NꙮW WITH MꙮRE MULTIꙮCULAR ꙮ

Looking A Gift Horse In The Mouth

I started criticizing social justice back in 2010, which doesn’t sound so impressive until you realize that’s two centuries ago in Internet Years. At the time, you rarely heard such criticism outside of wingnutty lesbianism-causes-witchcraft circles. It felt bizarre, transgressive, and novel.

But over the past few years I’ve been privileged (sic) to meet many other people with the same concerns. Some were kindred spirits. A few at least had interesting ideas. Many others were horrible people next to whom the lesbian-causes-witchcraft types looked like Voltairesque voices of reason.

But they all had something in common: they were nobodies, and nobody cared what they thought. The lesbian-causes-witchcraft types had their talk shows, but among moderate liberals social justice criticism stayed mostly confined to a bunch of small blogs.

Now that’s over – during the past year big national media have unleashed a flood of social-justice-critical stories. The Atlantic published The Coddling Of The American Mind. Salon (Salon!) published Campus PC Panic Is Getting Ridiculous and How Coddled Young Radicals Got Discomfort All Wrong. The New Republic published Trigger Happy. Even President Obama has condemned what he called “coddled” college students, saying “that’s not the way we learn”. The UK political class is up in arms about Germaine Greer being denied platform, and the US political class is up in arms about the Halloween costume argument at Silliman College (nominative determinism!) in Yale. Complaining about social justice seems to be getting, dare I say, almost trendy.

As the old saying goes, “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”. But as the other old saying goes, “I know some Trojans who would be a lot happier if they had.” So let me explain why this sudden outpouring of support for my position makes me uncomfortable.

When I or some other random blogger complains about the social justice movement, we tend to worry about points like the following (I won’t prove/defend these claims here, just clarify what I’m worried about):

  • The level of social-justice-inspired bullying online and offline that can drive people to suicide for even slightly disagreeing with social justice orthodoxy.
  • The chilling effect on research when science is subordinated to political ideology, and how researchers whose results contradict social justice orthodoxy can expect to be ignored at best and subject to death threats and harassment campaigns at worst.
  • The trivialization of and hostile response to anybody who claims to be suffering in a way that doesn’t fit the social-justice narrative, and opposition to attempts to alleviate such suffering.
  • The use of social justice as a bludgeon by which sophisticated elites from top colleges can condemn all subcultures except their sophisticated elite subculture as being problematic, and credibly demand that they subordinate themselves to the sophisticated elites as penance.
  • The conflation of the vitally important will toward political reform with the most trivial pop culture clickbait, so that instead of worrying about inequality and technological stagnation our brightest minds are discussing whether the latest Game of Thrones episode reinforces structural oppression, or if people’s Halloween costumes are okay or not.

Meanwhile, when important public figures and nationally circulating magazines complain about the social justice movement, I usually see language and arguments more like the following:

  • College students are big babies!
  • Waaaaaaaaah! Waaaaaaaaah!
  • They’re so coddled! And weak! And they want everything to be safe all the time!
  • Life isn’t a “safe space” and doesn’t have “trigger warnings”! Grow up!
  • Baby! Baby! Baby! Waaaaaah! Waaaaaah! Waaaaaaaah!

These seem like different agendas. In particular, the nobody-blogger angle focuses on ways in which social justice is used to justify aggression, and the mass-media angle focuses on ways in which social justice is used to coddle weakness. Thus the national magazines’ focus on trigger warnings, which happen to be one of the pieces of social justice I really like and have defended at length precisely because they do sometimes help weak people.

But there’s another common thread to the mass-media criticism: they’re all about things that happen on colleges and inconvenience college professors. Compare the recent bullying of a fan-artist to the point of suicide because she drew a cartoon character too thin and so was “erasing fat people” – to the recent students at Yale getting angry at an administrator who said she wasn’t going to enforce cultural sensitivity on Halloween costumes and so yelling and throwing stuff at her and her family.

I feel for anybody who gets yelled at and has stuff thrown at them, but the first of these two stories seems by far the most important; lots of teenagers commit suicide every year because of bullying, the idea that somebody deserves to die because they picture a cartoon character differently is abominable, and anyone who’s been on the relevant parts of the Internet knows this kind of thing is common as dirt. If I were a news editor, I’d consider the first study a much bigger deal. Instead, the second has gone viral in the national media, and the first remains stuck among the same few second-tier sites and SJ-critical nobody bloggers whom these kinds of things are always stuck among. Why?

