She’s…clearly not doing the same thing I am, because I’m not trying to argue he said ‘Hands up don’t shoot’ (My biggest complaint about that shooting is a) the cops harassing black people for walking down the street, and b) leaving his uncovered body in the street for so long, which I believe we’ve talked about?), whereas she _is_ trying to argue lies, knowingly or not.

                If she was doing the same thing I was doing, _she_ would be be talking about how what she claims is happening is systematic, and thus technicalities of a instance under discussion are kinda pointless to dispute.

                Except…there aren’t any examples. There’s not even an example under discussion, we’re not talking because it happened recently. There’s no Mick Brown or George Floyd. And all the ‘examples’ sound really stupid. At a larger level, this isn’t happening. At no level is this happening.

                That number is so low, statistically, that you can’t do statistics about it, you’re sorta reduced to things like ‘In 2014, a man dressed as a Barbie doll followed a woman into a restroom in a San Diego and attacked her’, and…that sorta relates, right? If we…ignore the fact he wasn’t trans and his outfit really had nothing to do with anything and the attack happened because there was no one nearby, not because he was ‘allowed’ in the restroom.

                What has happened here is that conservatives…and, yes, the people we’re talking about are in bed with conservatives even if they pretend to be feminists, have hijacked the language of discussing oppression of women, and are using it against people who…not only do not harm women, but are women. By basically making up things, and it’s things that are very easy to check. Like I said, this isn’t some…debate about level or severity, this is a ‘not happening’ level.

                Or to put it another way: If I was arguing the same way she was, I would be be arguing that cops were arresting black men to sexually molest them. A thing that is not true, despite it probably having happened a few time! But it is not any sort of real thing that commonly happens, and it would be absurd to base any sort of policies on that idea specifically.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC says:

                She’s not ever going to ‘forced’ to change, unless decides she dislikes everyone hating her.

                VERY few people can live with “everyone hating her”. For that matter I doubt she could live with it affecting her book sales. She could have already retired if it was about money for her.

                because I’m not trying to argue he said ‘Hands up don’t shoot’ (My biggest complaint about that shooting is a) the cops harassing black people for walking down the street, and b) leaving his uncovered body in the street for so long whereas she _is_ trying to argue lies, knowingly or not.

                :Amusement: That’s the difference is it? The information source for “harassing black people for walking” is the same lying criminal who created the “hands up” story. Given how many ways he’s been shown to be a liar, you probably shouldn’t assume anything he said to be truthful even if it does fit the desired narrative.

                We believe what we want to and look for “facts” which support it, even when that support comes from sources we shouldn’t believe.

                RE: Both big narratives (i.e. cops and trans)
                I’m not going to argue the big picture narratives here, we’ve other threads for that. I’m not even sure we disagree much in terms of big picture.

                Afaict society hasn’t decided whether to accept trans yet. They’re scary and rare (weak) enough that they might make a good enemy (scape goat) for groups that need that sort of thing to justify themselves. I think “rare” is the key, when the gays came out of the closet there were enough of them that they no longer made a good goat.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC says:

          “Either you’re implying that the discussion list is full of transphobia at all times, or you’re implying that trans people will just random scream about the existence of other people that they think are transphobes, but haven’t said anything transphobic.”

          No, what I’m saying is that having shit-starters on the board is not good for the board. Even if the shit-starters are Morally Correct and they only start shit with the people who are Morally Wrong.

          If you want to have a conversation space, then you can have that. If you want a hugbox where everyone just chants the approved litanies and anyone who disagrees gets disappeared, you can have that. If you want a flamewar shithole, you can have that. But you can’t have all three of these things.

          “here’s the thing: That is what happens when you allow yourself to be home to any sort of bigots.”

          So between Divorce and War, you pick War? Good to know.

          “[E]ventually, someone who actually takes issue with the bigots will show up. ”

          One of the important parts of being an adult human being is to be able to Take Issue with someone and not turn into a screaming shit-throwing monkey.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck says:

            No, what I’m saying is that having shit-starters on the board is not good for the board

            You do remember that we are talking about a specific specific situation, right? And the _only_ information we have is: The list will not allow a trans woman on there because _having_ the trans woman would stifle the speech of transphobes.

            Not…fight the speech. No, the situation we have been told of is that existence of the trans woman, in that space, would stifle the freedom of someone to be transphobic.

            There is no ‘shit-stirring’ going on.

            And, perhaps, again, what we should be worried about is the person dumping the shit in, not the person who might _hypothetically_ stir it.

            So between Divorce and War, you pick War? Good to know.

            Um, no, I pick divorce, but a list of journalists should perhaps pick a divorce of the _bigotted shit-dumpers_. Instead of…the people who could _hypothetically_ point that out.

            One of the important parts of being an adult human being is to be able to Take Issue with someone and not turn into a screaming shit-throwing monkey.

            You realize how fucking bigoted and stupid that is, right? You are assuming a trans person cannot occupy the same space as transphobes, because a trans person will automatically turn into a ‘screaming shit-throwing monkey’.

            You have hallucinated a different situation than the one _we have exactly the same information about_. It’s in that post up there. There is no evidence, and cannot possible be any evidence (Because we don’t know the details) that what you think is true is actually true.

            We have been told literally nothing about personality of this trans woman. At all. We have no history of her behavior, we have nothing except she is presumably a journalist, and presumably want to be on this list…or at least asked to be at one point.

            You are the person pretending she is anything, at all. Has any specific behavior.

            And that’s probably because you think being trans _is_ political.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

          Except it has been settled, but reality is not real anymore, because literally nothing _sticks_, and bigots create their own reality…

          Yet another reason Post-Modernists don’t get bashed enough.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Um…no?

            What I am talking about is propaganda. Much more subtle, but still propaganda

            Postmodernism philosophy is clearly a _response_ to this. You can’t blame a philosophy from the 70s, or later, for stuff that happened in 40s.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

              I thought we were talking about people today?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Huh?

                We’re talking about transphobes that are repeating transphobic talking points, over and over, that no basis in reality.

                So…yes, there are people in there. The problem is that they are passing along propaganda.

                At least that’s what I’m talking about. I’m beginning to get the idea I’ve paid a little bit more attention to this recently than a lot people here, and I probably need to start my posts with less assumption of knowledge. I’m…sorta out of practice talking here, I think.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

                We are talking past each other, and the joke isn’t worth the time to explain.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to veronica d says:

      “Note, this effects her career, as a lot of networking takes place on this site”

      Well, if women can force their way into the “old boy network” clubs, surely this individuals has cause to sue this private chat group for hindering their advancement!Report

  5. Avatar InMD says:

    A few reactions to this:

    1. The first chunk of the essay about officially sanctioned state violence is quite right. This is and remains the biggest threat to free speech.

    2. Where there’s a shortcoming to some degree IMO is where she looks at this through the lense of a published professional writer and no one else. It’s of course understandable why she would do that since that’s primarily who signed onto the letter. What it completely misses though is the impact on private persons and the seemingly random nature of what does and doesn’t go viral.

    3. Here’s where the question is begged and the underlying issue to all of this, and it’s a matter to which free speech is relevant but also somewhat ancillary:

    The question is whether racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, and other forms of bigotry — or certain iterations of each of those — are the sorts of things that properly warrant stigmatization and disassociation.

    She is assuming that these things all have a settled upon definition which they increasingly don’t. Further, the progressive intersectional left has made a mission of defining these terms in such a way as to encompass all manner of innocuous, disputed, and complicated conduct, bad faith interpretations of such, and at times even a lack of conduct/failure to endorse a particular position. This is combined with a commitment to uncovering offense archaeology far in the past and of the most inane nature and punishing private people for it.

    So the issue at hand isn’t really should we stigmatize/disassociate from bigotry. It’s should we across as much of society as possible stigmatize/disassociate people engaging in bigotry as defined by this very specific group of people. Now I share the criticisms of folks like Ken White/Popehat of the letter itself in how the position would tend to privilege the first speaker. But that’s not what’s driving the debate as far as this issue goes for illiberal leftism and the essay neatly skims over what is.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to InMD says:

      Well, that problem exists because for a couple of generations liberal arts programs have taught that every problem must be the result of racism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, or some other ism that they just invented. This has produced a generation of activists whose entire intellectual toolkit is one hammer, and all they can do is pretend everything is a nail.

      To those who escaped such indoctrination, such people appear to be, though not clinically insane, very stupid, very angry, and very destructive.

      Their desire to uncover their favorite isms and punish the ists runs into another psychological phenomenon. When people are shown blue and purple dots and told to select all the blue, or a range of happy and angry faces and told to pick out the angry ones, they do quite well as long as the numbers are reasonably balanced. But if you remove almost all the actual blue dots or angry faces, the people still make the same number of selections be redefining what is purple and what is blue, and what constitutes and angry face. The upshot is that the less of an “ism” that exists, the more of it these people will find when they take on the task of finding it, simply by redefining what they’re looking for.

      Thus, when you tell ivy league college girls to find examples of male oppression on their campus, certainly the most liberated and female friendly environment that has ever existed in the history of humanity, they see it everywhere. When you tell white activists to find examples of racism, they likewise see it everywhere, even though older Southern blacks who lived with Jim Crow laws and marched with Dr King tell them they’re just freaking crazy.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    Where were these people years ago? Now they start complaining….cause it’s starting to hit close to home?Report

  7. As we speak, Tucker Carlson and a mob (both Twitter and otherwise) from the Right is trying to cancel Tammy Duckworth for saying she’d like to have a dialogue with statue-haters. That is, they’re attacking the idea that some people can even be spoken to (and calling a decorated veteran a coward who hates her country, because that’s what they do.) Also, the president is suing to suppress the publication of a book that criticizes him. And a US congressman is suing two anonymous Twitter members for making fun of him.

    There are no open letters criticizing this, nor is it being discussed here, because, honestly, it’s what we’ve come to expect from that quarter. Which is why this whole furor seems so oblivious.

    “We’re out of peanut butter.”

    “You do realize that the house is on fire?”

    “We’re not talking about that right now. Do try to focus.”Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      All this proves is that because of how Romney was treated the R’s were driven at twitter point to support Trump.Report

      • Avatar CJColucci in reply to greginak says:

        I’m old enough to remember when there really was a cancel culture, and who was behind it, when academics had to take loyalty oaths in order to teach math or biology, let alone history or philosophy, when studios blacklisted actors who had been bankable movie stars* or writers who had created great movie scripts because they signed some petitions or went to some cocktail parties associated with left-wing organizations, when adolescents who ground out the mildest satire on a mimeograph machine would be expelled. In those days, it took actual guts — I was going to use another body part, but I’ve learned a few things over the years — to say things actually unpopular among people who could make your life genuinely miserable. Now people who say things actually popular among the powers that be get yelled at now and then and sometimes face consequences when they embarrass their bosses. They should grow a pair. Oops, I guess what I learned doesn’t always stick.

        * It should go without saying, so I’ll say it anyway, that a studio is under no obligation to hire an actor whose views make him box office poison. If people don’t want to come to the ballpark, you can’t stop them.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to CJColucci says:

          always a good time seeing posts like this where someone says “hey, remember how bad things used to suck? I guess you’re only upset now because it sucks for you,” as though “don’t intentionally make things suck” were a crazy idea that would never possibly work.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to CJColucci says:

          I’m with Duck, those were fun times, why would we want to repeat that again?Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Yea, like the conclusion to draw from McCarthyism isn’t that it was bad for a free society, just that it targeted the wrong people.Report

            • Avatar CJColucci in reply to InMD says:

              No, they weren’t fun times. Far from it. But we aren’t repeating them. What’s going on today pales in comparison. If someone whines at you on line, ignore it or hit back. If you don’t want to be caught out doing something that could, predictably, embarrass your employer enough to make it want to fire you, either don’t do it or do it with your eyes open and take the predictable consequences. If someone doesn’t want to give you a platform for what you want to say, welcome to the world, where most people don’t want to hear what most people have to say. Why should you be any different? If you want to say provocative things, then do it and don’t whine when the people you provoked don’t like it. Free speech means you can say what you want. It also means that other people can point and laugh. Or call you names. Or not want to associate with you.
              If it gets worse than that, I can lend you my legal services. If it gets even worse than that, I have a shotgun in the attic. But I get tired of free speech advocates who made their bones trying to get professors they disagreed with fired, and incompetent editors who give them jobs and don’t do their own, whining when they say or do disagreeable things and drop to the fainting couch when someone disagrees.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

              Elizabeth had a sharp insight that while we can make sweeping generalized statements about the proper limit on government power, social shunning and shaming must be evaluated on a case by case basis.

              Because social shaming is also a form of speech, and not all speech is the same; We as a society rightfully make some subjects taboo.

              The proper criticism of McCarthyism isn’t that social shunning should never, ever, under any circumstances happen; Its that the shunning in this case was harmful, out of proportion to the opinions held.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Indeed, proportionality is an important principle, as are the object level factors. In these conversations I constantly encounter people who want to erase the difference between bigotry and the opposition to bigotry. Those, however, are opposite things. Likewise, attacking a billionaire with a huge platform differs from outing a gay teen. Deplatforming people, in concrete terms, often means demanding that publishers take responsibility for the role they pay shaping society.

