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August 08, 2018

Comments

If you’re sorry afterwards, that makes it ok

There's a lot of room between contending that being sorry afterwards gets a complete get-out-of-jail-free card for anything, and refusing to let anyone learn from their mistakes but holding those mistakes over them forever.

Ted Kennedy, sorry or not should have been tried for vehicular manslaughter while under the influence, and if convicted, jailed.

Second.

Ted Kennedy, sorry or not should have been tried for vehicular manslaughter while under the influence, and if convicted, jailed.

Second.

Thirded. Not to mention, there's good reason to think he should have been tried for rape, and if convicted jailed likewise.

Actually, scratch that. I believe that was a vague memory about William Kennedy Smith.

Whatever. Reading what I wrote as 'giving a pass' (which would mean ignoring what he did rather than taking into account what they wrote in apology) is a pretty big comprehension fail. And quite an impressive act of mind reading as well, so don't wear out that mind reading cap of yours.

As for 'things that seem odd to McT', it seems interesting that what seems odd to you overlaps pretty extensively with whatever I observe. Coincidence, I'm sure.

Actually, except for the part expressly addressed to you, nothing I wrote embraced your comment. It did embrace others and it did embrace a number of the links. I'm with Sapient on this, and I think efforts to rehab or contextualize Tabbi are problematic. Those are the only points I intended to make, other than my broader comment that picking out who to excuse based on common viewpoints is a universal flaw.

But, to address your 12:33, I'm not looking for trouble with anyone these days. Conversations, yes, trouble, no. If and when you make a particular observation that I have the time and inclination to discuss, I will do so and will endeavor to do so civilly and without regard for the shots we've exchanged in the past. Time will be the primary determining factor, not inclination. You make a lot of comments that I would like to visit about on the merits in the context of an exchange of views and not in the context of getting into an argument. Time permitting, I'd engage with you and others here daily. In three years or so, if all goes well, I hope to do just that and on a daily basis. Right now, I'm more swamped with work than I've ever been, which is actually getting quite old.

So, sincerely and genuinely, time permitting, I would like to reset with you and others and see what can be done about testing one another's views without drawing knives. This was a forum, back in the day, when that was pretty much what we did.

There's a lot of room between contending that being sorry afterwards gets a complete get-out-of-jail-free card for anything, and refusing to let anyone learn from their mistakes but holding those mistakes over them forever.

Yes, of course. And there are matters of degree, kind, context, time, sincerity, etc. that inform each individual case. Sapient's link didn't refer to a one-off, drunk/stoned act of stupidity. It described an approach to life and to females. So, that person is an animal until it is shown otherwise, convincingly. I am generally not on board with hounding people out of the public square for past bad acts if, as Byomtov says, they really did try to make it right. If all we get is a modified, limited hang out, to harken back to the days of yore, then leave them out in the cold. Just my personal view.

Sapient's link didn't refer to a one-off, drunk/stoned act of stupidity. It described an approach to life and to females. So, that person is an animal until it is shown otherwise, convincingly.

I'm curious to know if you read the link I found after reading sapient's. I wouldn't say it exonerates Taibbi of any and all wrongdoing, but I would say it calls into serious question some of the worst things he was accused of.

Please note that I don't really care that much what anyone thinks of Taibbi, per se. I'm more interested, for the moment, in what different presentations of information people find compelling and why. I was sort of flabbergasted by what I read at sapient's link and surprised that I hadn't heard about it sooner. I then found the Paste Magazine article. So I went from "Holy sh1t!" to "Hmmm...." in a matter of minutes.

I guess I'm unclear about how Tabibi is being "given a pass".

I'm also unclear about how NR and Buckley come into it.

I need to improve my reading comprehension.

Also, my comment upthread about Tabibi was actually not really on topic - i.e., had nothing to do with why Tabibi was under discussion.

I have no issue with sapient's comments about Tabibi, FWIW.

I need to improve my reading comprehension, and also remember to read the whole thread.

Fail better!

As far as censorship goes, my understanding is that Jones violated various terms of service wrt the channels he has been banned from.

Sucks to be him.

William Byrd, the English Renaissance composer may well have done something he needs to apologize for

Not so. The man composed like an angel.

I'm curious to know if you read the link I found after reading sapient's. I wouldn't say it exonerates Taibbi of any and all wrongdoing, but I would say it calls into serious question some of the worst things he was accused of.

Unless I misread--which I often due in haste--he and his colleague wrote, as men in their mid 20's, enthusiastically of sex with a 15 year old, among other things. Even if it was hyperbole, made-up, whatever, it is all-world, animal-level activity that no amount of contextualizing--in my view--will serve to correct.

I guess I'm unclear about how Tabibi is being "given a pass".

I'm also unclear about how NR and Buckley come into it.

I need to improve my reading comprehension.

On the general topic of making past mistakes, acknowledging and trying to do better, NR took some problematic stances in the 50's and early 60's. I read it regularly and see an entirely different point of view. Others still hold viewpoints written 50 years ago against NR. If we are going to forgive and, if not forget, at least overlook, I think ideology ought not to be a factor. That was the point I was trying to make. It is fine to address an ideology on its merits, but not to make it a condition of leniency.

So, sincerely and genuinely, time permitting, I would like to reset with you and others and see what can be done about testing one another's views without drawing knives.


A consummation devoutly to be wished, for all of us.


Even if it was hyperbole, made-up, whatever, it is all-world, animal-level activity that no amount of contextualizing--in my view--will serve to correct.

Taibbi didn't write that. That was the Ames guy (if I remember his name, since I don't feel like going back to find it). But the most serious charges weren't writing awful things (whether in satirizing awful people actually doing awful things or not). The worst charges were that they - Taibbi and Ames (if that's his name) - actually did the awful things they wrote about doing.

I have to assume that, regardless of context, actually having sex with a 15-year-old (among other awful things they wrote about) is worse than just writing about it. (And maybe writing about it satirically in a country that just lowered the age of consent from 16 to 14 isn't as bad as writing about it with genuine enthusiasm, even if it's still far from good.)

Nigel wrote—

“No, I don't think it does.

The cause you refer to says this:
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

That is a fine distinction. Fine to the point of being meaningless, IMO. However, probably the other thread would be the place to go further with that argument. My point here is that on highly emotional issues like whether some criticism of Israel is antisemitic, or whether such claims themselves are racist, I don’t want governments or corporations making these decisions. This has practical consequences. There are legal battles in the US involving BDS and whether laws saying that a state or local government can boycott businesses (or individuals?) which boycott Israel. The laws are contested on free speech grounds.

Free speech used to be pretty close to a moral absolute in the US. I can understand a place like Germany where it isn’t, given the very recent history, but except in the most extreme cases, like people plotting violence, I just don’t see any reason why we need protection from internet liars, except for the traditional ones involving lawsuits for slander or libel ( I can never remember the difference).

On Taibbi, he apparently wasn’t the monster portrayed in sapient’s link. There is no evidence he was a harasser or the original claims have evaporated on further investigation. He was someone who used crude insulting language about women, but has apologized. Not the same thing as Teddy Kennedy or for that matter Bill Clinton’ s behavior with Monica.

