Jennifer Williams’ Three Questions

Harpers’ “anti-cancel culture” letter, discussed here was instructive, but not in the manner that its sponsors intended. It excluded most conservatives (except Stockholm Syndrome types like David Brooks) and all of those who had been damaged by progressive cancel-mobs, making the exercise suspect as Left-wing grandstanding. Worse, an alarming number of progressives who didn’t sign the letter expressed disappointment that others did, because they fervently believe that expressing opinions that vary from woke cant should be punished, and that (though they won’t come right out and say it) free expression is undesirable. Hate speech, you know—makes people feel “unsafe” to have to associate with the unenlightened.

For some reason the criticism centered on Vox, the website begun by Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein when pretending to be anything but a partisan shill became  too much for him. Vox is as biased leftward as Breitbart is biased in the other direction, which is why I seldom use, and never trust, either. Several Vox employees publicly objected to the fact that their colleague Matt Yglesias signed the letter, apparently forgetting that Yglesias, “by any means necessary” fan that he is, once admitted.

In response to the uproar, senior foreign editor Jennifer Williams tweeted,

What a fascinating set of ethics questions!

Let’s examine them, shall we?

Question #2, the one Williams answers, is apparently not as obvious as she seems to think it is. Tufts University history lecturer Kerri Greenidge demanded  to have her name  removed from the list of signers, claiming that her name  was used without her knowledge or consent. “I do not endorse this @ Harpers letter,” Prof. Greenidge tweeted. “I am in contact with Harper’s about a retraction.” The Tufts historian’s sisters, novelist and New York Times opinion writer Kaitlyn Greenidge and playwright Kirsten Greenidge also asserted  that Kerri was included among the signatories without her consent or knowledge.

Prof. Greenidge was lying—to the public, and to her family. Harper’s quickly produced an email exchange from late June in which Greenidge agreed to sign. “Yes, I will add my signature. It reads well,” Greenidge wrote from her Tufts email address. “Let me know what more you need from me.”

“Oh, just a promise that you won’t cave like a wet cardboard box and start blaming us if some of your progressive pals and family members complain, I guess,” is what Harper’s should have responded. Continue reading

Oh, So NOW You Support Free Expression! [CORRECTED]

In Harpers, a grab-bag of pundits, artists, has-beens and assorted progressives/liberals were persuaded to sign an open letter protesting the “cancel culture” and bemoaning its suffocating effect on free expression and debate.

Tangent: Lots of people wrote that they didn’t recognize most of the names. I know 28 of them, and several, like Ron Sullivan, Emily Yoffe, and Dahlia Lithwick, have been subjects of posts here. Not only that, one signer is a college classmate (Nadine Strossen) and another, Diedre McCloskey, was a next door neighbor when I lived with my parents in Arlington, Mass.)

“Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement,” the epistle says in part.

Apparently allowing prominent conservatives to sign the letter was considered “divisive,” or the organizers could only get the leftists to join in if the righties were excluded. This restriction of expression in a letter about censorship undercuts the message, don’t you think? To make sure no dedicated conservatives agitated to sign, the letter cleverly included this poison pill:

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.

Ann Althouse yesterday properly and vigorously flagged this as the disingenuous BS it is, writing, Continue reading

Reddit’s Approach To Addressing “Systemic Racism”: Rig The Rules

I have  a larger post on this topic in the works, but Reddit’s recent actions deserve special exposure.

Yesterday, the platform banned the subreddit devoted to President Donald Trump based on what the company said was the influential subreddit’s repeated policy violations. A Reddit executive told reporters that the huge group allowed people to target and harass other people, and reddit does not believe in hate. “Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people,” Steve Huffman, the company’s chief executive, said. “‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that.”

Hate-hating Reddit also unveiled its new anti-hate policy yesterday, which is, the platform says, intended to protect groups from based on their race or color, religion, national origin, gender, identity, and sexual orientation, among others. Victims of “a major violent event” are also protected, as are their families.

However, “While the rule on hate protects such groups, it does not protect all groups or all forms of identity…For example, the rule does not protect groups of people who are in the majority or who promote such attacks of hate.” Continue reading

“1,825 Words You Can Never Say On Facebook”

This is ominous: it’s the second time this month that I’ve had good reason to quote George. Did the Democrats already take over?

