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November 03, 2022

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I address the "why" of it somewhat in response to HSH. However, I'm not the proponent of limiting to speech to that which is "true", you are. As the proponent, tell me factually why, in today's world, we need speech regulated (or whatever it is you think needs to be done), as opposed to any other time in our history.

You can start by reading the thread, which you apparently haven't bothered to do. The latter question was literally just discussed. You can get back to us when you can explain why the bolded characterization is false, and perhaps even offer an apology or some sense of shame for having made it.

I think it's kind of hilarious for someone to come into a discussion about how important good faith is to public debate with...whatever this is.

if you want to advocate that free speech includes speaking to 5 five years old's in sexually explicit terms, fire away;

Speaking of. Do we want to count the bad assumptions and loaded terms in this? "Sexually explicit" my left foot.

Why don't *YOU* explain to us what a kindergarten teacher should say when one of her students wants to give a report about what her daddies do at work. Or how to address the other kids questions when little Johnny decides to start wearing dresses to school, or how DeSantis' legislation helps anyone deal with those situations to literally anyone's satisfaction, let alone promotes the well-being of the children involved.

In Central Europe sex education tends to begin in elementary school. Not by showing g-a-y p_0_r_n to them but starting with - duh - elementary stuff ("there is a difference between boys and girls", "storks are rarely involved in gettin babies" etc.)
In other words: what we over here consider age appropriate. Of course there are some conservative Catholics that want to postpone that to the day when a couple to be married goes to meet the priest who will conduct the wedding and will give them the necessary info to allow timely consummation but they have become a bit of a rarity.

I want to introduce a bill prohibiting the throwing of dead kittens at blind grandmoms. I will ask anyone who opposes such a bill why they want to throw dead kittens at blind grandmoms. I mean, what kind of sicko would do that?

I mean, what kind of sicko would do that?

A Radical Foucauldo-Marcusian Frankfurt School Revolutionary! Power to the strawman people! Our utopia is in sight, non-binary brothers!

Up with strawpeople?

Don't forget to word the bill in such a way as to actually prohibit any contact with kittens altogether...

To protect the blind grandmas! There's just no way to tell what someone might do with a kitten...

Up with strawpeople?

And here I thought they were only good for scaring crows....

I just got back from doing the week's errands on a perfectly prototypical raw, wet, windy November day, and opened ObWi to McK's fulminations on that fantastic leading character in the cartoon that's always running in his head, i.e., "the left" -- advocates of censorship!

I was taken aback, because although I tend to think I keep up with the headlines, I didn't realize that "don't say gay" DeSantis (with his attempts to censor professors, high school students, Disney, and ... okay, everyone) had undergone a radical conversion and joined us raging red socialists.

Then I see that hsh and nous are taking care of business, so I think I'll go put the groceries away.

**** Also, apologies to those of you who are trying to discuss this issue seriously. But I'm pretty sure that's not possible in the quicksand that McK creates every time he shows up here. (Also sorry for the mixed metaphors.)

Oh, and I guess I'm showing my age by calling socialists, or leftists, "red." LOL.

Jack, I’m directly addressing your words. See bolded below.

But the bottom line is still that we as a society do need to come up with *some* way to adjudicate untruths and start actually leaving them in the past. There was a brief shining moment where literacy, truth, and science seemed like they were winning, but I fear that moment is slipping away, dissolving back into noise, and rumors of monsters and witches in the forest. Simply meeting speech with more speech is plainly not sufficient to meet the threat posed by that noise. And the First Amendment cannot be a suicide pact.

If “adjudicate untruths and find some way to leave them in the past” doesn’t mean ferreting out and suppressing what you or someone believes is *not true*, then tell me what it does mean. Looking forward to hearing from you. Sorry you feel like you need an apology for being questioned.

Another direct quote:

I suggest you might want to first ask yourself why "the left" is turning to what you feel to be extreme measures. Like, is it your understanding that this is simply coming out of the blue, or is there perhaps an escalating series of events and actions which are motivating the salience of this discussion?

I’ve tried to explain why I think the left wants to censor the right. Now, you tell me why you think “extreme measures” of any kind are necessary. Specifically, please tell me what justifies imposing any limits on presently legal speech and what those limits might be.

Censorship is telling people they cannot say something or punishing them for having done so. Stipulating what can and cannot be taught in school, or determining what will or will not be in the school library is within the purview of the school board and its constituents. Most here, me included, would object to direct religious instruction from a public school employee. Some schools will not allow Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird in school libraries. Other schools do not allow sexually explicit materials in school libraries. I’m not down with the former, but I get and am fine with the latter.

The ”Don’t Say Gay” bill actually says “[c]lassroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

Anyone who thinks "[c]lassroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” is appropriate for “kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” is free to make that case. Have at it. I have questions about adults who think initiating discussions with children of that age about sex in any context is a good idea. Which is not the same as responding to a child’s questions.

A Radical Foucauldo-Marcusian Frankfurt School Revolutionary! Power to the strawman people! Our utopia is in sight, non-binary brothers!

Actually, this is pretty much exactly what I expected from Nous. Everyone enjoying his bon mot should keep it in mind when he expounds on the need for conversation, logic, persuasion, etc. as a means of educating those you disagree with and bringing them around.

More specifically, the hard core progressive IMO is informed by a Foucault/Marcuse fusion that utilizes whatever policy or rhetorical device is at hand to advance the Frankfurt School's version of socialist utopia.

One of the many layers of irony here is McK coming in to make bad faith arguments in support of professional liars, while simultaneously outing himself as one of their victims.

It's enough to make your head hurt.

If “adjudicate untruths and find some way to leave them in the past” doesn’t mean ferreting out and suppressing what you or someone believes is *not true*, then tell me what it does mean.

I think the meaning is pretty plain.

What's not clear is how you get from there, to "ferreting out and suppressing" what "someone" merely "believes" is not true.

Like, are you unfamiliar with the word "adjudicate" or the due process it implies? Did you deliberately leave out the subject of that sentence: "we, as a society"? It kind of seems like you did, because obfuscating the fact that we're talking about some kind of public, democratic process is the only way to make the bad faith paraphrasing in evidence there even remotely work.

Cut it out.

In case it really isn't clear, I would classify, for example, the scientific process as a prime mechanism for "adjudicating untruths and find some way to leave them in the past".

It's imperfect, of course, but nevertheless a highly effective tool for truth adjudication within its domain. The challenge for society at large is how to get the truths discovered in this way (or similar ways) more widely accepted in general, and make them less vulnerable to attack and erosion by bad faith opportunists.

You're welcome to characterize the scientific method as "ferreting out and suppressing what someone believes to be not true" if you like, but that's on you.

Everyone enjoying his bon mot should keep it in mind when he expounds on the need for conversation, logic, persuasion, etc. as a means of educating those you disagree with and bringing them around.

The thing is, when nous makes jokes like that, it can seem like an appropriate response to someone who has the tendency to make ridiculous strawman characterisations of an imaginary "progressive left" whom he imagines us to embody.

DeSantis. Not trying to censor anyone. Nope!

More DeSantis:

DeSantis and his political vassals are not finished with us, either. Draft legislation unearthed by investigative reporter Jason Garcia reveals a plan to force universities to “promote the philosophical underpinnings of Western civilization” and give university trustees — many of whom are political appointees chosen by DeSantis or former governor (now senator) Rick Scott — the power to hire and fire faculty at will. These proposals were shelved but may be back at next year’s legislative session.

Not kindergarten, college.

And, I would add, not only do you make strawman characterisations of us, but you ignore the fact that most of our discussion has been about how, if one were to find a way to adjudicate and ringfence, as falsehoods, public lies, one would deal with the absolute necessity, which we all accept, to protect the general principle of freedom of speech and make sure that e.g. politicians were not in charge of what could and could not be said and published. This is the kind of thing which makes people wonder if (and I am being euphemistic) you actually argue here in good faith.

H/t Kay, a BJ commenter:

Nick Riccardi @NickRiccardi INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana attorney general asks medical board to penalize doctor who spoke about abortion for 10-year-old Ohio rape victim.

In sure the Indiana attorney general who wants doctors not to be able to talk about the consequences of banning abortion is a lefty.

