Belle-ing the Chait

by Henry on February 2, 2015

So Jonathan Chait has responded to his critics, sort of. The core claim:

The story’s critics have repeated their claim that I am personally upset so often, they have come to take it as an obvious fact. (“It’s understandable that Chait, and the many others who agree with him,” writes Amanda Taub faux-sympathetically, “find it so upsetting to be on the receiving end of what he refers to as ‘P.C.’ criticism.”) … If there were a single sentence in the story expressing self-pity, it would be widely quoted by the critics, but no such line can be found. (Belle Waring, unable to find any quotes substantiating her characterization of my views, actually goes so far as to invent her own quotes that supposedly describe my thinking.) Nor is such a sentiment hidden, lurking somewhere outside the text. I don’t feel victimized in any way by political correctness or (as some have alleged, in one strange variant of the charge) by new media, which has been a boon to me. I feel, with regard to my career and my place in American society, things have never been better. The response partly reflects the p.c. culture’s inability to evaluate arguments about identity as abstract arguments rather than reflections of the author’s own identity.

Well, I dunno. There’s a reason, which Chait oddly fails to mention, why Belle and others thought there might be a distinct personal edge to his suggestion that a white guy accused of bias couldn’t get a fair hearing. Here’s that reason:

it’s also impossible for even the most careful writer to survive the method Coates is applying here, which is that of a hostile prosecutor combing the evidence for every shred of possible guilt. … More perplexing to me, Coates devotes a huge amount of space expounding upon the premise that, as he puts it, I “believe ‘black culture’ and ‘a culture of poverty’ are somehow interchangeable.” … I was clarifying that Obama (and Bill Cosby) see the culture of poverty as a part of the problem of poverty, as opposed to its entirety, as Ryan sees it, and also opposed to zero percent of the problem, as Coates sees it. … Now, Coates was also accusing Obama and Cosby of blaming “black culture.” I considered this a rhetorical cheap shot. … I didn’t bother pointing out the cheap shot. So now Coates has written thousands of words assailing me for quoting his own line in disagreement … The reaction I’ve seen online to this debate suggests a lot of readers on both sides investing a great deal of broader meanings into it — identity, authenticity, yet another endless iteration of the meta question of How We Talk About Race. I have no interest in playing a role in that drama.

It’s certainly theoretically conceivable that Jonathan Chait is capable of completely compartmentalizing his mental life to keep his personal circumstances entirely separate from his intellectual output. Perhaps there was absolutely no connection between his obvious bitterness and anger a few months back at having been accused of racial insensitivity by a prominent African-American writer and critic, and last week’s indictment of a culture where:

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.)

If so, God bless him. I certainly couldn’t maintain that level of disinterestedness myself, and don’t think I’d even try. But even if he’s telling the truth, the piece is at best an exercise in trolling.

When Chait says:

the story … in the print edition, asked, “Can a white male liberal critique the country’s current political-correctness craze (which, by the way, hurts liberals most)? We’re sure you’ll let us know.” This was my editors’ playful way to provocatively anticipate the firestorm the piece would set off.

I read the phrase “playful way to provocatively anticipate the firestorm” as an unsubtle euphemism for “calculated strategy to turn the troll-dial from 10 to 11.” This was a piece that Chait’s editors (and, one presumes, Chait) knew would get an outraged reaction, and presumably wanted to get an outraged reaction. In other words, it was an exercise in trolling.

I’ve long been of the opinion that Jonathan Chait is a very talented troll of the second magnitude. Now Chait isn’t just a troll (his book on American politics is very good and provides useful information), but much of his day-to-day work is trolling both left and right. This isn’t meant as a hit on him. Not only is there a great deal of potential heuristic benefit to good, competent trolling (Socrates’ eironeia is no more and no less than trolling turned to philosophical purposes) but the work of cognitive psychologists like Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber suggest that trolling is ubiquitous. Our human capacity to reason has evolved not to figure out the truth, but to win arguments. In an America that wasn’t so painfully fixated on sincerity of argument, Chait’s trolling abilities would be rightly celebrated.

The desire to troll explains the structure of the piece – a string of claims (1990s-political-correctness-leads-to-crazy-feminists-on-campus-today-leads-to-people-being-horrible-on-Twitter), which seem to add up to a coherent whole, if you don’t read carefully, but don’t add up if you do. To understand this structure, it’s worth consulting that universally acknowledged expert on trolling, our own Daniel Davies on contrarianism:

The other point of contrarianism is that, if it’s well done, you assemble a whole load of points which are individually uncontroversial (or at least, solidly substantiated) and put them together to support a conclusion which is surprising and counterintuitive. In other words, the aim of the thing is the overall impression you give.

and even more, this very interesting post on the heuristic value of trolling. In particular:

here’s an example of a strategy a Troll once described : you take a sensitive topic (like the ban on minarets or the latest problem with Macintosh OS), and you build an argument around it. The conclusion of your argument is blatantly absurd, but every premise is correct, except one. The trick is to hide that wrong premise under an intricate discussion. You know that people will be so hasty to resist your conclusion that they will start by attacking the true premises. You have prepared a violent rebuttal for each objection, and you know that, since you are right on those points, some objective debaters might side with you, which will divide the discussion group (a crucial step).

So what’s the “blatantly absurd” premise that’s been buried here? I think that the pivot you need to pay attention to can be found in these lines.

Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.

So what are Chait’s claims? As I read them: (1) The left has exerted “hegemonic control” over academia for two decades (Chait purports to document this by spatchcocking a jumble of incidents from the 1990s through to today together). (2) Social media has created a new space for this “far left,” which “has borrowed the Marxist critique of liberalism and substituted race and gender identities for economic ones,” to flourish. (3) Therefore, Catherine MacKinnon and all those other people who annoyed and terrified me back when I was an undergraduate are having their revenge, twenty-five years later! Social media has allowed the forces of political correctness to assume “a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular,” “philosophically threatening” the foundations of liberal politics.

If you look at these claims at all carefully, they’re obviously untrue. The political correctness panic of the 1990s was the product of a brief moment when it might have looked to a careless observer as though English departments, cultural studies and “Theory” did enjoy cultural hegemony on campuses, and were likely to do so for some time. This was a temporary and conjoint product of the grandiose claims of some cultural studies people, and the attacks of their enemies on the right (and to a lesser extent in other bits of the academy), which made Theory look much bigger and more important than it actually was. I imagine that the arguments were fun (a lot of my own blogging is the result of my frustrated desire to have been writing for Lingua Franca back in the day), but they didn’t last for long, or make much of a lasting impression. Even Alan Sokal has acknowledged in retrospect that postmodernists were pretty harmless compared to the true forces of irrationalist lunacy which were then gathering strength in less fashionable precincts of intellectual life.

Put differently, the way that college life sort-of looked the last time that Jonathan Chait was paying any attention to it is very different from the way that it looks today. English and cultural studies departments don’t have unquestioned hegemony on campus. They’re embattled, and seeing their funding cut. The last fifteen years have been wretched ones for most freshly minted humanities Ph.D.s – dismal job prospects, with little prospect of tenure or anything even resembling a comfortable middle class existence. University administrations are largely indifferent to the siren call of post modernism and (except where serious scandal is threatened), feminist issues on campus. In contrast, they are exquisitely sensitive to the interests of funders (whether it be the state, large donors, or both) and members of their boards of trustees, very few of whom are concerned with combating racial and sexual injustice.

In fairness to Chait, there was a recent incident when a professor was refused employment, on the purported justification that “[w]hat we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.” The person who got the boot was, of course, Steven Salaita (Chait similarly fails to mention the efforts by New York state legislators to punish Brooklyn College because its political science department passively sponsored leftwing anti-Israel speakers). Who you agree or disagree with in the Salaita affair is irrelevant to the point it amply illustrates; power on campus does not rest with leftwing culture studies people, or even with professors as a body. It’s the administration (responsive to politicians, to the rich, and to the influential) that calls the shots.

The turn of the cultural left to Twitter is a reflection of its weakness on university campuses, not its strength. Today’s intra-left fights over cultural identity are not the birth pangs of a dangerous new radical left elite of cultural enforcers. They’re the product of anger and economic powerlessness, the unanticipated result of the hollowing out of humanities on university campuses, and the parlous state of intellectual journalism. The lack of real money and job prospects is leading many young writers and academics to turn to online publishing. This is in turn leading to an (unsustainable) proliferation of cultural commentary, some of it unreadable, but much of it sharp and interesting. Much of this commentary is understandably driven by spleen. Impoverished freelancers and adjunct intellectuals, scraping out a living from commuter teaching and dead end jobs, are angry when they look at the comfortable positions that a previous generation of humanities intellectuals had, and that they never will. They won’t ever have good jobs. They do have Twitter. But that’s nearly all that they do have or are likely to have any time soon.

Which is why Chait’s argument is, at best, trolling. We’re not seeing the creation of a “towering presence” of far left cultural hegemony, any more than we were threatened in 2007 by McGovernized Daily Kos readers, with their “paranoid, Manichean worldview brimming with humorless rage,” frogmarching misfortunate liberals like Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias into lockstep on their Long March into the radicalist abyss. Instead, we’re seeing the continued weakening of the cultural left on campus, and a turn towards Twitter and online media because, basically, that’s what they’ve got. Chait has cobbled together a variety of disconnected observations into a superficially plausible thesis that’s calculated to annoy a lot of people. On the micro level, the individual bits hold true – if you’re a feminist writer, or if you’re in a cultural theory department, you probably feel the heat of some of these debates. But the Grand Threat to Our Liberal Way of Life (see also David Frum’s unintentionally funny ‘bitch slap’ article on the Pussification of the American Liberal) is nonsense.

Considered as trolling, it’s a very creditable performance. Not connoisseur’s trolling – it doesn’t quite produce that baffled sense of ‘but where is the argument wrong??’ that truly great trolling does, but it’s certainly been quite effective at getting the punters out, myself included. Think Michael Bay and Transformers: Age of Extinction, not Mike Leigh and Mr. Turner. If the piece were intended as serious journalism, of course, it would be a quite different story. Still, I think it’s only fair to give Chait the benefit of the doubt.

{ 222 comments }

1

milx 02.02.15 at 3:44 pm

this is super otm, Henry. the problem w/ Chait’s argument from the get-go was that he was pretending that any of this manufactured identity rage has any impact on the culture / politics at large. obv if you want to slay a dragon you need to find one first, so i don’t blame Chait for over-exaggerating the importance of social justice tumblr. but if he were being really rigorous he’d say “the new PC is a problem… for about 0.5% of our population.”

2

Belle Waring 02.02.15 at 3:52 pm

I don’t think he read my second post, is all. That’s the problem. I’m misunderstood in my own times. Chait and I have one single degree of separation of friends (like a school friend of mine is his friend), so it is not news to me that he is a real person who ever reads CT, but at the same time reading that I felt a twinge of, “wow, I sure did savagely mock that person.” But then I look back at his piece and I think, “yep, he was asking for it. Whoo, doggy how. That was tendentious bullshit all right.” And luckily it’s more that a dude who had a super crush on me in high school but whose name I only sort of remembered when he contacted me in the era of the internet is Jonathan Chait’s friend, so it’s not quite as bad as it would have been.

3

Tiny Tim 02.02.15 at 3:58 pm

Chait dishes it out as much as anyone so it would be absurd to be worried about being too mean the poor boy.

4

Barry 02.02.15 at 4:10 pm

“English and cultural studies departments don’t have unquestioned hegemony on campus.”

It never did, even during the PCocaust during Chait’s time. Now, if you read The Michigan Daily and Michigan Review during Chait’s time (as I did, when Chait wrote for the latter), one might have thought differently. However, that’d be just like watching TV news and assuming that kidnappings and murders were daily occurrences on each block.

5

Anarcissie 02.02.15 at 4:14 pm

The meaning of troll has spread out a lot since Usenet days, where the concept was invented. Back then, it meant insincerely provoking stupid exchanges of abuse and outrage in a forum; the payoff was the degradation and sometimes dissolution of the forum. By professing the stupid outragism inherent in the Political Correctness phenomenon, Mr. Chait passes the stupidity test, but does not convince me he possesses the required insincerity.

Incidentally, reading around these days I find the rightists and libertarians are far more excited by P.C. than liberals or leftist radicals, who are often more concerned with issues like war, concentration of wealth and power, government and private surveillance, police violence, the prisons and their contents, plutocracy, etc. etc. etc.

6

Belle Waring 02.02.15 at 4:20 pm

Indeed, Tiny Tim. He didn’t want to quote me on why I personally ever find a trigger warning useful, either, for whatever reason. (For me taking the form of “of hey are there any graphic rapes in this book/movie? Thanks, maybe I’ll read it in six months instead.” Compelling first-hand news-you-can-use!

IME in humanities departments in the 90s there was a minority of Theory devoteés and a majority of profs who were just going to teach you Epigraphy. Or the hilarious type of Textual Criticism in which you just…figure out from which stemma variant texts were made, and what were the likely [grammatically!] correct words and that kind of thing. Doing IE Linguistics was a lot about alveolar fricatives, not so much about signified and signifier. Not that there’s no theoretical disputes in Linguistics, but…

7

Tom West 02.02.15 at 4:27 pm

“the new PC is a problem… for about 0.5% of our population.”

Indeed, but it’s almost certain the 0.5% of the population in which Chait and many other white, middle-class liberals live. Suddenly quite a number of women and men are being pushed (rightly or wrongly) from a direction they hardly ever had any direct contact with.

If your self-image is a defender of the downtrodden, it can be pretty upsetting to find out that many of those you thought you were defending consider you only marginally different from what you considered the “enemy”. And since this

It’ll be interesting to see whether this ‘lack of appreciation’ results in a left-wing shift (in an attempt to actually be helpful in a fashion meaningful to those being helped), or a shift away from political engagement and out of that 0.5%.

Too much communication/fraternization can be dangerous for any “big-tent” movement.

8

Theophylact 02.02.15 at 4:33 pm

Hm. I think you have a novel use of “spatchcocking” here. It means removing the spine of a bird from butt to neck and flattening it out — which is what you’ve done to Chait.

9

Foster Boondoggle 02.02.15 at 4:48 pm

I took Chait’s main point to be different from what both Belle and Henry have been responding to. He’s not concerned with hurt feelings or with being censored. He’s concerned that his erstwhile allies have created a community that is uninviting and unpleasant. No on-the-fence outsider is going to want to join a community that might include some like-minded people, but mostly amounts to a really un-fun party where you never know when some bozo is going to puke on you or your friend. When you let the assholes dominate the scene, they chase out all the non-assholes. It’s Gresham’s law at work. Chait is concerned that the left-language-police are actively undermining liberal/progressive objectives by chasing away potential allies. That seems to me an entirely legitimate and real problem, one that’s not addressed by Henry’s or either of Belle’s posts.

10

bob mcmanus 02.02.15 at 4:53 pm

7: Too much communication/fraternization can be dangerous for any “big-tent” movement.

The displacement of political conflict to the terrain of networked media has the perverse repercussion of perpetually expanding the topography of struggle even as it constantly signals the locations, intentions, and networks of those who are fighting. This expansion has thus far strengthened communicative capitalism as it feeds on accelerating crises and emergencies. It also increases the exposure and vulnerability of those engaged in active protest and resistance on the ground. No wonder the diversion of cute cat photos is so welcome.

