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August 08, 2022

Comments

Dang, too slow. I was responding to Janie's 6:10 comment.

One chamber of the US Congress passed a resolution that called for a radical restructuring of the US economy and a radical change in the power relationship between federal and state governments.

Yup. But, although I may have missed it, I haven't seen any sign of threats of violence if they don't get their way.

Nor their own TV station that gets fees from cable subscriptions even in households where they are anathema. Nor their own pet ex-president. Nor this, nor that....

Nor their own Proud Boys, or Oath Keepers, or Three Percenters.....

Nary a Supreme Court justice in sight who would rule consistently, if at all, in their territory.

Mind you, not being an officer of the grammar police, unlike Janie, I have just noticed that according to Atwood's formulation you would have to lie maliciously AND damagingly, not just damagingly. The "or" in "or to advocate murder" bamboozled me. What follows the apostrophes are alternative charges, but that particular offense requires both elements. I still don't know who would have standing in cases without financial damage, though.

Ah ObWi, the site that caters not only to the politically but also the grammatically obsessed!

Cross-posted again, and have now lost the plot. What do all your "nor"s and your nary follow, Janie?

Yup. But, although I may have missed it, I haven't seen any sign of threats of violence if they don't get their way.

Anyone who has read about how the US economy was radically changed for WWII -- and I assert the Green New Deal was on that scale -- knows how much of it happened because of the implicit threat, "Do it, or the Army will enforce it."

GftNC: my "nor" and "nary" follow wj's directly previous comment.

wj: "I haven't seen any sign of threats of violence if they don't get their way."

me: Nor [have I seen any] TV station, militia, etc.

Commas, not apostrophes! I am obviously going mad....

Thanks, Janie. Got it (at least I've got something) now!

Commas, not apostrophes! I am obviously going mad....

I am forever having to remind myself (because I never seem to internalize it):
Less haste, more speed.

Put another way,
"We do it nice, bacause we do it twice" Already coined by someone else, but I definitely feel it.

At least from a European perspective I am well aware of an intolerant part of the Left that indeed tries to censor freedom of expression and to enforce a certain way of expression in public. The difference from the Right is that the Left as I know it does not usually threaten violence to achieve that goal.
One particularly annoying part involves the demand that all genders* have to be constantly expressed in writing orthographically. Not a problem in English were most terms for persons are gender neutral. E.g. a teacher can be male or female. In German there is Lehrer (male) and Lehrerin (female). These days in all public/official correspondence we have to** use a marker as LehrerIn, Lehrer:in or Lehrer*in and public employees/officials are expected to express this by making a short pause and emphasizing the 'i'. The oldfashioned way of splitting 'Lehrerinnen und Lehrer' is treated as a cop-out and almost reactionary. [Not limited to 'teacher' of course, it affects all words where in German the female form is expressed by the suffix -in]. Imagine you would have to add -ress to all male words referring to persons, make a pause before that syllable and then give it extra stress. It looks ugly in writing, it sounds dreadful and does little to nothing to actually fight existing real inequalities. The tolerated alternative is to use the gender neutral participle e.g.'Lehrende' (teaching [persons]) which is very in-elegant in German. The goal of inclusion itself is praiseworthy but this is not the way to achieve that and imo often has the opposite effect.
The 'they' as a way to avoid (s)he is not an option in German since 'she' and 'they' are expressed by the same word 'sie'. There are attempts to invent new pronouns but I have yet to experience anyone actually using those in public. (and girls are grammatically neutral in German anyway, a fact already popularized to English speakers by Mark Twain).
Again, this is a movement from the Left but it does not use or threaten violence (as opposed to the Right). The low number of actually violent leftists do not take part in this (and probably find it as annoying as the majority of citizens).

*no way to express more than male/female at the moment though. But it's just a matter of time before someone comes up with an idea how to achive that and tried to make that use mandatory.
**in some areas we are talking binding guidelines here. In some parts of Germany it's already mandatory in public schools and some universities have adopted it too, although for now just as a 'strong suggestion'. I think I have heard of cases were students got worse grades for refusing to follow these suggestions.

wj: Yup. But, although I may have missed it, I haven't seen any sign of threats of violence if they don't get their way.

Michael Cain: Anyone who has read about how the US economy was radically changed for WWII -- and I assert the Green New Deal was on that scale -- knows how much of it happened because of the implicit threat, "Do it, or the Army will enforce it."

Enforcement of the law isn't the same thing as rebellion against the law.

The threat of violence always stands behind duly passed laws. You can argue the "rightness" of any given armed rebellion, but that's a separate issue.

Oh, and the law didn't pass, going back to my point about influence.

I think it is important that Atwood qualified 'lie' with 'maliciously and damagingly'. Such lies can be legally liable [pun not intended].

Thanks, Hartmut, I had wondered how languages where nouns universally have genders (English being quite unusual among European languages on that) would cope with thr "gender neutral required" worldview.

The thought that leapt to mind was to restructure all nouns to use neuter articles. Which would, however, be far more radical than just changing words which apply to people. And does a table rwally care that it is, technically, female? :-)

By the Green New Deal manifesto, I assume Michael Cain means this:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/109/text

Apologies for the URL, links don’t seem to work on my tablet.

In any case, read for yourself, and decide for yourself if the resolution matches Michael Cain’s description of it. I will happily concede that there is a “let’s fix everything all at once, right now!” aspect to it that is arguably unrealistic, but I don’t think that’s Michael Cain’s objection.

And for context, consider how the effects of climate change that we are already experiencing - now, today, let alone 10 or 25 or 50 years from now - are going to radically restructure the economy of the US and other nations, as well as the relationship of national and state governments, as well as the relationship of the US to other nations.