Right?

In sure -> I'm sure (copy editor on strike today)

Or maybe there's some reason why R Wannabe Dictators (tm) penalizing people for talking out loud isn't *really* censorship....

'Cause we all know only lefties are in favor of censorship and must be berated accordingly.

The examples could go on and on and on and would have less effect than one raindrop a year falling on a boulder, so I'll stop now.

Still no response to this:

What if a kid asks why Billy has two moms? Is it unanswerable without leaving the space of good ideas?

Or this:

Why don't *YOU* explain to us what a kindergarten teacher should say when one of her students wants to give a report about what her daddies do at work. Or how to address the other kids questions when little Johnny decides to start wearing dresses to school, or how DeSantis' legislation helps anyone deal with those situations to literally anyone's satisfaction, let alone promotes the well-being of the children involved.

The closest we have is (considering the bolded sentence):

I have questions about adults who think initiating discussions with children of that age about sex in any context is a good idea. Which is not the same as responding to a child’s questions.

So it's okay to answer questions? Does the bill say that? AFAICT, it's still prohibited instruction.

I’ve tried to explain why I think the left wants to censor the right. Now, you tell me why you think “extreme measures” of any kind are necessary.

If that's you trying, it's pathetic.

You haven't explained anything. You've upchucked some warmed-over Alex Jones fantasy about "Frankfurt school" sleeper agents. You have not addressed, in good faith or otherwise, the actual stated motivations of your interlocutors in this very thread.

For pity's sake, the subject of the post is inappropriate fear of violence, and the obvious problems people acting on false beliefs like that can have on our society. The discussion has broadened to other problems (vaccine denial, global warming denial, etc.), and how mechanisms like social media and corporate power might be making disinformation problems more acute recently. There is a lot of specific stuff in this thread that you could argue with and address.

You haven't. Now, you're just asking us to repeat everything for you.

If you come across a group of people who have just spent a couple pages discussing an unacceptable (to them) incidence in house fires, and the need they see for some kind of new fire codes to address the problem, you are certainly welcome to disagree with their premises or conclusions. You could argue that certain fire codes are an overreach. You could pull up some data and argue that it's not as big a problem as they seem to think.

What you cannot do, in good faith, is simply come in and declare that you think the only reason people might want better fire codes to censor fires is because of their sinister crypto-socialist agenda. The latter barely even qualifies as bad faith discussion -- really, it's simply not engaging with the discussion at all.

Specifically, please tell me what justifies imposing any limits on presently legal speech and what those limits might be.

See, you know, the entire thread.

I don't think it's my job to hold your hand here, I assume you can read, but if it helps, I think the closest thing to a "limit on presently legal speech" that I have proposed is to extend/clarify existing defamation and defamation adjacent civil damage protections somewhat: extend it from specific individuals to more amorphous groups (e.g., immigrants, or LGBTQ people), and to more categories of damage (e.g., discourage calls for stochastic violence). You're welcome to argue with that -- as I said at the time, I'm not in love with using civil courts myself -- but to do that you're going to have to float down from the Alex Jones helium balloon first and start making contact with reality and what's actually being said.

I have questions about adults who think initiating discussions with children of that age about sex in any context is a good idea.

It doesn't compute for some people (lots and lots of people, I know some personally) that talking about your same-sex spouse is no more an instance of talking about "sex in any context" than talking about your opposite-sex spouse.

When the first statewide vote on gay rights came to Maine (and I was still closeted in relation to the general public), a guy who came here with his wife for dinner (business associate of my ex) said that sure gay people could have some rights, he and his wife (smooch smooch) just didn't want to have to see them holding hands in the park.

I watched another happy heterosexual couple walk out of the voting room laughing and holding hands after voting (I knew them, so I knew....) against giving gay people civil rights (or the right to marry; i forget which of our many votes that was).

So the specious reasoning is many-faceted. Certain topics that straight people take for granted are somehow taboo when it's gay people being talked about. My neighbor, in response to the news that a gay pride-ish high school group from Portland was coming to talk at our local high school in about 1992: "Oh, I don't think my boys are old enough for that yet." Me, never thinking quickly enough to say: "And what if one of your boys turns out to be gay?" (She had 3.)

And talking about your same-sex relationship is somehow about "sex," when talking about your opposite-sex relationship is just, well, life.

And if you want to pick nits about what the Florida law actually says compared to what its effect is and is intended to be, you haven't paid any attention to DeSantis and what he is up to. And he is only the loudest at the moment.

Which is not the same as responding to a child’s questions.

So it's okay to answer questions? Does the bill say that? AFAICT, it's still prohibited instruction.

Yep.

Even if it did allow "questions", that's a really unhelpful intrusion. For example, if Billy's parents send a note to the teacher saying that Billy's going to be wearing dresses from next week on, a good teacher would probably want to address that pro-actively somehow, rather than simply waiting for the awkward questions and/or bullying to begin.

Indeed, one might say the most responsible and pro-active action might be to address it in the curriculum. Maybe read some storybooks about the core American value of "live and let live", in which there are children with two dads, or who wear unconventional clothes, and thus make the whole thing a non-issue before anything even happens...

Somehow, I don't think DeSantis and his ilk are really into freedom and "live and let leave" though. Or making it into a non-issue.

A different kind of DeSantis censorship. No actual law, but another clue about what he would do if he could.

Lefty the core, that guy.

And talking about your same-sex relationship is somehow about "sex," when talking about your opposite-sex relationship is just, well, life.

I was in one of those trainings at work about what's appropriate in the workplace and what accommodations employers are required to make and such. Part of it, of course, was being tolerant of LGBTQ+ coworkers. And part of, of course, was about what's appropriate to discuss in the workplace (not sexy talk!).

At some point it got to something about not being "explicit" about your sexual activity and something along the lines that it's fine to be gay, but that you can't go into detail about it, because now you're talking about sex.

I asked a question about what constitutes too much detail about your sexuality and posed the example of a man discussing the fact that he went to the movies with his husband. I was told BY OUR HR DIRECTOR that this was too explicitly about sexuality.

When I asked how it as any different from my discussing that I had gone to the movies with my wife, the response was something along the lines of "Wow! My mind is blown. I'll have to think about that. I don't know what to say!"

Default people...

I would just like to note, for the record, that now that Janie has given us concrete examples of rightwing attempts to censor (De Santis passim, and Indiana attorney general asks medical board to penalize doctor who spoke about abortion for 10-year-old Ohio rape victim), it is the moment that McKinney normally disappears from the conversation. This is another reason why some of us feel that he does not argue in good faith, although if he did that would be welcomed by many of us.

Hi Jack,

You haven't explained anything. You've upchucked some warmed-over Alex Jones fantasy about "Frankfurt school" sleeper agents. You have not addressed, in good faith or otherwise, the actual stated motivations of your interlocutors in this very thread.

I generally check in here and click on the latest comment and if interested further read from newest to older....

This "you" you speak of is McKinney, right? LOL

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your comments immensely.

hsh:

I asked a question about what constitutes too much detail about your sexuality and posed the example of a man discussing the fact that he went to the movies with his husband. I was told BY OUR HR DIRECTOR that this was too explicitly about sexuality.

When I asked how it as any different from my discussing that I had gone to the movies with my wife, the response was something along the lines of "Wow! My mind is blown. I'll have to think about that. I don't know what to say!"

Thank you.

Also, when was that? The examples I gave were from the early nineties, and it's tempting to think that someone actually giving a training about this stuff in more recent years might actually have a clue. Tempting, but probably stupid.

Also, when was that?

Well ... 5 to 10 years ago. Probably closer to 5. Sorry.

The ”Don’t Say Gay” bill actually says “[c]lassroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

As several others have noted, this law as implemented effectively means that any teacher who attempts to give an answer a child's question about something like "Why does Alice have two daddys?", say by a very superficial (i.e. "age appropriate") explanation of homosexuality, is in practice subject to penalties. Rather draconian ones, as I understand it.

We're not talking about sex education here. (Regardless of what anyone thinks of the merits of that, it's rather beside the point.) We're talking about answering a kid's question about what he sees in is immediate environment.

