commenter-thread

Things that I have seen described as cancelling.

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

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

(Chip, the "Curious!" guy was the bad guy in the cartoon.)

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

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

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

Compartmentalized.

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

Which only works for but so long.

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

I assume it's referring to the phenomenon that Rudi Dutschke called the "long march".

*I* thought it was funny...

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

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

A small comedy bit, if you will.

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

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

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

That wasn't real communism.

Is there some neutral objective way to distinguish between them?

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

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

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

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

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

I admit: I thought that LBJ pushed forward the Johnson Amendment in 1954 to threaten African-American churches (which were the hotbeds of Civil Rights Activism at the time) because he was kinda racist and it passed easily because the country was kinda racist.

I've heard arguments that, no, it was a principled act before but I've never found them persuasive.

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

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

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

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

Feel free to not.

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

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

We got into this the other day.

This whole thread was good:

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

I absolutely *LOVED* this speech.

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

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

"OH, YOU THINK WE SHOULD BE AT 100!!!"

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

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

Yeah, you probably wouldn't believe the arguments made against people who thought that the Johnson Amendment abridged free speech.

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

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

It's in the first amendment.

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

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

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

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

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

That just strikes me as straining plausibility.

But, hey. Maybe he's an alcoholic. Lemme google.

Oh, the Johnson Amendment? Surely that was passed for good reasons though...

1954... didn't want political advocacy happening in churches...

Yeah, there probably were good reasons that LBJ included that Amendment.

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

"It's good for people to fear signing their name to bad things and bad for people to fear signing their name to good things!" strikes me as naïve.

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

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

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

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

How do I know that his options were either:

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

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

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

Oooh! Perhaps you could offer a third option!

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

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

And here's the letter itself:

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

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

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

A solid prediction:

Good news!

"That wasn't *REAL* communism" is an interesting argument.

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

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

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

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

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

And then when he realized that his options were:

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

He chose 1.

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

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

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

Saul said, and I quote:

"is"

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

If we want to talk about scalable moralities, I suggest Deontology rather than after-the-fact Utilitarianism.

Well, it certainly smears distinctions of punching up/down.

If we're wandering into police brutality, I've gotta say that I was only intending to talk about criticism.

One of the problems that seems to be popping up over and over again is that there are a lot of kinds of power and the kinds of power are different from each other.

And someone who has a lot of one but none of the other can argue that they're not *REALLY* powerful because they don't have any of the other kind. "That's the *REAL* power!", they say, not noticing that they have a different kind of power and quite a bit of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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