I just don’t see any reason why we need protection from internet liars

https://forward.com/news/national/387185/how-jewish-family-of-sandy-hook-victim-was-driven-out-of-boca-raton/

Almost immediately after Noah’s death, the Pozners began to receive threatening messages and to find their names in posts on social media from self-styled “truthers”: people who thought the Pozners were part of a massive government conspiracy to convince the world that a lone gunman had killed 20 children. They accused the Pozners — and their son, Noah — of being actors in an elaborate scheme orchestrated to help take away America’s guns.

That theory reaches from Twitter trolls all the way to Alex Jones, anchor of the conspiracy theory program “Infowars.”

https://forward.com/news/national/387185/how-jewish-family-of-sandy-hook-victim-was-driven-out-of-boca-raton/

"Libel and slander are both types of defamation. Libel is an untrue defamatory statement that is made in writing. Slander is an untrue defamatory statement that is spoken orally. The difference between defamation and slander is that a defamatory statement can be made in any medium."
Differences Between Defamation, Slander, and Libel

“It's not a surprise that you're turning yet another discussion towards the only issue you seem to care much about.”


Half true. It is what I comment on most of the time. American war crimes or support for war crimes is the issue where I probably know more than the average political obsessive on the internet. Psychologically I think this goes back to my Memphis childhood, where it was hard to miss the difference between what white people said in public in the newspaper about, for example, why they opposed busing for racial desegregation and what their children were saying every day. Polite stuff in public, the n word with the children who obviously got this from the parents.

We live in a country where both parties to some degree are guilty of supporting war crimes, so the issue is mostly ignored. Obama’s role in Yemen is fading into history and so most Democrats and some Republicans now oppose helping the Saudis bomb school buses. Good. But that wasn’t the case when Obama was in power. This doesn’t interest the politically engaged types nearly as much as Russiagate. I think this is backward. Palestine is a lesser issue— it isnt mass slaughter—but the hypocrisy on that subject is similar.

Most issues, as I have said, other people cover better than I would and usually don’t see the point in saying things other people say better. But on this social media thing, people who follow our foreign policy with a jaundiced eye will be instantly mistrustful of corporations and governments and think tanks deciding who the respectable sources of information are. They can take their imprimaturs and stick them someplace inappropriate.

American human rights violations ( or the violations of our allies) are an obsession because they are ongoing and people regularly ignore them ( most often) or lie about them, or excuse them, or say despicable racist things about them. They only become of interest to the mainstream on the same level as, say Russiagate, if there is a partisan point to be scored. Since usually both parties are involved, it puts a damper on the discussion. As Trump continues to excuse the bombers of school buses and as Obama’s support fades into prehistory, most Democratic politicians and a handful of Republicans are on the right side. But one doesn’t see almost daily commentary on it in mainstream circles. If you look at what interests politically engaged people it seems bizarre.

Palestine is a lesser crime, but similar on the hypocrisy scale.

Oops. Forgot to delete the part at the end.

Looking Backward -- always a fun exercise. When we get to that point, here's the theme music already available for the history of this period:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgtQj8O92eI

On Taibbi, he apparently wasn’t the monster portrayed in sapient’s link

Since my good faith is being questioned by responding to Donald, I'll just ask what in the links I provided is false?

A couple of other things:

I appreciate cleek's example of what can come of orchestrated Internet lying. See also Pizzagate.

I would like to reset with you and others and see what can be done about testing one another's views without drawing knives.

I will try.

To lighten the mood (assuming the organizer of the recent, underwhelming rally in DC being yelled at by his dad - because lives with his parents - is funny):

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/401950-white-supremacist-rally-leader-gets-yelled-at-by-his-dad-during

Free speech used to be pretty close to a moral absolute in the US. I can understand a place like Germany where it isn’t, given the very recent history, but except in the most extreme cases, like people plotting violence, I just don’t see any reason why we need protection from internet liars

Our (US's) own history wrt black people, specifically, is one of enslaving them for hundreds of years, then subjecting them to systematic denial of basic rights and in many places an organized campaign of terroristic violence.

We have a similar history wrt indigenous people, and horrible histories albeit of less extreme abuse wrt Asians and a variety of other people of distinguishable ethnicity.

If it's OK for Germans to censor Nazi propaganda, why is it not OK for Americans to censor white supremacist dogma?

I'm not saying we should or shouldn't, I just fail to see how the analogy backs up your point. It seems, to me, to do the opposite.

Not to mention the fact that no small number of people actually do plot violence, and more than plot it.

When your lies - and the real-world, dangerous consequences of those lies - are demonstrable, I think you're no longer in censorship/free-speech space (if we're talking about Alex Jones, certainly).

What liability should a social-media platform have to take on in knowingly allowing dangerous and blatant lies to spread through their services? When do we reach the point of "it's good to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out"?

What liability should a social-media platform have to take on in knowingly allowing dangerous and blatant lies to spread through their services?

Just out of curiosity, what legal liability do those (like Jones) who create and/or spread the lies have for the consequences?

That is, can the guy who created the pizzagate myth be charged -- maybe as an accomplice? After all, some of these nuts have gotten rich off their bull. Getting hit for millions in damages might at least provide some inhibition. As might prison time.

When your lies - and the real-world, dangerous consequences of those lies - are demonstrable, I think you're no longer in censorship/free-speech space (if we're talking about Alex Jones, certainly).

Who gets to decide what is true and what is not? Would Al Sharpton or Louis Farrakhan be subject to prior restraint? I agree that Alex Jones is 100% crazy, if not a disordered paranoiac. If the test is that we suppress speech that might inspire others to violence, there won't be much left of the 1st Amendment. I have a hard time being on board with any kind of prior restraint.

Just out of curiosity, what legal liability do those (like Jones) who create and/or spread the lies have for the consequences?

None. There was a movie back in the day, Natural Born Killers or something like that, that prompted some copy cat, real-life murders. Suits were filed but dismissed on motion. Incitement is still a crime--I think, it's really not my area of the law--and 'fighting words' can be punished after the fact (I think). I think others have tried to link porn to specific sex crimes and whatnot, but no case has allowed it.

Now, it's different, though. Twitter mobs and real life mobs following people around, yelling and screaming, fully intending to intimidate, approaches assaultive behavior. I'll grant we are in uncharted territory. Putting the government in charge of deciding what is true, however, is way more than a bridge too far for me. Of course, we could call it the Ministry of Truth. That might make it better.

I would think that Natural Born Killers, as a clear work of fiction, wouldn't be faulted for someone copying it. Whereas someone putting a fiction out as fact would be more clearly inciting, not copying but action based on the supposed fact. It seems (IANAL) like quite different circumstances.

When your lies - and the real-world, dangerous consequences of those lies - are demonstrable, I think you're no longer in censorship/free-speech space

Newtown families are suing Alex Jones for defamation. I hope they win a large sum of money, and that this will dissuade perpetrators of this garbage.

As to public figures who are defamed by conspiracy theorists, NYT v. Sullivan perhaps needs to be reconsidered.

Putting the government in charge of deciding what is true, however, is way more than a bridge too far for me.

Yes, but juries can do that.

