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On “From Elizabeth Picciuto: The Real Free Speech Violations

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

So it is a plea for a minority rule.

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

On “President Trump Commutes Roger Stone’s Sentence

If there is even one shred of a silver lining to all this, it is that Trump has exposed the Republican Party as complete and total frauds on every single thing they ever claimed to believe in.

Patriotism, morality, respect for law, fiscal prudence...any Republican who ever utters any word about these things should be laughed out of the room forever.

On “From Elizabeth Picciuto: The Real Free Speech Violations

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


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

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


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

So. Very. Triggering.


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


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

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

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

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


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


*Hastily deletes his browser history*


Is there some neutral objective way to distinguish between them?


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

A standard that doesn't rely on us first agreeing to what "good" things or "bad" things are.

But how can there be?

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

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

On “Remembering The Ice Age

When he dies, will the headline be "RIP Van Winkle"?

On “Thursday Throughput: Missing COVID Deaths Edition

I don't understand the anger here.

Scientists study the virus, discover new facts they didn't have before, and revise their advice accordingly while being frank that they are uncertain about things.

On “From Elizabeth Picciuto: The Real Free Speech Violations

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


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

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

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

On “From Freddie deBoer: Ending the Charade

That's a very good point.

Also too, back in the day if a Rock Hudson wanted to keep his personal life and professional life separate, there existed a whole structure of norms and understandings between the studios and the tabloids about what could or couldn't be printed. They acted as the mediators between the individual and the wider public.

Today the internet brings a latter day Rock Hudson face to face with his fans without a mediator, but as we see, that intimate relationship can spin out of control very fast.

Maybe in the end, it isn't that we are in a more censorious age, but that we don't have media and cultural gatekeepers to mediate and arbitrate the boundaries of taboo.


OK, so now that we've got a definition, what evidence is there that this censoriousness is more prevalent today than in previous eras?

I'm thinking of the pre-Internet era when people chatted in meatspace, and shunning was literal as in "You can't sit at our table!" or "You will never be invited to our party!"

Isn't this a common feature in novels and stories throughout our history?


This is a very good point.

A lot of this is really just a tempest in a Twitterpot.

Even for Ms. Vasn DerWerff, how much of her abuse is serious such as credible threats of physical violence, and how much is just a cascade of mean spirited tweets?

And how much can we expect public figures to be shielded from, or endure, caustic public comments?

One of the wonderful things about social media is that it allows fans to feel intimately connected to public figures, but that also means it brings those same figures into intimate contact with people who are hurtful or ugly.


The problem is, "cancelling" is a meaningless term.

It covers everything from a sternly worded tweet to physical violence.

When you use the word, what do you mean by it?


The letter in Harper's asserted two main claims;
1. There is a rising tide of censoriousness and ;
2. It is coming mostly from the left;

Given their vague examples, I disagree that we are in a more censorious age;
And given the second claim, I argue that what has changed, is who is doing the censoring.

Your examples are still intact; No Twitter mob is clamoring to overturn Pruneyard. And what is most pertinent, "Speech on another person's property" is, quite literally, what a Twitter is.

The worst example they can mention of "cancelling" is the couple of high profile firings. Except even here, this is nothing new or novel. Public figures like magazine editors have always been fired for taking the wrong stance or pissing off the wrong powerful people.


"We have evolved from “Freedom of Speech” being a principle upheld by the First Amendment..."


When was this period, exactly?

When was there a period in which people were free to voice unpopular opinions and not be shamed or shunned or even fired?

Was it in the 60s when the Smothers Brothers were cancelled, (literally cancelled) for being too political?

The 00's when Bill Maher was cancelled (again, literally) for his remarks about 9-11?

On “From Elizabeth Picciuto: The Real Free Speech Violations

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

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

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

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

On “From Freddie deBoer: Ending the Charade

But we have plenty of cases where people who were protesting peacefully were attacked upon by police, don't we?
Which is the point that these such cases are far more damaging to speech than an editor being fired, because it was government violence.

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