Beware the commissars of political correctness!

by Henry on November 11, 2015

I actually quite like Jonathan Chait’s work – he’s mostly very competent at a certain kind of centrist trolling. But the tune he’s whistling is getting a little boring. Today, he asks whether we can take political correctness seriously now, and provides his own answer to his own rhetorical question: Yes – And We Must Do It Before It Is Too Late.

It is possible — and, for many sympathizers on the left, convenient — to dismiss these sorts of incidents as just so much college high jinks. “College students have been saying stupid things since the invention of college students,” argues Daniel Drezner, in a passage that attracted widespread support on the left. … Colleges have disproportionate influence over intellectual life … the academy is one of the few bastions of American life where the p.c. left can muster the strength to impose its political hegemony upon others. The phenomenon also exists in other nonacademic left-wing communities … It’s the expression of a political culture with consistent norms, and philosophical premises that happen to be incompatible with liberalism. The reason every Marxist government in the history of the world turned massively repressive is not because they all had the misfortune of being hijacked by murderous thugs. It’s that the ideology itself prioritizes class justice over individual rights and makes no allowance for legitimate disagreement. … American political correctness has obviously never perpetrated the brutality of a communist government, but it has also never acquired the powers that come with full control of the machinery of the state.

The problem is that we’ve been here before (quotes below taken from old CT posts, since the originals have long since fallen into the maw of the maelstrom that is the New Republic archives).

Jonathan Chait in 2006, on the netroots:

But it’s not true if you take account of their political style, which is distinctly New Left. It’s a paranoid, Manichean worldview brimming with humorless rage. The fact that the contemporary blog-based left, unlike the McGovernite New Left, lacks a well-formed radical program is some measure of comfort. However, I think there’s lots of evidence to suggest that this style of thinking is suggestive of a tendency to move in more radical directions over time. That, of course, is exactly what happened to the New Left, many of whose members starting off as relatively sensible liberals, or left-liberals before veering into the abyss.

Jonathan Chait in 2007, on how the radical blogospheric left was co-opting Matthew Yglesias

The party-line sensibility that pervades the netroots is not some artificial, Stalinist imposition. The close ties that exist among the netroots and its allies grow out of the technology they use so naturally. … Even Matthew Yglesias, who writes one of the most independent-minded liberal blogs, confessed in March that he had soft-pedaled his opposition to gun control. “I don’t write about this issue much because, hey, I don’t want to be a wanker,” he wrote.

In Chait’s favor, he’s certainly consistent over time. In his universe, Marxist radicalism takes many guises, whether it be cloaked in Daily-Kos style political organizing, or exemplified by assistant professors acting like self-aggrandizing arseholes at student demonstrations. But always and everywhere, it’s a burning and urgent threat to liberal democracy and the American Way of Life.

Against him is the fact that he’s demonstrably not that hot at prediction. The netroots never spawned any equivalent of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Matthew Yglesias appears to have successfully resisted the blandishments and social pressures of the radical left (although Chait seems to intimate that Cultural Commissar Drezner has not). I suspect that college demonstrations against racism and sexism are similarly unlikely to blossom into totalitarianism. At this stage, I don’t think that Chait’s outpourings can be dismissed entirely as trolling – they clearly stem from sincere beliefs. But it would be nice, in an ideal world, if he acknowledged that this isn’t the first time he’s claimed there were reds under the bed and found out, when he looked, that it was a stuffed teddy-bear instead.

{ 232 comments }

1

kent 11.11.15 at 3:51 pm

So the answer to Chait’s question as to “whether [we] agree” with “a movement that regards the delegitimization of dissent as a first-order goal” is to say “I’m not willing to answer that question until the movement becomes more of a problem.”

Is that right?

I haven’t been on a college campus since 2001 when things were very different, and I will not claim to have any knowledge as to the reality on campus these days. I suspect Chait hasn’t been, either, and I appreciate Henry’s diagnosis (that Chait suffers from always-Marxists-under-the-bed syndrome.) But … is there a reason we are unwilling to straight up answer Chait’s question?

Shorter me: We can talk about whether we would kill baby Hitler, but we can’t talk about whose side we would be on if the PC police really did take over?

2

Art Deco 11.11.15 at 3:54 pm

Much of what is done within the boundaries of college campuses is extensively subsidized and subject to a perverse regulatory regime and inane labor relations practices. Controversies such as the one at Missouri or the one at Yale are merely bits of evidence toward the thesis that shrinking the higher education sector, idling much of its personnel, and liquidating much of its physical capital, will have salutary effects on the society at large. (As for Drezner, the man is reflexively supercilious. That’s how he rolls. Fewer Drezners with handsomely paid employment would also be salutary).

3

John Ryan 11.11.15 at 3:57 pm

The question isn’t “can we answer this question.”

It’s why the conversation is suddenly about this topic.

4

Anarcissie 11.11.15 at 4:06 pm

I try to follow these things, but I am mystified by the latest resurrection of the PC monster. If I went out on the streets of Queens, where I live, shouting racial epithets, I would very shortly suffer considerable inconvenience. If I were in a normal business and abused the ‘race’, ancestry, nationality, religion, sexuality, appearance, and so on of my colleagues, my managers, or our customers, I would be fired. So what is the problem about educational institutions? I don’t get it.

5

LFC 11.11.15 at 4:11 pm

Fewer Drezners with handsomely paid employment would also be salutary

Fewer Art Decos declaiming in reactionary mode might also be ‘salutary’.

6

LFC 11.11.15 at 4:14 pm

Some thoughtful things are being written about this, like T. Burke here:
http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/blog/2015/11/09/all-saints-day/

7

P O'Neill 11.11.15 at 4:28 pm

8

lemmy caution 11.11.15 at 4:36 pm

“American political correctness has obviously never perpetrated the brutality of a communist government, but it has also never acquired the powers that come with full control of the machinery of the state.”

If political correctness gets a president and full control of congress, they probably will try to institutes some sort of Canadian style or post ww II German style restriction on speech. Not ideal but not totalitarianism either. The supreme court would likely push back.

On the positive side we would have single payer healthcare, 15$ minimum wage, a rollback of the prison state and improved welfare protections.

9

Rakesh Bhandari 11.11.15 at 4:48 pm

I have noticed more criticism of the contents of what becomes shared or common knowledge through required courses than of micro-aggressions, costume choices or disinvites from fraternity parties. That is a a challenge to what is being imposed on students rather than a struggle by students to impose pc speech standards on the campus community. Who knows? We could have pernicious campus speech codes as a symbolic commitment to diversity that curricula in required courses and hiring decisions belie. It would be a cheap way to handle the deeper source of alienation that some students have.

10

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 4:58 pm

I have been teaching at university since 2012 and have yet to encounter an instance of “political correctness.” Maybe that’s because it’s in Canada? I guess if I went looking for it on social media, I could find it.

Anyway, I have noticed some rather egregious violations by the “cultural conservative” anti-political correctness industry — or “fascists” if I was to use the same labeling convention they do.

First there is the perennial zombie fable about PC being the core strategy of the Frankfurt School plot to destroy Western Civilization by promoting multiculturalism, which was launched in the 1920s by Lukacs and his henchmen. This tale was fabricated in the 1990s by the LaRouche cult. Anders Breivik plagiarized vast swaths of the “documentation” for his manifesto. Roger Kimball and his Encounter Books, with bags of funding from the Bradley Foundation kept up the rancid drumbeat with the recent publication of The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West, by Michael Walsh.

So how much has Jonathan Chait wrote about this upgrade of the old “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” myth?

Then there is the prolific and boundless Saul Alinsky libel and calumny industry. Did you know he dedicated his Rules for Radicals to LUCIFER?!!! No tongue is safe in any cheek. Here’s what the ever-credible Ben Carson had to say about that monster Alinsky:

Really what we need to do is start engaging in civil dialogue. Even if you disagree with somebody, talk to them about it. Very frequently you will find that you have a lot more in common than you have that separates you, and this is what many on the left do not want you to understand. That’s why Saul Alinsky said in his book, “Never have a conversation with your adversary, because that humanizes them and your job is to demonize them.” And that’s why you see so much name-calling and demonization. And we need not to fall into that. What I’m fond of doing, particularly when having a debate with someone who doesn’t espouse the Judeo-Christian values I espouse, and they start calling you names and demonizing you, I simply say to them, “Now that you’ve completed your gratuitous attack, can we get back to the subject matter?” And that really throws them off and knocks them off their heels. You may want to try that when people try to demonize you.

It’s easy to find copies of Alinsky’s books online and confirm with full text searching, that Alinsky, of course, never said any such thing. But how do we know that those aren’t FAKE copies of the books planted on the internet by Spawn of Alinsky, Hillary C. and B. Hussein?

Chait is all over the Alinsky is a Satanist propaganda machine, right?

11

Sean 11.11.15 at 5:10 pm

I second Kent’s point. The free speech issue is, surely, a red herring relative to the real problems at Yale, Missou, etc. But it would be much harder to make it a distraction if student activists and sympathizers would drop a few pious asides in favor of liberal principles. Maybe start with “Now, we are fully committed to free speech [etc., spelling that out briefly]. But that commitment is consistent with [go on as usual]”

The reluctance of the cultural left to discuss free speech issues openly makes it seems like they have something to hide – some position on free speech that would be unacceptable to most people if openly asserted. They don’t; so this appearance should be easily dispelled. Maybe just maybe this would help us get on discussing what matters.

12

oldster 11.11.15 at 5:14 pm

I don’t suppose he is that actual source of that quote mis-attributed to Alinsky, but the sentiment is pretty much exactly what Newt Gingrich was pushing in his 1996 GOPAC memo about how to describe one’s adversaries:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4443.htm

13

Barry 11.11.15 at 5:14 pm

“I haven’t been on a college campus since 2001 when things were very different, and I will not claim to have any knowledge as to the reality on campus these days. I suspect Chait hasn’t been, either, and I appreciate Henry’s diagnosis (that Chait suffers from always-Marxists-under-the-bed syndrome.) But … is there a reason we are unwilling to straight up answer Chait’s question?”

I’m from Ann Arbor, went to the University of Michigan, and knew the times back when Chait was there. Basically, he was traumatized by loud people on the left, and never got over it. Thirty years from now, he’ll still quake in his shoes when he hears a liberal student get angry.

14

Garrulous 11.11.15 at 5:33 pm

Thanks for the link LFC, it’s a serious and interesting attempt to tackle the difficult issues around all this. Would be nice to see more of it on CT. Just slagging off Chait – as here or in the previous post linked to – feels a bit too easy and safe, almost a kind of avoidance tactic, as the first commentator suggests.

15

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 5:36 pm

Oldster @10, google search turns up mostly Ben Carson. I haven’t been able to find any “prior art” on that specific quote fabrication.

16

Kiwanda 11.11.15 at 5:42 pm

Henry has shown Chait’s continuing pattern of centrist trollery, so there’s not really any point in discussing what Chait is on about now, but just to be briefly specific:

-some Yale students are demanding a faculty member lose his position (as “house master”, at least), because his wife and he are not supportive enough of Yale regulating the Halloween costumes of Yale students.

-some U. Missouri students (and at least one journalism-by-courtesy professor) physically mobbed and shoved a student journalist in the state university’s quad, protecting an encampment of protesters on that quad from “insincere narratives”. The professor called for “some muscle” to have another student journalist removed.*

Does such disregard for “freeze peach”, together with the contempt for due process shown in various Title IX investigations, constitute a significant problem? Probably not, but anyway, it doesn’t matter, because Chait is a centrist troll.

*in an outbreak of decency and/or non-stupidity, the UM professor has apologized, and the protest group has subsequently changed its declared attitude towards journalists.

17

Jonathan Mayhew 11.11.15 at 6:05 pm

We should be more outraged by threats to free speech from our own side, since they betray our own principles and make us look bad. I don’t think that’s centrist trolling (though it could be depending on the source.). A true liberal should be unable to take his / her own side in an argument, should be super-scrupulous about condemning people purporting to be anti-racist but betraying the cause through thuggishness.

18

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 6:10 pm

To answer Chait’s question about “taking political correctness seriously” start here:

“Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe” (2011) by Martin Jay, Salmagundi.

“Tentacles of Rage: The Republican propaganda mill, a brief history” (2004) by Lewis Lapham, Harpers.

Both Jay and Lapham recount their first-hand encounters with operatives of the correctness-outrage propaganda apparatus. It’s not just some fanatical political obsession with those folks. IT’S A BUSINESS MODEL, stupid. This is potent political snake oil. There is a market niche for this stuff. See also The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility, by Sarah Sobieraj and Jeffery Berry (2014).

Apparently there must also be a small niche market for “centrist” hand-wringing about the congenital incivility of T.H.E. Left.

19

Roger Gathman 11.11.15 at 6:16 pm

I have to disagree with the idea that Chait now is simply like Chait then. I believe the tone is more and more that of the late Mickey Kaus. This is no accident! My theory is that Chait has been assassinated by Kaus, whose contrarianism shtick eventually led to such low paying venues as that Talkers site or whatever it is, dedicated to all things Limbaugh-ish – and even there he got fired. So what is a man in his position to do? Contrarianism is so 00s that even Slate was lukewarm to Kaus’s proposal for clickbait. But he noticed the coveted New York Magazine post. What to do?
It was relatively easy to lure Chait out – Kaus sent him an email, signed anonymous admirer, that there was a horribly totalitarian Marxist oriented power grabbing politically correct event happening in the human geography department of X university that threatened to throw the Democratic party into retreat abroad and socialism at home. Chait, ever sensitive to the danger of human geography as a platform for the Nazi like takeover of the state, (it was most likely their influence that kept Lieberman from his rightful position as heir to Gore and candidate in 2004) bit, and met anonymous in a dark alley in New Haven. Bit mistake! Kaus struck him from behind, and – being, like Lon Cheney,a master of facial disguise – assumed his identity. I hope this makes it all clear.

20

Cassander 11.11.15 at 6:22 pm

The double standard on display here would be laughable were it not so dangerous. It never ceases to amuse me to see the party of safe spaces and trigger warnings blithely reject their own logic when it might benefit someone they don’t like. Or, at least it does until I consider the real life consequences of such hypocrisy.

21

Phil Perspective 11.11.15 at 6:22 pm

Jonathan Chait in 2007, on how the radical blogospheric left was co-opting Matthew Yglesias …

This has to be the funniest thing of all time. Iggy was never all that leftish, as he’s proven over and over again.

22

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 6:28 pm

Oh yeah. To be fair, there is no doubt also an infinitesimal niche market for the sort of smug outrage-triggering intersectarianism that furnishes anecdotes to the correctness outrage industry.

There is indeed a substantial academic cottage industry dedicated to identitarian poverty pimping and political pornography, most of which, though, is too bloated with jargon to decipher let alone fulminate against.

23

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 6:30 pm

Damn. I saw that misplaced italics close but was too late to stop the submit.

24

LFC 11.11.15 at 6:36 pm

Garrulous @15
you’re welcome; obvs. I thought it was a v. good post

25

The Temporary Name 11.11.15 at 6:45 pm

-some Yale students are demanding a faculty member lose his position (as “house master”, at least), because his wife and he are not supportive enough of Yale regulating the Halloween costumes of Yale students.

There was no attempt at regulation.

26

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 6:45 pm

“It never ceases to amuse me to see the party of safe spaces and trigger warnings blithely reject their own logic…”

INCTAM is not an argument, therefore it evades classification as a fallacy. It is, however, a cliche of the ripest sort and supercilious posturing of undeserved superiority. The instinctual response to INCTAM is FU.

27

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 6:52 pm

Cassander even gets the cliche wrong. It’s AMAZE not AMUSE, you ninny. By 3:1!

28

TF79 11.11.15 at 6:54 pm

So is PC just a catch-all for “stuff campus progressives do”? Because I’m not seeing much of a link between some students/faculty member being a jerk to media and PC. The Yale thing is a bit closer I guess, but even there it seems the issue is only loosely related via the original email (which basically asked students to kindly think a bit before dressing up as “Asian Math Nerd” for Halloween). I could see a “liberals not living up to liberal ideals” sort of angle that one could take, but the PC-aspect seems more or less absent here.

29

Roger Gathman 11.11.15 at 6:55 pm

Ps – one of my fave lines in the Kaus-Chait piece was this one: “The reason every Marxist government in the history of the world turned massively repressive is not because they all had the misfortune of being hijacked by murderous thugs.” This is so true. But it does beg the question, why would a beacon of light and liberty, like the anti-Marxist U.S., sponsor slavery for some 70 years and apartheid for one hundred further years, and create, at University of Missouri, a white only eduction which refused to graduate a single black student until 1950? Is it cause the US was run by murderous thugs? I’m anxious to hear the answer. Maybe it had something to do with favoring some race over another and having a justice system that reinforced it. But that seems like a Marxist kinda answer, so it can’t be right. Surely the right answer is: the US used to be run by murderous thugs.

30

Dean C. Rowan 11.11.15 at 7:00 pm

The real symptom of p.c. here is referring to Chait’s output as “work.” It would be impolite to call it what it really is.

31

Garrulous 11.11.15 at 7:02 pm

TF79 – less about political correctness than the rise of a quasi-religious style of politics among the protesters. It is that that I find far more disturbing and alien than the question of free speech per se.

So much of it seems in effect to be about righteousness, the extirpation of sin, the performance of virtue, the adequacy of contrition, competition for purity, etc.

Two strange straws in the wind: a) before he resigned, protesters were demanding a handwritten apology from the President of Missouri for his inaction on the issues that bothered them and b) the banner carried at Yale which focused on the statement “We Are Loved.”

32

Dean C. Rowan 11.11.15 at 7:09 pm

Garrulous @32: Can we blame R.E.M. for this?

33

Mathmos 11.11.15 at 7:11 pm

The concern trolling double standards will never stop, because they constitute a very cheap and easy rhetorical trick against any political opponent, and have been used for literal millenia.