I would think that Natural Born Killers, as a clear work of fiction, wouldn't be faulted for someone copying it. Whereas someone putting a fiction out as fact would be more clearly inciting, not copying but action based on the supposed fact. It seems (IANAL) like quite different circumstances.

This is a distinction that makes sense to rational people who don't hear or see something and go out and commit murder. It doesn't matter to the violent actor and it doesn't matter to the victim whether the person making the statement believed in what was being said or intended to make a fictional statement. Up to this point, the law focuses on the person actually committing the act. We should distinguish cases in which someone manipulates or goads a mentally incapacitated or marginally capable person into committing a criminal act.

Newtown families are suing Alex Jones for defamation. I hope they win a large sum of money, and that this will dissuade perpetrators of this garbage.

Yep, all the best to them. Hope he doesn't do to them what Al Sharpton did to his judgment creditors.

As to public figures who are defamed by conspiracy theorists, NYT v. Sullivan perhaps needs to be reconsidered.

Can't agree. The cure is worse than the disease.

Putting the government in charge of deciding what is true, however, is way more than a bridge too far for me.

Yes, but juries can do that.

In defamation cases, yes. But Russell and HSH are hinting at--I think and stand to be corrected--at some kind of prior restraint on speech. If I'm misreading them, consider this a retraction. And even in defamation cases, Anti-Slap statutes are putting those out of business. I don't know if you've had to screw around with that nightmare, but I have. It adds 15K minimum--and my rates are relatively low--to any lawsuit. I'm all about giving fact issues to juries. I've litigated probably a dozen or so defamation cases (and been the plaintiff in one too! That was a shitty two weeks in the courtroom even though I won). That said, I think defamation law is pretty well-settled and making changes in well-settled law due to new phenomena without first exploring all other reasonable options *and* waiting to see if the new phenomena really is as compelling as it was at first blush, runs counter to the stability we need in the law. IMO.

Russell—

I am not really concerned with the banning of Jones or Infowars. Haven’t read it firsthand, but understand he is filth. I assume he probably violated his terms of service agreement.

And look, I am going to post a link to a twitter thread where someone criticizes Greenwald and I agree. Alex Jones is not a hill to die defending.

https://mobile.twitter.com/adamjohnsonNYC/status/1029565006453645312

I think one could probably ban Infowars without raising any serious issues. But there are other people and groups who are also being taken down for what appear to be political reasons.

Though come to think of it, what about people who defend the war in Yemen? Can we ban State Department flunkies? They incite violence. How about people who say BDS is antisemitic? Hate speech, imo.

What liability should a social-media platform have to take on in knowingly allowing dangerous and blatant lies to spread through their services? When do we reach the point of "it's good to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out"?

Who gets to decide when something is too blatant or too dangerous? Some people think 'medicare for all' will be the death of the country. Others think capitalism should be stamped out by force if necessary. If the goal is to limit harm caused by reaction to speech, why limit the speech we are concerned with to "dangerous, blatant lies." Seems to me, any real harm that can be avoided by censorship, if we are OK with censorship in principle, should be enough. We can just decide as a society that any and all speech that might cause a deranged person to perform a deranged act should be suppressed.

The prior restraint to prevent harm argument has been tried before. It was litigated a lot starting in the 40's up through the 70's. A somewhat related, semi-corollary also lurks in the nether regions of criminal jurisprudence, that being preventative detention, i.e. locking someone up before he/she can commit a crime. On a macro basis, it will prevent some crime. The trade off is pretty horrendous to old style civil libertarians, but a lot of stuff discussed today seems to fall in that category.

If the test is that we suppress speech that might inspire others to violence, there won't be much left of the 1st Amendment.

Might? What about did? I used the word “demonstrable” for a reason.

Who gets to decide what is true and what is not?

It depends on the situation, but there are cases where no reasonable person should have reason to believe something is true. Once again, demonstrable, not to mention brains falling out of excessively open minds. Ultimately, as sapient mentioned, it might come down to a jury. People are suing Alex Jones. Maybe Jones will take a shot at suing facebook and twitter.

McKinney,

Please elaborate on the jury point. Never mind defamation cases. Do judges (agents of The Government) ever impose "prior restraint" on lawyers to limit what the jury is allowed to see or hear? If yes, would either justice or the law be better-served without such rules?

--TP

Sapient, the link you posted gave the impression that Taibbi actually did those things. Not saying you lied. I don’t even say the Jezebel writer lied. The link hsh posted said that those stories were satirizing a type of American that was running wild in Russia then, a time when our country cheered on the sorts of horrific economic policies that set the stage for Putin the savior.

I don’t like that kind of satire precisely because it is offensive not only to its target, but also others. There might be a context, but that isn’t a good enough reason for using it. It is like Charlie Hebdo which we were told was funny given the context. I could condemn the terrorism and still think the magazine was crap. And Taibbi admits he used to be very crass and used misogynistic language and apologized to one specific target. Is that enough? Not for me to say. But no, he wasn’t doing those things, which is the impression the Jezebel link gave.

The MeToo movement changed a lot of attitudes. Bill Clinton isn’t quite as popular with centrist liberals as he used to be.

I suppose Mark Twain’s use of the n word and the depiction of racism is a counterexample, but that is Mark Twain being realistic about how white people talked then.

Seems to me, any real harm that can be avoided by censorship, if we are OK with censorship in principle, should be enough.

So, once you can’t yell “fire!” in a crowded theater, anything goes (or, really, doesn’t go).

Who gets to decide what is true and what is not?

Sometimes there is such a thing as objective reality. If you say human trafficing is occuring in the basement of a building which has no basement, that's simply untrue.

Of course, if you want to argue that everything is a matter of belief and there is no objective reality, that's a different discussion. But I don't think you are going there.

A current First Amendment prior restraint issue is court injunctions to prevent websites from providing weapons printing and milling files for download.

I don’t even know how prior restraint has anything to do with what I wrote. I’m talking about subsequent restraint. People go around doing crazy sh1t based on conspiracy theories someone is spreading - conspiracy theories identifying specific people who then become targets.

Who gets to decide when something is too blatant or too dangerous?

Who decides when something is assault, or just some loudmouth being obnoxious?

We draw lines. That's what the law is.

But Russell and HSH are hinting at...

No.

Donald stated that he could see a rationale for censoring hate speech in Germany, given their history. But not here.

We actually have a history of singling out people of particular ethnic heritages for horrific abuse, as a matter of law and practice. Perhaps not as dramatic as Nazi-era stuff, but then again maybe it is. And it went on for a hell of a lot longer.

I'm just asking Donald what the difference is. Censoring Nazis in Germany OK, censoring white supremacists in the US not OK.

Personally I think it's fine to boot Jones and Infowars from privately owned and operated channels if he violates their terms of service.

I also think it's fine if people are held criminally liable if their calls for other people to be assaulted or killed actually results in those people being harmed or killed. But that's just me.

Watch out, count! :)

We protect hate speech in this country. And we live with the result of that. It's a choice, with its up and downsides, like every choice.

People say hateful incendiary stuff all the time. Like, all the time, morning noon and night. Sometimes it ends up harming other people. We consider that a fair price to pay.

You pay your money, and you take your chances. Right?

Natural Born Killers is a work of fiction. It's not an exhortation to go kill anybody.

It's not an exhortation to go kill anybody.