…Jodi Dean, Blog Theory

In disciplinary society, normative expectations coalesced around determinate social roles. Presuming the gaze of the school, church, family, or state, one could imagine oneself in different positions, positions that would either comply with or transgress institutional norms. I can be a conscientious student, faithful believer, dutiful daughter, good citizen. And, I can also be a delinquent, back-sliding, worthless, traitor. Even as the images differ, the symbolic identity of the gaze remains the same. In
the wake of the decline of symbolic efficiency, the dissolution of disciplinary society, this gaze loses its prior force. We aren’t sure if it’s operative, if others believe it: is the good student a cog, uncreative, thinking inside the box, a goody-two-shoes? Does
the Other actually admire and applaud transgression, and if so is it then more transgressive not to be transgressive since that’s what the Other wants? Encountering the endless possibilities of contemporary reflexivity, post-disciplinary subjects are propelled to move through a variety of imaginary identities. We imagine ourselves one way, then another, never sure of how we appear because we don’t know before whom we appear.

…ibid

11

Sam Tobin-Hochstadt 02.02.15 at 4:59 pm

I like that you point out the position of weakness that Chait’s opponents find themselves (ourselves) in. A big reason to police your own is an inability to police the other side. It (sadly) seems quite implausible that we’d remake our economy to be friendlier to the disabled, or address injustice done to African-Americans, or eliminate sexual violence on campuses. But it’s very possible to make progress on insisting that already well-meaning people consider their language more, and on excluding people who behave badly from ideologically cohesive online communities.

Is it any wonder that people work on the latter problems?

12

chairman 02.02.15 at 5:09 pm

I can’t find a single thing objectionable about what Chait wrote in that write-off with Coates. If his articles were assailed for being “insensitive” that seems great proof of his argument about PC culture. This whole thing strikes me like that old line about feminism: the negative comments to an article about feminism prove the need for feminism. The responses to a claim that PC culture is over the top prove that PC culture is over the top.

13

Katherine 02.02.15 at 5:14 pm

“Chait is concerned that the left-language-police are actively undermining liberal/progressive objectives by chasing away potential allies. “

I’m guessing the left-language-police don’t have the power of arrest or a badge, or the actual ability to stop anyone saying whatever the fuck they want. And who are these “potential allies” of which you speak who are so freaked out by be asked to use words that don’t demean or being asked to shush for a minute whilst the previously silenced get their turn to speak?

14

Tiny Tim 02.02.15 at 5:30 pm

Chait isn’t interested in movement politics. Chait doesn’t worry about chasing away potential allies with his own writing career. This is only an issue for Other People.

15

dn 02.02.15 at 5:31 pm

Foster Boondoggle @9 – If that’s what you took to be Chait’s main point, you may need to read the thing again. A piece that uses the words “undemocratic creed” (!) to describe “PC culture” is doing more than just encouraging people to be more inviting.

I agree with Henry’s point about social-media activism being in part a consequence of the substantive powerlessness of the left in the face of the ongoing corporatization of academia.

16

Brett Bellmore 02.02.15 at 5:35 pm

Where which words “demean” continually shifts and expands, and the minute they need to “shush” pops up whenever they open their mouths? All over the place, I expect.

17

Kiwanda 02.02.15 at 5:36 pm

Anarcissie:

The meaning of troll has spread out a lot since Usenet days, where the concept was invented.

Yeah, judging from this post, “trolling” is a major force in the sweeping pageant of human history, alongside malaria, light cavalry, and the sweet potato. (See also comments on John Holbo’s post.)

Perhaps there was absolutely no connection between his obvious bitterness and anger a few months back at having been accused of racial insensitivity by a prominent African-American writer and critic, and last week’s indictment of a culture where…

Agreed, Chait is probably not Mr. Spock-hyperlogical-brain-machine. But, I haven’t seen anybody claim that arguments must come from some “view from nowhere”. It’s just that it’s the arguments that are important to address, not the motivations for making them: ad homonym phallussy, and all that.

It’s especially bad to impute motivations you then attack, or as Corey Robin eloquently put it recently, “use the ventriloquizing of your opponents’ claims”. This is a common failing: it’s close to number 8 in a checklist regarding online abuse.

Regarding Steve Salaita, see also these “academic mobbing” cases. Some of them approach “Nazis in Skokie” with respect to defending the freedom to speak horrible things, but still. The discussion of the Virginia Tech killer is particularly interesting, if not exactly relevant here.

I think the thing about twitter and social media is how it accelerates and even creates mobbing. When you’re a member in good standing of a community, and step a little out of line, you can be mobbed and cast out. But if you wear the wrong shirt, and ten thousand people call you an asshole, is that “mobbing” or just ten thousand independent reactions? If you tweet ironically racist things “to your friends”, how long should you be history’s greatest monster?

18

Piers 02.02.15 at 5:37 pm

Maybe it’s not used that way in the US, but it’s fairly common in the British Isles:

Spatchcock, v. 2. a. To insert, interpolate, or sandwich (a phrase, sentence, etc.). b. To add to, or modify, by interpolation. (OED)

19

bianca steele 02.02.15 at 5:44 pm

I haven’t read all of this yet, but I want to point out, it’s an especially good title.

The reaction I’ve seen online to this debate suggests a lot of readers on both sides investing a great deal of broader meanings into it — identity, authenticity, yet another endless iteration of the meta question of How We Talk About Race. I have no interest in playing a role in that drama.

These sentences are telling. He’s saying he dismisses a whole bunch of writers out of hand (he doesn’t name Coates, but it’s difficult to see how Coates is excluded from the dismissal) for the reason that he thinks they’re not rational in the “proper” way. He thinks they’re including him in their personal “drama” just because he’s in the public eye, something that would be rude even if they were actually acquainted with him, since he hasn’t given his permission and his relationship with them isn’t necessarily personal. He has a theory about how people behave, and when they violate it, he doesn’t reexamine the theory, he simply dismisses their words and evaluates them as acting on emotion. There’s no way he could know that about them. It’s not even obvious that he’s evaluating what they say or the positions they take, rather than simply assuming that someone without a paid, sanctioned platform like him and Coates is acting on an emotional basis and not possibly a rational one.

20

TM 02.02.15 at 5:44 pm

Concerning the argument at 9, what always jumps out to me is the circularity of this reasoning. Yes it is true that severe, pointed criticism pisses some people off. But what is Chait doing? Well he’s criticizing. He will probably say that his criticism is valid and the other one is not but that doesn’t help because that’s what everybody thinks. So Chait is concerned about assholes chasing away potential allies but others say Chait himself is one of the assholes chasing away potential allies. The whole anti-PC meme is inconsistent (but that is what memes generally are of course). PC is ideas and opinions and expressions of speech. You can’t consistently claim that these ideas threaten the diversity of ideas, that this speech threatens freedom of speech, and if you think PC is bad-tempered and humorless then don’t write a bad-tempered, humorless take-down of PC. If you think that the PC “language police” is nasty, then don’t respond by making nasty claims against PC.

21

The Temporary Name 02.02.15 at 5:47 pm

Chait is concerned that the left-language-police are actively undermining liberal/progressive objectives by chasing away potential allies.

No doubt Michigan Review/Daily guy would have been a potent force for good.

22

Foster Boondoggle 02.02.15 at 5:48 pm

dn @15, I agree that he says a lot of other stuff in the course of making his case. But his concluding paragraphs (in the first article) make it pretty clear that the shushing and shaming in and of itself is not the big issue for him. It’s that it’s an ineffective strategy for achieving the claimed goals of the various portions of the lefty coalition. If, for example, you want better treatment of “differently-gendered” people (or whatever the acceptable term of art is these days), shutting down the Vagina Monologues because it “excludes transgender women” seems likelier to chase away those who might, on more general grounds of social justice be inclined to support your view than it does to incline them to future support. You come off looking like a severe and humorless twit whom anyone who is not severe and not humorless won’t want to be associated with.

Katherine @13, the point is not any stinking badges or arrest for using the wrong words, it’s the unpleasantness of the loudest voices in the room. If you arrange things so that only the very correctest of the correct are permitted to be your allies, and you come across as a sanctimonious jerk to those who don’t meet your high bar, you won’t have many of allies and you probably won’t win a lot of battles, except in the insular little world where severe language policing is a mechanism of social one-upmanship. (Or should I say one-up-person-ship?)

23

TM 02.02.15 at 5:49 pm

And if you think that proponents of PC are too much concerned with words, that they wildly overestimate the effect that speech has on shaping social reality, then why are you so concerned with their words?

24

bianca steele 02.02.15 at 5:49 pm

FWIW I have to guess that anyone who hasn’t been on a campus since about 1985 or earlier is probably overestimating the journalistic quality of those “placename review” magazines.

25

TM 02.02.15 at 5:55 pm

21: “shutting down the Vagina Monologues because it “excludes transgender women” seems likelier to chase away those who might, on more general grounds of social justice be inclined to support your view than it does to incline them to future support. You come off looking like a severe and humorless twit whom anyone who is not severe and not humorless won’t want to be associated with.”

Not sure if you wish to defend this view as opposed to just explaining what you think is Chait’s view but you are exactly making my point. In case you missed it, nobody “shut down” the Vagina Monologues. What happened is that a theater group decided to develop and stage a new play instead of the one they used to stage every year, and a bunch of severe, humorless twits interpreted this absurdly as an act of censorship.

26

TM 02.02.15 at 6:00 pm

And again, do you ever consider that you might be the one who comes across as a sanctimonious jerk? Do you at least realize that you are putting your judgment against somebody else’s judgment, certain that only your judgment has merit? Which is exactly what you seem to accuse others of? (Again, I’m not sure if this is your view or just channeling Chait’s but it seems more like the former.)

27

dn 02.02.15 at 6:09 pm

Foster @21 – No. The “undemocratic creed” bit is part and parcel of the entire argument: that so-called PC is a phenomenon of “the far left” as distinguished from “liberalism”, that it functions by “bludgeoning” opponents into silence rather than by reasoned argument, and that it is ultimately incompatible with the principles of liberal democracy. Let’s talk about those concluding paragraphs, shall we? Specifically, the one where he said the following:

That the new political correctness has bludgeoned even many of its own supporters into despondent silence is a triumph, but one of limited use. Politics in a democracy is still based on getting people to agree with you, not making them afraid to disagree. The historical record of political movements that sought to expand freedom for the oppressed by eliminating it for their enemies is dismal. The historical record of American liberalism, which has extended social freedoms to blacks, Jews, gays, and women, is glorious. And that glory rests in its confidence in the ultimate power of reason, not coercion, to triumph.

See what he does there? It’s all here: the accusation that PC is a politics of fear, the association of PC with political movements that “eliminate” freedom (what else could he mean there but communism?), the contrasting of PC with “glorious” American liberalism (whose complex and checkered historical record he gives a glibly Whighish gloss – truly unbelievable coming from a guy who’s spent so much time arguing with Coates)…

I find it somewhat infuriating that people are missing this. So many people are determined to give Chait the benefit of the doubt that they are rewriting what he wrote to make it sound more palatable. No. Don’t do it.

28

Katherine 02.02.15 at 6:19 pm

Once again, Foster, who/where are these allies who are so put off the idea of working for justice (racial, gender, whatever) by unpleasant voices that they give up and go home? Do tell. Is Jonathan Chait an example? A man so damaged and silenced by the experience that all he has left is the ability to write in the pages of a major publication.

29

mdc 02.02.15 at 6:22 pm

Another key to good trolling is to make sure some of the prominent true premises are big-think, deep-seeming claims that are recognizable as points of great controversy. Call it ‘the golden herring’ or something. In Chait’s case, I think the golden herring is that politics is possible on the basis of non-gendered, reasoned concern over policy. He’s betting that post-modernists will flay him for that, and that the rest will feel trapped on his side.

30

Barry 02.02.15 at 6:25 pm

TM, whom are you addressing?

31

CharleyCarp 02.02.15 at 6:26 pm

Katherine, I think Freddie DeBoer’s examples show the downside potential of a certain zeal, as does Michelle Goldberg’s article from a year ago. Neither excuses Chait, but both point to a context that’s not meaningless.

32

CharleyCarp 02.02.15 at 6:30 pm

(I don’t disagree with the OP or Belle’s prior post at all. There is and has always been a Judean People’s Front issue; it’s not nationally significant, and doesn’t, imo, have impact beyond selected unfortunate individuals.)

33

TM 02.02.15 at 6:37 pm

29: I was addressing Foster 9 and 21.

34

Foster Boondoggle 02.02.15 at 6:42 pm

dn @26, I guess my interpretation of the 2nd & 3rd sentences of that para is different from yours. I read him to be talking about effective politics as the process of alliance and compromise, not about hammering potential allies with how much righter you are than they. He’s not concerned that the forces of the left are going to take over and eliminate freedom. (Though one might reasonably listen to some of the loudest voices and say “god forbid they ever come into positions of power”.) I admit to vast ignorance about the history of Chait and his debate with Coates. I have no opinion on whether he must be cast out permanently from the pantheon of Acceptable Progressives, though I do note that the tone of this very debate seems to help to make his point.

TM @24, When Mt. Holyoke students decide not to continue performing a feminist play because “[a]t its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman,” to most outsiders that sounds like PC run amok (and to many insiders — see the rather evenhanded IHE article on it). Self-censorship is still censorship. This again sounds like part of the same family of examples that include the demand for trigger warnings on just about everything, because some 20 year-old might be exposed to something they don’t want to think about. Also lefty circular firing squad hierarchy climbing via calling out.

“Do you ever consider that you might be the one who comes across as a sanctimonious jerk?” I do. In person it mostly comes out as loud arguing. But as the saying goes about what it takes to know one, that perhaps makes me more attentive to sanctimonious jerkishness in others.

35

jackrousseau 02.02.15 at 6:43 pm

The once-formidable liberal institutions of America have been hollowed out to the point where real liberals are being forced to join the long-resident radicals in some of the only democratic places left – blogs, tweets, and comments. The anonymous pamphlets of the 21st century.

And then fuckin’ Jon Chait comes along and tapes these scattered parchments together into a giant dragon, making sure to stencil in some flames to make it look extra-spooky and making B-movie roaring noises.

Sad.

36

A H 02.02.15 at 6:51 pm

@33 “I have no opinion on whether he must be cast out permanently from the pantheon of Acceptable Progressives, though I do note that the tone of this very debate seems to help to make his point.”

So you could say that the tone of identy focused activists speech is not politically correct.

You and Chait aren’t against political correctness, you just want a different Political Correctness.

37

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 7:00 pm

“You and Chait aren’t against political correctness, you just want a different Political Correctness.”

This. This. A million times this.

38

TM 02.02.15 at 7:00 pm

Foster 33, I’m sure you can explain why all the other theaters in the world that, for whatever reason, decide not to run the Vagina Monologues, are not engaging in censorship, it’s only when feminists make such a decision for reasons that Fox News or Even The Liberal TNR or Jonathan Chait don’t approve of, only then does it become censorship. If you don’t realize how grotesque your reasoning is then I can’t hope any of my circularity arguments to convince you. Nothing in the world can apparently make you realize how bereft of any humor your invective of those “Mt. Holyoke students” “looking like severe and humorless twit[s]” is.

Well I tried but won’t try again.
(Now is your turn to call me humorless back. It’s a requirement.)

39

Yama 02.02.15 at 7:07 pm

Foster has the right idea, imo. Count me as a former ally driven away.

40

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 7:10 pm

“Foster has the right idea, imo. Count me as a former ally driven away.”

So I take it you now vote Republican, donate to the Organization to Protect Marriage from Evil Homosexuals and yell at women outside Planned Parenthood?

