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AvatarComments by InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon*

On “From Elizabeth Picciuto: The Real Free Speech Violations

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


A few reactions to this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

On “From Freddie deBoer: Ending the Charade

There's free speech and then there's the toxic hellscape that is twitter. Sometimes I think these conversations get screwed up by a conflation of the principle with the medium. What's unfortunate and IMO has little to do with free speech is an environment that has made participation in awful social media forums a professional requirement in certain industries.


It's not really radicalism I have a problem with. Someone needs to push the envelope, say the truth even when it's provocative,
think outside the box, etc. My beef is with the casual destruction of the tools of advancement and the lack of historical perspective on where these things came from.


At some point I think the old school liberals of the world need to get better at fighting. The vector of the enlightenment has done actual good for the world and humanity. Never fast enough and rarely comprehensively enough, but it racks up real, sustained victory after real, sustained victory over the centuries. The woke/critical theory/whatever people have accomplished nothing and the baileys they want everyone to wander into risk undoing all manner of progress.

I long for the day I can be part of a winning coalition that doesn't cater to these simpletons and their aggressive nihilism.

On “Wednesday Writs: Kavanaugh v. RoboCalls Edition

Also does the judge know anything about you as a person?

If a judge has heard of you before chances are you're going to have some real trouble in the character and fitness portion.


I had to wear a suit for our pre-swearing in ethics review in MD but not the test itself. I felt like a real idiot when I went to the same class for DC in suit and tie only to find everyone else in sweats and pajama pants.


And to clarify it also regulates faxing, but the issues in the case were the IVR and auto-dialer provisions.


The TCPA probably needs to be revisited by Congress but since they don't actually legislate much anymore I doubt it will any time soon. Nevertheless it's important to understand what the legislation and FCC implementing regs actually do. They regulate the use of technology (IVR and use of auto-dialers). It's perfectly legal to cold call someone not using the technology for any legal purpose.

Of course the next battle is going to be over the definition of 'auto-dialer'. There have been some recent cases narrowing it but the FCC's position has basically been 'anything not a rotary phone.' It's a situation where there is a legitimate interest in not allowing automated processes to keep phones ringing off the hook all day but the technology is now totally removed from the legislation and Congressional findings underlying it.

On “They Who Must Not Be Named

I think I've gone over that piece of the essay with Freeman and gabriel. It's a fair criticism that I overstated my case, or at least didn't break it down enough. Regarding the Redskins name, polls exist. I think the most charitable interpretation possible for the belief that Native peoples find it offensive is that it's a wash. It's soon to be a dead debate anyway.

But you bring up a side point where I'd be really interested in your perspective. I can see very much why Trans persons want others to empathize with them, support their rights, and be willing to take a hard line on it in the culture. The numbers alone make at least some of that necessary.

But do you ever feel patronized when someone you sense really doesn't know much about you or the nuances of the issues takes a no-compromise stance and claims to be speaking for you? Maybe the final calculation is that the trade-off is worth it but I'm legitimately curious.

On “President Ye?

Biden represents the Great Kicking of the Can. Which may be better than the Great Grabbing of the Can. But ymmv.


Silvio Berlusconi would like a word.

On “Don’t Forget: Black Lives Matter

Pretty accurate take. I thank God every day that social media did not exist when I was young and reckless.

On “President Ye?

He isn't deluded. He has an album to promote. It's a publicity stunt of no actual political consequence.

If I'm wrong others can feel free to find this comment down the road, and I will willingly accept the ridicule.

On “They Who Must Not Be Named

I'm in the same position. My strong preference would be to find a way to continue the motif while just changing the name which, like it or not, has an expressly racial reference. One plus for the Redskins is we have no mascot and there is no tradition of tomahawk chops or chants, though we have had some of the headdress stuff.

But to your point, it's far from clear to me that the Chiefs and Braves and Blackhawks, etc. aren't next. You guys are in a better situation because the franchise is not only good and has the best player in the league, but also hasn't spent 20 years destroying the good will of everyone, including the NFL and the sponsors. We shall see.


They're supposed to be making the name less offensive, not more.