And most certainly no one specific.

Sapient, the link you posted gave the impression that Taibbi actually did those things.

I honestly did not read the article that way. If anyone gave the impression that the authors actually did the things described, it was the authors themselves, by using the first person, and by marketing the book as nonfiction. As far as I know, the disclaimers were made only recently. That said, I'm perfectly willing to believe their disclaimers, and the article was based on the writing, not the acts themselves (although validating the behavior seemed indicated by the writing).

I agree regarding with you regarding the satire. I don't like it. I didn't like the Charlie Hebdo satire either, but there are cultural aspects to humor and satire, and I'm not French. Ugly satire never justifies violence and murder.

The #metoo movement is a continuing conversation. The fact that Taibbi's writing is degrading to women is not a revelation of the #metoo movement. It's not just the book; it's Taibbi's subsequent writing that betrays his view of women, as McKinney observed.

Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky is not comparable.

there are cases where no reasonable person should have reason to believe something is true.

The operative word here is 'reasonable'. Which is subjective. Are Trump supporters 'reasonable'? Should their speech, then, be subject to suppression? To litigation if it causes mental harm? Or a twitter mob and the loss of a job?

Please elaborate on the jury point. Never mind defamation cases. Do judges (agents of The Government) ever impose "prior restraint" on lawyers to limit what the jury is allowed to see or hear? If yes, would either justice or the law be better-served without such rules?

Applying the Rules of Evidence in a court of law is not prior restraint or censorship. I could fill pages with examples. Generally, hearsay that does not. fall with within a recognized exception is excluded from the jury's consideration. "Relevance" comes into play. The fact that a party to a contract dispute likes pornography is not relevant and it is prejudicial. Trial by law has almost nothing to do with free speech. The exceptions revolve around free trial v free press and other constitutional clashes. We aren't talking about that kind of stuff here.

People go around doing crazy sh1t based on conspiracy theories someone is spreading - conspiracy theories identifying specific people who then become targets.

What about people doing crazy shit in response to hearing something that doesn't rise to the Alex Jones level of insanity? No one wants crazy shit, but we get that from all kinds of sources. Why be so particular about that one? Forex, what about religious websites that call generally for jihad and acts of terror against infidels? There is a sizeable faction on the right that would have no problem with editing them out of reality. What about people who read the Bible, the Koran or Das Kapital and do crazy shit? Crazy pre-exists the stimulus.

Natural Born Killers is a work of fiction. It's not an exhortation to go kill anybody.

Understood. But my point is that while rational people get this, they aren't the ones loading up for the next big civil war, and worse, the ones who act of external stimuli. For them, the whole truth vs fiction thing is lost. They just know their righteous buttons have been pushed and now it's time to defend the faith or whatever.

I get the sentiment. It isn't knew and every past effort to find the sweet spot that prevents idiots from being idiots while preserving fundamental freedoms has failed. The internet makes failure more likely not less.

I’m waiting for the day when someone shows up at medicare-for-all’s house.

Nabokov's "Lolita" was not an exhortation for middle aged men to physically molest underaged girls either, but rather a beautiful piece of writing read secretly by all-female books clubs in Iran, where it was banned.

I chose it as my book to present at a book club years ago and nothing was banned, but there was some squirming. I think one couple never showed up again.

Awww, Americans are so cute, you can get recipes now along with your fascist QAnon right wing propaganda:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/pinterest-moms-share-parfait-recipes-next-to-qanon-memes?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning

I recommend cream with the strudel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eJPgA9wECU

It was OK at that point in the movie to shoot Hans Landa in the head at that table. It would have better to have shot him, oh, say, in 1935.

Then we could skip this movie exhorting us to kill Nazis as nearly every World War II movie about the European Theater has, since "Casablanca".

If the White House begins ordering the arrest and detention of its political enemies ... the Mueller team, liberals, Hispanic immigrants and activists, Black Lives Matter football players, and say, Mattis, supposedly a man of honor, though I doubt it, given the length of his tenure among those animals, does not start killing those around him perpetrating the outrage, who should start the killing?

"The Birth of A Nation" in fact exhorted the KKK to murder blacks.

Nothing is clear.

Here's mud in your eye.


The operative word here is 'reasonable'. Which is subjective.

Sure. It’s an imperfect world. Maybe we should just wait for God to come down from the sky to tell us what to do so we can avoid this messy subjectivity.

I'm not suggesting censorship. Where would it end?

But I am compelled to threaten Jones, for example and the rest of the right wing movement, including Putin's NRA, in the same exact violent terms they threaten our fellow Americans.

Thank you for allowing me the loose leash to do it.

I delete plenty of comments before they reach OBWI, if you can believe it.

“I'm just asking Donald what the difference is. Censoring Nazis in Germany OK, censoring white supremacists in the US not OK.”

I am not sure. Go back not terribly far and most whites were white supremacists. Millions still are. IMO, with respect to Palestinians a fair number of liberals subconsciously think like white supremacists. Who gets to decide that one? I have a friend and regularly see people online who are Nakba deniers. Not as severe as the Holocaust, not by orders of magnitude, but it is still dishonest racist bullshit with real world consequences.

I think the rationale in Germany is that there were or might still be enough Nazis around to try to stage a comeback, so they don’t allow Holocaust denial as we do. But I am guessing. Hartmut might be around.

I don’t think I am being obsessive though in asking why the same rationale wouldn’t apply to our foreign policy. Under both Obama and Trump you have State department apparatchiks pretending to believe the Saudis do good faith investigations when they kill civilians with American bombs. Americans might be present in the targeting rooms. Heather Nauert ( sp?) did this just recently after the bombing of the school bus. If it hasn’t been taken down, I could find a Russia Today YouTube clip of John Kirby doing the same under Obama. He objected to a comparison of Saudi bombing with Russian and/ or Syrian bombing, saying the latter was deliberate bombing of civilians but the former was targeting imprecision. In both cases, by continuing the aid and making these excuses and pretending that Saudi killing is accidental, they were giving permission for it to continue. They were lying and there are real world deadly consequences for innocent people because of these lies. The victims aren’t any less people just because there are basically no consequences whatsoever for Americans who participate in these policies.

We let this happen or it wouldn’t keep happening. So maybe before tinkering with the 1st Amendment, we could do something about actually punishing or at least ostracizing people who knowingly participate in or lie about actual cases of mass murder. Make it something like the MeToo movement, where since forever powerful men treated subordinate women in the workplace as sex toys and then almost overnight it became an issue where famous people lost their careers because of it. And where the political party of the person involved isn’t supposed to matter.

"Maybe we should just wait for God to come down from the sky to tell us what to do so we can avoid this messy subjectivity."

HE doesn't talk to us.

But he's come down and talked at length to every conservative in the country, save a few of the barbarians ;) who fraternize here with us and they know exactly what to do in every instance, and they are doing it.

Thar's the rub.

Someone is going to point out that Trump himself is immune, so far, to the MeToo movement. So far Trump is immune to every norm. I don’t think he could shoot someone in the street and get away with it, but am not completely sure about that.

It isn't knew and every past effort to find the sweet spot that prevents idiots from being idiots while preserving fundamental freedoms has failed. The internet makes failure more likely not less.

