The Crimson Letter

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Kristin Devine

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

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  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    If you don’t do anything wrong, you don’t have to worry about the Cancellation Cops.

    One of the things that shows up again and again is the tendency of the mob to turn and eat one of its own. Inevitably, the person being eaten expresses surprise and explains that, no, they’re good. Sometimes they argue that the people who are attacking them are not coming from a place of sincerity. Sometimes they explain that this is unfair. Sometimes they explain that, unlike the last twenty times the mob engaged in sparagmos, this time it is unwarranted.

    And we go back to questioning the motives of the people who are opposed to sparagmos are putting more effort into complaining about the police than in following the laws.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    Cue people claiming that cancel culture doesn’t exist, or that it’s a relatively powerless minority of loud people on Twitter in …3…2…1…Report

  3. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    I haven’t finished reading the OP yet (I’ve skimmed it), but I think I mostly agree with what I’ve read/skimmed so far. I especially like what you say about hypocrisy.Report

  4. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    As one of those liberal/leftie types let me say that cancel culture is a thing. However liberals have never been a giant block of people who all support free speech so i don’t actually see much of a change. There have always been people all over the spectrum who don’t dig the free speech thing well. Of course it’s not really possible to make generalizations about all liberals or conservatives but such is the nature of speech.

    A few thoughts. “Woke” is one of those terms that is hot now especially on the right. When terms become popular on the web they always end up being poorly defined, used far beyond whatever their original meaning was and become a mess. They end up throwing far more heat then light since the word is tossed as an insult or quikee explanation or as a shallow stereotype. Woke often seems to mean liberal or being pro lbgt rights or …well i’m not always sure.

    CC is real as in there are bad mobs who cause problems for people over minor things. CC is also, like woke, a phrase far to widely used. I’ve seen R pols complain that pointing out their corruption is CC, a formerly popular pundit claim that elections themselves are CC, that blocking people on twitter is CC or that not tolerating abusive language is CC. Or taking down statues or looking at the toxic beliefs of dead people is CC. Like HP Lovecraft was pretty damn racist. He still exists, his work is out there and he’s, you know, pretty dead. But i’ve seen people complain about him being cancelled. How does that even work. Just talking about someones beliefs and the problems with them is old school, classic literary criticism. The statues of traitors in the name of slavery came down ( through calm measured and/or loud quick) methods but all the history still exists. Nothing has actually been cancelled. Even calling the confeds traitors in the name of slavery has been called cancelling. Certainly mobs berating a regular person for some minor faux pas years ago is wrong. But the one term CC is now used for to wide a variety of actions and as a way of defending things that aren’t being cancelled in any way.

    The letter writers got roasted, very correctly, for some massive blindness that still dont’ think any of them have discussed. I pointed out Elizabeth’s piece that she wrote in response when we were talking about the original letter. It still holds up. There are people who were arrested, assaulted and gassed for trying to exercise their free speech. Union organizers are fired for talking about unions. A student was suspended in Georgia for a pic of her crowded high school. None of that makes the accurate issues with CC less a problem, but context and scale is important. Some of the OG letter writers were powerful writers who didn’t like being criticized but didn’t see far worse issues with free speech.

    I see tons ( because speech is measured in tons, true fact) of measured polite enough discussion on the web. It’s all over the place. There is also a shit ton of viscous bile all over the place on the web.

    One of the common retorts to CC is pointing out that it is nothing new, it’s just the politicized name for something that is part of human society. It wasn’t that long ago that lbgt people were commonly in the closet or jews wouldn’t want to admit that in public. If CC is anything those things were CC we just didn’t call it that them. It is also good that those problems have gotten much better.

    CC is best discussed on a case by case basis. Louis CK: sort of cancelled i guess which means he came back to work when he felt like it and suffered no legal consequences for abusive behavior. So actually not cancelled he just got deserved shit for being a shit. Bill Oreilly; lost his job and paid out money for being sexually abusive but is still writing and trying to get back into broadcasting. So natural consequences for being scummy. Fill in the examples of people who got mobbed for petty stuff or stuff from years ago.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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      says:

      Back in the crazy 90’s, when we were before Paula Jones but after Anita Hill, there was a thing called “hostile workplace environment”.

      The argument was that we shouldn’t look at individual things. “So Bob told an off-color joke. So what? First Amendment!” The argument, instead, was that we look at the culture as a whole that is created and tolerated in the workplace. It’s not about a one-time off-color joke that Bob told. It’s that Bob tells off-color jokes all the time. It’s that there are microaggressions all the time. It’s that it’s a safe environment to say these things.

      It’s not about any singular instance that can be waved away as “just a joke”.

      It’s about the entire culture that is created that makes it unsafe to say “hey, that’s not funny”.

      If you have a particular workplace culture, you can make it so that someone who disagrees and thinks “that’s messed up” knows that they’d be better off in the first place not saying anything.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        I’m not seeing your point. True hostile workplaces exist. There are things you can say there and can’t. The things you can’t say in a workplace you can say in other places. Culture is a great word. It also refers to something huge and varied with a billion subs and weird eddies and localities that it is vague. As i noted one thing that has changed in many places in the culture is that lbgt people can be out now. Not every place of course but it is much easier for them to be open. That would seem to a lessening of a kind of cancel culture. Which is good. But while we can say “culture” all we want it is lot easier to be open lbgt or jewish in some places then in other places.

        What are the things that can’t be said now. I know there is a tendency to try to keep free speech discussions value neutral but that in itself misses a big part of the discussion. It is in many places in appropriate to say abusive things to POC or lbgt etc. Good. Is that cancel culture? Welp there have been stupid mob piles ons re: abusive language. Still it’s good that abusive language is not cool in many situations. And it’s still bad if that is pile on about. Those two things can co exist.

        I used to work with a guy in the 00’s who would complain about he couldn’t say things due to PC. So i would keep asking him what he coldnt’ say. He would end up saying some consertive position that everybody from the prez to internet commenters to writers to radio hosts were saying every day. And he said it and nothing happened to him. He came to my office to talk politics!. So what things can’t be said? I’d probably say it’s good some of those things can’t be said in workplaces or there will be significant feedback if said on the web while also still agreeing the piles are are often wrong. But what can’t be said??? F’n people are defending the murder of george floyd here so it’s not like out there stuff can’t be said.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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          says:

          My argument isn’t that I should be able to tell the following blonde jokes without hearing back from HR.

          My argument is that there is a pervasive culture that is making things worse and it’s bad and it should be pushed back against.

          Here’s a blast from the past. Vox, of all places, published this. It describes the phenomenon going on.

          It’s not about the jokes the professor wants to tell. It’s about what they don’t feel like they can disagree with. In a UNIVERSITY, they don’t feel like they can push back.

          Hey, that workaround we’ve been wanting for Tenure? Looks like we’ve finally found it.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            Well actually then you agree with me that some “cancelling”/cultural speech limits are fine and some aren’t. I think that is actually where most people are.

            What is pervasive here? I’m aware of the internet and the absolute shit funnel that it often is. Which part of the culture? Like i said culture is a great word that describes something but it is far to big to just say “the culture” for just about anything. Be specific, what should be pushed back and where?

            I remember that vox piece getting torched back in the day. Is this just a university phenomenon. Plenty of controversial stuff still gets taught at uni’s. Which isn’t saying that stupid, bad stuff doesn’t happen. I’m just not convinced it is pervasive, that what you are pointing at isn’t far less oppressive and serious then plenty of other speech restrictions and that the concept isn’t being used as just another culture war hammer.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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              says:

              So… both sides do it?

              Be specific, what should be pushed back and where?

              Well, I provided a specific example of a specific professor explaining that they didn’t feel like they could push back on some concepts in the Uni. Is that not specific enough?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                It’s been said many times before. What you are calling cancel culture and is the fault of SJW’s is a fundemtal feature of human society.

                Yeah that guy had complaints. I’ve said i think CC, the bad kind is real and bad, just overblown, more often a political attack and culture is used a vague way.

                What are the subjects that can’t be discussed is a common query. That one guy in vox is moving the status bar towards 100% but it ain’t finished yet.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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                says:

                “What you are calling racism is a fundamental feature of human society.”

                How persuasive would you find that statement in a discussion of how racism is bad?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Actually, that is a very good way to put it, and one I’ve made on this very blog.

                But maybe a better analogy is to say that group identity, and its enforcement mechanism like shunning and ostracism is a fundamental feature of human nature.

                Which is to say that it is not always a good or bad thing; Sometimes it serves a very useful purpose.
                Sometimes it is toxic .

                Which is to say, whether “cancelling” or shunning or ostracizing is good or bad is very situational and dependent on context.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                To long? Meh i thought it was exactly 18 words to long. I know which words i’m thinking about. But not really an issue, 18 out of 9000 is pretty good.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I’m not asking for more detail.

                Her argument is a sweeping one, that excess censoriousness is stifling our culture.

                My counterargument is that such a sweeping statement fails to be true.

                First, very few voices are actually being silenced; Most of the claims amount to mere scolding or social shunning;

                Second, there are actually some voices that should be silenced as she herself acknowledges in her post.

                It is perfectly reasonable to object to cases of unfair silencing, or unjust shunning; But to gather those up into a sweeping claim about our culture just isn’t so.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                She spent 9000 words making an argument and the comments about how people need what she’s talking about explained in greater detail are sprinkled among the comments complaining about how long the essay is.

                “She took too long to make a confusing argument” ????

                Not a dig on Kristen’s essay, but the above seems like a perfectly valid criticism of an essay. A lot of people think the same thing about Kant….Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Urm….bigotry against others sure as hell seems like a fundamental feature of humans. It is also toxic and needs direct effort to confront.

                Human nature has always had good and bad aspects. Is that such a controversial statement. One of our greatest philosophers said.
                ““We’re human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands! But we can stop it. We can admit that we’re killers . . . but we’re not going to kill today. That’s all it takes! Knowing that we’re not going to kill — today!”

                We’re great and we’re terrible. We have to to choose what to make of our societies and ourselves.

                So what are the taboo topics that absolutely cannot be discussed now?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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                says:

                Greg, I wasn’t complaining about the statement being controversial.

                I was complaining about it being a red herring.

                So what are the taboo topics that absolutely cannot be discussed now?

                Can’t discuss or can’t discuss without being cancelled (as defined in Kristin’s essay above)?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Is it controversial? What can’t be talked about w/o being cancelled?

                We know it’s possible to say it was Floyd’s fault he was killed and get paid well for it. So that ain’t it. People can say blacks are less intelligent as a group or lazier so they are dependent on government. Peeps say transmen are actually pedo’s. You can wish alleged child sex traffickers well. So those things are out. You can make good money calling people commies who hate america and want to destroy it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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                says:

                And, at the same time, there are reports of college professors removing stuff from their courses for fear of cancellation.

                And you’re pointing to people who weren’t cancelled as a counter-argument to the people who are talking about the Cancel Culture forcing them to keep their heads down and take the controversial books off of the required reading.

                Pointing out that so-and-so didn’t get cancelled isn’t an argument against the examples of people who did.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Since i’ve said i think there is a nugget of truth in the claims about CC finding something that might be true doesn’t real mean much. Maybe some are, maybe the reports are bad anecdotes, maybe the profs are drama profs. None of that addresses the criticisms i have with the cancel culture narrative and, realistically as expected, doesn’t lead to you saying what things can’t be said now.

                The pro CC view ignores a lot of other worse threats to free speech, is to often just a culture war cudgel, is often applied to defend against criticisms or thinking the wrong way about historical figures and ignores when “cancelling” is an appropriate reaction to grossly inappropriate behavior. You’re not really addressing any of that.

                What can’t be said now? What is out of bounds?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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                says:

                Greg, I’m discussing a culture where people are saying that they’re deliberately not adding Upton Sinclair to their courses because they’re afraid.

                You’re asking “What, exactly, are they not allowed to talk about? Be precise!”

                And I’m pointing out the environment and reports about the environment and how it results in people being afraid to push back against students in a goddamn university setting.

                And you’re asking what, specifically, they’re not allowed to talk about. Again. Despite them coming out and saying “I’m afraid to talk about Upton Sinclair.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                “People are saying”…

                Well, I’m convinced.

                What we keep asking for are specific cases so we can look at them.

                How about we actually hear from some of these terrified professors?
                I’m happy to stipulate that there probably are some who get fired unjustly.

                But before we stampede into a blind panic, lets look a little closer and see what is really happening.

                Like, when a professor says he is “afraid” what is he actually afraid of? Being fired, or just criticized harshly?
                Are his forbidden content something reasonable, or actually hateful and indefensible?

                These things are important, and make all the difference. Sweeping platitudes about free speech and panic-mongering about “some people are saying” is unproductive.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                If only there was an organization devoted to documenting all those cases, and defending the rights of students and faculty against the craziness.

                TheFIRE.orgReport

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I linked to the essay in which people were saying it, Chip. There was also a letter signed by many prominent people.

                Stuff like this is why Kristen’s essay was so long.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The Letter?
                Wasn’t that just a bunch of statements saying “people are saying”, without any specific cases?

                All we really have is a bunch of second and third hand allegations of of a general atmosphere of feelings.

                Again, I’m happy to accept that there are a few cases somewhere. In a vast nation, there would almost have to be.
                But to make a persuasive case for a pervasive climate of suppression you need to demonstrate patterns, which need many multiples of cases.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                How many would suffice for you?

                I mean, let’s say that I offer up Brett Weinstein as an example of a professor who was a victim of the Cancel Culture.

                Is the counterargument that, since he won a lawsuit, therefore he wasn’t cancelled and since he wasn’t cancelled then he wasn’t a victim of Cancel Culture?

                I’m just wondering at what the baseline of what would constitute examples that you would say “okay, another… three… like that one and I’ll say that maybe there is a climate that some people might be inspired to write a letter like the one the original essay was about.”

                What’s your baseline? Give me a baseline and I will find you examples that meet it.

                I mean, unless Brett Weinstein doesn’t count because he’s not dead or something like that.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                How many examples of liberals being silenced would convince you of a climate of hostility to liberals?