I would just like to note, for the record, that now that Janie has given us concrete examples of rightwing attempts to censor (De Santis passim, and Indiana attorney general asks medical board to penalize doctor who spoke about abortion for 10-year-old Ohio rape victim), it is the moment that McKinney normally disappears from the conversation. This is another reason why some of us feel that he does not argue in good faith, although if he did that would be welcomed by many of us.

I'm literate and I stick to my positions and do not move goalposts. You, Jack, Nous (implicitly) and several others have, to one degree or another, advocated censorship/speech suppression/sanctions for certain speech that is currently protected speech. IOW, you are proposing a degree of censorship as a matter of *policy*. You are specifically proposing a limit on a currently protected, express constitutional right.* Pointing out two instances of censorious conduct by conservative-aligned office holders doesn't support your policy position nor does it rebut my criticism of your policy position. It is simply rather lame what-aboutism.

And no one has articulated a meaningful justification for these proposals.

Instead, we see the almost immediate pivot to bad faith allegations, mockery and dismissiveness--all from people who routinely lament the inability of others to appreciate their (your) outlook.

HSH asked me what I thought the motivation was for those advocating censorship. I answered directly and in good faith, using IMO to make it clear that I was answering with my opinion. As a matter of substance, I think there is good cause to believe the primary animating ideological impetus on the left is a Foucaultian/Marcusian fusion. If holding this opinion is per se bad faith, then there's another reason why ObWi is a far cry from what it once was.

Whatever. As I said above, the fact that proposing censorship is now a thing on the left should be an embarrassment. It isn't and that's much worse.

This is all rather pointless. The best to all.

*Abortion is not an express constitutional right, yet the overwhelming view here post Dobbs was that every constitutional norm known or unknown had been violated. Selective outrage IMO.

Somehow my explicit statement that I did not have enough of a critical perspective to discuss the practicalities of weighing free speech demands against the needs of a functioning democracy got turned in McKTX arguing that I'm implicitly supporting censorship. Go figure. And my suggestion of reading Sunstein "and responses to Sunstein" earned a quick google and unattributed response to Sunstein as a what...critique? rebuttal?...of the position that I did not take on a subject I claimed no authority over.

And, like I said, it's the last week of classes and I have plenty of students who are actually engaged in trying to understand issues and build a collective understanding, so pardon me if I choose not to engage with a serial bad faith actor attempting once again to own a few libs whose actual words he has not bothered to acknowledge or try to understand.

You have added nothing of depth or consequence to the discussion here with your participation. All you have done is troll and mischaracterize.

Not playing along, so that leaves you to sputter and harangue for the final word again as always.

Enjoy.

Pointing out two instances of censorious conduct by conservative-aligned office holders doesn't support your policy position nor does it rebut my criticism of your policy position.

In fact, Janie gave several examples from De Santis (who is fairly likely to be the next rightwing president, or at least R nominee), as well as a particularly egregious one about the 10 year old rape victim being told about abortion. You can of course call this "whataboutism", but many would say that these actual instances from the right trump your strawman extrapolation of doom from a somewhat tentative, exploratory conversation on ObWi (not "the left", but liberals, centrists and lefties of various stripes) about possible ways of extending the existing legal protections against lies (libel and slander, fraud by misrepresentation etc) to maybe, if it could be done, include lies/untruths which have already threatened your democracy, and might do so again.

The tentative, exploratory nature of our conversation, when compared with your characterisation of rabid leftwingers chomping at the bit to limit the freedoms of freedom-loving Americans is really extraordinary.

This is all rather pointless.

You said it.

Why don't *YOU* explain to us what a kindergarten teacher should say when one of her students wants to give a report about what her daddies do at work.

Presumably this is assigned work. And the teacher had best be prepared to deal with other cases like the students who have no daddy (divorce, widow), or are being raised by grandparents who are retired.

When I worked for the state legislature as a budget analyst, one of the things the staff did between sessions was go see actual things the departments in our portfolios did. I sat in the back of the room while the child services councilor dealt with the family of two kids, dad in and out of jail because he was a violent drunk, mom in and out of rehab for drugs, being raised by two sets of grandparents alternating, and clearly the two sets of grandparents despised each other. The councilor told me they were all on their good behavior that day because of the observer (me). Got as far as my car before I had to sit a while and cry. How's the grade school teacher supposed to handle that one?

This is all rather pointless.

No one's forcing you to come here and try to make us admit that we're identical to the villains in your head, you do it by your own choice, even though it always ends up like this.

I don't really believe you're that slow a learner, so it's maybe natural to speculate a bit as to what your *real* motivation is, given that surely you're smart enough to know that we're not suddenly going to start doing mea culpas and beating our breasts in anguish over the sins you're inventing for us in the name of "the left."

I suppose you get some sweet satisfaction out of proving to yourself yet again that the phantoms in your head are the exact same villains you've created them to be, and you're still the clever, victorious debater you were the last time, and the time before that, and the time before that.

"Owning the libs" isn't really pointless. Rather, as nous said, it's the whole point. You got what you came for, including the chance to blame the unsatisfying nature of the interaction on everyone but yourself.

IOW, you are proposing a degree of censorship as a matter of *policy*. You are specifically proposing a limit on a currently protected, express constitutional right.*

You've been invited several times to do better, so it's sad that this tendentious nonsense appears to still be the best argument against those proposals that you can muster.

As I said before, this line of argument is simply begging the question. You've made no attempt to argue the merits of the problem or proposed solutions, no attempt even at a real discussion of what speech restrictions (and again, we have many in the US!) might or might not fall under the rubric of censorship, or unacceptable censorship.

For example, are you also opposed to existing libel laws? The various existing legal consequences for speech that can be classed as 'fighting words', 'true threats', or the classic 'fire in a crowded theater'? Laws against fraud or conspiracy? Do you think regulations on product advertising claims are unconstitutional? Do you consider these things "censorship", even if of a permissible kind?

Do you have specific arguments about why, e.g., laws providing civil damages for speech directed at instigating stochistic violence wouldn't pass constitutional muster?

Do you have any thoughts on the paradox of tolerance? Or how the freedom to speak threats impacts the freedom of the threatened to speak?

Maybe you do have interesting answers to those questions. We'll never know if the only response you can formulate is little more than an animal grunt of, "Crazy leftists! Censorship bad!"

Pointing out two instances of censorious conduct by conservative-aligned office holders doesn't support your policy position nor does it rebut my criticism of your policy position. It is simply rather lame what-aboutism.

I believe those instances were, in fact, quite a solid rebuttal to your previous assertion that:

...suppressing speech on the topic-or any topic-should not even be a topic of discussion. But it is and it is the left bringing it up.

And no one has articulated a meaningful justification for these proposals.

Perhaps you could deign to explain your reasoning as to why you don't think the justifications proposed earlier were "meaningful". You should probably start that argument by giving some indication that you actually understand what justifications have been proposed. Maybe quote them.

Because that's how good faith debate works. You don't just get to baldly state, "your arguments, which I won't even acknowledge that I'm aware of, aren't meaningful." You have to, you know, quote (or accurately paraphrase) the point you're rebutting. Then, and only then, offer some substantive reasoning or commentary.

HSH asked me what I thought the motivation was for those advocating censorship. I answered directly and in good faith, using IMO to make it clear that I was answering with my opinion....If holding this opinion is per se bad faith...

I for one understand HSH's original question to be somewhat rhetorical. My own version of the question, asked shortly after at 12:00, certainly had a pronounced eye-roll attached to it. (Apropos of nothing, I note that it also had variants of exactly the same as-yet-unanswered questions about the nature of speech and censorship that I'm repeating here.)

In any case, the bad faith part is not in regard to your opinion, per se. It's in the failure -- or outright refusal, at this point -- to first acknowledge and deal with the actual stated views of your interlocutors. You certainly don't have to agree with them, or even believe them, but if you choose not to, you do still have to show your work.

What you did instead is the equivalent of rolling up to a discussion about, say, restricting cigarette sales, and announcing that in "your opinion", the real motivation of all anti-cigarette activists is to advance their anti-freedom agenda

In isolation, that might be a perfectly fine opinion to hold. However, opinion or not, you still have to justify it. In particular, if the discussion you are entering is already replete with relatively clear claims about the concerns people have (the addictive qualities, harmful health effects, misleading advertising, etc.), then stating that you believe their motivations are otherwise amounts to a claim that everyone else is lying or deluded about their own intentions.