How so? Failure can go in either direction. Does the internet favor one over the other?

Morning McT,
To respond to your question about a reset, a first point is that 9 times out of 10, if you respond with something like the Ted Kennedy/Robert Byrd comment, it's not going to go well, not in a 'this sort of thing isn't done here', but because of the difference in timezones, which means that I will either try to make it clear why I don't think such a response is helpful before going to bed, or I will reply at length when I wake up like I am now. It was good to read that you misread and responded too quickly and I appreciate that. Making statements like that would go a long way to resetting things, at least as far as I am concerned.

The second thing is I'd suggest is know your audience. When you were referencing Kennedy, Byrd and Buckley, did you just choose them because they were the only examples who could make your point? If you honestly thought this, I suggest that you recalibrate.

It's always tricky to suggest that someone should write something else rather than what they did, but if you really wanted to discuss the question of what makes an apology something to take as a change of heart, but don't have time to write a long comment, you could have said 'what if Weinstein had written a facebook apology? What about Cosby?' Or even simply said "I really don't think that an apology on facebook cuts it", which is what Bernard gently pointed out. While that might have not had the zing of your comment, it would have gotten a lot closer to what you say is why you were posting.

I also don't expect you to read every link, especially if you are writing from your phone as you often do, but I think it is important to attend what the people here (including myself) are writing in the comments. Here's what I said:

Also to note is that Taibbi has done better than his co-author, Mark Ames, with his facebook apologies. I don't think he's out of the woods, but it's a start.

You said (which may or may not have been in reply to me) that 'If you’re sorry afterwards, that makes it ok.' not only confuses Taibbi and his co-author Ames, it also pretty much ignores what I wrote. Again, maybe what I wrote didn't even enter your mind, but if you look at the timing of the comments from my position, I hope you can understand why I might think that. I'd also note that I didn't say that people who had lower opinions of Taibbi (as you did in your first comment) were in any way wrong, but that they might reconsider after reading some of the other links provided. So I hope you can see why your observation about Kennedy et al seems a lot like a first punch, regardless of your actual intention.

Beyond any conflation of what I said with 'giving a pass', the next point I would make is that I'm probably going to react if I sense someone is picking a fight on the list. I'm not saying that I'm always right about my sense, but if I do feel it, I'm probably going to say something. If you were taking issue with what I wrote, take a look at Nigel's 04:35 AM comment to see how that can be done. If you didn't even consider my comments, but were responding to everyone else, I hope you can see why raising Kennedy, Byrd and Buckley is precisely why I wrote what I wrote. I could have written 'trolls gotta fish, but we don't have to bite', but that would have provided you with no opportunity to reply, so I gave my personal opinion, clearly marked it, so you could address me rather than claim that the whole list was the audience and I am grateful that you did take up what I said and asked about a reset.

I certainly don't claim that I keep all my anima and bile out of my comments. I also think that everyone, including me, has tics and habits in their writing that can be annoying, and that can lead to friction. But I want to emphasize that I try to comment on interaction on this blog when I think it can be changed, not when I think there is no hope of change so I hope that could be a starting point. thanks.

This is about right:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/republicans-lose-faith-in-the-fbi-for-all-the-wrong-reasons/

If republicans back the FBI, the country is in trouble.

If republicans go after the FBI, the country is in trouble.

ANYTHING they do or say, the country loses.

I honestly did not read the article that way.

I did the first time, but not so much after a re-read, following some of the back-and-forth here. The biggest problem I had on the second read, which didn’t come through as much the first time, was that the bulk of the piece discussed things almost exclusively written by Ames rather than Taibbi. That’s kind of a quibble. I don’t disagree with the thrust of it.

I think the Paste article reinforced my impression that the Jezebel piece implied or stated outright that Taibbi and Ames did the things they wrote about, only because the Paste piece discussed various other sources that did.

So maybe before tinkering with the 1st Amendment,

FB is still not actually the government.

FB is not the US government anyway....

I think most people here are opposed to censorship and prefer that even obnoxious points of view be allowed expression.

What concerns me about the present moment is basically the Karl Popper paradox of tolerance thing. How far can the resilience of a tolerant society be stretched by intolerant views and behaviors, before it breaks. And, what happens when it breaks.

And by "intolerance" I'm not talking about Alan Dershowitz having to eat his lunch all by himself on Martha's Vineyard, or conservative Hollywood actors not being invited to the cool parties. Or even Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave a restaurant.

I'm talking about folks who think that people who aren't like them are unwelcome, not just in their home or restaurant or party, but in the country, or even on the planet. Or even simply alive.

At a certain point, things break down. We're not at that point, but the trend is not favorable.

Is there a point at which speech that quite plainly advocates for denying others their fundamental rights, as citizens and simply as human beings, forfeits its own protected status?

If not, then how much of that can an open society absorb without breaking?

"FB is still not actually the government.

FB is not the US government anyway....:

Rereading Thomas Frank's "One Market Under God" just now, and he lists one conservative after another and libertarians who extoll exactly the opposite, if by FB we mean social media, the internet, and corporations.

"Is there a point at which speech that quite plainly advocates for denying others their fundamental rights, as citizens and simply as human beings, forfeits its own protected status?"

Yeah, say, in some bar or perhaps the street when such advocating happens and fists intervene for a few minutes until the one doing the advocating and the spitting out of teeth finally discovers a purpose for government ... to protect his freedumb ass.

Facebook is the government of facebook, I suppose. I’m the king of my toothbrush, come to think of it, but only my teeth could give a crap.

See, that is funny in a lunar landscape of not funny

Just a short response for the moment on the German legal situation.
Things like the Holocaust denial law were and are contentious and the high courts had to weigh in on them. It's in the German constitution that there is no censorship but there are a number of laws and regulations that de facto censor certain things and COULD be abused. As a general rule those laws only pass court review if the are effect-based. You may write and say anything in private*. For legal sanctions applying to you, the words and deeds must be public in the widest sense and a court has to decide whether they had a public effect or were intended to create one (and the burden of proof is quite high).

Sorry, I have to leave now but will expand on the topic later, if this is of interest.

*if the police bugs your home and tapes you singing Nazi songs or the like that is no legal reason to charge you with anything unless they can prove that you deliberately left the window open and are aiming those songs at your Jewish neighbours.

Marital vows .. what?

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/conway-on-husband-tweets-disrespectful-violation-of-basic-decency-if-not-marital-vows

One, or two, perchance three, long(s) for the days of Mary Matalin and James Carville like the reminiscence of a previous but not metastasizing bout of malignant cancer.

Help Wanted: Hiring the Stupidest Pigfuckers on Planet Earth To Run America. A facility with Russian helpful but not required. Just bring your dumbass republican conservative self down to Pennsylvania Avenue and start taking a shit on the country immediately.

Executions first.

Then, free elections.

Yeah, well, who set Zinke's pants of fire.

The Sierra Club?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/08/15/ryan-zinke-blames-california-wildfires-environmental-terrorist-groups/?utm_term=.2a2c09fd50d4

Fuck Republicans.

Burn them at the stake.

Marital vows .. what?

"With this Ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods [including tweets] I thee endow".

Gotta read the fine print before you sign.