                I would think you would want a lot of examples, from different places.
                And examples of something more than “people made fun of me on Twitter” stuff.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Wait… what just happened?

                You asked me for evidence and I offered up Brett Weinstein as an example of someone that I thought would qualify as evidence and, instead of being told “yes he is” or “no he isn’t”, I’m now being asked to talk about a climate of hostility to liberals?

                I admit to being torn between saying “Seriously. Does Brett Weinstein count or not?” and explaining to you that there is no climate of hostility to liberals and sending you off to the Google and, when you come back with an example, starting to talk about something else entirely without even acknowledging that you got evidence for the thing I asked you for.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jay, there is no number of cases great enough to convince Chip that this is a real problem. To paraphrase Upton Sinclaire; It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary politics depends on his not understanding it.

                For Chip to understand this and the danger it poses to liberalism, he would have to admit that the danger comes from his party, his team. And that is not acceptable.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                No, your example is fine.
                You asked for a baseline of “how many” and I answered “a lot”.

                I’m happy to use Bret Weinstein as an example. I don’t know his case but am happy to hear about it. I’ll read a bit more when I get a moment.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                How many is “a lot”? More than you can reasonably expect someone to provide examples of?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                That’s why I asked about how many you would need if the cases were reversed.

                How many do you need to be persuaded that something is pervasive and widespread?

                Would “a lot ” be unreasonable?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                …is this a bullet that you think I won’t bite?

                “What evidence do you have that the problem mentioned in the letter written by the left about the conservatives actually exists?”

                “I dunno… I’d be willing to say that there’s firm grounds for the argument if you can find me three different examples… like one from academia, one from popular culture, and one from journalism or something.”

                I mean, that may not be enough for me to agree that there’s a Conservative Cancel Culture but, with three good examples, I’d have to say “Okay, I can see how someone might say that there’s a problem, even though I would prefer to explain to them that the world is complicated and they really need to be less closed minded and they have to understand how nuanced the world is.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Sure three examples is a good start.

                Maybe even better if we stop talking about a “culture of cancellation” or “climate of fear” and just say “let’s condemn unjust firings whenever we find them”.

                I could get on board with that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                “A good start”… gotta say, I’m not feeling inspired.

                Is this going to turn into “Sure, you found three but the plural of anecdote only becomes data with an n that equals 10,000 or so”?

                And I still don’t know if Brett meets the baseline of having been a victim of Cancel Culture. I don’t want to use him as a measuring stick and then find out that he doesn’t count because he’s not dead and still has friends.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Imagine I find three Republicans who are admitted white supremacists.

                Look, if your argument is literally that “this happening a lot” wouldn’t it be reasonable to want to see “a lot” of data points?

                What’s wrong with “let’s condemn any cases of unjust harm”?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I think that if someone was arguing against the Republican Party having a problem with racism by saying “those are only three people, it’s a country of 300,000,000”, they’d severely undercut that point by having their next sentence be “besides, look at the democrats! They’re racist too!”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                “Depends on what the meaning of “is” is.”

                Chip, watch this video, I think it will help you understand what you keep insisting is nonsense.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=vcntFZcpfII&feature=emb_titleReport

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                What’s weird about your insistence that cancel culture is a Big Problem is that you’re discounting the incentive structure which allows this type of behavior to become a problem (to the extent that it is, anyway).

                Universities *could* make a decision to back their profs over the kids, but they don’t. So figuring out why (money, is my guess) is important.

                As an example, an English lit professor should have absolutely no reservations about assigning and studying Huckleberry Finn as it was originally written since the purpose of investigation (such as it is) is literary in its focus, and not (say) social moral philosophy. It seems to me that universities could draw a bright line distinction between studying Huck Finn in the English lit department, the history department, or in the Social Justice department.

                On the other hand, if universities *can’t* make those clear distinctions – because current culture just can’t support reading HF in an academic literary context any more – then the problem is much bigger than SJW cancel culture. It really is a radical shift in what people find acceptable, a shift that “the kids” are riding in the wake of.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Well, the Universities, at some point in the last couple of decades or so, became much more “customer oriented”.

                I want to say that this happened at the same time as the tuition really starting to balloon well outside of the rate of inflation.

                It’s like someone looked at the lifetime difference between incomes of college and non-college and said “WE SHOULD GET A PIECE OF THAT!” and then we were off to the races.

                And, in becoming customer-oriented, the universities decided to cater to their customers (who were now paying out the nose) instead of following the ideals of the idea of the University.

                We’re all worse off for that having happened, I think.

                Anyway, there does seem to be a correction coming.

                Lambda School, Google University, so on and so forth.

                There’s one hell of a correction coming.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The change from universities being primarily state funded/public services to a model of federally backed student loans seems like it’s probably part of the equation. It makes me wonder if these issues are less pronounced at state schools than small, private ones. The big uproars seem to track mostly back to little liberal arts schools but maybe that’s just where the spotlight is.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Well, there’s a long (or short) history of how the universities became cowardly indoctrination centers, well documented by groups like F.I.R.E., but I think the crux is that the ____ studies departments and social media turned morality into a positional good.

                Whatever a university might be teaching, the most moral people will object to it because raising an objection allows them to look more moral than remaining silent. So everyone forms a mad rush to “ban all the things!”, thinking that makes them part of the virtuous elite.

                It has no objective endpoint or goal because the only goal is to stay at the front of the pack. The downside is that everything of value gets trampled by the stampede. Historically, one thing that ends such virtue spirals is the US Air Force.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner
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                says:

                Well, there’s a long (or short) history of how the universities became cowardly indoctrination centers,

                This cuts both ways, actually. Since the 90s (I believe) David Horowitz has pressured universities – including CU-Boulder (my alma) – to hire a (quote!) Professor of Conservative Thought. They’ve actively considered it, despite it being a blatantly *political* act which runs counter to academic principles.

                Also, long before Cancel Culture was a thing, Ward Churchill was fired from his tenured position at CU after conservative outrage that he used the phrase “little Eichmanns” to refer to members of some American institutions in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                I believe that they merely called for his firing. He was kept because of tenure.

                He was officially fired because of “academic misconduct“.

                (Now if you want to argue that nobody would have looked twice at any of this misconduct without the Eichmann quotation, you would, of course, be right. But they *DID* start finding things the moment they brought out their fine-tooth combs.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                Churchill was canceled before canceling was cool.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                The first line of the thing you linked to:

                Ward Churchill was dismissed from the University of Colorado (CU) in 2007, having been convicted of plagiarism as well as fabrication and falsification of evidence for his claims that the United States government had been complicit in the genocide of Native Americans.

                This is why it’s important for people to read things for themselves.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Some of us read past the first line. Anyone else is welcome to.Report

              • Avatar KenB in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                I was one of those people — but AFAICT it confirms what Jaybird said. What are you seeing there that’s different?Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to KenB
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                says:

                Hint-there is a 100-odd page attachment.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                So many memories…:

                I’m not interested in whether you think “the point,” whatever you think it is, has been addressed. I don’t give homework assignments and I don’t take them.

                Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I’m not telling him to read it. He asked what he was missing and I told him. He can read it or not as he sees fit.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                If he reads enough of it, will he get to a part that doesn’t confirm what I said already?Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I think so, but anyone who cares need not take my word for it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                Is there a particular page number where this becomes apparent or will we only see how the evidence that you provided that, at first glance, agrees with what I said turns around and becomes a document that disagrees with me?

                Or will I have to read the whole 100 pages to get the gestalt?

                (Also, could you summarize how it ends up disagreeing with what I said after you have grasped the entire gestalt of the thing? Or is it too complicated to put into a precis?)Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                You don’t have to read anything. I found something on the internet and linked to it. Isn’t that how it’s done around here?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Sure. But, when I linked to a document, it was in support of my argument that Churchill was officially fired for misconduct (but, indeed, nobody would have cared about the misconduct without the Eichmanns essay). In support of this, I posted a link that said “The CU Board of Regents fired Churchill in 2007 after an investigation concluded he had committed numerous acts of academic misconduct.”

                And you said “Here’s a link!”

                And your link said, and I’m copying and pasting this, “Ward Churchill was dismissed from the University of Colorado (CU) in 2007, having been convicted of plagiarism as well as fabrication and falsification of evidence for his claims that the United States government had been complicit in the genocide of Native Americans.”

                And, apparently, you linked to that because your argument is that the paper you linked to does not agree with my argument that, officially, Churchill was fired for misconduct.

                I’m going to have to say that you didn’t read the 100 page document that you’re saying argues against my point.

                You didn’t even read the opening sentence.

                If you had, you wouldn’t have posted it as anything but support for my argument.

                Which the paper you linked to does.

                You really should have read it for yourself.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You’re guessing about why I linked to it and whether I read it. That’s two bad guesses.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                You’ve already said that you think that if someone read the whole thing, they’d get to a part that disagrees with me.

                So that pretty much eliminates the possibility that you posted it to *BOLSTER* my argument.

                And given that, had you read it, you wouldn’t have said that someone who read it would get to the part where it disagrees with me so that possibility has been eliminated too.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t have, and never had, any interest in either supporting or rebutting what you characterize as an “argument” about Ward Churchill. I do think that anyone who reads the 100-odd page report will come away with a rather different understanding of the case. I doubt anyone is interested enough to bother, and I said all I care to on it back then. I’ve supplied a resource in case anyone still cares. Whether anyone uses it is up to them.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                So someone who reads the report will come up with a different understanding of the case than, here, let me copy and paste what I said again:

                He was officially fired because of “academic misconduct“.

                (Now if you want to argue that nobody would have looked twice at any of this misconduct without the Eichmann quotation, you would, of course, be right. But they *DID* start finding things the moment they brought out their fine-tooth combs.)

                Would you be willing to explain what this “rather different” understanding of the case would be, if it is not that?Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                No. I posted a resource for those who might be interested. And to make a joke that obviously went over your head, even after a hint. If you want to argue about the Ward Churchill case itself, find someone who cares.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Thank you for posting an interesting resource for those who might be interested.

                100 pages! Golly!Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Does the report delve into Ward Churchill being a pure-blood European (equal or less Native American ancestry than Winston Churchill) who was also a race hustling scumbag and a fraud?Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                Why ask me? You can read it yourself.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                If it does, it does. He’d be able to point to a page number.

                If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. He’d be able to say it doesn’t.

                But if he didn’t even read it before posting, he just googled “ward churchill report” and posted the first link without so much as reading the first sentence, he’d be stuck saying “read it for yourself”.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m very familiar with Ward Churchill from going after him back when he was a thing. His “smallpox blanket” claims were bunk, and on top of that, you can’t get smallpox from a blanket any more than you can catch Covid from blue jeans imported from China. Even un-vaccinated women who worked in the laundry rooms of smallpox wards in India, for years, didn’t catch smallpox. That’s not how it spreads.

                Elizabeth Warren’s equally bogus claims of Indian ancestry drew lots of comparison to Ward Churchill, which kept the topic fresh.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                The Smallpox Blanket thing was something that I even believed for a while. It showed up in a lot of places.

                Including Jim Jarmusch’s wonderful film “Dead Man” starring Johnny Depp with delightful cameos by Crispin Glover and Iggy Pop! (Huh, the blanket guy himself was Alfred Molina. Doctor Octopus out there selling blankets!)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                The *idea* of infecting Native Americans with small pox via linens/blankets was discussed among the early British colonists, and it was likely even implemented. The evidence is pretty quiet about the success of the plan, which probably indicates it failed.

                I can’t recall what Churchill said about it though. Did he say that Native populations were *in fact* the victims of biological warfare, or only that attempts to do so were made?

                Add: Isn’t there an early American mythology which has Kit Carson (I think?) bragging about infecting native populations with small pox?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Here’s what I was able to google:

                “The purpose of the footnote is to provide more information,” he said. “There was additional information I could have cited, but did not find it necessary.”

                On smallpox being introduced to the Indians by the Army:

                “I’ve been hearing this all my life from traditional sources and mainstream sources. It’s enshrined in songs and oral traditions specific to the Mandan,” Churchill said.

                Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, if he’s relying on the myth I’m referring to as his source, then he definitely has some splainin to do. From what I remember about that specific topic, there is no evidence that Carson, or any other early/frontier-era American used blankets or any other means to intentionally infect NAs.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s one of those things where his major sin was embarrassing his employer.

                The “Little Eichmanns” thing was something that was *MADE* for the O’Reilly Factor. It was also so over-the-top that it could easily result in a non-zero number of donors calling and asking “what the hell is with this Churchill thing?”

                Not the Republicans, mind. They’re not “CU Boulder” types. The CU Boulder types who made it big and moved to NYC and, for some reason, saw the WTC attack as a personal affront rather than a feminine society understandably striking back against the phallus of a masculine one.

                So the CU Boulder folks got out their fine-tooth combs and started finding stuff and it wasn’t a one-off here or there. There was a *LOT* of stuff they found.

                And so, once again, he embarrassed his employer.

                And, this time, in a way that not only gave his employer an out to fire him (and explain to donors that he no longer works there) but also one where the best defense against his shenanigans is to point out “you never would have investigated him if it weren’t for the Little Eichmanns thing!”Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Again, I read the 100-odd page report. I’ve done my work and shared what I found. Others can do theirs.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                You haven’t shared what you’ve found.

                You’ve asserted you’ve found things and then when asked to expand on what you assert you’ve found, told people to read it for themselves.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                And that’s what I’m going to keep doing. I’ve done all the work I care to do on the subject. I’m not taking assignments from people who don’t want to put in their own work. If they don’t want to put in the work, either because they don’t care about the subject or because they’re lazy, fine, I won’t criticize them for it. But I’m not doing it for them.
                And you still don’t get the joke.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Is the joke “I made a false assertion, made people waste their time reading something that I had not read, then claimed I was joking when called out on it”?

                Because that is kinda funny. I guess.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                No.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                The report is unintentionally hilarious. It reminds me of the UPenn “investigation” into coach Jerry Sandusky, and mostly serves to illustrate how deep the rot in academia is. As long as some other nutcase in academia (or perhaps in a homeless shelter) will support one of Churchill’s claims, they take the claims as valid.