Merely qualifying it with "my opinion" isn't a get out of jail free card there. You have to address those claims directly. For example, present some kind of argument as to why you feel that your interlocutors can't be genuinely concerned about the health effects of cigarettes but have simply been bamboozled by the propagandists at the Frankfurt school. Or whatever it is you think.

The argument doesn't have to be good, necessarily. (I suspect it almost certainly wouldn't be, in this case, which is perhaps why you're working so hard to avoid it.) But it still has to be made. Good faith argument involves acknowledging and addressing the positions you're rebutting. You can't simply announce, "in my opinion you're all lying/deluded conspiricists," and expect anyone to be impressed.

This is all rather pointless. The best to all.

Indeed. Like trying to have a conversation with an unusually disingenuous rock.

And, I rather think, The best to all may have signalled the convenient disappearance to which I referred, perhaps prematurely, earlier.

Good night, all.

jack lecou quoting McK: Pointing out two instances of censorious conduct by conservative-aligned office holders doesn't support your policy position nor does it rebut my criticism of your policy position. It is simply rather lame what-aboutism. [My bold. Who is "your" in this passage? Read on....]

jack lecou: I believe those instances were, in fact, quite a solid rebuttal to your previous assertion that:

jack quoting MK again: ...suppressing speech on the topic-or any topic-should not even be a topic of discussion. But it is and it is the left bringing it up.

And no one has articulated a meaningful justification for these proposals.

Thanks for highlighting this, jack lecou. I don't have the patience to tease out the strands of the disingenuousness after a certain point. But it's interesting that:

1) I'm the one who linked the examples of "conservative-aligned officeholders" (gee, that sounds like a whole different kind of category from the one we get lumped into, i.e. "the left" -- us and Stalin, let's not forget), plus

2) I'm also one of the people whom McK mentioned positively when he first joined the discussion, and

3) I have made nothing remotely resembling a policy proposal. I have, in fact, explicitly expressed extreme skepticism about the feasibility of pushing back effectively against the flood of pathologically damaging misinformation that is flooding social media. For that matter, anything remotely resembling a "policy proposal" in this discussion has been offered in the most tentative and exploratory terms.

This is really just a longwinded way of repeating myself: McK is arguing with phantoms in his head that he has created precisely so that he can refute them (again and again) to his own satisfaction. The fact that he keeps pretending that they're us got old a long time ago.

On the other hand, if we can't have the censorship that he's declared we want, it's probably not a bad thing to keep exposing the lame disingenuousness of his "arguments."

"the left" -- us and Stalin, let's not forget

Allow me to pedantically note that grouping Stalin and "the left" does serious damage to truth in labeling. On any objective measure, Stalin was a far right autocrat -- which was obvious at the time (admittedly more obvious in retrospect), for all that he loudly proclaiming himself a believer in communism. Sort of like Xi and the CCP today.

Or, closer to home, our own "Christian nationalists" or our believers in the "prosperity gospel", both of whose beliefs are antithetical to any supportable view of Christ's teachings.

wj: Allow me to pedantically note that grouping Stalin and "the left" does serious damage to truth in labeling.

Not going to take time searching for examples, but I mentioned Stalin because I'm pretty sure that in the past McKinney has insisted that "the left" (us) is answerable for Stalin's crimes. Also Mao's. Maybe mainly Mao's.

And we are not to be allowed to talk about anything less dire until/unless we have atoned for those. Or we don't deserve a platform. Or something.

Or maybe I'm mixing McK up with someone else who used to bring up Stalin/Mao as part of what we're answerable for.

Anyhow, I just wanted to make sure you knew that this was an attribution, not an assertion of mine about Stalin.

JanieM, fair enough.

It remains wrong, whether it was a liberal or a conservative who said it. :-)

And how often do we say that here?

I shouldn't have taken the time, and I didn't find what I was looking for, but here's some relevant nostalgia:

Oh my this makes me miss hilzoy.

Also this.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

I haven’t followed the whole thread in detail, so apologies if this has already been said, or if it’s no longer really on topic.

That said:

It may be worthwhile in the context of this discussion to remember that one party / political movement has for a long time embraced a deliberate strategy of “flooding the zone with shit”. “Shit” here doesn’t even have to be lies per se, it can be (and often is) random horseshit that has nothing to do with anything. Just wild, pull-it-out-of-your-ass bullshit, in the true Frankfurt sense.

“Frankfurt” here being Harry Frankfurt, not the Frankfurt School.

The point is to *deliberately frustrate and defeat responsible public discourse* by smothering it with bullshit.

That is the context for this discussion.

I don’t think regulation would be all that useful. The cure for this is for people to stop wanting to listen to it. The fact that it has the audience is has says all that needs to be said about where we are at as a nation. And not just this nation.

I don’t know how to persuade people to use their damned heads and cultivate the critical thought process and basic self-awareness needed to recognize when, and why, they are being taken in by bullshit. But that is what is needed.

I don’t know how to persuade people to use their damned heads and cultivate the critical thought process and basic self-awareness needed to recognize when, and why, they are being taken in by bullshit. But that is what is needed.

This has been on the edge of my thoughts throughout this discussion, and often in relation to other topics we discuss here as well. Critical thinking could be taught in schools. It is deliberately not taught in schools. A critical, self-aware citizenry would endanger too many vested interests.

Critical thinking could be taught in schools. It is deliberately not taught in schools.

The official Texas GOP platform from a few years ago made it explicit. Since it could lead to "questioning traditional authorities" it is unambiguously condemned.

Not that McKinney has done it but the 'respectable" Right (in the US) also wants the 'left' to take responsibility for Hitler since he called his system National SOCIALISM. I have to read that nonsense on a regular base. The standard sarcastic answer about the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea usually leads to one of two reactions: 1) anger 2) something about the US Dems being no different from the Kim dynasty and wanting to have something similar in the US. What I have not yet seen at least on the English side of the net* is claims that Hitler was not a leftist but it was the left's fault that he came to power and consequently should take most of the blame (Hitler as a more or less inevitable, if not outright natural, reaction to the leftist revolutions preceding it).

*In Germany that has been a topic and still gets warmed up by conservatives occasionally.

What I have not yet seen at least on the English side of the net* is claims that Hitler was not a leftist but it was the left's fault that he came to power and consequently should take most of the blame (Hitler as a more or less inevitable, if not outright natural, reaction to the leftist revolutions preceding it).

On this nonsense paradigm, Trump (or Reagan or Nixon) should be laid at progressives' doorstep. Their election being an inevitable reaction to what Democrats did previously. (Haven't heard that yet. But then, I don't get into obscure parts of the Internet.)

If you believe that, I've got this bridge.... Well, actually I'm figuring I can get more auctioning it to the marks on Fox. But you get the idea.

Oh, I have heard/read it about Reagan numerous times (also about Maggie Thatcher). But it is near 100% from conservatives that see those figures as saviours who prevented the immediate collapse of Western civilization resulting from rampant leftism.

Russell's cite of Harry Frankfurt deserves a link to the book

http://www2.csudh.edu/ccauthen/576f12/frankfurt__harry_-_on_bullshit.pdf

I just want to say two things.

The first is that, for anybody who sometimes gets the impression that here on ObWi we just go round and round talking about the same things, I really think this recent discussion about whether there is a way to minimise harm to freedom of speech while still preventing the poisoning of the electoral security of our countries by ascertainable lies and falsehoods, is a new development and one that has happened as a consequence of recent and dangerous events.

And my second point is about us + Stalin, or actually, the one that really sticks in my mind is us + Mao. Once before, when McKinney was going off on one of his rants about what a bunch of apologists we were for the PRC, and that we clearly had no concern whatsoever for the fate of HK or Taiwan (unlike us, freedom loving people), I had to forcibly remind him that I grew up in HK, love it and its people dearly (despite its many weirdnesses), and have actual, real fear for loved ones there who are at risk of persecution, in addition to my ideological and historical objection to the PRC. After a bit of argumentation, he subsided, presumably accepting that I had, as lawyers say, standing.