                It’s unsurprising that many oppose this. They wrap themselves in an empty abstraction of liberalism, while claiming they’re a modern day Galileo, but they’re not. They’re notion of liberalism is one where weaker people have no chance.

                None of this happens in a vaccum.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

                Proportionality is what is lacking in many cases. One could argue that the ‘bloodlust’ is justified when it comes to people in positions of power, who too often avoid any cost that is even close in proportion to the harm they cause.

                But again, when that same ‘bloodlust’ hits someone who is not powerful, it blows proportion out of the water.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                What, exactly, has happened to Col. Schoeller? An online petition demanding her firing has been circulated. Has she been fired? Has she been disciplined? Will she? Will she, perhaps, have to sit down with someone who will explain basic facts of social life to her, like, if you say something stupid — or stupidly, if your meaning gets lost — people will get upset and you ought to think about that? Your mother probably told you the same thing. Mine did, but it didn’t take, so I developed a thick skin.
                If something tangible comes of this, then that’s a different matter. Let’s wait and see.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Your last point depends heavily on what you think of Communism. People in the early 21st century know that a lot of people were killed in the name of Communism,. If you see Communism as an inherently dangerous ideology that causes more problems than it solves, especially in the wilder and purer versions like the CCP under Mao or the Khmer Rogue than shunning Communists in the West was a good idea because you were preventing them from implementing something really awful.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                “That wasn’t *REAL* communism” is an interesting argument.

                The problem is that, each time it’s instituted, everybody’s enthusiastic as the seed corn is distributed among everybody and everyone cheers that, finally, we got it right.

                And then, a few decades later, we’ve got people looking back and saying “well, that wasn’t *REAL* communism”.

                Lee: I am not confident in your ability to discern *REAL* communism before the fact.

                More to the point, I think you have enough information for you to reach that conclusion yourself.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I see fascism and white supremacy as an inherently dangerous ideology that kills a lot of people, so shunning those who advocate it is a good idea.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Probably true, but we also have a lot of people who, much like the McCarthy era, and the Moral Majority era, see fascists and white power folks behind every tree.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq says:

                “Communist” became someone who’d attended some meetings decades ago, or belonged to a group that advocated left-wing ideas like integration. It lacked proportionality in exactly the way Oscar describes.

                Ot do you think Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford were a danger to America?

                Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                “Communist” also was anyone who was gay.

                McCarthy also had the habit of simply lying about who did what.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Yes. Exactly. People are acting like McCarthy was a twitter mob.

                Everyone, that wasn’t a bunch of people demanding something be done, and the political leadership getting on board.

                That entire thing was someone _in power_…Hoover actually, not McCarthy, Hoover started it (Which is something people should probably be aware of when talking about the police), and fanned the flames and other politicians leaped on it.

                None of that was what we would call ‘grassroots’. It wasn’t a bunch of people writing letters…it was a deliberate attempt, by politicians (Yes, Hoover counts as one.) to get more power by attacking people with lies.

                These lies, incidentally, changed how people felt about both gay people and communists, for a long time, so much so that they still echo today.

                This really teaches us is exactly the opposite lesson that people seem to take from this, in that leaders are, in fact, actually _leaders_. Our political leaders teach us what is ‘correct’, and then we believe it. Which means, when they want to do stuff we don’t want to, they _misinform_ us.

                And there is some level of criticism to level at population for going along with that, but all too often we let people rewrite history where the _duped masses_ are the villains of the story because they eventually pull out pitchforks and touches because they’re told that there’s a monster in the [political enemy’s] castle. We paint them as the enemies, instead of the people in power who lied to everyone, repeatedly, for years.

                When the leader lies to everyone, for years, when they built a society that does that, you get…witch hunts. You get Nazis. You get North Korea. You get…whatever the hell they build.

                People are kinda dumb, and easy fall under the sway of propaganda. I know that seems harsh to say, but we have a lot, and I mean a lot of examples in history.

                And it’s _really easy_ to say ‘Oh, not me. I wouldn’t.’ And hell, maybe you specifically, the reader of this post, wouldn’t. That doesn’t change the fact that the society around you is like that, and we need to operate as if that is true. And stop blaming the victims of propaganda, and actually sit down and say ‘Wait. We need to do something about this constant propaganda.’.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to DavidTC says:

                McCarthy was right about the communists. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, we got access to the Soviet archives and could to read all about the people he’d targeted, who, not surprisingly, were Soviet agents.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to George Turner says:

                McCarthy neither knew nor, probably, cared who was or wasn’t a Communist. Unlike Richard Nixon, he never caught one.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to CJColucci says:

                The Washington Post disagrees.

                WaPo: Was McCarthy Right About the Left?

                he Age of McCarthyism, it turns out, was not the simple witch hunt of the innocent by the malevolent as two generations of high school and college students have been taught.

                The sum and substance of this growing body of material is that: Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed in June 1953 for atomic espionage, were guilty; Alger Hiss, a darling of the establishment was guilty; and that dozens of lesser known persons such as Victor Perlo, Judith Coplon and Harry Gold, whose innocence of the accusations made against them had been a tenet of leftist faith for decades, were traitors or, at the least, the ideological vassals of a foreign power.

                The Claremont Review of Books took “A Closer Look Under the Bed” to say:

                The Venona papers, together with these archives, made it absolutely clear that the American Communist Party was from its beginning the willing agent of Soviet intelligence, obedient to its orders, financed by its contributions, and serving not only as a propaganda organ for Soviet policies but as a generous source for the recruitment of agents who would thereupon influence American policy and gladly commit espionage as well. It is now plain that by 1945 every important branch of the American government, from the White House itself to the State Department, the Defense Department, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department, the Office of Strategic Services (predecessor to the CIA), and the Office of War Information, to name only a few, was infested with Communists busily doing the work of the Soviet Union.

                Obviously all those people needed to be hounded out of government, if not tossed in jail, since all the Congressional Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, are adamant that colluding with Russia is the highest possible criminal act.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                Speaking for all leftists, the argument that America should hound out of public life anyone who is the “ideological vassal of a foreign power” is one which be oh so very triggering, if it were to be pursued.

                So. Very. Triggering.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You should maybe have a former FBI director investigate the heck out of that, with hundreds of lawyers and spending tens of millions of dollars, to see if there’s any evidence of it. ^_^Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to George Turner says:

                There were Communists. Nixon caught one. McCarthy didn’t.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                That wasn’t real communism.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                You keep bringing that up when nobody makes that claim. Does it disappoint you that no one is taking the bait? Or is it enough that you can talk to yourself in public?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                I’ve had conversations with folks who have made the claim and have seen numerous examples of people making it. Should I bother googling it?

                In any case, I brought it up because I know that you (and others) have also seen people make that very claim and it’s sort of a call-back to the times you’ve seen the claim made.

                A small comedy bit, if you will.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird says:

                The rest of us have all heard a lot of things elsewhere that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. If you want to have that conversation, have it with someone, somewhere who is interested in having it. You’ve brought it up twice here when nobody HERE said anything that would have made it relevant.
                Or funny.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

                *I* thought it was funny…Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to CJColucci says:

                The absurdity of the Verona revelations was just that, that almost none of the accused Communists were actually Soviet spies or even assets.

                Almost all of them like Dalton Trumbo were just people who had joined the Communists back in the pre-WWII days, when a lot of Americans were cool with it.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to George Turner says:

                We’ve know ‘There were a bunch of Soviet spies’ for years, and the right keeps writing articles about to supposedly justify the witchhunt, except…no one, ever, seems to be able to point a specific person, and say ‘Hey, look, this member of the Hollywood 10 was actually a Soviet asset’ or ‘This random guy in the State department was’. This is..because they generally weren’t.

                See, there was a _sane_ response to Soviet spying in the 1950-60, and it happened mostly out of sight, based on actual intelligence…usually in the newly founded CIA.

                Meanwhile, there were assholes running promoting the hell out of ‘anti-communism’ as part of their political correct. McCarthy, and Hoover, and Hoey, etc. They ran around like idiots pointing fingers at ‘communists’ and made very it difficult to track down _actual_ Soviet assets, who indeed did a lot of damage, and stole a lot of information!

                ‘[V]irtually none of the people that McCarthy claimed or alleged were Soviet agents turn up in Venona. He did identify a few small fry who we now know were spies but only a few. And there is little evidence that those he fingered were among the unidentified spies of Venona. Many of his claims were wildly inaccurate; his charges filled with errors of fact, misjudgments of organizations and innuendoes disguised as evidence. He failed to recognize or understand the differences among genuine liberals, fellow-traveling liberals, Communist dupes, Communists and spies — distinctions that were important to make. The new information from Russian and American archives does not vindicate McCarthy. He remains a demagogue, whose wild charges actually made the fight against Communist subversion more difficult. Like Gresham’s Law, McCarthy’s allegations marginalized the accurate claims. Because his facts were so often wrong, real spies were able to hide behind the cover of being one of his victims and even persuade well-meaning but naïve people that the who le anti-communist cause was based on inaccuracies and hysteria.’

                Here: https://tfn.org/rehabilitating-joseph-mccarthy/

                And a fun followup question for you: Were any of the homosexuals in league with the Soviets? Or was that just like a random fascist addon? Because that was actually just as big as, and much better at finding _actual_ people who fit the description, as the communist part of that. Like, that actually was real, there were indeed a bunch of homosexuals in the government at the time, and that entire mess found a lot of them.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

                Although the Lavendar Scare _did_ seem exceptionally bad at failing to discover the homosexuals in the higher-up positions. For example, somehow the FBI failed to discover that the J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, had been in a relationship with Associate FBI Director Clyde Tolson for decades, and McCarthy failed to notice his own assistant, Roy Cohn, who was helping him with the hunt for homosexuals, was actually homosexual himself.

                Weird. It’s almost as literally no one believed any of ‘hunting down homosexuals’ bullshit and that entire thing was merely an excuse for political power by attacking a minority that was somewhat disliked by blowing them up into a huge threat regardless of reality, so that they have someone to demagogue again…

                …and at _that_ point the entire ‘hunting down communist’ should click in your head, because it was the exact same thing. It didn’t matter there were some Soviet assets (Which are not the same thing as ‘communists’) that actually were a threat, because the point of of what they were doing was never any actual threat.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to DavidTC says:

                There was a fascinating tale of Jame Jesus Angleton, the head of the CIA’s counterintelligence operation.
                He became so fixated on the idea of Soviet moles that eventually he ground the entire counterintelligence division to a stop in his search, and in the process destroyed innocent people’s lives, while letting any actual moles, if they existed, slip through his fingers.

                https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171663Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Heh, yeah, I don’t want to imply the CIA was great either.

                Let’s just say, during the Red Scare, the CIA was doing useful work while the FBI was crazy.

                The CIA later ground to a halt because of _different_ witchhunt by the director of the CIA, in the 60s.

                Our intelligence history is ‘Competent people randomly halted by lunatic witch hunts’.

                And that wasn’t political reasons, unlike McCarthyism…he just…went utterly paranoid. And…it’s possible that paranoia was deliberately engineered by the the KBG sending overcompeting defectors…or a fake one intended to compete with a real one. It’s vaguely interesting.

                There’s a fun conspiracy theory is that Angleton eventually decided that the top-level spy he was looking for was JFK, and had him killed.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                We as a society rightfully make some subjects taboo.

                The problem is that the taboos are made and enforced by people who have made it eminently clear that they are not competent to make these decisions. This was true when it was clergy setting the taboos, and it’s true now when it’s a coalition of academia, media, and Twitter trash. It’s not really clear to me that anyone is wise enough to be trusted with this power, so maybe it’s better not to have taboos at all. At the very least we should be more conservative in deciding what to taboo.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to CJColucci says:

          I’m old enough to remember when there really was a cancel culture, and who was behind it, when academics had to take loyalty oaths in order to teach math or biology, let alone history or philosophy

          There’s a new trend in academic hiring, where they require candidates to submit “diversity statements” along with their CVs. Merely saying “Diversity is great!” is not enough; you also have to have a demonstrated history of “diversity,” and a concrete plan to continue doing so in the future. “Diversity,” of course, is defined in the left-wing way: You get big, big negative points for promoting ideological diversity.

          In many ways, this is more extreme than the old loyalty oaths. AFAIK you weren’t required back then to have a proven track record of actively fighting communism or a concrete plan to promote capitalist values in the future.

          Of course, this is still in the early stages, so they’re still only required by a minority of universities, but the cancer is spreading.Report

  8. Avatar George Turner says:

    Reason magazine addresses the Harper’s letter: Are We Living in Crazytown?

    The answer is yes.

    As an aside, if conservatives spent their time making sure every media figure who they found offense was fired, there would only be a handful of journalists who would still be gainfully employed. They are almost all odious and should be fired for cause. But we let them slide because they also act as a handy source of talking points from the Russians, Iranians, and Chinese communists.