It was a call for mobilization, in the face of a crisis of unprecedented scale. You tell me if that’s a good idea, or not.

Stuff like this certainly makes an economic dent, and is likely to restructure all kinds of things:

https://newmobility.news/2022/08/11/german-industry-risks-stranding-as-rhine-gets-unnavigable/

Seems to me, anyway. At least the Greens were trying to do something constructive.

wj, there were/are proposals to drop the female suffix completely and to use the neutral article where the gender is not specified (generic use) or all are to be included. Der Lehrer (m), die Lehrer (f, instead of die Lehrerin), das Lehrer (n, generic). That would be something to get used to but at least it would be consistent with standard grammar rules (and would avoid the orthographical abomination that is the 'gender asterisk'. It would be an improvement over the generic masculine that is the current standard. On the other hand the actual female forms would disappear which could be seen (and abused) as an exclusion.
The one advantage is that people have to think a bit more before opening their mouth but I doubt that it would lead to a real change of mind concerning inclusion by itself. And of course there will always be people who go out of their way to deliberately speak and write 'non-inclusive'.

Btw, originally (proto-indogermanic) the 'gender' of a noun seems to have had nothing to to with the sex of the 'object' it referred to, so the terms masculine/feminine/neutral are actually misnomers based on a misconception by later grammarians.

re: gender and grammar

IF ONLY such issues could be considered to be "silly archaic stuff of no great importance".

Maybe in another few centuries, when the Pharma-Bros come up with the "randomly change your gender" pill, sold as a recreational drug.

The Holy Ghost/Spirit famously did a sex change from female (Hebrew Old Testament) to neutral (Greek New Testament) to male (Vulgate Latin Bible).
One has to speculate whether that was the true reason Mary had to be involved in the whole Jesus Christ affair.

Anyone wondering what a more gender agnostic German language would look like should check out Swedish. And Swedish is a relative breeze to learn.

For completeness's sake, this is the article in today's Guardian from which that Margaret Atwood extract I linked yesterday comes:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/15/salman-rushdie-free-speech-tyranny-satanic-verses

And, again from today's Guardian, a welcome piece on McConnell and his plotting to wrench the US judiciary to the right:

The January 6 committee has now revealed how far Donald Trump was willing to go to prevent the peaceful and lawful transfer of power from his presidency to that of Joe Biden. Yet, his deadly serious attempt to upend American democracy also had a slapdash quality to it, reflecting Trump’s own impulsive nature and his reliance on a group of schemers – Rudy Giuliani, Mike Flynn, Sidney Powell, Roger Stone and John Eastman among them – of limited ability. It is not entirely surprising that Trump’s coup failed.

Another brazen GOP action, however, has succeeded – this one engineered by the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, whose chess-like skills of political strategizing put to shame Trump’s powerful but limited game of bluster and bullying. The act to which I refer is McConnell’s theft of Barack Obama’s 2016 appointment to the supreme court, a radical deed that has dimmed somewhat in public consciousness even as it proved crucial to fashioning a rightwing supreme court willing to overturn Roe v Wade and to destabilize American politics and American democracy in the process.

McConnell is widely considered to be a cynic about politics, more interested in maintaining and holding power than in advancing a particular agenda. This is true up to a point. But it is equally true that McConnell has believed, for decades, that the federal government had grown too large and too strong, that power had to be returned to private enterprise on the one hand and the individual states on the other, and that the legislative process in Washington could not be trusted to accomplish those aims. Hence the critical role of the federal courts: the federal judiciary, if sufficiently populated by conservative jurists, could constrain and dismantle the power of the federal government in ways in which Congress never would. It was fine, in McConnell’s eyes, for Congress to be paralyzed and ineffectual on most domestic issues, as long as the GOP, when in power, stacked the federal judiciary and the supreme court with conservative judges and justices. Thus, across Trump’s presidency, McConnell pushed 175 district court appointments and 54 court of appeals appointments through the congressional confirmation process, far exceeding in numbers what Obama had managed during the second term of his presidency.

It then goes into a lot more detail on the SCOTUS manoeuvrings:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/15/us-supreme-court-mitch-mcconell-conservative-judges-democracy

It's not that I think anyone here is likely to forget any of this, but I'm pleased that pieces like this continue to appear, and particularly in the lead-up to the midterms.

And for context, consider how the effects of climate change that we are already experiencing - now, today, let alone 10 or 25 or 50 years from now - are going to radically restructure the economy of the US and other nations, as well as the relationship of national and state governments, as well as the relationship of the US to other nations.

It was a call for mobilization, in the face of a crisis of unprecedented scale. You tell me if that’s a good idea, or not.

This. Our political system, like our infrastructure, was built to deal with a particular set of contingencies that were considered to be the normal set of operating parameters at the time. And like that infrastructure, our political systems need maintenance if it is to continue to function and a certain degree of retrofitting if those conditions change in ways that put pressure on the safeguards.

But when you look at the effects of warming in excess of 1.5 degrees on human systems, there is no scenario in which we can avoid a radical restructuring of economies and governments, neither of which are built for the conditions that result from these new parameters.

I wonder how Atwood's notions of free speech and government fare in the world of Oryx and Crake? And it looks like we are headed for a mashup of that world with The Handmaid's Tale.

Lucky fucking us.

Lucky fucking us.

Yes.

On another subject, who thinks it likely that Rudi Giuliani will quite soon be trying to claim mental incapacity, like Ron Jeremy? It seems to me that there may be plenty of evidence - do any lurking lawyers have any idea what level of proof one would need to produce (brain scans showing degeneration etc)?