41

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 7:12 pm

TM in the most heinous example of censorship since Pinochet was denied a paid speaking gig at Berkeley I have decided to not do a one person production of the Pirates of Penzance because of the negative way it portray’s grog addicts.

42

William Berry 02.02.15 at 7:16 pm

All I have to say is, damn’, now Chait has gone and got Henry Farrell on his ass!

When will it be OK to start feeling sorry for the poor schmuck?*

*OK, never, actually.

43

TM 02.02.15 at 7:29 pm

MPAV, unfortunately this had to be expected from somebody as humorless as you are (stern disapproving look). Of course you have the right to be a humorless twit – as a liberal, I would defend to the last drop of blood your right to be a humorless twit – but you have to understand that the future of whigism rests on my shoulders and I just can’t have people like you scaring away my potential allies (in particular, teetotalers who are furious about your pro-addiction stance). So regretfully but steadfastly I must announce to my friends the Intellectual Elite that MPAV is an enemy of liberalism and nothing he or she ever said or will in future say is ever to be taken seriously by anybody wishing to remain a member in good standing of the Intellectual Elite.

44

politicalfootball 02.02.15 at 7:29 pm

If there were a single sentence in the story expressing self-pity, it would be widely quoted by the critics, but no such line can be found.

Sure, he sympathizes with his pal Rosin, but he doesn’t consider himself to be in the same boat as her. And he pities the folks who were criticized by MacKinnon’s disciples, and he was actually one of those people, but he’s not asking for sympathy for himself.

He has no personal stake in the victimization of those poor men accused of “mansplaining,” not being one of them himself. He doesn’t lump himself in the category of liberal writers who are persecuted for their writing.

So this leaves us with only a few sentences that are eligible for an accusation of self-pity, since there are only a few sentences directly about him. Here’s one of them:

I was also a student at the University of Michigan during the Jacobsen incident, and was attacked for writing an article for the campus paper defending the exhibit.

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that his self-pity is inappropriate here. Depending on how many people attacked, what weapons they used and how long he spent in the hospital, this seems like a legitimate reason for profound self-pity. But still, self-pity.

On the other hand, his self-pity would be risible if he were talking about “criticism,” but described it as an “attack.”

45

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 7:34 pm

“So regretfully but steadfastly I must announce to my friends the Intellectual Elite that MPAV is an enemy of liberalism and nothing he or she ever said or will in future say is ever to be taken seriously by anybody wishing to remain a member in good standing of the Intellectual Elite.”

*Reads TM’s comment
*Throws head back and screams into the uncaring night
“NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!”

46

sharculese 02.02.15 at 7:41 pm

“When Mt. Holyoke students decide not to continue performing a feminist play because “[a]t its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman,” to most outsiders that sounds like PC run amok (and to many insiders — see the rather evenhanded IHE article on it). Self-censorship is still censorship.”

And yet I’m certain that if someone suggested you can’t question the value of the Vagina Monologues without being a bad feminist, the rules of Calvinball would reveal that to be PC run amok as well.

47

The Temporary Name 02.02.15 at 7:41 pm

So I take it you now vote Republican, donate to the Organization to Protect Marriage from Evil Homosexuals and yell at women outside Planned Parenthood?

A feminist was mean to me so nuke Mecca.

Really though, I can understand just not hanging around the cranky people. Nevertheless, if you want to do a Good Thing, there is a different good thing to do somewhere with fewer cranky people involved.

48

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 7:46 pm

“Really though, I can understand just not hanging around the cranky people. Nevertheless, if you want to do a Good Thing, there is a different good thing to do somewhere with fewer cranky people involved.”

Yep. I used to post at Shakesville in the comment section every once in awhile. I had an unpleasant run in with Melissa there on a thread about the death of M.Thatcher. She felt I was being much to cheerful about the whole thing for sexist reasons, so I linked her to this song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bJbeeKBPCU

She promptly blocked me and I haven’t been back.

So what? That event hasn’t shaken my belief in the importance of feminism or the importance of respecting and making room for other voices who maybe are not heard from often enough.

49

politicalfootball 02.02.15 at 7:59 pm

Chait:

Naturally, people will disagree about the legitimate definition of which ideas are bigoted and which are not. … I submit that the answers need to be arrived at through reason, a channel to which everybody has access regardless of identity.

Chief Justice John Roberts:

“[M]y job to call balls and strikes.”

What does one’s experience matter when determining the Platonic Ideal? If one were pondering the public discourse on gender identity, why would getting the view of a transgendered person matter? Or, for that matter, why would the views of the cis-gendered matter? Nobody has any insight into this that isn’t attainable by everyone, except to the extent that some people are more reasonable than others.

50

Ormond 02.02.15 at 8:04 pm

Delurking just to say that if you believe yourself to be an ally of some oppressed group, but have decided to abandon that stance because you were – perhaps even rudely – asked to change the way you talk or think about that group or sit back and let members of that group speak for themselves without your input right now, then you were never really an ally. A lot of these white doodz seem to believe ally means “I provisionally accept your humanity as long as you agree that my previously existing political commitments are what we need to deal with and then we might get to your identity politics.”

51

Lynne 02.02.15 at 8:41 pm

MPAV, it might well have made a newcomer lose interest, though. Someone who was exploring feminism for the first time, say.

52

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 8:45 pm

“MPAV, it might well have made a newcomer lose interest, though. Someone who was exploring feminism for the first time, say.”

Point taken Lynne. :-)

53

Lynne 02.02.15 at 8:46 pm

Meant to say, though, that if I’d been there I’d have enjoyed the video link. :)

54

dsquared 02.02.15 at 8:47 pm

In an America that wasn’t so painfully fixated on sincerity of argument, Chait’s trolling abilities would be rightly celebrated.

Of course! It seems so obvious now. He’s the Clark Kent version of Zizek.

55

J Thomas 02.02.15 at 8:47 pm

If you want to start a really good controversy you need to pick an issue that people can reasonably take both sides on. Like, if somebody argues that we should not have seatbelt laws because seatbelts don’t save lives, after all if the car is about to burn up and your seatbelt leaves you trapped you would have been better off if you were thrown through the windshield. This is a bad controversy because everybody knows he’s wrong.

So last year hundreds of innocent black people were killed by police. Who got the big argument? Wilson/Brown. Brown was accused of a small robbery and may not have been innocent. Wilson looked pretty guilty too. People could yell back and forth about who was wronger.

Before that it was Zimmerman/Martin, where Zimmerman had no particular right to go after Martin who had not been accused of any crime and was doing nothing wrong, but Martin had no right to provoke Zimmerman. According to the evidence provided only by Zimmerman, Martin was hurting him and might have killed him if Zimmerman had not killed Martin first. The situation was so unclear that people could argue their prejudices without fear that reality would prove them wrong.

Get a story where it was obvious that the shooter was 100% wrong to shoot somebody who was 100% innocent, and there’s no real dispute. The best the racists can say is “Well, bad things do happen sometimes, it’s a shame, those individual police do deserve to be punished for their unauthorized crimes.” People can’t go back and forth and back and forth.

If Chait had a good point, he was careful not to make it. He presented it so poorly that people can argue back and forth and back and forth without any conclusion. Good times!

Apart from him, PC is a real problem. I don’t see what to do about it. I’ll talk briefly about my worst experience with it.

After 9/11 everybody around me wanted the US military to invade somebody. I said we needed to do careful international police work to find the remaining criminals and particularly to stop it from happening again. This was urban sabotage, it used skilled saboteurs with money and training. they got a lot of their training here and in other first-world nations. Likewise their money. Attacking some third-world hell-hole would not help. And I got shouted down repeatedly. The PC view was that we had to do whatever it took to keep it from happening again. If it took invading Afghanistan to catch Bin Ladin, then that’s what we had to do. It was like everybody had their script and they were reciting it.

My father asked me what we should do and I told him, and he pointed out that I was being unreal. We couldn’t possibly settle for police work. I respected his sense of reality but I kept going, because if even I admitted that it wasn’t possible, then it was truly impossible.

And then a couple years later it was Iraq. People accused me of being too French. They said I was a defeatist, a communist, an arab-lover, an anti-semite, that I was against freedom. I got kicked off of blogs for advocating that we not invade Iraq, because they did not want to hear it.

And then more recently, Iran. It started out the same, we had to do it, we couldn’t let Israel do it alone, we couldn’t let Iran get nukes which they were 6 months from having, we had to stop the ayatollahs and bring freedom, a small strike to destroy the nukes and kill the ayatollahs, chop off the head and the Persians who wanted freedom could take over … and then something changed. It appeared that the US military said they didn’t want to do it. The pressure went down, and up, and down, and after awhile it mostly quit. We’re not going to war with Iran until 2016.

Left PC is not very important. A bunch of people yell incoherently at you, maybe they throw you off a few blogs, and it’s over til next time. Right PC is dangerous. You can’t say the government can do anything right because it’s unPC . Everybody knows the government utterly fails at anything it attempts. You can’t say the US military has too much money, that the US economy can’t afford it. The PC line is that we can’t afford not to. If we cut military funding all hell will break loose and we won’t be able to stop it. You can’t say that we need to do more to help poor people, because it’s vitally important to balance the budget and stop inflation and create a business-friendly environment so that big businesses will provide jobs.

Left-PC can leave you with some unpleasant memories. Right-PC might possibly get us into a nuclear war.

It’s a real thing and it’s dangerous. In the meantime, some people on the left are spending whatever political capital they have, trying to get people to use the polite words for things. Sad.

56

Bruce Wilder 02.02.15 at 8:50 pm

“If Chait had a good point, he was careful not to make it. “

Truly, a recipe for success followed by many controversialists.

57

Roger Gathmann 02.02.15 at 8:53 pm

I’m curious about the troll league standings. I need more league information. For instance, if Chait is a b level irritant, where does that leave Mickey Kaus, who, or so I thought, was universally agreed to be the troll’s troll, a troll so in love with his own trolling that he even gave it up to run for office as a troll. Does Kaus get an a – or is the order determined by something like intellectual content, in which he gets a d e or f?
My intuition is that the worse the troll, the better the troll – it is rather like being a rodeo clown, no?

58

Bruce Wilder 02.02.15 at 8:53 pm

“Left PC is not very important. . . . Right PC is dangerous.”

Not just dangerous . . . deadly.

59

Val 02.02.15 at 9:12 pm

“The historical record of American liberalism, which has extended social freedoms to blacks, Jews, gays, and women, is glorious.”

I can fix that: ‘
The historical record of white, Christian, heterosexual, male American liberalism, which has extended social freedoms to blacks, Jews, gays, and women and people who aren’t even Americans, is glorious.

And you should all be grateful.’

60

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 9:12 pm

“Meant to say, though, that if I’d been there I’d have enjoyed the video link. :)”

Ha! Thank you.

61

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 9:13 pm

“And you should all be grateful.”

Much, much more honestly put.

62

Steve Sailer 02.02.15 at 9:33 pm

My view is that more functional freedom of expression is better than less. Chait doesn’t like having his point of view labeled that of a Cisgender Straight White Male or Hanna Rosin’s as a Cisgender Straight White.

My personal view is that it should be respectable to note not just Chait’s biases, but anybody’s, including those of members of currently sacralized groups (to use Haidt’s term).

For example, it’s respectable at present to say Sabrina Rubin Erdely in her Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus” did poor reporting and made errors in journalistic methodology. It’s not respectable, but ought to be, to note that a close reading suggests Rubin Erdely fell so hard for this self-evidently ludicrous hoax about fraternity initiation night of broken glass gang rape because she is motivated by ethnic animus against blond Southern gentiles.

63

The Temporary Name 02.02.15 at 9:54 pm

My intuition is that the worse the troll, the better the troll – it is rather like being a rodeo clown, no?

The rodeo clown is welcome, and rescues people from pre-existing wrath by receiving it from others. The troll is much more like the ice-cream truck driver, messing up the game you’re enjoying with the sweet strains of “The Entertainer” in two horrible electronic tones. ONLY THE ICE-CREAM IS POO.

64

Tom West 02.02.15 at 10:09 pm

Val #57. Very accurate.

And yes, I am grateful.

I’m even more grateful to those who did *not* have power, and struggled anyway, but that doesn’t diminish my respect for those who did, and exercised it to the benefit of others. Respect and gratitude are not zero-sum.

65

Harold 02.02.15 at 10:27 pm

I think, in extending it to cover all taboo speech, we may be stretching the meaning of P.C., a loaded, derogatory term, too far. At this time I can’t think of a better one, though.

66

Phil Perspective 02.02.15 at 10:28 pm

J Thomas:
What are you babbling about? Martin was stalked by Zimmerman.

67

politicalfootball 02.02.15 at 10:28 pm

sacralized groups (to use Haidt’s term)

Jesus Christ, that really is his term.

68

Foster Boondoggle 02.02.15 at 10:30 pm

TM @37, I believe you’re missing the point, though quite likely it’s because I’m not explaining myself (or what I think Chait is concerned about) clearly. The point is not that some theater group somewhere decided not to perform a play. The point is why they did so, and what their reasons say to those who, though upstanding and right-minded egalitarians are not themselves avidly competitive SJWs, about the sensibility of a group of political actors with whom they might otherwise choose to act in solidarity.

Did Suey Park (#CancelColbert) gain allies for her particular point of view about the ironic humorous use of over-the-top racial stereotypes to mock Dan Snyder and his organization? Or did she leave most observers feeling like they would not want to be a member of any club she’s in? She may have earned social points in her own little insular hierarchy, but I doubt she affected the larger debate in the way she might have wanted.

Similarly, when Emily Yoffe raised the issue of the hazards to women of a campus culture of binge drinking, was it tactically effective for a cohort of the left to tar her as a “rape denialist”? Or do others who might share various goals of feminism, including lowering the risk to women of being victims of sexual assault, look at those screeds and wonder how ordinary common sense about the hazards of inebriation became anathema, to be replaced by abstract polemics about “rape culture”? (This one, incidentally, has real consequences: a CHE article referenced by Yoffe notes that DOJ grants for fighting sexual assault forbid use of funds for substance abuse prevention.)

Perhaps I’m wrong about the effectiveness of these take-no-prisoners tactics. Perhaps enough people are attracted by the vituperation and heat to more than make up in energy for the loss in number of fellow travelers. But I doubt it.

69

Val 02.02.15 at 10:50 pm

Tom West @ 62

So I take it Tom that you are not grateful in an “I’m grateful you stopped excluding me” way, but rather in any “I’m grateful that you white male Christian American liberals were my allies against white male christian American conservatives” kind of way?

Myself, being an inglorious Australian lefty feminist rather than a glorious Anerican liberal, I don’t tend to see it quite the same way.

70

Val 02.02.15 at 10:51 pm

“an” not “any”!

71

MPAVictoria 02.02.15 at 10:52 pm

“SJWs”
Ah yes. Nothing worse then being a Social Justice Warrior…..

“Or did she leave most observers feeling like they would not want to be a member of any club she’s in? “
I am pretty sure most observers promptly forgot she existed.

And you top it all off with a screed about rape culture.

I give you a 6/10. It would have been a 7 but you were a little too obvious.

72

Lynne 02.02.15 at 11:07 pm

Val @ 57, Maybe I’m being dense but I don’t understand where this is coming from. Is it so wrong to work for civil liberties for groups you don’t belong to? Obviously not, I don’t believe you mean that, but…is it something about Chait that inspires this anger?

73

Val 02.02.15 at 11:19 pm

Hi Lynne, I guess you’re saying you don’t understand me, and I agree it seems as if you don’t understand me, and it might be quite a lengthy process to sort this out. I’m certainly willing to have a go, but first of all, where do you see the particular “anger” in my comment as compared to others in the thread?