On “Don’t Forget: Black Lives Matter

There's a narcissism to late capitalism, where people mistake catering to certain sensibilities to make money for substantive action. There's also a lot of religion for people who don't have Jesus in the mix.

None of this is to say symbols don't matter at all. I find it tough to mourn something like removal of the Confederate jack from the MS flag. There's a real public interest in the apparent endorsement by the state of something associated with an actual political agenda. But paraphrasing Freddie from back in the day, no amount of privilege checking ever put food in anyone's belly. Neither has any company putting up 'Black Lives Matter' on its webpage or making sure people can't watch Gone With the Wind or whatever else.

I'm no Marxist but I can't help but think the abandonment of materialism by the cultural left has had some really negative consequences for our politics. At the very least it's made it a lot harder for people to distinguish between what matters and what doesn't.

On “They Who Must Not Be Named

The 11 isn't a terrible idea either. What's really important is that they keep as much continuity as they can.

Changing the name seems like this really easy thing to do but the experience with the Bullets/Wizards show how badly it can go. They originally played in the Baltimore Armory (hence Bullets) before relocating to the DC area. When the team moved to downtown DC there was a push to change the name. At the time gun violence was rampant and we got similar emotional pleas about how bad and offensive it was to have a team called the Bullets while people are being shot to death in the streets. That and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin led the owner at the time (Abe Pollin) to open up a review of the name. They landed on the Wizards and did a complete rebrand, colors and all. Who could be upset by that?

But here's the funny thing. Within days people were going berserk about how 'Wizards' was also offensive due to association with the KKK. You can't make this stuff up. The new identity never really stuck with long-time fans and in the last few years they've gone back to the old Bullets color scheme but kept the Wizards name. It's a complete mess.

Obviously horrendous mismanagement of the team and poor performance has not helped the Wizards. But the rebranding ended up not satisfying anyone and as far as popularity the Wizards are a non-entity. We're more than twenty years out and local sports fans still complain about the name change.

Now I get that 'Redskins' is inconsistent with modern sensibilities but the Bullets/Wizards thing shows how hard it is to rebrand successfully. They're never going to satisfy the most sensitive person on twitter and I think it's really important that they not try.

On “Do All Lives Matter?

I was about to post the exact same thing. But to your point, for those hellbent on not giving it a hearing on the merits, I'm sure there would be something else superficial to latch onto.

On “They Who Must Not Be Named

Please, by all means, be punchy! In retrospect maybe I was unfairly dismissive.

I struggle to see a lot of value in opinions of (i) random person on social media, especially one who seems to be outraged at basically everything and (ii) national writer with a lot of smug things to say but seemingly no insight into the team or expertise on Native peoples.

See also my response to Freeman below. Can everyone have an opinion? Sure. Is it worth engaging with the least informed such opinions? For me, on this issue, the answer has become no (that was part of my conclusion).

But the good news for me I suppose is that I will no longer have to.


Definitely not the worst suggestion I've seen put out in the last 24 hours!


Well this is a 'culture' essay not a legal analysis. My opinion is that a certain stance coming from a certain group is hard to take seriously. Too often I see people out there interested in tearing things down without really grappling with the particulars.

But you're absolutely right, everyone does have a right to an opinion. Maybe failing to address that issue in more depth is a shortcoming of the piece. Still I assume I'm hardly alone in assigning greater persuasiveness to the views of some and not others, no?


No racial qualifications needed. If you tell me you're a fan and/or willing to become a fan I will hear you out regardless of your background.


There are two groups who have an actual stake in the debate over the name of this particular team. Mine is my fandom. I've done my best to give a fair shake to the different views of Native tribes, but I have no membership, affiliation, or ancestry.

For everyone else it's the equivalent of an opinion on a product you have no intention nor openness to buying anyway. Unless I'm wrong and you're on the waiting list for the new jerseys whenever they come out?


The National's game you went to in '07 would have actually been at RFK. The Redskins left that site in 1996 and currently play at FedEx field in Landover, MD.

As for the stadium issue it's been brewing for years. I don't think anyone was ever happy with where it landed in 1996 but even back then when the team was really popular it was a serious political challenge. It's only gotten harder and the attempt to play the 3 jurisdictions off each other over the last 10 years has not worked out for them.

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