"Mental incapacity", aka an insanity defense, basically requires the defense to show that the defendant was incapable to telling right from wrong. There are a couple of instances under Georgia law (which I assume is what we are talking about here):

  1. “Insane at the time of the crime” means meeting the criteria of Code Section 16-3-2 or 16-3-3 [-- unable to tell the difference between right and wrong].  However, the term shall not include a mental state manifested only by repeated unlawful or antisocial conduct.
  2. “Intellectual disability” means having significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning resulting in or associated with impairments in adaptive behavior which manifested during the developmental period. [Emphasis added]

Basically, in Georgia (different states have laws which differ in the details) the burden is on the defense to make the case. With the prosecution entitled to refute it. In other words, the mirror image of the situation of the trial itself.

The first one would be challenging to prove, given the caveat. And the second can be refuted by his having had the capacity, since the "developmental period", to get a law degree and pass the bar. So he can try, but it's unlikely to work.

I was thinking early to mid-stage dementia (which, frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if he has). Would that be called "insanity"?

It might be called insanity. Even by a psychiatrist. But not by a lawyer -- unless he could make a case for a resulting inability to tell the difference between right and wrong. And proving that seems likely to be a challenge.

More likely, IMHO, Rudy goes for a plea deal. He was a United States Attorney (i.e. a prosecutor), so he knows the drill. Which kicks Trump's world of hurt up to another level, because Rudy was right in the center of all the plotting and planning to overturn the election results.

He was a United States Attorney (i.e. a prosecutor), so he knows the drill.

You'd think so. But, astonishingly, so much of his behaviour since the election has given the impression that he's pretty clueless, legally speaking (which is why I'm speculating about dementia). However, I hope you're right, wj, because anything which kicks Trump's world of hurt up to another level is fine by me. And is presumably made more likely by the fact that Trump apparently stiffed him on fees. Although, if Trump had any sense he might have reversed course on that, given how much trouble Giuliani could cause him.

if Trump had any sense he might have reversed course on that, given how much trouble Giuliani could cause him.

But that would be long term thinking. Or at least medium term. And Trump mostly does short term.

Saving money by stiffing Rudy today would outweigh trouble a couple of months away. Not to mention merely possible trouble -- especially since he's been getting away with that sort of behavior all his life.

More likely, IMHO, Rudy goes for a plea deal.

According to Michael Cohen, Trump speaks in his mafioso-wannabe "code" and leaves no paper trail*. So unless someone's been keeping a concrete kompromat dossier all along, I gotta wonder what's provable in court (if not already privileged). Given his behavior, from Borat to the Four Seasons debacle, is there even a scenario where Giuliani's testimony is worth anything?

My hot take is Giuliani concocts some kinda temporary-insanity-Stockholm-Syndrome-meets-Narcissist's-Prayer kitchen sink defense. Nothing is out of bounds for these people.


*Where there is a paper trail is where he's played fast and loose with value claims on his assets and I think Letitia James has a lot of it at this point. While Mazars seems unlikely to take a hit for him, who-knows-what is in the Weisselberg plea deal, so maybe Trump slimes his way out of that one as well.

My hot take is Giuliani concocts some kinda temporary-insanity-Stockholm-Syndrome-meets-Narcissist's-Prayer kitchen sink defense.

No doubt he'd like to. But I'd guess he gets laughed out of court if he tries. Most likely, he knows that, so he may not even bother.

Trump speaks in his mafioso-wannabe "code" and leaves no paper trail*. So unless someone's been keeping a concrete kompromat dossier all along, I gotta wonder what's provable in court

Giuliani would basically be confirmation on Trump's intentions. Very helpful, no doubt, but not actually critical. Because they already have a recording of Trump's solicitation of election fraud. Better than paper or an email, either of which can be forged.

The underlying problem, for both of them, is that these are state charges, not Federal. So even if Trump wins in 2024, he can't grant a pardon. After November, the Governor of Georgia will either be Kemp, who would probably love some payback, or Abrams, a Democrat unlikely in the extreme to do Trump any favors. So no state pardon in prospect either.

But I'd guess he gets laughed out of court if he tries. Most likely, he knows that, so he may not even bother.

Are we talking about the same Rudy Giuliani?

;-)

Are we talking about the same Rudy Giuliani?

Notice I said "may not even bother." Certainly I'd expect his lawyers to recommend it, even if he doesn't take their advice. Just like I'd expect them to recommend he turn state's, even if he doesn't take that advice either. Because that's really his only play.

Although senile decay may have advanced to the point that he hasn't noticed that Trump never bothers to return favors.

Trump and Giuliani belong together, locked in a dementia ward, arguing over checkers.

arguing over checkers

Double Cranko, or Calvinball.

How does one cheat at checkers? I suppose Trump would find a way, however inept and implausible the execution ...

Watch the series of looks on Biden's face. Twelve seconds of great and satisfying entertainment.

Priceless!

And, further to that Giuliani question:

Former Giuliani spokesperson Ken Frydman predicted that his old boss was feeling “nervous” right about now.

“He knows the truth,” Frydman said on CNN on Tuesday. “He knows he lied to legislators. He knows that he concocted this false electors scheme. He knows he lied for his client. And he knows we all know. It’s clear.”

Frydman said Giuliani had just one move left.

“Delay, delay, delay. Kick the can down the road,” Frydman said. “At this point in his life, his goal is to die a free man.”

I hope that this makes Trump a bit more nervous
Plea deals upended for pair accused of peddling nuclear sub secrets
(The judge thought the plea deal sentences were too short.)