    What’s more amusing is that the writers who justify the crushing of “wrong” opinions do so by arguing that bad ideas could lead to hypothetical mob behavior, even as they lead real mobs that assault people, murder people, and burn down entire city blocks. Whereas letting right-wingers speak could, in theory, result in some kind of mob in some future dystopian world, letting left-wingers speak definitely results in violent mobs in the here and now.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Good news!

    Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      A solid prediction:

      Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        And here’s the letter itself:

        My favorite part involves reading this part at the top and then, immediately after, this part at the bottom:

        The Harper’s letter cites six nonspecific examples to justify their argument. It’s possible to guess what incidents the signatories might be referring to, and it’s likely that if they listed specific examples, most wouldn’t hold water. But the instances they reference are not part of a new trend at all, as we explain below.

        Many signatories on our list noted their institutional affiliation but not their name, fearful of professional retaliation. It is a sad fact, and in part why we wrote the letter.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

          The new letter at least gives specific examples, so thus we can discuss facts instead of vague handwaving. That seems good.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

            I think that the most specific example is that bottom part:

            Many signatories on our list noted their institutional affiliation but not their name, fearful of professional retaliation. It is a sad fact, and in part why we wrote the letter.Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

              The authors and many of signatories of the first letter are quite dishonest. They act like this is defense of free speech, but it isn’t. What they are defending is their power to both speak from a position of authority and to deny vulnerable people the power to effectively respond.

              It’s a myth that free speech operates in some sort of neutral platform that will automagically produce just and fair outcomes. That’s never been the case. For example, this nation’s founders were big into the free speech thing. They made it the first amendment in the bill of rights. They were fans.

              I know these examples are almost cliche at this point. All the same…

              Did slavery win out in some “free marketplace of ideas”? How many years did it linger? Did the abolitionists win some “debate,” after which the southern states kindly and peacefully freed their slaves?

              Of course not. We fought a war.

              Was there a “free debate” about seizing native lands? Was the trail of tears agreed upon by all parties involved? When we broke every treaty we made with American Indians, was that a result of productive discourse?

              Give me a break.

              Free speech doesn’t automatically challenge those in power. The people who wrote that first letter, and many who signed it, have power. They want to pretend that they don’t. They want you to believe that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                I don’t know how I should feel about the whole “I’m afraid to sign my name to stuff for fear of social sanction” thing.

                “It’s good for people to fear signing their name to bad things and bad for people to fear signing their name to good things!” strikes me as naïve.

                Especially since I came of age within a culture that had different ideas of good and bad than society as a whole seems to have now (and, get this, I see society having different ideas of good and bad in another 20 years than what they have now).

                So I think I’m more a fan of “don’t attack people for speech, really” and “it’s shameful that there are people who thought that they’d have to sign this anonymously and speaks poorly to our society” than I am of “the wrong people are signing things anonymously”.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                It sounds like you want some sort of neutral objective standard that can always produce a good result.

                A standard that doesn’t rely on us first agreeing to what “good” things or “bad” things are.

                But how can there be?

                What logical test would allow for shunning and silencing of NAMBLA but not trans activists, or ISIS and not the Republican Party?

                It could be easily demonstrated that passages of the Bible would be prohibited if published for the first time today, or that any one of the Founders would find themselves on a no-fly list if their letters were emailed today for the first time.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So would you compare the people who signed this letter anonymously to supporters of NAMBLA and supporters of ISIS?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Is there some neutral objective way to distinguish between them?Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Perhaps the bad people have glowing spines, but only during sex.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to veronica d says:

                *Hastily deletes his browser history*Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Is there some neutral objective way to distinguish between them?

                I remember a joke that is useful for someone serving cookies.

                “What’s the difference between sugar and concrete?”
                If you get an “I dunno, what’s the difference?”
                “I hope *YOU* didn’t bake these cookies.”Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to veronica d says:

                Free speech doesn’t automatically challenge those in power. The people who wrote that first letter, and many who signed it, have power. They want to pretend that they don’t. They want you to believe that.

                The right to an attorney doesn’t automatically challenge those in power, nor does a jury of peers, nor does most of the rest of the Bill of Rights. So why not just ditch them all except the 2nd Amendment?

                I can tell that our universities wasted a lot of time teaching people that “power relations” explains everything, because the result has been students deprived of actual intellectual growth running around like kids with hammers looking for nails.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      Did anyone sign both letters? Those are the folks we, as a society, need to hear from.Report

  10. Avatar greginak says:

    Breaking news on the free speech front. The prez tweeted this:
    “Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education. Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status…”
    (Yeah i could have linked the tweet, but i wasn’t taught how to do that in my lib indoctrination camp)

    Firstly, of course this is bull squat, nothing will happen, it’s the blusterest bluster that ever blustered even from him. Second, isn’t this the kind of free speech threat that FS advocates are concerned about and should provoke a strong reaction.

    But for F’s sake no more damn open letters.Report

    • Notice how every noun is capitalized. This reads exactly the same in the original German.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

      Wait, what does “free speech” have to do with “tax-exempt status”?

      Has there ever been *ANY* institution in America threatened with loss of tax-exempt status based on speech before?!?!?Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

        No specifics, but over the years there have been calls that certain religious groups should lose their tax exempt status based on the fact they act as political advocacy groups.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        LOL. He is threatening to take a benefit away from one group of people for speech he doesn’t like. I guess that isn’t a threat to free speech then. Carry on.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

          Wait, revocation of Tax-Exempt Status is a threat to free speech?!?!?

          I’m pretty sure that that can’t be true, Greg.

          It’s in the first amendment.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

            Thus displaying why “free speech defenders” are more often just partisans who aren’t actually helping the cause they claim to defend.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

            It’s always hard to predict how Free Speech Absolutists will respond to speech-related attacks.

            Charlie Hebdo? FSAs were 110% certain it was an attack on free speech.

            Trump using the power of the IRS to go after liberal colleges tax exempt status to curtail their ability to “indoctrinate” students? Not an attack on free speech.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              It’s no more an attack on free speech than the Johnson Amendment was. Is.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Seems categorically different to me, but what do I know.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                We got into this the other day.

                This whole thread was good:

                And if you want to read old comments where we were arguing stuff related to this, there’s this thread from 2018.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Doesn’t help clarify, but thanks for the links.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                You’re linking a Tweet thread that contains the statement, “Yeah it’s weird how much of a moldbug moment we’re having,” and I’m supposed to take it seriously?

                These people live in a weird-nerd echo chamber and they think their observations apply to anything besides their weird-nerd echo chamber.

                Yes, they were all influenced by Moldbug. I know that. It’s obvious.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Oh, you don’t have to take it seriously at all.

                Feel free to not.

                But noticing patterns is one of those things that brains do and one of the best ways to tell if you’re actually noticing a pattern that exists or merely imposing a pattern on noise that contains no pattern is to make predictions.

                (And now we can get into the whole issue of whether any given prediction “counts”.)Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                Okay, I predict that most of the dudes in that thread are super uncomfortable around women and have a lot of weird believes about relationships based on game theory and evopsych. I also predict that a disproportionate number of them think black people are naturally stupid and that poverty is bad, but gosh, nothing can be done. I predict that most of them have deep nerd trauma that gets expressed by an insecure need to always be right and win debates, despite the fact this makes them unlikable in their day to day lives. I predict that they blame others for their own unlikable personalities.

                Moldbug is like crack to those dudes.

                Anyway, these are just patterns I’ve noticed. Also, no one is allowed to attack me for saying these things, because free speech.

                (The last statement was irony, just to be clear.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Hey, if we know anything at all, it’s that physiognomy is real.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to veronica d says:

                Like a hundred Dwight Schrutes commenting on Michael Scott’s blog.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Heh, not exactly, but that’s a good sneer.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Stillwater says:

                You know enough to know that it’s different. The Johnson Amendment doesn’t limit its effect to churches that endorse Republicans.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

      I read an insightful comment that ICE declaring that foreign students’ visas will be suspended if their school conducts classes remotely is an attempt to force those universities to hold in-person classes on campus. This threat strikes me as more of the same, Trump using a stick to get schools back open.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        That’s probably part of it. I think Stephen Miller explains part of it still. But major football conferences are shrinking their schedules. Foreign visa students are nothing compared to football in terms of effect. They can teach visa stu’s one on one, but without football it aint gonna be the same.Report

      • Assuming this is true, the obvious next step is for the Dept of Education to start challenging schools and programs over whether they have properly accredited online programs.

        Reading comments from our own fillyjonk — and I’m not saying anything bad about fillyjonk, she’s been put in a ridiculously tough position — I would guess that there are lots of schools and/or programs not really properly accredited for online instruction. I pulled down the guidelines from the Higher Learning Commission for what accrediting agencies should consider in accrediting an online program. Looking at the faculty requirements, you find this:

        a. On-line learning faculties are carefully selected, appropriately trained, frequently evaluated, and are marked by an acceptable level of turnover.

        b. The institution’s training program for on-line learning faculty is periodic, incorporates tested good practices in on-line learning pedagogy, and ensures competency with the range of software products used by the institution.

        To pick on a fancy school that’s been in the news, Harvard announced that they would be strictly online this fall. One wonders how many of Harvard’s faculty have spent the summer converting their class materials to meet best practices for online learning and being trained on the software products used by the institution.

        Way back when I was researching technologies that could be used for real-time distance learning, one of the questions I always kept in mind was, “Have I solved the problems so you could teach a Moore-method graduate topology class with this software?” I like to think that I came close. I’ve never seen a commercial system that I though was adequate.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak says:

      It is the kind of thing I get upset about, but GODAMNITALL every other tweet by Trump is something I would normally get upset about.

      Except it’s Trump, so 80% of the time, he’s forgotten about it because someone pulled out a laser pointer in the Oval Office and Trump started chasing it around, and 15% of the time the courts slap him down so hard you can probably feel it up there in AK.

      Now that 5% of the time, that shit pisses me off, but I have to wait until it begins to manifest into something coherent before I begin expending fecks.Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I absolutely *LOVED* this speech.

    The argument that “if you allow free speech, then you have to allow (atrocious example)!” is usually a pretty good one. Well, I don’t support (atrocious example)… so I guess I have to accept limits?

    But I think it’s also possible to look where we are now and say “we shouldn’t be *HERE*. We should be closer to Free Speech than we are now.”

    “OH, YOU THINK WE SHOULD BE AT 100!!!”

    “No. But I’m also noticing that we’re not particularly close to 100 and we have a lot of space between where we are now and 100 and we can move, and move a good long ways, before the only examples between where we are and 100 are (atrocious examples).”Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

      Doesn’t proposing to “move” our stance on free speech require that we decide which example is an (atrocious example) by some sort of neutral logic test?

      Even your language here is curious;
      Un-free speech is lets say, a value of 0;
      Free Speech is a value of 100;
      But you prefer a value of lets say, 75;

      Does there exist a term for 75? Like, “Sorta kinda semi-Free Speech”? Or maybe, “All speech is free, but some are more free than others”?

      This is what I mean by the neutral objective logic test that can cleanly cleave NAMBLA from everything else; The logic test fails every time.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        No. But I’m also noticing that we’re not particularly close to 100 and we have a lot of space between where we are now and 100 and we can move, and move a good long ways, before the only examples between where we are and 100 is NAMBLA.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

          Oh, well then, I’m all in favor of moving it higher, so long as bigots and obviously nasty ideas are left in the banned group.Report

        • Avatar Jesse in reply to Jaybird says:

          People disagree, which is why we’re in the cultural moment we’re at.

          Also, it’s more like, things 20-100 were acceptable, and now we’re working to make so that things 1-75 are only acceptable, but the people who believe 70-75 feel much closer culturally to the people who belive things 95-100, than the people who believe things 1-20 who have been silenced for decades.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse says:

            It kinda makes you wonder about Ayishat Akanbi, doesn’t it?

            Do you think that she’s merely wrong or do you think that she’s an enemy agent of some kind?

            (I know better than to ask if it makes you question any of your own assumptions.)Report

  12. Avatar Swami says:

    “Firings, deplatformings, and social stigma for self-expression are not always wrong. They are wrong on a case-by-case basis.”

    I agree and disagree. I certainly think that an organization should have the right and freedom to fire (for example) influential people who are opposed to the philosophical or religious underpinnings of that organization.

    Catholics who don’t believe in the Holy Trinity can legitimately be removed from positions of power within the Catholic hierarchy.

    Marxists in positions of power within a libertarian organization could be legitimately removed, as could avowed libertarians in a socialist organization.

    A major stockholder in Exxon could legitimately be denied a role on the board of a Global Warming group, and a leader of Greenpeace could be legitimately denied a role in senior leadership at Exxon.

    In all cases, there is a philosophy or belief or religion, and it is not unreasonable that the organization in question should have the freedom to determine who belongs in its organization. This is all very reasonable.

    The problem is that all our major organizations — the media, academia, schools, big business, scientific academies, government bureaucracy and so on have been (or at least are being) infiltrated with an unofficial secular dogma called progressivism. This is a particular secular faith-based world view based upon certain beliefs about human nature and power relationships and their cure.