I worry that the media, especially the online thinkpiece media, overrepresents an insular demographic of Ivy League academics and their friends who spend most of their time on college campuses and don’t notice things that don’t affect them personally. When people on Tumblr are being bullied to suicide or told that they’re garbage or outed or getting death threats, that’s the commoners. When a Contemporary Perspectives On American Literature professor is inconvenienced, AAAAAAAAH SOCIAL JUSTICE HAS GONE TOO FAR! SOMEBODY WARN SALON.COM!

Or to be even more cynical: social justice was supposed to be Yale’s weapon against Caltech and Podunk. But now Yale students are using it against Yale professors and administrators, and now it’s a problem. It’s like the police beating up city council members with the truncheons they usually reserve for poor ghetto-dwellers; you can bet there will be a newfound concern about police brutality at city council meetings.

And on the one hand, anything that inspires discussion of police brutality at city council meetings is good. Certainly the SJ-critical movement has been stuck on the same side as people a whole lot creepier than self-serving humanities professors, so what’s the problem?

I think that is the problem. When creepy white supremacists criticize social justice, they’re at no risk of taking over the wider SJ-critical movement. As the old saying goes, white supremacists are the best argument against white supremacy, and most of them couldn’t take over a blanket fort with a flamethrower. But rhetorically-gifted Yale professors who get thinkpieces published in The Atlantic are exactly the sort of people who would take over the wider SJ-critical movement, become its most important voice, and define what it means both to the rest of the world and to its own members.

That would be a disaster. Any general knows that you want to hold the high ground, and it really really shouldn’t be hard to hold the high ground against the sorts of people who continue to defend bullying someone to suicide because they drew a cartoon character differently than other people. But the mass media seems determined to find a way to yield the high ground and insist against all evidence that it’s punching down. Yale administrators might be the only group more sheltered than Yale students, yet they’re the only group the media seems to have the energy to defend. Worse, media seems to be defending them in a way that attacks activists for being weak and defenseless instead of pointing out when they’re strong and abusing their power.

I’m not saying that there aren’t important arguments to be had about trigger warnings and safe spaces. There are. But they’re only one of many problems, and far from the worst. And if people must focus on trigger warnings and safe spaces, I wish they would use one of about a zillion good arguments that don’t involve the pseudo-Nietzschean “You’re all babies! Stop crying, little babies!” tone. All this is doing is granting social justice activists their most dubious claim: that they are trying to use their ideology as a shield for themselves rather than a sword against others (as Popehat brilliantly puts it).

Finally, I think this might be a wake-up call to worry about the role of academia in media more generally. A friend on Tumblr pointed out that Hillary Clinton’s official list of campaign priorities include “ending sexual assault on campus”? Why not just “ending sexual assault”? Studies find that women are less likely to be assaulted on college campuses than off them. Isn’t “ending sexual assault on campus” the same kind of priority as “ending murder in gated communities?” Every murder is a tragedy, and murders in gated communities are no exception. But wouldn’t it reveal a lot about who mattered in a society if “end murder in gated communities” was how they framed their anti-murder initiatives?

I worry recent criticism of social justice is revealing the same thing.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1,081 Responses to Looking A Gift Horse In The Mouth

  1. Mogden says:

    It’s just so easy to hate sanctimonious puritans, be it on the left or the right.

    • Schmendrick says:

      “Puritanism: the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, dares to actually have fun.” ~Ambrose Bierce.

      I’m quoting from memory, so I may be paraphrasing.

      • Nathanael says:

        It was HL Mencken, actually. And the quote is “Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

      • cassander says:

        The mencken quote Nathaneal says is correct, but there is a more accurate formulation. “Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is enjoying something they shouldn’t be.” Puritans are perfectly happy with happiness, as long as what made you happy isn’t something they’ve deemed wicked.

    • Deiseach says:

      I don’t think it’s Puritanism. It’s that social justice has moved from “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society” to “microaggressions” and ways of signalling how much better an ally you are than those uneducated types over there who don’t even know you shouldn’t use trans* instead of trans!

      We’ve moved a very long way from Taparelli and De Rerum Novarum.

      • onyomi says:

        It sounds silly, but I think you’ve hit on the “innovation” aspect of outrage: right now there are people whose job it is (literally) to think of new and creative ways to be outraged. So we probably shouldn’t be surprised when new ways to be outraged constantly emerge. This is also necessary to allow the elite to remain on the cutting edge of outrage, as they wouldn’t want to be merely as tolerant as the society at large.

        Am reminded of this (white people using black person as a prop to signal to other white people how tolerant they are):

        https://www.facebook.com/MTV/videos/10153348188371701/

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Literally?

          • Cauê says:

            It’s not a novel idea. I don’t recall seeing anyone come out and say “yes, that was my job”, but the accusation is commonly directed at this recent wave of journalism.