Especially after this
Trump is rushing to hire seasoned lawyers — but he keeps hearing ‘No’

I think it's time to bring the tone down around here. Probably as part of the zeitgeist around Salman Rushdie and the right to offend, a famously controversial and offensive comedian called Jerry Sadowitz got his show cancelled after one night at the Edinburgh festival (I have no idea what he said), and various people have been commenting on it (the whole issue of cancelling comedians for offensiveness), pro and con. A friend told me about the time Sadowitz got punched at the Montreal comedy festival in 1991, and that this was how he had opened his set:

Hello Moose-fuckers! I tell you why I hate Canada: half of you speak French and the other half let them.

Now, colours to the mast and all that, this made me laugh. I have nothing against either Canadians or French speakers, but I thought it was very funny and I don't want to live in a world where somebody couldn't say this, particularly in a comedy setting. Anybody else care to chime in with an opinion?

Here is a YouTube podcast by two British comedians who often comment on the difficulties and risks of being comedians in Britain. They were at the Edinburgh festival too.

"Stand-up comedians Konstantin Kisin (@konstantinkisin) and Francis Foster (@francisjfoster) make sense of politics, economics, free speech, AI, drug policy, and WW3 with the help of presidential advisors, renowned economists, award-winning journalists, controversial writers, leading scientists and notorious comedians."
Triggernometry

You can make ethnic (or, someday, racial) joke about stuff nobody cares all that much about. Bad mouth Canadians for tolerating French speakers? Canadians may (will, probably, but too polite to say so) think you're an idiot. But they won't be outraged, let alone furious. French speakers there will take it a little more badly. But not much -- they already won the battle, and nobody is worked up about changing back. (Note that the joke got told in Montreal, i.e. among the French speakers.)

Things in the US are a bit more complex, due to bigger population providing more regional variation. Thus places building up a Hispanic population for the first time freak out over it. Californians, since Hispanics have been here forever, not so much. Calling somebody here a "wetback"** is obnoxious, impolite etc. but not really fighting words.

Ditto New Maxico, and much of Texas. Arizona used to be similar, but all the immigration from elsewhere in the US has changed things some. One way to tell the folks who grew up there from the newbies by whether they get worked up on the subject.

** For those from elsewhere, it's been a slur for decades. The implication is that the target immigrated (illegally) by swimming the Rio Grande. Of course, what with the drought these days, you'd barely have to wade.

Konstantin Kisin comments on British comedy and the Jerry Sadowitz cancellation.

"The attempted and, mercifully, failed silencing of Salman Rushdie last week was a stark reminder that our ability to mock, criticise and satirise ideas, beliefs and ideologies is always at risk. As I argued in my last Substack, it also shows that the situation is getting worse, not better.

In our conversation with Joe Rogan, my TRIGGERnometry co-host, Francis Foster and I explained that British comedy is going through a similar, precipitous decline in freedom, and therefore quality. In particular, we singled out the Edinburgh Fringe, the biggest comedy festival in the world, for leading from the front in the woke crusade against comedy."
The Truth About the Jerry Sadowitz Cancellation

I must say, Charles, although I usually know nothing about the history of US journalists or pundits, I am aware of Joe Rogan, and the sort of "experts" he gets on to "inform" him. On the whole, I'd be a lot happier to get a take from someone who is not a Joe Rogan participant - not because I want to "cancel" Joe Rogan, but because I have good reason to be suspicious about the actual expertise or bias of the people who appear with him. There are comics defending Sadowitz here whom I respect, and I would far rather get their take (or that of similar people in the US) than go by anything said in conversation with Joe Rogan.

Rogan allows all kinds of people to have their say and lets his listeners make up their minds about the validity of what is said. He's interviewed people you would likely agree with. It seems to be guilt by association if you question someone's credibility just because they were on a particular podcast.

Quick check-in from Gettysburg - I've determined that there's a law requiring a jerky store and a hot sauce store in every historic, at-all-touristy town in Pennsylvania.

I think we need to be clear about what we mean by ‘being cancelled’.

Some people make a point of being offensive. Unsurprisingly, some folks are offended by this. Sometimes this will result in their being denied access to a particular platform or venue.

This is not the same thing as having your freedom of speech curtailed, let alone having it curtailed by the government. It’s not the same thing as being denied access to any and all platforms, venues, or channels.

Being told that your particular version of offensive speech is not welcome at a particular festival, or social media platform, or streaming channel, or whatever, just means that venue doesn’t want to be associated with you. For whatever reason. And their judgement about what they want to host is an exercise of their rights of speech and association.

There is a place for controversial and provocative speech. That place is not every place, and the person doing the provocative speaking doesn’t get to demand that other folks provide them with a platform.

You know, this argument on Rogan was also made to me by a very dear but very foolish young friend of mine. My reply is that allowing "all kinds of people to have their say" and letting "his listeners make up their minds about the validity of what is said" is not a meritorious act, when you allow on people who make factually inaccurate and dangerous arguments. Like the Ivermectin case my young friend spoke about, before all the facts became obvious even to him. It reminds me of a John Oliver skit where he dramatised what would be the true fair depiction of the debate on anthropogenic climate change, by showing one scientist arguing against it, and a crowd of ninety nine scientists arguing for (with proof!). Some issues are not suitable for "evenhanded" presentation, and relying on the public "to make up their minds" is a recipe for the kind of post-fact post-truth society both you, and to a lesser extent we, are living in.

On the Sadowitz case at the Pleasance, I prefer the comment of Victoria Coren Mitchell, whom I admire and like, when she tweets:

Aug 15
The problem with the Pleasance saying they “will not associate with content which attacks people’s dignity” is that the very concept of having dignity is *hilarious*. You just cannot have these absolutes in comedy. Try to pin it down and it springs, giggling, away.

Aug 15
And the second problem is that disapproval is also a very, very ticklish concept. As soon as you sternly pronounce that something mustn’t be laughed at, you immediately make it funny.

