This is No Conspiracy Theory. It’s Real.

I belong to a distinguished legal association—I bet you can guess the field– that one would expect to understand the importance, indeed the necessity, of encouraging open discourse that is welcoming to divergent points of view. Yet yesterday, when I and another lawyer dared to make observations that varied from official progressive cant, the president of the organization, no less, reprimanded us for making comments others on the list found “offensive.” She then posted the listserv’s rules and standards which, as with all such things, were completely subjective, and translated to, in the words of my similarly reprimanded colleague, opinions that conform to the consensus here are acceptable; those that do not are uncivil and subject to censure. Finally, in a remarkable display of self-indictment, she told my colleague that continued publication of non-complying positions and arguments would result in his losing professional referrals.

That’s called “a threat.” It’s also called “chilling speech.”

To the target of this reprimand’s credit, he responded (no weenie he): “I guess I’ll just have to down-size then.” I would have opted for the less elegant “Bite me,” and will, if I have the opportunity in the future.

This is no right-wing conspiracy theory. This is what is going on in all the professions now. I know that there are many lawyers on the list who have been cowed into silence, and shame on them. The only way to fight nascent totalitarians is to fight them.

And that’s the way it is.

28 thoughts on “This is No Conspiracy Theory. It’s Real.

    • “Every Normal Man Must Be Tempted, At Times, To Spit Upon His Hands, Hoist The Black Flag, And Begin Slitting Throats.” H. L. Mencken

      And The Gotch can resist anything…but temptation…

      The Gotch

  1. Ugh. Walter Cronkite.

    Walter, you lying, lefty son of a bitch. It’s been a long time since I sat in our living room as an impressionable little kid as you and your buddies poured your proto lefty bullshit right into my impressionable brain. Kiss my ass.

    Strong letter to follow.

    • “What part of society has not been warped beyond recognition by this baloney?”

      Probably only individuals at this point. A quick short list that I hope others will add to.
      Dave Chappelle, Novak Djokovic, Candice Owens, Kanye West, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, all the doctors/researchers/med. pros./journalists that spoke up against fascist Fauci, Trump, Kurt Schlichter, EA commentariat, PragerU, etc. Hillsdale College is an outlier unwoke institution.
      There are several journalists who spoke up and quit their overly biased woke papers whose names elude me.

    • Those who work with their hands in the blue-collar world remain largely unaffected. Many are left-leaning politically, thanks to labor unions, but few are anywhere close to what you’d call “woke”. Their leftism is usually limited to economic issues, and even that only lasts until they start feeling entrepreneurial and hang out their own shingle. It’s incredible how quickly your views on labor relations shift when suddenly you’re the one paying the bills and signing the paychecks.

      You won’t find many electricians or plumbers or carpenters that introduce themselves with their pronouns, and if you want to hear some very “problematic” conversation, join a drywall or roofing crew for a day. People who work hard, potentially dangerous jobs for a living have a properly proportioned sense of risk and danger, and usually end the day having done something real, concrete, and physical. That greatly reduces their need to engage in the kind of bullshit status games and victimhood preening that pass for accomplishment in the culture of today’s “progressives”.

      • Indeed Jeff; that is a large segment of the population I overlooked when listing top-of-my-head non-wokesters. I also failed to mention Glenn Greenwald among many many others.

        The thing is; cultural perception is terribly skewed because of what Hollywood, sitcoms and the MSM, present to the public and that intimidates people while the actual reality is very different.
        At least for now, it appears that whoever has the megaphone has the power but it is not real power.

      • ” if you want to hear some very “problematic” conversation, join a drywall or roofing crew for a day.”

        Hehe, you might also hear the sprinkler joke.

  2. What would happen if people start complaining that progressive cant is offensive? If you are met with a denial that the consensus view cannot be offensive remind them them that the consensus represents the view of the majority and by their rules, only a majority can effectuate oppression.

      • One of the tenets of Saul Alinski’s Rules for Radicals is to make the opposition play by their own rules. I have yet to wonder why conservatives have never adopted this form of polemic warfare to engage the enemy instead of always playing defense.

        • I’d you’re not insane, it is incredibly difficult to keep up. One side can shittalk all it wants and make up any fact it needs. It then gaslights, projects, and accuses the other side of doing that. There is literally no standard (unless you can infinitely regressive standards) for the counter party to hold the other to.

  3. Jack,

    In the social media world, this is known as “vaguebooking”. You’ve given your audience a general conclusion without the specific supporting details that might allow them to make their own. I appreciate there might be wise reasons for remaining vague, but then maybe consider not posting about it, or it comes off sounding like the beginning of an urban legend “A friend’s sister’s old roomate’s father-in-law …”

    • Huh. Jack’s audience may like ‘vaguebooking’, critical thinkers all. Personally, Jack Marshall as urban legend sounds good. No need for supporting details.