            Like this, recently: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/04/no-spooning-isn-t-sexist-the-internet-is-just-broken.html

          • onyomi says:

            Thought they wouldn’t conceive of it this way, obviously, I think the job of many academics in fields like gender and queer studies and African American studies boils down to thinking about innovative ways to be outraged or make people feel guilty. They wouldn’t describe it that way, but I have heard many academics proudly state that it’s their job to make people uncomfortable. Obviously, making people uncomfortable isn’t always bad, but the fact that they conceive of their own job that way hints at the reality in many cases, I think.

            *Note, I’m not saying outrage about gender, sexuality, race, etc. is never justified, just that, at this point, we’re already aware of most of the real reasons for outrage but are left with a cadre of professors, civil rights leaders, etc. whose job it was to find sources of outrage and who aren’t just going to declare victory and go home now.

            I think there is an analogy to be made here to legislators, as well: most non-anarchists think there is some reasonable, useful, legitimate amount of legislation necessary for a functioning society, but the fact that we have a group of people whose (now, basically, full-time) job it is to produce legislation should make us suspect that the current incentive is to overproduce, rather than underproduce legislation.

            Based on stats I’ve seen, the length of the federal register has quadrupled since the 70s; society is probably more complex now than in the 70s, but are there really 4 times as many issues the federal government needs to deal with? Also calls into question the “everything was great before Reagan came in and deregulated everything” narrative.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Cauê:

            Note that onyomi has now answered and he wasn’t talking about clickbait.

            @onyomi:

            I don’t think that is what literal means, not literally anyway.

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            Can we taboo that phrase please? It seems unfair to crucify Scott for the one personal attack he has made in his half a decade of running a blog.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @God Damn John Jay:

            He isn’t condemning Scott for saying it.

            But your point stands.

          • onyomi says:

            Merriam Webster synonym for definition 1 (not definition 2, which is the broader, colloquial sense) of “literally”: “actually.”

            These people are not explicitly paid to think of new forms of outrage, but they are actually paid to think of new forms of outrage.

            Also, are you literally quibbling with me over my use of the word “literally”? Aren’t we a little beyond that at SSC? Can we have a debate over whether or not something is actually ironic next?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            Isn’t one of the functions of this site, and the rationalist movement in general, to call people on confusing what is actually true with what is only metaphorically true?

            “I think the job of many academics in fields like gender and queer studies and African American studies boils down to thinking about innovative ways to be outraged or make people feel guilty”

            This seems like more of a Chinese cardiologist problem than a job definition. The job of a university academic is to search for the truth. Given that non-novel truths are already found, then, yes they are supposed to find novel truths.

            But that doesn’t make it actually their job to look for new ways to be outraged.

            You might have said they are incentivized to do so, I would not have quibbled over the wording.

          • Randy M says:

            Just because it isn’t in your job description doesn’t mean it isn’t your job. After all, academics are measured, in part, by articles published, and articles cited, and that may lead to some fields being the high-brow equivalent of clickbait.

          • onyomi says:

            How do you define “what your job” is? Is it just the job description? If your job description says you do x, but your performance at x has little influence on your advancement within said career, but there is also factor y, which has a big impact on your advancement in said career, then isn’t your job, in some literal sense, to do y, more than it is to do x?

            I would say in such a case it’s not that your job is x and you are incentivized to do y; rather, if everyone cares more about your performance at y in their evaluation of your job performance, then even if your job description says x, your job is actually, literally y.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Your job is literally the minimum subset of productive things that you must do in order to remain employed. Your job is not that which gets you bonuses or recognition or a rung up on the ladder.

          • Randy M says:

            “Whose job is it to refill the copier paper?” is a valid phrasing, even though no one’s job is limited to that task.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Mark Atwood:
            You appear to be trying to turn this into something it is not.

            What work is the modifier “literally” doing in the original framing that onyomi used? Why is it necessary in the sentence?

            It’s functioning as an outrage generator. Speaking of ironic.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Randy M:
            Sure.

            Would you then say that the person’s job is “literally to fill the copier paper”?

          • Randy M says:

            (responding to the 3:23 post)
            Not so, it does a lot of work in reinforcing that the point that the outrage generation is something people are now financially incentivized to do, rather than merely for status or feelings of moral superiority.
            Otherwise, one might take “it’s [part of] their job” to be metaphorical, stating that it is part of their identity or otherwise a non-professional role.

            (3:24 post)
            Depends on the context, for there can be the implication (though not denotation) that the job is no more than that. But, thinking of the comparison, I’m not as sure it applies well to professors, though certainly it may to many “news” websites.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Randy M:
            “Depends on the context, for there can be the implication (though not denotation) that the job is no more than that. But, thinking of the comparison, I’m not as sure it applies well to professors, though certainly it may to many “news” websites.”