    The explanation as to why this secular faith is taking over everything isn’t that relevant, though I would suggest it has something to do with the propensity for certain types of people who think a certain way and are susceptible to a certain type of collective group think are attracted to the positions of bureaucracy, education, journalism and such. (feel free to disagree).

    As such, there is a growing threat for anyone who doesn’t adopt this secular religion to be fired or stigmatized by what is increasingly amounting to every organization in the Developed World. The rest of us, who either believe the Progressive faith is wrong hook, line and sinker; or just don’t seek to kneel to this ideology; or don’t kneel with sufficient gusto with the proper mannerisms and incantations are at very real risk of being fired or stigmatized. And this is rapidly spinning out of control.

    This is the problem. One secular ideology has invaded most of our institutions and the rest of us now have to either kowtow to this BS, or risk professional and personal ruin. Progressivism has infiltrated our institutions and is using its defense mechanisms to win the battle of ideology without actually engaging in a rational discussion (which IMO it is incapable of winning).

    The Free Speech Issue is at most tangential to the real threat. This will not end well if it is allowed to continue.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

      Interesting comment. I’m not sure what it means, though. Could you define “progressivism” more precisely than “a particular secular faith-based world view based upon certain beliefs about human nature and power relationships and their cure”?Report

      • Avatar Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

        A pro-Progressive example on this ideology would be pretty much anything Chip writes. They could put his picture in Wikipedia.

        A more neutral version of it would be Kling’s Three Axis model of political framing where he describes it as an Oppressor/Oppressed model as compared to the Civilization/Barbarism model of Conservatives and the Liberty/Coercion model of Libertarians. His writings on the issue are easily Googled.

        As a disbeliever I would (in an admittedly biased way) describe it as a political and philosophical and moral framing which adopts the following core beliefs:
        1) belief in the Blank Slate view of humanity
        2) an essential framing of people into victims/victimizers and champions (where Progressives are the champions)
        3) believes that power in the end effectively trumps truth, freedom, or logical consistency
        4) that defines equality primarily as equality of outcome, much more so than of opportunity or fairness/consistency
        5) Prefers rational, planned, non-market, top down solutions to societal problems

        My main point is that it is infiltrating all our organizations and then using its shared framing to weed out anyone who doesn’t see things that way. It would be like if the Evangelicals infiltrated media, schools, government and corporate bureaucracies, law offices and so on and then weeded out everyone who doesn’t agree gays are sinners destined for hell, that birth control is evil, and that those who don’t believe in Jesus are scum.

        The problem is just as much about freedom of speech as it is separation of church and….well, all our institutions (not just state).Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Swami says:

          Let me simplify for everyone else. The issue is the adoption of the pop intersectionality definition of bigotry by various authorities either through actual belief in the tenets or wish to avoid a controversy with people who do, those being mostly well to do people whose influence far outweighs their actual numbers. That in itself isn’t so out of place but for the way bigotry is being defined. Paraphrasing myself above it includes ‘[until very recently] innocuous conduct, bad faith interpretations of such, and at times… lack of conduct/failure to endorse a particular position’.

          How does this play out in reality? HR gets a report that someone made a Facebook post about ‘rioting’ in their neighborhood. Or how much he or she loves Harry Potter. Or whatever statement that would never have been considered controversial in any way until now and for most people still isn’t.

          The complaining party says these statements makes them feel unsafe in the work place and toleration of it is creating a hostile work environment for a protected class. You as the employer now decide if you stand up for one of your easily replaced workers or risk the EEOC complaint, lawsuit, and/or any collateral negative publicity. Further, fighting for the employee is almost always going to be more expensive than quietly replacing them, even if you think you can win on the merits. What do you do? And how does this play out in society writ large?Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

            We aren’t nearly at this point yet and we aren’t going to get there any time soon or at all. This reads like the posts I see on Facebook trying to compare the “Woke Guards” with the “Red Guards” while missing that the Red Guards were a top down phenomenon encouraged by Mao so he could retain his grip on power. The “Woke Guards”, such as they are, are a bottom up movement of real people.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to InMD says:

            In Florida, being made to feel unsafe is a license to shoot people, so be glad this is only a stern note from HR.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

          Your comments make sense to me from a libertarian pov, so I’m curious if you agree largely the same critique, absent the particuloar ism-signifiers, applies to conservatism or, frankly, any political/cultural movement, Swami. Eg, 2, 3, and 4 strike me as fully general; 1 and 5 replaceable by every other isms objectives and goals.

          More substantively, short of an argument demonstrating that the premises and conclusions of (what you identify as) progressivisms core beliefs and objectives are unsound, I’m not sure why you think it’s *obviously* not only dangerous but false. Eg., it’s true that social systems *are* based, at least in part, on power dynamics, so why is an ideology centered around remedying that fact problematic?

          {{I don’t want to get too far out on a limb here since I’m not sympathetic to much of what we in the US call “progressive politics”.}Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

            The reason you should be concerned about it on purely liberal grounds is the effect is further concentration of corporate power at the expense of working people.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

              But is that actually a core tenet of progressivism (as Swami’s defined it) or a contingent fact about power dynamics on the left *right now*? Nothing in Swami’s definition/description entails that, eg., progressives must/should/will align with corporate interests to achieve their goals, even instrumentally. Or am I still not understanding what this ideology actually is?Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                I hope it’s the former but fear in practice it could turn out to be the latter.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                If that’s correct, doesn’t it mitigate probably the biggest worry folks have of progressivism, namely, that’s its ultimate goal is communist totalitarianism?

                A corollary to that: again, if that’s true, shouldn’t libertarians like Swami be happy that progressives are leaning on private corporations as goal-achieving power-centers rather than the state?Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                Ehhh it’s really hard for me to put myself in the position of someone who sees communist takeover as a realistic scenario. I would think a truly principled libertarian would say it’s just freedom of association if it were truly sua sponte. My guess is most libertarian identifying people will point to various federal guidances and discrimination laws to argue that it isn’t.

                But I also think this is where libertarian blind spots about corporate power, economics, and inequality really screw up their analysis of what’s actually at stake.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                Progressive are leaning on both corporations and the state, just like Italian Fascists. They want one body (corporatism) where the people, business, and the state all act with one mind because they’re just different organs of the same body.

                As Mussolini said, “”Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Much of the left’s focus on power-relations likewise comes from Mussolini, via Gramsci, who worked for him.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                Is making the trains run on time a progressive agenda item?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                Progressives are all about their high-speed rail. ^_^

                Land redistribution, worker representation in all business decisions, proportional representation and disbanding the Italian senate, a national council of experts, a tax on capital to seize expropriated wealth (Warren’s tax), taking 85% of arms profits and nationalization of the defense industry, minimum wage and support for labor unions. They were also dedicated to fighting racism for almost two decades, until 1938 when Hitler pressured them to go after Jews, which was highly unpopular.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                For the record:
                Joe Biden has not made a final decision about disbanding the Italian Senate.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to InMD says:

              How it is a _concentration_ of corporate power? The power already exists to fire people, or not hire them, for almost any reason, and has been used for for bad reason forever.

              Liberals are just _asking corporations to use that power_ in a specific way. Like, what’s the alternative here? That corporations _don’t_ have the power to do that?

              Alright. I’m all for that society. Is there any chance of that happening at any point in the forseable future?

              No? There’s no chance of corporations losing that power?

              Well, then, I don’t think requests to aim that power in actually useful ways (as opposed to the general ass-covering and often just random prejudice they normally do) is a bad idea.

              The actual objection here isn’t ‘corporations can cancel people’. Corporations have literally canceled people forever…hell, half of what the left is complaining about is the fact that for decades corporations ‘pre-canceled’ black people via systematic discrimination.

              The objection here is that, with the left population now outnumbering the right (Mostly because the right _refused to change position_ for a quarter of a century at this point so the population just ended up on the left side by accident.), that canceling is now pandering to the left instead of to the right.

              But, hey, the right should feel free to undercut corporate power with strong labor laws protecting people, strong unions to do to the same, along with a good safety net and non-employee health care and whatnot for the people who do fall through the cracks. *snicker*Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to DavidTC says:

                Oh stop jibbering. It’s piling on an already screwed up situation where people are far too dependent on corporate beneficence. You only like it because right now the winds are blowing towards empowering identity obsessed weirdos who can only communicate in 10,000 tongue-clicks of meaningless social justice word salad.

                You don’t care about anyone and are more than happy to sacrifice innocents, allies, and powerless people for no reason. Coming from a school of liberalism that rejects that kind of thinking it’s easy to see you’re no different than the petty reactionaries you think you’re fighting.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to InMD says:

                It’s piling on an already screwed up situation where people are far too dependent on corporate beneficence.

                That would be a lot more believable as a complaint if the right had _literally_ any idea how to stop that dependency, or, hell, admitted that dependency was a problem outside of this one specific instance.

                As it is, people don’t get to complain that others are using the tools _they_ have happily use to oppress others for decades are now, sometimes, being to oppress them.

                I mean, Republicans are, whining, _right now_, that the Court finally decided that LGBT people are now protected under various sexual discrimination laws, including employment. They openly wish for the right to cancel gay and trans people. (The real ‘cancel’ of losing a job, not the pretend cancel of ‘people saying mean things’.)

                But they don’t think that’s ‘canceling’ people because….they’re Officially Correct(TM) about those sort of people not deserving jobs, whereas the left is Officially Wrong(TM) about spreaders of hate not deserving jobs.

                You only like it because right now the winds are blowing towards empowering identity obsessed weirdos who can only communicate in 10,000 tongue-clicks of meaningless social justice word salad.

                I ‘like it’ in the sense that I pick up an enemy weapon and use it in response. Does that mean I want that weapon to exist? No. Because I don’t want that weapon to exist, and I forbidden from using it and just have to take being shot at by others using that weapon? Also no.

                I actually made a mention of a meme in my last post, and cut it out, but maybe I should have left it in, so here it is: This is textbook: You criticize society, yet you live in society. Curious.

                I criticize the power of corporations to harm people with basically no oversight, and yet I use the power of corporations to harm people with basically no oversight. Curious.

                Perhaps a way to stop me would be to do something about all those dangerous corporations laying around that anyone can pick up and fire wildly at others, if the corporation slightly thinks it would be profitable to do so?

                You don’t care about anyone and are more than happy to sacrifice innocents, allies, and powerless people for no reason.

                The ‘powerless’ person under discussion here is literally a billionaire. And also literally can’t be fired, because almost all her money is from the copyright she holds.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to DavidTC says:

                Keep the tunnel vision locked and make sure not to see anything you don’t want to see. Stay as obtuse as possible. You’re doing great.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                “empowering identity obsessed weirdos who can only communicate in 10,000 tongue-clicks of meaningless social justice word salad.”

                That’s a harsh way to describe the Little Sisters Of The Poor and the owners of Hobby Lobby.

                Fair, of course.

                But harsh.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Heh touché, though I’m not sure declining to provide a particular employee benefits package quite fits the bill.

                Maybe you and Dave can just admit that you feel it’s your turn to be the bullies. Just make sure you remember to go wash peoples’ feet in the street or kneel to a random black dude on his way to work or whatever the purity ritual du jour is!Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                Bullying who, exactly?

                Like I keep asking, the injustices are never actually spelled out.

                By the way, Fred Clarke over at Slacktivist notes that “cancelling” is almost always just a newfangled way to say “disgraced”. Because in most cases, the cancellee has suffered nothing more than a public scolding.

                So lets hear examples of people being bullied, and lets hear more of what they wanted to say but can’t.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                David Shor is the best example I can think of off the top of my head. Lost his job as a data analyst for retweeting a study showing peaceful protest is more effective at change than violence.

                I can dig up others (a couple more here https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/stop-firing-innocent/613615/).

                Somehow I doubt a battle of the anecdotes is going to change your mind. Those are what concern me, private citizens being fired for insufficient toeing of the woke line, including apparently unwittingly.

                Public people who live by the sword are free to die by it. But let’s not pretend mobs abide by limiting principles.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                Somehow I doubt a battle of the anecdotes is going to change your mind.

                I dunno. Chip has said that anecdotes are *precisely* how he makes up his mind. 🙂Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                I thought about that but I read Chip more charitably. I don’t agree with the way he made that particular point but I think I got the jist. There’s more to understanding the world than just the numbers.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to InMD says:

                There’s more to understanding the world than just the numbers.

                True, but numbers are better because they cut through emotional distractions.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                No no, these are good examples actually.

                Lets agree that these people were fired unfairly, that is, fired even when what they did wasn’t all that offensive, or that they didn’t do it to begin with.

                So what is to be done?
                Well, first lets consider what it is that we WANT to be done.

                A. We trying to create a world in which bad behavior is considered acceptable, where people won’t demand an employee be fired for it;
                Or
                B. We trying to create a world in which employees accused of bad behavior are given a fair hearing, and only the truly guilty are fired.

                This is the critical distinction that many of the critics refuse to make explicit.