In 1972, the late George Carlin debuted his famous routine called “ “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” The words were: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits, all of which you can hear on television today. (Who says life doesn’t keep getting better? ) But George would be fine: I have it on good authority that in Stand-Up Heaven, where Henny Youngman has St. Peter’s job, George is knocking celestial audiences dead (metaphorically, of course,) with his new monologue, “1,825 Words You Can Never Say On Facebook.”

It’s hilarious, if a little long.

The Foundation For Individual Rights In Education has released a report based on its investigation of how public universities—that’s the government, remember—engage in surreptitious censorship of student expression.  Censorship of student expression is illegal, but The FIRE exists because so many universities find that concept too complex to grasp.

Implicated in the results: Facebook, which provides  the tools for censorship, including its automated content filters. These allow state institutions to automatically “hide” users’ comments if they contain words included on Facebook’s undisclosed list of offensive words, or a government entity’s customized list of prohibited words. The filters allow  public universities to quietly remove critical Facebook posts, restricting open campus and public discourse.

The  FIRE surveyed over 200 public universities and colleges across 47 states and the District of Columbia. It found that fully half of the surveyed institutions  use Facebook’s “strong” profanity filter, while nearly a third use the “medium” filter. That means  about 77% of surveyed institutions use an undiclosed  blacklist of prohibited words. Nearly a third of the universities surveyed (59, or 30.3%) created a custom blacklist, collectively censoring 1,825  words and phrases in order to, among other unconstitutional objectives, “block animal rights activists’ criticism of food vendors,” suppress “debate over the fate of  a campus Confederate monument,” and stifle debate over controversial faculty, politicians, and sports teams.

Public universities can and do manipulate Facebook comments to distort the  public discourse. Wright State University, FIRE tells us, deleted comments supporting a faculty strike from its Facebook page,  confining debate over the action to a rigged community forum that appeared supportive of the university’s administration while being critical of striking faculty.

Yup, that’s how fascism works!

 Facebook doesn’t alert a user when their post has been removed, or tell the public that comments have been censored, so this system is perfect for mind and opinion molding. FIRE says,

These automated methods of censorship are not only contrary to a commitment to freedom of expression, but also provide government actors with tools that—in light of recent federal court rulings concerning President Trump’s Twitter feed—violate the government actors’ legal obligations under the First Amendment.

Below are the words that Facebook helps universities control speech and thought by censoring. Some will be relieved to know that “retard” is on it. Then again, so is “poor”…

Won’t You Try Saturday Afternoon Ethics, 1/25/20? The Segue Post…

The Winter of Hate would seem like a good time to remember the Summer of Love, don’t you think?

1.Well, that’s nice! A man gets along with his brothers! Rich Juzwiak is Slate’s sex advisor. A recent male enquirer asked him, “I live in a large house along with six brothers, all adults and close to each other in age, two of whom I am having sex with….The problem is that I don’t know what to call this arrangement…”

Oh, is that the problem?

What’s an interesting though experiment is trying to define exactly what this big, happy family arrangement is unethical, or even if it is. What harm does it do to society or non-consenting people? It doesn’t risk unhealthy babies, or ruin the family heirarchy like male-female incest

It the fair and honest answer to the reader’s question, “What do you call it?” “I call it so icky I want to barf, not that there’s anything wrong with that”? Is this the best example of the Ick Factor ever?

How about, “I don’t know what to call it, but if you don’t sell it as a reality show, you’re all idiots” ?

An aside: This reminded me of my favorite Ann Landers question of all time. Ann’s readers said she was having an affair with the husband of a professional lady wrestler, who walked in on her and the cheating husband as they were getting disrobed. He babbled that she was his masseuse, and, incredibly, the credulous wrestler bought it. She asked the terrified mistress if she would give her a massage too, and, trapped, Ann’s inquirer agreed. The wrestler was pleased—so pleased that the woman is giving her weekly massages while continuing to have sex with the wrestler’s husband. What do you think was her question to Ann?

“Can I get in trouble for giving massages without a license?”

This convinced me that Ann Landers answered more fake questions than I previously assumed. Continue reading

The Lesson Of Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week” Fiasco: Jerks Make Terrible Champions And Martyrs

Conservative agitator/ campus troll Milo Yiannopoulos’s Free Speech Week in Berkeley, California was advertised as a major event, bringing some of the most Left-reviled  conservative speakers and rabble-rousers together for four straight days of speeches and events on a campus that has repeatedly disgraced itself by being hostile to speech its primarily progressive denizens consider “hate speech.”