Apparently 2015 CE still offer shelter to political blog commenters who can be made to fall over themselves trying to soothe the concern of their enemies.

34

Garrulous 11.11.15 at 7:22 pm

DCR@33: Yes.

35

AcademicLurker 11.11.15 at 7:28 pm

Garrulous@32: TF79 – less about political correctness than the rise of a quasi-religious style of politics among the protesters. It is that that I find far more disturbing and alien than the question of free speech per se.

So much of it seems in effect to be about righteousness, the extirpation of sin, the performance of virtue, the adequacy of contrition, competition for purity, etc.

I suspect much of this is driven by social media. Since people are “visible” all the time, they’re constantly performing their political virtue for whatever their imagined audience is. This leads to annoying behaviors like nonstop signalling that you’re among the saved have the correct opinions, rushing to make sure you join whatever the latest pile-on is even if you have no idea what it’s about (can’t be seen displaying insufficient zeal, after all), the weird obsession with going over apologies with a fine toothed comb in order to find some reason to declare them inadequate in some way & etc.

Not exactly the new NKVD coming to murder us all in our beds, but annoying and worth criticizing when people get carried away. There would be less call for criticism if it were confined to overzealous 18 year olds, but it’s not.

36

AcademicLurker 11.11.15 at 7:29 pm

Hmm…not sure why the italics closed too soon.

37

Bruce Wilder 11.11.15 at 7:47 pm

RG @ 30: Surely the right answer is: the US used to be run by murderous thugs.

“used to be” ???!

38

Heliopause 11.11.15 at 7:49 pm

It would be interesting to know why Chait feels that, for instance, accusations from Clinton supporters that Sanders supporters are sexist are not a dangerous enforcement of a PC code (they merely demonstrate a low “evidentiary standard”). Just one example out of countless that I could have cited from center-left discourse.

I’m not sure what they’re teaching the kids these days in college, but I really wish they’d force an introductory cultural anthropology course down everybody’s throats. If you were awake during the first five minutes of that class you’d learn that all in-groups enforce norms of “PC” discourse, including Chait’s drinking buddies, and maybe we’d be spared these repeated imprecations.

39

JK 11.11.15 at 7:57 pm

I agree that the Chait article in numag was pretty rubbish. But I find the OP here and the response pretty disappointing. I think that there is something important happening. By choosing to respond to Chait, Crooked Timber is turning away from trying to get to grips with important arguments.

(Incidentally, I see that the Crooked Timber post on the Laura Kipnis case was also cast as a response to a rather poor conservative lament rather than a substantive engagement with the issue.)

Chait frames the problem as about Marxists(!) and mob rule. He says the problem is an ideology which ‘prioritizes class justice over individual rights’. In my view, this is wrong. There is a problem with a society which increasingly prioritises protection of the vulnerable over free expression of ideas. There are various problems here. Not the least of which is that it actually constructs people – especially young people – as vulnerable.

I would be interested to see the Crooked Timber response to pieces in the New Atlantic by Conor Friedersdorf (The New Intolerance of Student Activism) and by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt (The Coddling of the American Mind).

As Friedersdorf put it:

‘One feels for these students. But if an email about Halloween costumes has them skipping class and suffering breakdowns, either they need help from mental-health professionals or they’ve been grievously ill-served by debilitating ideological notions they’ve acquired about what ought to cause them pain.’

Myself, I think this deserves more scrutiny. Those commentators who claim not to see anything unusual or different in the rise of safe spaces, trigger warnings or twitter storms over ettiquette – I think they are closing their eyes.

40

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 7:59 pm

“the US used to be run by murderous thugs”

used to be…
used to be…

Nevermind the murderous thugs. Here’s the PC police.

41

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 8:21 pm

“Those commentators who claim not to see anything unusual or different in the rise of safe spaces, trigger warnings or twitter storms over ettiquette – I think they are closing their eyes.”

Once more with feeling: Nevermind the murderous thugs. Here’s the PC police. I NEVER SEIZED TO BE AMAZED that not a single hand-wringer about PC has responded to my citation of articles by Martin Jay and Lewis Lapham about the manufacturing of outrage about PC. Actually, I am not at all amazed, amused, alarmed or even surprised. Handwringing about PC is, of course, a particularly noxious strain of… PC: my-PC-is-correcter-than-your-PC PC.

Which suggests a name for these faux centrist civility kibitzers: The Correcter Set. The correcter set is shocked and appalled by post-teens whining about trigger warnings but unmoved by the deluge of copiously funded right-wing ranting about the Satanic PC conspiracy.

42

The Temporary Name 11.11.15 at 8:28 pm

There is a problem with a society which increasingly prioritises protection of the vulnerable over free expression of ideas.

I’ll be darned.

43

Dean C. Rowan 11.11.15 at 8:38 pm

[Being Twitter-account-less, I hope I’m doing this right:] https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/664514023082336256

44

LFC 11.11.15 at 8:38 pm

For some reason NYMag does not let me copy and paste text from the Chait piece (at least not w/ my usual browser), but I want to comment on one specific place in the piece where Chait quotes the Yale student saying (shouting, actually) “It’s not about creating an intellectual space.” The context of that, as anyone who has watched the brief youtube clip knows, is that the student is berating Christakis for what she sees as his misguided idea of his job: The full context is therefore (italicized words added): “[It’s not your job as college master] to create an intellectual space” — rather, she goes on to say (and I’m paraphrasing) it’s to create a space or zone of ‘comfort’, a home-like space (or words to that effect).

Now, I happen to think that student is wrong — the job of a ‘college’ (Yale’s word for a dorm-like place) master is or should be to create, among other things, a space for intellectual exchange — but the fact remains that Chait is quoting her out of context and he’s making it seem like she’s opposing all ‘intellectual spaces’, which she isn’t. She’s talking specifically about the residential college (i.e., the dorm, the house, whatever you call it).

This might seem like a minor issue, but Chait is a fairly well-known journalist, someone who is making a living by his writing, and he shouldn’t be quoting people in a misleading way.

45

bob mcmanus 11.11.15 at 8:46 pm

No, making fun of Chait is not useful.

Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision, expanded 2004, Ch 17. Wanted to quote more, especially on localism

The centrifugals and their ideologies reflect heightened self-consciousness and sensibilities that turn upside down most traditional and some modern democratic conceptions of the political. While they may enter into alliances with other centrifugals, the broader values of equality and commonality tend to be, at best, a tactical convenience (“rainbow coalition”). The challenge of attracting like-
minded individuals, and thereby differentiating the group from others, takes
precedence over what is general amidst diversities.

Centrifugalism might signify the end of unequivocal conceptions of citizen-
ship—“we are members with common obligations because we live or were born
here”—and their dilution by conceptions based on “dismembership:” member-
ship comes down to choosing the group(s) with which one wants to become as-
sociated (re-member) and signifying the group(s) from which one dissociates,
dismembers. It implies that citizenship, as the core notion of democratic mem-
bership, is a residual category useful for the rights and protections it affords, a
sometime role with reservations attached rather than a positive, unifying force
enabling society to cohere despite differences and to cope with problems that ex-
ceed the capabilities of any discrete group or alliance of groups.

Identity Politics and The Erasure of Class Paul Campos at LGM, today. The comments are very much worth reading, it appears that even mentioning that an African-American is rich is irredeemably racist. Campos may not survive this.

“I already feel like campus is an unlivable space,” said Butler, who is African American. “So it’s worth sacrificing something of this grave amount, because I’m already not wanted here. I’m already not treated like I’m a human.”

[Butler] is a member of a prominent Omaha family. The newspaper says that Butler’s father is Eric L. Butler, executive vice president for sales and marketing for the Union Pacific Railroad. His 2014 compensation was $8.4 million, according to regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

46

Bruce Wilder 11.11.15 at 8:52 pm

Sandwichman @ 42

I wonder at the jejune “opinions” of Chait being called, a body of “work”.

I wonder, too, about how FIRE (aka theFIRE.org) got to be such a well-funded organization, and who funds it and why. (For those, who do not obsessively follow the links, FIRE is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The organization feeds and feeds on these controversies. It may well have played a role as agent provocateur in the Yale Silliman case.)

47

A H 11.11.15 at 8:53 pm

It’s interesting that a significant section of “the left” thinks that identity politics is just a new growth of liberalism. Adolf Reed probably being the most prominent example. So in that view Chait vs. PC is just a fight of different views of individualism. A fight between an individual’s right of expression and an individuals right of respect for identity. The Marxist would point out that neither question the right of individuals to own property.

48

Bruce Wilder 11.11.15 at 8:58 pm

bob mcmanus @ 46

Thanks for that.

49

LFC 11.11.15 at 8:58 pm

@bob mcmanus

Does Campos come in at some point in the thread and clarify his point?

Because the first 15 or 20 comments suggest that there is actually considerable confusion about what the f*ck he was trying to say — the only real hint is the “erasure of class” in the title of the post.

But you know, Campos didn’t actually write a post. He just selected some quotes and submitted them without further comment. So if he gets sh*t in the comments section, it’s partly his own fault.

50

Bruce Wilder 11.11.15 at 9:09 pm

LFC @ 50

I wouldn’t want to write a post on this topic either. I am not sure I want to write a comment. It is a toxic controversy, in which power is being aggressively claimed by means of determined and wilful misunderstanding, the motivations of which are deeply obscured.

51

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 9:26 pm

LFC @45: “Chait is a fairly well-known journalist, someone who is making a living by his writing, and he shouldn’t be quoting people in a misleading way.”

52

christian_h 11.11.15 at 9:38 pm

I’m not a fan of the rhetoric of “safe spaces”, “triggers” and other such attempts to transform political disagreement into a health issue. And yet it should be noted that those going on most forcefully about how college as they remember it is being destroyed by evil PC and coddled children are themselves demanding what amounts to a safe space. After all they are not in fact opposed to coddling students – if they were they’d demand that residential colleges be abolished, and that private elite education be shut down. What upsets them is that the safe space for elite reproduction that their Yale or Harvard was is being disrupted.

53

PatrickinIowa 11.11.15 at 9:42 pm

In other news, they just arrested the conservative dude who exercised his right of free speech by threatening to shoot every black person he saw on the Missouri campus.

I’ve lived and worked on college campuses for going on forty-five years. In my experience, the only thing university administrations hate worse than racist and sexist speech is people objecting to racist and sexist speech.

The anti-pc campaign is a coordinated campaign ginned up to distract us from what the UNC system is doing to programs that pay attention to poverty, what Scott Walker is doing to the Wisconsin system and on and on and on.

When Chait and other liberals get as exercised by Iowa political regents intimidating a professor as they do a crowd of loud undergrads demanding to be treated with respect, I’ll pay attention. Until then, screw ’em and their delicate fee-fees. (http://www.bleedingheartland.com/2013/02/19/bruce-rastetter-tried-to-educate-distinguished-iowa-professor/)

54

TM 11.11.15 at 9:44 pm

The American Right freaks out because Starbucks has chosen to issue red cups without raindeers and snowmen, and CT debates Jonathan Chait’s paranoia about campus PC for the umpteenth time. Must be the season.

55

Harald K 11.11.15 at 9:49 pm

Not surprised to see that most of you agree there’s nothing to see here, and anyway look at the much worse problems over there.

But it could be worse. I mean, that you basically deny the existence of the illiberal left, at least you implicitly agree that it would be a bad thing if they really were like that. At least you haven’t joined them in calling for the Christakises’ heads.

Lemmy thinks the attitudes of the illiberal left go hand in hand with “single payer healthcare, 15$ minimum wage, a rollback of the prison state and improved welfare protections”. Which of those was it Hillary Clinton is in favor of again?

Wilder gets conspiratorial about who’s funding FIRE. As long as we are conspiratorial (and why not?), I can think of many shady and powerful groups who benefits both from a schism on the left, and on the young left developing an attitude to identity that resembles European nativists most of all.

56

Dean C. Rowan 11.11.15 at 9:50 pm

“In my experience, the only thing university administrations hate worse than racist and sexist speech is people objecting to racist and sexist speech.”

Goddamn, that rings so true. It really is worth keeping in mind that, however immature some students might be and however lame-brained their tactics, the climate on a campus is largely determined by the honchos. If times have changed, it’s due in part to their increasing cynicism and tone-deafness.

57

TM 11.11.15 at 10:07 pm

56: “you basically deny the existence of the illiberal left, at least you implicitly agree that it would be a bad thing if they really were like that.”

You mean, if they were really acting like Stalinist henchmen? If we agreed that that would be a bad thing, would you then go away?

58

TM 11.11.15 at 10:10 pm

Donald Trump: “I have one of the most successful Starbucks, in Trump Tower. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don’t know. Seriously, I don’t care. By the way, that’s the end of that lease, but who cares?” Trump said during a campaign event in Illinois on Monday. “If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you.”

We can laugh that off, can’t we. But don’t you ever dare doubt the Stalinist potential of campus PC.

59

christian_h 11.11.15 at 10:11 pm

No, TM. Harald wants us to admit that they are already acting like Stalinist henchmen.

60

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 10:21 pm

Harald K. @56 “Not surprised to see that most of you agree there’s nothing to see here, and anyway look at the much worse problems over there.”

Ya-Ya-Ya, Nevermind the murderous thugs. Here’s the PC police. Again.

My dear Harald-tribune, is it nothing to you that the over there you so disdain just happens to be our old friend, that pay-no-attention-to-that-man behind the curtain humbug, pulling the levers?

No. Apparently not. The Great Oz Has Spoken.

61

Garrulous 11.11.15 at 10:26 pm

Maybe skepticism and differentiation could be deployed in more than one location at once.

It should be possible to both recognize and despise Trumpism, say, in all its stupidity and brutality, AND to look closely and questioningly at the new social movements: for example their dubious fondness for authority, their neo-essentialism, etc.

And to ask to what degree those movements and political styles fit quite neatly with aspects of neo-liberalism, e.g.:
https://www.teachforamerica.org/person/deray-mckesson

62

JK 11.11.15 at 10:28 pm

Sandwichman, 42 says:

“not a single hand-wringer about PC has responded to my citation of articles by Martin Jay and Lewis Lapham about the manufacturing of outrage about PC.”

It could be a distraction, but since you seem to care about it, I will give you my take – or at least an indication of it rather than a comprehensive review of those pieces.

It is true, as Lapham says (in 2004), that there was an attempt on the right in the 1980s and 1990s at moral re-armament. However, the attempt failed. Without going in to the history of it, I will give the example of gay liberation. Thatcher declared in favour of Victorian values. With the arrival of AIDS, the right tried to brand it as a ‘gay plague’. In the UK police chief Jame Anderton said those with AIDS were “swirling in a cesspit of their own making”. Yet within a few years Tory cabinet meetings were discussing the details of gay sex – with the goal of rolling out educational programmes across the country. The result was in some ways the opposite of what they intended.

I happen to agree with Katie Rophie’s analysis that the result was replacement of the Victorian equation of sex with death by a novel – dare I say PC – morality that demanded an ettiquette of ‘safe’ sex. If you want to disagree with Roiphe’s analysis – fine. But I find it hard to credit that she was just a propaganda tool of Richard Mellon Scaife. In it’s own terms the conservative project failed. (See also the role of Walter Sobchak in the fine movie you referenced above.)

To take an example specifically from the Lapham piece, the Starr report is another example of backfire. This started as an attempt at conservative moral re-armament but ended by turning state institutions in to the biggest publishers of pronography in history.

The Martin Jay article deals with a ‘theory’ that is product of the same period. In my view the bizarre ‘cultural marxism’ theory is less an attempt attempt at a right wing moral offensive as an expression of confusion. Having defined itself against ‘Communism’ during the Cold War, the Frankfurt school conspiracy strikes me as a desperate hope that the old enemy is still there. As it happens I agree with Jay when in assessing it’s broader significance: ‘The answer should not be to replace one scapegoat with another and trace all critiques of political correctness and the anxieties of those who level them back to the machinations of an extremist cult.’

That is, I think Jay agrees with me against Sandwichman that the details on which he is reporting are of marginal relevance to wider sociological trends that are relevant to the sociology of vulnerability.

In my view the key development showing that the right is part of the trend toward vulnerability was the response to 11 September 2001. The attempt by the Bush administration and hangers on to use the war on terror as an opportunity for moral re-armament and the superiority of Western Civilisation rapidly collapsed in to an argument about risk and vulnerability. This was really the only way in which the case for the war on terror was able to connect with wider society.

Substantively, I mostly see ‘PC’ trends as a result of the left giving up on more ambitious goals of social transformation. I see conservatives promoting their own version of PC as more of a problem than conservative complaints about PC. At this point complaints about ‘The War on Christmas’ seem to me to be more about Christianity as a form of identity and lifestyle politics than an assertion of religious truth. I understand that many people disagree, and that this is an argument that has been going on amongst people who see themselves as progressive at least since the 1960s. If you are a believer in the politics of recognition I am happy to argue with you. But please understand that not all your opponents are conservative dupes – some of us are against ‘safe spaces’ precisely because we really did read our Lukacs!

63

Ronan(rf) 11.11.15 at 10:43 pm

Timothy Burke’s implication is correct IMO, they are nationalists. Strong in group attachments, loudly expressed dissaproval of anyone who goes against the tribes myths and norms, virulent hatred for outsiders, worship of dead ancestors and traditions. I dont see it as a left right issue. At least theoretically liberalism should be more self critical than this. It’s a takeover by a nationalist elite.
Do I fear them? Not really, but (as would often be acknowledged on the left) privileged groups like this who are ensconced in powerful institutions and social networks will set the norms and rules of the future, and (as would often be acknowledged on the left) small committed groups can exert serious social control from the bottom up.
Colleges are playing the parts that the old national schools (or Madrasah) played. Teaching students in the rituals and obligations of the tribe. Teaching them to avenge their dead ancestors and drive out the heretics. It’s as old as dirt. I have little doubt that we’re living through the end of the old halcyon days of freewheeling hat tipping and contretemps a la jovial.
Millennialism comes to the millennials.