                Would I be wrong to think that among the many critics of “cancel culture”, there are plenty of people who really want A , instead of B?Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                How about a world where you aren’t fired or even disciplined for promoting gay/trans rights?

                How about a world where you aren’t fired for refusing to acknowledge that the problems in black culture are primarily self caused?

                How about a world where you aren’t kept out of a public university because you don’t believe Jesus is your Lord?

                If you promise not to push for the firing of James Damore based upon his views, conservatives can agree to not ask you to be fired or disciplined for your views. If you don’t agree to the peace fire, then you need to be prepared for the Conservative backlash. And it will be hell for all of us.

                We are talking about a second bout of religious wars here.

                As a Classical Liberal, I don’t want either side cancelling the other.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                I think its interesting that you see these as symmetrical.

                Like, forcing people to treat trans people with respect is symmetrical to not treating them with respect.

                Wouldn’t it be symmetrical to compare firing gay or trans people, to firing straight or cis people?

                But of course that isn’t happening, and gives the game away.

                Treating trans people with respect doesn’t prevent anyone from practicing their religion or holding to their beliefs. Gay people have been getting married for a decade now, and yet, somehow, people are still free to go to church.

                Again, are you arguing for A, or B?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I think that the meta-question is “is it appropriate for a boss to fire you for extra-curricular activities?”

                Compartmentalized.

                If you take the attitude “I think that bosses should be able to fire bad employees for good reasons but not be able to fire good employees for bad reasons”, you’re going to find yourself leaning heavily on questioning the motives of anyone who does not share your ethical system.

                Which only works for but so long.

                Maybe we should be pleased that only but so many people remember the televangelist era.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                The capitalist uses a simpler question. “Does this employee benefit the bottom line, or hurt the bottom line?” The companies that try to use a different metric will go out of business, thus firing everybody.

                One of the reasons not to hire SJW’s is that they create a hostile and toxic atmosphere by bullying and attacking their coworkers at the drop of a hat. People can’t be productive when they have to tip-toe around. The good people get driven out (because they don’t put up with the hassle), and the SJW’s hire more SJW’s until the company becomes “woke”. Shortly after that, it seems to start laying people off because revenue plummeted due to moronic business decisions. Thus the phrase “get woke, go broke.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                The capitalist uses a simpler question. “Does this employee benefit the bottom line, or hurt the bottom line?”

                Hence cancel culture.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Isn’t “questioning the motives” the entire premise of anti-discrimination lawsuits?

                And isn’t it also the entire premise in religious liberty lawsuits?

                Like, literally, SCOTUS opinions and lawsuits are chockful of tests and regulations which determine when discriminatory intent occurs.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Do you think that anti-discrimination is a good thing?

                I mean, employers discriminate ALL THE TIME. It’s why they have a hiring process in the first place!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                As a Classical Liberal, I don’t want either side cancelling the other.

                I’ve been stuck on this for ten minutes now and have no idea what it means. Classical liberals, as I understand it, is the view that business owners should be allowed to cancel whoever they want, for whatever reason they want, by either denying employment or service.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                In true Alinsky fashion, cancel culture is seeking to capture this freedom to choose who to employ and using social pressure to run it through a lens of progressive ideology. It is seeking to make firing for being gay or being in favor of gays illegal, and in pressuring companies to fire anyone who believes women and men may have different statistical interests and aptitudes.

                The conservative response would be to make it illegal to fire for conservative beliefs and also to promote firing for progressive beliefs.

                Either scenario, if becoming Commonplace, would be a nightmare. If both occur (Depending on the institution or organization), it leads to war.

                My recommendation is cancel cancel culture on either side. I guess you could suggest an alternative which is that it is illegal to base hiring upon any secular philosophy or belief. This wouldn’t be my first recommendation, but it is better than the alternative of cancel cultures.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Swami says:

                Four states and DC already have employment protection against viewpoint discrimination. In theory, if any employee in those states is fired because of the cancel culture nonsense, they can sue their employer, just as if they were fired for race or religion.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Swami says:

                In true Alinsky fashion, cancel culture is seeking to capture this freedom to choose who to employ and using social pressure to run it through a lens of progressive ideology.

                So, let’s spell this out explicitly: There was a freedom, that non-progressives were using, to choose who to employ.

                Progressivres then showed up and started somehow illegitimately using this freedom.

                This is a problem because they’re using this freedom against the wrong people. Instead of, for example, using this ‘freedom’ to fire gay people, they’re using it against people who ‘believe women and men may have different statistical interests and aptitudes.’

                So _now_ it’s time to react. Not for the decades they were allowed to fire gay people, but the fact that society has swung far enough that companies are finding it profitable to do the opposite.

                I…don’t even actually have to say anything else here. This is almost conservativism in a nutshell: Rights for me but not for thee.

                My recommendation is cancel cancel culture on either side. I guess you could suggest an alternative which is that it is illegal to base hiring upon any secular philosophy or belief. This wouldn’t be my first recommendation, but it is better than the alternative of cancel cultures.

                And how are you going to prove that is why someone was fired in an ‘at will’ employment state?

                Some of…laws requiring cause to fire people? Laws about…labor, or something? Or a…sort of group that represents the employees and doesn’t allow the SJW-controlled companies to do this?

                This is why I’m really enjoying this conversation. Cancel culture has resulted in conservatives twisting their brains into knots trying to figure out how to stop companies from doing what they want to employees.

                Companies now want to fire these people for ‘who they are and/or what they believe’. And conservatives have spend _decades_ arguing this is entirely appropriate and reasonable and in the few circumstances they’ve accepted it isn’t (like race), they still refuse to have any sort of actual control of that or consequences for doing so.

                And…now they’re having to slap together some philosophical scaffolding to explain why it’s bad when it’s used _against them_.

                Or…mysteriously, somehow, decide this was always bad. They just…never said anything.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to DavidTC says:

                Can you acknowledge that I can both be against harmful/malicious progressive actions and against harmful/malicious conservative actions? There is a huge segment of people out there who don’t endorse/promote firing people for political views of any type?

                As I stated in the quote you provided, my first recommendation was to keep the mutual freedom of both parties to end voluntary employment at will AND get both sides to agree that using employment as a weapon against dissenting views is a lose/lose proposition. But I also added that rather than get into a situation where either party tries using this freedom to use social pressure to eliminate dissenting viewpoints, I would accept limiting the ability to fire or not hire due to political or politically protected reasons. It still isn’t my first choice, and there could be some extremely negative side effects, but nothing compared to the war Progressives are trying to start. Conservatives will respond, and they won’t play any more nicely.

                My role isn’t as a Protestant or a Catholic. I am just suggesting that we better demand tolerance and separation of church and institutions or we will regret it. This issue isn’t about free speech so much as it is about a secular religious war which the progressives are flaming.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Swami says:

                As I stated in the quote you provided, my first recommendation was to keep the mutual freedom of both parties to end voluntary employment at will…

                You haven’t mentioned ending at-will employment, I am the only person who has mentioned that on this entire page before your post.

                But why are you arguing with me. Go end that! I’m not stopping you! It’s the other side that’s arguing for that!

                AND get both sides to agree that using employment as a weapon against dissenting views is a lose/lose proposition.

                What you really want to do is make it unacceptable to fire people _only after internet outrage at them_, which doesn’t even slightly help the victim any other form of discrimination…and you want that because that specific form of discrimination is the only form you could see yourself a victim of.

                But again…that just means corporations will do that _sneakily_. They will refuse to renew contracts, they will claim it’s in violation of a morals clause or promotes a violation of the law, they’ll find some other reason to fire him.

                Which…anyone who has paid attention to labor law would realize, because corporations have been discriminating that way for years.

                You can’t stop discrimination by corporations. They are inherently biased, because they’re made of people. The only thing you can do is make individual corporations less powerful, so that the discrimination hopefully somewhat evens out, and victims aren’t hurt as much by it.

                This issue isn’t about free speech so much as it is about a secular religious war which the progressives are flaming.

                This entire thing is sorta like how large governments don’t like guerrilla wars. So they claim that _specific_ form of warfare shouldn’t be legal, and the only thing that should be legal is, like, ‘normal war’, where giant armies fight each other on the battle, and they’re sure that they have the advantage, because they have the bigger army.

                No. We’re not doing that. We’re not outlawing the specific form of warfare that the left has managed to start using and keeping all forms that the right is good at.

                You want the war to stop, take way those specific weapons. Dismantle a system where corporations can ruin people’s lives, not only by firing them in extremely rare situations that you seem to be worried about, but by systematically discriminating against them for decades. By throwing their weight around politically. By getting absurd ruling about how they are people and don’t have to provide health care. There’s _all sorts_ of bad things corporations do that they shouldn’t be doing.

                Until you decide to take away corporate power, we will continue to use it against you. If you want to stop it, your only options is to figure out some way to keep those giant, wealthy, powerful sociopathic organizations under control. Or at least weaken them.

                So I join cancel culture. Not because it’s good, it’s bad. I actually don’t like it, and I think at some point we have to talk about twitter-rage, or whatever. Because I don’t like this mob mentality, they have horrible judgement.

                But making societal problems also happen to white, upper-middle-class men is literally the only way to make anyone take the problems seriously. (As I’ve said before on this site.) So I’m favor of people doing that.

                Conservatives should be relieved that this is where I draw the line, and I’m not trying to get white, upper-middle-class men often shot by the police with no consequences…to solve _that_ problem.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to DavidTC says:

                I wish you well.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

                “…promoting…”
                “…acknowledging…”
                “…believe…”

                Here we go again with some interesting — and what I suspect is intentional — word choice.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

                So I am taking away that you have more issues with my word choices than with the opinion?Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Swami says:

                If you promise not to push for the firing of James Damore based upon his views, conservatives can agree to not ask you to be fired or disciplined for your views.

                Who on your side can deliver that? Who on your side — who counts — even wants that?Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to CJColucci says:

                Which side is that?

                By speaking of Conservatives in the third party I was clearly making the point that I am not on THEIR side either.

                I guess my point is that, like the wars of Religion of the 16th and 17th C, the parties has better get together and work out a way to agree to get along and be tolerant.

                I am preaching tolerance all around. Failure to do this could lead to societal disaster.

                Revolutions and wars are dangerous and lead to negative side effects which nobody with a sound mind would desire.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                My ideal world is one where the stakes of losing a job are a lot lower than what they are now. But that’s probably a much broader issue than this topic alone.

                Anyway I’ve pondered your question and don’t have a great answer. Camp A probably exists but identifying it requires finding ulterior motives, so not easy to do in good faith. I’d like to say B is the right approach but I don’t really believe employers care about the actual facts. It’s all marketing and PR.

                What I’d like to see is a broad cultural respect for the fact that private people are broadly off limits and more fortitude from employers to disregard online activist action. If someone is doing something really bad they’ll be identified anyway and not by internet commissars.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                We trying to create a world in which employees accused of bad behavior are given a fair hearing, and only the truly guilty are fired.

                If we’re only allowed to fire people after multiple lawyers get involved, then you’re telling employers that the last thing they want to do is create a job.

                Ideally
                C: We are trying to create a world where employers fight over employees, our goal is to maximize employment.

                Jobs don’t last more than a few years, so creating jobs is WAY more important than preserving the current ones.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to InMD says:

                Maybe you and Dave can just admit that you feel it’s your turn to be the bullies.

                It’s not ‘our turn’, that would imply that the right has _stopped_.

                The terminology is we are now _also_ the bullies.

                We are no longer going to stand here and passively take the bullying of the right.

                We will, however, still be slightly more restrained. The right still feels like they should be able to hurt people for who they are.

                We aren’t doing that, we’re still limiting ourselves to bullying people who cause harm, usually by bullying other people.

                Again, you know how to stop this: Reduce power of corporations.Report

          • Avatar Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

            Not sure if this answers it, SW, but I would have fears of any ideology/religion/secular framework taking over society in this way. Progressivism is uniquely suited to do so though because, as Kazzy helped me to clarify, it is an ideology that is bred in these intellectual domains.

            It doesn’t so much matter that Progressivism’s core tenets are particularly wrong (yes, I disagree with them). I also disagree with Conservatives, Libertarians, Catholics, Evangelicals, Marxists, Quakers, Eugenicists, etc taking over in this way. In each case the disease will be different, but the results will be unhealthy.

            Going back to the initial post topic, my concern can be more generically stated as the realization that a uniform moralizing framework has begun to quickly assume control of our key institutions, and this moral framework is one which is both accelerating in pursuit of purity, and seeking to extinguish other ideologies/moral frameworks by any means necessary.

            They are the ones “cancelling”, and the end point of this vicious cycle continues is not good.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

              What does “take over” mean?

              You keep invoking this specter of oppression as if you are a victim somehow. Do you really see yourself as being oppressed?Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I do not feel oppressed. I am retired and could care less what you guys think. If I was still employed I would worry that anything I said or wrote would be used to fire me just as they did to James Damore.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                But you write as though when the progressives “take over” people like James Damore will be oppressed.