                For two quick examples:

                Forty years later Churchill would be ubiquitously characterized as a “fake Indian” and
                charged, briefly, with “ethnic fraud” by University of Colorado-Boulder chancellor Phil DiStefano. Regardless of these charges, it is uncontested that while he was growing up, he was well acquainted with family stories of his Indian heritage. These reports are bolstered by accounts from acquaintances in Elmwood, Illinois, where Churchill grew up.

                Ward claimed to have been an eighth of this tribe and a sixteenth of that tribe, and part of another tribe, etc. Out of 152 or so of his ancestors that were traced, not a single one was an Indian. It is highly doubtful that his lily white family in Chicago, in the 1950’s, would falsely tell family members that they were Indians, given that at the time, Indians were portrayed as the savages that John Wayne and Roy Rogers shot at all day on TV. But as far as the university is concerned, his claims are all good.

                The report says: “The irony of serving in a foreign army waging war on an indigenous population was not lost on Churchill. Churchill has described the experience of “waking up to find myself in the equivalent of Custer’s 7th Cavalry, participating in a genocidal war against an indigenous population” as having been the “catalyst for everything in my life that’s happened since, intellectually and otherwise.” Always a talented writer, he began issuing mimeographed “anti-war and anti-military screeds” to troops in-country. These were mostly published anonymously, sometimes under pseudonyms, the risks of attributing such work to oneself being obvious. By the time of his honorable discharge, Churchill considered himself a de facto member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), an organization that reached prominence when one of its members, John Kerry, testified in 1971 about war crimes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. ”

                Ward claimed he was Airborne in Vietnam, a LRRP, and a point man in an infantry unit that hunted NVA throughout 1968. In reality, he was never in combat, wasn’t trained for combat, and did audio-visual work. Maybe his thumb got sucked into a movie projector at some point, but I really doubt he was out there on his own, having a “Dances with Wolves” moment as he pursued Colonel Kurtz up the Nung River.

                But apparently this is what gets passed off as life-experience in academia.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                “ And, in becoming customer-oriented, the universities decided to cater to their customers (who were now paying out the nose) instead of following the ideals of the idea of the University.”

                So conservatives are mad that the profit-motive isn’t favorable to their worldview?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Depends on the conservatives, I guess.

                I imagine the religious conservatives are pointing at the colleges and saying “SEE?!?!? SEE?!?!?” while the hawks are chuckling to themselves and thinking that the military becomes a better option for more of the country with every single tuition hike that is tied to yet another alienating mandatory course on how Men are Bad. The fiscal conservatives are probably saying stuff like “well, this was inevitable, once you looked at the difference between the lifetime earnings of the college vs. non college students”. (I mean, the ones who aren’t saying stuff like “are you sure we’re not mixing up inputs and outputs again?”)

                The libertarians are probably talking about the importance of getting rid of the government loan incentive to keep raising prices while the paleocons are saying that college has only gotten worse since the 70’s and it was bad then. The neocons are probably telling people where they went to school and expecting the people they’re telling to be impressed.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                If higher ed was showing its usefulness to those conservatives, they probably wouldn’t mind the cost increases (as much as anyone hates cost increases when budgeting). But, if college becomes a wash financially, then forcing them through artificial hoops that violate many of their core values does not satisfy a perfectly reasonable profit motive. It is a simple cost-benefit analysis.

                But, cancel-culture has zero to do with the increase in college cost, but much more to do with crappy pedagogy. I discuss elsewhere in the thread.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                That wasn’t my point. If colleges are caving to “cancel culture” because it is financially beneficial… well… ain’t that sumptin.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Maybe I am missing something, but how do we know it is financially beneficial? I seem to recall that the institutions that have really gone with this, Missouri State, Evergreen college for example, have seen enrollment plummet, which costs the uni in layoffs and lost prestige.

                What am I missing?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m quoting JB here:
                “And, in becoming customer-oriented, the universities decided to cater to their customers (who were now paying out the nose) instead of following the ideals of the idea of the University.”

                If that ain’t what’s happening, then I take it back. I took him at his word here.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m willing to argue that that is what is happening.

                I’d also argue that that seems to have a *LOT* of unintended consequences downstream.

                (Including the whole “not knowing how to stop” thing which is interesting as hell.)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                So… the profit-motive has negative consequences? Interesting.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                I would be interested in the causality of JB’s argument, but in my estimation, no, that isn’t what is at the root of this. I do agree that there have been a lot of actions that are directly related to colleges having raised costs, but that comes down more to living and dining arrangements on campus.

                No, students acting out in the method we are currently calling cancel-culture is a long term aspect of human society and is nothing different than the so-called moral-majority from the eighties. And in both cases, it takes someone to lead the students or congregation; the teachers and preachers. This is learned behavior. You can see early glimpses of this in the times universities tried to cancel various conservative speakers, no matter how outre or banal.

                ETA; there is nothing to take back, it is all good.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                My general sense is in line with Greg’s above, in that this isn’t something new… just the latest flavor. It’s problematic when it happens but many claims of it happening are in fact something else.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                You made a comment on another of the million posts on this topic that I thought was insightful. I don’t have time to hunt it down but I believe the thrust was that the guy with the Hitler picture on his twitter account is probably self-marginalizing for a host of reasons up to and including personal dysfunction. Old school liberalism has won that battle and no one mourns the fact that we no longer need to seriously address the tenets of Adolf Hitler’s racial philosophies or give quarter to people making those particular arguments.

                The question though is whether we apply the standard for Hitler Twitter Guy to Guy Who Appears To Make ‘OK’ Sign. There’s a whole underlying philosophy here that asserts (and begs the question) that anyone who does not accept the tenets of college style critical theory is the equivalent of Hitler Twitter Guy and can be treated the same. Stating that anyone who has a problem with this is really just sad they can’t call black people the n-word or compliment a coworker’s breasts anymore seems to miss the point, or at the very least is unresponsive to the actual criticisms. At a most basic level it is an attempt to steal a step and win a cultural victory through institutional coercion rather than through liberal means.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
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                says:

                I do believe the OP deals with this, when she mentions that Cancel Culture is largely about ascribing/assigning motives to persons without evidence, based solely upon thin statements taken largely out of context.

                There is also a nasty strain of ad hominem to CC.

                I also agree (and have said before) that CC is just the name we give to the current (Twitter-ized) iteration of an old tradition, one practiced by all cultural factions for as long as we’ve had society. This iteration has it’s own character, but if you hum the tune, you would swear you know that song (McCarthy, Hays Code, Moral Majority, etc.).Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Oscar, I agree that cancel culture isn’t any different in practice or effect than what occurred in previous eras, except in one way: liberal cancel culture is trying to silence folks who express the status quo beliefs of the *dominant* culture. That flips the age-old silencing mechanism on its head and in my mind is one reason reactionaries and traditionalists are so freaked out my it.

                Add: or, to narrow it down a bit, a lot of people only got hopped up about the issue of social pressure silencing individuals views when *their own* views were being targeted. I think that’s driving a lot of the hysteria around it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I think you are absolutely right.

                But that doesn’t mean CC is an effective way to upset the status quo. It is most certainly not a method that captures hearts and minds. Perhaps it would be if there was better target acquisition and only the Richard Spencer’s of the world found themselves getting cancelled.

                And perhaps Chip is right, perhaps very few people actually get ‘cancelled’, where they lose their platform and are driven from the public sphere for a time. But (and we’ve talked about this before) the fact is that a lot of powerless people find themselves on the wrong end of a cancel campaign. Even if ultimately no jobs are lost and the storm blows over, for a time, it can be scary as hell.

                And I’m sure someone will say, “Well, LGBTQ people are scared all the time when bigots come calling.” And I am certain they are. But, to be a bit crude here, scaring the white folk is not how you change the status quo.Report

              • Avatar Jesse in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                My whole problem with the idea that “powerless” people getting cancelled is far more people get “cancelled” from their job every year by their bosses every year for trying to organize their workplace or hell, trying to have some sort of stability and flexibility in their workplace, and they never get long articles written up about them in supposedly centrist or “free thinking” magazines.

                So, I’ll make a deal – I’ll give a damn about the supposedly tons of powerless people who get cancelled for getting caught up in the changing norms of society, when we repeal right to work laws, and treat wage theft as seriously as we do burglary, since more money is actually lost with the former than the latter.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jesse
                Ignored
                says:

                My whole problem with the idea that “powerless” people getting cancelled is far more people get “cancelled” from their job every year by their bosses every year for trying to organize their workplace or hell, trying to have some sort of stability and flexibility in their workplace, and they never get long articles written up about them in supposedly centrist or “free thinking” magazines.

                So, I’ll make a deal – I’ll give a damn about the supposedly tons of powerless people who get cancelled for getting caught up in the changing norms of society, when we repeal right to work laws, and treat wage theft as seriously as we do burglary, since more money is actually lost with the former than the latter.

                My God, it’s another me!Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jesse
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not opposed to that, depending on the details.

                I mean, I won’t cater to ideas that once you get hired, you have a lock solid right to that job unless you break the law or something, but I’m certainly fine with not having dismissals be arbitrary and capricious. But those details matter.

                As for wage theft, I’m fine with treating it as seriously as any other kind of theft or fraud. IIRC, the problem is that it’s a bear to prove unless the employer is dumb as shite about it.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                InMD,

                I don’t think that was me but maybe. It is aligned with my general thought that nuance is dead and we all suffer as a result.

                Some things are bad. Some things are worse. We aren’t made better off by making all bad things worse.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Hey-oo, I almost missed this comment. But I absolutely agree with you here. Which doesn’t make it something that doesn’t need to be called out, but like any of those social functions that go back into time (social shaming, fear of the other, etc.) we need to call it out when we see it. Where I disagree with Greg is the passivity towards it, as if it wasn’t destructive and is akin to “boys will be boys,” another bad argument that passively OK’s horrific behavior.

                Oscar, in his response to your post, calls out earlier, and equally destructive behaviors along this line, to which I would add one other that I would ad witch-hunting. We know better, we have seen this, and its consequences, before.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                “Where I disagree with Greg is the passivity towards it, as if it wasn’t destructive and is akin to “boys will be boys,” another bad argument that passively OK’s horrific behavior.”

                The slight push back I’d offer here would be with regards to what is actually happening.

                Is some college kid ranting and raving about firing his professor while everyone rolls their eyes? Fine. Let him be. I think we can be passive towards *that individual*.

                Is that individual gaining traction, having his voice amplified and acquiesced to? Well, yea, now we need to dig in and start doing some real work, either ferreting out the legitimacy of their claims and pursuing due diligence in our response OR pushing back or something in between.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                No reservations about agreeing with all of this. Well put, Kazzy.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Maybe I’ll read it a bit more carefully, but two things jumped out at me in that roiling, meandering essay:

            1. That the only formal complaint he received was from a person who didn’t like his response to the suggestion that black people caused the economic collapse because Fannie and Freddy kept giving houses to black people, nothing for white people. He said it was probably not a correct analysis, and over-simplified the problem.

            2. The second , only indirectly mentioned (unless I missed it), is the role student evaluations play in re-hiring decision. He said that profs who received lower than 3.0 on their cumulative evals had been fired. Of course, the students *also* know that profs’ hiring prospects and tenure are dependent on receiving good evals, so it could be that they leverage that fact against profs presenting views which they personally find offensive. “Both sides” will do this.

            So I wonder to what extent the expressed fear of offering opinions in an academic setting is caused by according kids too much power over the discourse, as opposed to the nefarious influence of SJW-identity politics on campus (or Creeping Conservatism…).Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Stillwater
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              says:

              Lord knows 30 or 60 years ago, pre cc, adjunct profs were free say anything they could possibly want without any repercussions. There were no rules back then, academia was the Wild West and a biker bar mixed together.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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              says:

              Well, the thing that I see about Cancel Culture that I think is bad is the whole “maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud” phenomenon.

              Here’s a relevant section from the essay:

              I have intentionally adjusted my teaching materials as the political winds have shifted. (I also make sure all my remotely offensive or challenging opinions, such as this article, are expressed either anonymously or pseudonymously). Most of my colleagues who still have jobs have done the same. We’ve seen bad things happen to too many good teachers — adjuncts getting axed because their evaluations dipped below a 3.0, grad students being removed from classes after a single student complaint, and so on.

              I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to “offensive” texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students’ ire and sealed his fate. That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik — and I wasn’t the only one who made adjustments, either.

              There seems to be phenomenon where people are explaining “hey, I’m seriously adjusting my style to keep from offending anybody” and the response comes “Good! You shouldn’t be allowed to tell blonde jokes in a class about American History!” rather than “Wait, you felt like you had to remove the Upton Sinclair section?”

              And the response is always “that guy is overreacting! And so are all of the people who he claims are doing similar! Assuming they even exist! Also, this has been going on for years.” rather than “Well, this is yet another report of this thing happening.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Right, sure. But the question is two fold: why do kids feel justified in complaining about the materials presented (rather than remaining quietly offended), and why are professors so scared to offend?

                The answer (I’m proposing) is the same for both: that teachers careers depend on favorable student evaluations. The teachers know this (so they pander to the kids, inflate grades, etc) and the kids know this (so they make demands on the profs, expect grade inflation, etc).

                I mean, the quotation you provde makes my point perfectly:

                I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to “offensive” texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain.

                Ask yourself this: what role did the department play in *reinforcing* the faculty’s fears when they didn’t rehire the adjunct for purely non-academic, in fact anti-academic reasons? It gave more power to the students, accorded less protection and security to the profs, right? By firing/not-rehiring that adjunct for those reasons, the department created the problem the faculty is complaining about.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Add: I guess I should say clarify that it’s not like the student-teacher culture changed instantaneously once student evals were elevated to being a criterion for termination/hiring/tenure. It’s been a long slow slide to get where we are now.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                It isn’t weird to me that kids would demand some ridiculous shit. What’s weird to me is that the response is something other than ‘college isn’t for everyone, do the work or withdraw.’ And I was a humanities major, this century too!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD
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                says:

                I think the answer to that is a bit complicated, but comes down to shift in institutional focus that occurred at the same time (part and parcel!) with student evals (at least at the uni where I went to undergrad and grad school): students are customers and customers are always right. (“Customer satisfaction is our number one priority!” Pick your slogan.)

