Unethical Quote Of The Month: Slate’s Joel Anderson

“For Black employees, it’s an extremely small ask to not hear that particular slur and not have debate about whether it’s OK for white employees to use that particular slur.”

—Joel Anderson,host of Slate’s podcast “Slow Burn” and an African-American journalist.

Just ponder that statement a bit while I provide the context.

The online publication Slate suspended Mike Pesca, the host of “The Gist,” a podcast on news and culture. Why, you ask? Well, says the New York Times, he debated with colleagues on an interoffice messaging platform  over whether non-blacks  should “be able to quote a racial slur” in some contexts. Wait, new York Times–what “racial slur”? Isn’t that crucial to the story? Oh..oh..I get it. The Times also can’t quote a racial slur, whatever it is, even if the “context” is a news story about that slur! Got it.

This is so stupid it hurts.

Slate staff members were discussing the resignation of Don McNeil, the science reporter whose cowardly resignation from the Times for doing nothing wrong—except apologizing to a an office mob— was discussed here. Pesca (of course he’s white) had to argue that there were contexts in which the slur could be used, despite the fact that there are contexts in which ANY word can be used in a free society.  Slate’s chief executive, Dan Check, “stepped in to shut down the discussion.”

Ooooh. Can’t have discussions about contentious and controversial issues within the staff of an opinion magazine! Is this not self-evidently absurd? And if not, why not?

Pesca, unfortunately for him and us, is a weenie on this topic. When he used the word—nigger, of course–in a 2019 podcast about a black security guard who was fired for using it,  he used the term while quoting the man. Then he asked his producer to make a version without the term, which was the one used. Incredibly, Slate held a human resources investigation because he used the slur. If the man had any integrity as a journalist, he would have quit then, with a ringing memo about censorship. Instead, he apologized to the producers. Pesca, who has worked at Slate for seven years, learned this week that he would be suspended without pay indefinitely—-for even arguing with staff members that words should not be taboo when they are the legitimate topic of a social or political issue. He says he is “heartsick” over “hurting his colleagues”—they weren’t hurt, you censorship enabling weakling— but added, “I hate the idea of things that are beyond debate and things that cannot be said.”

Really? If that’s true, why did you apologize in 2019? You greased the skids for this. You were the architect for your own destruction, and what you enabled is now menacing all of us.

Jacob Weisberg, Slate’s former chairman and editor in chief, reacted to the incident by saying, “I don’t think he did anything that merits discipline or consequences, and I think it’s an example of a kind of overreaction and a lack of judgment and perspective that is unfortunately spreading,”

How unfortunate. This is the kind of gentle tut-tutting that allows free speech to perish of a thousand cuts.

Now for the quote: “asking” that citizens in a democracy be restricted in their vocabularies and the issues they can discuss is not ” as small ask.” This is incrementalism. If it’s acceptable to punish the use of some words and content, it is no small step to do the same with others. Smith’s fatuous statement is a defense of speech suppression.

Slate, meanwhile, is a disgrace. And I can’t post this piece on Facebook, because if I do, I’ll risk having the blog banned again.





18 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month: Slate’s Joel Anderson

  1. Have you seen this surprisingly-critical article about the issues at Smith College? Can we hope that people are starting to recognize these toxic practices for what they are?

  2. The first example of this “any use of ‘nigger’ is verboten dates back to John Schnatter’s being deep sixed at Papa Murphy’s Pizza (2017-2018) because he had the audacity to say “nigger” on a conference call when talking about the fact people used to call people niggers when he was a kid growing up in Indiana. Lunacy that should have been nipped in the bud back then. He wasn’t using “nigger” as a slur, he was simply talking about the word. Stupid.

  3. Irritating. But not worth worrying about. Understandable too. Just backwash from decades of hypocrisy and discrimination. It will pass more quickly if you ignore it.

  4. Somewhat apropos to this, an article by John McWhorter,
    whom Mrs. Q referenced in her guest column Feb 15th Mathematics As Indoctrination, is one of the very best I have read on the subject of the racial grievance industry. It is a very long read (well over 5000 words), so allocate a substantial portion of your morning or evening.

    McWhorter describes the current crop of “Antiracists,” which he refers to as “The Elect,” as the high priests of a new religion, complete with historical references, comparisons, and a compelling discussion in depth about how the two are indistinguishable.

    A quick taste directly applicable to this blog post:


    The Elect consider it imperative to not only critique those who disagree with their creed, but to seek their punishment and elimination to whatever degree real-life conditions can accommodate. There is an overriding sense that unbelievers must be not just spoken out against, but called out, isolated, and banned.

    To many this looks hasty, immature, unconsidered. It is much of why The Elect are often minimized in public perception as mostly people under 25 or so. Surely it is hotheaded kids full of beans who behave this way, rather than seasoned adults?

    Alas, no. The reality is that what The Elect call problematic is what a Christian means by blasphemous. The Elect do not ban people out of temper; they do it calmly, between sips of coffee as they surf Twitter, because they consider it a higher wisdom to burn witches.

    Andrew Sullivan was “burned at the stake” as a heretic. So was Bari Weiss, and Don McNeil, and now Pesca among many others.

    Thoughtcrime is real, and it is here. For all their rhetoric about “having a conversation about race,” What the “woke” really want is obeisance to their religion, a religion that only condemns. There is no possibility of salvation for white people, or for those considered afflicted by “whiteness” (whatever that is). If you are white, or too closely assimilated into American culture, you are a witch.