Such a deal!

Bigly transactional (the only trans with its own bathroom and solid gold crapper), no?

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/cost-estimate-for-trumps-military-parade-raised-to-92-million-report-2018-08-16?siteid=bigcharts&dist=bigcharts

Will North Korea have a float in this boondoggle?

Surely, a Soviet aircraft carrier can be towed down Pennsylvania Avenue with Russian sailors rogering that with all hands on deck.

Raise my taxes if you want a parade.

I guess China's going to pay for it since cuck republicans have laundered all of their fucking cash flow on the spin cycle.

Harmut--
I am interested in how Germany handles Holocaust denial and censorship and so forth, if you want to go into the details.

Re: censorship, 1A, etc.

Are we, with Jones and his ilk, getting close to "Radio Rwanda" territory? If so, should anything be done?

As for blatant violations of the 1st Amendment, the USSC has already shown the way: Since Money=Speech, then Speech=Money, and what you say can be prosecuted as "material support of terrorism". At least one guy convicted on that basis.

Might try getting Jones on that. The shoe fits.

I just don’t see any reason why we need protection from internet liars

I do. It's damaging to us all when large numbers of people believe political lies. The internet makes it possible to promote lies to large numbers of people.

We need a law against publishing falsehoods. It should be illegal to publish as true something which can be proved beyond reasonable doubt to be false.

This would not apply to anything labelled by the publisher as fiction or parody, or which was obviously fiction or parody.

Enforcement would be mainly by take-down notices. Criminal sanctions would apply only to the knowing republication of statements which had already been proven false.

This would not stop people arguing for any proposition however mad so long as they don't assert that the proposition is true. "The earth is flat" is a lie. "These are reasons to think the earth is flat..." need not be. And, because freedom of speech is important, the law would not apply to bad arguments, only clearly dishonest ones.

One problem with explaining the legal situation in Germany is that German law loves to use ultra-oldfashioned terms* that have a very precise meaning but no direct equivalents in other languages.
There is no meaningful 'Holocaust denial law' by itself. It exists only as an act modifying the penal code in a few places and its main purpose is not to create new law but to fill a perceived gap that many experts deny existed in the first place. These are of the opinion that all aspects were already covered by the paragraphs before modification, just not spelled out explicitly. And they fear that the modifications reintroduce something that was eliminated in the long process of the development of the German penal code. The German supreme court even agreed and had to impose a very narrow reading, a closely defined exception of the general principle in order to let it pass. That general principle is that a law may not criminalize or punish beliefs or thought or opinion but only (potentially) their effect on the public peace and order when introduced in the public sphere. That's what I called 'effect-based' in my earlier post.
An older contentious case is the former blasphemy paragraph in the penal code. It once punished words and deeds against religion per se. Today it punishes (extremly rarely btw) the effect on public peace and order of speech or deeds in the context of religion. So, if I would hand out Martin Luther's anti-Jewish writings in front of a synagogue and loudly proclaim that we should follow his advice, then I could get arrested since this could cause a riot and endanger Jews and their place of religious assembly NOT because I insulted the Abrahamic religion.
In the case of the Holocaust, almost all cases of legal prosecution are based on 'neutral' law that has nothing to do with this specific part of German history, like the paragraph against defamation of the deceased**, incitement of hatred against a specific sub-group of the population*** etc.
The specific Holocaust case serves as a legal shortcut to deal with those that again and again clog the courts with variants of the 'just asking questions' strategy where the purpose is obvious but the precise link between those 'questions' and the non-specific parts of the penal code had to be established every time anew (in essence having to prove the reality of the Holocaust in every trial). The modified law allows the courts to state the Holocaust as an established fact and bad faith on the part of the deniers as default. So, the deniers have to prove lack of evil intent.
The impression I get is that this 'censorship' is not used as a clandestine reintroduction of Gesinnungsstrafrecht (punishment of thought crime) but as a measure of last resort to go after notorious dogwhistlers that try to use the courts to gain publicity for their 'case' (in the double sense of criminal case and political goal). The potential for censorial abuse by the state is seen as lower than the damage caused by the very real abuse of the non-specificity of the penal code. The high courts were very clear in their review of the changes to the code that they will step in, if the state tries to abuse this tool.
Ironically, the quite old law against the use of Nazi symbols**** causes far more trouble because it does not specify the purpose. As a result the state has formally to prosecute cases of their use in unmistakably anti-Nazi contexts (e.g. a sticker depicting a swastika thrown into a trash can). There are plans to modify the law to avoid that.

One important thing is that all penal code paragraphs in this context require the aggrieved party to go to court. The state cannot act in these cases by itself unless violence is committed (or imminent violence has to be suppressed in advance).
I think I will stop here for the moment.

*no new-fangled stuff like 'collusion' or 'emoluments' ;-)
**Verunglimpfung des Andenkens Verstorbener
***Volksverhetzung (ironically it is perfectly legal to insult all Germans together because they are not a specific subgroup).
****formally a general law against the use of symbols of organisations officially declared hostile to the constitution (only the highest court is allowed to do that). But I can't remember any prominent case not involving Nazis.

It can still get a bit dicey. For example:

The earth is flat. Here are the reasons to think so:
Is that substantively different from "Here are the reasons to think the earth is flat...."?

Not disagreeing that something needs to be done. Just wondering whether this is the right approach. Or even a viable one.

there's always lawsuits

Thanks Hartmut.

On Pro Bono’s suggestion—

“It's damaging to us all when large numbers of people believe political lies. The internet makes it possible to promote lies to large numbers of people.

We need a law against publishing falsehoods”

This seems like the standard thing I have always heard, which is that when shown a copy of the Bill of Rights without being told what it is, many Americans are opposed to it.

So we outlaw political lies. Great. First, what are we going to do during election years? I assume we all know our own candidates and their supporters are paragons of truthfulness, but the irrational ninnies on the other side, both during primaries and in the general election, wouldn’t know the truth if it was delivered to them on a subpoena.

Who gets to be the arbiter of truth? Okay, sure, I know who you’re gonna say, but seriously, people, I got better things to do than read the New Yorker or the NYT all the time just to make sure they aren’t pushing us into another war.

I assume this would also apply to government officials covering up war crimes? See earlier rant. I think we already have laws about complicity and arming countries that we know will use the weapons to commit human rights violations and they aren’t enforced, so presumably this anti- lying statute isn’t going to be applied to the biggest and most consequential liars.

Or we could just save time, end the whole democratic experiment thingey and hand the country over to some philosopher king or queen. No, no, not volunteering.

Joking aside, in practice this means that the government decides what is true. No thanks.

Mark this day (or really, yesterday): I agree with McKinneyTexas.

And with Donald, though that's not so unusual.

I can't think of anything more apt to be abused than the power to censor words. I don't have a good answer for the destructiveness (as McK says) new phase we're in, facilitated by the WWW, but putting the government in charge of the truth would be a disaster.

How many people here would want Donald Trump running that machinery? And don't tell me that with someone responsible running that machinery he would never have been elected; that machinery would be as ripe for abuse as all the other features of US government that have been twisted by various people over the years. Obama's Supreme Court appointee? Oh, wait......