74

Lynne 02.02.15 at 11:33 pm

Val, I wrote that comment in a hurry and would be happy to leave out “anger”. I meant really what makes you reinterpret the statement as you do? You don’t really sound angry (certainly not more than others in the thread) so much as fed up, maybe, at the statement’s disingenuousness—would that be more accurate?

Others clearly agree with your recasting of the statement so as I said, it may be me being dense.

I will check back tomorrow but if this is indeed going to be a long haul and you don’t feel up for it, that’s fine, too. I’ll keep reading the thread and maybe I’ll get it.

I should add that Chait was unknown to me until this one article so I have no opinion about him beyond it.

75

gocart mozart 02.02.15 at 11:33 pm

@53 “It’s a real thing and it’s dangerous.”

The “politically incorrect” are more P.C. than the “politically correct” and they have more guns and power.

76

Soru 02.03.15 at 12:19 am

I think Belle is quite correct to identify that all this kind of stuff is not so much an Orwellian abuse of power as more a symptom of a lack of power, lack of hope, and lack of vision.

Where I suppose we differ is it is also, to some degree, a _cause_ of that situation. The 80s history is English departments went Pomo, then got defunded. It was very much a thing they spent their two centuries of slowly earned credibility on. Which turned out to be only worth about a decade or so good times preaching self-indulgent nonsense, until the credibility bank went bust.

And there was no sound but ten thousand graduate students twittering.

In general, the contemporary Anglo left itself is a direct danger to hardly anyone. Which is precisely the problem; it being in the sad state of a drunken bank manager pissing on his own shoes in an alley means that somewhere there is a necessary social role not being done.

Which really is a clear and present danger to everyone’s way of life…

77

novakant 02.03.15 at 12:32 am

Lovely metaphor for the Anglo left and quite precise too. And yet I think that what you describe as Pomo is the best thing that could have happened to English departments and the left in general – it just depends on what you do with it …

78

dn 02.03.15 at 12:34 am

Foster, not to drag out this “humorless” debate any longer than necessary, but: if your interpretation is accurate, then why did Chait spend multiple paragraphs of his essay giving a lengthy description of PC’s intellectual roots on “the Marxist left” and explicitly contrasting said “left” with his own “liberal” tradition? Indeed, if this is just about pragmatic considerations, why bring ideology into it at all, as Chait indubitably does? The only plausible explanation is that the nature of the dispute is not merely a disagreement over tactics, but a serious ideological beef.

It is certainly not my intent to cast Chait or anyone else out of the conversation; I personally value much of what Chait writes (he is one of our sharper critics of the right) – but if we’re going to actually have said conversation then let’s not pretend, shall we? Substantive ideological differences exist within the current left coalition in the US. This should not preclude our working together on areas where we agree, but neither should it preclude us from criticizing each other where it is due.

79

J Thomas 02.03.15 at 12:40 am

#75 gocart mozart

The “politically incorrect” are more P.C. than the “politically correct” and they have more guns and power.

Yes! And I don’t think we have time to build a monolithic opposition. We need to accept allies as they are, and work at persuading them of our own beliefs while we listen to them tell us theirs, on the run.

When we decide that people who are more than half on our side are bad guys because they disagree about one issue, that’s a weakness. It’s better to persuade them than get all offended that they don’t already agree.

One big thing — pretty often people are afraid. What people are afraid of is what makes them stupid. It makes them angry. It gets them to stop thinking. They don’t want to be afraid, but their past experience tells them to. If you can actually show them they don’t have to be afraid of what they’re afraid of, they will usually like that a lot. It’s hard to stop being afraid because it doesn’t feel safe.

80

Rich Puchalsky 02.03.15 at 12:46 am

soru: “Where I suppose we differ is it is also, to some degree, a _cause_ of that situation. The 80s history is English departments went Pomo, then got defunded.”

I’ve avoided all these threads because in order to say anything, I’d have to read Chait’s article, and the idea gave me a headache. But this strikes me as being very wrong — and I write as someone who, as a commenter on the Valve back in the day, was decidedly unsympathetic to Theory of that kind.

There is no center of political power in English departments. If the current Anglo left is no direct danger to anyone, it isn’t the English departments’ fault. There really is no credible mechanism by which English departments exercise political power through the promulgation of ideas. Moreover, academic departments of all kinds are getting defunded (or, perhaps, adjunct-ized) and there’s nothing that I’m aware of that shows that English departments were or are particularly vulnerable to defunding (if they actually are, which is also questionable) because of some kind of reaction to Pomo.

If English departments were producing nonsense, then the problem was that what English departments do is intrinsically valuable, and they shouldn’t produce nonsense. They don’t exist for instrumental reasons as centers of left political power.

I agree that the left is suffering right now, but the cause IMO has to do with the failure of Marxism. It was the most developed theory of the left, and it’s been thoroughly discredited (whether you think it should have been or not). The left has to pretty much fall back on left-liberalism and social democracy, both of which have proven highly vulnerable to neoliberalism. That’s the basic problem, not what English departments are writing or have written.

81

gianni 02.03.15 at 12:50 am

Foster @66
I guess I am just not seeing the linkages here: not in the list of examples that you give, nor in this conversation generally (have we been able to define PC – or call outs or whatever – in a satisfactory way yet?)

Regarding the Vagina monologues example, you really need an answer to the objection voiced above that this seems a ‘damned if you do – damned if you don’t’ situation for the theater group. One is either capitulating to the censorious demands of queer students empowered by a PC culture run amok; or you act as a dogmatic feminist, subjecting your marginalized peers to the cis norms of the Vagina Monologues out of deference to its canonical status in American feminism (a deference itself engendered by PC culture of course).

An aside on Park. I just wanted to note that the fact that you still remember Suey Park and her criticism of that Colbert episode is very strong evidence that her tactics were effective. Regardless of what you think of her as a person or her politics or etc., that you can even recall this specific incident out of the ocean of racist jokes made on American television is noteworthy itself and demonstrates that she touched a nerve. You say that you doubt that she impacted the larger debate, yet still find her name and example relevant, to this here … larger debate….

What any of the above two have to do with Emily Yoffe is beyond me. Yes, the fact that Emily Yoffe gets so much push back from internet feminists when she wants to talk about responsible drinking habits on campus is really odd. But again, what is tying this to a larger trend? What is ‘PC’ about this?

personally, I think the OP is astute when she notes that Chait’s earlier debate with TNC looms large in the background of this essay. I find the piece to be a series of complaints that would have been better to have kept private. The trick is that it is vague and suggestive enough about the supposed problem that it invites readers to relate and join Chait in the raging. Maybe those readers are themselves still a little salty over that time that they were ‘called out’. But maybe those readers should have been ‘called out’ – maybe they were rather thoughtlessly repeating a certain tidbit of ‘conventional wisdom’ rooted in racial stereotypes and long used to justify political attacks on a marginalized group. My sense is that these individuals should focus less on the ‘how did PC culture get so aggressive?’ question, and more on the ‘what exactly was so problematic about what I was trying to communicate there’.

82

Val 02.03.15 at 12:51 am

Lynne @ 74
thanks Lynne that’s fine, and I guess a bit fed up, plus a bit despairing at how much effort and time it would really take to deconstruct the arguments of someone like Chait (whom I’d never heard of before either but I think this argument touches on a lot of issues that people are concerned about).

I think dn @ 42 touches on a lot of it – it is an ideological argument between the left and the liberals, which is complicated anyway, and then if you add into that the particular nature of American politics which is quite different from many other countries’ politics, it makes it even more so.

First of all, of course, Chait didn’t say anything about gratitude. That was my snarky interpretation of what he said. Then Tom W said – as I understand it – why shouldn’t we be grateful to our liberal allies? Which is another debate that I won’t really go into except to say, should one be grateful to people for behaving decently? But as the gratitude was my interpolation rather than Chait’s original, I think it’s better to focus on the “glorious” nature of American liberalism, which Chait actually did say (well at least as quoted on this thread, I haven’t gone back to check).

Why is American liberalism “glorious” and doesn’t calling it glorious set up a lot of questions?

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Val 02.03.15 at 12:59 am

and also – Belle has done a great deconstruction job on Chait – but there are these ideological questions still there. Plus the fact that I’m ‘of the left’ but have a lot of arguments with people (particularly men) on the left about patriarchy and sexism.

I think – and I’m reading Gerda Lerner at the moment – that patriarchy is the problem. But how that relates to these everyday kind of questions is something I’m kind of struggling to write a 100,000 thesis about at present, so to try and put it in short lucid form on an internet blog is extremely challenging! Probably too hard at this moment.

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Tom West 02.03.15 at 1:19 am

So I take it Tom that you are not grateful in an “I’m grateful you stopped excluding me” way, but rather in any “I’m grateful that you white male Christian American liberals were my allies against white male christian American conservatives” kind of way?

I’m usually grateful when any group chooses more inclusiveness than they’re forced to. Maybe it’s just low expectations.

I’m not American, but I acknowledge that America has been at the forefront of much of the global social change over the last 100 years, and I am grateful to *all* the Americans who helped make that happen.

Naturally enough, I admire more those who struggled against enormous odds to do so, but that doesn’t take away from those who could have preserved position and power, yet chose to share them to at least some degree.

My attitude may well be heavily influenced by the fact that I’m a white male, and part of the patriarchy.

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TM 02.03.15 at 1:33 am

Foster 68, I thought you were trying to make an argument. After that argument (that that theater group’s decision was “censorious”) was shown to be baseless, you should either stop or provide counter-arguments. Instead all you have to say is that you disagree with them. Fine, so what?

Apparently the decision of that theater group to not stage the same play again has got you thinking. Surprise surprise, that shows that they were effective (dn 78 makes a similar point). Nobody would talk about that theater group if they had staged the same play they stage every year. Now even the Famous Liberal Jonathan Chait is writing about them! If Chait and those who agree with him favors controversial debate and diversity of opinion, he should be pleased with the fact that this debate is taking place. Instead all he and you are saying is that it’s the wrong debate to have. Says who, and why should anybody else care?

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J Thomas 02.03.15 at 2:28 am

#85 TM

Nobody would talk about that theater group if they had staged the same play they stage every year. Now even the Famous Liberal Jonathan Chait is writing about them!

So somebody has framed them as oppressed, and that has gotten them lots of publicity, a win for them.

How often do people get framed as victims for their benefit? Well, but of course victims hope to benefit. Ideally they might find protectors who would get back what they have lost and restore them to non-victim status. Or failing that, hurt their enemies to the point that it is obvious the enemies have not won. It’s right for victims to benefit.

But people who get presented as victims when they aren’t, hoping for gain? Oh but we’re all of us victims. But say they aren’t the *kind* of victims they’re presented as….

I guess it’s one of those Rashomon type things, where it looks different to different people. Probably it’s usually that way. Should we carefully try to decide who the real victims are so we can wreak vengeance for them, and punish the fake victims for trying to fool us? I don’t know. Probably not. Because it’s true, we’re all of us victims. And victims of victims. It never ends.

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Helen 02.03.15 at 2:28 am

Similarly, when Emily Yoffe raised the issue of the hazards to women of a campus culture of binge drinking, was it tactically effective for a cohort of the left to tar her as a “rape denialist”? Or do others who might share various goals of feminism, including lowering the risk to women of being victims of sexual assault, look at those screeds and wonder how ordinary common sense about the hazards of inebriation became anathema, to be replaced by abstract polemics about “rape culture”? (This one, incidentally, has real consequences: a CHE article referenced by Yoffe notes that DOJ grants for fighting sexual assault forbid use of funds for substance abuse prevention.)

There’s an entire topic here which you’re just not getting. Binge drinking is risky for men and women alike. It’s bad for you and it can lead to accidents and illness. Unfortunately, in the Western world we have a *culture* where many males feel they are entitled to sex with unconsenting women if the women are impaired in some way, and where society as a whole makes rape the responsibility of *women* to fix (not being drunk, et cetera, although it hasn’t worked yet – nuns and 80 year old women still get raped – but the faith of your ordinary Westerner in the power of women to stop rape, if they would only say No more clearly and not be so drunk and slutty, is touching.) It’s this culture, for which the shorthand is “rape culture”, which feminist critics are attempting to reveal and address.
Your comment merely reinforces the normative “women as gatekeepers of sex, boys will be boys” trope which underlies so many problems.

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dn 02.03.15 at 2:44 am

One thing about this Chait piece that should be kept in mind is that it’s not just an isolated incident in Chait’s career; this is a consistent blind spot for him. Others may remember Chait’s long essay from last year, “The Color Of His Presidency“, about Obama’s significance to contemporary US racial politics. That essay was extensively criticized by many on the left (including Coates, IIRC – it came out right around the time of their famous “culture of poverty” debate) for essentially the same reasons as the “PC” piece – namely, Chait’s refusal to look the reality of identity politics in the eye. There is a mind-boggling passage in that essay in which Chait spends many paragraphs rehearsing the history of the Southern strategy, the GOP’s well-known propensity for race-baiting under the cover of “small government” and anti-tax rhetoric, etc. – only to then sweep it all away in a single sentence by declaring the whole argument “insane”. After which, of course, the whole essay collapses into incoherence; despite marshaling a truly remarkable body of evidence, it ends up making no discernible argument at all.

It seemed to me at the time – and still does now that I look over it again – that Chait’s perspective is fundamentally crippled by nostalgia; he wishes we could go back to a time when the “PC” analysis hadn’t yet been made – when race or gender or whatever “wasn’t everything”, so to speak – meaning, of course, that we could conduct politics as if all these problems didn’t exist; that we could look the other way when “welfare queens” or Willie Horton came up. But that time is gone now. It frustrates me, it sometimes angers me, but more than anything it just saddens me that such a sharp observer as Chait simply can’t see it.

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Jim Henley 02.03.15 at 3:05 am

Did Suey Park (#CancelColbert) gain allies for her particular point of view about the ironic humorous use of over-the-top racial stereotypes to mock Dan Snyder and his organization?

What I find especially interesting is that this was essentially SP’s high-water-mark as a Twitter force. I not only haven’t seen an SP-originated hashtag gain such prominence since, I haven’t seen a social-justice hashtag campaign of such…disputable gravity since. And I follow something on the order of three-dozen POC on Twitter and another dozen folks who are pretty determined “white allies,” so I see a lot of social-justice hashtags.

An immediate cause suggests itself: beginning with the Michael Brown killing last summer, black people became literally afraid for their lives and that concentrates the mind, and energies. Whatever you think of, for instance, #BlackLivesMatter as a campaign – and I think quite a lot of it – it’s clearly a whole different level of concern than #CancelColbert.

I would suggest a larger pattern here: things change. Hashtivism, and internet-based social-justice activism has been and remains a work in progress. It grows and changes. It’s not just not fair, it’s not astute to judge the state of social-justice Twitter in early 2015 by what it was doing even a year ago.

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William Berry 02.03.15 at 3:13 am

Helen @87:

Awesome comment. Agree completely.

I’m a sixty-three-year-old white dude (mongrel, actually), and I still love being educated. Thnx.

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Daniel 02.03.15 at 4:07 am

Did Suey Park (#CancelColbert) gain allies for her particular point of view about the ironic humorous use of over-the-top racial stereotypes to mock Dan Snyder and his organization?