Here's some freedom of speech: F**k Joe Rogan.

In particular, we singled out the Edinburgh Fringe, the biggest comedy festival in the world, for leading from the front in the woke crusade against comedy.

It seems to be guilt by association if you question someone's credibility just because they were on a particular podcast.

Okay, I'll question their credibility because they used the phrase "woke crusade against comedy."

I'm babysitting, so can't delve into it, but luckily I can just say: what GftNC and russell and hsh said.

Rogan has the world's most listened-to podcast with about ten million listeners. He's had on people with ironclad credentials to famous for being famous charlatans. I've gritted my teeth when he wouldn't push back on what was to me obvious BS. I think he is often too open-minded and uncritical.

I don't listen to him often. Generally only when he has on someone or a subject I'm interested in. The podcast with Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster was one of his best to me. Partly because I was already familiar with them having listened to their podcast for some time.

I think he is often too open-minded and uncritical.

Being "open-minded" about blatantly false statements isn't open-minded at all. It's merely intellectually lazy. Unless it's about deliberately working to bring expertise per se into disrepute. The latter being something we have seen all too much of of late.

The Know Nothings differed from today's MAGA political movement in only one way: truth in advertising.

I am told he is amusing, but if the ten million listeners are anything like my darling young friend they are listening not only for entertainment, but also for information. And that is dangerous, given the people he gives a soapbox to. It seems to me that if one is interested in a subject, one can actually seek out experts who (gasp) have real expertise. And if those ten million are mainly ill-informed enough not to know how to do that, then it is a damn shame that their chosen source is so very unfit.

I haven't heard of Kisin or Foster, but then I am sure there are many young comedians of whom I am unaware. But I'm with Janie - "the woke crusade against comedy" rather prejudices me against them.

It's interesting to hear what comedians like e.g. Baddiel and Skinner say about the evolution of their sensibility, how in the past they may have considered it acceptable to black up, but how they now regard those decisions, and the time in which they were made. Mores do change, and good, clever comedians change along with them.

Comedian Zelenskyy had an attempted cancellation by Putin.

Makes one put all the whining about "cancel culture" in perspective.

I hate Rogan and his schtick. I hate Musk and his schtick just as much. Ditto Maher. Ditto Stern. And if anyone still cared about Milo, I'd hate on him too, but that little asshole has managed to provoke his way back into obscurity again, so he doesn't have the heft to merit hate.

Rogan, Musk, Stern, and Maher are lazy opportunists who profiteer off of controversy and don't give a fuck about educating themselves or their audiences. They don't bother looking for the best answer or trying to create a critical framework from which to understand the topic in ways that empower the public.

Rushdie provoked with a very specific purpose in order to combat religious fundamentalism. His speech was used for the sake of secular pluralism, and otherwise he did not seem prone to being an edgelord attention whore.

I support free speech, but think that if offense and controversy are your primary goal, you are just a shit stirring asshole. Insults, like punches, should serve a larger purpose.

And, like punches, when you offend you should not bully and punch down.

If comics feel that their jobs are too hard in this moment, that doesn't seem to me to be due to people having become oversensitive. It seems due to politics having put those people at greater risk of violence. The gap between the secure and the at-risk, the empowered and the disempowered, is growing while the future goes to shit. Every one of those assholes I've named above are coasting on their privilege and can't be bothered to try to understand what it's like to be in the shoes of the people they are offending.

Pay whiny edgelords no heed. Ignore them. They add no signal or perspective, they just boost noise.

Thanks, nous.

There's a younger person in my life who likes rogan and maher. I have made it clear, not in exactly these words, that i think maher is a sneering self-aggrandizing jerk. But it's a delicate situation in terms of who I'm dealing with and how far I can sensibly go in being critical. i haven't gone after rogan, esp. since i haven't seen as much of him as i have of maher, which is very little. What i have tried to say is that Maher talks in a seemingly smart and clever way, but it's all about his smartness and cleverness, he isn't helping. He doesn't care about helping, he only cares about himself.

"Edgelord attention whore" is a much more efficient way to say it. ;-)

I support free speech, but think that if offense and controversy are your primary goal, you are just a shit stirring asshole. Insults, like punches, should serve a larger purpose.

I agree with this, and pretty much everything else nous says as well. I don't know as much about Maher as the others, and Stern seems to have reformed himself somewhat, but the main point holds.

(By the way, on the Jerry Sadowitz Canadian joke, not only did I find it very funny but it seemed to me that it would be pretty weird to take offense. But then, I'm neither Canadian nor a native French speaker, so I'm probably not qualified to judge.)

And as far as Rushdie is concerned, before the fatwah I was kind of wondering about porn and the various deleterious effects it has (particularly the spillover on women outside that world), but the fatwah stiffened my spine right up on the free speech issue, and it's stayed stiffened. Thank God he survived, and looks likely to be more or less OK.

On a separate issue, I have just watched the second part of The Art of Drumming, and I am in total awe of the people who do it. It seems superhuman to me, unlike any other instrument with which I am familiar. And of course, as some of them said, it is not just one instrument, it is a small orchestra. The access they have had to the best and most innovative drummers in the world is amazing - I read that they narrowed it down from 80 to 40 they wanted to talk to, started approaching them, and almost immediately 38 said they were in. They've also got some amazing footage; in a section showing how many drummers started as youths in e.g. the Sea Cadets or the Boys' Brigades, they have a brief sequence of Keith Moon (!) marching with a band. Cripes.

By the way, on the Jerry Sadowitz Canadian joke, not only did I find it very funny but it seemed to me that it would be pretty weird to take offense.