It really is very tiresome being "the left", "the progressive left" et al, as opposed to freedom-loving people. I don't know what's wrong with us.

"Their election being an inevitable reaction to what Democrats did previously."

Well, I *did* say thing like:

"Bill Clinton was such a natural politician, he made being President look easy. So, the GOP responded with 'it's easy! ANY MORON could do it!', and they elected 'ANY MORON': Dubya.

I blame Clinton. I certainly won't be voting for him again."

Update as needed for other politicians. I think McCarthy is going to be the ANY MORON to Pelosi.

the hard core progressive IMO is informed by a Foucault/Marcuse fusion that utilizes whatever policy or rhetorical device is at hand to advance the Frankfurt School's version of socialist utopia.

Maybe it would help if you actually read a book or two about the subject matter, just saying.

I don’t know how to persuade people to use their damned heads and cultivate the critical thought process and basic self-awareness needed to recognize when, and why, they are being taken in by bullshit. But that is what is needed.

What is needed are public policies that expose more people to alternatives to the all too prevalent bullshit. Not surprisingly, Dean Baker has proposed several.

The whole question of "censorship" is a red (I use the term with some reluctance :)) herring. It's about power-who has it, and how they use it.

These days one understanding of freedom is not being/getting exposed to any alternatives (or more precisely: the mere idea of any alternative, not the concrete alternatives themselves). Cf. Mencken's alleged definition of puritanism.

Thinking about jack lecou's 7:33 and my 9:10 from last night -- jack did identify the exact passage from McK that I was responding to, but I should have quoted McK in the first place, to make it harder for him to play his game of pretending he didn’t say what he plainly and explicitly did say.

To call a direct and pertinent response to his own words “lame what-aboutism” is the essence of McKinney’s MO when he descends upon us for another session of whack-a-lefty. Yet again I’m pushed to wonder whether there’s a third option besides 1) deliberate dishonesty a.k.a. trolling, and 2) sloppy thinking. (To use the least pejorative term that comes to mind.)

I also want to come back to this:

Anyone who thinks "[c]lassroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” is appropriate for “kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” is free to make that case. Have at it. I have questions about adults who think initiating discussions with children of that age about sex in any context is a good idea.

I’m pretty sure it’s incoherent as written, and even if the logic holds on close analysis, it’s a pile of mush and opinions, as jack has pointed out a lot of McK’s assertions are. Anyhow, I think McK is saying that it’s way out of line to talk to “children of that age” about “sex in any context.”

Connecting the dots of that stance with hsh’s story of the human resources trainer who considered “I went to the movies with my same-sex spouse” to be talking about “sex,” you can see where DeSantis and the other “conservative-aligned office holders” (chortle) are going.

Where they are going is: they want LGBTQ+ people disappeared. It’s not just censorship of words, the point of the censorship of words is to make people like me not exist, at least as far as our visibility in public, and to children, is concerned.

I won’t belabor this, except to note how utterly, fantastically laughable is the notion embedded in this paragraph:

I focus on the left favoring censorship because it is the left who is favoring censorship. And it isn't just isolated voices. Regardless of whether CRT is a boogey man or a real concern, suppressing speech on the topic-or any topic-should not even be a topic of discussion. But it is and it is the left bringing it up.

“The right” has spent the past couple of years in a frothing at the mouth fury over CRT, and has sent an army of loud-mouthed disrupters into school boards all across the country to try to suppress any mention of the topics that they imagine can be subsumed under that label. And yet McKinney somehow thinks this is evidence that it’s “the left” that wants to suppress speech?!?!?!?!?

Bah.

Or in other words, when anyone McK thinks is part of "the left" makes the slightest whisper of a hint of a question of doing something about the deluge of murderous and treasonous BS that spews forth on social media every minute, it's totally unacceptable censorship. When anyone else shouts from the rooftops (and Fox News) about things that should be talked about, well, that's because of ... reasons. There are probably "reasons" why "CRT" should not be taught in schools. And there are "reasons" (McK thinks so is the main reason) why "sex" shouldn't be mentioned to eight-year-olds.

On and on.


McKinney actually has me rethinking my stance on CRT. I referred to it as a boogeyman, but I think for some people it's more of a hobbyhorse. So I want to credit him for that.

"things that should be talked about" should be "things that shouldn't be talked about" ==

I'm babysitting, so that's probably the end of any hope of coherence for a while.

some random thoughts:

40 or 50 years ago, you might have had a reasonable chance of stumbling across someone other than a college sociology professor who had read the Frankfurt school folks. Lots of college dorm rooms had a copy of "One Dimensional Man" somewhere on a bookshelf.

Nowadays I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone under the age of, say, fifty who even knows the Frankfurt School existed.

So, there's that.

The whole question of "censorship" is a red (I use the term with some reluctance :)) herring.

bobbyp's point about consolidated ownership of media is IMO right on, and is an essential component of the issues being discussed in this thread.

Anyone who thinks "[c]lassroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” is appropriate for “kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” is free to make that case. Have at it.

One of my niece's kids is anatomically female and was assigned a gender of female when born.

By age 4, she began, at her own initiative, to live as a boy. Boy's clothes, boy's short haircut, changed her name to a masculine one, associated with the boys at school, played competitively on boy's sports teams. "She" has been he, since (at the latest) about age 4.

Nobody made him do this, nobody asked him to do it, nobody suggested it to him, nobody pointed him in that direction. His father in fact was extremely unsupportive and discouraged this pretty emphatically. It was 100% self-initiated and self-directed. And continues, some 6 or 7 years later.

A large part of what has made it possible for this kid to do all of this without experiencing continual mental and emotional trauma - without being bullied and treated as a freak or weirdo - is the support he, and my niece, and his siblings, have received from school teachers and administrators.

So yes, gender identification issues are relevant for kids of kindergarten age and even younger.

If someone wants to argue that there is something wrong with kids being introduced to the idea that some people are different, they are free to make that case. Have at it. Feel free to direct your comments to me, personally. I'll be glad to reply.

Why would we protect kids from real harm at the expense of protecting them from imaginary harm? Imaginary harm is super scary!

I think McCarthy is going to be the ANY MORON to Pelosi.

Snarki, that is a slur on morons everywhere.

Rather like Trump, McCarthy lusts for the title. But the actual job? Not so much.

To russell's point - when people claim that their children are being brainwashed at college with marxist ideologies or gender politics by leftist professors, they are imagining a world that works not at all like the real world.

If anything, I've been moved to be more sympathetic to gender politics because I have had students who have come to class bravely assuming those things for themselves already, and have had to ask myself the same question that I ask myself with any other student whose self-view and lived experience puts them at odds with others in the class - how can I foster a culture of respect, dignity, and participation for everyone in the room. So I start from the position that I need to listen to my students and treat them with respect. And in return they open up about their experience.

We move each other. They move each other. They do that just be being themselves and by working through the mess to find ways to function as a community. What I do is try to give them better tools for thinking through their challenges and their identities. That toolkit includes a lot of different voices that disagree with each other for the students to work through and synthesize for themselves.

If I've become more liberal over the years of teaching, it's not because I live in a bubble, it's because I've been in contact with the lives of more and different students, and my view of the world has expanded, and I've been forced to adjust to afford them all a measure of dignity.

This does not mean there is never conflict, or that I have become a complete relativist. I have to enforce basic rules of classroom behavior. Even if I were not inclined to do so already, I have Title IX and various civil rights acts to comply with. I have Chinese nationalists and conservative muslims and all manner of christians from all manner of cultural enclaves, all of which have to work in groups with atheists, and LGBTQ+ activists.

So I do have some small scale experience with these issues of balancing the needs of different communities in mixed spaces.

But the notion that the cultural change happens because I am driving it is absurd. All I really do is try to lead the conversation to a place where everyone feels that they have been fairly represented in the conversation, and no one in that tiny community fears for their safety from anyone else there. Sometimes that can leave people feeling a bit singled out. That's a product of the contradictions in their own lives that they have not worked through yet. Some of them are unwilling to work through those contradictions, and others are not ready yet. It took me the better part of a decade to work through my own in my 20s and early 30s. And the choice, as always, is theirs. All I ask is that their own personal struggle does not land on another person in the community.