The University of California was taking elaborate measures to avoid the violence that protesters there and at other campuses have brought to appearances by many of the featured speakers. It was rumored that as much as $600,000 would be spent on security. The prospect of the rhetoric of such professional provocateurs as Yiannopoulosas, Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter, to name the best known, echoing around the school where it was least welcome promised an instant cultural touch-point, like a right-wing Woodstock, while challenging leftists and ideological censors to reveal their ugly, totalitarian sides.

But by the end of the week, many were predicting that the event was a mirage. Speakers whose names had been promoted on preliminary schedules either pulled out, denied they had been contacted  or said they were never planning to go. The campus publication sponsoring Yiannopoulos’s circus, The Berkeley Patriot, never reserved indoor school venues. Yiannopoulos kept up the pretense, announcing on Instagram a planned march through campus tomorrow in protest of Berkeley’s hostility to free speech. “It’s time to reclaim free speech at UC Berkeley and send shockwaves through the American education system to every other college under liberal tyranny,” Yiannopoulos wrote.

Today, the day before the “Week” was to begin, UC Berkeley announced  that ‘Free Speech Week’ was officially cancelled, saying,

“Representatives of the Berkeley Patriot student organization have informed UC Berkeley’s administration that all of the events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled. It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”

Now there is mass confusion, with strong indications that the event was a sham from the start. Lucian Wintrich, one of the planned speakers, e-mailed Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof this morning,  to say that the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote.

“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” replied Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?”

 

Wintrich replied, “Yes.”

An account of the chaos and miscommunications surrounding the event published by The Atlantic yesterday certainly made this development seem probable. Milo, as late as this afternoon, insisted that the intention was always to hold a real week of speeches. He has as much credibility as someone who makes his living creating controversies and infuriating his ideological foes deserves to have: none.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: University Of California at Berkeley

“Free speech” at Berkeley…

Ethics Dunce, Unethical Quote of the Month, Incompetent and Indoctrinating College Administrators of the Day (there are so many during the week)…all of these would have been fair, in light of Berkeley’s sad offer to counsel students whose delicate psyches feel bruised because a young conservative loudmouth is speaking somewhere on campus. This is presented on a web page offering solace in response to a visit by Ben Shapiro, a pretty much standard issue hard-right polemicist, less right than Bernie Sanders is left, and about as dangerous to any student’s “safety” as Peewee Herman in his prime. (Actually, I think Peewee could take him.) Yet this:

Support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty

We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging. No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe. For that reason, the following support services are being offered and encouraged:

In his response to this embarrassing example of universities attempting to stifle diversity of thought, Professor Turley is being a weenie again:

Notably, the counseling is not for the violence at such speeches or disturbing messages on both sides. Rather it is the presence of speakers like Shapiro that might threaten a student’s fear for their “sense of safety and belonging.” The school insists that “No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe.” No mention of the past protesters with signs like “F**k Free Speech” or beating those who do not share their views.

It is the sole inclusion of the speaker and not the counter-protesters or campus disruptions that concern me. It appears to reinforce the view that conservative speakers are a foreseeable threat to the sense of safety and belonging of students.

It appears to reinforce that view, professor? It does reinforce that view, and is intended to reinforce that view. As such, it is an attack on freedom of thought, speech and expression, as well as an attempt to demonize any student who would choose to hear what Shapiro has to say. The statement embodies the current anti-speech, anti-First Amendment, anti-American position spreading through academia that hate speech isn’t protected speech, and any speech that opposes progressive cant is by definition hate speech.

What Berkeley should be offering is counseling for students who justly fear that the Berkeley administration’s alliance with the repressive Left threatens the safety of democracy itself. Continue reading

Indoctrination And Intimidation At The University Of Arizona: Who Will Say, “So What’s The Matter With That?”

I feel the same way, Lucy…

There is a dumb joke in an old “I Love Lucy” episode that this story brings to mind.

Lucy is outraged when she reads that there is am all- filly race at the local race track and misunderstands. Horrified, she erupts, “How long  has this been going on? They’re racing little girls at Churchill Downs!” Ricky promptly explains why she was being an alarmist.