            You seem to have arrived at the essence of my objection.

            If, as Cauê originally guessed, the contention was about editors at click-bait sites, I would have happily said, “Ah, yes. I see what you mean.”

            Or, if onyomi had said “perhaps that was hyperbolic” I wouldn’t still feel the need to belabor the point.

            But he insisted that no, the job of some university professors, is literally “thinking about innovative ways to be outraged or make people feel guilty.” I think I am justified in contending that this is a misuse of the term.

          • perlhaqr says:

            @onyomi: They wouldn’t describe it that way, but I have heard many academics proudly state that it’s their job to make people uncomfortable.

            Apparently no longer the case at Yale. 😉

          • onyomi says:

            @perhlhaqr,

            Actually, isn’t it because they actually took this idea seriously that the professors at Yale incited the wrath of the students? All the furor was over a professor responding to an e-mail from a dean about being sensitive to say, basically, “don’t college students need to transgress and push boundaries a bit?”

            Of course, this may have a chilling effect on future expressions of such opinions by the professors.

          • Mary says:

            “I have heard many academics proudly state that it’s their job to make people uncomfortable. ”

            All the pleasures of petty sadism and morally preening in one economy sized package.

          • Fazathra says:

            They wouldn’t describe it that way, but I have heard many academics proudly state that it’s their job to make people uncomfortable.

            Apparently no longer the case at Yale.

            “Uncomfortable” is a who/whom word. The professors are meant to make the conservatives/squares uncomfortable, not the hip progressives. This blowup happened precisely because the professors started making the hip progressives uncomfortable by not keeping up with the leftward shift.

            The best place to see this in action is with art and literary critics. When they say a work is “challenging” or “provocative” or “transgressive” they never mean it is challenging/provocative etc to themselves, but rather to an imagined conservative they keep in their mind to feel superior to. The supposedly challenging themes of the work are almost always entirely pedestrian within the social circle of the critics. The most hilarious recent example is “ancillary justice” which was lauded for a pronoun gimmick that would have been entirely unremarkable among reviewers back in the sixties, but is still somehow a bold and daring statement.

          • onyomi says:

            @Fazathra

            Agree.

            As with tolerance points, which should really only go to people who are tolerant of their enemies, I think we should try to find a way to only give “challenging, transgressive” points to artists who actually upset *our* sensibilities.* Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to give points to people who make you uncomfortable than to people who make people you disrespect uncomfortable.

            *Thinking about my own statement, I wonder if this doesn’t mean I have to respect Ai Weiwei as an artist, even though I kind of hate him.

          • Mary says:

            I still remember a man who was publishing stories for offense and lamented in a venue that he wasn’t getting hate mail.

            He also said that he wasn’t much interested in a story because he didn’t care much about the people it was trying to offend.

            One suspects a connection.

      • tcd says:

        I think the more conventional argument is that social justice (in it’s current form) is a direct practical/pragmatic descendant of Puritanism. In other words they are using the Puritans advocacy and enforcement tools. [To avoid everyone’s internal blue/red spam filters, the parallel red tribe lineage is the ideological side of Puritanism and is commonly accepted and talked about in the US today: vehement and action oriented anti-homosexuality, anti-drugs, anti-traditional family structure, etc.]

        As evident in the short quote above, Mencken was no fan of the Puritans and their legacy. He outlines the trajectory of Puritan culture from the the upstart northern colonies to his contemporary America. Others have continued the analysis, and many have disagreed along the way. Here is a taste of what I am poorly describing in this comment:

        “On the one hand, there is the influence of the original Puritans—whether of New England or of the South—, who came to the New World with a ready-made philosophy of the utmost clarity, positiveness and inclusiveness of scope, and who attained to such a position of political and intellectual leadership that they were able to force it almost unchanged upon the whole population, and to endow it with such vitality that it successfully resisted alien opposition later on. And on the other hand, one sees a complex of social and economic conditions which worked in countless irresistible ways against the rise of that dionysian spirit, that joyful acquiescence in life, that philosophy of the Ja-sager, which offers to Puritanism, today as in times past, its chief and perhaps only effective antagonism. In other words, the American of the days since the Revolution has had Puritanism diligently pressed upon him from without, and at the same time he has led, in the main, a life that has engendered a chronic hospitality to it, or at all events to its salient principles, within.”
        — Mencken, A Book of Prefaces pg. 208

      • cassander says:

        the modern american left is unquestionably descended from puritanism, both intellectually and, to a suprising degree, biologically.

    • cassander says:

      this is definitely true, and it seems obvious, but the story of america is the story of ever more radical puritanism gaining ever more influence over american, and later global, life. How does a group of scolds no one likes keep winning?