    • How is that “vaguebooking”? What occurred is clear: a statement was made that was deemed insufficiently in line with the majority sentiments of a (large) legal professional group, and the group’s president weighed in to admonish the non-conforming member(s) and warn them that there would be negative consequences of further echo-chamber deviations. That’s all that needs to be explained. The details are irrelevant to the phenomenon.

      Do you just hang around and wait for some contrived opportunity to make complaints like this? Thanks for the new term, but it doesn’t apply here.

      • Well, for whatever it is worth (but maybe this is what Neil Dorr is getting at), your description is not sufficient for me to form any type of judgment or opinion as to the propriety of the Association. While I may not characterize this as “vaguebooking,” I get the reference and it is probably close enough to be fair.

        What you have described sounds bad, but, being one not inclined to jump to conclusions, my feet have not left the floor yet. I don’t have enough information from what you have given me.

        Possible things that might have elicited the Association’s response: 1) Japanese internment camps were okay because some of the detainees were not U.S. Citizens; 2) it was okay for slavery to be legal because black people are inferior to white people; or 3) Plessy v. Ferguson was rightly decided because equality, not unity, is all the Constitution guarantees.

        All three of those statements involve legal issues. All three of them are (essentially) contradicted by standing legal doctrine. All three of them would be considered unpopular minority positions in the legal field. And, all three of them might call into question the professional judgment of the lawyer making them.

        IF any of those positions WERE the ones made in this listserv, THEN would the Association be justified in its response?

        If not these statements, are there any such issues that would justify the type of response given by the Association?

        That, and simple curiosity, leads me to want further details.

        -Jut

        • Unfortunately, the necessity of keeping direct details of comments on the listserv make my revealing more details ethically questionable. But I would not flag the episode if what was asserted was anywhere near third rail statements that could legitimately qualify as racist, sexist etc. except to those who abuse the terms in order to quash legitimate discourse. The general topic was using “present” standards to justify “cancelling” 19th Century figures’ contributions to educational institutions, and the individuals’ current honors stemming from those contributions.

            • To me, what was significant was that a benign argument that was no more outrageous than questioning the wisdom of condemning 19th Century figures for not having absorbed 21st century values was called a breach of civility and decorum, and made the justification for a thinly veiled threat of career impact penalties. This is what happens at universities; it’s the old Chinese saying about how the protruding nail will be beat down. I’ve never personally witnessed that before, and coming from a group of lawyers, it was shocking. And ugly.

              • I understand in several ways.

                There is a term, the Devil’s Advocate, that is the lawyer for the Devil. The legal profession, who think everyone, even the Devil, deserves a lawyer’s defense (assuming the Devil can pay hourly), should be capable of entertaining even the most novel arguments.

                That the profession can’t do that is troubling.

                I have often joked, in only a halfway manner, that I left the study of Philosophy for Law because, if I am going to argue about meaningless minutiae, I may as well get paid for it.

                It’s a half joke, because I expect both philosophers and lawyers to entertain ANY idea for sake of argument, if not more.

                I would like to think I could debate any point, even those I find to be incorrect, or even reprehensible.

                The ability to do that is a good thing.

                -Jut

      • Jack,

        You didn’t name the organization, the topic under discussion, or what was said that proved so controversial. Again, I understand the need for anonymity on the internet, but this offers little in the way of specifics that would allow your “critical thinkers all” to adequately consider the situation. If you can’t offer said specific details, it leaves more questions than answers.

        “The details are irrelevant to the phenomenon.”

        Hogwash. If your friend was advocating that we should eat the poor or that non-white children didn’t have souls, some light moderation might have proven meaningful, especially depending on it’s relevance to the larger topic. Context is everything.

        • You’re just wrong, Neil. If my friend (i have never met him) was advocating that we should eat the poor or that non-white children didn’t have souls, I obviously wouldn’t have an ethics issue with the conduct. This is an ethics blog, I am an ethicist, I have accumulated credibility in not posting nonsense. Occam’s Razor applies.

        • Just to be clear: “You didn’t name the organization”—I said it was a legal organization made up of lawyers, and that readers could probably guess the field—“the topic under discussion”—irrelevant and unnecessary—“or what was said that proved so controversial”—I said that it”varied from official progressive cant,” and that’s all anyone needs to know. If you choose to doubt my judgment as to what such comment would be, then you shouldn’t be following the blog or care about my ethical analysis.

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