                It very much is the language of victimology where a great injustice is taking place.

                What is this injustice and who is suffering from it? As with the original Harper’s letter, it is always just alluded to without ever being named or identified.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The first part of your question answered the second part, no?

                The injustice and harm is that Damore was fired for expressing a view contrary to the secular religion of Progressivism. The most comprehensive Progressive accusation was from a psychologist who stated that he was correct but was still a right wing Nazi for saying so.

                If you were fired for espousing gay rights or suggesting that sex changes are healthy lifestyle choices, Or putting a BLM banner in your cubicle would you not feel harmed?

                The liberal philosophy of the Enlightenment is that tolerance of other opinions is a virtue. A secular religion which is intolerant and which does not espouse separation of religion and state has infiltrated/grown organically (like cancer?) into our institutions.

                As to the language of victimology, I never disputed that there was such a thing as an oppressed or an oppressor. My issue with Progressivism is its over dependence on this framing, much as libertarians are over dependent on touting liberty.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                If you were fired for espousing gay rights or suggesting that sex changes are healthy lifestyle choices, Or putting a BLM banner in your cubicle would you not feel harmed?

                In other words, what if we lived in America circa 2020.
                Seriously, my employer can fire me right now for doing any of those things.

                And yes, that is a harm, most definitely.

                But its a harm virtually no one in America is proposing to change, least of all conservatives.

                This is what I mean, that conservatives are speaking of a progressive world in terms of some dystopian, existential dread yet rarely can mention an actual harm, and when they do, it is just the ordinary harms that affect millions of Americans every day.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Movie studios just are now pressuring directors to not give roles to white male actors who aren’t part of the current woke movement. Hollywood sounds like Germany in the mid-30’s, where being the wrong race or failing to espouse the party’s views would get a person canned. Even associating with the wrong group could get a person canned.

                That’s where progressives are today, cancelling people for even dating a Trump supporter, or fatally shooting a young mother in the head for saying “All lives matter.” They push racism, more racism, and nothing but racism, while claiming that the bug-eyed racism they support isn’t really racism ’cause reasons.Report

              • “Hollywood sounds like Germany in the mid-30’s”

                Settle down, George. It’s not quite as bad as all that.Report

              • Also, admitting that BLM has a point is like Munich.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Seriously, my employer can fire me right now for doing any of those things.

                They can, but in general employers fire people for economic reasons that are beyond the control of either the employees or the employers. This btw is why the concept of having trials and investigations before an employer is allowed to fire someone is problematic.

                You are pointing out that employers can fire people and jumping to “it would therefore not be an issue if they fire people for thought crimes on a widespread basis, that could only be a force for good”.

                Implicit in that line of thought is “because my team will be the ones calling the shots and this kind of thing will only be used for reasonable things of which I approve”.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Until it isn’t and the Conservatives strike back. And they will strike back, and hard. This end game sucks.

                Like a prisoner’s dilemma, the only way to win the game is to avoid playing.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

                They can, but in general employers fire people for economic reasons that are beyond the control of either the employees or the employers.

                No…well, maybe if you count only ‘firing’.

                What is being left out of this conversation is that employers still, very clearly, in a systematic way, discriminate against PoC and women and openly gay people and trans people, etc, etc.

                They just do it at the hiring end.

                Which is why all these worries ring very hollow. What will eventually happen, and in fact what does already started happening, is that companies will merely start checking people’s beliefs before they are hired. Maybe walk them past a Pride flag, or BLM banner, watch their face. Have the interview by a trans person. Etc.

                I.e, the problem people think is going on here, isn’t. The actual problem is that corporations are structurally unable to behave in unbiased ways, as they have demonstrated for decades in their treatment of certain groups.

                _Now_, at this point in time, those groups they mistreat could hypothetically add…certain people with certain conservative beliefs. (I could argue this is not exactly the same thing, in that those beliefs actually can hinder the ability of the company to function, in that an employee being anti-gay causes more problems for a company than a gay person, but…let’s just pretend they don’t. Let’s pretend it’s the exact same thing.)

                And just like it’s easier to defend not hiring any gay people than firing them when you learn it, it’s easier to defend not hiring conservatives than firing them. So that will start happening. Businesses will start demanding access to social media so they can check for this (They already do), they will demand references that allow them to check, etc.

                They might just decide to hire less straight white Christian guys on the grounds it’s those guys who most often turn out to be problematic. They could ‘prejudge’ them, instead of trying to figure this out.

                Which is, let me be clear, is employment discrimination, and literally illegal. Anti-discrimination laws bar employment decisions based on ‘types of attributes’ not ‘which specific attribute’. It’s as illegal to not hire a man as it is a woman, or a Christian as a non-Christian, or (now under Federal law) a straight person as a gay person.

                If only conservatives hadn’t worked to completely gut enforcement of those for several decades, making it nearly impossible to prove that. Oops.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

      “Infiltrated” is an interesting word.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        Ooo… “invaded”’ too.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

          I assume it’s referring to the phenomenon that Rudi Dutschke called the “long march“.Report

          • Avatar Swami in reply to Jaybird says:

            Yeah, the “Long March” Pretty much dovetails with my point, though I don’t recall hearing of this term until now. (I am however, old and forgetful).Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

              Just curious… would you say the business world has been “infiltrated” by folks with a profits-over-people ideology?Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

                No, I would say that it tends to “breed” that ideology, but after saying so, I would extend this metaphor to progressivism as well. The above mentioned institutions breed progressive ideology. I believe Mises, Sowell and Hayek have all weighed in on similar issues.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                I said once that Marx’s victory was that he got everyone to think in terms of an existential struggle between secular religions.

                You criticize progressives as iliberal zealots, but in framing this as a clash of ideologies you adopt that very reasoning.

                For example, if a trans person demands we address them by a certain pronoun, must this be the speartip of some ideology that threatens our civilization?

                Or could it just be confined to a battle over individual rights versus communal norms?

                The first framing leaves no room for compromise or conciliation; The second acknowledges that we are all citizens, that we are all legitimate stakeholders.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:

                Just curious… would you say the business world has been “infiltrated” by folks with a profits-over-people ideology?

                That gets pretty close to a worry I have with Swami’s analysis: that at time 1 there is a baseline of social norms, practicesa and power structures and the change which exists at time 2 is the result of infiltration. There’s a bias in the framing such that the type of institutional arrangements which exist at time 1 are irrelevant but the *changes* to those institutions, and howthey came about, deserve hyper-scrutiny. As an example, according to this view the abolitionist/anti-slavery movement in the US “infiltrated” our institutions, which implies something insidious occurred worthy of scorn and deeper analysis.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                Great point, SW. The key issue is that some beliefs are particularly opposed to criticism and competing views. In the case of US, our dominant paradigm was liberalism with a core belief in separation of state and religion, and a core belief in the value of competing views and interests and free speech.

                Remember I would be just as concerned if Evangelicals or Quakers Or Marxists or Fascists took over Society. They would all stomp out competing views. Progressivism wasn’t the only possible threat, it just seems to be the current threat.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Kazzy says:

          “Infiltrated” assumes there is a culture being invaded by something which has no rightful place being there.

          Yet in the very same breath, noting that this is actually the dominant culture.

          So it is a plea for a minority rule.

          Not a protection of minority rights; Minority rule, where the majority is considered illegitimate holders of power.Report

          • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Good catch, and I accept the criticism. See what I wrote above to Kazzy on “breeds” being an appropriate alternative or added term. Also note I gave a shout out to you on being the ideal progressive.

            It is not in any way the dominant culture or in the majority. At least not yet. However by capturing academia, schools, the media, government, etc it seeks to become the dominant cultural narrative by eliminating dissension and using shaming and framing to make other views unacceptable. First non progressives will be run out of these institutions (check!), then these institutions will use their influence to convert everyone else. Mission accomplished, at least until or unless those rejecting this secular belief system decide to stand up against it at all costs.

            Which may help explain why a tool like Trump was elected. A lot of people may sense this was the only way to fight back that was available to them. I think this will backfire, indeed I sense it already is backfiring with progressives doubling down and anti- progressives losing faith when they see what a clown it is they put their faith in.Report

        • Avatar Ozzzy! in reply to Kazzy says:

          I’m now on the record waiting for inquisition to pop my bingo!Report

  13. Avatar veronica d says:

    I happened across the article today, which I think sums up a lot of the complexity of the “cancel culture” debate: https://arcdigital.media/free-speech-defenders-dont-understand-the-critique-against-them-4ed8327c0879

    Not incidentally, hypocrisy is also a central criticism of Weiss. She denounces cancel culture, builds up cancel culture opponents as heroes and martyrs, and tries to cancel people whose expressions she deems antisemitic. And her definition of antisemitic includes things that others would classify as criticism of Israeli government policy rather than bigotry against Jews. Among the people Weiss has gone after are Palestinian-supporting Columbia professors in 2004–05 and cartoonist Eli Valley in 2019. Weiss has become an object of scorn in some circles not because they’ve never seen any of her work, but because she embodies the hypocrisy of free speech for me, but not for thee.

    I think this is a solid point, and I challenge our local Weiss defenders to answer it. Specifically, as said in the article, she opposes “idpol” except Jewish idpol. So what gives?

    To be clear, I 100% support her in speaking out against anti-semitism. However, why won’t she support me, and people like me, in speaking out against transphobia? But more, why does she actively support transphobic people against me?

    WHY? SERIOUSLY, WHY?

    Why does it have to be this way? Does she not see the contradiction? Do her supporters not see it?

    I would love to know that a senior editor at the NYT was on my side. Do you all realize how disheartening it was to discover she is not, but more, she actively supports those who hate me?

    Williams’s defense of Weiss highlights a problem that’s too prevalent among free speech defenders: focusing on their least thoughtful opponents, including randos on social media, rather than engaging more thoughtful critiques. And it’s a problem for anyone who supports things like freedom of expression and a relatively open marketplace of ideas, because it means the most visible defenders of free speech are talking past their opponents to preach to the choir.

    I despise the Twitter mobs. However, the “anti-woke” crowd only notices certain Twitter mobs, but ignores others. Moreover, they often trigger their own Twitter mobs, while ignoring their existence. Do you think trans people don’t get mobbed by Jordan Peterson fans? Are you kidding? Do you think emails don’t get sent to our bosses?

    Did you know that TERFS will often contact the doctors of trans people, where they try to convince the doctor that we’re crazy and we should be denied treatment?

    I don’t directly support the Twitter mobs, but the “anti-woke” crowd doesn’t care. I get hit with the broad brush because I advocate for social justice. Meanwhile people like Singal and Weiss might, with gathered breath, decry the harassment of trans people, all while providing rhetorical ammunition to TERFism.

    It’s an enormous double standard.

    So you, reading this now, where do you stand? Will you offer the same empty words as everyone else?

    Anyway, read the whole thing.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

      TERF?Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        It originally meant “trans exclusionary radical feminist,” which were a thing during the second wave. Basically, many trans women are active feminists and they got involved with feminist groups, but because everything is terrible and we can’t have nice things, a vocal subset of women objected — quite a lot. It turns out even if someone advocates for social justice in one arena, that doesn’t stop them from being deeply hateful in a different arena.

        In recent years term has morphed to cover a broad class of people who are 1) obsessed with attacking trans people and 2) aren’t motivated by religious conservatism.

        TERFism is really big in the UK. In fact, I get really sad when I read about what trans folks are going through over there. For example, the Guardian is pretty horrible to trans folks. They’ll deny it if asked, but they routinely and consistently post “just asking questions” type articles that are inimical to trans folks.

        Rowling has recently become the highest profile TERF — although she’s been pretty TERFy for a long time. It’s just that cis people didn’t notice because she was subtle. She stopped being subtle.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

          Shit like that makes me seriously wonder WTF got wired wrong for those people.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Second-wave feminsts look at MtF as yet another instance of men seeing women trying to have a space for themselves and saying “no, you can’t have a space that’s just for you, you have to let men enter it as well, you have to let men dictate what this space means and who it’s for, and if you try to complain about that we’ll tell you there’s a moral obligation for you women to shut up and do what the men say.”

            Obviously gender-essentialist, but in the framework they created, they aren’t wrong to look at it that way, and telling them to just get over it because the world’s different now looks exactly the same to them as every other man they’ve ever known telling them to stop being such a hysterical bitch about everything.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Honestly, I’ve been trying recently to talk less about how this affects me personally — meaning my own psychological state. I try to focus more on 1) the broad social effects and 2) the science. That said, it’s really hard to encounter people who hate me with such irrational rage.

            The DSM people have worked really hard to categorize gender dysphoria. The big question has always been “are trans people mentally ill?”

            Am I personally? In the past I was dx-ed with an anxiety disorder, but I’m not sure if I really have an anxiety disorder. I have ADHD, but so do a lot of people. Am I crazy?

            The important answer came from the psychs. It was this: “Trans people are not delusional. In general, they have a concrete and rational understanding of their condition. They experience gender dysphoria, which is a persistent sense that their assigned gender does not match their inner sense. This causes significant distress. The best treatment is transition, medical, surgical, and social. Moreover, social acceptance is a critical variable in their ongoing wellbeing.”