                Students were paying a lot of money for these degrees, and at that price they expect some real value. Like good grades. And not being presented with ideas that challenge their world views. Or make them feel dumb.

                I mean, the way I phrased it is a bit overly simplistic but I think it captures the dynamic pretty well.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh no! The liberal arts contagion is infecting the B-school!

                Business students at the University of Colorado are speaking out against what they see as unfair “grade deflation” guidelines that limit the number of students who can receive the highest marks.

                Undergraduates in the Leeds School of Business are gathering signatures on a petition that calls on school leaders to throw out the suggested grading structure, which recommends grade distribution percentages to instructors and professors.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh man, that is the dumbest way to grade ever. I would protest to. Just terrible.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                You’re a fan of the 40% A, 40% B, 20% C distribution, eh?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Here’s a perfect example of what I mean:

                Tik Tokkers put more effort into their videos than my professor. Preparing for a final in a history class and counting the ‘um’s and ‘uh’s in the professor’s video lectures. 20 in the first minute. I’m paying $3k a class to listen to teacher say um.

                I get marked down when I dont live up to the standards of professionalism that he insists on. I deserve to have the self respect to want the people that work for me to live up to a very basic level of professionalism. I’m paying him very well to teach me

                These kids are customers buying a service first, students second.

                “I deserve to have the self respect to want…”Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Kids need to parse this stuff out.

                Criticism of teaching styles and pedagogy – legit
                Criticism of curriculum and content – You gotta parse that much more carefully.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                The other things to ask ourselves is whether the adjunct author actually knows whether the other adjunct was not renewed because (a word he carefully does not use, preferring “after”) students complained about exposure to Edward Said and Mark Twain — both staples of various curricula. It is extremely unlikely that the decision-makers shared their reasoning with the author. And it is extremely unlikely that the decision-makers told the non-renewed adjunct anything of the sort. Normally, they don’t have to tell you anything at all, and HR and college lawyers make damn sure the decision-makers know that they shouldn’t say anything, let alone anything stupid.
                Maybe the non-renewed adjunct thinks he knows why he wasn’t renewed, and maybe he shared his suspicions with the author — or maybe it was third- or fourth-hand gossip. Or maybe the author has sources of information he didn’t share. Though what they might be is mysterious.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                For a guy who’s rabidly opposed to conspiracy theories you sure leaned into them in the above comment. 🙂

                But actually I get your point. The evidence of firings for “insensitivity” might not be thereReport

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                What’s the “conspiracy”? It’s an open and notorious fact that you don’t have to explain yourself when you decide not to re-hire an adjunct. And it’s only common sense, reinforced by HR and the damn lawyers, not to.
                Just to be clear, I’m not calling the author a liar. He probably thinks he knows what he says he thinks. He just hasn’t given us any reason to think so.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Sure he has. He may be wrong, but he’s clearly saying that the adjuncts dismissal was caused by the complaints.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, yes, he’s “saying” it, but he hasn’t given any indication that he was in a position to know whether what he’s saying is true.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                He’s not on trial CJ.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                No, but he’s asking to be believed when he says he knows something that it is unlikely he knows. And people are citing him as proof of this thing he probably doesn’t know. Asking “how do you know?” is a far cry from being put on trial.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                “Well, the thing that I see about Cancel Culture that I think is bad is the whole “maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud” phenomenon.”

                I mean, the concern about Chilling Effects was not, historically, a conservative concern.

                “Well maybe it SHOULD be,” people say, and yeah, maybe it should, but it’s not gonna be–or, at least, not exclusively. Like, it’s gonna be the NBA Fan Gear Store stopping you putting “Free Hong Kong” on a custom jersey, it’s gonna be blogging-service “porn bans” that stop discussion of trans or gay issues because they use the same words, it’s gonna be you getting fired because there’s photos of you at the Pride March and It Is The Company’s Official Position To Not Take Any Position.Report

    • Avatar KenB in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      The real debate around wokeness and cancel culture is between the old/moderate left and the young/SJ left — this is why I didn’t find Breunig’s response very compelling. Both sides of the debate agree on Trump, the GOP, etc., so why waste time on it in a letter that’s looking at a different problem among a different set of people.

      Similarly, of course there will be plently folks on the right who will comment on this debate in a way that’s not respectful or helpful, but to use those voices as a reason not to take the criticism seriously is a dodge.

      I think Alan Cole had a good quick summary of the issues:

      1. Narrow vs wide range of accepted discourse
      2. Left-tilted vs center-left range of accepted discourse
      3. Lesser vs greater threshold for proof of guilt
      4. [perceived] moral clarity and privilege-balancing vs [perceived] civility and logical rigor

      Report

    • Avatar CJColucci in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      Now Greg, that’s not playing fair.Report

  5. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    Remember when I said something about the “quislings being consumed by the machine”? Yeah, all movements like this eventually turn on their own and it always seems to end in blood.

    Are we ever going to get a Fence? I don’t think so, not for a while. It’s a lot easier when everyone’s values are pretty much shared…that ain’t the case now…..now the fence will likely be built by those who either survive or win. Either way, I think there’s gonna be a lot of blood.Report

  6. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    All people, everywhere, support free speech.
    All people, everywhere, support censorship.

    These aren’t contradictory statements of course.

    Everyone has some preferred range of acceptable speech, and a preferred enforcement mechanism for it.

    I’m not aware of some easy algorithm that defines these things to everyone’s satisfaction.

    Which is my problem with the Harper’s Letter, that it assumed there was some obvious line which had been crossed and some self evident harms that had been done.

    It seems silly to speak in terms of sweeping principles because not all speech is equal and not all speech is deserving of protection, and not all cases of voices being silenced are axoimatically bad.Report

  7. Avatar Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    Kristin – Please don’t take this as an insult to you or the ideas in this article. But, 9000 words? That’s too much. I wouldn’t say anything, but I found myself nodding along with Gabriel’s comment. I hate to comment on articles that I haven’t fully read, but I was stalling out on this one before my right-side scroller was 20% down the page.Report

  8. Avatar DavidTC
    Ignored
    says:

    To address the issue of ‘It is dangerous to give corporations control over speech, and liberals are only in favor because it is going their way now’, I feel I must point out the _opposite_ thing is also true, in that conservatives have long been in favor of, and still appear to be in favor of in all possible ways except this one, near infinite corporate ‘rights’ without any oversight or control.

    One of these groups is betraying their ‘fundamental principles’, and it’s not really the liberals. The liberal position is ‘It is bad corporations have so much power, but at least we figured out how to get them to target the other side instead of just us’ in not hypocritical, it’s just somewhat cynical.

    This is the same logic arguing that it’s hypocritical for liberals to encourage black people to wander around heavily armed to scare exactly the same people yelling about the 2nd amendment. It’s not really ‘hypocritical’, it’s just taking advantage of the current system to point out the flaws and hypocrisy in supporters of it.

    Because, to be clear, the conservative position is extremely hypocritical, because they’ve been presenting their position as absolutist ‘corporations have civil rights exactly the same as people’…except when corporations use those civil rights to not associate with conservatives!

    I mean, that’s _still_ their position. Right now, there’s conservative outrage that corporations now (finally) can’t discriminate based sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s not exactly a completely mainstream conservative position…but it’s a lot closer to one than cancel culture is to a mainstream liberal position.

    Meanwhile, liberals are arguing for policies that not only would weaken the power of corporations, and put more control in hands of the government and workers, but also make ‘canceling’ much less severe due to safety nets.

    So I point out the same thing I’ve said every time people start complaining about cancel culture: You could stop a lot of cancel culture if you’d get rid of ‘at will’ employment, and even implement stronger protections for workers, including things like instituting some level of worker-based control and/or unions. And had safety nets that make being fired much less of an issue.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      And here’s something conservatives have often missed: Corporations have discriminated against liberals for a really long time.

      I’m not just talking about illegal discrimination…stuff like hairstyles, earrings, and expressed political views, and perceived gender non-conformity, and _all sorts_ of stuff that liberals had to not do. Just ask a Black person about ‘natural hair’ and how it’s perceived as unprofessional.

      And I’m a white guy, but when I _worked at Walmart_ 20 years ago, I was technically in violation of the policy about long hair. That store didn’t happen to care about it for me…but it was a small town and I knew some of the management.

      The very concept of ‘look professional’ is ‘look conservative’. And not just looks…the entire ‘large corporate’ structure is inherently conservative, because it usually has very wealthy, white, fairly conservative men at the top, and only conservatives views are allowed to be expressed, because _everyone higher up_ than you is more conservative than you, and you can’t piss off the boss.

      You want to talk about corporations stifling speech, there it is. Large corporations are really good at it, and have been doing it this entire time. Sorta exactly like how conservatives complain about Hollywood, except in reverse, and literally everywhere else.

      The only new thing is corporations have _also_ started reacting to things that look like PR nightmares, which is what cancel culture actually is.

      (And this is not even getting into the forms of corporate discrimination that is _now_ illegal, but wasn’t for the longest time.)Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
      Ignored
      says:

      “[C]onservatives have long been in favor of, and still appear to be in favor of in all possible ways except this one, near infinite corporate ‘rights’ without any oversight or control.”

      hey buddy i got a deal for you, we’ll both agree that companies can fire or refuse-to-hire whoever they like, for whatever reason, any time they want, no restrictions. sound good?

      “Right now, there’s conservative outrage that corporations now (finally) can’t discriminate based sexual orientation or gender identity.” ah-ha. all hypocrites together, then.

      “The liberal position is ‘It is bad corporations have so much power, but at least we figured out how to get them to target the other side instead of just us’ in not hypocritical, it’s just somewhat cynical.”

      it’s always amazing seeing assholes like you make these arguments that go “look, we don’t LIKE having Death Lasers, honestly, nobody would cheer harder than us if Death Lasers were banned, we advocate for that every chance we get, but since they EXIST we might as well USE them” and expect us to think you’re the good guys.

      like, why is it so hard to not be cynical? What happened to the Audacity Of Hope? Why is it so hard to not do a bad thing that increases the entrenchment of the immoral order you detest?Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        The core error is the belief that liberal ends can be achieved through reactionary means.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        it’s always amazing seeing assholes like you make these arguments that go “look, we don’t LIKE having Death Lasers, honestly, nobody would cheer harder than us if Death Lasers were banned, we advocate for that every chance we get, but since they EXIST we might as well USE them” and expect us to think you’re the good guys.

        In a movie where the other side has been building the Death Stars and aiming them at us, yeah, we’re actually the heroes if we start hacking them to shoot them instead so they have to cut power to them.

        That’s how that would work in movie logic. I’m not saying movie logic is 100% correct…but yes, that is a thing heroes do in movies, it’s a literally a movie scenario.

        like, why is it so hard to not be cynical? What happened to the Audacity Of Hope? Why is it so hard to not do a bad thing that increases the entrenchment of the immoral order you detest?

        Using people’s weapons against them does not ‘increases the entrenchment’ of those weapons. It actually causes them to reconsider those weapons existing at all.

        This is why a _lot_ of the anti-cancel culture people have been forced to focus on academia, because they can assert the rules should somehow be different there. They try to build a universe where it’s perfectly acceptable for _everyone else_ to get fired at will, but different opinions should be protected in academia.

        The problem is that con is wearing a bit thin, because people actually use cancel culture to talk about, for example, Rowling, who is not in academia. Jaybird gave three examples of ‘cancel cultures’, and two of them, David Shor and Gibson’s Bakery, aren’t in academia.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
          Ignored
          says:

          ” I’m not saying movie logic is 100% correct…but yes, that is a thing heroes do in movies, it’s a literally a movie scenario.”

          OT 2020, where the progressive liberal position is that scifi movies featuring wizards with laser swords are a sound basis for morality. What’s next, Solon? Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is a sound basis for a system of government?

          “They try to build a universe where it’s perfectly acceptable for _everyone else_ to get fired at will, but different opinions should be protected in academia.”

          It is utterly weird to me to see someone present “academia should not bow to the whims of the fickle populist mob” as a conservative idea.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            OT 2020, where the progressive liberal position is that scifi movies featuring wizards with laser swords are a sound basis for morality.

            You’re the one who brought up how things would look in a movie.

            I just pointed out you were being a bit dumb about how that would actually look in a movie, because the good guys using enemy weapons against the bad guys is…a really common movie trope.

            Don’t blame me because you don’t know how movies work.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
              Ignored
              says:

              “You’re the one who brought up how things would look in a movie.”

              …what? I didn’t mention movies of any sort.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                I guess I read your comment talking about ‘death lasers’ and ‘good guys’, and assumed you were trying to frame this in fictional good vs evil terms.

                I don’t really know what you’re trying to say now. Are you _literally_ arguing: ‘My side gets to have weapons it uses to kill people, and the other side doesn’t get to use those weapons against us when it wrestles them free?’

                Because otherwise, I don’t have any idea what you’re arguing. You’ve just…reframed the discussion in extreme, but it is still exactly the same thing.

                And the answer is the same: It is perfectly fine to kill people with their own weapons when they are killing you.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “Are you _literally_ arguing: ‘My side gets to have weapons it uses to kill people, and the other side doesn’t get to use those weapons against us when it wrestles them free?’”

                I’m literally arguing that I’ve spent my whole life reading eloquent well-reasoned arguments from a variety of intellectual and philosophical traditions saying that these cultural and social weapons are inherently immoral and should never be used. And now here you are, telling me that yeah sure maybe you’re using the weapons but it’s not immoral for you to use them because you feel real bad about it.

                Like, if you want to move beyond the immoral world then you gotta move beyond it. You can’t bitterly cling to the way things worked, screaming that it’s not fair, that you deserve a turn, that they should have to feel bad too.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Like, if you want to move beyond the immoral world then you gotta move beyond it.

                Either you don’t understand what is going is that the left is still under attack, or you somehow believe the left is Jesus and should not fight back during a fight.