To be honest, I lost quite a lot of respect for Colbert (who was totally, totally busted on the ‘ironic hipster racism’ thing and didn’t handle it at all well). And a huge amount of respect for his fans, who despite being self-professed lovers of satire and over-the-top rhetoric, didn’t spot that “#CancelColbert” wasn’t entirely serious. I think Suey Park was actually dead right that the “Colbert” character had long since passed its sell by date, and in order to maintain its shock value was moving into some rather dodgy territory.

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Belle Waring 02.03.15 at 4:07 am

Again, people, a theater group made their own personal decision based on the views of a majority of their members to put on a play that they felt was more inclusive of trans women than the play they usually put on. That this is supposed to be “oppressive,” “thought policing,” or “casting themselves as victims,” and that this was actually one of Chait’s main pieces of evidence that PC culture has gone mad on college campuses themselves, just shows how totally baseless the argument is. This is on the campus of a seriously feminist-mission college. If ever there were a place for things to go slightly awry in an excess of well-meaning intent, it’s here. And this is the thing that happened. People communally decided to put on a different play.

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Steve Sailer 02.03.15 at 4:08 am

This controversy is partly an outgrowth of the UVA shattered glass gang rape hoax of last fall. Both Chait and Hanna Rosin were close friends of Stephen Glass, as was Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely, whose absurd story went unchallenged in the mainstream media for from its publication on November 19th until the end of the month. Chait and Rosin seem to have interpreted the welcoming reception this ridiculous story got from everybody as proof that P.C. has gone too far.

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Steve Sailer 02.03.15 at 4:09 am

Dear Belle,

What you don’t grasp is that World War T is funny.

95

Belle Waring 02.03.15 at 4:11 am

And dn is right too; that “The Color of Obama’s Presidency” article that Chait wrote actually dismissed as “insane” the idea that the right’s actual well-spring of virulent objection to Obama was not taxes, the deficit, insufficient invaderiness, etc. but rather racism. “INSANE.” Yeah, that’s crazy talk! How would structural racism get in our glorious legacy of American liberalism? Only if Marxists like MacKinnon saw it there with their crazed crystal balls, because they are witchez.

96

Donald Johnson 02.03.15 at 4:23 am

I just read the original Chait piece and dn above is exactly right. Chait is just using the PC issue as his way of discrediting people to his left. I’ll cut and paste dn’s conclusion–

“It’s all here: the accusation that PC is a politics of fear, the association of PC with political movements that “eliminate” freedom (what else could he mean there but communism?), the contrasting of PC with “glorious” American liberalism (whose complex and checkered historical record he gives a glibly Whighish gloss – truly unbelievable coming from a guy who’s spent so much time arguing with Coates)…

I find it somewhat infuriating that people are missing this. So many people are determined to give Chait the benefit of the doubt that they are rewriting what he wrote to make it sound more palatable. No. Don’t do it.”
——————————————————-

Exactly. I used to read The New Republic and I think Chait misses the good old pre-Internet days when people to his left could be safely confined to their little fringe journals, only noticed by their betters when their betters chose to mock them. Yes, there probably is a real problem with the far left version of PC in some places, as Freddie DeBoer points out, but Chait is just trying to re-establish the way things used to be, when the Very Serious People set the tone, and he’s just using the PC issue as his way of striking back.

There are PC attitudes on every part of the political spectrum, if you define PC as an attempt at shutting down opposing views. Not every individual does it, but every part of the spectrum has people who do.

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J Thomas 02.03.15 at 4:44 am

#81 gianni

Yes, the fact that Emily Yoffe gets so much push back from internet feminists when she wants to talk about responsible drinking habits on campus is really odd. But again, what is tying this to a larger trend? What is ‘PC’ about this?

It’s complicated.

First off, there are differences in gender style. American men like to connect up their arguments with calls for some particular action. They’ll argue about what to do, but the argument that nothing needs to be done, that a problem will take care of itself, gets looked at askance. It isn’t always like that, sometimes there’s the frenzied recital of grievances followed at the end with “… and it’s — it’s a damn shame!”. But it’s the norm. Sometimes when men plan something obviously stupid, it’s because they couldn’t find anything to do that wasn’t stupid so…. Here on CT it’s less so than most places I’ve seen.

American women are more likely to talk about their feelings. They aren’t as intent on finding something to do. This doesn’t result in as many projects, but it does build better relationships which can be valuable in lots of contexts.

This difference results in a big impedance mismatch when groups of men and women talk about rape. The men want to know what they can do to solve the problem. The women want to talk about their feelings without giving the men much clue at all what to do. These tend to be feelings of hate and rage, and not unlikely the targets are men. This makes the men uncomfortable. It seems in the long run what they should do is destroy the dominant rape culture and create a new culture without dominance hierarchies or coercion, which is generally not something most men think is within their skillset. In the short run men should listen, and figure out how to reconstruct themselves to be more like women, reforming their thinking and learning to never say the wrong thing. In a lot of ways this is like being 4 years old and playing house with older sisters.

So OK, imagine a group of women who are in the stage of deciding what the goals are. The goal is that no woman should ever be raped no matter what she does. So for example, if a college girl or townie goes to a frat party and gets drunk and tells a frat boy she really wants him, and then she passes out on his bed, he should not have sex with her until she wakes up and tells him sober that she wants him. Obviously that’s how it ought to be. I agree, every good person agrees. Now imagine a man coming into the conversation and he’s looking for a plan to reduce the number of rapes. He suggests that there would be less date-rape if girls didn’t get drunk around guys they didn’t completely trust.

This has a collection of problems. For one, it cannot completely solve the problem, and the goal is to completely solve it so that no woman ever gets raped. Second, it involves women changing their behavior to avoid getting raped by rape culture, when what needs to happen is for every single man to change so that rape culture no longer exists. There would probably be less rape if every woman wore a burqa and never went anywhere without her father or brother to protect her. But that is nothing like a solution. Third, it’s a man telling women what to do which is more patriarchy. Women are the victims who know what it’s like to live in rape culture, and men ought to listen to them and not tell them about solutions that make it convenient for men. The problem is 100% caused by men so men have 100% of the obligation to fix it. Any plan that requires women to do something to reduce the chance of rape, is by definition a bad plan.

Emily Yoffe talks about responsible drinking. This is a good thing in itself. But in the context of solving the problem of rape culture, it’s a step backward. If we say that women shouldn’t get irresponsible drunk, that will imply to some people that women who do get irresponsibly drunk are responsible for their own rape. But that’s wrong. Women have the moral right to do anything whatsoever and not get raped, so when it happens it is entirely the responsibility of rapists and rape culture.

And so by encouraging responsible drinking, Emily Yoffe gives the impression that she supports rape culture and opposes women’s rights. It would not look that way in other contexts.

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Helen 02.03.15 at 4:45 am

Thank you, William Berry!

99

dn 02.03.15 at 5:00 am

Thanks Belle and Donald! Nice to know that I am making sense to somebody, at least.

The really crazy thing about the Obama/race essay was that in calling the lefty analysis of GOP race-baiting “insane”, Chait was agreeing with Lee Atwater. People often misread the famous Atwater quote as being a straight-up admission of racism in GOP messaging, but Atwater actually made a more subtle argument:

You’re getting so abstract now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other.

Atwater is saying here that “we’re not really being racist, we’re just taking advantage of other people’s racism. But since we’re not openly calling anyone the n-word anymore, it’s okay! We’re ‘doing away with the race problem’!” And Chait all but admits that he basically agrees with this analysis! The mind, truly it boggles.

100

Belle Waring 02.03.15 at 5:28 am

“American women are more likely to talk about their feelings. They aren’t as intent on finding something to do. This doesn’t result in as many projects, but it does build better relationships which can be valuable in lots of contexts.”

JESUS FUCK WHY WILL YOU NOT SHUT UP WITH THIS BULLSHIT? That’s how I feel, but I am but a frail vessel. You can probably think of some concrete solution to the problems my feelings are engendered by, because you are a man. Think on’t.

101

Belle Waring 02.03.15 at 5:30 am

“There would probably be less rape if every woman wore a burqa and never went anywhere without her father or brother to protect her. “

This is the current situation in Afghanistan. Is it your contention that the rape rate is higher in the US than in Afghanistan? I am surprised you are so pessimistic. I think you may be taking RAINN’s figures at face value, and have possibly been bamboozled by the rape-industrial complex, J.

102

dsquared 02.03.15 at 6:03 am

Yeah, that’s crazy talk! How would structural racism get in our glorious legacy of American liberalism? Only if Marxists like MacKinnon saw it there with their crazed crystal balls, because they are witchez.

Like I say, if Jonathan Chait had grown up in Ljubljana, he’d be Slavoj Zizek. if Zizek had gone to Ann Arbor he’d be Jonathan Chait.

103

William Berry 02.03.15 at 6:29 am

@J. Thomas:

The wimminz is from Venus, the menz is from Mars!

@Helen: U r welcome. Keep the faith.

104

PatrickfromIowa 02.03.15 at 6:38 am

Belle, it may help you to know that American men have feelings too, and mine were also, “JESUS FUCK WHY WILL YOU NOT SHUT UP WITH THIS BULLSHIT?”

Of course, I’m a Canadian immigrant, so maybe that’s why I’m less action oriented.

I’m going to go reread “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and imagine Chait as an Alabama Baptist minister, schooled by his better, and smarting.

105

dn 02.03.15 at 6:53 am

I second Patrick. In honor of this conclusion, and the general drift of this thread, have some Phil Ochs with your MLK!

106

robotslave 02.03.15 at 7:01 am

I find it more than just amusing that there is no possible way to differentiate between Henry’s “truly great trolling” vs. “an entirely correct argument and conclusion which I find deeply disagreeable.”

Henry is not the first to postulate the existence of a particular category or morphology of “trolling” characterized by a single lynchpin of illogic, which, if discovered and repeated three times aloud like a Wizard’s True Name, will dispel all illusion and restore the warmth and comfort of all of one’s initial certitude.

I would suggest that quite to the contrary, truly great trolling leaves you at least a little less certain of your world than you were when you first sniffed at the lure. Truly great trolling, mathematically, is built from 10 statements that are 99.9% true, not from 9 that are 100% true and 1 that is 100% false.

With that said, Chait’s musings don’t make the cut, for me. But this sure does.

107

DOGEN 02.03.15 at 7:42 am

I’m old enough to remember when right wing assholes made up the whole asinine concept of PC in the early 1980s. Obviously the idea of judging someone or something by a narrow political litmus test is common to all political groups regardless of whether they be left , right, up, down, or sideways. And it always has been.

The particular genius of the creators of the term “PC” is that they used it exclusively to attack people on the left, thereby implicitly exempting right wing parochialism from criticism. It worked brilliantly for them, and continues to work for them to this very day.

So why the fuck would anyone who thinks of himself as a liberal ever resort to using the term peecee to criticize other liberals? Well, one reason might be that he’s a complete idiot. Or possibly unforgivably ignorant. Or he’s trying to curry favor with right wing money men. But I favor Henry’s take that he’s just trolling for page views ‘cuz that generates money that goes straight to his pocket.

108

Harold 02.03.15 at 8:01 am

I don’t know, I felt a pang to learn from a French cousin that the trios petits Cochons were going to be banned from French nurseries because some minorities object to pork. But this too shall pass. They could be changed to three little goats, for example.

109

Robespierre 02.03.15 at 8:33 am

I’m probably a bad liberal and no progressive at all, but going out of your way to explicitly include marginalised groups (in a way one spontaneously would not do), and avoid offending, not even them, but a particularly obnoxious set of self-appointed representatives, outraged that one is not 100% on board with their latest pet crusade on first world problems, has always struck me as dreadfully dull, and terrible for cultural creativity, and I’d rather see less of it than more.

110

Belle Waring 02.03.15 at 8:46 am

Going out of your way to explicitly include marginalized groups has always struck you as dull and terrible for creativity and you’d rather see less of it than more, simply because there are white-chocolate outrage sprinkles on top of the legit delicious ice-cream sundae of diversity? Yep, probably a bad liberal and no progressive for sure, then. Good thing we cleared all that up.

111

William Berry 02.03.15 at 8:50 am

@robespierre:

Well, aren’t you a precious little fellow?

You must be a radical, though. Of some kind or other. Surely.

112

dsquared 02.03.15 at 8:53 am

I felt a pang to learn from a French cousin that the trios petits Cochons were going to be banned from French nurseries because some minorities object to pork.

I wouldn’t feel too bad; plenty of people have cousins who are gullible enough to believe any right wing crap they hear. Not true, and for anyone who knows a bit about the French education system, obviously so.

113

robotslave 02.03.15 at 9:08 am

@112

Then again, a student might well hang for misspelling “three.” Never lose sight of what really offends a state-salaried teacher. Or a parent grousing about a state-salaried teacher, for that matter.

114

Ze Kraggash 02.03.15 at 9:33 am

It’s not French, it’s British:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/14/pigs-textbooks-oup-authors-pork-guidelines

Sounds like a calculated business decision, rather than pc zombiism, though.

115

Brett Bellmore 02.03.15 at 10:27 am

“Atwater is saying here that “we’re not really being racist, we’re just taking advantage of other people’s racism. But since we’re not openly calling anyone the n-word anymore, it’s okay! We’re ‘doing away with the race problem’!” “

Nah. That’s not at all what he’s saying.

What he’s saying is, if you have to lower the threshold for declaring racism THAT much, to find it, turn up the contrast THAT high to get a picture, problem solved.

You don’t obsess about “micro-aggression” in an environment where you’re dealing with real aggression.

You don’t go mad over somebody using the word “denigrate” or referring to a “chink in the armor” if you’ve actually got people spewing hate to point to.

He’s saying, you’ve set the bar for declaring racism right down on the ground, because you’re lacking for actual racism, but are determined to find it anyway.

And, yeah, he’s saying that if you are willing to see racism in something as indirect as lowering taxes reducing funds available for programs that might benefit blacks, well, he doesn’t even want to talk about racism on that level, because you’ve made it unfalsifiable.

Now, you might think he’s wrong about that, but that’s the message he’s sending, even if it’s not the message you’re going to receive, because you do have the gain on your racism detectors turned up to 11, and you’re mistaking the feedback squeal for somebody screaming.

116

Harald K 02.03.15 at 10:57 am

“economic powerlessness” – can’t resist going back to comment on this, although I’d pretty much given up on you.

Go look up some prominent social justice warriors, as they’re called online. I’d like to mention some names, but I was called a monster last time I even hinted at one in particular (even though these people are highly public figures). Tell me if they come from poor or wealthy backgrounds.

Economic powerlessness my ass!

117

Katherine 02.03.15 at 10:59 am

That’s got to be the most arse-about-face interpretation of Lee Atwater’s statement I’ve ever read.

118

J Thomas 02.03.15 at 11:17 am

#101 Belle Waring

“There would probably be less rape if every woman wore a burqa and never went anywhere without her father or brother to protect her. “

This is the current situation in Afghanistan. Is it your contention that the rape rate is higher in the US than in Afghanistan?

I doubt there are adequate statistics available, but Afghanistan is a war zone and a lot of poor women there have to work unsupervised because they lack resources. So probably no.

I find it plausible that if women severely restricted their activities to reduce the opportunity for rape there would probably be less rape. I don’t consider that an adequate solution to that problem.

I was agreeing right down the line with #87 Helen:

Unfortunately, in the Western world we have a *culture* where many males feel they are entitled to sex with unconsenting women if the women are impaired in some way, and where society as a whole makes rape the responsibility of *women* to fix

The responsibility here is for the men to change so the women won’t get raped, not for women to restrict their activities knowing there are men who would rape them.