            That’s it. We’re not crazy in the sense that our critics claim. Naturally, we vary the same ways cis people do. You can find terrible, misguided, and unhinged trans people, but you can find the same among cis people. We’re not special. Aside from our gender shit, we’re just like you.

            We do tend to be more counter cultural, but that is neither surprising nor concerning. After all, plenty of str8 cis folks are hippies or punks or vegans or whatever. We’re just people.

            On the whole, we just want acceptance, but that includes people making reasonable effort to use our pronouns and to let us pee in public restrooms without hassle.

            Anyway, it weighs on me. Often, when I read bad news, I feel depression and dread. By contrast, when I see a positive news article, I feel great relief. When a celebrity speaks on our behalf, it’s incredibly helpful. When someone like Rowling starts tearing us down, it’s awful. It’s depressing. Like, why does it have to be this way? Why do I have to be a freak? What the fuck did I do?

            It sucks to be a “divisive issue.”Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

              Rest assured, when I disagree with you, even if I do so stridently, it’s because I disagree with you, and you being trans doesn’t factor into it.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                You don’t need to worry about that at all. Honestly, I admire you quite a lot. You are always reasonable. Moreover, near as I can tell you don’t have a bigoted bone in your body.

                I’ve often said, my idea for healthy politics is principled libertarians on one side and socdems on the other. You’re more or less my model for a principled libertarian.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

      “Did you know that TERFS will often contact the doctors of trans people, where they try to convince the doctor that we’re crazy and we should be denied treatment?”

      Do you honestly need us to say that we think this is bad?

      Yes, this is bad. This is what cancel culture is, going after the support networks, the third parties, the doctors and the employers and the service providers and the friends and the artists whose songs were used in the video, telling them that they’re transitively bad and will be denounced and harassed unless they Voluntarily As A Private Decision cut all ties with the person in question.

      Why are you bringing it up?

      Do you mean for us to take away that what happened to Weiss wasn’t that bad, or that it was her own fault really, or that we didn’t say anything bad the last couple times it happened, or that she did it herself so she’s got no real right to complain now?

      Do you recognize that these are all classic abuser-gaslighting lines?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

        And yet you denounce these people as bad, thereby cancelling them.

        Curious!

        I am very intelligent.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          (Chip, the “Curious!” guy was the bad guy in the cartoon.)Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

            *Chip illustrates the joke, thereby draining the last remnants of humor from it*

            See, a lot of the criticism of “cancel culture” is premised on the idea that criticism of people Weiss or Rowling or TERFs as “Bad” is the same as “cancelling” them.

            Which strikes me as being like that curious guy, making a facile and illogical equation.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Things that I have seen described as cancelling.

              1. Criticizing someone.
              2. Criticizing someone coupled with saying that one is hoping for bad things to happen to this someone.
              3. Death threats sent to someone.
              4. Doxxing.
              5. Death threats sent to friends/family of someone.
              6. Calling employers and attempting to get someone fired.
              7. Calling employers of friends and family of someone and hoping to get them fired.

              For the record, I have issues with 2 and up but I really only have serious problems with 3 and up and pretending that we’re talking about #1 when we’re talking about movements to get someone fired communicates that you don’t know, care, or understand where the disagreements are.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                8. Strangling and dismembering a journalist in an embassy.

                Other than that, yeah, I agree with your list and boundary drawing at #3.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                What if the employees of a company petition to have someone in a leadership position removed? That’s different from merely “trying to get someone fired.” I’ll grant that it is similar in the obvious way, but it is also different in an important way. The leaders of a company reflect its values. For many workers, including me, or morale is tied to the degree our employers values match our own.

                Of course I can change jobs, but if the feelings are widely shared, then is not asking for change a fair request?Report

  14. Avatar Swami says:

    Paywall keeps me from reading the article, but in the above threads I explained my position is that:

    1. I accept that an organization with a doctrinal, political or religious purpose should be free to screen out people who expressly oppose that doctrine. To give an example, a Catholic org could screen out atheists, a conservation group could screen out executives from Exxon, and a trans rights group could screen out people who believe trans are disturbed. They undermine the organization. This may best be applied though to leaders in the org rather than say janitors or secretaries, whose opinions are probably irrelevant.
    2. What I do not approve of is organizations screening out people for extraneous reasons. For example, a conservative organization screening out minorities because they tend to be liberal.
    3. I believe it is even more dangerous to have situations where mobs or collectives use pressure to cancel or screen out (not hire, fire, etc) people for reasons not related to the institutions key doctrine.
    4. That said, I believe that the preferred manner to police this is by a general cease fire. It should be considered unacceptable behavior to fire or screen out for extraneous reasons.
    5. If this general norm is failing (And I believe it is) and cannot be reformed reasonably (undecided), then I would recommend institutional reforms prohibiting it, at least in theory.
    6. Failure to do this and head off the escalation will lead to either one political faction assuming control of our institutions (very dangerous and long term suicidal) or to an escalation of political wars reminiscent of the religious wars of the 16th C, but this term on Internal secular religions and political doctrines. I am in general opposed to revolutions, arms races of hate and mass graves. And anyone not believing that the extreme left or the extreme right are capable of these horrors has not been paying attention to 20Th C history.

    I think it is a really bad idea for a business to screen someone out (for example) because they are gay, Or for a college to screen professors out (for example) because they are conservative.

    I also don’t really think this is so much a matter of free speech as it is separation of religion, mores and ideology from general purpose institutions.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Swami says:

      It’s hard to have a ceasefire when our position is that we should be able to fully participate in society with dignity and their position is that people like us shouldn’t exist.Report

      • Avatar Swami in reply to veronica d says:

        But the idea of ceasefire is that they not cancel you and your team and in return you agree not to cancel them and theirs. Am I hearing you right that you are NOT for a cease fire of this insanity?Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

          Swami, are you implying that the trans community deserves blame for the fact that trans people are marginalized and subject to varying levels of abuse because they’ve tried to cancel some of their abusers?Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

              Because you’re skipping right over the morally relevant and (imo) factually significant part of the issue to provide what looks like (imo) a transparently false analysis, and I’m surprised you don’t see that too.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                How so, SW? Not being argumentative. Perhaps I missed something in the link I can’t access??

                Any way, interesting discussion.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                Your argument suggest that both the bully and the bullied are equally to blame for the existence of bullying because each side ends up complaining about the other.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                I fail to see how James Damore or Bret Weinstein or his wife are the bullies. Are they not being bullied in your opinion? Why not?

                Was Larry Summers the bully or the bullied? Were Bennett and Weiss at the NYT bullies?

                Are all the conservatives not being hired by universities bullies or bullied?

                I don’t want to get lost in the weeds on any one case, and Damore is the only one I am really familiar with, but my point is that there are people being bullied on both sides. No?Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Swami says:

                This reminds me of a discussion I overheard on the importance of height in an NFL quarterback. One party cited great short QBs like Fran Tarkenton, Russell Wilson, and Drew Brees to make the point that height wasn’t all that important. The other said: “Yeah, there are great short quarterbacks. And you can name almost all of them off the top of your head.”Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to CJColucci says:

                You want me to list several million more?Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Swami says:

                Likewise, I’m most familiar with Damore. However, due to circumstances, I’m literally not allowed to talk about the case in detail — if you’re clever you might guess why. I’ll just say that I understand why many woman dread working with men like him. Moreover, his public swing to the alt-right after his dismissal confirms my suspicions.

                Regarding the fact that conservatives are unpopular in higher education — whenever this comes up, I have to ask, what is a “conservative”? Which conservatives are we talking about?

                “Conservative” is not an identity label like “black” or “gay.” People don’t choose their race or sexuality. It’s baked into their person. By contrast, conservatism is a set of beliefs. Beliefs are adopted and defended. What are those beliefs? Why does the academy reject them?

                From here: https://altrightorigins.com/2020/07/08/watching-the-whitewash/

                Pick up National Review or The Freeman or Modern Age or any other conservative periodical and you’ll find a steady drumbeat of articles attacking the notion of “academic freedom” and warning of leftists overthrowing the government by brainwashing students. Not that there is any data to prove that they are brainwashing anyone, quite the opposite, but that doesn’t stop the creaky claim being widely circulated in right wing circles.

                So one reason conservatives don’t go into academia is because they, and their parents, and their grandparents, and their great-grandparents have been told that academia is a breeding ground for Commies, hippies, and radicals who Hate America. Hsu and Woods both speak in somewhat nostalgic tones about how there used to be free inquiry at our universities. Just when was this halcyon time? According to the American right wing–never.

                Conservatives have also been profoundly anti-scientific for decades. Creationism, which entails a rejection of not only biology but geology and much of physics, has been at the center of American Christian fundamentalism for roughly a century, which is an important constituency for conservative politics (just ask our Vice President). The denial of climate change is overwhelmingly a right wing political phenomenon, tied not only to free market ideology but also to xenophobia and nationalism. I probably don’t have to mention the rejection of epidemiologists and public health professionals by our current administration which is an important part of the country’s problems with Covid-19.

                (I’ve been reading that blog a lot lately.)

                You might argue that not all conservatives are creationists. I agree. Not all are sexist or homophobic or proponents of race realism. However, many are. Therefore it is unsurprising that conservatives would leave the academy and flock to think tanks funded by wealthy conservatives, which is more or less what happened.

                Anyway, conservatives leaving the academy because their reactionary ideas are more popular in right wing think tanks doesn’t strike me as bullying. In fact, often they leave the academy because outside the academy they feel more free to advocate for bigotry.

                #####

                Okay, let’s change gears. Is there a “free speech” crisis on campus. I can find a lot of articles that say there isn’t. I can find a lot of articles that say there is. Often these articles appears to be a manufactured grievance whinge coming from Quillette, who will defend race realism to their dying breath. So what is the truth?

                This article seems fair: https://heterodoxacademy.org/political-firings-left-leaning-faculty/

                They claim there is a problem. Certainly I agree that mob violence isn’t good. However, right wing groups are just as eager to shut down speech, if not more so. There are fewer of them on campus. They largely aren’t the students. Instead, the right wing pressure comes from off campus.

                I mean, you do understand that reactionary politics has always been opposed to free expression, and the attempts of reactionaries to champion free speech is dishonest? Reactionaries have switched to a “free speech” stance because they’re losing the culture war. This is a last ditch tactic. If they can swing the ball back, my life will become unlivable.

                All that said, the attacks on Hsu were not an unhinged Twitter mob. It is interesting, however, that Quillette and SCC claimed that they were. In other words, those sites were dishonest about what was actually happening. Students have a right to petition their university administration for a change of leadership, particularly when that leader is shown to be a race realist who is cozy with holocaust denial.

                Anyway, I’d love to see fewer irrational mobs on campus, mostly because they’re counterproductive and, honestly, pretty cringe. They don’t help. They look terrible. That said, why do we hear about them so much, whereas we don’t see the right wing groups attacking speech?

                Do you want a ceasefire? How would you get that? Do you think you can stop conservatives? The IDW types might get on board, but the ninnies who read Breitbart won’t change. Plus, we’re still going to object to Charles Murray because he is selling scientific racism. We’re not going to back down on that. Those ideas were put in the dustbin decades ago. We don’t need to keep pulling them back out, dusting them off, and trying to sell them once again. Black people deserve better.

                #####

                Free expression means many things. To the right wing, it often means repeatedly trying to sell discredited science designed to hurt marginalized people who disgust them. To them, the question can never be settled. Science cannot reach consensus. It cannot progress past bad faith debates. They want the academy to put the gold stamp on bad ideas that were rejected before most of us were born. It will never stop, because the motivation is not truth. It is bigotry.

                Solve bigotry and this problem goes away.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                Btw, I am still in the dark as to what Weiss said that was anti trans? I couldn’t find anything on the internet. Does anyone know?Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to Swami says:

          You fail to understand the nature of bigotry. It’s neither rational nor negotiated. It’s raw disgust. We are an affront to God. We are unnatural. Giving us rights will cause hurricanes and blight crops.

          Perhaps if we promise to only blight crops a little bit.

          I’m sure you’ll say something like, “That’s only the religious extremists.”

          Sure, but according to TERFs we are mentally ill sexual deviants, every one of us, fully. We’re a danger.

          We’re trying to corrupt children!

          Children!

          It doesn’t matter what we do. We are essentially corrupt and our existence corrupts society. We cannot be trusted. We cannot be allowed to exist.

          Did you know that Jews are vermin who spread plague?

          (To be very clear, I don’t believe that. Anyone who quotes that out of context is intellectually dishonest to an extreme degree.)

          Okay, sit down. I’m going to say something hard to believe. Are you ready?

          Take a deep breath.

          Okay, sometimes people lie on the Internet.

          I know! That’s shocking!

          So we have a certain problem. Often people who feel a deep bigotry will be good at hiding it. In one browser tab they’re reading an alarmist article about how trans people are molesting kids. They believe that article, because they are disgusted by us. In another browser tab they’re writing an article about trans people where they are very careful not to say that out loud.