                Again: These are weapons conservatives created, still use, and still defend. Not only do they keep using them, they keep refusing to create any sort of system to make sure people harmed by them still live, aka, a social safety net for people who lose their jobs or cannot get them.

                The left is not Jesus. And has the perfect right to shoot someone with one the guns it wrestled out of people’s hands _while those same people are still shooting at it_.

                But, ultimately, this is exactly what Mike Shilling said: How dare the left not restrict itself! The right are villains, they get to do anything they want, but the left are the good guys.

                And…this isn’t a comic book. We aren’t fighting over imaginary things. We fighting over people who have, for _generations_, been forced out of job opportunities and basic civil rights.

                Oppressors are _really good_ at explaining why the oppressed are not allowed to turn around the tools of oppression and uses them against oppressors.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “These are weapons conservatives created, still use, and still defend.”

                And here you are, arguing like stink and playing last-post-wins in favor of the position that you should be just like those conservatives.

                Seriously, dude, think about where you’re going with this. “These people are horrible bastards, just the worst, absolutely awful people, and I think it’s only proper that we act the same way they do. Don’t worry, we’ll know when to stop, and they’ll definitely understand that this is just us getting back at them for what they did and they definitely won’t see it as their excuse to get back at us later on.”

                “The left is not Jesus.”

                No shit. But maybe that’s the example you should be striving for, here, rather than kicking and screaming like a petulant toddler about how it’s not fair that you’re being told it’s not okay to hit Jimmy even though he hit you first. It’s a lot easier to claim that you have moral authority when you actually act in a morally superior way.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
          Ignored
          says:

          The problem is that con is wearing a bit thin, because people actually use cancel culture to talk about, for example, Rowling, who is not in academia.

          One of the previous defenses against Cancel Culture being bad was “it’s just a bunch of dumb kids at Oberlin”.

          Then it became “it’s just a bunch of dumb kids at Oberlin and a handful on Tumblr”.

          Now we’re complaining that the examples we’re using aren’t even academia-related.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            This is because when cancel culture _started_, it was a way for intelligent grifting conservatives to complain about free speech on college campuses. At least, that was the basis of what evolved into cancel culture.

            This was, in fact, very dumb, on both sides, and very very very very very limited in effect. ‘Who can give speeches at colleges’ is literally unimportant in any sense.

            Unfortunately for that con, like all conservative cons, a bunch of dumbasses who didn’t understand the structure of the con got on board and it fell apart. That con was premised on infringement of rights, and you can’t apply it to anywhere but entities that ‘have to allow free speech’.

            Now, instead, we’re at the point where conservatives are bitching over the problem of corporations firing people due to public pressure.

            Which is as I pointed out, a ‘problem’ that is impossible to square with literally any other way conservatives think about corporations or workers.

            It’s also a problem we don’t even vaguely seem to consider a problem in any another sense. I am unsure why someone who causes public controversy (Whether justified or not) ‘deserves’ a job when 30,000 workers got laid off at Toys R Us because corporate looters stole all the money….oh, wait, I repeated an example, sorry, it’s early. Um…I am not sure why anyone ‘deserves’ a job when gay people could just be fired in most of the US until this June.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
              Ignored
              says:

              Does the PMRC count as something that evolved into Cancel Culture?

              I see family similarities…Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Uh, no, not even slightly. Cancel culture is about people who have said certain things, often political things, or who have done certain things. (Legal things, I think we can agree that people who have actually committed serious crimes should probably be canceled.)

                This is…nothing to do with the labeling of music. To be clear, I think that forcible labeling music, or forcible labeling anything, would be constitutional overreach. But not all constitutional overreach is related to ‘cancel culture’.

                Now, there is a rather clear example in American history of going after people who have certain unpopular political opinions, and getting them fired and unable to get another job, and it’s the most obvious one, so obvious I don’t even need to name it. But just in case people aren’t paying attention…the Red Scare.

                But Red Scare is actually something quantitatively differently. It was the US government doing it. It wasn’t random people demanding the firing of people at a certain place of work, and that place bowing to the pressure, which is ‘cancel culture’. And yes, some of those places doing the firing are government institutions, but it’s not ‘the government’ doing it. It’s some random low-level state administrator who decided on the firing, not the gigantic ‘entire US government’ coming after a person, and there is a difference there. So that’s not quite the same thing.

                However…there’s something _much_ close to cancel culture that occasionally happens. It’s just not some big thing with a name, it’s millions of tiny individual events.

                Go ask gay people what happened in the 80s and 90s…or 00s…or 10s….or 20s…when occasionally group of people would freak out that they had jobs vaguely near children. Or…single female teachers, who would often get fired because of extreme ‘morals policing’, for example, they were seen on a _date_ or holding _beer_.

                Let’s not even ask non-white people how careful _they_ had to be in their job to present as non-offensively as possible, to make sure that the community didn’t rise up about them and demand they get fired. (Or…worse. But we’re just talking about fired here.)

                There’s your ‘thing that evolved into cancel culture’, right there. Employees have had their morality policed in _all sorts_ of ways, through history, including very modern history. Or, rather, individuals having their morality policed by the community, and said community put pressure on their employer to fire them.

                This doesn’t count as cancel culture because because most community policing is, of course, from the conservative side, so they have no problem with it, and often are the ones doing it.

                Uh…I mean…uh…it’s not cancel culture because Twitter’s not involved. I wouldn’t want to imply that conservatives _have literally been doing cancel culture forever_, and are gigantic hypocrites for complaining that two dozen of them got hit with it.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            I lost a post here somewhere, if you can find it it would be nice. But to summarize what I recall of it:

            The conservative con was ‘how dare academia infringe on our freedom of speech!’, with them asserting a right to…somehow give speeches on campus. Which…even if it’s a ‘right’, it’s…so extremely trivial a right that it is not important. But it was a good grift, and the origins of the concept of ‘cancel culture’.

            But now we’re at the point corporations are canceling people and…conservatives just keep yammering about ‘cancel culture’, but have utterly failed to create any sort of framework where their complaints make sense, because…they have functionally no idea how to argue for any sort of labor protection. They’ve spent their entire life arguing that corporations can treat workers how ever they want, in fact they still argue that in _literally every other aspect_, and don’t have any sort of counter preposition they can put forward.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        “How dare you use the same tactics that have worked so well for us? You’re supposed to be the good guys!”Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          you: haha, this is a sick burn
          me: mmmhm, go on, keep arguing against the idea that those who can do better have an obligation to elevate.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            Lose, of course, but in a way that’s inspiring..Report

          • Avatar Philip H in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            We’ve spent decades elevation – remember Michelle Obama “When they go low we go high?”

            The thing is, it doesn’t work. Most Americans feel too much like the deck is stacked against them constantly to care much about highmindedness. They want food on the table, a decent retirement and their doing better then they did. They believe that is being taken from them (though the thoughtful one recognizes its not a single party that has done so), and so they want fighters.

            And the President is a fighter. Crude, course, obstructionist to his core. Narcisssistic. But perceived as a fighter.

            So, rather then debate platitudes in a trench warfare game, we decided to jump down in the trench.Report

  9. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    Liberals, on the other hand, were all about challenging the status quo and asking the hard, even at times disturbing questions that polite people just wanted to ignore. No longer. Now liberals are like “do as I say because this is how it should be and don’t ask questions why”

    Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Another is that liberalism is what it’s always been, and the Woke Inquisitors have turned their back on it.Report

  10. Avatar Aaron David
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    says:

    Cancel Culture is a further sign of the self-destruction of liberalism. And a sign of soft totalitarianism.

    Many in these comments place the blame, if they are honest enough to assign blame in this, to the rising costs of college. This is false, as it doesn’t examine the where of its arising, only seeing correlation and confusing it with causation. No, it arose from certain departments of campus, and these departments are strongest at SLAC’s, who moved into the various aspects of that bastardization of post-modernism, Critical Theory. The tenets that lead to cancel culture were happily taught in many of these groups as they are easy to work from as they only destroy, not create. And preceding this was the boom in Ph.D. candidates, as that was the first easy money that universities discovered in this.

    Previously, Ph.D. students were prestigious but costly. This cost had to go back to the regents, who in turn were answerable to state governments in the case of the public universities. Private schools regents had to answer to the endowment. But states reduced the funds going to schools, while at the same time creating the environment for ever greater numbers of students to move up and into university. And when the feds decided to backstop the loans all of the new and increasing numbers of students, the numbers moved into the least understood phenomena on college campuses (not least because the very idea was already hated) funding. So, a whole bunch of half-assed doctorates in half-baked fields were brought into the academy. Couple this with a methodology that scorns debate and prefers what is called “received wisdom” when it comes from the originators of this pedagogy, evangelical churches. Kristin correctly identifies this.

    Colleges liked this at first, as the new preachers, for that is what the really are, were speaking of things that they liked. Vague notions of equality from a new and exciting field of studies. And so it wasn’t students asking for things that they felt they were paying for (though this may be an after-effect.) No, the students are only practicing what the department was teaching. Because after all “received wisdom” doesn’t allow for dissent. And, after these students leave the bubble of academia and enter the workforce, often in the areas of law and publishing, we see the final effects of this, and it is starting to have real consequences. Such as the Harpers letter, but much more frightening is the letter from Princeton destroying academic freedom. And that is the end result of this.

    Academic freedom is the baseline of our liberal world; the ability to take a line of thought and follow it to its conclusions. And to have those conclusions be open for challenge at every point. This is the baseline of free speech. And the importance of it. For without this ideal we might not have been able to talk about women’s needs of self-determination in reproductive rights. Or that slavery is wrong. That war should be opposed. How gender could be a construct. And these are all ideas that came from the liberal end of our politics, as we must note when we talk about this issue. The left now wants us to stop these ideas where they are, to not even discuss possible counter-points, as that might give those ideas legitimacy, and allow people to discuss ideas that the left finds abhorrent. That some could discuss the idea that abortion might be murder. That war is a necessary function of society at times. That maybe some of our ideas about gender are hurting those who we say we want to help.

    But there are some who don’t feel that everyone wants this ideal of free speech, that we as a people have never wanted this. And to a degree, they are right in that people don’t want this. No one wants their “reality” challenged, threatened. But the truth is that we need this. Society is strong enough to deal with this. And this just makes society even stronger.

    Excellent post Kristin.Report

    • Avatar dhex in reply to Aaron David
      Ignored
      says:

      “Previously, Ph.D. students were prestigious but costly.”

      sooo the first part of this sentence is/was true (for the most part), but the second is not true. Why? Because what have phd students done in humanities programs traditionally, and for quite some time? teach undergrads. and at a significantly reduced per instruction hour rate, because most (but not all) positions were funded – meaning they received small stipends in exchange for program participation and taking on some TA/teaching load duties. which represents a significant cost and time savings in many programs.

      This last detail changed in the past ten years with more unfunded phd slots (in the humanities in particular, it is often quite different with grant-funded programs, particularly at state schools) which means the cost of phd’s became far less per student because they were paying some or most of their own freight. So the narrative you received above is deeply incorrect and you should demand a refund from whichever grifter sold it to you.

      That said, most narratives about higher ed are insanely incorrect, even within the industry – so you’re in good company.

      PhD overproduction was a factor even back in the 1970s – if you’re curious, read a book called “This Fine Place So Far From Home” about phd candidates in the humanities from working class backgrounds in the 70s and 80s.

      The rest is, i mean, your opinion and godspeed and all that. I think you’re wrong on almost every key historical detail in the above, yet I would agree with a general sense of “to hell with those who wish to emulate evangelical christians from the 80s with different targets” aka the illiberal left.

      It’s a terrible, vaguely maoist cosplay, and a largely circular firing squad…which also makes grouped invocations of “the left” in the above even more distortionary. They’re mostly “killing” each other, as it were, though obviously randos get caught up here and there (some of their own design – like being deliberately dumb in no-dumb zones – and some just not being looped into the proper liturgical language).

      But my sincere with would be to if they could take the maga chuds with them that’d be great, but unfortunately we’ll have to wait for a trumpista/anti-trumpista thing to get going to see how that works out.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David in reply to dhex
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes, Ph.D. overproduction was already around in the ’70s, hence my father going out and swinging a hammer in the eastern Washington winter after finishing his (genetics) Ph.D. and until he got a post-doc. He had mouths to feed. But, while there is some teaching involved, there isn’t always. I know at least one of my exes bailed the state (Indiana) while working on her doc, as did most of her cohort. But, she was cheap as she was in lit-crit. But, that university still had to pay for the advisor, time spent working with her, MLA convention time to attract her, and all the other minutia of the process. The other two who went through this were on the hard science side, and that costs money; lab work, travel, etc. The devil is in the details. So, yes, I do see this as an expensive proposition. And by the way, the narrative I receive is from the dept. heads, deans, vice-deans, and all the other muckity-mucks of professional faculty looking for budgeting money, and chopping of expenses. What may seem cheap from one angle is often viciously expensive from another.

        Yes, this current iteration as being promoted by the left, just as earlier versions were brought forth by the right, and the left before that, and so on back into history. It all depends on who is on top culturally and when they are starting to slide off that hill. The academy has leaned left for a good while now, and in recent years that leaning has grown to a monolith. And it may well have been a circular firing squad, but it has moved out of the academy and into such areas as publishing and entertainment. So, sure, let’s wait and see how it could filter on past that arena, as we were are told it can’t get past the college system and that has held so well…

        But hey, if you can show how this current spasm of censoriousness is coming from a different direction, any other direction, I am all ears. Elsewhere in the thread, someone mentioned one other time that could have come from the right, 15 years ago. So that must make it the entirety of the case, right?