(not being drunk, et cetera, although it hasn’t worked yet – nuns and 80 year old women still get raped – but the faith of your ordinary Westerner in the power of women to stop rape, if they would only say No more clearly and not be so drunk and slutty, is touching.)

Women get raped some even if they do nothing to increase their risk, so women’s vigilance is not enough.

It’s this culture, for which the shorthand is “rape culture”, which feminist critics are attempting to reveal and address.

In the long run the solution is to change the culture, and anything that caters to rape culture to reduce the short-term rate of rape is not the solution.

Your comment merely reinforces the normative “women as gatekeepers of sex, boys will be boys” trope which underlies so many problems.

When Yoffe works to encourage college women not to get drunk when it would likely lead rape, she is implicitly working against solving the real problem and she gets criticized in that context.

I’ll shut up now, unless somebody respectable wants to discuss it with me.

119

Brett Bellmore 02.03.15 at 11:35 am

“The responsibility here is for the men to change so the women won’t get raped, not for women to restrict their activities knowing there are men who would rape them.

Women get raped some even if they do nothing to increase their risk, so women’s vigilance is not enough.”

How to put this? Even marathon runners and Olympic athletes occasionally have heart attacks, but that’s no reason to be a couch potato. People get robbed in their own homes, but that’s no reason not to avoid dark alleys in bad neighborhoods. Sometimes cars run up onto the sidewalks to run people over, but that doesn’t mean you should jay-walk on the expressway.

In the case of almost all social problems, there are two basic classes of solutions: The global solution, and the local solution. (There are probably better terms for this.) The global solution is reducing the crime rate. The local solution is not venturing into dark alleys. The difference between them?

You don’t need somebody else’s cooperation to implement the local solution.

Yes, the long range solution is to change culture, so that you can go out scantily clad, drink until you’re unconscious, and wake up in the morning unmolested. Maybe you don’t want to be raped in the short run, either?

Anyway, rape culture is a myth. One in five female students aren’t being raped, the campus is safer than the surrounding community.

Once is too often, but lies don’t help.

120

Steve Sailer 02.03.15 at 1:06 pm

The basic problem is that Haven Monahan is sexy, even if he doesn’t exist.

121

Katherine 02.03.15 at 1:32 pm

Rape culture isn’t about numbers and it isn’t just about college campuses, you nit.

122

J Thomas 02.03.15 at 1:52 pm

#109 Robespierre

… going out of your way to explicitly include marginalised groups (in a way one spontaneously would not do),

Marginalized groups almost always deserve all the legal rights everybody else has, and the right to the same government services etc. The only obvious exception is convicted criminals who are currently in prison or on parole (and I suppose people who have court orders telling them to avoid others).

It seems to me perfectly appropriate to take action for their rights, even if you don’t like them. If you let the bad guys make exceptions about rights, then pretty soon they’ll be making exceptions about people you do like. This is something that liberals traditionally got right. I’m not sure that illiberal leftists agree, but I hope they do.

If you have a coalition with some purpose, and a particular group of marginalized people wants to join your coalition, you need to consider whether they will be more of an asset than a liability. Probably that’s the criterion that matters in that context. Asset:liability. Not “somebody I’d socially cultivate” : “somebody I’d shun”.

… and avoid offending, not even them, …

You can’t please everybody. It turns out if you speak in public you can’t even avoid offending everybody. As a tactical move it’s better to offend people who’re already your enemies than offend your friends, but you don’t always get to choose. But if you can be nice to marginalized people without hurting yourself much, why not do it? We all have hard lives, why make it worse unless you have a good reason?

… but a particularly obnoxious set of self-appointed representatives, outraged that one is not 100% on board with their latest pet crusade on first world problems …

I find those people annoying too. As a tactical choice, you might prefer to just tiptoe around them. Very likely you are marginalized compared to them. Or they may be able to make that so. When you have nothing to lose it might be fun to poke them and watch them squawk. But are you sure you have nothing to lose? They might find a way to hurt you. At a minimum you can expect a whole lot of squawking that will take attention away from anything else you might want to discuss.

There’s a chance maybe you can persuade them to do something better with their time. You might consider that chance worth the cost and potential cost. Or maybe you just enjoy causing a ruckus and you have no other purpose that it interferes with.

I dunno. We all have to make our own choices. Some people choose to pick somebody to protect, and annoy everybody else with their attempts at protection that don’t in fact protect anybody for real. Some people choose to be their targets, and run around getting persecuted by the people who imagine they’re protecting somebody else by doing it.

It’s a big world and there’s room for a gigantic variety of behaviors in it.

123

Henry 02.03.15 at 2:04 pm

@robotslave – you misinterpret me I think. See the Cognition and Culture piece I link to in the OP, which specifically talks to the difficulties of distinguishing trolling from ordinary conversation, and my suggestion in OP that Mercier and Sperber’s work implies that on some level we’re all trolling. The suggestion that Chait can be categorized precisely as a specific troll with a specific brightness in the constellation of trollery is, of course, a somewhat trollish suggestion. But since we have yiz in the room (I’m presuming that you’re _that_ robotslave), I’m presuming that this is a topic that you’ve thought about quite a bit, on the practical level at the very least. Any insights?

124

MPAVictoria 02.03.15 at 2:28 pm

“I’ll shut up now, unless somebody respectable wants to discuss it with me.”

hahahahahahahaahaha.

125

Rich Puchalsky 02.03.15 at 2:29 pm

Wow, MPAVictoria, that was the shortest resolution ever.

126

MPAVictoria 02.03.15 at 2:31 pm

“Wow, MPAVictoria, that was the shortest resolution ever.”

What can I say. I am weak.

127

Harold 02.03.15 at 2:48 pm

@ 112. Good to know, dsquared. I considered this cousin more level headed than some of the other relatives in this branch of the family. They are more a-political than right wing, actually, but their daughter is a cartoonist, and so after recent events they have been susceptible to getting carried away.

128

Bloix 02.03.15 at 3:16 pm

#107-“I’m old enough to remember when right wing assholes made up the whole asinine concept of PC in the early 1980s.”

Well, you remember wrongly, then. I remember when leftists used it unironically to attack liberals, and then when liberals began to use it self-deprecatingly and then ironically.

The original concept of political correctness is Marxist-Leninist, – that is, that right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral are bourgeois categories that Marxism has left behind. There is only correct and incorrect thought.

It’s not easy to find early references on the internet, but here’s a good, clear one from 1986, from the World Socialist International Website:

“There is no question that the characterization of the OCI as a centrist organization was politically correct and the criticisms of the French organization’s political line were entirely justified… the SLL correctly opposed the attempt by the OCI to deny that dialectical materialism was the theory of knowledge of Marxism…”

http://www.wsws.org/IML/fi_vol13_no1/fi_vol13_no1_full.shtml

The term was taken up by second wave feminism in the 1970’s. Here’s a google book referencing a 1975 social psychology study of lesbian communities, noting that their members used “politically correct” and “politically incorrect” (PC and PI) unironically.

https://books.google.com/books?ei=M-LQVKD1FsOqNpe8gogF&id=54C9cZJQn8QC&dq=%22politically+correct%22+lesbian+bunch+1975&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=%22politically+correct%22+

PC began to move into the mainstream when left liberals began to use it ironically, either to criticize doctrinaire leftists and feminists for unreasonable strictness, or to humorously deprecate their own failure to adhere to the highest standards, as in the name of the student feminist group, Lesbians Who Just Happen to Be Dating Politically-Correct Men.

The right glommed onto it hard in the 1990’s, but the modern, ironic use of the term is perhaps a decade older.

129

Brett Bellmore 02.03.15 at 3:17 pm

“Rape culture isn’t about numbers and it isn’t just about college campuses, you nit.”

Agreed: Rape culture isn’t about the facts. It’s just a PR slogan.

130

MPAVictoria 02.03.15 at 3:20 pm

“Agreed: Rape culture isn’t about the facts. It’s just a PR slogan.”

Brett how much have you read about this topic? Like how many academic articles I mean not right wing blog posts.

Would you consider yourself an expert?

131

Lynne 02.03.15 at 3:24 pm

“Agreed: Rape culture isn’t about the facts. It’s just a PR slogan.”

What is it a PR slogan for?

132

dn 02.03.15 at 3:35 pm

Brett, spare me this bullshit about “falsifiability”. I know better than to go down that rabbit hole with you; other people may not remember, and unfortunately the exchange has been deleted, but I remember over the time you defended birthers over at Kleiman’s on the grounds that there was sufficient epistemic room for doubt about the birth certificate. The point being that in an argument with you, “falsifiability” is an arbitrary standard that can be warped to serve whatever purposes you choose. Nope. Not gonna go there.

But let’s discuss our old friend Lee Atwater some more. Atwater, in the same interview:

Reagan did not have to do a southern strategy for two reasons. Number one, race was not a dominant issue. And number two, the mainstream issues in this campaign had been, quote, southern issues since way back in the sixties.

This is what we call question-begging. “We didn’t have to make race a dominant issue because race wasn’t a dominant issue. Those issues we were talking about, they had nothing to do with race; they couldn’t possibly have been tangled up with race, not even way back in the sixties! Because the sixties totally weren’t a time when Southern politics were overwhelmingly about race, right?”

133

dn 02.03.15 at 3:36 pm

Ugh, blockquote fail.

134

Katherine 02.03.15 at 3:59 pm

“Agreed: Rape culture isn’t about the facts.”

Yes Brett, that’s what I meant, obviously.

135

J Thomas 02.03.15 at 4:11 pm

#132 dn

Brett does have a twisted sideways point, though.

The GOP did not have to say *anything* about race. Because they could depend on Democrats to say that it was about race, and that the GOP was racist. And then racist southern whites could compare: Vote for the Democrats who said they weren’t racist and the GOP was, or vote GOP? Hmm. Decisions, decisions.

Once racist voters ruled out the Democrats who made a big deal that they weren’t racist, who was left? The GOP didn’t have to campaign for those voters. They got those votes by default. They didn’t need secret coded language, because everybody already knew whose side they were on.

Atwater didn’t need to use race in his campaign, because there was no chance he’d lose the racist vote. So instead he could make a campaign that catered more to other voters who might not vote GOP.

136

bianca steele 02.03.15 at 4:50 pm

The issue isn’t that the right is using “PC” wrong. The problem is it’s trivializing. The implication is that the “normal” way of looking at things is whether they’re correct, plain and simple. People who disagree about what correctness is are being “political.” There’s no room for dispute.

And that last sentence is something people like Chait are okay with, because according to them the big problems are solved, and if the little problems happen to fall out along partisan lines, it works for them. But they’d still like to claim “politics” for themselves, so instead of calling people who disagree “political,” they find psychological labels like “drama.”

137

MPAVictoria 02.03.15 at 4:51 pm

“But they’d still like to claim “politics” for themselves, so instead of calling people who disagree “political,” they find psychological labels like “drama.””

Very well put.

138

Brett Bellmore 02.03.15 at 5:27 pm

“Yes Brett, that’s what I meant, obviously.”

Yeah, it’s not about facts. If it were about facts, the restrictions on fraternities at the U of Virginia would have been dropped when it was determined that the “rape” they were premised on didn’t actually happen.

The Rolling Stone story was based on a fraud. And it doesn’t matter that we now know that. So, why wouldn’t I say the facts don’t matter?

So, this “rape culture” of your’s isn’t on the campuses, all that 1 in 5 nonsense was just that, nonsense, and anybody who wasn’t blind could see that from the start.

Where is it, then, if not on the campuses?

139

dn 02.03.15 at 6:06 pm

“Atwater didn’t need to use race in his campaign.” But he did use race in Reagan’s campaigns. That’s the point. You’re buying into the bullshit Atwater framing that “we’re not saying anything about race! Not really!” when the deliberate use of messaging that appeals to racist sentiments is, in fact, present. You’re also assuming facts not in evidence – namely, that Reagan voters understood themselves to be non-racist and were mostly insulted at being called racist. On the contrary, I think plenty of them were and are entirely conscious racists; the insult was that the Dems had the temerity to start treating their racism as a problem. (Reagan, in 1980, called the Voting Rights Act “humiliating”. But to whom would it have been humiliating, if not avowed racists?)

140

praisegod barebones 02.03.15 at 6:34 pm

JThomas @122 ‘If you have a coalition with some purpose, and a particular group of marginalized people wants to join your coalition, you need to consider whether they will be more of an asset than a liability.’

The interesting thing about this statement is that it’s also true if you cross out the word ‘marginalized’. If one of the costs of having nicely spoken ‘moderates’ joining your campaign is that you have to articulate your points in language they find acceptable (and maybe lose some of your focus on the most marginalized) I can see why that might be a cost it doesn’t makes sense to pay. Especially if you’re the person who’s getting to have to be quiet so the nice middle-class liberals can be kept on board.

Which is why is whole business about being nice and moderate so as to be able to build a coalition isn’t the no-brainer that you seem to take it to be. (The more so to the extent that cultural change, unlike electoral change, isn’t effected by assembling a 50% majority.)

141

dn 02.03.15 at 6:36 pm

More to the point – here we are in 2015, relitigating “PC” battles that were fought 20, 25 years ago. In 1980, what was 20 or 25 years ago? Brown v. Board. The Montgomery bus boycott. Voting rights. The CRA was only 15 years previous. George Wallace had run his “segregation forever” campaign only 12 years previous (more recent than Bush v. Gore or the invasion of Iraq are to us now). All these battles were easily within living memory; either you remembered them personally, or your parents did. It is simply not credible to think that conscious racism was abandoned in those 15, 20, 25 years.

142

MPAVictoria 02.03.15 at 6:43 pm

“Nearly one in three college men admit they might rape a woman if they knew no one would find out and they wouldn’t face any consequences”

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/01/11/3610327/college-men-forcible-sex-study/

143

MPAVictoria 02.03.15 at 6:46 pm

Not a response to anyone, just a general statement. Groups that may negatively effect building your coalition now may very well become assets to building your coalition later. See LGTBQ folks and the Democratic party. So do what is right and things may just work out.

144

J Thomas 02.03.15 at 6:58 pm

#139 dn

“Atwater didn’t need to use race in his campaign.” But he did use race in Reagan’s campaigns. That’s the point. You’re buying into the bullshit Atwater framing that “we’re not saying anything about race! Not really!” when the deliberate use of messaging that appeals to racist sentiments is, in fact, present.

I’m not saying he’s telling the truth. I think he could say that with some plausibility, though.

You’re also assuming facts not in evidence – namely, that Reagan voters understood themselves to be non-racist and were mostly insulted at being called racist.

No, I’m not assuming that at all. I think a large fraction of Reagan voters were consciously racist, and mostly didn’t want to admit it in places where they would get a lot of public scorn for it.

On the contrary, I think plenty of them were and are entirely conscious racists; the insult was that the Dems had the temerity to start treating their racism as a problem.</i.

Yes, exactly! And so Atwater didn't need to say a lot of overt things to say that their racism was welcome in the GOP. It was enough that the Democrats were tossing them into the outer darkness to gnash their teeth. He could pick up those votes without having to come right out and say things that would offend some moderates and swing voters.

145

bianca steele 02.03.15 at 7:09 pm

Without disparaging the ThinkProgress piece MPAVictoria links to @142 — ThinkProgress is a serious site — did they really have make a link to BuzzFeed a central part of the article?

146

dn 02.03.15 at 7:12 pm

But Reagan did say some pretty damn overt things. It wasn’t just anti-tax rhetoric. It was stuff like praising Jefferson Davis, like talking “states’ rights” just down the road from where civil rights workers were murdered only 15 years previously, like saying “the South will rise again”, like calling the VRA “humiliating to the South” (and Reagan had a history of attacking civil rights legislation and defending the right to discriminate long before he was a presidential candidate). This is all well-documented.