I daresay that I've changed more than any one student of mine has been changed in that process. Watch any piece of mainstream media from the 80s aimed at a teen audience and you can see why.

Also on topic: https://www.npr.org/2022/12/01/1139685828/schools-democracy-misinformation-purple-state

These are not conditions under which students are well positioned to learn.

That's a product of the contradictions in their own lives that they have not worked through yet. Some of them are unwilling to work through those contradictions, and others are not ready yet. It took me the better part of a decade to work through my own in my 20s and early 30s.

nous, I hope that you are able to tell those who are not yet willing to address their own contradictions, not only that you had to do so too, but just how long it took you. My observation has been that it helps students get thru difficulties if they know that others, especially others who are in some sense authority figures, have struggled there as well.

I think this:

JanieM: Critical thinking could be taught in schools. It is deliberately not taught in schools. A critical, self-aware citizenry would endanger too many vested interests.

And this:

nous: Also on topic: https://www.npr.org/2022/12/01/1139685828/schools-democracy-misinformation-purple-state

These are not conditions under which students are well positioned to learn.

Provide an interesting juxtaposition.

Janie is absolutely right, of course. But it's interesting that some of the school officials' in the article appear to be coming to the belated conclusion that they may have no choice but to start teaching media literacy. If only to preserve their own sanity.

Better late than never, I guess.

Nowadays I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone under the age of, say, fifty who even knows the Frankfurt School existed.

There are really multiple layers of red herring there.

The one is the obvious obscurity. As you say, the only reason anyone has heard about it today -- outside some fairly rarefied circles of academics or former 60s student activists -- is thanks to the spread of antisemitic 'Cultural Marxism' conspiracy theories in Tea Party/Qanon circles. Now pushed by the usual range of right wing media grifters, which is, I'm sure, where McKinney is getting suckered into it from.

But the second layer is: so what?

What if someone did have a shelf full Adorno and Marcuse and whomever else. Are we supposed to believe that should automatically disqualify their ideas from consideration somehow? Of course not.

And that'd be true even if the shelf is full of Ayn Rand and Hayek. Heck, even Hitler.

One could decide to be extra skeptical of someone based on such background considerations, but you would nevertheless still need to actually do the work of examining and arguing against the specific ideas being espoused in the moment, not simply poison the well and assume the debate is over.

(Related weirdness: I know the gallop is overwhelming, but did anyone else pick up on McK's remarkable insinuation that Sunstein is somehow not allowed to cite Madison because "the left" has criticized Madison for having owned people? Even if that was just a throwaway trollish 'gotcha', I think the ability to formulate a statement like that at all is a fascinating peak into the deeply strange way he appears to think about concepts of intellectual consistency. Possibly not unrelated to the weird upside-down/mirror-dimension interpretation of 'intersectionality' we see sometimes from the right.)

McK's remarkable insinuation that Sunstein is somehow not allowed to cite Madison because "the left" has criticized Madison for having owned people

I missed the subtleties of that one, but it's of a piece with his previous framework for saying what we (or "the left") are not allowed to talk about because of Mao.

And while you're mentioning intersectionality, I want to go back to one of nous's bits: But the notion that the cultural change happens because I am driving it is absurd.

Your way of handling your classes, as you describe it, is as subversive as it gets. What, no pecking order? No class or racial distinctions allowing people to enforce some sort of stratification? No bullying? Encouragement of actual critical thinking and empathy?

Seriously, as McKinney villains go......... ;-)

ETA: copy editing.

But the notion that the cultural change happens because I am driving it is absurd.

Similar to what JanieM said, you aren't driving it, but you are definitely enabling it. (And good on ya for doing so!)

A volume of Stalin's writings (Booooring!) has been standing on my shelves right next to one of Churchill (a rather good read) for many years. When Hitler's* Mein Kampf (critical edition) joined my collection, the only reason it did not end up right next to these two was the difference in format, so it did not fit that particular shelf.

*not a gifted writer but still better than the author of the Malleus maleficarum [The Hammer of Witches]. Can't remember at the moment where I put that book.

It's a "you can't cite X if you are also trying to cancel X" bit of chop logic. Never mind that what is intended is not cancelling, but trying to read carefully and critically in order to see the extent to which X belief or behavior might impact some other part of that person's thinking in subtle ways.

It's hard work to do well, and I've seen a lot of published work that does not take sufficient care with it, but that is the intent of the work.

Sunstein does not strike me as being particularly ideologically biased in his work. I don't always agree with his conclusions, but I don't think that he's biased in ways that do any disservice to the arguments of the people that he is interpreting.

Also, for the record, I have never read any Marcuse, and I don't see how large parts of the Frankfurt School could ever be fully reconciled with Foucault's notions of biopower without a transformative interpretation of both.

And again, I'm not deeply enough read in either to give an authoritative account of either - and this despite having done graduate work in critical theory.

People have a very shallow understanding of expertise.

People have a very shallow understanding of expertise.

McKinney is sure the rest of us have a very shallow understanding of how courtrooms work. (He said so in this very thread, but I'm not going to go find it.) ... Beyond that I need not elaborate.

From nous's NPR link:

Roughly half of principals, according to the report, say parents or other members of their communities tried "to limit or challenge ... teaching and learning about issues of race and racism" last year.

In purple districts, nearly two-thirds (63%) of principals noted that kind of community pressure.

Not only that, many district leaders gave in.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of principals in purple communities told researchers that district leaders, including school board members, "took action to limit teaching and learning about race and racism." That was higher than in both red communities (17%) and blue communities (8%).

"My superintendent told me in no uncertain terms that I could not address issues of race and bias..." one Minnesota principal remembers. "He told me, 'This is not the time or the place to do this here. You have to remember you are in the heart of Trump country and you're just going to start a big mess if you start talking about that stuff.' "

More lame whataboutism.

Your way of handling your classes, as you describe it, is as subversive as it gets. What, no pecking order? No class or racial distinctions allowing people to enforce some sort of stratification? No bullying? Encouragement of actual critical thinking and empathy?

All of those things still happen, sadly, but they do get subverted, or confronted, as much as I can manage within what latitude the university gives me. It's no utopia. We always bring our dystopias with us.

One of my favorite moments in The Matrix is when Agent Smith explains that the first Matrix was a utopia, but that none of the humans could believe in it. So true.

My students absolutely do not believe in utopias. They have a hard time even believing in a functional society. Their idea of a good future mostly involves small comforts and moments of distraction from their sense of impending doom.

Now pushed by the usual range of right wing media grifters, which is, I'm sure, where McKinney is getting suckered into it from.

You may be right, jack lecou, but although I don't think you were hanging around here so much at the time, the Frankfurt School featured heavily in a fight between McKinney, lj and nous some time ago. What seemed to happen was he went away and did a deep dive (LOL) into it on Wikipedia, then came back and was a (dismissive) expert. From what I remember, neither Foucault nor Marcuse came into it. They must be recent subjects of study.

My students absolutely do not believe in utopias. They have a hard time even believing in a functional society. Their idea of a good future mostly involves small comforts and moments of distraction from their sense of impending doom.

It seems to me that people fairly accurately sense that the pillars of economic and environmental exploitation that our current society is built on are crumbling. They can feel it in the imposed fragility of their daily lives. They know it can't end well.

This manifests in, among other things, most sci-fi movies being about fascist post-apocalyptic hellscapes where teenagers fight to the death rather than adventures in more hopeful utopias.

I've always assumed that this is an artifact of the times and the circumstances, though, rather than a fundamental condition. And that firmer social foundations might one day produce a more hopeful outlook (or even vice-versa).

Curious what others think.

After reading the NPR piece, I was struck by how it went straight at what we've been discussing, particularly after McK's visit. (Janie already hit at one of the main points.)

The sectional headings alone do the trick, though I added one excerpt to the first one to focus it a bit.

Misinformation is making it hard to teach lots of things, including media literacy

"The only way I think we're going to get out of a situation like this is teaching kids, and maybe even the greater public at large, what is good information," opines one Nebraska principal.