      • suntzuanime says:

        Machiavelli had something to say about whether it was better to be loved or to be feared.

      • LCL says:

        Because social enforcement the key to solving coordination problems? The inclination to punish defectors is a key element of social cohesion and social cohesion is a competitive advantage for a culture.

        Plenty to debate about whether insufficient sensitivity to various SJ issues is really a defection worthy of punishment of course. But you could have the same debate about any socially enforced punishment of any behavior, including the historical puritan shunning of [all kinds of behavior, including insufficient devotion to hard work].

      • Nicholas Carter says:

        Because almost everyone likes the Puritanical scolds aimed at their enemies. Fighting Puritanicalism is like fighting Terrorism. You’re not up against some specific group of people who use the ideology, your in a meme-war against the idea that the techniques work at all.

      • JBeshir says:

        I think a large part of why there’s little pressure against the issues Scott points out is that a lot of the people who are vaguely socially adjacent to the communities they’re happening in, and so best able to exercise mild social pressure on the people involved, vaguely support the goals of social justice- increased “fairness”, better support for people who struggle to compete, etc.

        And there’s little criticism of these issues which is at all compelling to people who vaguely support social justice. You’re not going to convince those people that there’s a serious bullying problem “on their side” or a serious problem with science by mocking trigger warnings and calling people babies for 1000 words.

        And if you build it into a “the only way to stop this is to reject fairness and support as goals entirely” or a “thus we need to reject the idea of norms against selfish politics entirely” argument then they’ll view you as someone with an opposing agenda, ignore you, and be inclined to dismiss future similar-sounding criticisms as just being a front. (And even if they did believe you, odds are they’d think rejecting social justice entirely is way too big a price to pay to get rid of the reported problems.)

        And enough of the rest gets filter bubbled out that it doesn’t get a response aside a “the Internet is full of trolls and hateful people, that’s the Internet for you” when something particularly loud happens. People like Scott help, and I think they’ve convinced some people that there’s stuff that needs to improve, but they just lack in numbers and reach. I’m hoping the recent attention- and it involving offline behaviour- might lead to improvements here.

  2. keranih says:

    Group think is a problem, full stop. It’s even more of a problem when the thunks are thunks I agree with. Because that’s what makes me most blind.

    Having been aware of SJ-type over-reach back in the early oughts, I am not convinced that the movement has been sufficiently discredited. However, I would rather we started asking that questionnow, and not after it has become socially unacceptable to suggest that minority opinions operate under different constraints than majority opinions.

  3. birdboy2000 says:

    I do not entirely *disagree* with linking the front page of De Boer’s blog for the word “inequality” – inattention to solving issues of inequality is a criticism he and many others on the socialist left (myself included, if far less prominently) have made of the movement. However, he *does* have other interests, and I’m not entirely sure his whole blog is a preferable link to a particular post that illustrates his criticisms well.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Any particular recommendation?

      • birdboy2000 says:

        None come to mind, sadly. I’m sure there’s a good one, but if so I can’t give you the name and the link.

      • Chris says:

        I thought that was actually a very good choice, because it has been his biggest focus of late. But if you want particulars, maybe this from today, or the Rich Uncle Pennybags test.

        Also I don’t really have anything to say about it but his piece on corporate academia seems relevant here.

        • suntzuanime says:

          That Rich Uncle Pennybags test is pretty awful. Leftism as he sees it seems to be an ideology of envy, hate, and pointless destruction, rather than anything good for people.

          • Chris says:

            I don’t disagree, but that’s FDB talking about inequality.

          • Magicman says:

            It is also a strange example as friends of mine of this general political persuasion have in the past argued that affirmative action is the deliberate practice of awarding small symbolic benefits in order to avoid making societal change; especially as the benefits go to rise to people who whilst de-privileged in one sense are also already in their own way elite.
            In my experience it’s not the elite who are hurt by this kind of practice but rather the smart but poor kids who are pushed off the bottom by every current selection process.

          • vV_Vv says:

            “So, for example: does race-based affirmative action threaten Rich Uncle Pennybags? It does. Race-based affirmative action helps to address the deep inequalities in access to college, inequalities that most often help people like Rich Uncle Pennybags and his idiot kin. It’s also a (small) step to help redress the overall socioeconomic inequality that Rich Uncle Pennybags enjoys. ”

            Weird example.

            Race-based affirmative action in, say, college admission doesn’t make college more affordable to actually poor and marginalized people.

            It is at best a small redistribution of status and opportunities from Rich White Uncle Pennybags to Rich Black Uncle Pennybags.

            It does no good to Jamal and Latisha in the ghetto. No matter how smart they are, they will not be able to afford college, affirmative action or not.