147

J Thomas 02.03.15 at 7:13 pm

#140 praisegodbarebones

‘If you have a coalition with some purpose, and a particular group of marginalized people wants to join your coalition, you need to consider whether they will be more of an asset than a liability.’

The interesting thing about this statement is that it’s also true if you cross out the word ‘marginalized’. If one of the costs of having nicely spoken ‘moderates’ joining your campaign is that you have to articulate your points in language they find acceptable (and maybe lose some of your focus on the most marginalized) I can see why that might be a cost it doesn’t makes sense to pay. Especially if you’re the person who’s getting to have to be quiet so the nice middle-class liberals can be kept on board.

Yes, good point!

<i.Which is why is whole business about being nice and moderate so as to be able to build a coalition isn’t the no-brainer that you seem to take it to be. (The more so to the extent that cultural change, unlike electoral change, isn’t effected by assembling a 50% majority.)

I don’t think it’s a no-brainer. I think if you are building an organization, you need to consider what you want to accomplish and who can help you accomplish that.

If you need a bunch of moderates in there doing what moderates do, and you also need some marginalized people the moderates tend not to get along with, then you need to encourage them to get along. If you need one but not the other then maybe just recruit the ones you need.

So your goal is cultural change. For that you need to get a bunch of people together who do things the new way and make it work. They make it work and then it spreads. It probably helps to persuade the majority old-culture people that you are not a threat. If they think you’re a threat then you’ll get a lot of media attention — particularly if you get significant police harassment, and maybe some members killed. But I’m not at all sure that media attention is what you need for long-run culture change. Better to just have a culture change that works for people, that can spread.

I think what works is to spread the new culture, more than to try to exterminate the old culture.

But that’s just what I think. When it’s your own organization promoting culture change, do it however you think best.

148

Trader Joe 02.03.15 at 7:54 pm

“Nearly one in three college men admit they might rape a woman if they knew no one would find out and they wouldn’t face any consequences”

Nearly one in three college men would probably admit to having a go at just any animate or inanamate object from an alpaca to a zebra “if they knew no one would find out and they wouldn’t face any consequences”….

….its pretty much about ever third thought of a college age man.

Doesn’t make rape right, doesn’t make ThinkProgress wrong….just saying, such a study isn’t exactly breaking new ground and says more about what young men think about (which is pretty well known) than what they actually do.

149

MPAVictoria 02.03.15 at 8:09 pm

“Doesn’t make rape right, doesn’t make ThinkProgress wrong….just saying, such a study isn’t exactly breaking new ground and says more about what young men think about (which is pretty well known) than what they actually do.”

Okay…. So?

150

Donald Johnson 02.03.15 at 8:54 pm

” It was stuff like praising Jefferson Davis, like talking “states’ rights” just down the road from where civil rights workers were murdered only 15 years previously”

What I remember, though, is that Carter was criticized for pointing out that Reagan was using code words like “state’s rights”. I forget where I heard the criticism, but I know I heard it. Carter was supposedly the bad guy, the desperate loser who was trying to play the race card when he pointed out what Reagan was clearly doing. It was surreal. But then, American politics often is.

151

Peter King 02.03.15 at 9:06 pm

“Nearly one in three college men admit they might rape a woman if they knew no one would find out and they wouldn’t face any consequences”

The study on which this lede in the ThinkProgress article is based was a survey of eighty-six (86) students at (presumably) either the University of North Dakota or North Dakota State University (since those are the institutions with which the researchers are affiliated).

Leaving aside the question of how representative the study subjects might be of the student body of which they were part — given that, because (according to the paper’s Methods section) they had “received extra credit for their participation” and “most were juniors”, they were in all likelihood students in an upper-level psych class — to generalize from the results of a survey of a small number of male students in one state to “[all] college men” is a real stretch.

/Doesn’t mean that the figure isn’t correct … just that this study is not sufficient to warrant the assertion.

152

MPAVictoria 02.03.15 at 9:21 pm

Fair enough Peter but there are many, many studies on this topic:

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/08/2748631/national-study-adolescents-sexual-violence/

153

dn 02.03.15 at 9:44 pm

Donald – True. Which is to say that contra J Thomas, Brett did not have a point at all, even a twisted sideways one, because it simply isn’t true that Reagan “didn’t have to say anything”. He didn’t have to say the n-word, but he had to say something to provoke the response he got. And he did say it. The subtext was deliberate and there for anyone to hear who wasn’t willfully deaf to it.

154

J Thomas 02.03.15 at 11:03 pm

#153 dn

Which is to say that contra J Thomas, Brett did not have a point at all, even a twisted sideways one, because it simply isn’t true that ….

I want to point out that to get your conclusions you have to assume some things that seem pretty reasonable to me, but that I’m sure Atwater or Brett would challenge.

I don’t say you’re wrong, and I do say that my point of view makes sense. I don’t want to argue about Brett’s twisty logic so I’ll leave it at that.

155

js. 02.04.15 at 5:29 am

The thread’s moved on, but I wanted to note—partly in response to Lynne (72)—that I thought that Val’s reworking of the Chait quote (57) was really on point. Because, yes, people, especially more privileged people, working for greater rights or freedoms for marginalized groups is nothing but admirable. But the problem with Chait’s comment—“American liberalism … has extended social freedoms to [various marginalized groups]—is that it seems to ascribe all the agency to liberal white dudes—the ones “extending” these liberties—and seems to deny agency to the marginalized groups, representatives of which were denounced as commies, malcontents, etc., when they fought for these freedoms, rather than being celebrated as liberals. Meanwhile, the legacy of American liberalism is hardly glorious—e.g. the “moderates” MLK excoriated in “The Letter From Birmingham Jail” were the people considered liberal at the time.

156

js. 02.04.15 at 5:35 am

It’s possible I’m reading too much into that one sentence, though.

157

dn 02.04.15 at 6:26 am

js. – Oh, you’re on totally solid ground there. It’s like Chait has never heard the name “Woodrow Wilson” before. No PCer has ever perpetrated an attack on free speech as egregious as the 1918 Sedition Act. And let’s not even get started on his record on race. Liberals have to own that stuff too, along with items like FDR’s internment of Japanese-Americans; they can’t just pretend that “liberalism” = “all the good things in American history and none of the bad”.

158

js. 02.04.15 at 6:39 am

dn, thanks. And yeah, that was one of the great things about Coates’ schooling of Chait that forms the background to all of this. Chait should’ve learned some lessons about the history of American liberalism there that he obviously didn’t.

159

Brett Bellmore 02.04.15 at 10:32 am

“He didn’t have to say the n-word, but he had to say something”

There’s connotation, and there’s denotation. And the key thing to remember about “dog whistles”, and everything in that vein, is that the connotations the left read into what people on the right say, don’t have to be the connotations people on the right would actually get. Wouldn’t be surprised if it worked the other way, too.

We’re working from different dictionaries. And your dictionary is very much designed, with conscious intent, so as to make anything anybody on the right says look bad. Try to keep that in mind. You will never have any genuine understanding of what people on the right are saying, so long as you’re using your own dictionary to translate it, because that dictionary was not written to facilitate understanding, but to impede it, and to make sure you keep a low opinion of the right.

So, you find “states right” outrageous, because it says “slavery” to you. On the right, “states rights” is a reference to the 10th amendment, and the idea, built right into the Constitution, that not everything is any of the federal government’s business. That the federal and state governments each have their own domains, into which the other is not legally entitled to intrude.

And that’s a legitimate concept no matter where you talk about it.

160

J Thomas 02.04.15 at 11:00 am

See?

From my point of view, it’s obvious that a lot of Americans were racists, and they wanted a racist candidate to vote for. But Brett denies that was important.

Depending on whether that was important you can read in meanings.

Reagan could have been more overt than he was, and said:

People of North Carolina! My opponent says that you are racists. He says you are terrible human beings. Do you want to vote for a man who thinks of you like that?

If they are in fact racists and he knows it, that’s intensely hypocritical. But if they are not racists, or if racism is not very important to them, or for that matter if they are in fact racists, having Carter complain about them that way is pretty much a guarantee that they will vote for Reagan.

161

robotslave 02.04.15 at 11:22 am

Henry @123

To me, the most persuasive argument against calling Chait a troll, of one species or another, is that he doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself.

But then, my own understanding of the word “troll” is hopelessly quaint, these days.

Some while ago, the internet rabble started applying the word to online sociopaths, the sort of people who make rape threats, stalk, dredge up and post personal details, and so on. Other contemporary usage gives it a meaning of pretty much just “contrarian,” and seems to be slipping even further, to where it will often signify no more than “argumentative.” I’ve even seen it used in a sort of not-really-self-deprecating way, to mean, I think, “spent a few hours reading the internet,” much in the way a certain sort of young person might say “I’m such a nerd” when talking about seeing a summer blockbuster.

Chait does perceive an insular subcultural consensus that ought to be a lot less sure of itself, and he sets about taking it down a peg. That surely is a canonized, classical troll-form, you’d think, but by my fusty old notions, it isn’t enough: apart from the aforementioned absence of any humor or relish in his piece, I think maybe there just isn’t enough sting in it, either.

162

Brett Bellmore 02.04.15 at 11:29 am

J, from *my* point of view, it’s obvious Democrats are racists. After all, you’re pretty much the only people in the country demanding legally mandated racial discrimination, right? Rejecting at every turn the idea that racial discrimination should simply be rejected, period. Seeing race everywhere. And that’s how you expect racists to behave, rather than demanding color-blind policy.

As racists come in different polarities, there are racists who are racist in favor of whites, and racists who are racist against whites. Now, if you’ve got a party that’s racist in favor of blacks, (That’s your party.) and a party that just rejects racism, (That’s mine.), where are the racists in favor of whites going to end up? The latter party, of course, and this will happen without any need for the party that’s not racist to make any appeals to them.

It will just happen because people prefer indifference to enmity.

163

J Thomas 02.04.15 at 11:37 am

#161 robotslave

apart from the aforementioned absence of any humor or relish in his piece, I think maybe there just isn’t enough sting in it, either.

A big part of it is that he was a TNR opinionator, and people feel like that denies him the right to criticize anybody else.

The issue isn’t that he does it poorly, the issue is that he does it at all.

164

mattski 02.04.15 at 11:43 am

@ 161

To what you wrote I want to add that debates about whether or not such-and-such a person is a troll completely escape me. As though the word had any concise meaning…

165

J Thomas 02.04.15 at 11:59 am

#164 mattski

… debates about whether or not such-and-such a person is a troll completely escape me. As though the word had any concise meaning…

It’s a kind of ad hominem argument. “Never mind whether he’s right or not, he’s a troll so you should ignore anything he says.”

There could be something more subtle in there, but this is most of it.

166

Niall McAuley 02.04.15 at 12:14 pm

he’s a troll so you should ignore anything he says

I don’t think we should ignore things just because they are posted by someone trolling. There are lots of ways to respond which improve the conversation.

Chomping on the hook is not one of them, that’s all.

167

J Thomas 02.04.15 at 12:27 pm

Now, if you’ve got a party that’s racist in favor of blacks, (That’s your party.) and a party that just rejects racism, (That’s mine.), where are the racists in favor of whites going to end up? The latter party, of course, and this will happen without any need for the party that’s not racist to make any appeals to them.

See everybody, I got his argument right. It’s logical, it’s consistent, and in some Bizarro world it would fit the facts on the ground.

Brett almost certainly believes it fits the facts in this world. He isn’t just making it up on the fly.

And there can even be a lot of truth to it. There could be a whole lot of Republicans who are not racists, who merely accept the racist Republicans just like Democrats accepted their fathers and grandfathers until all of a sudden in the 1960’s the Democrats changed their minds and stopped accepting them.

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TM 02.04.15 at 2:58 pm

Shock: there’s no scientifically accepted definition of what a troll is (well unless a species of magic beings in Iceland is being referred to). For my part, I never thought that enjoyment was a characteristic of internet trolling. My impression is that usually the misery is mutual, which is why not feeding the troll is really in everybody’s interest.

169

J Thomas 02.04.15 at 4:34 pm

#166 Niall McAuley

I don’t think we should ignore things just because they are posted by someone trolling. There are lots of ways to respond which improve the conversation.

Yes, I agree.

Chomping on the hook is not one of them, that’s all.

Yes, people who react reflexively, without thinking, following some stereotypical pattern, are probably not going to be at all helpful.

But somehow people talk like the troll is morally responsible for setting off the one who starts ranting, while the person who acts out is not responsible for his own behavior.

Of course, Little Timmy needs a safe place where he won’t get exposed to sequences of words that might get him upset. But Little Timmy himself is likely to say things that will upset Little Emily.

So we need a lot of different safe places and we have them. There are places where atheists get banned, places where evolutionists get banned, places where anybody who disagrees with Austrian economics gets banned, and so on. There are clubhouses with a “No Girls Allowed” sign and others with no boys.

Wouldn’t it be good for Crooked Timber to have a list of things you mustn’t say? I wouldn’t mind if there were no Austrian economists, they’re mostly predictable and they never seem to learn anything. Similarly Objectivists. There are some Marxists that are extremely doctrinaire and unpleasant, but I don’t know enough to put names to their sects. Scientologists? I’ve had some pleasant conversations with scientologists, but I’ve never talked with any online, they might cause too much trouble.

Obviously we don’t want anybody to say anything racist or homophobic or sexist or pro-slavery.

If we had a list, and added to it when we ran into something that ought to be on the list but that we’d forgotten before, wouldn’t that make it clearer who CT is supposed to be safe for, and who it’s intended to be unsafe for?

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MPAVictoria 02.04.15 at 4:44 pm

“The wise bunny knows light would have no meaning if there were no such thing as darkness.”
-Bunny Buddhism

171

Donald Johnson 02.04.15 at 5:07 pm

“A big part of it is that he was a TNR opinionator, and people feel like that denies him the right to criticize anybody else.

The issue isn’t that he does it poorly, the issue is that he does it at all.”

For me that’s close to what I think, but not quite. I think Chait raised a legitimate point, but because he has his own axes to grind (his war on people to his left), whatever problem there is with far left PC thinking got mixed in with a lot of hypocritical blather and dubious examples. This is just who Chait is. Freddie DeBoer’s piece makes the case against PC extremism much more effectively and I’ll be interested in what Belle has to say about it.

.

172

Brett Bellmore 02.04.15 at 5:36 pm

“until all of a sudden in the 1960’s the Democrats changed their minds and stopped accepting them.”

Gosh, I didn’t realize Byrd got kicked out of the Democratic party back in the 60’s; I thought he served in Congress as a Democrat until just a few years ago.

173

dn 02.04.15 at 5:56 pm

Brett, the line between connotation and denotation is arbitrary. As Wittgenstein says, meaning is use. In history, one can see plainly that “states’ rights” is a phrase whose use is intimately associated with racial discrimination and with very little else. If it were actually about principled federalism, its proponents would behave very differently. As it is, the right’s representatives in government routinely neglect states’ so-called rights when it suits their actual goals, and their supporters seem to approve.

But maybe Brett is correct; perhaps we do have different vocabularies. For example, in my book Jefferson Davis was the leader of a treasonous movement to destroy the Union for the sake of preserving the odious institution of chattel slavery. In Ronald Reagan’s book he was merely a principled defender of the Tenth Amendment. Meanings differ, right?

