commenter-thread

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

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

And I support firing people who advocate dehumanizing bigotry against coworkers. By contrast I think advocating self defense is fine. "Shoot back" isn't "shoot first."

Advocating the murder of "rioters" means, among other things, killing poor kids for stealing sneakers. Advocating for police violence is indeed authoritarian, particularly in the context of the recent protests, which were an endless stream of police brutality, attacks on journalists, attacks on citizens just trying to drive home, and more and more and more.

It's simple. You're fash.

Supporting the murder of "rioters" is fascist bullshit. You went mask off. Stop pretending.

(I wasn't even trying to do a headfuck with this. It just fell into my lap.)

So now you support firing people for speech outside of work. Good. Me too, on a case by case basis.

Glad we cleared that up. I guess that settles things.

This has been a weird discussion.

I'm not even sure how to respond to that. Like, there is something wrong with your mind, some kind of fascist urge to dominate and kill. Anyway, yeah, you let it out. I suspected what you were. Now I know.

We're going to win.

Moreover, I just did a quick scan of the Google results for "fired over BLM." Indeed a number of people have been fired for opposing the protests. However, many I looked at were specifically fired for supporting violence against the protestors, often in extreme and gruesome language. In other words they were fired either for claims that they would personally kill protestors or calls for the police to kill protestors.

Free speech, yeah I guess. It's arguable. However, I think employers are are sensible to dismiss an employee who hates their fellow Americans in such brutal ways.

This is easy: https://www.google.com/amp/s/thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/505592-massachusetts-detective-fired-after-post-supporting-black-lives-matter%3famp

Try a simple Google search before you make claims. It helps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It sucks to be a "divisive issue."

Oh get over yourself. You don't get to cry irrationalism when I point out how misguided you are.

Likewise, I'm most familiar with Damore. However, due to circumstances, I'm literally not allowed to talk about the case in detail -- if you're clever you might guess why. I'll just say that I understand why many woman dread working with men like him. Moreover, his public swing to the alt-right after his dismissal confirms my suspicions.

Regarding the fact that conservatives are unpopular in higher education -- whenever this comes up, I have to ask, what is a "conservative"? Which conservatives are we talking about?

"Conservative" is not an identity label like "black" or "gay." People don't choose their race or sexuality. It's baked into their person. By contrast, conservatism is a set of beliefs. Beliefs are adopted and defended. What are those beliefs? Why does the academy reject them?

From here: https://altrightorigins.com/2020/07/08/watching-the-whitewash/

Pick up National Review or The Freeman or Modern Age or any other conservative periodical and you’ll find a steady drumbeat of articles attacking the notion of “academic freedom” and warning of leftists overthrowing the government by brainwashing students. Not that there is any data to prove that they are brainwashing anyone, quite the opposite, but that doesn’t stop the creaky claim being widely circulated in right wing circles.

So one reason conservatives don’t go into academia is because they, and their parents, and their grandparents, and their great-grandparents have been told that academia is a breeding ground for Commies, hippies, and radicals who Hate America. Hsu and Woods both speak in somewhat nostalgic tones about how there used to be free inquiry at our universities. Just when was this halcyon time? According to the American right wing–never.

Conservatives have also been profoundly anti-scientific for decades. Creationism, which entails a rejection of not only biology but geology and much of physics, has been at the center of American Christian fundamentalism for roughly a century, which is an important constituency for conservative politics (just ask our Vice President). The denial of climate change is overwhelmingly a right wing political phenomenon, tied not only to free market ideology but also to xenophobia and nationalism. I probably don’t have to mention the rejection of epidemiologists and public health professionals by our current administration which is an important part of the country’s problems with Covid-19.

(I've been reading that blog a lot lately.)

You might argue that not all conservatives are creationists. I agree. Not all are sexist or homophobic or proponents of race realism. However, many are. Therefore it is unsurprising that conservatives would leave the academy and flock to think tanks funded by wealthy conservatives, which is more or less what happened.

Anyway, conservatives leaving the academy because their reactionary ideas are more popular in right wing think tanks doesn't strike me as bullying. In fact, often they leave the academy because outside the academy they feel more free to advocate for bigotry.

#####

Okay, let's change gears. Is there a "free speech" crisis on campus. I can find a lot of articles that say there isn't. I can find a lot of articles that say there is. Often these articles appears to be a manufactured grievance whinge coming from Quillette, who will defend race realism to their dying breath. So what is the truth?

This article seems fair: https://heterodoxacademy.org/political-firings-left-leaning-faculty/

They claim there is a problem. Certainly I agree that mob violence isn't good. However, right wing groups are just as eager to shut down speech, if not more so. There are fewer of them on campus. They largely aren't the students. Instead, the right wing pressure comes from off campus.

I mean, you do understand that reactionary politics has always been opposed to free expression, and the attempts of reactionaries to champion free speech is dishonest? Reactionaries have switched to a "free speech" stance because they're losing the culture war. This is a last ditch tactic. If they can swing the ball back, my life will become unlivable.