64

Bloix 11.11.15 at 10:58 pm

#50, #51 – I read Campos is pretty clear. He is expressing skepticism at the claim of a scion of a multi-millionaire that “I’m already not treated like I’m a human.” He assumes that Butler to the contrary receives preferential treatment due to the wealth of his family. I think Campos imagines that Butler vacations in Davos and Fiji, that he travels in private jets, that he and his family are invited into the finest homes and clubs where they are entertained by pop stars and are given exaggerated deference from political and social leaders.

I think Campos is wrong – at the very least, imprudent – to express his skepticism in such an elliptical way without knowing more. There are rich kids who don’t act like rich kids. We don’t know if Butler has received any special treatment due to his family’s wealth. We don’t know how Butler lives, or how his family lives. I don’t, anyway. Butler hasn’t given examples that I can find online of him personally being subjected to racism, much less racism pervasive and serious enough to characterize it as not being treated “like a human,” but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

65

Quite Likely 11.11.15 at 10:58 pm

I finished undergrad in 2012 and never encountered any of these supposed threats to campus free speech from leftist radicals. In fact, I don’t think I’d even ever heard of such a thing. I’ll be heading back for grad school next year, I’ll have to be on the lookout.

66

bob mcmanus 11.11.15 at 10:59 pm

64: I won’t go back to the very good Burke, but maybe “like nationalists” but not really nationalists. Nationalism was a product of its times and territories and technologies, and whatever is going on now, almost identical on “right” and “left,” is the product/symptom of our very different own times. Mass mobilization is not on the table anymore.

Jodi Dean’s “circulation of commodified affect” is a start for me.

67

The Temporary Name 11.11.15 at 11:08 pm

We don’t know how Butler lives, or how his family lives. I don’t, anyway.

There’s a very useful comment here: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2015/11/identity-politics-and-the-erasure-of-class-from-american-political-discourse/comment-page-1#comment-1734952

68

Roger Gathman 11.11.15 at 11:08 pm

bruce at @38, I’m using that thrre quasi-indirect discourse to follow Chait’s logic.
On with the show, though: I find it very funny that the reason that the U.Miss pres had to resign his multi-hundred thousand dollar salaried post was cause it was threatening the football. No wonder Kaus as Chait is in a sweat- imagine the sinister synergy of student activists and jocks! Otherwise, though, the idea that Stalinism will inevitably result if we don’t let our boys dress as Asian nerds for Halloween or put swastikas up made of feces (for which, as many conservatives have noted, there is no photographic evidence! Because the one thing janitors always do when cleaning up feces in the dorm room is come out with the digital cameras and flash away) is probably untrue. I would bet money that in twenty years, white rich boys will still be blackfacing or asianfacing and the Delta sigma phi of UMiss will still be putting up swastikas or confederate flags. Why, I want to know, doesn’t Kaus-Chait have the courage to defend our fine Oklahoma boys who were chanting traditional songs of the south and hosting jungle parties, as per this stalinist article? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/03/09/oklahoma-frats-racist-chant-highlights-the-exclusionary-roots-of-greek-life/ Sadly, maybe p.c. rules have held even his heroic tongue.
Of course, I don’t remember college as a free speech zone back in the day. In the 80s, UT at Austin actually micromanaged our constitutional rights and established a small area of the campus where speech would be free – other areas, no. Granted, Texas at that time was ruled by Beria, but still. The late Chait himself went to the University of Michigan in 1991, and somehow, I have a feeling they had a code of speech at that university in 1991, like they have had, forever, at all American universities that I know of. Of course, this was when the US was ruled by a Stalinist clique. I think Reagan, however, threw off this clique and ate them. Which is why we are so free and a beacon of freedom now!

69

bob mcmanus 11.11.15 at 11:11 pm

…much less racism pervasive and serious enough to characterize it as not being treated “like a human,” but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

Well, what matters is what Butler feels isn’t it, and who can argue with his feelings?

“No, absolutely definitively, I would never say that my feelings of oppression and dehumanization at only getting paid $5 million when my male costars were getting $8 million in any compare or are more important than a victim of human trafficking, some poor 14-yr-old girl sold into sexual slavery dying before she’s 21. I have so much compassion for them, and am donating $5k. It is horrible of you to bring that up, whaddabouter brosocialist.

Now can we get back to talking about my feelings and experience of oppression, even from the left who pretend to be feminists? Hah.”

70

Garrulous 11.11.15 at 11:18 pm

In the 80s, UT at Austin actually micromanaged our constitutional rights and established a small area of the campus where speech would be free – other areas, no.

They have that in state parks in California, it is deeply weird, little tiny “free speech boxes” painted on the ground, like reservations.

71

JK 11.11.15 at 11:26 pm

Roger Gathman at 69 asks ‘Why, I want to know, doesn’t Kaus-Chait have the courage to defend our fine Oklahoma boys who were chanting traditional songs of the south and hosting jungle parties’?

I will defend 100% their right to chant. If Chait won’t, then it is because he is not a consistent defender of free speech.

I’m with Aryeh Neier, refugee from the Nazis and director of the ACLU during the battle over the right of the Nazis to march through Skokie, Illinois: ‘Nazis must be free to speak because Jews must be free to speak and because I must be free to speak’.

If Chait won’t defend free speech then do you agree with Chait or with me?

72

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 11:27 pm

JK @63

Please don’t confuse me with those whom I would label as “intersectarians.” Although I’ve got nothing against consideration towards people’s sensitivities, I wouldn’t call it an urgent political priority — let alone the political trump of trumps. (if you will pardon the pun)

I think the obsessive concern with trigger warnings, safe spaces and such is indeed a problem. I would rate its importance right up there with the marketing of gluten-free products. It speaks to how eager people are to be distracted by the trivial.

On the other hand, the magnification of the PC threat by the right, echoed by “liberal” ass-hats like Chait is a problem that I would put up there with climate change denial — mainly because it is funded and articulated by the same folks. It’s a package deal. Climate science is “politically correct”; just another facet of the socialist scheme to undermine the American way of life and free enterprise.

So, on the one hand we have a problem as profound as the hyping of gluten-freedom; on the other a problem as trivial as climate science denial. I know where I would put my priorities. Do you?

73

cassander 11.11.15 at 11:31 pm

@Roger Gathman

>But it does beg the question, why would a beacon of light and liberty, like the anti-Marxist U.S., sponsor slavery for some 70 years and apartheid for one hundred further years, and create, at University of Missouri, a white only eduction which refused to graduate a single black student until 1950? Is it cause the US was run by murderous thugs?

rarely have I seen a less begged question, but I’ll answer. For one, in 1775, every state in human history had sponsored slavery, and in 1860, most still did. The US was indeed run largely by slavers, but that did not make it exceptional. what made it exceptional was the number of people in it who were opposed to slaving. That you think the US’ slightly slower abandonment of barbaric principles compares to the unprecedented barbarism of the multiple communist genocides and mass slaughters says far more about your penchant for special pleading than your “begged” question says about chait.

74

bob mcmanus 11.11.15 at 11:42 pm

Oh, I’ll leave with this, getting back to Harootunian on Gransci and the Southern Question, which is relevant, though not to Chait:

Jonathan Haidt excerpted a while back, well Sept 07, to a 2014 Paper by Campbell and Manning about a new Moral Culture of Victimhood

“Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim. “

Nowadays, it is almost immoral to not be a victim. I guess if you aren’t a victim, probably means you are a privileged oppressor. Quite a competitive environment, but y’all have permission to group commiserate about me as a troll.

75

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 11:42 pm

cassander@74

bullshit

76

Anarcissie 11.11.15 at 11:44 pm

LFC 11.11.15 at 8:58 pm @ 50:
‘…. Because the first 15 or 20 comments suggest that there is actually considerable confusion about what the f*ck he was trying to say — the only real hint is the “erasure of class” in the title of the post.
But you know, Campos didn’t actually write a post. He just selected some quotes and submitted them without further comment. So if he gets sh*t in the comments section, it’s partly his own fault.’

It looks to me like a provocation of the sort where anyone who answers it has to give an interpretation of it first, and thus becomes responsible for that as well as the answer. The clever practitioner can then sometimes hang the answerers from their answers, or just let them hang themselves.

77

Roger Gathman 11.11.15 at 11:44 pm

74, no. If the American slavers had been defeated good and properly in 1783, then slavery would have ended, as it did in Jamaica and other parts of the British empire, in 1833. The slaves in the US were a much higher percentage of the population than the population of the gulag even in 1937. So, you are wrong about this begged question. However, don’t thank me – I put enlightenment like this out there for free!

78

Roger Gathman 11.11.15 at 11:47 pm

Jk – are you defending their right to speech vis a vis not being put in prison, or their right to speech in all institutions? Because I can easily imagine loudly saying my boss is a shithead as I sit at my desk in x corporation and getting fired for it. In fact, Anne Coulter, bless her soul, was fired from National Review after 9/11 for saying un p.c. things. So if your point is that at no point in any institution should any person ever receive injurious consequences for exercising the right to speech, I’d oppose you. If your point is that they should not go to jail, I’m for you.

79

Sandwichman 11.11.15 at 11:54 pm

Roger @78 you are too kind to @74.

By cassander logic, we should perhaps view the Nazis as exceptionally humane in that they abandoned their barbaric practices after a mere 12-year trial period!

80

LFC 11.12.15 at 12:00 am

The Temp. Name @68: Thank you for pointing to that comment at LGM, which was informative. I think Bloix @ 65 is pretty much right, and since I know almost nothing about Butler or his family, except their income, am not inclined to jump to conclusions from that.

81

Chip Daniels 11.12.15 at 12:02 am

I haven’t been on a college campus since 1989, and can testify that what I am reading about is very, very familiar.
I remember the very same sort of blend of adolescent drama, mingled with sincere concern, applied over similar real world injustices such as aparthied, that caused the same sort of eye rolling and concern trolling by those outside the university.

Yes, young people do stupid stuff, often in pursuit of stupid goals, but often in pursuit of very real and urgent social problems.

I think its odd that when young zealous military recruits drunkenly make nativist slurs, or get out of control while stationed overseas, we toss it off as youth, but never use it as a cudgel against patriotism.
When earnest young missionaries become boorish about their faith, we don’t see handwringing articles about the looming Christian totalitarians.
When frat boys make racist slurs or drunkenly grope women, we assume it is an aberration of the Greek system, something rare and out of character.

Its only when zealous young people make pratfalls on the left, that people like Chait suddenly clutch their pearls.

82

Roger Gathman 11.12.15 at 12:10 am

sandwhichman, not to mention the fact that, by cassander’s logic, Nazi germany, in which some risked all by opposing naziism, should therefore be praised as the place where anti-nazis risked more than they did anywhere else. That individuals in the US during the first 73 years of its existence opposed slavery had a lot to do with the fact that half of the US consisted of slave states. So, it makes no sense. Not to speak of the eviction of Indian nations from their territories, or the seizure of Mexican territories at the point of a gun, etc. The first thing freedom loving Americans did when they poured into Texas, when it was still a Mexican state, was to complain of the tyranny of the Mexican government – which wouldn’t allow them to keep slaves! I think this kind of logic is ur-American, and perhaps ineradicable.

83

Jonathan Mayhew 11.12.15 at 12:26 am

Most of the time when frat boys do that, people see that as typical, not aberrational–at least in the circles I travel in.

84

Sandwichman 11.12.15 at 12:44 am

Roger @83,

In all honesty, though, the phrase “by cassander’s logic” is an unreasonable stretch. I must revert to my verdict @76. By cassander’s bullshit, one may assert whatever it is convenient to assert.

Such bullshit is neither amazing nor amusing but it never ceases.

85

cassander 11.12.15 at 1:11 am

@Roger Gathman

>74, no. If the American slavers had been defeated good and properly in 1783, then slavery would have ended, as it did in Jamaica and other parts of the British empire, in 1833. The slaves in the US were a much higher percentage of the population than the population of the gulag even in 1937. So, you are wrong about this begged question. However, don’t thank me – I put enlightenment like this out there for free!

Defeated by whom? in 1783, no national government had ever banned slavery. if the worst you have for the US is that it wasn’t 50 years ahead of the most progressive government on earth on this subject, that’s pretty faint condemnation.

> Nazi germany, in which some risked all by opposing naziism, should therefore be praised as the place where anti-nazis risked more than they did anywhere else.

the people who were anti-nazi in germany should certainly be praised more than anti-nazis elsewhere, inso far as they took a greater risk by doing so.

>That individuals in the US during the first 73 years of its existence opposed slavery had a lot to do with the fact that half of the US consisted of slave states.

again, in 1775, they were ALL slave states, as was every other state both in the world, and in all of history. I have no idea how you think that half the country banning slavery somehow proves that they were especially wicked slavers.

>Not to speak of the eviction of Indian nations from their territories, or the seizure of Mexican territories at the point of a gun, etc

you’ll have to point out where I said that was a good thing, because I don’t remember saying it. That, or stop thinking you’re clever for beating up strawmen.

@Sandwichman 1

By cassander logic, we should perhaps view the Nazis as exceptionally humane in that they abandoned their barbaric practices after a mere 12-year trial period!

except for the fact that the Nazis were more barbaric than their neighbors, not less, that they didn’t abandon their practices, they were militarily defeated, put on trial, and shot. So other than being completely inaccurate, sure!

86

Sandwichman 11.12.15 at 1:22 am

cassander @86,

You are right. There is no way that one could reasonably attribute a “logic” to your earlier claims. I corrected myself @85.

87

JK 11.12.15 at 1:44 am

Sandwichman at 73 asks me:

“So, on the one hand we have a problem as profound as the hyping of gluten-freedom; on the other a problem as trivial as climate science denial. I know where I would put my priorities. Do you?”

My assessment is that freedom of speech has to be one of the most questions today. Without it

Roger Gathman at 79 asks we with respect to the racist chanters and / or Nazis:

“are you defending their right to speech vis a vis not being put in prison, or their right to speech in all institutions?”

I would be extremely reluctant to silence them with institutional power. You try to get me to take the side of the bosses against the workers with the example of Ann Coulter. But if you ask me when employees should be sacked for speech acts, I say never so long as they are able to do their job.

That doesn’t mean I think that racists should suffer no consequences. Of course things very much depend on the specifics, but with the chanters I would suggest starting debates. With Nazis I would help organise counter demonstrations – and if they had any significant support it would be absolutely essential to challenge their ideas, too.

I think there is an important line between speech and assault. For sure institutional power and the law should be used against assault or incidents such as the fecal swastickas. We could debate where the line is – for me that would be examples such as cross burning on someone’s lawn.

I suspect in the end this is really where the essence of a lot of disagreement is. If words are taken to be a form of assault on the same level as physical violence, then I understand people will support regulation of speech on the same basis that they want to regulate violence.

But let’s look at the Yale case, which I think is a good reminder of what we are talking about.

This is from Erika Christakis’ email:

“I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity—in your capacity ­ to exercise self­censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?”

It’s important to remember what sparked the protest and calls for resignation here. It was absolutely not whether unacceptable behaviour should be consequence free. Christakis’ question was NOT about whether norms should be enforced. Her question, tentatively raised, was whether students were capable of enforcing such norms (in relation to Halloween costumes) through self regulation.

I don’t think that students, or anyone else, should be OK with losing that capacity and giving it up to institutional authority.

88

Sandwichman 11.12.15 at 1:59 am

Trigger, trigger burning bright…

Look, what it comes down to is this. Some folks are saying: “I am not racist and I resent being perceived as racist simply because I said something that sounds racist to the ‘political correctness police’.”

That’s their trigger only they don’t want to use that word. They call it “free speech.” Someone who perceives them as racist because of something they said denies them their free speech rights. “Oh, my rights! Oh, my pearls!”

The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” It doesn’t say I can’t tell you to shut your stinking pie-hole, you fascist, racist, sexist pig. It doesn’t even say that the University of California can’t tell you to shut your pie-hole.

Who is to say if, cassander, for example, is more or less racist in his heart than, say, Sandwichman? God only knows.

The other day I got called a Georgist cultist because I posted on my blog a long passage written by a follower of Henry George. I suppose that abridged my freedom of speech. I can’t go around saying whatever I want without somebody thinking I mean something by it other than what I do mean.

Crybabies. That’s what these victims of the PC police are. Watch Ben Carson whine about how the climate scientists and the atheists and the Alinskyites and the journalists conspire to silence the poor little fella. Not a single word that Jonathan Chait writes ever makes it past the vast Stalinist censorship apparatus. We only know about his opinions because he taps them out on his cell wall in Morse code. These pathetic censored dickheads are the ones who show up on Meet the Press every Sunday.

Somebody ought to clutch Chait’s pearls alright. Hard.

89

Sandwichman 11.12.15 at 2:17 am

JK @88 “My assessment is that freedom of speech has to be one of the most questions today. Without it”

I guess you meant to say “important”. Perhaps you intended “controversial,” “misunderstood,” “misrepresented,” “over dramatized.” “abused”…

When I was a lad there was no fucking freedom of speech. Sorry, but there wasn’t. You were not allowed to peacefully speak, leaflet or table against military recruitment on campus. UC. Berkeley. Look it up, folks.

Where were all these stout conservative defenders against political correctness in those days? Wanna bet they would be first in line to go down and join the students? More like writing editorial diatribes against the filthy radical scum.

90

prasad 11.12.15 at 2:27 am

Yesterday, Yale held a debate on Affirmative Action, where Amy Wax presented her arguments.

The linked article as a whole is worth reading for its tone, but here’s the precis – the more tough minded Yale students on the left said this scheduled debate should have been postponed out of “sensitivity to students who felt shaken by the past week’s protests and discussions about race.” The more tender-hearted, well, “several students cried” during Wax’s speech.

Cried, because someone presented arguments against AA during a debate about it.