I feel like there is a telescoping here. Start of the set, what an innocent joke and I got punched in the face for that! This seems to elide whatever the rest of the jokes were and also assumes that whoever punched Sadowitz was upset with that joke and that joke only.

My wife and I have just finished watching Better Call Saul, and this LGM post by Abigail Nussbaum seems related to this. Sadowitz is who he is and he likes playing with fire. I'm sure that I could direct the Sadowitz episode as 'brave comic stays true to his vision' or 'shit stirrer gets his just desserts'. The choices I make would tell more about me than about Sadowitz, I'm afraid.

Looking around, I found this, which might give a hint of my directorial choices, but I pass it on to ask a question. What is the word that is censored in the article?

https://www.newstatesman.com/quickfire/2022/08/jerry-sadowitz-defenders-white-men

Sadowitz is reported by an audience member to have used the word P*** to describe the UK’s ex-chancellor (and no, that doesn’t stand for “posh”). His supporters say that if I only saw Sadowitz perform, I would understand that he’s an “equal opportunities offender” – that he makes fun of white people too. I recall the same argument being used in defence of the racist comic Bernard Manning. And I’m baffled as to why Sadowitz is the only non-Asian comic allowed to use a slur I remember being shouted at my beloved Indian grandad by a gang of white youths when I was five years old.

lj, are you asking because you don't know, or is this a quiz?

Anyhow, I would assume it's this.

I feel like there is a telescoping here. Start of the set, what an innocent joke and I got punched in the face for that! This seems to elide whatever the rest of the jokes were and also assumes that whoever punched Sadowitz was upset with that joke and that joke only.

FWIW, I'm not doing any telescoping. When the joke was told to me, the person telling it didn't tell me about the punch, it was purely told as an example of a Jerry Sadowitz joke in the context of the current controversy. I only saw it when I looked for the quote to post here, and thought it a good idea to include for contemporary context. And as for what an innocent joke and I got punched in the face for that, this seems like exactly the opposite of any approach the Jerry Sadowitz I have read about would take.

Like the writer of that New Statesman article, I have never seen a Jerry Sadowitz set, and actually I have almost no opinion about him. That is the only joke of his I've ever heard, and I thought it very funny. Anybody else's mileage may vary. And as for what was said at the Pleasance, I don't know about that, so have no real view either. But the tweets I included from Victoria Coren Mitchell a) were obviously not the comments of a man and b) seemed, in a meta sense, relevant to the general subject and to the comment made by the Pleasance. For the record, not only do I not use racial slurs, I have never heard them used in a way I am comfortable with.

Connie Schulz, wife of Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. She grew up in my home town, in fact right around the corner from where I grew up. I didn't know her; she's 7 or 8 years younger, and we lived in different worlds.

She wrote a novel a couple of years ago that was set in a fictional version of our home town. There are people of various ethnic groups in the story, including a couple of Black people. Schulz never uses the N word, but she does use "mick" (for the Irish-American dad at the center of the story) and "dago" for Italians.

I thought about writing to ask her who drew that line, but I couldn't figure out how to write a brief enough letter about it. I find "dago" to be fairly offensive, not sure about "mick." But that may be for obvious self-absorbed reasons.

Just a side note to lj's comment.

Cross posted with Janie. Of course that is the word, which is why I said what I did about racial slurs.

Let me clarify that the explicit non-use of the full N word occurs in the novel, whereas the other ethnic "nicknames" are used without comment or framing, as if they are perfectly acceptable.

I thought it was weird.

Let me clarify that the explicit non-use of the full N word occurs in the novel, whereas the other ethnic "nicknames" are used without comment or framing, as if they are perfectly acceptable.

I thought it was weird.

See my note above (1:38).
In the 19th century, the Irish, and later the Italians, were "the criminal foreigners who are destroying America!". But now, nobody gets excited if your ancestors came from Ireland or Italy. So what were once offensive ethnic slurs ("mick", "dago") are now casually used without any offense intended or perceived.

Just another example of the culture and the language evolving. We will know that blacks have finally been accepted across the vast majority of Americans when "the N word" can be used without intended offense. Of course, the social change necessarily must come first.

Went looking for more on Jerry Sadowitz, and thought this (by Andrew Doyle, who writes for Jonathan Pie) was interesting. I didn't know anything about him, but looking on Wikipedia, he's complicated. This is what his entry says under his politics Doyle considers himself to be left-wing and criticises political correctness and identity politics. He is a Brexit supporter. Doyle supported Jeremy Corbyn during the 2017 United Kingdom general election Lots of stuff there I'd disagree with, but his comment below seemed worthwhile:

“Jerry Sadowitz is a nasty piece of work. His venomous tirade is relentless, consisting of unabashed racism, homophobia, misogyny, antisemitism, xenophobia, and every other kind of prejudice known to humankind. If it exists, he hates it. The man is a monster. He’s also one of the best showmen on the Edinburgh Fringe.”

This was how I opened my review of Jerry Sadowitz’s show for ScotsGay magazine in 2008. I described his performance as “an explosion of hate on stage”, but noted that the effect was both prurient and deliriously funny. That Sadowitz’s unending bile is often interspersed with adroitly executed magic tricks makes his routines all the more compelling. When critics quote his jokes out of context, it’s easy to see why so many are offended — but when it comes to Sadowitz, context is everything.

And interestingly, for apparently the first time ever, Sadowitz has actually commented (and for non UK people, the Roy "Chubby" Brown mentioned is in a similar category to the Bernard Manning used as an example in the New Statesman piece that lj linked):

Up until now, Sadowitz has been able to evade the accusatory finger-pointing of culture warriors — those who are determined to see racists and fascists in every shadow — by dint of his status as a luminary among comedians. Stand-ups who have admired Sadowitz for years will baulk at the suggestion that there is no distinction between his act and that of Roy “Chubby” Brown. But for those who have succumbed to the new puritanism, words have a contaminative power. Racist epithets are always racist; context be damned.