Uh, oh! Is someone deciding there's such a thing as good information?

Schools in purple districts were more likely to put limits on teaching about race and racism

CRT! Look out!

Harassment of LGBTQ+ students is rising

Way to go, Florida! Save our kids from the groomers!

With all of the, um, corrections noted above, I think McK is partly right about some parts of the left veering towards support for censorship. He is wrong in thinking this isn’t a big problem on the right— it’s always a big problem on some parts of the right, But parts of the centrist left also seem to me to want to clamp down on free speech in the name of fighting disinformation or for other reasons.. ( Another place where I think McK gets it partly wrong— you might have campus radical lefties shutting down conservative speech, but centrist libs and the far left do not like each other much and in the msm and in politics it is the centrist libs who usually have more clout.)

I don’t have links. I remember reading a pro censorship piece in the NYT which I did not like and it was earlier this year, but I haven’t been able to find it. The appropriate euphemisms to use as search words elude me.

For me, given my interests for the past several decades, it circles back to foreign policy and human rights coverage and I have little faith in “ respectable” mainstream sources or politicians. The NYT can and does publish some superb individual pieces on some issues, but they also publish a lot of propagandistic crap, IMHO.

Jack wants some sort of extension of libel law to cover minority groups. But the IHRA example shows the problems with that. The problem in that case is that some who push that definition and want government support for it are supporting a definition of antisemitism that includes criticism of Israel they think goes too far and questions Israel’s right to exist. From their perspective this makes sense and is a part of the struggle against hate. From the Palestinian perspective that right to exist as a Jewish state means the right to achieve the correct demographics by expelling Palestinians. Some might accept Israel as a fait accompli, but most aren’t going to say Israel had a right to expel them. Most countries have unpleasant and ugly histories— you shouldn’t define a form of bigotry in a way that obligates people to embrace fairy tale histories. ( If a Palestinian state emerges its own prehistory already includes terrorism committed in its name, but some Palestinians have their own pleasing euphemisms for terrorism.)

Whatever one thinks of the history or what solution to push, nobody should be “ adjudicating” this with the coercive force of the government. You argue, you persuade, you call the other side a bunch of bigots, namecall, tell the truth, tell lies, spread BS— all the usual ways people argue regarding every emotional topic involving basic human rights. That’s what free speech always involves.

And yet some mainstream liberals here and in GB are supporting the IHRA definition and making it official in various ways.

So I have zero faith in mainstream liberals. To be fair, nobody should have faith in any part of the political spectrum if it means trusting them to put limits on political speech. In practice that kind of power is going to be abused and it will be abused by people who are utterly convinced they are right, like many of the people pushing the IHRA definition with all its illustrative examples ( some of which are specifically about criticism of Israel).

And sometimes even the Trump supporters are right about specific examples— there was a concerted and factually wrong attempt to portray the NY Post Hunter Biden laptop story as Russian disinformation in the closing days of the 2020 campaign. I linked to a Politico story about that at the time. People are just too damn quick to interpret things through a political lens. That’s everyone.

Jack wants some sort of extension of libel law to cover minority groups. But the IHRA example shows the problems with that. The problem in that case is that some who push that definition and want government support for it are supporting a definition of antisemitism that includes criticism of Israel they think goes too far and questions Israel’s right to exist.

I'd be curious if you could expand on that, because I saw your earlier post, but it doesn't really seem like this concern connects to the actual proposal. You're talking a lot about some "definition of antisemitism", for example, but it's really unclear to me where any "definition" is supposed to come in to play. Nowhere have I suggested that we produce some a priori official definition of antisemitism, or anything else. Nor does the proposal depend on having them.

Under libel(-ish) law concept, you couldn't simply just sue someone for vaguely defined "antisemitism". Rather, it would involve a case by case evaluation of the actions and intentions of each specific actor. You'd have to prove, just as with a defamation case, that your opponent had engaged in a specific lie. Willfully and maliciously so. And with a fairly high burden of proof - even marginally fact based criticisms, nevermind mere statements of opinion, certainly shouldn't meet that bar.

So, AFAICT, I don't see what any political or human rights critic of Israeli policy would have to fear from such an examination. (Aside from inconvenience and legal expense from nuisance suits -- but that's where SLAPP protections come into play. It would probably also make a great deal of sense to specifically exempt criticism of governments altogether.)

A holocaust denier, OTOH...

the Frankfurt School featured heavily in a fight between McKinney, lj and nous some time ago.

This is what worries me. Having resided so long in McKinney's mind, I'm worried he would go to court and try to demand back rent from us. Since we have no idea how courts work and he does, we might end up in penury trying to pay any court judgement.

I've always assumed that this is an artifact of the times and the circumstances, though, rather than a fundamental condition.

I'm thinking that assumption may not be quite right, and tend toward the view that this might well be a manifestation of out of control careening capitalism and it's overriding imperative to atomize and commodify, well, just about everything.

Indeed...alienation and its discontents.

People tend to overlook the fact that this revolutionary system has only been around for three hundred years or so. To cite wj, there may be unintended consequences!

The chances of the human race making it another hundred thousand years appears dim indeed.

I return now to my readings: Foucault's History of Sexuality, wherein he rejected marxism (McKinney must have missed that); and Stalin's Dialectical and Historical Materialism to cure my insomnia.

Have a good day!

I'm thinking that assumption may not be quite right, and tend toward the view that this might well be a manifestation of out of control careening capitalism and it's overriding imperative to atomize and commodify, well, just about everything.

[confused face]

But that's what I'm saying -- this despair for the future is not a fundamental condition of the human mind. It's a product of our material circumstances.

Take away the careening, piratical machinery of capitalism which ever grinds away at our spirits, and maybe we could learn to dream again.

To cite wj, there may be unintended consequences!

I've actually been playing around with an entire post about unintended consequences. Both negative and positive ones. No idea when I will get it up, however.

But that's what I'm saying -- this despair for the future is not a fundamental condition of the human mind. It's a product of our material circumstances.

Oops. My bad. Then we essentially agree.

Jack wants some sort of extension of libel law to cover minority groups.

This puzzled me, because I was under the impression that jack was (tentatively) positing an extension of a libel-like law which would penalise untruths, if it could be proved that the purveyor of said untruths knew (or had been informed) they were untruths. So like Fox being sued by Dominion for untrue claims, this putative law might cover e.g. Trump being sued for claiming the election was stolen, and Fox for broadcasting his (and his supporters') lies, even though he (and they) knew and had been informed, with evidence, that they were lies.

No idea when I will get it up, however.

Oh wj, you are so lucky you don't live in the UK. People here mock one mercilessly for such innocent double entendres.

I suppose you could, in the example I give above on what I thought jack lecou was getting at, define "the electoral system" as an entity which had to be protected, such that people or corporations knowingly lying about it endangered it. Which would be a kind of extension of libel laws protecting the reputations of people or corporations. And obviously, there would have to be certain limited categories of protected entities.

Which would be a kind of extension of libel laws protecting the reputations of people or corporations.

Yes, exactly.

What struck me in particular is the oddity of having laws -- laws constraining our sacred free speech, no less -- dedicated specifically to the protection of "reputation".

It seems funny, because, on the one hand, the concept of "reputation" strikes me as somewhat anachronistic. You can imagine it being used in the same sentence as a phrase "sacred honor," shortly before one 'gentleman' challenges another to a duel.

On the other hand, maybe it's never more relevant. The concept of "reputation", especially when you think about it as part of a broader sort of "fabric of social trust", cuts right to the heart of the whole issue being discussed here of systematic, politically/socially corrosive lying.

So if we already have a more-or-less demonstrably practicable legal framework for protecting one kind of damage to this fabric of trust, why not think about how to extend that protection, ever so incrementally, to perhaps shield other threads.

How would that work exactly? I don't know. I don't even know if it could. But it would be nice if there was a formulation that could work in some of the examples I gave, particularly in the most egregious or clear cut cases: Trump's slander of Hispanic immigrants. Tucker Carlson's calls for violence against LGBT+ people. Etc.