When I read that, I don’t think about free speech, or epistemic closure or intellectual diversity on political topics, important as those issues are. I don’t think about ideologues who’ll brook no dissent or even “stupid college students, ’twas ever thus.” One may make these sort of point about the various PC movements of the left and of the right.

Weeping because someone someone disagrees with you about AA isn’t PC. Those students merit psychiatric assessment, not political critique. As Conor Friedersdorf says, they have been brought to the practical equivalent of mental illness by “debilitating ideological notions they’ve acquired about what ought to cause them pain.”

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Roger Gathman 11.12.15 at 2:37 am

Jk, I’m not trying to get you to take the bosses side against Ann Coulter – I remember this incident because, as I wrote on my blog, ironically (given her anti-union positions), she was not protected by any union. I don’t have a hard and fast rule about where institutions can clamp down on speech myself, but I don’t think the Oklahoma case is problematical. I’m not sure what counts as assault, but I think Oklahoma, given its past history of discrimination, has every reason to enforce rules to make black students comfortable, for the same reason that the allied occupiers banned Mein kampf in Germany after the war. Absolutism about speech always seems to me self contradictory. If I fire x who has given me bad advice I have acted upon, I am not violating his freedom of speech – although from an absolute perspective, of course I am. From the absolute perspective, no institution would have the right to discipline some male who made loud comments about the physical attributes of female workers. I don’t even see, from an absolute viewpoint, how an institution could respond in any way. To label the speech an assault in this case and not in others seems to me to weasel out of the libertarian dilemma. Myself, I am also a weaseler. I’d punish the guy who kept calling his boss or manager a shithead, but the guy trying to unionize the joint, in my opinion, should enjoy full rights to do so.

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Watson Ladd 11.12.15 at 2:41 am

Actually, free speech codes at public universities are unconstitutional. 18 year olds are adults, entitled to rights. The loss of this understanding is regrettable. At Universities, which are supposed to be institutions devoted to ensuring all points of view can be heard, no platforming and demanding controversial views not be expressed is becoming common.

In social life we see mobs riled up against anyone who transgresses. Make a dumb joke on Twitter, and your life will be ruined. Driving people to suicide because of their inherent fatphobia has happened. The Maoist demand of a self-criticism session is alive and well.

Instead we could defend values of liberalism and intellectualism: that we tolerate people with views different from ours, and might even learn from them. We could understand that racist insults aren’t the same as discrimination and impunity for lynching, and that students do not need colleges to protect them any more than other adults do.
Instead we could

93

LFC 11.12.15 at 2:51 am

Sandwichman 89
The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” It doesn’t say I can’t tell you to shut your stinking pie-hole, you fascist, racist, sexist pig. It doesn’t even say that the University of California can’t tell you to shut your pie-hole.

This is a side pt, but it’s well-established that the 1st amendment applies to ‘state actors’, not just to Congress. So, as a general matter and w/o getting into doctrinal specifics (which I’m not competent to do anyway), the 1st amend. does apply to U. of California b.c it’s a state university.

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Sandwichman 11.12.15 at 3:13 am

“w/o getting into doctrinal specifics…”

You know what? It’s all about the doctrinal specifics. To begin with, a university has an admissions policy that requires students to demonstrate a certain level of competence in specified subjects. You know what else? Writing the wrong answers on an exam can get you flunked out of school even if those wrong answers are in accordance with your religious beliefs. Shocking!

So with entry and exit covered the rest is noise.

“As Conor Friedersdorf says, they have been brought to the practical equivalent of mental illness by ‘debilitating ideological notions they’ve acquired about what ought to cause them pain.’”

Excuse me? Mental illness induced by “debilitating ideological notions”? Who is the Stalinist now? Sure, in everyday usage the Republicans are a bunch of crazies. But Friedersdorf seems to be implying a clinical diagnosis based on what diagnostic manual? Does not fly. I’ve had several students cry in my office because they got bad grades. They were young and vulnerable, not insane. Jeez.

95

MPAVictoria 11.12.15 at 3:31 am

“@seldo: Hell hath no fury like a bunch of white guys asked politely to make a small, cost-free change to their vocabulary.”

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Sandwichman 11.12.15 at 3:57 am

MPAVictoria,

Privilege is a two-year old.

97

MPAVictoria 11.12.15 at 4:01 am

Yep.
/Frankly I have almost given up commenting on these threads as it is always the usual suspects saying the same predictable things.
// Jon Chait is the worst example of the kind of “sensible liberal” hippy puncher so popular in today’s media. I refuse to take anything he writes seriously.

98

js. 11.12.15 at 5:09 am

This thread is strangely amazing. Or is it amusing? I’d say more but I don’t actually have an internet connection right now. Meanwhile, I’d just like to second Roger Gantham’s Chait is Kaus, literally!, thesis. Amazing.

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Garrulous 11.12.15 at 7:01 am

MPAVictoria@96: You mean like this incident, for example?
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/06/07/about-that-hate-crime-i-committed-at-university-of-chicago

I am reluctant to cite it, not only since it is a long read, but since it remains within a traditional culture wars “check your vocabulary” paradigm. And what is interesting about the current conjuncture is the ways in which it goes far beyond that. And makes the kind of statement you quoted disingenuous and smug smug smug.

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Sam Dodsworth 11.12.15 at 9:13 am

@Garrulous

I don’t want to speak for MPAVictoria but, yes, that’s a perfect example of a white guy throwing a tantrum when asked politely to make a small, cost-free change to their vocabulary.

101

kidneystones 11.12.15 at 9:57 am

101. Agreed. That’s why Germain Greer refers to trans-gendered people as ‘self-castrating males,’ not women.

Personally, I’m generally quite impressed by how smoothly the PC process generally works. The really egregious crimes, where communities of self-selecting males are allowed to systematically rape and abuse vulnerable young girls over a period of years by Labour lefties who say nothing lest they be accused of racism or Islamaphobia demand attention: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28967427 , as do the ongoing ‘honor’ killings deemed normal by large sections of certain communities. We are different, Thank God, and don’t hang gay people from cranes or stone adulterers to day (anymore!).

As for the ‘author’ Henry cites here, his grotesque attacks on common sense and any anti-war critic during the run-up to the Iraq debacle freed me from ever having to give him more than a thought.

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Sam Dodsworth 11.12.15 at 10:14 am

Also relevant: Teresa Nielsen Hayden on trolls and entitlement.

“It took me a long time to realize how threatened they feel when other people are as real and important as they are. They’ll fight like hell to avoid having to acknowledge that, and they’ll bitterly resent anyone who tries to make them see it.”

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Garrulous 11.12.15 at 10:59 am

Sam D.@101 Don’t want to sidetrack the thread, but…

I know that was a long text – I said it was – but if you really claim that then a) you simply didn’t read it and/or b) you are giving up on the difficulties of thought in favor of cueing up your own stereotypes.

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Watson Ladd 11.12.15 at 11:27 am

While we’re talking about my alma mater, we might want to also mention that an event with some of the surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonists was attacked in the school newspaper for being anti-muslim. Leaving aside the Orwellian implications of changing vocabulary as means to advance politics (thug, it appears, is now racist: one doesn’t wonder what those who think it is think about black people, as they’ve told us) this is really about being able to tolerate ideas you disagree with.

At Yale it’s the idea that colleges don’t exist to police the behavior of their students outside the classroom. At Chicago it’s the idea that one can use the words one is talking about in a discussion of hate speech, or that writing cartoons mocking religion is a perfectly fine activity. (Remember, Dan Savage doesn’t say tranny to refer to people: he was discussing the history of the term)

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Sam Dodsworth 11.12.15 at 11:43 am

@Garrulous:

I’m pretty sure I did read it and I stand by my opinion. It’s a classic example of outraged entitlement, complete with “here is my extensive progressive CV”, “why is my valuable allyship not fêted and respected”, and “the people I offended and refuse to apologise to are the real bigots”. Textbook stuff.

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kidneystones 11.12.15 at 12:00 pm

106 Agreed. All Republicans are bigots and sociopaths. They’re all the same – our moral and intellectual inferiors.

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Garrulous 11.12.15 at 2:11 pm

@106 Does all offense expressed have to be accepted as such? What if it is an unreasonable taking of offense? What if he doesn’t owe them an apology, but rather they are being obnoxious, aggressive, stupid and over-sensitive?

Or does the mere constellation – self-declared offense, man of a particular gender and color implicated – lead necessarily to your moral conclusion?

In my reading, he has nothing in particular to apologize for, in fact those who accuse him do. In other words, the pat situational stereotype presented by MPA V, and enthusiastically echoed by you, simply doesn’t apply. But wheeling out those stereotypes seems convenient and comforting to many.

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areanimator 11.12.15 at 2:27 pm

The moral panic around trigger warnings is a very good pedagogic tool: we learn from it. Trigger warnings are assumed as being about being safe or warm or cuddled. I would describe trigger warnings as a partial and necessarily inadequate measure to enable some people to stay in the room so that “difficult issues” can be discussed. The assumption that trigger warnings are themselves about safe spaces is a working assumption (by this I mean: it is achieving something). Indeed what I have said is rather misleading because the assumption that safe spaces are themselves about deflecting attention from difficult issues is another working assumption. Safe spaces are another technique for dealing with the consequences of histories that are not over (a response to a history that is not over is necessarily inadequate because that history is not over). The aim is to enable conversations about difficult issues to happen: so often those conversations do not happen because the difficulties people wish to talk about end up being re-enacted within spaces, which is how they are not talked about. For example conversations about racism are very hard to have when white people become defensive about racism: those conversations end up being about those defences rather than about racism. We have safe spaces so we can talk about racism not so we can avoid talking about racism!
Sara Ahmed – “Against Students”

In multicultural politics it is an advantage to be injured. Every injury, every act of discrimination or disrespect, every heedless, invidious, or malicious word is a kind of political entitlement, if not to reparation then at least to recognition. So one has to cultivate, as it were, a thin skin; it is important to be sensitive, irritable, touchy. But perhaps there is some deeper utility here. Thin skins are useful precisely because the cultural identities over which they are stretched don’t have any very definite or substantive character. People are right to be worried about cultural loss. And because identity is so precarious in modern or postmodern America, because we are so often so uncertain about who we are, we may well fail to register expressions of hostility, prejudice, or disfavor. Thin skin is the best protection: it provides the earliest possible signal of insults delivered and threats on the way. Like other early warning systems, of course, it also transmits false signals–and then a lot of time has to be spent in explanation and reassurance. But this too is part of the process of negotiating a difficult coexistence in a world where difference is nervously possessed and therefore often aggressively displayed.

Despite all the misunderstandings generated by the mix of nervous groups and thin-skinned individuals, there is something right about all this. Social peace should not be purchased at the price of fear, deference, passivity, and self-dislike–the feelings that standardly accompanied minority status in the past. The old left wanted to substitute anger at economic injustice for all these, but it is at least understandable that the actual substitute is the resentment of social insult. We want to be able and we ought to be able to live openly in the world, as we are, with dignity and confidence, without being demeaned or degraded in our everyday encounters. It may even be that dignity and confidence are the preconditions for the fight against injustice.
Michael Waltzer – “Multiculturalism and the Politics of Interest”, excerpt

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Sam Dodsworth 11.12.15 at 2:39 pm

@Garrilous Does all offense expressed have to be accepted as such?

No – anyone can choose to be deliberately rude or cruel if they wish. But equally, the rest of us can judge their behaviour.

What if he doesn’t owe them an apology, but rather they are being obnoxious, aggressive, stupid and over-sensitive?

“This student became so incensed by our refusal to [make a small cost-free change to our vocabulary] that this student stormed out of the seminar. In tears.” – Dan Savage

I’m just going to leave that there, to be honest.

110

casmilus 11.12.15 at 3:02 pm

The only practical solution is for all US universities to close down, and be completely destroyed, with salt sown into the earth where they stood.

111

Bloix 11.12.15 at 3:09 pm

#110- to be honest, leaving it there is not really okay. Because the next step was that Dan fucking Savage was been accused of a “hate crime.” And the people who promised to maintain confidentiality of the event breached it, making that sort of event no longer possible. The whole point of the event was that whatever was said would not leave the room, and these people just don’t give a shit about that, because their childish drama is more important.

Dan Savage has to defend himself against the charge of committing a “hate crime.” That’s something you might want to leave there. To be honest.

112

Kiwanda 11.12.15 at 3:18 pm

It may be that Chait is a centrist troll, or even hilariously killed and replaced by Mickey Kaus. It may be that somewhere, fragile male egos are being damaged by having their privilege checked, yielding delicious, contemptible male tears. It may be that PC-outrage-manufacturing is a huge industry, and FIRE, funded by the Kochs, is sending undercover agents to campuses nationwide. It may be that the U.S. is just a little less virtuous that it thinks it is.

But none of those facts, as fundamental and significant as they may be, is a justification, or excuse, or even relevant to, mobbing and threatening student journalists in a public space; threatening the person and livelihood of professors who hold classes when you don’t want them to; trashing and de-funding a student newspaper that funds an op-ed you disagree with; threatening the livelihood of a professor who is insufficiently supportive of Halloween costume regulations; spitting on free speech (with actual spit); disposing of sexual assault cases, and male students, with mockeries of due process; spitting on free speech (more figuratively) in the pages of the NYT, WaPo, and yes, The New Yorker; and censoring (sorry, “no platforming”) talks by insufficiently fashionable feminists, and others.

But yeah, Chait, what an a-hole.

113

F 11.12.15 at 3:23 pm

There is no such thing as PC. It’s an appellation applied to universal political tactics. Something only becomes PC when people want to smear leftists. Case in point:

Michelle Malkin pitches a fit when google puts up a Cesar Chavez doodle on Easter.

http://twitchy.com/2013/03/31/google-celebrates-easter-with-cesar-chavez-birthday-tribute/

The AFA and Matt Barber claim that putting rainbow stickers on Mississippi businesses amounts to Christian persecution

http://barbwire.com/2014/05/28/homofascist-bullies-launch-anti-christian-sticker-campaign-ms/

Gun rights activist successfully intimidate gun store owner to stop selling smart guns

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/02/us-usa-maryland-smartgun-idUSBREA410SD20140502

Conservatives have predictable tantrum over rainbow Doritos

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/09/want_to_know_what_gay_tastes_like_try_rainbow_doritos.html

The Game of Life shoves the homosexual agenda down conservatives throats

http://www.engadget.com/2009/03/15/conservative-christian-site-decries-game-of-lifes-gay-agenda/

Liberty University bans College Democratic club

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/22/AR2009052200793.html

If you file off the serial numbers, you would not be able to tell which side of the political spectrum these stories came from. The gun store example is particularly instructive. Can you imagine the outrage if liberal actors had done that to a gun store, or banned a College Republican Club? As to the rest, they’re basically identical to the “Microaggressions” that conservatives scoff at and use to paint liberals as thin skinned whiny babies, all of it completely ignored by the MSM. On the subject of colleges, I invite you to peruse the various codes of conduct at conservative Christian universities, which make the various “PC” incidents on liberal campuses look tame by comparison. Here’s a little teaser from Pensacola Christian College:

Dancing—The seductive nature and worldly music of most forms of dancing are contrary to biblical principles. PCC wants students to have a wholesome relationship with members of the opposite gender without the temptations that are often associated with dancing, so dancing is not permitted.

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Sam Dodsworth 11.12.15 at 3:34 pm

Bloix: to be honest, leaving it there is not really okay.

It really is, you know. But let me tie this back to the wider conversation by saying that it seems to me the basic division is that where I see “political correctness” as a matter of empathy and basic courtesy, those who sympathise with Chait generally see it as a failure of subordinates to know their place.

115

Bloix 11.12.15 at 3:44 pm

Look, we’re not going to agree. You think that it’s fine for a bunch of 18 year olds to smear a good man’s reputation in order to promote themselves, and I don’t. You think it’s okay for a bunch of children to disrupt events in order to dramatize themselves, and I don’t. We have reached a point in which everyone thinks that they are the stars of their own reality shows, and you think that’s okay, and I don’t. We don’t have a lot of common ground here.

116

MPAVictoria 11.12.15 at 3:46 pm

“You think it’s okay for a bunch of children to disrupt events in order to dramatize themselves”

Interesting use of the term “children” here….

117

MPAVictoria 11.12.15 at 3:47 pm

“ut none of those facts, as fundamental and significant as they may be, is a justification, or excuse, or even relevant to, mobbing and threatening student journalists in a public space; threatening the person and livelihood of professors who hold classes when you don’t want them to; trashing and de-funding a student newspaper that funds an op-ed you disagree with; threatening the livelihood of a professor who is insufficiently supportive of Halloween costume regulations; spitting on free speech (with actual spit); disposing of sexual assault cases, and male students, with mockeries of due process; spitting on free speech (more figuratively) in the pages of the NYT, WaPo, and yes, The New Yorker; and censoring (sorry, “no platforming”) talks by insufficiently fashionable feminists, and others.”

Yes because riots, protests, people over reacting and what not never happened on University campuses before now….

118

Sam Dodsworth 11.12.15 at 4:02 pm

Bloix: We don’t have a lot of common ground here.

That was my point, yes. Although we do at least seem to agree that this about privilege outraged by insubordination.

Another thing that’s interesting, though, is how effectively all this outraged huffing about children who have the temerity to speak out of turn serves to drown out what the “children” are actually saying.

119

Number 11.12.15 at 4:11 pm

And what are the children actually saying? Yes that message is being drowned out, because, beyond hiring a bunch of senior diversity administrators (easy, and now done), it is much harder to deal with the climate of intense, unrelenting unwelcomeness POC feel at all colleges in the US. Beyond the near daily shootings, bomb threats, and violence, there is the active skepticism of our presence on campus.

Read Professor Bonilla to get a glimpse:
https://www.facebook.com/eduardo.bonillasilva.7/posts/10153801849099668

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A H 11.12.15 at 4:29 pm

“Interesting use of the term “children” here….”