          • Gbdub says:

            @Magicman – the funny thing is that, as a person totally NOT of that political persuasion, I absolutely agree! I’m opposed to affirmative action on general principle, but it also seems pointless – how does plucking a few academically unprepared kids with the right skin pigment out of a crappy school and dumping them in Harvard (and expecting them to succeed there) actually do anything to address the overall issues that doomed them to be academically unprepared in the first place?

            This seems like an issue where there actually ought to be room for some red tribe – blue tribe synergy, but instead we draw battle lines over giving bonus points for skin color on college apps.

          • Julie K says:

            vV_Vv:
            There is a fair bit of financial aid available for needy students. Jamal and Latisha’s main problem is that their inner-city public school does not prepare them for college-level work.

          • Cliff says:

            Yes actually someone from the ghetto would go to Harvard for free. But Harvard does not actually want poor people to go there because then how will that person donate money to them later (since Harvard adds little actual value)

          • vV_Vv says:

            Yes, but financial aid for needy students is independent of race-based affirmative action, if I understand correctly.

            Also, I recall reading (I think on Scott Aaronson’s blog) that Ivy league college admission isn’t based very much on grades or SAT scores but on having a “well rounded personality” which is an euphemism for participating in all the sorts of activities that high-class students culturally understand and can afford to participate to.

          • Anthony says:

            Harvard adds plenty of value to people who understand how to make and exploit social connections. You will learn more at any number of universities, but if you know how to network, the network you start at Harvard is probably more valuable than you can find anywhere else (with the possible exception of Stanford, if you’re computer-minded). So in this sense, affirmative action benefits the black students who get to go to Harvard instead of Cal Poly or Grinnell or New Hampshire.

            I’m not so sure this is much of a threat to Rich Uncle Pennybags, though. An affirmative-action admit might bump Nephew Pennybags out of Hahvahd, but there’s a good chance the kid already has the social network and the skills to do almost as well as Harvard would have done for him. Meanwhile, Uncle Pennybags now has a slightly-different-looking group of hot young go-getters to hire from, and some of those will help him make money off of groups traditionally under-“served” by PennyBagsCorp.

          • Pressing the big red button to launch all America’s nukes passes the Rich Uncle Pennybags test with flying colours. Let’s hope President Sanders doesn’t make decisions that way.

      • Sigivald says:

        “You’d prefer a military target?

        Then name the system.”

        (Sorry, that just popped into my head and I can’t get it out short of posting it.

        Scott’s no Grand Moff Tarkin in any sense.

        Unless he’s a really snappy dresser with great hair.)

      • TrivialGravitas says:

        This is what he suggested to me: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/the-tryhards/

        • Scott Alexander says:

          Meh. I’ll add that in, just because it’s neat that Freddie deBoer is reading this, but I might have linked too short a portion – I wasn’t using Freddie deBoer to prove inequality exists (if you need a blog for that, I don’t know what to tell you) but for his excellent arguments that modern social justice rhetoric detracts from talking about it, which the linked article doesn’t really mention.

          EDIT: Actually, that article has me really confused about his position now. deBoer admits that a lot of the issue is due to language exposure in very early childhood. This is pretty close to my own position where a lot of stuff comes from a combination of genetic, intrauterine, and early childhood factors, and suggests that while there may be a chance to save the next generation, inequality in this generation has a highly “meritocratic” component; ie even if you’re not biased, just selecting people based on things like test scores and skills in various domains will unintentionally favor the rich. But then he also says we need to destroy hierarchy and fight inequality, without confronting how that works.

          Like, there’s a coherent position (which in fact is *my* position) that we should admit these things are probably going to determine hierarchical order but we should make the consequences of hierarchy less important – eg the IQ 150 person is always going to be the physicist and the IQ 75 person the janitor, but we should strive for even janitors to have dignity, financial security and good living conditions.

          But that doesn’t seem to be deBoer’s position at all. He complains, for example, “to put it simply, the Hunter system never was ‘purely meritocratic,’ even before the test-prep industry. Where Hayes suggests a new and different kind of subversion, I see simply a particularly obvious version of a common, even ubiquitous form: the replication of educational and intellectual advantage from one generation to the next. Hayes’s digestible narrative risks obscuring the complexity of inherited disadvantage and thus increasing the difficulty of combating it.”

          Whereas I would have phrased it “The children of elites gain various cognitive advantages for genetic and environmental reasons. We should funnel those kids into top schools like Hunter so that they can fully develop their cognitive potential and give our society the benefits that very smart people give societies, but this doesn’t make them morally better and shouldn’t be attached to a narrative where they’re the good hard workers and everyone else is bad and should live on starvation wages. Also, enhance everyone’s cognition as much as possible.”