(BTW: I want to emphasize that these are all very tentative thoughts. You're seeing them pretty much as I have them. I'm by no means convinced that this half-baked idea is somehow a magic bullet, or even workable at all, so by all means, feel free talk me out of it.)

if we already have a more-or-less demonstrably practicable legal framework for protecting one kind of damage to this fabric of trust, why not think about how to extend that protection, ever so incrementally, to perhaps shield other threads.

How would that work exactly? I don't know. I don't even know if it could.

Call me naive, but it seems pretty straightforward. At least when it comes to protecting elections. Anyone who disparages the conduct of an election, or claims fraud, can be sued for liable/slander by the entity** conducting the election. Or by the opposing candidates, if any.

The burden of proof is on the person claiming fraud -- the defense against liable or slander is, after all, that the charge of fraud (or whatever) was true. When, as in 2020, no such proof a fraud ever appeared, well that's a slam dunk for the plaintiff now, isn't it?

** I might even be willing to go so far as to allow suits by residents of said entity. Have to think some more about how much room for further mischief that would give. But I'm inclined to think that someone, beyond just the entity holding the election and candidates in the election, should have standing.

BTW: I want to emphasize that these are all very tentative thoughts. You're seeing them pretty much as I have them. I'm by no means convinced that this half-baked idea is somehow a magic bullet, or even workable at all, so by all means, feel free talk me out of it.

I reckon everybody here except McKinney understood that, jack lecou, and that you were engaging in a good-faith thought experiment with an aim of thinking about how to make the system safer and better. What a freedom-hating bastard you are, to be sure.

Oh wj, you are so lucky you don't live in the UK. People here mock one mercilessly for such innocent double entendres.

Whereas, since I don't live in the UK, it's hard to tell whether it was innocent or deliberate. :-)

unintended consequences

When people say this, it always seems like what they mean are unanticipated consequences.

Less a matter of things that they did not mean to happen, and more a matter of things they did not imagine would happen.

In either case, no matter what we do or don’t do, we will create effects that we neither intended or foresaw. Because our insight into the future and our grasp of the connection of everything to everything else is limited.

At most, we do our best with our limited, current understanding. Or, we do nothing, which brings its own unintended and unanticipated outcomes.

There will always be unintended and unanticipated consequences. Choosing not to act because of that is to choose paralysis.

Been doing some surfing-level pre-search about the fixation on the Frankfurt School and on Cultural Marxism, and boy howdy does that all go down some dicey rabbit holes. Looks like the whole fixation on it started mostly with LaRouche, and spread enough from there that it featured heavily in Anders Breivik's manifesto.

I was specifically trying to hunt down the whole linkage between Foucault and Marcuse because that struck me as being highly unlikely given a decent survey of Foucault's work and some non-systematic reading of a lot of modern western marxist scholars, which took me to The Heritage Foundation and "How Cultural Marxism Threatens the United States..." [not linking, not giving them any more clicks - you can hunt it down yourself if you so wish] which contained this summary of how Foucault fits in:

Operating from Marxist postmodern terminology of “autonomy” and “liberation,” Foucault believed that deconstructing the norms of gender would bring about “greater autonomy and creativity in human identity.” To Foucault, sex was not binary, and the “naturalness” of gender and sex was dubious. Foucault’s thought represents a cultural Marxism that also transcends class struggle —as seen with race—and bases the “oppressed vs. oppressor” dynamic on sex. It asserts that individuals need to be liberated from societal norms and commonly understood notions of gender and sex in order to achieve liberation.

...all of which demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of Foucault and manages to misuse "deconstructing" in the process. Foucault actually claims the opposite of what the authors claim as his position. For Foucault the very notions of rebellion and liberation represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how power functions in society.

The whole thing is pretty woefully stitched together.

I seriously hope that McKinney is not falling for this conspiracy theory crap. I'd expect better of him.

As a perhaps odd quirk of history, after emigrating to the US, Marcuse worked for the OSS under Wild Bill Donavan. His work there focused on critical analyses of Nazi Germany, and contributed to his later critical (in both method and tone) analysis of Soviet Russia.

There is more to people and events than meets the eye. And, it’s not that hard to discover it, if you have the tiniest amount of interest in doing so.

There will always be unintended and unanticipated consequences. Choosing not to act because of that is to choose paralysis.

Absolutely. That is why I am at pains to take exception when wj invokes this "principle" to argue against progressive policies he deems go "too far".

It is a common reactionary trope.

See The Rhetoric of Reaction by Albert O. Hirschman.

On a more serious note, I offer this.

Drinks on me.

I have to think that in the mix is the fact that Foucault and Marcuse wrote about sexuality. And Foucault was gay and quite straightforward about it.

I'd bet dollars to donuts that a pretty ferocious fear of violating presumed 'proper' gender norms is a subtext for a lot of this.

Another fun fact, Marcuse worked in the OSS, and was a fervent anti-communist. And the members of the Frankfurt school were deeply involved in the OSS efforts to deal with Nazi Germany.
https://muse.jhu.edu/book/36430

So trying to toss up Marcuse is ironic in more ways than one.

When people say this [unintended consequences], it always seems like what they mean are unanticipated consequences.

Frequently. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, what *I* mean is exactly unintended. Whether anticipated or not. Whether foreseeable or not.

Let me offer a pair of examples. Circa 1980, California instituted something called "domestic partnerships." The intended consequence was to provide homosexual couples something approximating marriage. An unintended consequence (foreseeable, but to my knowledge not anticipated) was a significant number of heterosexual couples choosing this rather than marriage. That would fit your description.

In contrast, the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage had an unintended consequence of normalizing homosexuals in society. Unintended, but definitely anticipated, loudly, by those opposing that decision.

As a general rule, my inclination is to look at the foreseeable consequences, and add the unintended positive consequences to the intended consequence, to weigh against the negative ones.

There will always be unintended and unanticipated consequences. Choosing not to act because of that is to choose paralysis.

Absolutely. That is why I am at pains to take exception when wj invokes this "principle" to argue against progressive policies he deems go "too far".

If you have been paying attention, you know that I do not advocate doing nothing for fear of unintended consequences. What I advocate is gradual changes whenever possible -- in the hope that those will be reversable if the unforeseen consequences warrant that. Gradualism, if you prefer, but far from refusal to act.

To my mind, only a fool would advocate never choosing to act. In the real and everchanging world, stasis is death. But the fact that we need to repeatedly adapt doesn't mean that every proposed action is workable. Let alone being, on balance, desirable. There may be cases where it is possible to say "anything is better than this!" But they are few and far between.

On a more serious note, I offer this.

Drinks on me.

Lucky you! I've tried several different brands of plum wine (the only kind I have found drinkable). The best taste, IMHO, also happens to be the least expensive, and by a fair margin. So you get off cheap. :-)

Let's face it, a lot of snobbery amounts to "If it's expensive, it must be better. So if I show I can afford it by buying it, *I* must be better, too." It is, objectively, bullsh*t. But far more common that actual appreciation of the differences (if any).

Russell beat me to it. But if the two of us knew that offhand, one wonders about the kind of search that was done to 'prove' that Marcuse just wants to take away our freedoms.

one wonders about the kind of search that was done to 'prove' that Marcuse just wants to take away our freedoms.

  • Marcuse was beloved by leftists. (At least when I was in college in the 1960s.)
  • Leftists all want to take away our freedoms. (Well, license, to be precise.** That is, freedom without responsibility.) This being an article of faith, which requires no external support.
  • Therefore Marcuse wants to take away our freedoms. QED
This being the level of logic we are looking at.

** Yeah, I know. Me trying to hold back the changing language.

Anyone who disparages the conduct of an election, or claims fraud, can be sued for liable/slander by the entity** conducting the election. Or by the opposing candidates, if any.

The burden of proof is on the person claiming fraud...

I've been thinking throughout this discussion about what should be done about lies told about the last presidential election.

These lies had and continue to have real and damaging consequences. There's a clear reason to stop them if the harm done in the attempt is not worse.

However, one should not have to prove one's case in order to be allowed tor make. I suggest that the standard should be that one make a reasonable and honest case.

After all, it's undisputed that the Ds lost the 2000 election by 5 to 4. But that didn't stop us expressing considerable dissatisfaction.

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