          Evidently Blake Neff was the “top writer” for Tucker Carlson. That means, I suspect, that much of what Carlson said came from the mind of Neff.

          Did Carlson every say that black people were subhuman garbage? Did he use those words?

          Does Neff believe that they are?

          Yes he does. He was, however, very careful not to put those words into Carlson’s mouth. All the same, the ideas were there.

          I was very unsurprised to learn that Carlson’s main writer was a racist. I mean, obviously. Anyone with more than three wrinkles in their cerebellum could see that. But he was careful with his language.

          Rowling insists that she isn’t transphobic, but she repeats TERF talking points. She waters them down and tries to make them sound nice. She is a fairly skilled writer. She’s good at it.

          I’d love to have a discussion on the facts. Actually, those discussion have happened, many times. All of the major medical boards support us. Gender dysphoria is real. Transition ameliorates it. Social acceptance is critical for our mental wellbeing. We cause no undue harm to the broader society.

          More republican legislators have broken laws in public bathrooms than trans people: https://www.complex.com/life/2016/03/republican-legislators-arrested-for-bathroom-misconduct

          We’ve had the conversations, many times. We are correct.

          Do the bigots accept this?

          Of course not. Don’t be silly. The facts don’t matter. What matters is their disgust, and their capacity to engender fear and disgust in others. Many of them hold powerful positions in major media outlets. They use this position to play DARVO games.

          When we fight back, they play the victim. People like you then gather around to defend their “free speech.” If we work to convince people that they’re irrational bigots, we’re accused of “canceling” them. Evidently we should just be okay with the fact that a senior editor is either transphobic or will publish transphobes uncritically.

          So what does your ceasefire look like?

          Bigotry is never symmetrical. It’s not the case that we’re trying to hurt each other. They’re trying to hurt us and we’re trying to stop them from hurting us.Report

          • Avatar Swami in reply to veronica d says:

            You ask a question. I respond. You then go on a rant about vermin, the lying internet bigots and Republican bathroom behavior. WTF?

            On the last discussion (On BLM), you suggested that people who disagree with your facts are racists, assuming you could shut down a discussion by pre-emptively calling those who disagree with you names.

            Can you please rationally engage with what I am actually saying? Seriously. Which points do you disagree with? I will gladly reform my position if you can calmly convince me that you grasp it and can point out something wrong with it. I am not interested in discussing vermin or Republican bathroom habits.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

          The terms “ceasefire” and “canceling” in this context are perplexing.
          Would a “ceasefire” mean that conservative Christians no longer state their opinions about the sinfulness of trans people?
          Would it mean likewise that trans people no longer state their request to be treated with dignity?

          Or does it just mean that no one gets fired for stating their opinions?Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            That would mean that Fox couldn’t fire Neff for being revealed as a racist.

            (I know that technically he quit, but I strongly suspect he was forced out.)Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to veronica d says:

              The only “ceasefire” possible is unilateral because the firing is only coming from one direction.

              Trans people aren’t demanding that cis people be fired, gay people aren’t insisting that hetero sex is an abomination, black people aren’t calling the cops on white people jogging through the neighborhood.

              “I disrespect you” is not symmetrical with “I demand respect”.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Nobody is being fired for expressing support for the Marxist BLM movement. Anyone expressing an opinion against it is at risk. How you can characterize unilateral cancelling in non political organizations and institutions as proof of it occurring the other way is beyond comprehension.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d says:

                Moreover, I just did a quick scan of the Google results for “fired over BLM.” Indeed a number of people have been fired for opposing the protests. However, many I looked at were specifically fired for supporting violence against the protestors, often in extreme and gruesome language. In other words they were fired either for claims that they would personally kill protestors or calls for the police to kill protestors.

                Free speech, yeah I guess. It’s arguable. However, I think employers are are sensible to dismiss an employee who hates their fellow Americans in such brutal ways.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to veronica d says:

                Protestors or rioters? There is a big difference.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Swami says:

                I’m not even sure how to respond to that. Like, there is something wrong with your mind, some kind of fascist urge to dominate and kill. Anyway, yeah, you let it out. I suspected what you were. Now I know.

                We’re going to win.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to veronica d says:

                How about a law abiding desire to prevent riots, violence and destruction of property? So that is now the fascist agenda in your mind!

                But true to form, realizing you haven’t a leg to stand on, you go back to arguing by name calling and demonization. That is pretty much your MO. Can’t actually carry on a rational discussion without calling those who disagree “racist, fascists with an urge to kill and dominate.”

                Priceless.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Swami says:

                Supporting the murder of “rioters” is fascist bullshit. You went mask off. Stop pretending.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to veronica d says:

                Umm, she supported a sign that stated “shoot the F… back”. Talk about supporting violence. I was not aware that the BLM movement had so deteriorated that they were actually recommending open violence against cops. I am pretty sure that anyone would agree that nobody in any job should be promoting violence against their co-workers.

                Yeah, she crossed a line. Promoting violence against cops or Peaceful protestors is unacceptable.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                Professor Glenn Reynolds urged motorists to run down peaceful protesters.

                I wonder when he will be arrested.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Peaceful protestors, or violent rioters trying to harm you while in a car? There is a big difference, though not to some people on this discussion.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                No, he was very clear about this.
                He proposed deliberately running down anyone who blocked traffic.

                And some states actually modified their laws to allow this to happen.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I Strongly oppose running down protestors!Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Swami says:

                So now you support firing people for speech outside of work. Good. Me too, on a case by case basis.

                Glad we cleared that up. I guess that settles things.

                This has been a weird discussion.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d says:

                (I wasn’t even trying to do a headfuck with this. It just fell into my lap.)Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to veronica d says:

                Of course I support firing people for promoting violence against co-workers. Did you even read my initial comment on not firing people for “extraneous reasons” such as their political beliefs.

                What in the world does that share with promoting violence against co-workers?

                Blue or Black or All Lives Matter is Perfectly reasonable. Recommending cops be shot (your example, not mine) is promoting violence. But I am the Fascist?Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Swami says:

                And I support firing people who advocate dehumanizing bigotry against coworkers. By contrast I think advocating self defense is fine. “Shoot back” isn’t “shoot first.”

                Advocating the murder of “rioters” means, among other things, killing poor kids for stealing sneakers. Advocating for police violence is indeed authoritarian, particularly in the context of the recent protests, which were an endless stream of police brutality, attacks on journalists, attacks on citizens just trying to drive home, and more and more and more.

                It’s simple. You’re fash.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Swami says:

                But violence is peace, and speech is violence, and…

                Once someone has spiraled down into that type of thinking, it takes cult deprogramming to pull them back out. They think like criminals, and it’s hard to get them to see the flaws in the logic they used to go from a set of normal, everyday givens to “and that’s why I beat that random guy’s head in and stole all his stuff, for justice!”

                They think they’re justified in committing assaults because reasons. They think they’re justified in threatening and intimidating people because reasons, often involving massive amounts of projection. We eventually quit wasting our breath with logical arguments and just lock them up to protect everybody else.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to George Turner says:

                I am not sure how to respond. I think you are being sarcastic but I am not sure what to take away. What is your take on cancel culture and firing people for political views?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Swami says:

                Oh, I’m not being sarcastic, I’m discussing how a lot of criminals think. My housemate was a public defender for decades and although he did great work for his clients, a lot of them do think like criminals, which is why they were his clients.

                One thing they excel at is making up logical reasons, to themselves, that justified the bad thing they did.

                Now, getting a coworker fired simply because you don’t like them on some personal level, or disagree with them on some political issue, all completely unrelated to job performance, is akin to burning down their house just because you don’t like them. You are taking away their income and probably their health care, not because they’re failing to perform their job, but because you’re one of those people who is determined to hurt and destroy the lives of those around you.

                Note that firing or shuffling someone for performance reasons is entirely different. Working with a team requires focus on the team’s performance. Take football. You’re going to try and replace the slow running backs, the weak linemen, and the quarterback who can’t hit the side of a barn.

                The cancel culture folks are ones who instead insist that no black people can play, or that the center must be a handicapped woman and that any player who questions that must be kicked off the team. The idea of a focused meritocracy goes out the window and you end up with a completely dysfunctional gaggle of hateful bigots who might constitute some kind of club, but who don’t have a prayer of winning a game (or staying in business).

                People who think like that are toxic to both performance and morale, turning everything into drama, drama, and more drama. Drama doesn’t produce results in the field, where winning is often everything.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                We literally, just last week, had a SCOTUS ruling over a transwoman being fired for daring to be herself, and the entire conservative world lost their shit over it.

                The President demanded that sports teams fire anyone who expressed support for BLM by kneeling.

                And still to to this day they want to do this!Report

          • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Did my comments above not make this clear? I have no interest in regulating people’s opinions. I believe it is inevitable that someone will believe conservatives are Nazi’s, or that gays are sinners, or that the earth is flat, or whatever.

            My argument is that it is harmful to demand people be fired for these views when it is not important to the function of their organization (a flat earth society would be justified in firing an executive-level round earther). I explained that the danger is that either or both sides would use this as a weapon and this would escalate into a self amplifying feud which just leads to everyone being harmed.

            I can’t demand you respect me. You can’t demand I respect you. But we can both agree that it is a terrible policy for employers, colleges, government agencies etc to cancel employees or students based upon their political stance, philosophy, lifestyle or beliefs.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

              As a practical matter, what you are suggesting is that, for example, if cis male Bob works in a company with transwoman Mary, that the company compels Bob to address Mary by the proper pronoun, treat her with courtesy, not openly disparage her on or off work hours, and allows Mary unrestricted use of the female restroom.

              And fire Bob if he refuses to abide by this.

              These aren’t “views”, these are behaviors.

              Its entirely possible or likely that you would happily abide by this; But you got to know that for many other conservatives, this sort of state of affairs is the nightmare dystopia.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Thanks for actually make an argument. I appreciate it, though I am not a “conservative.” I do know some though.

                I think it is entirely reasonable that a company fire someone for not abiding by their policies on treating people with respect.

                Would a progressive agree that it is also appropriate for a business to fire someone for demanding that customers refer to them by their proper pronoun (against company policy )or because they refuse to use the designated bathroom? Just asking.

                But honestly I was talking more about views. I think the chances of a conservative or Christian getting a job in a University is getting to be increasingly unlikely, especially in social sciences. Those last few remaining are at increasing risk of getting fired for their views.

                Honestly, I think that a professor saying that “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” or ” Black Culture Matters” or “If Black Lives Matter, Quit Killing Each Other” or such would be at risk of being not just fired, but mobbed. Do you think this would be an acceptable statement for a professor? Is it something which you think COULD lead to a loss of their job? Is it something which SHOULD?

                I am not just being rhetorical, I would like your opinion.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                As Elizabeth’s essay notes, these are things that need to be determined on a case by case basis, because human relationships and views are complex.

                But I sense the underlying question here is, how much room is there in this new culture for those holding unpopular viewpoints that are at odds with the majority?

                And again, there isn’t some sweeping logic test or algorithm that will cleanly deliver an answer;
                Part of this is because the most essential job requirement is “to get along with coworkers and be liked”; It isn’t ever written that way, because it is so deeply essential as to not need to be written.

                Over at Quillete there is an essay by a female scholar whose membership invitation to a private club was revoked because of her views caused an angry response from other members.

                I’m sure it was very painful and maybe unfair, but the primary qualification to join a private club is “Everyone likes you and wants to hang out with you”.

                And that’s really what a lot of this is coming down to.

                People who refuse to accept trans people, or refuse to acknowledge the injustice of black people are just becoming social pariahs, unliked and unwelcome to social gatherings.

                And there isn’t some political theory that somehow makes that painless.Report

              • Avatar Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Nobody cares about their social gatherings.

                The question is whether people should be fired for expressing opinions which differ from the BLM mantra. They are being fired. And those who oppose BLM usually do so because they think it will have negative repercussions for Blacks. Thus to them, you are the racist.

                Similarly, some people have argued that the issue with trans is their unfair dominance in women’s sports. Is this anti trans or pro women? Remind me which side the sexist pigs are on?

                I think the BLM issue is particularly apt. Two sides, both think they are the good one, and one side (yours) trying to Demonize and fire the other. That is bullying. I predict this ends bad for everyone, with the distinct likelihood it ends especially bad for progressives. I have no idea if you guys will turn on yourselves, or if there will be a backlash return to normalcy, or perhaps a conservative backlash against all progressive institutions (Defund Humanities!), a movement of conservatism to outright fascism, or just civil war.

                Cease fire!Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Or does it just mean that no one gets fired for stating their opinions?

            In the old days, “stating their opinions” at work meant someone deliberately presenting those opinions at work. The only way HR knows I have a problem with groups “X” is if I’m creating problems at work.

            More and more, everything is public now. I post on Facebook(*) I had a negative encounter with someone in group “X”, and someone at work presents that as who I am at work.

            (*) This sort of nonsense would be one reason of many why my FB account is almost empty.Report

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