We need a law against publishing falsehoods. It should be illegal to publish as true something which can be proved beyond reasonable doubt to be false.

If I were in charge of the machinery, here are some falsehoods I would immediately censor:

Jesus died for our sins.

God loves me.

Etc.

Who gets to define "reasonable doubt"?

It's turtles all the way down.

Just as a side comment, I want to say (which I very often think) how valuable and interesting I almost always find Hartmut's explanations and descriptions. Thank you for taking the trouble, Hartmut, you shed a great deal of light.

there are already, and always have been, restrictions on speech. the right to say what you want isn't absolute.

We need a law against publishing falsehoods.

I agree with what seems to be the sense of the room that this is not a good idea.

I think we need to make some distinctions.

Speech is a really broad concept. "The earth is flat" is, as far as we can tell, false. But it's also harmless.

"Jesus died for our sins" is beyond the scope of what can be shown to be true, or not, for purposes of law.

"Muslims are all terrorists" is obnoxious, but in and of itself is not harmful.

"Muslims are all terrorists so they should be rounded up and held in camps" is a different kettle of fish, because it advocates for denying the civil rights of a protected class of people, e.g. people who adhere to a particular religion.

Should statements like that be protected speech?

"Muslims are all terrorists so any time you encounter a Muslim you should give that person a beating" is a *really* different kettle of fish, because it advocates doing actual physical harm to other people. The question of whether they belong to a "protected class" here seems, to me, moot, the right to not be beaten up by random strangers seems, to me, to not require justification.

Should statements like that be protected speech?

"Muslims are all terrorists, and there's one right over there, let's go beat him or her up" should, IMO, unambiguously be beyond the protection of the 1st A. It is explicitly a provocation to assault.

I'm open to the idea that speech that clearly calls for doing harm to other people should be excluded from 1st A protection. Not things like "we don't like them", or "they're bad", but things like "we should kill them / beat them / round them up and imprison them / throw them out of the country".

By "excluded from 1st A protection" I don't mean that nobody can say them, ever, in any context. I mean that laws can be passed regulating whether, and under what conditions, that kind of speech is allowable. And I mean that if that kind of speech arguably leads to someone being harmed, then the person harmed can have legal recourse and "my right to free speech" can not be presented as a defense.

If you blab away on your TV or radio show, calling for people to go beat up Muslims, or immigrants, or left-handed accountants named Ed, and somebody hears you and goes out and beats up any of those people, I don't have a problem if the law allows those people to come after you, the speaker.

Not "come after" as in "come after with a bat", I mean "come after" as in "come after with a lawsuit".

And by "law allows", I mean you, the speaker, can not hide behind the 1st A as your defense.

Everyone's entitled to have, and express, their opinion. Everyone's not entitled to call for other people to be harmed.

I'm curious to know what the state of the law currently is wrt this, and also what anyone else thinks about it.

"Swedish Lutherans are an alien reptile race sent here to take over the world and subject us to a thousand years of slavery". Rave on buddy.

"Swedish Lutherans are an alien reptile race sent here to take over the world and subject us to a thousand years of slavery, so they must all be killed". Not protected, and if anyone comes to harm as a result, you're liable.

Thoughts?

Disputed old saying, origin apparently unknown: "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth can put its boots on."

Even if there were reasonable laws and responsible officials in charge of enforcing them, the internet has put that saying on steroids. As much as 300-400 hours' worth of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute (and that's as of 2015). Who is going to police that? And who is going to prevent the policing from being misused? No link, but I heard a radio report on this issue a while back and one of the little impossible knots was activists from one side of the conflict in (IIRC) Ukraine reporting YouTube content from their enemies, the activists on the other side, as objectionable. Even if the reporting side doesn't succeed in getting its enemies' content taken down (which I think it did in that case), there's a cost just to processing the request.

[I wrote this without seeing russell's, so I'll put it up regardless and then try to catch up.]

russell, lawyers can chime in, but restrictions on fighting words are allowed in the US.

Just following up on my conversation with McKinney about NYT v Sullivan, I would recommend this law">https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=2295&context=journal_articles">law review article, which takes the decision to task.

I'm not in favor of criminalizing everyday casual lying (although it's great to try to tell the truth! Plugging for that!). I'm not in favor of a government sponsored truth commission. Social media platforms, owned by private companies, do and should have terms of service that prohibit certain behavior. I think those terms should always be under scrutiny by people who use the platforms.

Anyway, the article is worth reading. Let me state again: I think NYT v. Sullivan should get another look. I think Citizens United took the First Amendment in a place it was never intended to be. (Also, this.)

It can be useful to look at specific local cases when evaluating a proposal. So I would observe that Russell's criteria would leave much of what the Count posts here right out.

Sorry. I can't seem to imbed the link. I seem to be able to google it with the citation: Richard A. Epstein, "Was New York Times v. Sullivan Wrong?," 53 University of Chicago Law Review 782 (1986).

Just a very short, probably unworkable observation. It seems that the first question in these debates is 'is it true?' and the second question is 'does it harm?'. We would probably be a lot better off if we reversed the order of those questions. I realize that this makes the argument that the truth is a(n absolute?) defense [for defamation]. There is also the problem that is one of human nature, in that we dismiss (or at least tend to underestimate) suffering of others if we haven't experienced it ourselves.

I guess the reason I posted the link to the article is that, not only do I agree with it for the most part, but this is, by far, not an original question. It's possible that received wisdom is the answer here.

Watch out, count! :)

By the way, Count, count me in.

I’m not a lawyer, but I think the laws we have now are fine. The current problem IMO is not fake news, but the willingness of people to believe nonsense because they want to believe it. Outlaw nonsense and it just shows the government is suppressing the “ truth”. (It probably is on some subjects, but never mind). I have conservative friends in real life. One of them at times seems willing to believe almost any amount of nonsense if it comes from his tribe. I could go down a list. In this case ( I have been disagreeing with a few people here lately) I suspect all of the liberals here would agree with me about the issues on the list— human caused global warming, for instance, is in his view ( last year anyway) a plot by scientists to gain grant money. He used to be a rational conservative in the 90’s ( we go way back). I think Fox News and Regnery Press and various Islamophobic writers gave him a bubble in which he could find factoids that confirmed all his prejudices. He doesn’t listen to rightwing talk radio, but for some that has been another source of comforting bull crap.

To be fair, liberals and various types of lefties can and do put themselves in their own bubbles, but I don’t think the left is as bad.

There are also corporations and think tanks that work very hard to propagandize people. The fossil fuel companies did this with global warming. There has been a many decades long campaign to persuade people that the market always does things better and more efficiently than the government.

I think all of this stuff has had far more effect on our political culture than “ fake news” on the internet. It set the stage so that now people will believe or pretend to believe any nonsense they see on the Internet if it supports their tribe, but blaming things on fake news gets the causation backwards. The problem goes back decades, so now our various political factions live in separate universes. ( That has always been true on some issues, of course.).

I don’t think the mainstream liberal press has been the entirely innocent victim in all this either. But I will stop while I probably still have most or all the liberal/ lefties agreeing with me.

There are also corporations and think tanks that work very hard to propagandize people. The fossil fuel companies did this with global warming...