    There is only one suitable fate for witches, both in colonial Salem, and in 21st century “woke” America.

    • I read it, but the first few paragraphs were cringe. He needs a religion for the analogy to work, but he’s really quite stupid about Christianity.

      • I don’t think he’s so much “stupid” about it as he is stereotypical. That approach is more useful to his point, and I think it works.

        To be fair, it is doubtless also stereotypical of some in the “woke” community — few if any similes are perfect or without logical flaws, and the broader the brush, the more quickly that usually becomes apparent.

        • The analogy would be more valid if he had said, “Wokism resembles all of the stereotypes that woke people themselves perpetuate about religion.” The problem is that he believes the easily debunked stereotypes himself.

          “resembles Abrahamic religions” – Wrong. The examples he cites from Islam don’t have a Jewish or Christian equivalent. Typical New Atheist misinformation, trying to lump all three Abrahamic religions together when convenient to making Christianity a target by association. Leaves out and spares pagan religions, like, say, Hinduism, which literally separates people into higher and lower classes, and would, if we’re being objective, make for better comparisons to the woke mobs.

          “certain questions can’t be asked in Christianity” – Nope. Christianity demands a thorough search for objective truth in all areas. It’s why the Scientific Revolution followed the Reformation.

          “Christians say you’re just supposed to have faith” – Lie. Only in cherry-picked depictions of “what Christians say” in fanatical atheist screeds. The vast, vast majority of teachers, preachers, theologians, etc. will outright reject this statement, and explain that faith simply means trust in God, which is correct., and which is done because God is trustworthy; not out of blind adherence. Faith is only an opposite to reason in the straw man version of Christianity depicted by the worst kind of fundamentalist atheists. No one having a debate out religion in any serious academic setting would say anything this dumb, because they would immediately be called out on it.

          “no answer for why God lets bad things happen” – Wrong. Everyone knows the orthodox Christian answer to that question. It’s because human sin has tainted creation. You don’t have to like the answer, but don’t pretend that preachers, theologians, and the Bible itself try to duck this question, when in fact it’s been laid out for millennia.

          “no proof of original sin” – Bollocks. Original sin isn’t some made-up concept comparable to “white privilege.” Original sin is self-evident. People already know that they do bad things sometimes, without having to be taught this in the form of a doctrine. People who have never even heard of Jesus still seek out ways to cope with the fact that they feel guilt and cognitive dissonance over the things which they do that they know are wrong. It is a real thing that would continue to exist, even if we all collectively decided to ignore it. You may not see Jesus as the solution, but that doesn’t negate that the gospel is presented as an answer to a real and common human condition.

          “Christianity requires heretics be punished” – Nope. Good luck finding chapter and verse for that one. The very worst thing that Christians are authorized to “do” to a heretic is expel them from the church, which makes sense because the church is a collection of people who meet together to follow Jesus and his teachings, and a heretic doesn’t want to do that. The only reason a heretic would WANT to be in the church would be to undermine it. Outside of that, there is no chasing down, punishing, or wanting to harm a person for heresy. On the contrary, the hope is that the heretic will be won back. Which makes it a bad analogy to online Twitter mobs. Tellingly, the only example he used to compare woke mobs to in this case were Stalinist purges. Stalin’s regime was atheist.

          McWhorter’s essay, when stripped of its biases, would make a better case that Christianity is a viable worldview which helps and improves society, and wokeness isn’t. Someone undertaking to write THAT essay would be fire.

          • While I agree with you, I think you are somewhat more determined to defend Christianity than take his point. That’s fine, your fisking has little for me to object to.

            But his entire purpose was not an even-handed inquiry into Christianity, but an exposition that “Wokeness” embraces the worst, most stereotypical parts of religion generally. His choice of Christianity is apt because most readers will be at least noddingly familiar with the stereotypical Christian fanatic that we’ve all grown up hearing about. The great points you raised would’ve mired his piece down beyond viability had he even acknowledged them, let alone examined their validity to his simile in depth, even if he did believe them or had bothered to examine Christianity in detail (he evidently doesn’t and hasn’t).

            That doesn’t bother me one bit. I think his simile is even more powerful for the fact that he only compares “wokeness” to the very worst caricatures of Christianity. We are all familiar with that stereotype, and the fact that wokeness closely emulates the Evangelical Christian religious caricature helpfully exposes this new doctrine it for what it is — the worst, most dangerous of sort of dogma.

  5. It had long been known to the great kings of our race that there was a word which, if spoken by the wrong person, would destroy all living things except the one who spoke it. But the ancient kings were weak and softhearted and bound themselves and all who should come after them with great oaths never even to seek after the knowledge of that word. But I learned it in a secret place and paid a terrible price to learn it. I did not use it until she forced me to it. I fought to overcome her by every other means. I poured out the blood of my armies like water.

    The last great battle raged for three days here in Charn itself. For three days I looked down upon it from this very spot. I did not use my power till the last of my soldiers had fallen, and the accursed woman, my sister, at the head of her rebels was halfway up those great stairs that lead up from the city to the terrace. Then I waited till we were so close that we could see one another’s faces. She flashed her horrible, wicked eyes upon me and said, “Victory.” “Yes,” said I, “Victory, but not yours.” Then I spoke the Deplorable N-Word. A moment later I was the only living thing beneath the sun.

    • How did you learn of this? is it the last of The Words of Guru, and did you learn it from its historian, C. M. Kornbluth? Do you not know that its preservers never even write it down, but only ever transmit it to their successors in enciphered form?

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