If they aren’t children why is no one allowed to criticize them? The actions of these activists and those at Missouri and Yale were mistakes and have allowed their legitmate causes to be sidetracked by this PC debate.

But you aren’t allowed to say that because it might hurt their feelings.

121

mds 11.12.15 at 4:32 pm

Stalinism at Yale:

(1) Some Yale students take the opportunity of Halloween to dress up as racial stereotypes and the like.

(2) University administration sends out e-mail prior to Halloween this year urging students to think about their costume choices in light of not being a jerk to other people, if possible. No new official policy or threat of sanction is included.

(3) Spouse of residential college master, which position does in fact carry with it a tradition of more than providing an “intellectual space” for students in that college, sends out response to administration e-mail, invoking spectre of small children unable to dress as Indian princesses to defend student “self-regulation.” This is received by many on campus as (a) tone-deaf at best, and (b) dishonest at worst as a response to an e-mail encouraging students to self-regulate in this matter.

(4) Students protest response, and some call for residential college master to be removed from that particular position (while retaining their separate academic appointment), as they believe the response weakens the well-established support role of Yale masters. Master engages protestors in dialogue, with one student becoming loudly angry about her objections.

(5) Students rally outside an event organized by a campus organization named after the author of God and Man at Yale, partly in protest of a speaker’s joke about Native American genocide. Authorities remove a single disruptive student from event.

(6) As various related long-standing issues bubble up to the surface, a larger rally is held demanding greater administrative attention to these matters. President engages protestors in dialogue.

(7) Some students speaking at a debate on affirmative action express regret that the debate had not been postponed. The debate proceeds without incident.

(8) Racist signs are posted on campus by outside agitators.

(9) ???

(10) All free-thinking defenders of First Amendment rights are fired / expelled from Yale, then dragged off to a gulag on West Rock.

Please note that this is all taking place at a university where many of those currently howling about “political correctness” and “suppression of free expression” attacked the appointment of Juan Cole to a professorship, an offer that ended up being overruled by the university administration. It would also be interesting to see where these valorous champions of free expression stood on the Salaita matter, or the 2008 politically-motivated firing of the president of William & Mary (The answer could surprise you!). Well, as long as no actual spit was involved …

122

MPAVictoria 11.12.15 at 4:41 pm

“If they aren’t children why is no one allowed to criticize them? “

Wait… you haven’t been criticizing them this whole time?
/Think and then post brother.

123

A H 11.12.15 at 4:47 pm

“Wait… you haven’t been criticizing them this whole time?”

Well I thought it was clear I was talking about what is acceptable in current left activist discourse, but if you want to have a discussion of free will and the possibility of independent action I’m all for it.

124

MPAVictoria 11.12.15 at 4:52 pm

“Well I thought it was clear I was talking about what is acceptable in current left activist discourse”

Umm you are posting your comments on a leftwing site. And I see people criticizing them all over the place…. So….

125

Roger Gathman 11.12.15 at 4:55 pm

@121, I think you are minimizing the gravity of this grave situation.
As a great man once wrote: first they came for my neighbor’s Little Black Sambo book, and I said nothing. Then they passed the Brady bill and my neighbor had to get a licence for his automatic rifles, and still I said nothing. And then they came for my asian nerd student costume, and nobody was there to say anything for me. This, in poetic form, sums up the Stalinism that has been visited on us since the sixties. I hope you are happy. Look about you at the ruins of our civilization, and cry.
Or vote Trump! and make america great again.

126

The Temporary Name 11.12.15 at 5:07 pm

(10) All free-thinking defenders of First Amendment rights are fired / expelled from Yale, then dragged off to a gulag on West Rock.

If I can’t behead, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.

127

Bloix 11.12.15 at 5:15 pm

#118 – “what the “children” are actually saying.”

The children in the particular case that you and I were discussing are calling Dan Savage a criminal. That is what they are “actually saying.”

“we do at least seem to agree that this about privilege outraged by insubordination.”

Actually, no. One of us thinks that the particular case we were discussing is about immature people who believe that the world needs to come to a stop whenever they open their mouths. The other of us thinks that such people have a right to monopolize whatever conversation they are part of, and that if they are not catered to they have been the victims of a hate crime.

128

MPAVictoria 11.12.15 at 5:27 pm

129

Bloix 11.12.15 at 5:46 pm

The evidence out of Mizzou is consistent with a culture of racism among the fraternities, which are extremely difficult for universities to control, as they are independently funded and they are their alumni are powerful. If that is what is going on, it will take a concerted effort by the non-fraternity student body and the faculty to force the administration to take on the fraternities.

130

Garrulous 11.12.15 at 5:52 pm

what the “children” are actually saying

Trouble is they’re not all saying the same thing (and aren’t children of course) and aren’t all speaking in the same context: some are expressing justifiable anger, some are quite right, some are wrong, some are narcissists and opportunists and attention-seekers, some are going along for the ride.

What they mostly share – right or wrong – though is a somewhat new style of political subjectivity, which has been discussed above.

131

Number 11.12.15 at 5:53 pm

“a culture of racism among the fraternities, ” no, don’t blame it on fraternities, as they are not all alike. The Pan-Hellenic (historically POC) have been very supportive of the whole protest. More importantly, don’t blame fraternities because it lets HWCU that don’t have a greek culture to get a pass, even though they are just as hostile to POC as Mizzou or pre-civil war Alabama.

132

Watson Ladd 11.12.15 at 6:33 pm

Numbers, if black students want to avoid suspicion that they were admitted under lax standards, they should stand against double standards based on race. This was exactly what conservatives predicted affirmative action would do, and they were right.

Are the students demanding that those who make threats be punished, and that violence be treated harshly? Or are they demanding that the university become a center of indoctrination, choosing one set of new left politics over others? Imagine reading “the black man must become white” in class at Missouri, while discussing Franz Fanon. No doubt it’s safer to stick with the conventional wisdom of Wretched of the Earth. Imagine teaching a class on WWII history with Estonian students, indoctrinated to believe that their nation was not actively complicit in the Shoah, and to contradict this is hate speech!

Bloix, students could organize boycotts of racist fraternities completely independently of the administration doing so, and shame the members for belonging to such an organization. There is no reason to wait for the authorities to act!

133

Sandwichman 11.12.15 at 7:02 pm

There’s too much mixing and matching going on in this conversation. Rules of etiquette are not the same as suppression of free speech and exactly what those rules are have to be negotiated and renegotiated. In a dispute over manners, there’s nothing wrong with somebody raising an unreasonable demand.

If some twerp wants to call me a “cisgender male,” that’s their problem, not mine. But I reserve the right to object that it’s a distinction without a difference — at least beyond the intention of stigmatizing me as congenitally “privileged” and thus without standing in any discussion about oppression. Go ahead. Make my day. Check my privilege. Trigger my itchy finger.

As for the regulation of speech by the State, slander, libel, perjury and fraudulent misrepresentation are not protected speech. Exactly what constitutes slander, libel etc. is a matter of judgment, legal or otherwise. An awful lot of what passes for political discourse, at least in the U.S.A. borders on slander, libel, fraud… Some of it undoubtedly crosses the line.

The liberal ideal of free speech thus appears as somewhat of a chimera. In what respect is it interfering with the constitutional rights of a presidential candidate to expose the fact that he is peddling outright lies that impugn the reputations of innocent people?

Now, as for the Chait/Kaus identity switch, I think Chait suffers from a recurring Walter Mitty daydream in which he heroically faces a firing squad of “murderous left-wing thugs.”

It began to rain, rain with sleet in it. Chait stood up against the wall of the drugstore, smoking. . . . He put his shoulders back and his heels together. “To hell with the handkerchief,” said Jonathan scornfully. He took one last drag on his cigarette and snapped it away. Then, with that faint, fleeting smile playing about his lips, he faced the firing squad; erect and motionless, proud and disdainful, Jonathan Chait the Undefeated, inscrutable to the last.

134

Bruce B. 11.12.15 at 7:38 pm

Up above, some folks share a feeling of concern about “a quasi-religious style of politics”. Well, gosh. It must be terribly uncomfortable to be reminded that for many of us, politics is innately connected to values that transcend allegiance to a particular faction, or a particular social class, and is very much about the attainment in the here and now of goals anchored in values about what’s good for everyone everywhere. Sure, it’s easy for that to become some flavor of totalitarianism, but then it’s also easy for a zealous focus on the here and now and the relatively attainable to turn into amoral pursuit of factional/class/etc. gain at the expense of all other values. Attention to procedures matters, because things need to get done; attention to values also matters, because we have to decide what things need doing, and when to satisfy the local minmaxing of efficiency or whatever to do them.

135

Garrulous 11.12.15 at 7:55 pm

No – “religious” here is not really about transcendental principles as such. More like a worldview which presumes and celebrates the transcendental righteousness of a group or a position.

136

Bruce B. 11.12.15 at 7:58 pm

Yes, it must be very uncomfortable for some people to be reminded that others do think we don’t equally match up on moral standards that can be applied in the here and now, and particularly that they – the objectors to all this stuff – may be judged as not all that good at the game of being a basically decent human being.

Which is, really, their problem; haven’t they been telling the rest of us about how it important it is to suck it up and press on without letting criticism overwhelm us?

137

Garrulous 11.12.15 at 8:09 pm

Yes, the average Pharisee considered himself a highly moral figure, a model to others.

138

Collin Street 11.12.15 at 8:14 pm

The children in the particular case that you and I were discussing are calling Dan Savage a criminal.

He’s certainly an arsehole. I don’t — and you shouldn’t — expect unreasonable levels of precision in language from people who are under stress, and dealing with arseholes is stressful.

139

Bloix 11.12.15 at 8:35 pm

“He’s certainly an arsehole.”
He’s done an enormous amount to help young gay people.
And the people who said he’d committed a hate crime were not acting out of stress. They are waging a campaign of character assassination. Either they are foolish children or they are evil adults. Take your pick.

140

Bruce B. 11.12.15 at 8:40 pm

Garrulous: And Martin Luther King Jr. saw himself as someone striving to live up to eternal standards by which all humanity will be judged. It’s almost like we ought to consider the content of people’s ideas, rather than jerking our knees at the thought of anything that seems “religious” or whatever.

141

js. 11.12.15 at 9:24 pm

I’d have thought “religious” in the original comment meant something like: not open to rational objection. That may be right or wrong, but it at least makes sense. Instead, I can’t even understand what people are arguing about (I was going to say “disagreeing”, but I’m not sure this rises to the level of disagreement.)

142

Garrulous 11.12.15 at 9:44 pm

Yes I’m kind of losing the thread myself, tbh.

143

MPAVictoria 11.12.15 at 10:03 pm

“I didn’t go to college, so maybe I missed this, but is making sure minorities endure lot of offensive slurs a core part of the experience?”

Apparently.

144

Mdc 11.12.15 at 10:24 pm

Students are subordinates only provisionally, and conditionally. Where tuition funds instruction and student services, faculty are the real subordinates.

145

Kwarty 11.12.15 at 11:05 pm

“He’s certainly an arsehole. I don’t — and you shouldn’t — expect unreasonable levels of precision in language from people who are under stress, and dealing with arseholes is stressful.”

Seems reasonable to me. When I’m stressed I accuse people of hate crimes. Or when they disagree with me. And I usually direct these accusations at people who have devoted their lives to combating hate crimes and saving the lives of countless young marginalized people.

146

geo 11.13.15 at 12:07 am

Here’s a pretty decent piece about the situation at Yale: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/yale_justice/.

147

LFC 11.13.15 at 12:40 am

@geo
Since you recommended Jim Sleeper’s piece, I read it. I found it rather disappointing.
Here’s Sleeper:
…as was clear Wednesday night, when four panels composed mostly of Yalies of color spoke to thousands of us Yale people of all colors who packed into Battell Chapel to hear their accounts and assessments. There was some racial “theater” in a few lines I could have done without, but almost all of what I heard came from the speakers’ hearts and their deepest humanity.

So what *did* he hear? He doesn’t say. Not a single solitary word. Not a single example. Nothing. Instead we get observations at the end about civil society, liberalism, and the market, which cd have been recycled from anything Sleeper has written over the years.

I could go on, but since I’m in a less than generous mood, I won’t. Just … meh. Basically unobjectionable in its outlook, but not really a good piece.

148

faustusnotes 11.13.15 at 4:48 am

I read the OP and the comments but I can’t see any evidence that anyone has had their free speech interfered with in any way … the house master’s opinion has reached a global audience, Germaine Greer is defending her transgender hate in the Guardian … seems the only person losing speech rights here is Kaus, who has to pretend to be Chait in order to get published, but that’s more of an attribution problem than one of creeping stalinism, surely?

149

TM 11.13.15 at 1:03 pm

Bloix: “And the people who said he’d committed a hate crime were not acting out of stress. They are waging a campaign of character assassination.”

To state the obvious: Your accusation is that the students said something that you find objectionable. Maybe it is objectionable but it’s speech. You are highlighting the central contraditction of all anti-PC discourse, a contradiction that I have never seen addressed by any anti-PC crusader, certainly not by Chait:
The discursive strategy of anti-PC is exactly the same as the discursive strategy of PC, namely to delegitmmize certain kinds of speech. It is transparentlly dishonest how anti-PCers try to paint themselves as pro- free speech and their opponents as anti-free speech when what they are doing is exactly the same thing.

150

Marc 11.13.15 at 1:21 pm

What Chait is writing is not a secret:

http://nymag.com/author/Jonathan%20Chait/

It’s left/liberal writing with an occasional detour to talk about PC. Calling him Kaus is a ludicrous charge; Kaus wrote standard right-wing pieces and occasionally called himself a Democrat.

But he does have one issue where he parts company with some on the left, and for that he becomes transformed into a right-winger? Can anyone go through the articles on Carson, Paul, Rubio, Ryan, etc. and find the right-wing apologetic? Or is it that people haven’t paid attention to anything else that he wrote, and that they assume that all of it is about this one topic?

151

Garrulous 11.13.15 at 1:27 pm

Imagine someone with a profound hatred of the color orange. On the street, he sees someone wearing a hi-ves orange vest and start shouting at them to take it off. He passes a bookstore and sees a copy of “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit” in the window – he approaches the owner, demanding that the book be removed and threatening to start a boycott of her store if she does not comply. Seeing an orange light at a traffic junction, he calls some friends and they march en masse to the city council, insisting on an end to the visibility inflicted on them without consent. An official comes out to speak to them, asking “I don’t get it. What is the difficulty with orange, really?” A number of people in the crowd react angrily: how dare he speak about this problem with such levity? How dare he, who has never suffered as they, even allow himself to have that word pass his lips? They demand his resignation.

152

Lynne 11.13.15 at 1:57 pm

“That’s why Germain Greer refers to trans-gendered people as ‘self-castrating males,’ not women.”
Actually, she claims that surgery can’t turn a man into a woman, but if a transgendered person M to F wants to be referred to as “she”, she obliges.

“Germaine Greer is defending her transgender hate in the Guardian” I haven’t seen her express any hate for transgendered people.

153

Dipper 11.13.15 at 2:22 pm

151 – Garrulous.

Did you pick the colour orange randomly? Because if I replay your scenario in my mind but place it in Northern Ireland then it doesn’t look nearly as absurd as I think you mean to imply.

154

bob mcmanus 11.13.15 at 2:29 pm

149, 150: After Foucault and feminist theory, power and politics are no longer even local, they have become or are experienced as personal. Discourse about Chait and PC is an activity of re-membering and dis-membering, strengthening or weakening affiliations and attachments, within this comment thread (including lurkers.) The pretense that we are addressing the Whole Wide World with universalizing intent is a local discursive tactic.

155

MPAVictoria 11.13.15 at 2:30 pm

“The discursive strategy of anti-PC is exactly the same as the discursive strategy of PC, namely to delegitmmize certain kinds of speech. It is transparentlly dishonest how anti-PCers try to paint themselves as pro- free speech and their opponents as anti-free speech when what they are doing is exactly the same thing.”

And this comment wins the thread. We can shut the internet down and go home folks.

156

Dipper 11.13.15 at 2:38 pm

@155 well most radical or left wing discussion isn’t really about the subject under discussion. It’s about signalling an identity, indicating membership of certain social groups, and power and status within and between those groups.

157

Kiwanda 11.13.15 at 2:51 pm

The discursive strategy of anti-PC is exactly the same as the discursive strategy of PC, namely to delegitmmize certain kinds of speech.

This is, of course, false. First of all…hold on… as I was saying, first of all, it frames the issue as “PC” vs “anti-PC”, which can then be glossed as “people who want only butterflies and rainbows, and those Bad People”, but instead the issue is “free speech” vs “official suppression of speech”. People defending free speech don’t only defend the speech of those they agree with, and even if they do, that is not the same as trying to stifle the speech they disagree with.

Physically mobbing a student journalist to remove them from a public space is not “discursive strategy,” stealing and destroying student newspapers is not “discursive strategy,” spitting on people is not “discursive strategy,” presuming guilt and trashing due process is not “discursive strategy”.

I can see where demanding that people lose positions because they disagree with you, or demanding that the free expression of others be officially sanctioned, or demanding that a student newspaper be de-funded because it published an op-ed you disagreed with, is “discursive strategy,” but it is one of opposition to free speech, and should be met with the “discursive strategy” of disagreement.

And contrawise, disagreeing with someone is not, in itself, harassment or violence or abuse.

158

Bloix 11.13.15 at 3:29 pm

The Germaine Greer example is important. Greer as a pioneering second wave feminist has spent her life advocating, not equality, but women’s liberation. She believes that conventional femininity as expressed through gendered behavior is manufactured by patriarchal institutions, including the nuclear family. She thinks that mere equality on patriarchal terms is simply the continuation of oppression. She believes that the task of women’s liberation is to free society first by freeing women, and then all people, from socially constructed gender roles. She also believes that older women, who are free from the incessant need to please men, have a unique role to play in the liberation of society.