          I’m not really clear where deBoer’s position comes from or goes or what it implies.

          • Aapje says:

            It seems to me that he argues that inequality is the logical consequence of capitalism, so no solutions that work within capitalism can solve the problem. And that some sort of communism (“escape the notion of trade”) will solve everything (but he doesn’t explain how, since “the details of this become irrelevant if the outcome is assured”). A patently dumb argument (or lack of it), since he fails to explain how he wants to cater to the inherently different needs and abilities of people, or motivate sacrifice for the greater good, outside of a system of reciprocity.

            Anyway, aside from DeBoer’s article, I also want to point out that right now, meritocracy seems to be self-destructive, as people partner up with people of similar education and with jobs at the same level. So genetically gifted couples get genetically gifted children, who get raised by these gifted parents so they maximize their talents. Especially since these gifted parents have money for good (prep-)schools, etc. Then these gifted people with good jobs have gifted friends with good jobs. So these kids get advantage upon advantage (genetics, money, network, quality of schools, etc), while at the bottom, kids have disadvantage upon disadvantage.

            So we are actually going back to a class-based society, but this time, primarily due to people making free choices in who they marry and freely choosing similar mates. I believe feminism actually made this new class-based society possible, as in the past, a lack of education & job participation for women limited the advantages that they could pass on to their children. Today, you have couples with two big incomes, two well-educated parents, etc. So the advantages pretty much got doubled.

            Note that I’m not saying this as a reactionary call to put women back in the kitchen, but rather to point out that more freedom doesn’t automatically promote equality and can in fact hinder it (but of course, that doesn’t mean we should abandon that freedom).

            Anyway, I’m rather pessimistic about combating inequality. I fear that we will end up with a permanent underclass (and a permanent class of overlords), unless we go very far in redistributing wealth. And even that will have limited effects.

          • keranih says:

            @ Aapje –

            meritocracy seems to be self-destructive, as people partner up with people of similar education and with jobs at the same level. So genetically gifted couples get genetically gifted children, who get raised by these gifted parents so they maximize their talents. [snip] So we are actually going back to a class-based society, but this time, primarily due to people making free choices in who they marry and freely choosing similar mates.

            …what if this was the original way that the class-based society started, too – back in some pre-class-bigotry day, when a farmer’s son *could* marry anyone, but one that married the daughter of the villager across town had to waste time walking between two small plots, while one who married the girl next door had a larger field which could be farmed more efficiently? And marriage between two potters meant increasing the skills and market for both businesses?

            I’m not arguing that the “bad old days” as we recognize them allowed merit to rise freely, but that was after social values (and frankly, a higher standard of living) allowed movement between classes to fossilize.

            More importantly – if associative mating is a thing, how do we build a society that is both just and equal?

          • Psmith says:

            “So we are actually going back to a class-based society,”
            If you believe Gregory Clark (The Son Also Rises), we never left.

          • Aapje says:

            @keranih

            That’s actually an important reason that was explicitly mentioned by a lot of historical sources. That’s also why I think that various freedoms & meritocracy could only happen after the industrial revolution, as that reduced the strong link between land ownership & wealth and made the link between skills & wealth much stronger. The resulting urbanization increased separation of men and women (who would work together on farms relatively closely, while industrial workers wouldn’t see their wives 6 days a week, 10+ hours a day), which was also a major driver of both feminism and traditionalism. So I think that the industrial revolution actually fueled the ‘gender war’ on both sides.

            BTW, I’m currently reading War & Peace and wealth transfer is a key factor in how all (potential) marriages are described in the book. Aristocracy was also clearly intended to artificially created a system where equals married each other, something that now happens naturally as gender roles have been weakened for education & work.

            “More importantly – if associative mating is a thing, how do we build a society that is both just and equal?”

            I guess the answer is that an utopia is unreachable and we have to combat bad tendencies by partially compensating them. However, no solution will fix the fact that humans are imperfect and partial fixes will have their own downsides. So if if you try to force an utopia too much, you will actually move further away again (see communism). So we have to accept an imperfect result.

            @Psmith

            My comment was referring more to what is dominant in society, so I wasn’t trying to claim that class has never been a factor, but rather that we had a period where it was less important than for most of history.

    • DensityDuck says:

      De Boer is a closeted Republican. He’ll never admit it–the culture of his chosen avocation would griddle him if he did–but it’s about as obvious as you can imagine.

      • Urstoff says:

        I’ve never heard any Republican talk about class warfare as much as he does.

        • Jeff H says:

          Republicans talk about class warfare all the time, at least the ones on National Review do – they routinely accuse Democrats of it. They just think that improving the position of the poor at the expense of the rich is a *bad* thing. The reasons they’re willing to give in public are approximately Randian, and/or the usual misconceived blah blah job creators blah blah, but one suspects the real privately-held reason is that some of the people who benefit are sort of brownish.