I hope that somehow the news item’s reporter got the facts wrong or I am missing something, because this story is far worse than racing little girls, and nowhere near as funny.

The University of Arizona is accepting student applications for what administrators call “social justice advocates.” The job requires the students to “report any bias incidents or claims to appropriate Residence Life staff,” and pays the student workers $10 an hour. They’re expected to work 15 hours a week, earning $600 a month in taxpayer funds—this is a public university—to police their fellow students speech and conduct.

Part of the job description reads:

“The position also aims to increase understanding of one’s own self through critical reflection of power and privilege, identity and intersectionality, systems of socialization, cultural competency and allyship as they pertain to the acknowledgement, understanding and acceptance of differences. Finally, this position intends to increase a student staff member’s ability to openly lead conversations, discuss differences and confront diversely insensitive behavior.”

Their #1 job, however, is to report “bias claims” so the student miscreant involved can face a Star Chamber, or the university equivalent. Such a claim can be what someone regards as  an outright act of “racism,’ which presumably could include anything from using a racial epithet to saying Maxine Waters is an idiot,  to  “microaggressions” like “cultural misappropriation,” or calling a transgender student by the wrong pronoun. The social justice advocate’s job will also include “fostering dialogue” related to “diversity, multiculturalism and social justice”—in other words, to be a full time left-wing scold— and  to “increase  awareness of diverse identities” while “promoting inclusive communities.”

I wonder if being stuffed in a closet or hung on a hook will be considered a “biased incident” by these paid political correctness snitches? That is, after all, what would happen to them on a healthy campus. Will they have little badges and whistles? I think they should get badges and whistles. Or get a uniform like Rolf at the climax of “The Sound of Music.”

They’re racing little girls at Churchill Downs! Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day: A Berkeley Student Republican

“Ann Coulter is definitely not the hill to die on.”

—-Patrick Boldea, 19, one of five Berkeley Republicans interviewed for the New York Times story, “Life and Combat for Republicans at Berkeley.”

Just call her “Mount Ann.”

Boldea was talking about the recent controversy over Berkeley’s de facto blocking of conservative troll Ann Coulter’s scheduled speaking date at his college because of “safety concerns,” which only means that she was in effect censored because of threats from left-wing student and faculty totalitarians, which comprise most of the student body there.

“She has an image that’s been tainted by a lot of horrific statements,” he explained.

Yes, and that’s exactly why Ann Coulter is  the  perfect “hill to die on,” just as the Nazi marchers in Skokie was the best possible hill for the ACLU to die on…except the ACLU didn’t die in that episode. To the contrary, it established its integrity as a champion of the First Amendment.

Boldea doesn’t understand the principle of free speech, which is unnerving. If young conservatives and Republicans don’t understand freedom of speech sufficiently to fight for it, what hope is there for core American values and personal liberty? Young liberals and Democrats—and a frightening number of older ones—clearly neither understand nor support free expression, unless it is attacks of the President, conservatives and Republicans. Continue reading

What, No Riots? No Protests? No Heckler’s Veto? What’s The Matter With Conservatives Anyway?

Prolific commenter Other Bill just sent me a provocative link, with an implied question. The link covered an event this week sponsored by ‘Democracy Now!’ in which legitimately credentialed linguistics expert and professional America-hater Noam Chomsky answered questions from interviewer  Amy Goodman  at the First Parish Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The topic was President Trump’s first hundred days.

Chomsky has been sowing the same anti-U.S. bile since I had hair, and his targets–capitalists, businesses, conservatives, whites, Republicans, the military, anyone who doesn’t reflexively barf at the sound of the Star-Spangled Banner—are on notice what to expect, and have been for decades. Sure enough, Chomsky delivered: his theme this week was that the Republican Party is “dedicated to the destruction of organized human life on Earth.” No, seriously. This is the kind of thing Chomsky fans have feasted on forever.   “Is the Republican organization—I hesitate to call it a party—committed to that? Overwhelmingly. There isn’t even any question about it,” he says at the outset. Later he says the the Republican Party is “the most dangerous organization in human history.” More dangerous than the German Nazis, more dangerous than the Soviet or Chinese Communist Parties, more dangerous than all of the organizations, cults, religions and radical groups that murdered and tortured innocents, engaged in genocide, spread terrorism and launched wars. and

Sure, Noam. Whatever you say. Continue reading