Now she sees biological men who are so intent on adopting socially determined gender roles that they are eager to alter their bodies surgically. Instead of fighting to end patriarchy, they enthusiastically adopt its trappings. They contend that femininity is biologically innate. An example of this is Caitlyn Jenner, who at 66 years of age is intent on being a sex symbol in the most conventional way – as alluring through surgery, fashion, and the trappings of wealth and glamour. Bad enough, Greer thinks, that the patriarchy uses images of women in the mass media to rebuke women who do not spend every moment concerned with making themselves attractive to men. Now it can use people who were born as men to do it, too.

Greer rejects the implications that arise when one accepts the view that one’s identity as a specific gender is biologically determined without reference to physical sex characteristics – that is, that one’s brain can be one gender although one’s body is another. As the science on the point is equivocal at the least, the philosophical and political argument would presumably be well within the bounds of acceptable discourse, even if some people find it hurtful.

But it’s not. According to the current received wisdom, Greer’s position is not something to be argued against and defeated by reason and evidence – it is something that must not be said.

159

MPAVictoria 11.13.15 at 4:12 pm

“But it’s not. According to the current received wisdom, Greer’s position is not something to be argued against and defeated by reason and evidence – it is something that must not be said.”

Reread this. And then apologize.

160

casmilus 11.13.15 at 4:23 pm

@156 this is also the case with much creationist popular writing, which has little interest in the scientific and philosophical issues it raises, and is primarily concerned with asserting and defending an identity. If you follow those people on a news forum for very long you can see them reposting the same old crap, even after it’s been debunked and they’ve *conceded* it was debunked. They just start over again.

161

Sam Dodsworth 11.13.15 at 4:32 pm

Heartening to see so many conservatives suddenly embracing second-wave feminism. I do wonder if the consciousness-raising sessions might be a bit long-winded though.

162

MPAVictoria 11.13.15 at 5:04 pm

Some threats to black Missouri students posted on social media:

“Here’s what the accused student wrote at the University of Missouri: “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.” “Some of you are alright. Don’t go to campus tomorrow.” “We’re waiting for you at the parking lots. We will kill you all.””

But yes truly political correctness is the biggest problem facing american universities.

163

herm 11.13.15 at 5:08 pm

The discursive strategy of anti-PC is exactly the same as the discursive strategy of PC, namely to delegitmmize certain kinds of speech.

This is, of course, false.

Physically mobbing a student journalist to remove them from a public space is not “discursive strategy,” stealing and destroying student newspapers is not “discursive strategy,” spitting on people is not “discursive strategy,” presuming guilt and trashing due process is not “discursive strategy”.

No, it is the same. Your examples of what is not “discursive strategy” are isolated incidents. Chait is not condemning isolated incidents, he is attacking the whole “PC movement” or whatever you wish to call them (and by extension Marxism in general, apparently), as if all were equally guilty of those wrongs.

And Chait’s broad brush approach most definitely frames the issue as “PC” vs “anti-PC” (or wait, by alluding that if PC “thugs” took over the government it would end with millions dead in a nightmare of neo-Stalinism supposed to portray things in a positive light?)

164

Bloix 11.13.15 at 5:11 pm

#159 – I have no idea what you are trying to say. Reread my own comment? While you decide whether to clarify, you might enjoy this article, complete with a picture of high-fashion Caitlyn Jennings at a microphone.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/germaine-greer-will-not-give-cardiff-university-lecture-because-of-abuse-over-views-on-transgender-a6707236.html

165

MPAVictoria 11.13.15 at 5:15 pm

“I have no idea what you are trying to say. Reread my own comment?”

Yes go back and reread your comment. Then really think about it.

166

Lynne 11.13.15 at 6:17 pm

MPAV, I’ve read Bloix’s comment and I don’t understand what you would like him to apologize for. So maybe you could tell me, if not him?

167

Roger Gathman 11.13.15 at 6:35 pm

“Physically mobbing a student journalist to remove them from a public space is not “discursive strategy,” stealing and destroying student newspapers is not “discursive strategy,” spitting on people is not “discursive strategy,” presuming guilt and trashing due process is not “discursive strategy”.

To the contrary, this is a part of the rough and tumble of public life. I am rather astonished by the generation of delicate conservatives, who apparently are as fragile as flowers.
Here’s a rather typical story. In 1997, in New Haven, news came of the shooting to death of a black kid in East Haven. The story is here: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/17/nyregion/tangled-aftermath-of-a-killing-by-police.html?pagewanted=all I was living in New Haven at the time, and joined the march through East Haven, which was organized by the kind of people the Chaits and the Kauses abhor – probably Marxists, maybe feminists or, worse, “civil rights” leaders. It was a peaceful march in the street, with the usual chanting. Spectators from East Haven lined the sidewalks and booed. At one point, somebody had set up a stand and was dispensing lemonaid. Well, it turned out this person was a clever New Havenite who had diluted piss with a little water. Ho ho!
I thought it was a sick trick, but it was not the end of the world, or even an indication of some larger “ideological” problem with that closed community. In the heat of battle, whether in the rivalry between football team fans or on the hustings, shit – or, as in this case, piss – happens. Trump has his bodyguards remove a Latino reporter. A Mizzou group hustles a reporter from a student newspaper away from a scene. To describe this excitedly as the prelude to totalitarianism shows that one is very young, or hypocritical, or simply stupid. It has become common to hire guards at political events and force people from opposition groups who are spotted to leave. I fail to see this as the end of the world of light and liberty as we know it.

168

Garrulous 11.13.15 at 6:47 pm

@153 Yeah transpose it to the Falls Rd. and it’s all something else.

169

Kwarty 11.13.15 at 7:20 pm

“To the contrary, this is a part of the rough and tumble of public life. I am rather astonished by the generation of delicate conservatives, who apparently are as fragile as flowers.”

I agree that charges of pc-terror are overblown and used strategically on the right to de-legitimize student activists, and there’s a huge amount of bullying and silencing and verbal nastiness directed at marginalized groups that is unreported and usually invisible.

But you seem to imply everyone who has a problem with some of the examples discussed on the thread is a conservative, which is clearly not the case, and b) it’s not clear all of the examples that have been discussed in this thread fall equally under the rubric of “rough and tumble.” That seems dismissive and too easy.

Ironically, a major argument on the right is precisely that incidents like the one at Yale proves left wing students cannot handle debate as “a part of the rough and tumble of public life.”

You don’t have to like or agree with Chait to think there are problems with the way some student activists operate – not least because their actions are a propaganda windfall for the right.

170

Collin Street 11.13.15 at 7:39 pm

@156 this is also the case with much creationist popular writing, which has little interest in the scientific and philosophical issues it raises, and is primarily concerned with asserting and defending an identity. If you follow those people on a news forum for very long you can see them reposting the same old crap, even after it’s been debunked and they’ve *conceded* it was debunked. They just start over again.

I have no idea, none at all, why a person can look at that pattern of behaviour — which I think we can all agree is real — and not conclude that the creationist or what-have-you in question is affected by some sort of genuine clinical cognitive problem.

171

A H 11.13.15 at 7:48 pm

@167 WTF? Tricking people into drinking piss is borderline assault, not a sick trick. That person should have been reported to the police.

172

Tyrone Slothrop 11.13.15 at 8:11 pm

New Havenite who had diluted piss with a little water. Ho ho! I thought it was a sick trick, but it was not the end of the world.

Between the bladder-blend ade dispensation and whatevs response, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for the peculiar interactive propensities of the citizenry of New Haven.

173

Steve Williams 11.13.15 at 8:35 pm

MPAVictoria@157

‘Reread this. And then apologize.’

I appreciate saying this is opening myself up to accusations of being a conservative troll or something, but I can’t help wondering if responding to someone who is criticising people for being thin-skinned by demanding an apology for something without an explanation of what it is, isn’t kind of proving Bloix’s point in some way.

174

Sandwichman 11.13.15 at 8:42 pm

I apologize if I’ve said anything that doesn’t offend anyone.

175

Roger Gathman 11.13.15 at 8:47 pm

167, maybe the person was reported to the police. Myself, I think all too many things end up being regulated by the police, but I wouldn’t argue against this case. Except what police would you report it to? The East Haven cops? It wouldn’t surprise me if the trick had been thought up by the East Haven cops.
If you are part of a left leaning demonstration, here’s one of the rules: the cops are not your friends.

176

JanieM 11.13.15 at 8:48 pm

@173 Ya gotta admit it’s great entertainment, though. How else can you take the notion that when MPAV righteously orders Bloix to jump, Bloix is going to say “How high?”

177

F. Foundling 11.13.15 at 9:53 pm

On the Savage incident: he was criticised for saying a word *while explaining why he no longer uses it*. He was referring to the word itself, metalinguistically, not actually using it to refer to anyone, and he was doing that precisely in order to speak *against* its use. A word that has come to be used only to refer to itself is a dead word. And yet someone claimed to be offended by the very fact that the word was being physically uttered, regardless of the purpose; the mere occurrence of this specific series of sound waves in the air was unacceptable to them. This is sheer idiocy, an obvious infantile attempt at attention seeking and self-assertion, and the fact that people here defend something like this is one proof that, unfortunately, there really is a problem with PC. Other arguments (‘come on, we all know Savage is a great person’, ‘have respect for the elders!’, even ‘it was confidential’) are beside the point.

As for being ‘politely asked to make a small cost-free change to one’s vocabulary’ – the question should always be whether the specific change is justified or pointless. Acceding to pointless demands, no matter how easy to comply with, is a symbolic humiliation, just like making pointless demands, no matter how easy to comply with, is a symbolic self-assertion. Symbolic humiliations are generally unpleasant to human beings, and they are often a prelude to more substantial ones. Informally stigmatising and ostracising people for not acceding to *pointless* demands may not be technically censorship, but is a practice harmful to free and rational discourse. As for language specifically, a person’s language use is felt to be part of who they are, changing it is inconvenient and it is normal that one only agrees to change them when one has a good reason to. That is not to say that there sometimes isn’t a good reason, but that needs to be demonstrated; simply pointing at the ease of complying (and at the very presence of a demand) is not a sufficient justification.

178

PatrickinIowa 11.13.15 at 10:19 pm

What galls me about white people is that we can say this with a straight face:

“Numbers, if black students want to avoid suspicion that they were admitted under lax standards, they should stand against double standards based on race. This was exactly what conservatives predicted affirmative action would do, and they were right.”

What conservatives don’t want to admit is that white people benefit from open and concealed “lax standards” every day of their lives. (Ladies and gentlemen, I give you George W. Bush. Teddy Kennedy, if you prefer. I don’t think Hilary Clinton would deny it.) There are many and complex double standards based on race, but the idea that–even on a college campus–the ones that benefit minorities are the ones that need to be eliminated first is, to my mind, wrong–morally, intellectually and every which way.

I submit that looking at a black student about whom you know nothing more than their race and thinking, “That person probably isn’t qualified to be here, because of [whatever you want to put in here]” is thinking a racist thought. If conservatives predicted that conservatives would, in the future, think racist thoughts, well… they would know, wouldn’t they?

179

Watson Ladd 11.13.15 at 10:45 pm

PatrickInIowa, students have strong incentives to figure out who the good students are and the bad ones. If you know that certain students were admitted under a weaker standard, you know they are less likely to be good ones. It’s completely irrelevant how you know this, or what feature lets you know this. And remember, the complaint Numbers made wasn’t that students judge the abilities of their fellow students, but that they suspect that black people benefit from weak admission standards. I wonder why they would think that, when public universities have repeatedly gone to the courts to seek the right to do just that!

180

js. 11.13.15 at 10:51 pm

I’m just wondering: Is it possible to think that it was wrong, e.g., to accuse Dan Savage of hate speech (tho this is a more difficult question than first appears), and (certainly) to call for Greer’s talk to be cancelled—without going into a full-blown moral panic about some (entirely nonexistent) thing called the “p.c. police”* or thinking that the people responsible for this were “evil”, etc. Because that’s about where I am, and I’m feeling pretty comfortable out here.

*I do agree that were such a thing to constitute itself, it would fully deserve its own Easy E.

181

JanieM 11.13.15 at 11:14 pm

js., clearly you didn’t get the memo about nuance being dead.

182

kidneystones 11.13.15 at 11:15 pm

If you’re interested in evidence, check this out: http://www.mediaite.com/online/university-of-missouri-staffer-suspended-for-harassing-student-reporter/

On one level we can see this as no big deal. However, on another level what we see is a whole battery of lies and outright falsehoods uttered both out of ignorance and design. The best part for me is when one of the largest students informs student reporter Tim Tai that he ‘needs to move on’ as the students seek to push media away from the ‘safe space.’ Tai politely and repeatedly affirms his own right to his own space and is then pushed, yelled at, and eventually encircled. What is clear is that the only people being oppressed in this particular event are those gullible enough to believe that any issue is being advanced beyond self-promotion and cutting classes. If this is what passes for oppression on campus things have changed a great deal, and for the better.

As for the students, kids will be kids, even well into their twenties.

183

Sandwichman 11.13.15 at 11:35 pm

@177 “…and the fact that people here defend something like this is one proof that, unfortunately, there really is a problem with PC.”

1. people here defend juvenile attention seeking, ergo
2. …
3. there really is a problem with PC, ergo
4. …
5. THE GULAG!

Aside from a few missing steps to be filled in by administrative staff, an impeccable argument! It has evidence, deduction and conclusion. The rest is, as they say, doctrinal specifics.

For the record, I’ve got no use for idiots who falsely accuse of Dan Savage of hate crimes. But their behavior is symptomatic of idiocy, not something called “political correctness.” People who defend such idiots don’t do so because they believe it is politically correct to do so. They do so because they agree with, or sympathize with the idiots. Hey, I’m all for giving idiots a break but when they step over the line into slander, they are committing a sin, calumny.

They are sinners! Let he, she or it who is without sin throw the first stone.

So we have idiots, idiot sympathizers and moral panic over the suspicion that idiot sympathy is a symptom of some kind of leftist malaise. This is why we cannot have good things.

184

kidneystones 11.13.15 at 11:51 pm

178 Prejudice, not racism. If what you say is true, and certainly part of it is, then the phenomena you are describing is not racism, but prejudice. The old adage used to be that a women had to be twice as smart and work twice as hard to get the same recognition as a man – do it backwards and in heels.

You are quite right to note that prejudging someone’s abilities on the basis of skin color, gender, or wealth is quite wrong. You are also right to note that focusing only on the perceived academic skills of a one group, could be racist. Private universities do reserve places for the children of alumni, and for families of the powerful and/or rich. These students may or may not under-perform. You’ll note, however, that we actually know the grades of Bush and Kerry, so we know that their professors evidently felt no need to do more than push them through the system.

Much more troubling, in my view, are the lies university administrators and some faculty tell about the skills of three groups: Asian students who often suffer double discrimination (see the video in 182) not white, but not a minority, student athletes of all backgrounds who probably should not be in university, and should never be granted an academic degree, and substandard minority students who are granted inflated grades for substandard work. I work personally most often with a variant of group three.

I’m no longer the principal provider for a number of dependents and have in recent years elected to dispense with the fictions of academia. If I’m being paid to teach, I teach. I administer my own skills checks of all students in the first class and very publicly release the results to these students. The pretense falls away as the students discover together that virtually all possess real skills of only the junior-high school and high-school level, including juniors and seniors. There is a profound sense of relief as I explain that given the diversity of place and background of the class, that the failure cannot be individual, but rather systemic.

The students understand better than anyone that they lack the skills required to do university level work, rather than re-packaged high-school and junior high-school level tasks. What of their previous grades – their ‘A, B, C, and Passe’ rewards that got them this far? Well, fairly clearly these grades are nothing but proof that several generations of teachers and administrators couldn’t give a shit whether the individual student had actually learned anything at all in six years of middle and high school. The grades conceal teacher, administrator, and parental failure as much as any flaw on the part of the child.

As I have considerable experience both as an indifferent and unmotivated student, and as one of superior skills, and as trained educator, it is fairly easy for me to form bonds with each of my students. My message is simple: do you want one more year of let’s pretend, or do you finally want to get this right? You have had six or seven years of the former, this may be your last opportunity for the latter?

To make this work I have personally guarantee success, but that’s fairly easy given the extremely low standards set by many of my peers (many of whom resent the experience even more than the students) and by the universities in question. My own students are constantly monitored throughout each class, and work through a series of confidence-building remedial activities that are fun and expose concept error/ignorance. Real progress is easy to achieve and celebrate. The students transform themselves from sullen to sunny, for the most part, as they are acquire, finally, the basic skills needed of excel and progress.

Allowing George Bush to sail through Yale costs Bush very little. Allowing a minority student to sail through a university program without learning real skills, and with an inflated sense of ability, does absolutely nobody any good, least of all the student.

So, there’s that.

185

Watson Ladd 11.14.15 at 12:21 am

@kidneystones: My thoughts exactly. The times when I’ve been given the resources to really help struggling students by practicing over and over what they need to be successful have been some of the better moments of my teaching. But it’s a heck of a lot easier to buy yet another administrator instead of ensure that schools in California are adequately funded and properly run.

186

F. Foundling 11.14.15 at 12:33 am

@Sandwichman 11.13.15 at 11:35 pm
> But their behavior is symptomatic of idiocy, not something called “political correctness.” People who defend such idiots don’t do so because they believe it is politically correct to do so. They do so because they agree with, or sympathize with the idiots.

When people who generally aren’t idiots agree with an obviously idiotic position, that needs an explanation. There must be a reason external to the intellectual merits of the position, and in this case I think the most plausible candidate for an explanation is a sense of ideological loyalty that trumps everything else. More specifically, the stereotype that a true blue liberal must always side with any minority member claiming to be offended – a stereotype that rightly or wrongly has come to be associated with the word ‘PC’.