In a statement released yesterday, Sadowitz wrote: “I don’t want to humiliate the Pleasance but they are doubling down on their position and I don’t want to be made the victim of that… My act is now being cheapened and simplified as unsafe, homophobic, misogynistic and racist… A lot of thought goes into my shows and while I don’t always get it right… I am offended by those who, having never seen me before, hear words being shouted in the first five minutes before storming out without listening to the material which I am stupid enough to believe is funny”.

Sadowitz’s frustration is palpable, and rightly so. It is similarly frustrating to see him forced to break character publicly — possibly for the first time in his career — simply because a few know-nothings with too much power cannot comprehend the notion of an onstage persona and its function in stand-up.

Now, again, I don't know. But I still think that this is a complicated story, and you don't have to be a Joe Rogan to be interested in the phenomenon and its cultural relevance.

wj, first of all, I'm not at all sure i agree with you l -- that's all too easy. But I don't have time to work out why at the moment.

Secondly, the novel was set in the 1960s or so, so our current standards were being applied to the N word (ie. that treatment was in fact ahistorical) but not to the others. When I was growing up, "dago" was like N is now: okay if Italian people called themselves that, but other people used it only as a slur.

Janie, I guess it was different in California in the 1960s. (Possibly because of all those Italians running vineyards in the Napa Valley.) But here "dago" may not have been flattering, but not really insulting either.

Still, if he was setting near where you grew up, I suppose the standards there and then should apply.

I didn’t know, or I knew but the word didn’t come to mind. A further usage question, you can use that with anyone who looks it or could someone say ‘hey, I’m from x, not pakistan!’?

Gftnc, Apologies for thinking you were connecting the joke and the assault. On my phone now, so haven’t really dug into this, but not sure if I’ll bother.

Haven't read the novel JanieM references or anything else by the author. I will say, though, that amongst Lit Critters (at least the historicist types), there would be a lot of discussion in such a case about the differences between the moment of representation, the moment of production, and the moment(s) of reception.

For a realist novel there is an expectation that the writer tries to make the setting feel authentic, and that often means trying to build around the ways in which that moment differs from the writer's own. Racism and discrimination can be part of that realism effect. When I teach a novel from, or set in, the past, I try to make my students aware of the difference and to make them think about the purpose of the writer's choices in-context.

When the text was written in a time other than the one being represented, it adds another layer to the mystery. Now we have to examine the choices to see what things get foregrounded as historical difference and what gets treated as if it is entirely contemporary. Any particular choice one way or another becomes grounds for analysis trying to create a unified system of meaning for the text.

Add a third level of unknowing to be sorted through if the moment of production is intermediate to the moments of representation and of reception. Now we have two moments to historicize before coming at it with our own analysis and worldview.

A good piece of historicist criticism takes all of this into account, and takes the time to think about how the analysis will be taken by future readers as well as contemporary ones.

Which is all really too much for a writer to consider when crafting a story. From what I have seen, they mostly avoid the battles that they think are most worth avoiding and then get on with the story, and leave readers and critics to work out the rest for themselves.

I've never heard (or read) "paki" used in the US. My impression is that it's a UK thing.

I'd guess that someone of Pakistani ancestry would get upset. But not as much as someone of Indian ancestry, given the state of things between the two countries. :-)

nous -- Connie Schulz is a journalist first and foremost (and a teacher of journalism at Kent State IIRC) and is somewhat well known for it. (All aside from who she's married to.)

She wrote the one novel just a couple of years ago (she'd have been in her early sixties I think). IMO it's an okay novel, though not great by any means. I was intrigued to read it because of the setting. Your 10:10 gives me something interesting to think about -- i suspect Connie just got on with the story, but also that both she and her publishers made some specific decisions about lines to be drawn with slurs.

Anyhow, one of my most major reactions had to do with Lake Erie. The town in both reality and the novel is on "the lake" (as it's called locally), which in my family was one of the most dominating forces in our sense of our lives and the world in general.

My dad sailed on "the lakes" before going into the Navy in WWII; he operated heavy machinery at one of the docks when I was growing up -- that was his second job; the opening of the St. L Seaway was one of the great memorable events of my childhood. We hung out at the town's public beach almost every day in the summers of my adolescence, my cousins water-skiied, we had picnics at the other public park on the lake, etc. etc.

And Connie Schulz's novel barely mentions the lake at all. We all live in both the same and different worlds.....

Rambling, need to stop.

We all live in both the same and different worlds.....

Puts me in mind of a recent (mass) email from my high school class president. (About the next reunion, IIRC.) He was talking about the things which loomed large and we all remember from high school. Of which I remember exactly zero, that's how large they (didn't) loom in my life at the time. This, mind you, in a little country town with a 250 graduating class. And not even the difference-in-age factor.

"Paki" in British use refers to anyone from the Indian subcontinent. It's not a word anyone with any sensitivity would use in conversation, but...

"Paki shop" is used quite affectionately, of corner shops with long opening hours. In my unreliable recollection, the term arose in the early seventies, many such shops having been opened by Ugandan Asian immigrants (usually of Indian origin) expelled by Idi Amin.

("Indian restaurants" in the East End of London are usually operated by Bangladeshi immigrants, or their descendents. The English are not particular about overseas geography.)

Ugandan Asian?

Ugandan Asian?

Yes

It's not a word anyone with any sensitivity would use in conversation, but...