        If you think I am wrong on details, pray tell, explain. Please don’t soft shoe around and offer a 100-page paper to attempt sussing this out on my own, or the vague handwaving that you do here. Show, don’t tell. And yes, I do know what industry you work in, but professorships are the family trade to me, living around and with people who work at Uni’s is my life. So, let’s get down to brass tacks, spell it out for those playing at home.Report

        • Avatar dhex in reply to Aaron David
          Ignored
          says:

          my point wasn’t about censoriousness (which I believe we both agree sucks?), but rather your connect of phd overproduction to the popularity of critical theory and the value of phd students in the humanities. (funding games are waaay different in STEM programs, due to aforementioned grant-based economies)

          TT hires are never going to be cheap (because they could live a long time!) and it’s hard to offset that even with a lot of course releases. So you get free labor in exchange for advisor time, but most of the perks – like full travel/conf support – are pretty long gone (e.g. mid 2000s). And in a time of declining births and lower phd participation (though not as low as I’d assume at many places, not just ivies) the value of carrying a lot of phd students only extends as far as you need the goodwill of your (largely) unfireables to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth (usually not teaching undergrads, some prestige feels).

          Of course the window is shifting again, and we’ll see a lot of budget cuts in many places, particularly departments with lower enrollment/short-term demand. mostly languages are gonna get et, as it were, with some unusual turns – lower tier law schools are now a burden, where before they were a $$$ boon, etc.

          fun times!Report

          • Avatar Aaron David in reply to dhex
            Ignored
            says:

            Absolutely agree with your last paragraph, and some of the weak spots that have been showing cracks over the last few years are now full-on leaks. And hoo-boy is this scaring the local profs.

            As to the meat of the second paragraph, I think we are talking around the same thing, but with the quantifier of time and the aspects of the job that have drastically changed. But, and I am sure you know this, the cost aspect wherein uni’s got free teaching has changed dramatically, at least out west. The grad-student unions have been raising their voices and the faculty unions are largely in lock-step, at least until it comes to their dept. budgets. And one knock-on effect has been that the grad-students are no longer in limbo, employment wise. Now they are officially uni employees with all the associated costs. So, the costs may have dropped on one hand, but have risen on the other. No, TT hires are never cheap, STEM funding is a whole weird ball game and the cost associated with the grad students, at least here, is often astronomical without instant payback. Land grant, sea-grant, space-grant, and sun grant(!)

            So, censoriousness. Yes, awful, and spending a huge part of the ’90s with a woman getting a Ph.D. in Critical Theory might have biased me, but not by much, considering where we are now.

            (and sorry for being so prickly this AM)Report

  11. Avatar Swami
    Ignored
    says:

    Excellent post, Kristen. Probably the best piece written in this forum since James somehow convinced the majority of progressives to consider supporting a constitutional amendment against Rent Seeking.Report

  12. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    Topical. From a discussion on Reason , quote by noted liberal Ken White.
    “It matters because the loudest voices condemning cancel culture in America are not people of good faith like Greg. The loudest voices are using the issue as a cynical political wedge from the right to attack the left.

    They’re the same voices who try to get people fired for speech when that speech is offensive to them, when that speech comes from the left. The “golden era” concept—the suggestion that there was a better time for social tolerance of speech in America, and it’s now been spoiled by millennials and progressives—is not just wrong, it’s nakedly partisan, and it’s part of the same effort to make free speech culture into a political weapon. ”

    This is the entire talk.
    https://reason.com/2020/08/04/whats-the-best-way-to-protect-free-speech-ken-white-and-greg-lukianoff-debate-cancel-culture/Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      “It exists, but both sides do it.”

      You’d think that that would make the letter that kicked all of this version of the kerfuffle off something that more people would want to embrace rather than argue against.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Dude the BSDI is so played. It’s meaningless drabble. If you want to get people to buy into your fear of CC ignoring all the points people raise is a mediocre way of getting people to listen. You are just playing the partisan CC hammer but dont’ seem to able to argue anything else.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
          Ignored
          says:

          If you read the discussion or get Ken’s point you can see what you are missing. If you care about free speech norms digging into partisan crap and failing to see anything else will be a disaster for free speech. It’s friggin Ken White and all you can do is BSDI???Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
            Ignored
            says:

            I sure hope we can get rid of “BSDI” as a standalone counterargument, then.

            It’s one hell of a slippery slope to start going down.

            For what it’s worth, if *I* were going to point out a thing that Ken White said, it’d be this part of his argument:

            How do we protect free speech norms? With our free speech rights, grounded in the rule of law. Cancel culture and denunciation of cancel culture are competing norms in the protected marketplace of ideas. You can’t burn down the marketplace in order to save it. Efforts to use state force to tamper with the marketplace to sort “valid” criticism from “invalid” cancellation inevitably result in less free speech, not more.

            His criticism of the letter was that it didn’t go far enough, it didn’t talk about people like David Shor, and it had too many people sign the letter who were happy to not believe in stuff like Free Speech when it was their own ox getting gored.

            These are all good criticisms of the people who signed the letter and, yes, even of the letter not going far enough.

            But the criticisms defending Cancel Culture as not being that bad aren’t ones that also sign on to what the letter ought to have said instead of the weak-sauce it offered.

            They’re the ones saying “Cancel Culture? Oh, you mean Accountability Culture.”

            They’re the ones saying Cancel Culture isn’t that bad, it’s good actually.

            And *THAT* is bad.Report

  13. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    So are both sides now doing the “do as I say because this is how it should be and don’t ask questions why” thing? I’d co-sign that but would perhaps see the cause as less insidious. I think the way discourse has evolved on the internet has been in the direction of echo chambers. These become self-affirming and people really think alternate opinions are extreme and exist in the minds of fringe bad guys.

    I’m part of a global FB group of educators discussing the pandemic. On a thread about the importance of school leaders listening to teachers, I was attacked and told to shut up because I offered an opinion other than the dominant one.

    I’m a teacher. In a group for teachers. On a post about listening to teachers. Being told to shut up because I didn’t say what was right.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      I don’t like the whole attitude that says that disagreement is bad. Fundamentally so. Maybe not because there aren’t good reasons to not agree 100%, but disagreeing publicly is giving aid and comfort to the other side… and why would you want to help the other side? Why aren’t you helping *OUR* side? You must actually be on the other side, then.

      Put on the red hat, already.Report

  14. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    It seems like the vast majority of discussions about cancel culture are taking place within the higher ed world.

    Sure, you can find the occasional software developer who becomes involved, but almost all of the actual cases I am seeing are academics.

    And I will be the first to acknowledge that the world of higher ed is a place which is very inhospitable for conservatives; I experienced it firsthand in the 80s when I was a Reagan Republican at a small liberal arts school.

    Some of it is very much illiberalism on the part of the dominant group.

    But part of it is also that, while colleges pride themselves on fearless inquiry, they also pride themselves on being “collegial”, that is, in being welcoming and safe.

    Some of the most deeply held beliefs of modern conservatism violate collegiality.

    If you go around saying that trans people’s very existence is some sort of pathology, or that nonwhite people may very well be of lesser intelligence, its unreasonable to expect people to nod politely and offer a civil rebuttal.

    Is it reasonable to allow the people who profess these things to be fired? No, I don’t think so.

    But increasingly, the core tenets of contemporary conservatism veer farther and farther outside the boundaries of acceptable discourse, straining the ability of society to cooperate with them. Acceptance of racial and gender equality is one of those baseline beliefs which our society demands as a condition of acceptance.
    If you don’t accept that, its nearly impossible to work together.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, it looks like the discussions about cancel culture are leaking into places outside of the higher ed world.

      For example, in the letter that the original essay is about.

      I think that one of the complaints is that we’ve moved from “it’s just a handful of dumb kids at Oberlin” (hey, does “Gibson’s Bakery” count as a victim of cancel culture?) to “it’s just a handful of dumb kids at Oberlin and on Tumblr” to “It’s in the real world now.”

      Like the letter that the original essay was talking about was complaining.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      “But increasingly, the core tenets of contemporary conservatism veer farther and farther outside the boundaries of acceptable discourse,”

      And here we have it. An attempt, no matter how clumsy, to cancel whole lines of thought and argument.

      Chip, saying that conservatives thoughts and arguments are so far out of line and violate “collegiality,” when conservative-leaning people make up roughly 42% of America is not only ludicrous but deprives left-leaning people of the arguments and thoughts of conservatives that show the areas that get both the most pushback; abortion, guns, but also the most agreement; the need to end racism on both the left and right.

      By removing these arguments from your ken, you fail to see how the need to modify them to meet the people without massive pushback from people perceiving that you are trying to strip them of their rights.

      By not allowing arguments for and against your ideas, you are allowing the left to slip away from liberalism and rush into totalitarianism.

      It allows you to become the bad guys.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes, this is how society works, by setting boundaries of acceptable behavior and enforcing them.

        The new boundaries are that everyone including trans and people of color are to be treated with courtesy and respect.

        Sorry-not-sorry if this offends.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          Chip, setting a boundary that excludes half of the country is what the bad guys do.

          You are the bad guys.

          I am not offended, I am saddened.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Aaron David
            Ignored
            says:

            Aaron, are you implying that half the country thinks people of color and trans folks should be treated with disrespect? I think that would be news to those folks you think you’re speaking for.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
              Ignored
              says:

              Is Cancel Culture about why some profs are removing Upton Sinclair from their reading lists?

              Or is it about whether co-workers can make jokes about people of color and trans folks?

              I can never tell which “outside of the boundaries of acceptable discourse” we’re talking about.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Neither can we, which is why we keep asking for examples.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Sure, Brett Weinstein, David Shor, and Gibson’s Bakery.

                HEY WAIT A MINUTEReport

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Maybe you and Aaron, and by extension the rest of conservatives, get together and decide which hill you want to fight on.

                Is it the motte of unjust firings of people who say innocuous things like Shor?

                Or is it the bailey of dickish behavior of people like Weinstein?

                My observation is that more and more, conservatism is about defending either white supremacy, or just general dickish behavior.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s an interesting question but isn’t relevant to what Aaron said.

                Well, except in the way that a butterfly’s wing flaps are relevant.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, the anti-anti-Cancel Culture people keep seem to be asserting that Cancel Culture is just Accountability Culture and it is doing what it can to protect the dignity of BIPOC and LGBTTQQIAAP+ persons.

                And, like, while I appreciate wanting to start from that particular footing, I disagree with the framing.

                (Not about the dignity of the dignity of BIPOC and LGBTTQQIAAP+ persons, mind.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Jaybird, do you think half the people in the country believe POC and trans folks should be treated with disrespect?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think so, but I do believe that quite a few of them disagree about what is and is not disrespectful. And about whether or not whether it’s disrespectful is settled.

                If we want to define that sort of thing as disrespectful, maybe half the country actually is.Report

            • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Stillwater
              Ignored
              says:

              No, that is what chip thinks the right wants. But, as he admits in his post, he has no idea what the right thinks or wants, as he refuses to listen to them. Take for example racism. The left verbally condemns racism, but at the same time promotes people who are racist, such as TNC, Louis Farrakhan, Ibrahim Kendi. But, due to the lefts utter refusal to see that there could be other viewpoints, they have zero traction in moving the needle.

              Or, take trans-issues. To immediately brand people such as JK Rowling, Marina Navatorolva and others who disagree with the specifics about what it means to be a transwoman and how this affects biological women, effectively stops the conversation about rights, rights of women that we have created over the years. A much-needed conversation needs to be had about this topic, but assuming that you have moral authority on it could just destroy the rights of these people.

              We see this now with the idiotic Defund the Police movement. This isn’t supported by the black community and the resistance to it diminishes the ability to get much-needed police reform. Why. Because they refused to actually talk to people across the aisle.

              There are many other issues, such as; abortion; gun violence; voting to take a few examples, where the left has broad support initially, but fails to see other arguments and becomes all to often correctly called out for attempting to destroy rights. And in doing so, galvanized those who are most against these things. Strengthens them, and makes them look to be the reasonable people.

              And in the process shows the totalitarianism of the left. Which Chip is doing right here.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                Before we “have a conversation about what it means to be a transwoman” can we agree that they should be accepted fully and be treated as women?

                Or is that some form of totalitarianism?Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I agree that we need to have that specific conversation. But, if you attempt to remove those who disagree from that initial conversation, you lose both the ability to convince them and the ability to shape the totality of the argument. You lose any ability to help define the contours of the discussion.

                They are now free to convince people on their own, with zero input from you and your point of view.

                And, yes, in a free society that is a form of totalitarianism, especially if you are using the powers of the state, which would be any public university.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                So conservatives don’t want to abide by the norms of acceptance.

                Kinda what I said to begin with.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                People seldom change their minds because of “facts and logic.” They change their minds because of empathy, values, and experience. If someone detests trans people, no amount of data in the world will make them see us as people, as legitimate subjects.

                For example, antisemites know that Shylock bleeds. They just don’t care.

                They could seek empathy with us. Trans folks have written novels about our lives. We have blogs, we have social media feeds, we have interviews. Sometimes we even post on message boards. The information is there. We are people with rich internal lives. We aren’t monsters. We aren’t predators. We aren’t disgusting.

                Transphobes would have to read these things with hearts open to change. That doesn’t just happen because we deployed facts and logic.

                I’ve told the story before about how a teacher of mine stopped being racist. Short version: in seminary, he went on a retreat. At the retreat he prayed while holding hands with a black man. That moment changed him. He stopped being racist.

                If I’m ever on a prayer retreat with J K Rowling, perhaps she’ll hold my hand, but seriously, how likely is that? Should we just wait around on the off chance it happens?

                What is happening now is this: she holds a very influential position from where she spreads dishonest anti-trans propaganda. She is a liar and a demagogue. She’s hurting people.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ll say this, the transphobes have done a magnificent job of couching their bigotry as “concerns.” They seldom outright state those concerns. They just have concerns of some amorphous nature.

                We can answer those “concerns” with actual data, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a neverending task presented to we trans folks, so we can never just relax and live our lives. We continuously have to fight just to belong.

                It’s fucking tiresome. Seriously, the profound lack of empathy of the “concern crowd” is a constant burden. Moreover, those expressing fake concerns aren’t paying the price. We trans people pay the price.

                Behind every public debate are motivations. If someone has genuine concerns, they can do some basic research. That should be enough. The fact that the “concerns” can never be answered is because the motivations are neither truth nor dignity. The real motivations are disgust and bigotry. The sooner people learn to recognize these patterns the better.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                Are these ‘concerns’ like a concern that a man will dress as a woman so they can ogle women in the restroom or the shower at the gym?