@js. 11.13.15 at 10:51 pm
>Is it possible to think that it was wrong, e.g., to accuse Dan Savage of hate speech (tho this is a more difficult question than first appears) …

Dear God.

@js. 11.13.15 at 10:51 pm
> without going into a full-blown moral panic about some (entirely nonexistent) thing called the “p.c. police”* or thinking that the people responsible for this were “evil”, etc.

I don’t know about a police, but there clearly is a very real tendency of PC conformism and people who enthusiastically enforce it in cases where it is definitely wrong. What matters is that this is wrong, and, as usual, the question to what extent each specific individual doing this in any given case is aware of his/her wrongnesss (i.e. the eternal ‘stupid or evil’ question) is not something worth speculating about.

187

js. 11.14.15 at 12:53 am

Re the “dear god”: you’re misunderstanding me. And since that bit is liable to be misunderstood, let me say: I think it’s abundantly clear that DS isn’t and wasn’t guilty of a hate crime. On the other hand, the semantics of use vs. mention are hideously complicated, and there’s a plausible and not uncommon view in the phil. of language that mention implies use. So that you cant actually disavow the semantic content of a term by putting quotes around it. In fact, about a decade or more ago I heard a talk by Susan Hornsby (I’m on a phone so you’ll have to look her up) precisely on this topic where she argued that if one finds a term objectionable such that one wouldn’t use it, one should be committed to not mentioning it either, on logical grounds. That’s what I meant when I said that the question is more complicated than it initially appears.

188

Bloix 11.14.15 at 1:19 am

#187 – which means you can’t talk about what the word represents. As Savage says, saying “the t-word” (or the n-word, or the f-word, or whatever) causes your audience to think the word as clearly as if you’d just said it. So pretending you’re not saying it while causing your listener to think it is no solution. The only solution is never to think it.

This is how sex used to be dealt with. You couldn’t discuss rape because you couldn’t say the word rape in ‘polite company.’ You couldn’t discuss breast cancer because you couldn’t say breast. You couldn’t discuss anything to do with gay people because you couldn’t say homosexual (confirmed bachelor and Boston marriage were on the very edge of what you could say). You couldn’t discuss child abuse or std’s or any number of things. People under the age of 40 or so may not believe this but it’s true.

IMHO, there is no word that should not be said. There are words that should not be applied to people, because they are insulting and humiliating, but if there are words that cannot be said, then there are realities that cannot be confronted.

189

Sandwichman 11.14.15 at 1:19 am

How long before somebody attributes the terror attacks in Paris to “political correctness”?

Fr. Jonathan MorrisVerified account ‏@fatherjonathan 3h3 hours ago
Paris news station just said it’s not clear if timed, coordinated massacre in Paris is “terror”. Blind political correctness.

190

js. 11.14.15 at 1:23 am

Dude, I just said the question is more complicated than it seems. In your humble opinion, it’s not. Fine. (The fact that you’re still mischaracterizing the view is I suppose relatively less important.)

191

Bloix 11.14.15 at 1:29 am

I admit error. The D-word should never be said. Unless you’re Jeff Bridges. Otherwise, no.

192

Sandwichman 11.14.15 at 1:32 am

Oh, here it is:

Polaris ‏@polaris01usa 2m2 minutes ago
France is reaping the fruits of slavish political correctness. Not pretty, but true. #Paris #ParisAttacks

Didn’t have to wait long.

193

Sandwichman 11.14.15 at 1:41 am

And on and on… On it like a dirty shirt.

Polaris ‏@polaris01usa 6m6 minutes ago
France is reaping the fruits of slavish political correctness. Not pretty, but true. #Paris #ParisAttacks

Joe Flacko ♏️ ‏@hennessy610 7m7 minutes ago
..over 100 people killed by terrorists in Paris and you no good liberal bastards worried about political correctness

CRITICAL NEWS ‏@PressSecret 39m39 minutes ago
CRITICAL NEWS Retweeted Luke Johnson
Political correctness is a tool of the fool. In #Paris, a war against humanity. All things must be considered. CRITICAL NEWS added,

Victor Nikki ‏@hapkidobigdad 44m44 minutes ago
#MillionStudentMarch
Whenever you addled brained pusses wake from ur stupor, look at the Paris HT &see what ur political correctness wrought
5 retweets 6 likes

G A on Rock 94 1/2 ‏@GARock945 45m45 minutes ago
When political correctness dictates you cannot profile,Paris will happen here,but hey,we stopped granny trying to fly with excess shampoo.
7 retweets 9 likes

Matthew Sewell ‏@MatthewJSewell 52m52 minutes ago
“We mistake political correctness for charity, shallow optimism for hope and an ideology for faith.” https://shar.es/15OR1B #Paris
3 retweets 0 likes

East Coast Driving ‏@eastcoastdriv 59m59 minutes ago
Never back down from your opinion. Don’t let political correctness interfere with the truth. #Paris #ParisAttack
0 retweets 1 like

John RatzenbergerVerified account ‏@Dratzenberger 1h1 hour ago
Tragedy in Paris. Is political correctness gelding Western Civilization?
19 retweets 36 likes

Non-Entity ‏@GeorgeScumbag 1h1 hour ago
Paris has survived the Hundred Years War, plague rats and the Nazis, but Political Correctness will kill it as dead as Dillinger.
0 retweets 1 like

Peter Bax ‏@peterbax50 1h1 hour ago
This Paris attack is well organised, done by trained people living amongst us. That’s how political correctness pays off
1 retweet 3 likes

Jallenator ‏@jallen191 2h2 hours ago
Have a very strong feeling the Paris attacks will change everything. The end of political correctness, the start of police states?
0 retweets 1 like

Aka @Clickman8 ‏@Asher_P_Fly 2h2 hours ago
Screw #PoliticalCorrectness! I’m coming out of the closet with the following admission; I have Islamophobia! There…I said it! Pray 4 #Paris
5 retweets 12 likes

Caleb Franz ‏@CalebFranz 2h2 hours ago
Political correctness literally kills. Call it like it is. Radical Islamism. #Paris
0 retweets 3 likes

Jaco ‏@Moesamoeroep 3h3 hours ago
We can no longer for the sake of political correctness ignore the fact that we have an issue. #Paris #Humanity
48 retweets 62 likes

TSEC ‏@TomTSEC 3h3 hours ago
Which is more important in #Paris ? Weak science on climate control or real threats from extremist Islamacists and political correctness?
9 retweets 4 likes

Alex Kirby ‏@AlexJKirby 3h3 hours ago Indianapolis, IN
This will be on our shores if we continue to ignore the threat. Remember that during the next election. Political correctness kills. #Paris
5 retweets 8 likes

Prez ‏@PrezDog 3h3 hours ago
Prayers for #Paris. Haven’t we had enough political correctness? These dogs have to be exterminated.
4 retweets 3 likes

FaceMask ‏@FaceMaskYid 3h3 hours ago
We let political correctness bring murderers & savages into Europe & now law-abiding citizens are paying for it with their lives. #Paris
20 retweets 22 likes

Samuel Gregg ‏@DrSamuelGregg 3h3 hours ago
Live web feed on what is happening in Paris: http://www.france24.com/en/livefeed This is what happens when political correctness denies reality.
1 retweet 3 likes

Victor Nikki ‏@hapkidobigdad 3h3 hours ago
How many more Paris attacks is it going to take to shake you PC imbeciles awake. Your Political Correctness kills.
8 retweets 8 likes

MephistoFish ‏@mephistofish 3h3 hours ago
Remembrance Day- remember that? That was about freedom – well you fucking lefties created this. Well done. #PoliticalCorrectness #Paris
0 retweets 1 like

Tomas Leon ‏@tome212121 3h3 hours ago
“Refugees” did it, but political correctness obssesed western media will never say it . #parisattack #paris #isis #terrorism #islamisevil
3 retweets 3 likes

Pastor Dan Haight ‏@Pastordjh 3h3 hours ago
Political correctness already abounds in the Paris reporting. Call it like it is #Terrorism
0 retweets 0 likes

Niki ‏@nikicucina 3h3 hours ago
Deadly shooting & explosions in Paris. Believed 2 be Islamic terrorists. Chaotic! Enough w/ political correctness, they are at war with us!
0 retweets 0 likes

Benjamin Kanarek ‏@benjaminkanarek 3h3 hours ago
Fuck Political Correctness! Islamic Extremists have declared war on the City of Paris! It is time to Kick some serious ASS!
0 retweets 1 like

Fr. Jonathan MorrisVerified account ‏@fatherjonathan 4h4 hours ago
Paris news station just said it’s not clear if timed, coordinated massacre in Paris is “terror”. Blind political correctness.
228 retweets 236 likes

Nick Miranda ‏@nrmiranda 4h4 hours ago Chesterfield, MO
26 killed in Paris (so far),we are committing suicide by political correctness;when will we get proactive and kill them, then ask questions?
0 retweets 0 likes

jm ‏@jm83nj 4h4 hours ago
Paris political correctness and cowardice unfortunately is paid back with the blood of innocent civilians. Prayers are with you 🇫🇷 👏
0 retweets 0 likes

Jacob Wohl ‏@jacobwohl 4h4 hours ago
This is what happens when political correctness is more important to leaders than national security. #Paris

194

kidneystones 11.14.15 at 1:47 am

How long until a CT commenter uses a tragedy to make a political point before the bodies have been collected and identified. Many of us have friends in Paris.

Do you think you could back the fuck off for just a minute? Answer-not likely.

Loathsome ghouls.

195

gianni 11.14.15 at 2:26 am

Hey Sandwichman,
Get away from the computer and go take a walk. Some reflection will do you good.

196

Sandwichman 11.14.15 at 2:34 am

“How long until a CT commenter uses a tragedy to make a political point…”

You mean like THESE ghouls, kidneystones? Or are you saying that it is not “politically correct” to point out the loathsome vileness of the blame political correctness for everything mob?

Jim Minardi ‏@AMillennialMind 4m4 minutes ago
Tonight in #Paris, we saw the result of what happens when political correctness and progressive ideology dominate rational thought.
0 retweets 0 likes

Jeff CassidyVerified account ‏@JeffCassidy 6m6 minutes ago
“Passiveness & political correctness isn’t going to protect us. God bless Paris and may God bless this world!”- @michaelhsweet #TheRealTruth
0 retweets 0 likes

Teena M. Arrina ‏@tmarrina 11m11 minutes ago
#Paris It was just a matter of time. Political correctness has protected these demons & their religion of hate. Pray for conversion
0 retweets 0 likes

Chad ‏@FlyOSUBuckeye1 18m18 minutes ago
@WalshFreedom 160+ dead. #Paris #France The result of liberalism, secularism, political correctness and an unarmed, defenseless public #ISIS
View conversation 0 retweets 0 likes

Wayne ‏@Just__Wayne 23m23 minutes ago
A huge loss of life in Paris caused by political correctness.
#ParisAttack
0 retweets 0 likes

Aka @Clickman8 ‏@Asher_P_Fly 25m25 minutes ago
Screw #PoliticalCorrectness! I’m coming out of the closet with the following admission; I have Islamophobia! There…I said it! Pray 4 #Paris!
0 retweets 0 likes

Stefania ‏@memphis_77 27m27 minutes ago
This world is going straight to hell. All in the name of political correctness and the fantasy idea we can “just coexist” #Paris
0 retweets 0 likes

197

Kiwanda 11.14.15 at 2:37 am

me: “Physically mobbing a student journalist to remove them from a public space is not “discursive strategy,” stealing and destroying student newspapers is not “discursive strategy,” spitting on people is not “discursive strategy,” presuming guilt and trashing due process is not “discursive strategy”.

Roger Gathman@167: “To the contrary, this is a part of the rough and tumble of public life.”

The “rough and tumble of public life”? This raises so many questions about just what you think is acceptable. If the mob had smashed the student journalist’s camera, would that have been OK with you? Could they have delivered a good old-fashioned rough-and-tumble beat-down, is that OK? How about pepper spray or tasers for violators of university quad safe spaces, there’s usually no permanent damage, so no problem, right? Apparently urine-aid is no big deal, and spitting on people is OK, how about throwing shit at them, is that cool? I mean, only people who have said hurtful things. If stealing and destroying newspapers is OK, how about denial of service or other digital attacks on webservers with bad opinions, you’re good with that? How do you feel about “false flag” operations? Doxxing? Bomb threats and pulling fire alarms to disrupt discussion panels you disapprove of? Just what are the limits of rough-and-tumble action in the service of a righteous cause, such as collegiate Halloween costume regulations or 10-part grovelling apologies from administrators?

198

F. Foundling 11.14.15 at 2:52 am

@js. 11.14.15 at 12:53 am
> the semantics of use vs. mention are hideously complicated, and there’s a plausible and not uncommon view in the phil. of language that mention implies use. So that you cant actually disavow the semantic content of a term by putting quotes around it. In fact, about a decade or more ago I heard a talk by Susan Hornsby (I’m on a phone so you’ll have to look her up) precisely on this topic where she argued that if one finds a term objectionable such that one wouldn’t use it, one should be committed to not mentioning it either, on logical grounds.

All I can say is that I consider this position to be not ‘plausible’ but completely, utterly absurd, and I think that in practice any sensible person would agree with me. And it does have very real *practical* impications, as the current case shows. If the view is, as you say, common among certain philosophers of language, then so much the worse for the philosophers it is common among; when philosophy becomes so divorced from sensible practice, that’s a problem for philosophy, not for practice. By the way, perhaps I should point out that I also reserve the right not only to quote your description of this view as ‘plausible’, while disagreeing with said description, but also to occasionally refer to ‘God’, while disbelieving in the inherent premise of the existence of such an entity. If Susan Hornsby or anyone else considers this to be illogical, and if you somehow feel that it is appropriate to bring it up in a hypothetical discussion about whether I’m a theist and whether I agree with you, then – well, that’s not my problem.

199

js. 11.14.15 at 3:20 am

Yeah… the thing you think I’m saying is not the thing I’m saying.

200

Sebastian H 11.14.15 at 6:01 am

Let’s wait at least a day or two before dragging the French attacks into “everything I think about politics is right”, ok?

Regarding Dan Savage, the “hate crime” he was alleged to have committed was using the word “tranny” while explaining why he used to use it in his columns, why he stopped using it in his columns, and how that compared to other words that he still uses in his column (particularly “faggot” and “queer”). He was discussing how all three terms were used as slurs, and that the latter two were purposely reclaimed by gay people. He discussed how trans people used to try to reclaim “tranny” that way but that they wanted to distinguish themselves from transvestites, so he didn’t use the term any more.

However complicated the use/mention distinction is on the borders, this case is easy. It is an abuse (and I mean that to invoke an intentional attack which is intended to cause harm) to call that use of the word “tranny” as a hate crime. That isn’t about having a “safe space”. That is about using the language of “safe space” as a weapon.

This is similar to a discussion we had a while ago about the weaponization of “religious freedom”. This weaponization of “safe space” and “hate crime” against free speech show exactly the same characteristics. What was supposed to be a limited shield is turning into a much less limited sword.

201

MrMister 11.14.15 at 6:06 am

js.: the described view may exist in phil of language, but I doubt that it is common. Are you thinking of Jennifer Hornsby? She’s written on derogatory terms, but as far as I can tell not to say that they cannot be mentioned without being used. From her Meaning and Uselessness: How to Think About Derogatory Words: “Certainly there are occurrences of derogatory words that are utterly inoffensive… because they are examples in which it is part of the speaker’s message that she has no use for the word… This paper would have to be very abstract indeed if derogatory words could not even be mentioned” (she includes ‘nigger’ 15 times in the paper, along with many other slurs).

As to the broader points: I’m not sure why we have to fit ‘p.c.’ into a right/left olympics over who’s shittier. I don’t like petty leftwing authoritarianism and conformism. I don’t think that this commits me to anything at all when it comes to whether I think it’s the greatest danger confronting the nation, or whether I’d prefer my petty leftwing authoritarianism to my rightwing authoritarianism.

I went to a Krishnamurti school as a kid (left wing pseudo-guru social critic and inspiration to lots of new age hippies). They taught us wonderful social values that I still cherish to this day. They were also bent on conformism who simply could not accept that we might not all agree at the end of the day. And so they treated dissidents with the most passive-aggressive social pressures they could marshall up, always, always in the sanctimonious terms that said dissident was wounding the community, punishment was self-defense and–ultimately– healing, etc. It wasn’t exactly the gulag, as I am currently living to tell the tale, but it WAS stupid, and often very self-serving, and certainly not a celebration of the dignity and autonomous moral sense of every individual.

On the balance, I’m still glad I went there! I turned out pretty all right. But the bad parts were bad–and I get frustrated when we’re not supposed to be able to perceive that (or, at least, it is unspeakable in polite company to actually point it out) because of our presumed allegiance to the greater team.

202

js. 11.14.15 at 6:49 am

I’m just glad we’re all agreed that Dan Savage definitely absolutely did not commit a hate crime. Seriously, that’s fucking insane.

203

Sebastian H 11.14.15 at 7:28 am

Not sure if you’re being ironic, but the reason we are talking about it is that Dan Savage was accused of a hate crime in those circumstances.

204

Collin Street 11.14.15 at 8:14 am

How long until a CT commenter uses a tragedy to make a political point before the bodies have been collected and identified. Many of us have friends in Paris.

Do you think you could back the fuck off for just a minute? Answer-not likely.

Loathsome ghouls.

Let’s grant everyone the right to offend and be offensive! If the words and ideas are too hot to handle, stay out of the kitchen.

So, which kidneystones do you want us to listen to, kidneystones? Do you want us to engage in the rough-and-tumble of unconstrained uncensored debate, and maybe drive a few people away, like yourself, or do you want us to pay attention to the feelings of others and accomodate people so we can get more and more-representative voices?

Because you only get one of those choices.