All that said, the attacks on Hsu were not an unhinged Twitter mob. It is interesting, however, that Quillette and SCC claimed that they were. In other words, those sites were dishonest about what was actually happening. Students have a right to petition their university administration for a change of leadership, particularly when that leader is shown to be a race realist who is cozy with holocaust denial.

Anyway, I'd love to see fewer irrational mobs on campus, mostly because they're counterproductive and, honestly, pretty cringe. They don't help. They look terrible. That said, why do we hear about them so much, whereas we don't see the right wing groups attacking speech?

Do you want a ceasefire? How would you get that? Do you think you can stop conservatives? The IDW types might get on board, but the ninnies who read Breitbart won't change. Plus, we're still going to object to Charles Murray because he is selling scientific racism. We're not going to back down on that. Those ideas were put in the dustbin decades ago. We don't need to keep pulling them back out, dusting them off, and trying to sell them once again. Black people deserve better.

#####

Free expression means many things. To the right wing, it often means repeatedly trying to sell discredited science designed to hurt marginalized people who disgust them. To them, the question can never be settled. Science cannot reach consensus. It cannot progress past bad faith debates. They want the academy to put the gold stamp on bad ideas that were rejected before most of us were born. It will never stop, because the motivation is not truth. It is bigotry.

Solve bigotry and this problem goes away.

That would mean that Fox couldn't fire Neff for being revealed as a racist.

(I know that technically he quit, but I strongly suspect he was forced out.)

You fail to understand the nature of bigotry. It's neither rational nor negotiated. It's raw disgust. We are an affront to God. We are unnatural. Giving us rights will cause hurricanes and blight crops.

Perhaps if we promise to only blight crops a little bit.

I'm sure you'll say something like, "That's only the religious extremists."

Sure, but according to TERFs we are mentally ill sexual deviants, every one of us, fully. We're a danger.

We're trying to corrupt children!

Children!

It doesn't matter what we do. We are essentially corrupt and our existence corrupts society. We cannot be trusted. We cannot be allowed to exist.

Did you know that Jews are vermin who spread plague?

(To be very clear, I don't believe that. Anyone who quotes that out of context is intellectually dishonest to an extreme degree.)

Okay, sit down. I'm going to say something hard to believe. Are you ready?

Take a deep breath.

Okay, sometimes people lie on the Internet.

I know! That's shocking!

So we have a certain problem. Often people who feel a deep bigotry will be good at hiding it. In one browser tab they're reading an alarmist article about how trans people are molesting kids. They believe that article, because they are disgusted by us. In another browser tab they're writing an article about trans people where they are very careful not to say that out loud.

Evidently Blake Neff was the "top writer" for Tucker Carlson. That means, I suspect, that much of what Carlson said came from the mind of Neff.

Did Carlson every say that black people were subhuman garbage? Did he use those words?

Does Neff believe that they are?

Yes he does. He was, however, very careful not to put those words into Carlson's mouth. All the same, the ideas were there.

I was very unsurprised to learn that Carlson's main writer was a racist. I mean, obviously. Anyone with more than three wrinkles in their cerebellum could see that. But he was careful with his language.

Rowling insists that she isn't transphobic, but she repeats TERF talking points. She waters them down and tries to make them sound nice. She is a fairly skilled writer. She's good at it.

I'd love to have a discussion on the facts. Actually, those discussion have happened, many times. All of the major medical boards support us. Gender dysphoria is real. Transition ameliorates it. Social acceptance is critical for our mental wellbeing. We cause no undue harm to the broader society.

More republican legislators have broken laws in public bathrooms than trans people: https://www.complex.com/life/2016/03/republican-legislators-arrested-for-bathroom-misconduct

We've had the conversations, many times. We are correct.

Do the bigots accept this?

Of course not. Don't be silly. The facts don't matter. What matters is their disgust, and their capacity to engender fear and disgust in others. Many of them hold powerful positions in major media outlets. They use this position to play DARVO games.

When we fight back, they play the victim. People like you then gather around to defend their "free speech." If we work to convince people that they're irrational bigots, we're accused of "canceling" them. Evidently we should just be okay with the fact that a senior editor is either transphobic or will publish transphobes uncritically.

So what does your ceasefire look like?

Bigotry is never symmetrical. It's not the case that we're trying to hurt each other. They're trying to hurt us and we're trying to stop them from hurting us.

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

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

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

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

It's hard to have a ceasefire when our position is that we should be able to fully participate in society with dignity and their position is that people like us shouldn't exist.

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

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

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

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

WHY? SERIOUSLY, WHY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's an enormous double standard.

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

Anyway, read the whole thing.

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

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

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

Okay, that's it! Now you've gone too far with the math puns!

:)

Heh, not exactly, but that's a good sneer.

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

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

Moldbug is like crack to those dudes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course not. We fought a war.

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

Give me a break.

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

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

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

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

None of this happens in a vaccum.

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

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

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

"I'm not a bigot, but what if group X really is Y?" they might ask.

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

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

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

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

An analogy is like a duck. It never quite fits.

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

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

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

He signed the recent letter. How ironic.

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

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

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

Deplatforming bigots is good actually.

"But what about mob justice and Contrapoints and all of that."

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

"But can't you outdebate them?"

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

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

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