                Or are they more subtle?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, women have already been stripped of their privileges. ^_^

                At an Antifa protest in Portland or Seattle last night, officers were arresting a violent woke girl and patting her down. A nearby female reporter asked “Aren’t their any female officers to do the pat down?!” (Female police probably don’t belong on the front lines dodging blinding-lasers, explosives, bricks, and Molotov cocktails due to their lighter bone structure.)
                In the darkness, one of the officers piped up and said “How do you know I don’t identify as a woman?” All the officers broke out laughing. It was hilarious. Now all the cops are going to pull that one. 🙂Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                This is actually the exact tactic that makes debate impossible.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                can we agree that they should be accepted fully and be treated as women

                That is the step you are stealing. Because clearly some folks are not fully on board with that, and there is more work to be done. But because you’ve come around to that belief, you feel that the work need not be done and you can just dismiss those people.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Can’t we dismiss them?

                I get that we can’t as a practical measure, the same way that, during the civil rights movement, we couldn’t just dismiss people who had “concerns” over letting black people use swimming pools or drink from water fountains. However — well, you know, they were pretty racist, right?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                Are they still politically influential to the point of being able to impact your rights at some level of government?

                If the answer to that is in the affirmative in any way, no, you can’t dismiss them. To dismiss them is to let them go unanswered, and that gives them power. We dismissed racists and nazis for too long, and now we have something of a bumper crop.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I agree. We can’t just ignore them.

                However, we’re not ignoring them. Nor are we “dismissing” them — not exactly. It’s not as if trans folks are literally ignoring JKR.

                We’re using two definitions of “dismiss.” Let’s distinguish them:

                1. Ignore them and hope they go away.

                2. Confront them.

                However, I am very frustrated by the message: “make sure they get lots of air time and attention and respect so that we can debate them from a disadvantage.”

                Bigots love when you give them lots of attention. For example, holocaust deniers want their theories to be treated as a legitimate academic discipline. They want very much to be put on stage so they can spread their message. Moreover, if you refuse to take them seriously, they’ll squack about illiberalism, which is a message that can be rather successful. However, should we fall for it?

                I say we should not. The same goes for transphobes.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                The details in that second definition are important. How you confront them matters.

                Also,

                They want very much to be put on stage so they can spread their message.

                Are you giving them that stage all alone, or are you up there with them?

                That bigot you are engaging has likely practiced their message, they’ve got it down, or had really good coaching, etc. They know what works and what doesn’t.

                Have you? Do you?

                I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Shutting someone down as a means of confronting them doesn’t silence them, nor does it de-legitimize their argument, however much an activist wants it to. What it does it grant the appearance that the canceler doesn’t know how to make a persuasive argument.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Honestly, I’m just soooo tired. I’m exhausted. I can’t keep doing it. I just want to live a life with dignity, but I can’t do that. I’m not allowed, because bigots. It’s awful.

                Why shouldn’t we — I mean all of us — treat bigots as they deserve to be treated? Why do we give them so much power? When a person reveals their bigotry, isn’t that enough to dismiss them? Shouldn’t it be?

                I’m not asking about what is. I asking about what should be.

                I understand what is. I don’t need a lecture on it. It’s my everyday life. It’s not an abstract topic I can debate when I feel like it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                Should? You know how I stand on that.

                You be you, and be awesome about it.

                I want to win the fight, I want bigots to go onto the cultural ash-heap along with people who think chattel slavery is A-OK and women are property.

                Oh, wait, there are still cultures that haven’t put such ideas out on the ash-heap.

                I think I’d have to look long and hard to find an abhorrent idea that, we as a species, have tossed onto the ash-heap. Because it’s amazing how even the lowest of horrid ideas still seems to have some following somewhere, where at best it’s illegal, but LE looks the other way (and at worst, it’s actually allowed by law).

                So the fight pretty much never ends. The most you can hope for is that it becomes so despised that it hides out in the dark, quiet corners of the world. And you do that by exposing it’s flaws, not by trying to keep it quiet.

                And let’s be honest, things that appeal to our fear of the other, which is what bigotry is, are going to take many generations to burn out.

                But saying, “that person is a bigot and should not be allowed to have a stage/platform” does not diminish their argument or prevent them from being heard. And as a culture, we like the idea of free speech, even if we like it imperfectly*, so the only people who will be sympathetic to calls for canceling are people who were already sympathetic to the idea**. Anyone else will see it as bullying.

                *We like free speech when we agree with it, otherwise, not always so much.

                **This is true regardless of the ideology being ‘cancelled’, i.e. back when the Moral Majority was trying to get AD&D and Heavy Metal banned, people went nuts for AD&D and Heavy Metal.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Globally, enlightenment values are a minority position on how the world should be run. Nationally, the contemporary version of enlightenment values is a majority position only when the economy is humming along. Lots of progress over the last 120 years, but the war’s not over.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                Honestly, the war is never over. Go see Dr. Siegel’s latest.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Shutting someone down as a means of confronting them doesn’t silence them, nor does it de-legitimize their argument, however much an activist wants it to. What it does it grant the appearance that the canceler doesn’t know how to make a persuasive argument.

                That only works if the person you need to make a persuasive argument to actually grants that you have a valid intellectual starting place. Most bigots don’t grant validity to those protecting minorities. Hell, they don’t grant validity to minorities generally.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Doesn’t matter, if the bigot has anything resembling political power.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                There are all sorts of societal norms which are not open for debate.

                The sorts of norms which, just to be tolerated as a member, one needs to agree to.

                This true for even the most liberal society.

                These norms change over time by the process which is happening right now in front of us.

                And norms are rarely settled by facts and logic. It wasn’t facts and logic that instructed us that Jews and Black people were fully equal.
                And we don’t allow that to become a debatable topic anymore.

                There isn’t any “persuasive argument” that tells us that trans people should be treated with dignity. Demanding that they construct one is itself hostile.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes there is such a persuasive argument. That’s how you get to the point where it’s a norm, by making that persuasive argument.

                Black people had to make that persuasive argument.

                Women had to make that persuasive argument.

                LGBTQ people are still having to make that argument. I would love to be able to die in a world where they no longer need to make that argument, because it is internalized as a cultural norm.

                But we are not there yet.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Apparently the argument wasn’t all that persuasive, since racism is still such a big problem and academics who posit that Black people are intellectually inferior are still taken seriously.

                When they aren’t being cancelled, which is exactly the point.

                At what point is the “persuasive argument” considered to decisively won that we don’t need to accept the opposing side?

                Is the issue of the Final Solution something debatable, something where we need to argue about?
                Or can we say that someone who supports it simply be expelled from public debate?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I seem to recall the Germans tried that with the Nazi’s after WW2. And yet the appeal of Nazi’s is still about.

                Those who are expelled from public debate don’t disappear, they don’t remain silent, they simply become martyrs for the rest who feel rejected by whatever segment of society they want acceptance to.

                You preach norms as if there is some guiding authority on what is and is not acceptable. There isn’t, norms are merely the rules we all agree have value. And those rules are not laws. They do not have that kind of permanency. Hence their value must be constantly refreshed through public debate. Some of those norms are easy to maintain and require very little effort to win public acceptance.

                Others are a near constant struggle, especially when things are not humming along all bright and cheery. And bigotry is one of those things people find a lot more acceptable when things are not so cheery.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Argument and debate is one tool of achieving goals, but only one.

                Public ostracism and rebuke is another tool, along with taking control of the institutions that frame the public square.

                For instance, conservative groups have mastered the tool of taking control of institutions. They create informal groups like the Federalist Society which grooms and prepares judges, groups like ALEC which write templates of laws ruled on by those Federalist judges, lobbying groups to elect officials favorable to confirming those judges. They create think tanks and fund colleges which churn out arguments t support the Federalist judges rulings.

                This isn’t “cancelling” but it is shaping of public opinion by means of institutions, and part of the effort to shape public opinion to gain power.

                By contrast, a million people slagging on J.K. Rowling is an asymmetrical guerrilla war type public opinion shaping. It uses different tactics but for the same goal, that of shaping public opinion to gain power.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                And if it only targeted powerful people, I wouldn’t be bothered by it.

                Of course, when a person views everything in terms of power dynamics, even people who are only marginally powerful become legitimate targets.

                That’s not going to win converts, it only appeals to those who are already converted.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Maybe!

                Or maybe not. I remember watching early gay pride parades and ACT-UP protests, and thinking about how counterproductive they were.
                But in the end, they proved to be productive.

                On the other hand, the Occupy protests were pretty much a failure.

                Its going to depend on the behavior of people on all sides, as to how willing they are to cooperate and find a peace.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Thing is, Pride parades are a celebration, and a way to show that LGBTQ people are a part of the fabric of your community. It’s a positive thing.

                It may make some folks feel squicky, but it’s not a threat to anyone.

                Cancelling a person who is relatively powerless is a threat, even if ultimately nothing serious happens. It’s like being held at gun point by a cop (although not as severe). Sure, at the end of it all, everyone went home alive, but you wouldn’t be surprised if the person staring at the business end of that gun had trouble sleeping at night?

                And perhaps they might become an outspoken critic of police use of force.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Not only that, but there are no checks on your own, possibly illiberal impulses.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                “Well, we let blacks use the pool, so it logically follows that men can go into the women’s showers.”

                “I don’t see how that follows…”

                “Racist! Why are you driven by so much hate?!”Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I think one of my comments got stuck in the filter.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                Ahh, good. Thanks. I got lost in all the meta levels and couldn’t figure out which one you were on.Report

          • Avatar Jesse in reply to Aaron David
            Ignored
            says:

            The Media set a boundary that thinking interracial marriage was wrong wasn’t something they’d put forward in the media, when support for interracial marriage was like, at 25%. Was that wrong?Report

  15. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    1) The Letter was too long by half, and at best muddled.
    2) Matt Taiibbi’s essay on The Letter was too long by 2/3rds – and made your points less clearly.
    3) Your essay should perhaps be two or three essays.

    Part of the problem is the eloquence of your argument is lost in the volume of its words. I know we can be a wordy bunch around here, and most of the time that’s a good thing. Your attempt to make a simple argument got lost. Oh so lost. As did the writers of The Letter. More’s the pitty.

    So here’s my TL:DR response – when conservatives get rid of “Right to Work” states (where you can be fired legally for NO REASON AT ALL), then the Left will totally disavow what you allege is Cancel Culture (note – Nick Cannon getting fired for Anti-Semitic remarks is probably not the goto story on that).

    Yes, I’m being serious. Because even IF we could all agree on what speech needs to receive some sort of consequence (and we clearly can’t), creating a private sector work environment where consequences are only applied to that and not to other things would be a huge start. Because then consequences would actually matter since they would be reserved for actual offenses.

    And lets be clear – public shame is not cancelling anyone. Sure, Bari Weiss probably did feel like she was being cancelled when her speech was called out, but if she wasn’t willing to be shamed for it by society it shouldn’t have left her mouth (and note to writers here – creating a better gig for yourself after you voluntarily quit your other high paying gig does not make you appear the least bit sympathetic even if your argument is valid; it also means you weren’t deplatformed). Sure, counter demonstrators yelling down Milo Yiannopoulos and forcing him to flee a campus might hurt his feelings (though apparently not any of his revenue streams) but it did nothing to actually stop him from speaking.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Philip H
      Ignored
      says:

      So here’s my TL:DR response – when conservatives get rid of “Right to Work” states (where you can be fired legally for NO REASON AT ALL), then the Left will totally disavow what you allege is Cancel Culture (note – Nick Cannon getting fired for Anti-Semitic remarks is probably not the goto story on that).

      You know I had a long rant type here agreeing with you, but I just deleted it, because I actually said most of it above.

      I really just want everyone in this discussion to answer one question:

      Do you think it’s acceptable to fire someone because she has leave work and go pick her kid up from school because they’re sick?

      If somehow the specifics matter, let’s say this has happened three times before, in the last two years, which is the entire span of her employment. Let’s also say there no laws covering this, and no real corporate policy.

      I want everyone in this discussion, literally everyone, to answer that question. It’s a yes or no question, there are no tricks.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        I didn’t actually intend to bold that entire thing, just the first sentence, but…hey. Seriously, I want people to answer that question. Either here or just in their head.

        And then I want them to think about what happened with David Shor. In case people don’t remember, he was a political consultant who tweeted a link to a Princeton paper that some people saw as somewhat racist, or just bad political strategy, and he got fired for it.

        And I want people to ask themselves why they think those two situations are different, and in what way. Compare and contrast, if you will.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to DavidTC
          Ignored
          says:

          If you are a political consultant and you are advocating what your clients see as bad strategy then, yeah, you may well be fired. And you may well deserve it in as much as you are not serving your clients.

          But beyond that neither of them deserved to be fired. As one of my female friends put it yesterday – in relation to pandemic induced virtual learning – “Its a shame us women have to be “okay” with sacrificing job, career, and salary while the men get to continue to work all of their hours.” If anything reeks of Cancel Culture – its this.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        “Do you think it’s acceptable to fire someone because she has leave work and go pick her kid up from school because they’re sick?”

        No. I think that’s a terrible thing to do.

        Do not in any way take that as a statement of support for any ridiculous bullshit you propose. “That’s a bad thing” does not invalidate “and the solution you propose is worse”.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          Ah, you figure out the…wrong trap? See, I wasn’t going to propose anything. I do think there should be more protections for workers, but that wasn’t my point here.

          My point is, a section of society is getting utterly worked out of shape of, at most, _dozens_ of wealthy men getting fired ‘unjustly’. Maybe a hundred, at max? Yet no one seems to have anything to say about others getting unjustly fired, in much much much larger amounts.

          For every person who did something and pissed the mob and got fired…I would bet even money there’s a Waffle House employee who couldn’t make it to their shift because they don’t have reliable transportation and got fired. I mean literally that specific example, a Waffle House’s employee, fired due to their lack of transportation. We weirdly don’t seem to have anyone posting articles about them.