205

kidneystones 11.14.15 at 9:05 am

@203 Yes and yes. I have no problem telling people to fuck off when they are being bone ignorant, or when they are engaging in precisely the trivialization of tragedy they accuse others of.

They haven’t counted the bodies yet, and France will be on lock-down and here you are trying to use the tragedy in Paris for a gotcha fail. It’s so you.

I’ve heard from just one friend based in Paris and I’m still waiting to hear from others in who are themselves very likely in a state of shock. Just heard now from another as I tap, thank god.

It’s a teachable moment! Asshole.

206

Z 11.14.15 at 9:24 am

Many of us have friends in Paris.

Indeed, many of us…

207

js. 11.14.15 at 6:53 pm

SH @203: I’m not being ironic. I said in my first comment on this topic that it was wrong to accuse DS of hate speech, and then again that it’s “abundantly clear” that DS wasn’t guilty of a hate crime. I’m not sure how many more ways I can put it.

208

Roger Gathman 11.14.15 at 6:56 pm

197 Here you are correct: “This raises so many questions about just what you think is acceptable.” But your list shows that one has to operate with some rule of thumb. Is it acceptable to violently argue with someone. How about knifing someone? How about killing them? All of these are degrees of violence, some of which are things that should be banned or forbidden, and if they happen, should result in arrest and imprisonment if possible. But a legal system that dealt with all violence absolutely would be totalitarian, and would collapse.
I am personally against destroying newspapers, say, and yet I don’t find it shocking. Do you find it shocking that reporters can be escorted out of press conferences by guards? The safe place principle is just a restatement of the territorial principle exemplified, for instance, in Ronald Reagan seizing a microphone at a debate he’d paid for and saying I paid for this microphone – the debate, of course, didn’t include his chief opponent, George Bush. The safe place principle isn’t a new thing, but an old old thing, and it is effectively how we parcel out public and private space. To pretend that the protesters at Mizzou had no right to a private space, but that x, who pays for an event, does, is hypocritical – although of course its the old hypocrisy of pretending the contractual order is synonymous with liberty.
So I will stick with saying: the rough and tumble of public life has unclear boundaries, and everybody will try to police them as part of that rough and tumble. In fact, by making the issue one of policing those boundaries, one can obscure the much more real issue, which is one of class and race privilege, and the academy’s failure, generally, to take apart structures that have been there since apartheid days.

209

F. Foundling 11.14.15 at 6:57 pm

Probably no good beating a dead horse here, but I just can’t help myself:
I hereby declare that ‘Herrenrasse’ is a Nazi ideological term, and Nazism is evil.
I hereby declare that ‘The White Man’s Burden’ is a colonialist ideological term, and colonialism is evil.
However, it is apparently ‘plausible’ to claim that that due to my very typing the words ‘Herrenrasse’ and ‘The White Man’s Burden’, I ‘can’t actually disavow’ Nazism and colonialism.
Many commenters here have declared that ‘political correctness’ is a right-wing term for something that doesn’t exist, and believe that right-wing politics is evil.
However, it is apparently ‘plausible’ to claim that due to their very typing the term ‘political correctness’, these commenters ‘can’t actually disavow’ the right-wing attacks against alleged ‘political correctness’.
Also, never mention the bear by his name or else he’ll come and eat our livestock! Just call him ‘Ole Brownie’.
Also, kill him! He said ‘Jehovah’! (oops)
It does take some intellectual sophistication to bring us all the way back to this sort of thing.
That’s it, done here. Sorry for the momentary levity, I hope nobody reading this is mourning.

210

Sandwichman 11.14.15 at 7:18 pm

“They haven’t counted the bodies yet…”

kidneystones @205 expresses righteous indignation at disrespect for the dead with a abjectly disrespectful objectification of “the bodies” — as if counting them is what counts. I may be uncouth but at least I am not uncouthly unaware to the point of self parody.

May I point out that they also haven’t yet counted the bodies of those who have not yet died but will undoubtedly fall victim as a consequence of whatever outrageous deeds will be perpetrated to avenge this heinous crime and the unspeakable acts that will be performed in retaliation. Let us all be silent until the cycle of violence has finally exhausted itself in a Hellish pile of corpses.

At least we’ll have a good excuse for not speaking against the monstrosities. We were waiting until all the bodies were counted.

The body count was the metric adopted by the McNamara technocrats to determine success of the war in Vietnam. Apparently a ratio of 10:1 indicated progress. I suppose that going by that metric the defense of Western Civilization is still ahead of the game. Just to be on the safe side, though, perhaps it would be prudent to round up all the Syrian refugee and gas them. That may be the only way to smoke out the infiltrators. It may not stop the terror but it would do wonders for the body count.

Oh, I suppose the politically correct would weep about the civilian collateral damage. But the point is that Western Civilization would thereby demonstrate its determination, its willpower, its power and its moral superiority.

There’s your teachable moment, kidneystones.

211

Kiwanda 11.14.15 at 9:39 pm

Roger Gathman 209: you didn’t really clarify your boundaries on acceptable actions, and you mentioned a lot of irrelevancies, but I’m happy to hear that you’re against stealing newspapers. Although, you “don’t find it shocking”. I suppose there are people in the world who do, but what does that matter?

You mention the decades-ago demagogueries of Reagan, or recent ones of Trump, as though they are relevant, although I don’t see how. You mention a “safe space” principle, as though a public area such as a state university quad can be made private at whim, and in particular from journalists. You mention the “much more real issue, which is one of class and race privilege”, as though ending those things required abandoning civil liberties.

You mention “the academy’s failure, generally, to take apart structures that have been there since apartheid days”. As I look at the “Amherst Uprising” manifesto, I see: demands for general apologies from administrators; a demand for some people to be censored and to be required to receive extensive training for “racial and cultural competency”; a demand for a “zero tolerance policy for racial insensitivity”; the removal of the unofficial mascot “Lord Jeff”; and various other “keep us out of jail” and “put them in jail” conditions. Now I like to see administrators grovel, and sensitivities get trained, and awarenesses get raised, and mascots get removed, as much as anybody, but nowhere on the list do I see any “structures” being taken apart. I wonder what you have in mind.

212

Collin Street 11.14.15 at 10:11 pm

> nowhere on the list do I see any “structures” being taken apart.

Structures exist as relationships between people. But we can’t act on the relationships directly, only on the people in them: “structural change” manifests, therefore, as actions on individuals. If you’re determined to treat actions on individuals as only affecting those individuals then obviously attempts to produce structural change will be invisible to you.

Which isn’t to say that the set of changes is going to be effective in producing structural change. I don’t know, I don’t know the structures well enough to guess. But… well.

I mean: what would you take as evincing a desire to effect structural change, here? What actions would you expect to see?

Because if you’re excluding “retraining” as evidence I’m not entirely sure what possibilities are left.

213

Roger Gathman 11.14.15 at 10:40 pm

212, no, I mentioned a lot of relevancies, made an argument about the structure of conduct and the rules that bind it, and used various examples to dispute your notion that there is an ontological division between private areas – areas that you don’t explain, so intent is your search for relevancies, but which I suppose are defined by contract – and public areas. If you think Yale university is a state of Connecticut university, you are wrong. If you think State universities don’t customarily regulate the flow of people in its space, than you are lost in space. If you think that destroying newspapers on campus is a shocking and criminal act, I urge you to attend a tailgating party at the game between Texas and Oklahoma. There you will have all the shockingness you want. You can tremble with indignation about it for years!

214

Kiwanda 11.14.15 at 11:30 pm

Collin Street: “I mean: what would you take as evincing a desire to effect structural change, here? What actions would you expect to see? “

When “structural change” was brought up, somehow I expected it to be a bit grander than mascot removal and sensitivity training, but now I know that when some people demand “structural change”, that might be what they mean. Live and learn.

Roger Gathman: “I mentioned a lot of relevancies,”

Well, no: in particular, whether something is “shocking” is not relevant, bad things done by other people (Trump and Reagan) elsewhere are not relevant.

“If you think Yale university is a state of Connecticut university, you are wrong.”

Whew, dodged that bullet.

“If you think State universities don’t customarily regulate the flow of people in its space, than you are lost in space. “

They generally allow their own students in their spaces, I hope. There’s some interesting discussion here of the events at MU that under discussion.

“There you will have all the shockingness you want. You can tremble with indignation about it for years!”

Sure, OK, thanks.

215

kidneystones 11.15.15 at 12:06 am

Here’s one for the point-scorers.

“A 23-year-old California State University, Long Beach student was killed in the Paris terror attacks, the school announced Saturday. Nohemi Gonzalez, an El Monte resident, was a senior studying industrial design. She was in Paris attending the Strate College of Design as part of a semester abroad program.

Gonzalez was one of 17 CSULB students studying abroad, according to a school official, who also said the other 16 students are safe. During a press conference, school officials said that Gonzalez was killed at one of the restaurant locations while she was out with other students. In the chaos during the attacks, one of the students noticed Gonzalez had been shot and was taken away on a stretcher. The student got in touch with the university and Gonzalez’s friends and family to inform them of what happened. The student’s name was not released, but officials at Saturday’s press conference called the person a hero for their actions.

Design professor Michael Laforte said the department was a small family and that Gonzalez’s passing deeply impacted everyone. She had recently come in second in a design competition.”Nohemi was something of a star in our department. She was a shining star,” he said. The university will hold a vigil at 4 p.m. Sunday.

The attacks in Paris were attacks on the young – and the young at heart – at play, in bars, cafes, restaurants, on the street, in a national stadium, and at a club. Ms. Gonzalez and her family had every reason to expect her summer of study in Paris would be as full of joy and learning as it is for so many of us who study and spend time in this wonderful city. I watched one interview yesterday with a man about my age desperately trying to locate his son. He was distraught, intense, but relatively calm. He reported that he had made ‘a hundred calls to the police, but to no avail. It was understandable, he said, because sadly he was not the alone in his frantic attempts to locate his son missing at the concert.

More, unhappily, to follow.

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Sandwichman 11.15.15 at 12:49 am

“Here’s one for the point-scorers.”

Let me get this straight, then. You are trying to tell me that there is a moratorium on criticizing the vile, slanderous rhetoric of reactionary bottom-feeders who would exploit this horrific violence to advance their hateful agenda? The mind boggles.

Now, I’m not implying that you somehow endorse Steyn’s filth. Perhaps you do. If so, you are scum. But if you find this kind of rabble-rousing filth LESS offensive than exposing the filth, you are a very confused little person.

The Barbarians Are Inside, And There Are No Gates

by Mark Steyn

Twenty-four hours ago, I said on the radio apropos the latest campus “safe space” nonsense:

This is what we’re going to be talking about when the mullahs nuke us.

Almost. When the Allahu Akbar boys opened fire, Paris was talking about the climate-change conference due to start later this month, when the world’s leaders will fly in to “solve” a “problem” that doesn’t exist rather than to address the one that does.

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kidneystones 11.15.15 at 1:26 am

@ 217 Actually, I’m not trying to tell you anything. I did tell you to SFU because your timing and priorities are/were badly off. Nor was I alone. One other suggested more gently than I you think about might be the best way to respond to an extremely tragic event that is/does affect many here, directly or indirectly. As it turns out, I took several courses in a Cal State graduate program some years ago, so was doubly saddened to learn that a particularly bright, beautiful young woman who very clearly embodied her family’s dreams was snatched from their lives. My own students, family, friends, and peers are all aware of personal and professional connection to Paris. I’ll doubtless have to field some questions and expressions of concern. As noted by at least one other, I am far from alone in this respect. I fully expect that some people I know will be more directly affected as these victims are identified. Others here have either already received such news, or harbor real fears of bad news to come. Given that some 99 more are critically injured this process is likely to continue over time.

I get the sense that none of this registers with you as real experience, which is why, in part, I find nothing to object to in your feeble invective. You write that you began teaching at university in 2012. Congratulations. To give you the benefit of the doubt I’ve constructed a persona for you, which may or may not be accurate. You have never buried one of your own children. Indeed, you may have none. You have not been present at the birth of one of your own children, attended a graduation, taken your own child to a hospital to receive care, or had any of the sundry joy and sorrow-filled experiences that are part and parcel of being part of a family. That is the only possible logical explanation I can find for your insensitivity and extraordinary lack of empathy towards a community of educators and students. Age doesn’t always bring wisdom, and certainly hasn’t in my own case.

I hope you have an easier path, and I sincerely hope you never have to experience some of the events I’ve identified above, or that parents across France and outside France are living through right now.

Best regards.

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Shylock Homeslice 11.15.15 at 1:49 am

Meanwhile the National Front is protesting in France…

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Sandwichman 11.15.15 at 1:58 am

“I did tell you to SFU because your timing and priorities are/were badly off.”

Nope. You told me to shut the fuck up because I was highlighting the opportunism of propagandists whose “timing and priorities” was entirely predictable. For some inexplicable reason, exposure of hateful propaganda causes you more discomfort than the hateful propaganda.

You don’t seem to have any scruples about exploiting personal tragedy to score YOUR point, which is that I am being crass and insensitive by calling attention to the crass insensitivity emotion mongering by those that exploit personal tragedy to advance their hateful political agenda.

Please don’t try to palm off your smarmy “benefit of the doubt” psychologizing on me, Bucko. Your violin is out of tune. With benefits of the doubt like that, who needs character assassination? I wonder if you have any idea of how transparently dishonest your rhetorical clichés are. I’m sure you would never cease to be amazed.

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Sandwichman 11.15.15 at 2:14 am

Shorter @218: “I, kidneystones, am a mensch. Sandwichman is an unfeeling insect.”

Actually, come to think of it, that pretty much sums up kidneystones’s shtick. His arguments are RIGHT because he is such a caring person and other people are WRONG because they just don’t care about people.

Can’t argue with that. It’s ad hominem. Picture kidneystones petting a kitten.

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Ronan(rf) 11.15.15 at 3:02 am

I’m not, personally, much of a fan of ‘point scoring’ post tragedy, but 218 is truly extraordinarily obnoxious.

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Donald Johnson 11.15.15 at 3:09 am

Sandwichman, I don’t think you did anything wrong with your original post, but sometimes it’s better just to walk away. Nobody wins these little internet pissing matches.

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js. 11.15.15 at 3:24 am

What Donald Johnson says.

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kidneystones 11.15.15 at 3:35 am

Evidently, more than one person seems to have trouble with the concept of knowing when and when to start politicizing a tragedy. Here’s a case in point: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/11996196/FIA-chief-Jean-Todt-under-fire-for-comparing-Paris-terrorist-attack-death-toll-to-road-traffic-accidents.html

I’m not a particularly caring person. I don’t have a kitten to pet, but I do know Paris and have enough sense (usually) not to say something particularly stupid around the grieving. Case in point. Prior to a research trip to Paris last year, I received the unfortunate news that a friend and a very valued member of a Paris community I belong to had passed. I made arrangements to attend the funeral. At the wake I happened to be talking with the mother of the deceased. The distraught mother spoke no French, and so I found myself translating for several French speakers who spoke no English. One woman offered her condolences and then proceeded to observe something to the effect of ‘your son wouldn’t have died had he been wearing his seat belt.’ Rather than translate that very correct, but crushingly stupid observation, I pointed out to the lady that this might not be the best time broach that subject. She agreed, unlike a select few here.

Like it or not, many of us here do have friends and family in Paris. They are welcome to speak for themselves. The victims do not seem to have been in the slightest political, but wanted nothing more than to enjoy an evening out. I hope I do not find that people I know have lost anyone close. But others here may. The 24 hours Sebastian H asked for are up. Unfortunately, moving on will not be quite so simple.

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Sandwichman 11.15.15 at 4:27 am

Donald Johnson and js.

You’re right. I was procrastinating marking term papers.

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MPAVictoria 11.15.15 at 6:29 am

“I’m not a particularly caring person.”

You don’t say….

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Faustusnotes 11.15.15 at 8:18 am

Seems like kidneystones is trying to exert pc pressure here.

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RNB 11.16.15 at 6:31 am

I’m late to this, and perhaps this has been discussed. But I don’t understand why Christakis would oppose this recommendation:

“And while students, undergraduate and graduate, definitely have a right to express themselves, we would hope that people would actively avoid those circumstances that threaten our sense of community or disrespects, alienates or ridicules segments of our population based on race, nationality, religious belief or gender expression.”

In scoffing at this recommendation–which was not an attack on free speech– she could reasonably be understood to have been expressing willingness to stand by a student who wished to dress up in blackface or something similarly obnoxious and thereby making it more likely that someone would do so.

I remember as an undergrad my “friend” asked me to dress up in the so-called wife beater undershirt and wear a bandana. And so I did, and he and others started calling me “cholo” and laughing at me. I was not aware of the stereotype at the time or of the fact that I looked like I fit it to my fellow classmates.

Let’s say that that undermined my ontological security as a member of the campus community a bit, though it allowed my classmates to put me in a box that they already had for people who they thought looked like me.

I was also ridiculed for the way I mispronounced “entrepreneur”, a word I had not heard. But I won’t get into the irony of that.

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kidneystones 11.17.15 at 10:24 am

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kidneystones 11.17.15 at 10:29 am

And there’s more. http://www.mediaite.com/online/students-at-ithaca-now-protesting-to-get-college-president-to-step-down/

Frankly, I take some delight in seeing administrators roasted, but I’m under no illusions that there’s an end to this that does not involve me losing my own job. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. More protests, leading to more resignations, leading to more protests, leading to…

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Sam Dodsworth 11.17.15 at 11:19 am

More protests, leading to more resignations, leading to more protests, leading to…

…change.

Hope that helps.

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kidneystones 11.17.15 at 11:47 am

@ 233 Did you watch the clips? Perhaps you’ve no need to meet your new masters, or you’re simply keen to be ruled by children. I take quite the opposite view. Unlike you, I’ll have to content myself in a community of scholars who deem even a whisper in a library to be intrusive and bad form.

Enjoy your future with the ‘change agents.’ Fun times!

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