Yes. But within living memory it could be used affectionately in other ways, albeit by insensitive idiots, for example when Prince Harry was talking about his platoon mates in 2009 (or 2006):

The footage released by the newspaper and published on its website shows the prince three years ago as a 21-year-old officer cadet during a military exercise in Cyprus. In one extract his camera pans round his colleagues, sleeping in the RAF departure lounge while waiting for their flight. Homing in on one fellow cadet, the prince is heard to say, quietly: "Ah, our little Paki friend Ahmed."

This turned out to be Ahmed Raza Khan, now a captain in the Pakistani army, who was awarded the best overseas cadet prize at Sandhurst. If he heard the remark at the time, he did not react to it.

By then it was already well understood in polite circles that this (paki) was a racial slur, but I must also add that when I first started going up to the North Country around the same time, when I met my husband, I was astounded by the ubiquity of its use (albeit not exactly in polite circles), and had to ask that it not be used around me.

In other news,
Allen Weisselberg, longtime Trump Organization CFO, pleads guilty to tax scheme
That's over a dozen tax fraud charges. And his plea deal includes agreeing to testify against the Trump Organization if called as a witness.

Which doubtless means against Trump himself. Gotta believe that, at some point over all those years, Trump failed to keep to mob boss speak and explicitly told Weisselberg to cook the books on something.

By then it was already well understood in polite circles that this (paki) was a racial slur,

From which we deduce that Prince Harry (and perhaps the Royal Family generally?) do not qualify as members of "polite circles." :-)

Which doubtless means against Trump himself.

This not in fact doubtless. Yesterday's articles, which I don't have time to find, said explicitly that he would testify against the company but not against the family. Today's article on nbcnews dot com says:

There also has not been any indication that Weisselberg will cooperate in any investigation into Trump personally.

His testimony against the company is still a great development.

From which we deduce that Prince Harry (and perhaps the Royal Family generally?) do not qualify as members of "polite circles." :-)

Prince Harry, at any rate. Describing himself somewhat ruefully later (I think after the naked Vegas billiards pictures) as "too much army, not enough prince".

Yesterday's articles, which I don't have time to find, said explicitly that he would testify against the company but not against the family.

One could make a case, I think, that testifying against the organization's CEO position is not the same as testifying against Trump personally. Then again, he might decide to void his plea deal and take a whole lot more prison time.

The plea deal does not require Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate with the district attorney’s broader criminal investigation of Mr. Trump, and his admissions will not implicate the former president. His willingness to accept jail time rather than turn on Mr. Trump underscores the extent of his loyalty to a family he has served for nearly a half-century, and it helped stymie the larger effort to indict Mr. Trump.

New York Times.

Typically, white collar criminals get directed to some (relatively) resort-like lockup. I wonder if some time, prior to being called to testify, in GenPop (i.e. with the general prison population) might concentrate his mind. Just a thought.

That has already been hashed out as part of the deal. IIRC (and I am done looking things up :-) he was doing to get longer at Rikers and that threat got him to agree to more on his side.

Weisselberg, 75, is likely to receive a sentence of five months in jail, to be served at New York City’s notorious Rikers Island complex, and he could be required to pay about $2 million in restitution, including taxes, penalties and interest, the people said. If that punishment holds, Weisselberg would be eligible for release after about 100 days.

PBS

DJT’s sister was a Federal judge. She doesn’t seem to care much for her brother so I dunno where that fits in, but she probably has some connections if she cares to use them.

Two quick thoughts:

Re: the Prince Harry story, militaries are closed societies and the military identity is, in large part, built off of rejecting the standards of "polite" society. And Harry has always chafed at the ways that his own identity was constrained by the overlapping identities of the closed groups that he belonged to, especially those assigned to him by birth rather than chosen.

His use of a racial slur in the recorded conversation is perfectly in line with the sort of cohesion building, us vs. them of many militaries. Comrades first, civvy identities a distant second. Fraught and often problematic, but understandable for those whose lives depend on being a collective.

Re: suffering in prison, I'd rather we made conditions better for everyone who is incarcerated. I'm all for stripping the powerful of their privilege, but it rubs me the wrong way to endorse conditions that no one should be subject to, just because I think the person in question has been too insulated from the suffering that they have caused others.

Not trying to shame anyone else with that thought, just articulating my discomfort.

Re: suffering in prison, I'd rather we made conditions better for everyone who is incarcerated.

Completely agree.

But I've long had a problem with providing white collar criminals separate, and notably more comfortable, facilities. Not least because I think that doing so contributes to the lack of motivation to improve the general prison conditions. If this case makes a start at leveling the playing field on that, all to the good.

One other thought occurs to me. This has been a trial about state tax fraud. I don't know about anybody else, but my state tax returns generally start with my Federal return. Which, depending on exactly where the fraud was, suggests that Mr. Weisselberg might also be looking at Federal tax fraud charges, too. And a different plea agreement might be done there.

Thanks, nous, you're right to bring it up.

Something I've been mad about for, apparently, a generation has been rectified, and I hadn't even heard about it!

Good News! Now get rid of DeJoy. Yesterday.

I recall hearing about that. One of the biggest defeats the radical libertarians have suffered in decades. (Let's hear it for non-filibusterable reconcilliation bills!) Obviously I screwed up by failing to write a post about it.

Now what the Post Office needs most is to get rid of DeJoy. Then there will be a chance to get it functioning smoothly again.

Obviously Pete and I crossposted. (Something about two great minds with but a single thought....)

i just read somewhere in the past couple of days that Biden's appointees to the board (or whatever it is) are in place now and though DeJoy isn't gone, he has been sidelined. They've canceled his order for gas-guzzlers and replaced it with electric or hybrid, i forget which. More cheering!

Something about two great minds with but a single thought....

Beware the company you keep. ;-)

Beware the company you keep. ;-)

Right back atcha!

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