          And that’s not even getting into all the very well-documented ways that employees get stolen from. A study in 2009 had 68% employees report at least one incident of something that is wage theft…in the prior week. (I phrase it that way because they often don’t even _know_ it’s illegal.) Is 68 percent of usually min-wage worker having their wages stolen a larger problem than five wealthy person that has been canceled? What’s the ratio here?

          I’m getting off topic, we were talking about people fired, not money stolen. So, I just want everyone to be clear here: If a few thousand people on twitter want someone fired, and get them fired, it’s a COMPLETE OUTRAGE if they’re fired. However, if a private equity group buys Toys `R Us and decided to demantle it, laying off 30,000 employees at a perfectly functional company…that’s not an outrage, right? We shouldn’t worry about that?

          You’ll notice I keep switching between different ways workers are harmed, different ways that employment is shitty, I come up with a new time I mention it. A lot of which would be hard to prevent with any sort of laws, and I’m not proposing any. Because I’m not trying to point at anything specifically, but rather show that there are a ton of ‘unfair’ ways to end up out of work, or not for people to not make the money they ‘should’ be making in a just world. Some illegally, a lot legal, but…there’s a very wide range, and it happens all the time. And being canceled is only about 0.00001% of the instances of that.

          Cancel culture isn’t even a molehill…it’s a spec of dirt. A single spec of dirt, and people have build something that is more important than the Alps out of it. The Alps, meanwhile, just sit there, uncommented upon.

          But there’s a reason: Almost every example of ‘being canceled’ is a wealthly man, almost always a wealth white man, although wealthy white women get caught in it too. Usually ones with powerful platforms. It’s why we’re talking about this. Elite, white men, don’t like cancel culture. That’s it. That’s the discussion. That’s why it, and only it, is an unfair employment practice we have suddenly gotten concerned about.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
            Ignored
            says:

            well I do remember people being upset about Emmanuel Cafferty getting fired, but I can understand why you wouldn’t want to talk about that particular example ^_^Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              Yes, I surely have given some sort of indication ‘I don’t want to talk about’ the example literally no one has mentioned in this discussion.

              What happened to Emmanuel Cafferty is stupid and caused harm to him.

              It is, however, the exact same sort of harm (losing his job) that happens to literally millions of people every year, which is why I find it slightly dubious we find it important to talk ‘cancel culture’, simply because conservatives have decided a very very very very very very specific reason for that harm (And no other identical harm caused for other reasons.) is unfair.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “What happened to Emmanuel Cafferty is stupid and caused harm to him.”

                it’s also an example of a nonwhite nonacademic not-executive-level worker being fired in a Cancel Culture incident and a whole lot of people were pretty upset about it actually

                which kind of takes your big effortpost about how we’re all hypocritical racist bastards who only care about this kind of thing when it affects white academic executive-level men and shoots it right through the tits

                “Yes, I surely have given some sort of indication ‘I don’t want to talk about’ the example literally no one has mentioned in this discussion.”

                literally no one mentioned single mothers picking up their sick kids but you seem to consider them extremely relevant to this discussionReport

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Not just him.

                At the end of the day, the CC Warriors hurt the reputation of their cause way more than they help it every single time they make such a mis-step. But the mob doesn’t really care, because this kind of action isn’t about the cause, it’s simply about satisfying the id & ego. You can’t even claim it’s about taking back power, because these people have no power to take.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                it’s also an example of a nonwhite nonacademic not-executive-level worker being fired in a Cancel Culture incident and a whole lot of people were pretty upset about it actually

                Yes, a lot of people were upset. This is because the people that feed the media a lot of conservative stories have decided to frame as something massively unfair, and plastered it everywhere.

                which kind of takes your big effortpost about how we’re all hypocritical racist bastards who only care about this kind of thing when it affects white academic executive-level men and shoots it right through the tits

                No, it points out the system is currently setup to amplify when the left ‘cancels’ people and ignored the gigantic mountain of other ‘canceling’ of people.

                So, what’s really interesting here is that you are making a completely circular argument: Namely, that we should care about how people get outraged by what happened to Emmanuel Cafferty. You think that is somehow relevant to this discussion.

                But, it’s not. In fact, let me state a moral premise: We shouldn’t make decisions based on how many people are outraged by people supposedly causing harm to others. Instead, we should decisions based on the ACTUAL HARM, and try to migrate ACTUAL HARM.

                It’s especially not a good idea to have some sort of echo chamber riling up the masses to yell and scream about the harm done, because that stands in the way in of actual justice.

                Harm should be dealt with in some sort of objective way, via laws and rules. And not just because people are complaining very loudly.

                Did you lose track of what I was talking about there? Because I did.

                A bunch of people hyperfocusing on ‘cancel culture’ and blaming both the small amount of real harm it does, and the hypothetical harm it doesn’t do actually do, on it, and demanding people react to it, and print article after article about it…

                …is functionally the same thing as cancel culture. You are trying to ‘cancel’ cancel culture, because you, like a lot of cancel culture itself, has blow a very specific harm way _way_ out of proportion.

                And this is especially noticeable about because the actual harm being done (people losing their jobs) is something the right has NEVER cared about.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                which kind of takes your big effortpost about how we’re all hypocritical racist bastards who only care about this kind of thing when it affects white academic executive-level men and shoots it right through the tits

                Oh, I missed the claim that I was calling everyone racist the first time. If you actually read what I _wrote_, you’ll notice I literally didn’t mention the race of ‘the other people losing their jobs we don’t care about’. Not a single mention. As far as I’m concerned, all my examples are now officially lily white.

                Because racism has nothing to do with anything here.

                Yes, it’s wealthy white people who are concerned about a movement that often (PLEASE NOTE THE WORD OFTEN) targets wealthy white people for ‘cancellation’, but that’s not racism. That’s just them seeing _themselves_ in danger and really really not liking it.

                So they talk about it…and what wealthy white people talk about turn into what ‘politics’ is about, especially on the conservative side. They talk to columnists, and talking heads, and it get spread out, and sudden it’s a Major Concern.

                Race, again, is literally not involved in any way. All these ‘wealthy concerned about cancel culture’ people that spread the concern out (Like all their concerns) tend to be white guys, but…that’s just because white people consist of most of the moneyed.

                Do you know how rare it is for me to say that race doesn’t have something to do with conservative policies? Well, here I am, saying it: Race has nothing to do with the outsided concern over cancel culture. That outsided concern exists because of what I just said…and now it’s sorta a good ‘social issue’ for Republicans, who are sorta running low on social issues that don’t turn off a lot of voters. But that’s really them taking advantage of an existing thing.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
            Ignored
            says:

            PS just in case you couldn’t figure, “[e]lite, white men, don’t like cancel culture. That’s it. That’s the discussion. That’s why it, and only it, is an unfair employment practice we have suddenly gotten concerned about” is an example of you proposing ridiculous bullshit.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              Oh. You…don’t know what the word proposing means. Okay, I’ll make a note of that.

              Before you try to argue that ‘Putting forward a theory’ can count as ‘proposing something’, please notice the rest of your post: “and the solution you propose is worse”. (Which is in the hypothetical sense.)

              Solution, not theory.

              I have, still, not proposed any sort of solution in this thread, and not really anywhere else. I have suggested better labor laws would _help_, but people will always be fired for totally random reasons.

              There are certain groups of people who think they are entitled to immunity from this, and get very upset when it happens to like them. And, because that actually sounds very stupid, they’ve even expanded their outrage to when the same groups go after other people.

              I’m not really sure how people misread this. I said _almost_ every example of cancel culture is a wealthy white person people getting. I’m not sure if people don’t follow what ‘almost’ means, but, it does truly mean a few counterexamples don’t disprove it.

              Meanwhile, wealthy white people are the people that dictate the direction of the media, and they (Well, the conservative ones, at least.) are literally the reason _this specific_ unfair workplace practice is being covered. Meanwhile, all the others are ignored…again, because wealth white people do not want them covered.

              And, point of order, I have literally never said the people caring about this are racist. At all. In any manner whatsoever. I literally am bafffled at this supposed claim I made.

              I don’t even think the people _who have caused this to be ‘important_ are particularly racist. I mean, I think a lot of them are racist, but I don’t think this has anything to do with this. This is them being scared so they basically have the media amplify it.

              I think I’ve managed to explain my position on this very clearly at this point.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                ” I said _almost_ every example of cancel culture is a wealthy white person people getting. ”

                lol

                if you’re honestly claiming that “[e]lite, white men, don’t like cancel culture. That’s it. That’s the discussion[,]” is not an accusation of racism then why didn’t you say that in the post where you wrote it?

                just take the L, corncob.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        No, I don’t. I think there should be a considerable amount of freedom when it comes to who to hire or fire, but at the same time, it should not be arbitrary or capricious.

        Too often, we seem to be at one extreme or the other.Report

  16. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    Fauci Reveals He Has Received Death Threats And His Daughters Have Been Harassed

    Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that he has received death threats and his daughters have been harassed as a result of his high-profile statements about the coronavirus pandemic.

    “Getting death threats for me and my family and harassing my daughters to the point where I have to get security is just, I mean, it’s amazing,” Fauci said.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/08/05/899415906/fauci-reveals-he-has-received-death-threats-and-his-daughters-have-been-harassed

    Does this count as trying to cancel him? Asking for a friend.Report

  17. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump

    RINO Ben Sasse, who needed my support and endorsement in order to get the Republican nomination for Senate from the GREAT State of Nebraska, has, now that he’s got it (Thank you President T), gone rogue, again. This foolishness plays right into the hands of the Radical Left Dems!

    https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1292832946077007886

    1. Does this count as trying to cancel Ben Sasse?
    2. Would that be a bad thing?Report

  18. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    I think what I feel most when I look at how these people are acting is disappointment.

    Like, the end result of fifty years of American liberalism is “blacklisting is OK”? (It wasn’t the government that published “Red Channels”.)

    The end result of fifty years of fear over private business eating everything is “corporations defining the acceptable bounds of public discourse is OK”?

    The end result of fifty years of bravery in the face of public scorn is “actually all along that scorn was OK, it was just pointed in the wrong direction“?

    The end result of fifty years of saying “it’s the greatest tradition and greatest responsibility of intellectuals to stand up to censorious bullies, to defeat their boorish thuggery with facts and logic”, is to abandon facts and logic, to join the mob of censorious bullies?

    That’s the best we can expect from you?Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      If you want a vision of the future, imagine being nice to people. Forever.

      Seriously, notice how the demand that everyone be treated with acceptance and dignity is considered to be some affront, a huge totalitarian imposition.

      And notice how our demands are so weightless and require almost nothing from conservatives.

      We demand they allow trans people to use the restroom of their choosing; to be allowed to be addressed by the pronoun of their choosing.

      And God, the caterwauling! The shrieks of victimhood!

      The simplest and most elementary of moral ethos, to treat people as they wish to be treated, is a bridge too far for them, something they are willing to fight to the death over.

      Talk about disappointed.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels
        Ignored
        says:

        Put another way – American Conservatives – many of whom identify as Christians – have a REALLY REALLY HARD TIME following Christ’s Second Great Commandment, which is to love your neighbor as yourself. Not your neighbor unless she is gender fluid. Not your neighbor unless they are people of color. Not your neighbor unless they have a visible physical challenge. Love your neighbor. Full stop.

        But American conservatives love their neighbors so much they want to regulate where someone takes a p!ss. They love their neighbors so much they want to keep loving couples with two penises from adopting kids who need homes. They love their neighbors so much that they want to bend the free market (another conservative hobby horse) to regulate which couples a wedding cake baker can NOT serve, if said couple has two vaginas. They love their neighbors so much they have kept the minimum wage so low that is isn’t livable, all the while berating Americans working two and three jobs as lazy and unwilling to better themselves. They love their neighbors so much they carry guns into state capitols and scream at the police because they don’t want to stay home and keep the pandemic from spreading to those same neighbors.

        And they love their neighbors so much that when they have their various eye logs pointed out to them, and they are asked, even begged to step up and create a better world for those neighbors, their reaction is to not only shove the log farther into their own eyes, but to loudly proclaim the righteousness of their cause and the persecution they suffer for it.

        But sure, lefties insisting that people suffer consequences for being actual racists, is the bigger threat.Report

  19. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    Does the constant insistence that Biden is suffering from dementia count as trying to cancel him?Report

  20. Avatar Marchmaine
    Ignored
    says:

    Thanks for your ruminations on the matter… It has forced me to reconsider some long held theories.

    Divorce or War is now Divorce or War or Empire.Report

  21. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    Interesting stuff Kristin. I think your ruminations on cancel culture are, if rambling, pretty good though I think you are far too eager to paint the vast liberal majority the color of the cancel culture fringe but I’d like to offer a more specific critique.

    *snip* (Yes, because simply stating an opinion that up until a couple years ago was completely mainstream is absolutely the same thing as defending pedophilia – which by the way up till a couple years ago, liberals actually did with some regularity – but I digress).
    *snip*

    This petty little slap has no place in your piece. It’s not just wrong but egregiously wrong in the kind of way that makes it easy to say “yeah libertarians are so distorted and twisted by their time as handmaidens of Republicans that anyone in the center or the left is entirely justified in not listening to a damn thing they assert.” On top of that it’s also utterly irrelevant to the main subject of your post.

    The standard definition of a couple is two or in the neighborhood of two. I’ll be ludicrously generous and go by the most expanded definition of a couple that I know of (which is two to four). Now if you can point me to some actual evidence that mainstream liberals from 2015 on (and I’m spotting you an extra year here to be extra generous) regularly and routinely defended or advocated for pedophilia in a policy positions, platforms or media of record I will withdraw my objection.Report

  22. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Another lovely essay in support of The Letter.

    Report

  23. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Nick Cave is complaining about Cancel Culture now.

    Didn’t Nick Cave devote an entire album to Inceldom?Report

  1. October 30, 2020

    […] they’re The Man now more than ever.I may be just a simple country woman, but it ‘pears to me liberals were just USING the moral high ground till they won, and once they won, it was no longer politically expedient to hold the moral high ground, so they […]Report

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