There is really no point in continuing this conversation. Until next time, Brett.

174

Henry 02.04.15 at 5:56 pm

J Thomas – the answer to your question regarding what sort of stuff should you not talk about at Crooked Timber is, in your case, “anything.” We’ve conferred, and we don’t want you commenting here anymore. Any future comments we see will be banned, disemvowelled or otherwise mutilated.

175

William Berry 02.05.15 at 5:19 am

Henry @174:

One down, one to go!*

*Not me, I’m innocent!

176

William Berry 02.05.15 at 5:25 am

And there’s that guy still trying to hang that byrd around the Democrats’s neck.

Very tiresome.

Failtry, thy name is BB.

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Val 02.05.15 at 6:32 am

Lovely WB. But I think there is a difference, not least that BB is reasonably brief. By his own admission, he just likes arguing with lefties, whereas JT was like some endlessly patient and forbearing missionary from the right, who was trying to sermonise and proselytise us all into submission. I did think he was presuming an awful lot on the kindness of our hosts, so even though I feel sorry for him in a way, it seems pretty inevitable.

178

Val 02.05.15 at 6:39 am

Btw Feminist Philosophers has (have?) a post on Chait https://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/jonathan-chait-embraces-extended-notion-of-silencing/

And also link to this one
http://observer.com/2015/01/jonathan-chait-vs-political-correctness/

FP also elsewhere mention a recent book “Angry White Men” which looks pretty interesting

179

Michael Drew 02.05.15 at 10:22 am

“You and Chait aren’t against political correctness, you just want a different Political Correctness.”

This. This. A million times this.

But this… doesn’t prove much if true. If true, it just proves that there’s a term that he thinks creates a category of things almost all of which he doesn’t like, but which term you think creates a category that includes more things than he thinks the category created by the term, some of which you would both agree are good. Like the movement to get the Redskins to change their name, perhaps.

That’s ultimately just a dispute over what falls within oven terminological category, when we already knew that the term that creates that category (those categories) is really inexact, and more gestures toward a kind of thing than defines a specific class of things where there are clear criteria for determining membership. There’s not really much to such a dispute.

180

john c. halasz 02.06.15 at 2:25 am

@174:

I tried to tell J Thomas about a month ago just to not comment so much. He did have apparently a science-and-engineering background and could say some intelligent things sometimes. But he had a semi-autistic temperament and would wander off into all sorts of irrelevancies way beyond his ken.

So to what extent is it the responsibility of the chaotic commentariat here to maintain the franchise and patrol boundaries, (without undue self-righteousness), rather than relying on the arbitrary dictates of the principals? Because the latter can prove both too late and rather arbitrary and narcissistic, ( as the recent behavior of Daniel “I’m too sexy for my pants” Davies indicates).

181

bob mcmanus 02.06.15 at 2:37 am

180: I don’t cosplay discourse cop.

182

Rich Puchalsky 02.06.15 at 3:24 am

@181 agree. Given that blog posters have the right / ability to ban people for any reason, I generally think it’s bad to continue to talk about someone after they’ve been banned, since they can’t say anything back. But breaking my own rule: JT wasn’t “from the right” and he wasn’t “semi-autistic”. He explained exactly what he was doing, and if you didn’t like it, fine, but it was neither of those things.

183

Collin Street 02.06.15 at 3:31 am

> just likes arguing with lefties

He doesn’t, though, or not “arguing” as it’s normally understood, with a give-and-take and admission-of-possibility-of-error.

Vociferously-expressed disagreement not coupled with a process of error-discovery is normally called not “arguing” but a different name.

[I’ve spent the last few days reading — for my own amusement — bad advice blog and captain awkward, and I think I’ve started to notice a certain similarity in style and presentation between problematic debate partners and problematic romantic partners.]

184

bianca steele 02.06.15 at 3:37 am

J Thomas revealed a lot when he started talking about how he’d researched theories about communication that IIRC had been suggested to him by others on the web, and used them to modify how he posted. I guess they worked for him as far as he could tell.

185

William Berry 02.06.15 at 3:50 am

Yeah, I shouldn’t have been so flip above, as I do sort of feel sorry for the guy.

I think that commenting here had become a rather large part of his life; at least, it had to be using up a great deal of his time.

186

john c. halasz 02.06.15 at 4:09 am

@181:
Goody-goody for you, you self-righteous parasitical prick!

But my question was how to maintain a reasonably open, pluralistic forum, without group-think and without relying on principals with their biases to “moderate” or censor? Because being over-run with bad repetitive comments diminishes the “value” of the forum for the overall collective of participants.

I involuntarily led to the the derailment of a subsequent thread by making an accurate observation about the non-identity of two commenters, which led to a series of bad jokes which carried over into the subsequent thread, (which deserved to be derailed). Comment threads have uncontrollable dynamics, which is as it should be, part of their surprising “value”, but they also have boundary conditions, else they threaten to become over-run with the functional equivalent of spam and become unreadable.

And BTW this thread, following on others, was about PC, which is something I thoroughly disagree with, and which is why I tend to avoid such threads. (Because PC tends to promote a left-liberal version of moral “purity”, which is objectionable in itself, but also promotes a lot of pious fraud, because changing the labels on underlying conditions does nothing to correct or ameliorate those conditions, because it tends to leave the discursive place-holders in place, while just enabling their shape-shifting, because it’s a naive and puritanical translation of French “post-structuralism”, which would be utterly unrecognizable in its “original” context, because it contains embedded ad hominems which its practitioners are all too unaware of and don’t know how to handle with care, etc.)

J Thomas ran afoul of PC strictures, but that wasn’t his only “sin”. One of the surprising moments for me was when I mentioned Gendlin in relation to the concerns of another interlocutor, and he chimed in on the benefits of “focusing”. Evidently, he didn’t learn to focus enough.

187

MPAVictoria 02.06.15 at 4:22 am

Not to get off topic John but you might find this interesting:
http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/political-correctness-fosters-better-creative-teamwork

I find the study mentioned to reflect my own experiences in the workplace.

188

js. 02.06.15 at 4:36 am

J Thomas revealed a lot when he started talking about how he’d researched theories about communication that IIRC had been suggested to him by others on the web, and used them to modify how he posted.

Wow! Maybe I should’ve been reading his comments.

189

bob mcmanus 02.06.15 at 4:42 am

J Thomas ran afoul of PC strictures, but that wasn’t his only “sin”

Nah. J Thomas became a target of a committed MPAV, who knows who and how to flatter the powerful, gets off on policing Crooked Timber, and gets to play by different rules. The last week or so, when MPAV finally got to him, was what made the difference.

MPAV targets you, and you are eventually gone. Most comment sections have somebody who wants to own the place.

190

john c. halasz 02.06.15 at 4:44 am

MPVA:

Have you ever worked in the places where I have? I tend to slough off sweet nothings whispered into my ear, when I’m so lucky to encounter them that way, (rather than from the boss or straw boss). I feel no need to self-righteously “correct” them, as there would be little profit in that, when one is just trying to cooperate under conditions of alienated labor. That’s what leisure time is for.

191

MPAVictoria 02.06.15 at 4:48 am

“Have you ever worked in the places where I have? I tend to slough off sweet nothings whispered into my ear, when I’m so lucky to encounter them that way, (rather than from the boss or straw boss). I feel no need to self-righteously “correct” them, as there would be little profit in that, when one is just trying to cooperate under conditions of alienated labor. That’s what leisure time is for.”

Fair enough John. I guess we all have different experiences. I would say that at least some people have found that respect for diversity seems to help make workplaces run more smoothly.

192

MPAVictoria 02.06.15 at 4:49 am

And bob I wish I had that kind of power/popularity here.

/I mean I don’t even have a nickname from Belle like you have!

193

bob mcmanus 02.06.15 at 4:50 am

See, you insult me at 186, and MPAV immediately jumps in to flatter you. I waste too much watching the social interactions here.

This is she wants to do, and about all she wants to do, is play power politics in the CT threads.

Hey, Joe Cool Halasz. Impress me by being honest, yourself, and a valued commenter over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. That’s where MPAV learns her chops.

194

js. 02.06.15 at 4:58 am

There was in fact a previous ban, and a couple of offending posts were deleted, if I remember correctly. (The reference to the second commenter is the result of an understandable confusion.)

195

MPAVictoria 02.06.15 at 4:59 am

Bob I post here way more than I post at LGM. (Though I do think it is an excellent blog with great commenters as well)

Where do you think I flattered John? I am curious as I don’t think I did. Though of course you are free to believe whatever you like. :-)

196

bob mcmanus 02.06.15 at 5:01 am

and which is why I tend to avoid such threads.

Oh, and I do watch who participates in which threads. “Safe spaces” are created, huh. How?

All it takes is some dedicated lying, not of course that I am saying anybody lies who I haven’t already called out, to drive a commenter out of here. The friends and allies of the accuser support in solidarity, the alienation escalates, response in kind gets you banned. Hard to hold your temper for weeks or months. If somebody cares enough, anybody can get banned by a favored friend of the blog.

197

john c. halasz 02.06.15 at 5:15 am

Bob:

I figured you could take the insult and survive. But just to let you know, as if it weren’t obvious, I can defend myself and my “discourse”.

But I don’t want to continue this line of argument anymore. It was just an appeal to the heavens and the earth.

198

robotslave 02.06.15 at 10:42 am

@168

The idea that “anyone who provokes me must be miserable” has never held much water.

There’s also a possibility that a poster who has provoked indignant outrage, from many (who agree with you) is… less interested in his or her righteousness than in exposing the painfully obvious intellectual limitations of dogmatically self-confined respondents (who you regard as intellectual allies).

It’s a heck of a lot more comforting to tell yourself that those people aren’t having any fun, of course. So carry on with that, if it helps you get through the day.

199

Rich Puchalsky 02.06.15 at 1:38 pm

js.: “There was in fact a previous ban, and a couple of offending posts were deleted, if I remember correctly. “

I don’t think that you do remember correctly. Any sustained discussion is going to lead to more bannings (including quite possibly mine), so we should probably stop, but I just wanted to mention that your memory is as far as I remember not correct.

There’s an old / nearly dead thread about trolls and trolling that I had an interesting conversation with JH with, the one about Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Trollbird. And yes: people, with the best will in the world, simply don’t get any mentality or conversational style sufficiently different from their own. There’s nothing wrong with rejecting something you dislike, but it’s just an expression of your dislikes, not a confirmation of some binary about trolls and non-trolls with you on one side.

200

Yama 02.06.15 at 2:04 pm

Godoggo got banned by Henry a ways back, returned later as J Parnell Thomas. J Thomas got mixed in a bit with that confusion (and JPT hates JT so that helped). MPAV did her stalking thang, with predictable results once the mighty Waring got involved.

McManus called it. Embarrassing all around.

201

Bruce Baugh 02.06.15 at 3:03 pm

MPAV, I’m very sorry to see the crap flung at you in this thread, and am glad you’re still hanging around. One of my basic rules of thumb for comments in this part of the blogosphere (“Bob’s social analyses are always wrong; reasons why they are this time will emerge”) is regrettably in full force again.

202

Lynne 02.06.15 at 3:05 pm

MPAV, I’m glad you’re here, too! Apply teflon as needed.

203

Landru 02.06.15 at 3:06 pm

“I’ve long been of the opinion that Jonathan Chait is a very talented troll of the second magnitude.”

Oh come on, you can’t just leave this hanging ; who are the trolls of the first magnitude? Is there some kind of troll hall of fame — Trolhalla? — where we can see and admire their work, properly curated and annotated? Suggestions?

204

Bruce Baugh 02.06.15 at 3:18 pm

Landru, you can try to get to Trolhalla, but everyone who gives you directions tells you wrong, of course.

205

MPAVictoria 02.06.15 at 3:22 pm

Lynne and Bruce:

Thank you both. That means a lot. :-)

206

MPAVictoria 02.06.15 at 3:23 pm

“Landru, you can try to get to Trolhalla, but everyone who gives you directions tells you wrong, of course.”

Ha!

207

js. 02.06.15 at 3:52 pm

Rich,

I’m fairly certain that I remember correctly. And I’m not that concerned whether I manage to convince you, but I will note that if there were no deleted posts, Maria’s comment is remarkably unmotivated, one might say inexplicable.

More importantly, have I said anything about “trolls” or “trolling”?

208

Rich Puchalsky 02.06.15 at 4:09 pm

There were deleted posts, yes. Posts by whom?

Lynne and Bruce are predictably heading down the direction of getting someone else banned under the guise of emotional support, which is how it most often goes.

209

Lynne 02.06.15 at 4:13 pm

Rich, it is true that I was present when Hector St. Clare was banned, but I’m not aiming to have anyone banned now, and I wasn’t then, either. Ugh. Speak for yourself when you talk about aims and guises.

210

js. 02.06.15 at 4:17 pm

There were deleted posts, yes. Posts by whom?

J Thomas. Want to answer my question?

211

js. 02.06.15 at 4:20 pm

Meant to add: Seems to me that CT hardly ever bans anyone, which as far as I’m concerned, is all to the good (mostly). So I’m not totally getting the huge concern.

212

MPAVictoria 02.06.15 at 4:20 pm

Rich as I remember it Hector was actually threatening female commenters with violence. Not sure why you would have any objection to him being banned.

And if you have any issues with me that is fine. No need to involve Bruce or Lynne.

213

Rich Puchalsky 02.06.15 at 4:32 pm

I didn’t say one word about Hector. Don’t blame him on me.

I did have an issue with you, MPAVictoria, and I brought it up upthread. Namely, that a poster asked you to stop replying to J. Thomas all the time, you resolved to stop, and that resolution lasted less than a day. I don’t think that you did anything wrong, but you certainly contributed to a chain of events. Moreover, your characterizations of J. Thomas were always wrong.

214

MPAVictoria 02.06.15 at 4:37 pm

“I did have an issue with you, MPAVictoria, and I brought it up upthread. Namely, that a poster asked you to stop replying to J. Thomas all the time, you resolved to stop, and that resolution lasted less than a day. I don’t think that you did anything wrong, but you certainly contributed to a chain of events. Moreover, your characterizations of J. Thomas were always wrong.”

Fair enough. I disagree of course but I fail to see anyway of making you see that. Either way no reason to include Lynne and Bruce.

215

TM 02.06.15 at 4:39 pm

IMHO, time to close this thread.

216

bianca steele 02.06.15 at 4:40 pm

@186.1 I think you have to be English to get away with that kind of thing. You’re not English, are you?

Lynne, are you by any chance the same Lynne I encountered elsewhere? If you are, I’m glad to see you’re in good health.

217

Lynne 02.06.15 at 4:47 pm

Bianca, no I don’t think we’ve run into each other elsewhere. We Lynnes are legion. :)

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Rich Puchalsky 02.06.15 at 4:49 pm

Lynne and Bruce were doing the thing that predictably gets other people banned. If they don’t know they’re doing it, they should. The next step is to characterize the entire disagreement as being one about anti-feminism, as with your “Hector was actually threatening female commenters with violence. Not sure why you would have any objection to him being banned.”

219

MPAVictoria 02.06.15 at 4:53 pm

Rich your mind reading powers are indeed impressive….

Anyway talking about people who have been banned is probably not appropriate so I am going to bow out of this thread. Please feel free to have the last word Rich.

220

JBL 02.07.15 at 2:22 am

“IMHO, time to close this thread.”

What’s the safeword?

221

afeman 02.07.15 at 5:47 pm

applesauce

222

Lyle 02.07.15 at 7:06 pm

What’s the safeword?

Room 222

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