...and tobacco, and acid rain, and the ozone hole, and who knows what else. And to some extent it was the same core group of experts contributing the fodder.

See Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. (Disclaimer: I own it, I've skimmed around in it a bit, but it's one of those books that makes me too angry, so I haven't managed to actually read it.)

The current problem IMO is not fake news, but the willingness of people to believe nonsense because they want to believe it.

In my more foolish moments I lose my head and imagine that better education in skepticism, and in evaluating evidence and sources, is the remedy to this. But the whole thing is vicious circle, and anyhow, every time I get to the point where I imagine we could educate people out of the tendency to believe nonsense, I remember religion. (Speaking of which, this BJ post about the Roman Catholic Church's clandestine mission as a hiring and cover-up agency for abusive pedophiles has me thinking that about other institutions besides the current administration that need to be burnt to the ground and the ashes scattered in some other galaxy.)

Posted too soon. I didn't mean to suggest that the fossil fuel companies tackled all those subjects, but rather that apparently some of the same "experts" did, working for the fossil fuel companies, the tobacco companies, etc.

I am a Christian, so that would apply to me too. I am not offended or anything. I occasionally try to read people who try to give philosophical arguments for the existence of God, but they aren’t all that convincing. Maybe I don’t understand them well enough, or maybe they suck as arguments.

For me the strongest arguments against Christianity are the behavior of Christians. The vast majority of white evangelicals are Trump supporters. I know a Catholic woman who supports Trump, but despises him personally. But she is an active anti abortion person, so given her conviction on that there is a lesser evil argument from her POV. But some Christians support him enthusiastically precisely for his bigotry as best I can tell.

And no comment on the Catholic Church. Well, I guess I will. I don’t understand it. I can understand power corrupting and how pretending to a call for celibacy which you don’t feel would lead to surreptitious affairs with either men or women, depending on one’s inclinations , but the predatory viciousness of some of what happened goes way beyond some priests having secret love affairs with consenting adults.

Donald, I thought I remembered that you were a Christian, and I'm sure there are other people reading who are religious in one way or another. I meant to offer an apology/disclaimer earlier, but then thought to heck with it. Now I'll offer it.

I myself was raised Catholic and turned my back on the church almost as soon as I left home. I am not religious in any conventional way, but I don't want to go into that right now, I just want to say that my comments probably come across as far more hostile to religion than I actually am.

I think anyone who thinks they've "proven" that there is a deity, or heaven, or an afterlife, is delusional. That includes some people I know personally who are otherwise very intelligent and whom I like a lot anyhow :-).

But the near-universality among humans of belief in some kind of mythological system involving a deity or deities, and/or an afterlife, or reincarnation, etc., makes it a little harder for me to hope -- even in my fantasies -- that there's any way to educate people out of believing other stuff that (what I would consider to be) clear-headed people recognize as unprovable, possibly counterfactual, maybe nonsense.

For me the strongest arguments against Christianity are the behavior of Christians.

Yes...and I've heard the Buddhists aren't perfect either. ;-)

And no comment on the Catholic Church. Well, I guess I will. I don’t understand it. I can understand power corrupting and how pretending to a call for celibacy which you don’t feel would lead to surreptitious affairs with either men or women, depending on one’s inclinations , but the predatory viciousness of some of what happened goes way beyond some priests having secret love affairs with consenting adults.

Think of it as the market at work. On one side you have perdators, who need on-going access to potential victims (specifically children). And protection when they were reported.

On the other side, you have an organization which is having serious problems attracting sufficient staff (i.e. priests). It has the size and the clout to shuffle staff around and otherwise conceal misbehavior. And the standing to help persuade even the families of victims that the reports just couldn't be true.

Both could supply something that the other needed and wanted. At a price the other was willing to pay. So they did . . . for decades (if not longer).

For what it's worth, I think the only impact that celibacy had was in limiting the pool of non-predatory recruits. It didn't cause the predatory behavior. It (or at least lip service to it) was simply part of the price they were willing to pay to get what they wanted.

No need for an apology. I don’t think it is reasonable to be offended because someone thinks religion is unreasonable. I just thought I ought to say something in case my beliefs came out later and you felt embarrassed.

US laws are in any event, not the sole issue - how the 1st is interpreted makes little difference in Myanmar for instance:
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/aug/16/facebook-myanmar-failure-blundering-toddler

For me the strongest arguments against Christianity are the behavior of Christians.

One could argue the same about Marxism.
The unchecked bad behaviour of people tends rather to be an argument against systems of unchecked power, whether legal, physical, moral or whatever.

"Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me." -

Record and book burnings ensued among the usual suspects and the Beatle plane landed once with bullet holes in its fuselage.

God, the cosmic gunsmith, bequeathed Americans the Second Amendment, and sent one of his assassins to put Lennon right. Four bullets in the back, God being sort of a right wing fucking cop mistaking Lennon for a black kid, I spose.

Cue some dumb cuck or other to point out that, yeah but, George was stabbed, so there.

The thick and ordinary now run the show.

Show's over and dead.

"To be fair, liberals and various types of lefties can and do put themselves in their own bubbles, but I don’t think the left is as bad."

Yeah, our side isn't perfedict but we're not as bad as the other side says Every.Human.Being.

current Trump approval rating among Republicans: 82%

we can talk about the liberal bubble when that number falls below 60%.

I don't think William McRaven is in anyone's bubble...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/revoke-my-security-clearance-too-mr-president/2018/08/16/8b149b02-a178-11e8-93e3-24d1703d2a7a_story.html

Maybe the liberal bubble is believing that number will fall below 60%

The Count mentioned George Harrison, and I remembered Eric Idle writing about this. He probably has heard this, but I paste it below for everyone else.

When George was stabbed by an intruder in early 2000 the first I knew he was going to survive that terrible experience was the quote displayed on the BBC Web site. When the police asked him about the intent of the intruder he said, "Well, we wasn't auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys...". "Why doesn't this kind of thing happen to the Rolling Stones?" he asked me wryly on the phone with that brave Liverpuddlian humor. "Would you like me to come?" "Yes, please, Eric."
Tania and I immediately jumped on a plane and flew to stay with him and Olivia at their home in Oxfordshire. We were relieved to find them both home, battered and bruised, but alive. We could so easily have been flying for their funeral. George proudly showed me his seven stab wounds. Some were both entry and exit wounds where the kitchen knife had gone right through him. One had punctured and collapsed his lung, leaving George dangerously short of breath, with his lung filling up with blood as he lay on the floor, chanting. "I thought I was dead, Eric," he said. Carried out to the ambulance, covered in blood, he said to his appalled house managers, who had just started working for him, "So what do you think of the job so far?".

Big money is pretty grubby, whether it’s Republican or Democrat:
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/17/super-pacs-hidden-donors-disclosures-741795

“Yeah, our side isn't perfedict but we're not as bad as the other side says Every.Human.Being.”

Sure, but not every faction is exactly as bad as every other faction. If you want to list some liberal or left sins, go ahead. I might agree with some and might even bring up my usual topics.

Just quick sidetrack here. I briefly saw an Onion headline about Fox News using a photo of Patti LaBelle on a tribute to Aretha Franklin. I thought it was a joke, which I guess it sort of was, but it was also true.

Parody is redundant.

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