          (This, of course, in no way supports DensityDuck’s position, which would seem to be either a deep misunderstanding or a troll.)

          • Cauê says:

            We’ve had a few impressive ones from the other side today, but the left is still at least keeping up on the Ideological Turing Test failures…

          • hlynkacg says:

            @Jeff H

            If the Republican’s “real” reason is “that some of the people who benefit are sort of brownish.” How do you explain the fact that 2 out of the 3 front-runners for the GOP Presidential Nomination are “sort of brownish” when none of the Democrats’ candidates are?

      • dndnrsn says:

        How is it obvious?

        I mean, if you think the positions he stakes out are attempts to cover his real opinions, OK, but if he was a closeted Republican why would he take any stances that go against the norm for academia, especially his corner of academia?

      • Scott Alexander says:

        This seems kind of insane. Are you trolling? If not, what are you thinking?

        • DensityDuck says:

          See my comment down below, in response to de Boer.

          I am not making an argument about what positions he supports, I’m making a Team Red / Team Blue claim. If you’re not with me, you’re against me, sort of thing.

  4. I’ve also noticed the uptick in anti-social justice pieces lately, and I agree that these pieces have disproportionately focused on college students and the degree to which they’re being coddled. But I wouldn’t be quite so pessimistic as you are – my impression is that over the past year or two the overton window has shifted drastically towards permitting criticisms (of all kinds) of social justice, and this strikes me as a very positive development.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      It’s definitely short-term positive. But I think social justice has some good parts that expose real problems and some bad parts that are just point-scorers in ideological warfare, and since people like scoring points I worry that if the counterrevolution is too strong the good parts will be the first (only?) parts to go.

      • Anonymous says:

        My view of modern social justice is that it’s a step backward from old-style bleeding heart liberal empathy. The view you talked about in, I think, Untitled, that being a man entails all advantages and no disadvantages, being a woman entails all disadvantages and no advantages, seems to me endemic and characterizes my problem with current social justice advocates. It’s like a caricatured version of reality. There are a handful of characteristics that bestow Privilege: Race, Gender, Sexuality, and a few more. Of all these characteristics, there is a Privileged Side and a Disadvantaged Side. No other characteristics count. You can work out how privileged someone is by adding up how many of these categories they belong to.

        Reality is enormously more complicated. Categories exist that have far more sway than any of these: IQ and physical attractiveness both come to mind immediately. Lots of the social justice favored categories have disadvantages; lots of the social justice favored categories have advantages. Not everyone in a category that is disadvantaged on average experiences those disadvantages themselves: many of these disadvantages simply occur more frequently for people in the relevant category. Others are totally dependent on other factors. There are also about a billion other categories that only apply to a few people, or apply to lots of people but only a little bit, that it isn’t feasible to build into the kind of big data classifier that social justice seems to be.

        I much prefer the ad-hoc kind of liberalism, that looks at an individual, tries to assess which aspects of their life disadvantage them in what ways, and then gives them sympathy depending on their unique diagnosis. Social justice seems to work by intentionally excluding conflicting information like that. This person has low confidence, is unattractive, is unpopular, is sexually unsuccessful, is unemployed, is depressed? Oh, too bad, they’re a man. BZZT! Privileged shitlord detected.

        • Tibor says:

          In other words “classical” bleeding heart socialism is basically a kind of devoted secular Christianity (stressing compassion and forgiveness), SJWs are more like Marxism (with the doctrine of class warfare and “who is not with us is against us”) or the kind of Puritan Christians from Salem.

        • Gbdub says:

          I agree fully. It has always struck me as odd that a movement that claims to be so empathetic to suffering individuals is actually so group-based and deterministic. You’re not a “person”, you’re a mathematically constructed amalgam of your various tribal memberships.

        • Arbitrary Greay says:

          Theoretically, this is exactly the kind of thing promoting intersectionality was supposed to do. “[…] tries to assess which aspects of their life disadvantage them in what ways, and then gives them sympathy depending on their unique diagnosis.” But formalizing that system, giving it a capital-letter name, (same with Privilege) made it all too easy to coopt into definition wars and legalism.

          So if you ever try to bring this point up to most leftists, they will try for a link turn with “but what you say is the definition of intersectionality, therefore we’re doing the thing you wish we were doing.” And some of them are indeed carrying out that kind of analysis. Some people benefit from having a shorthand term. Most people don’t, especially once a term has gone relatively mainstream.

          • Cauê says:

            I’ve seen it said that intersectionality, taken honestly to its logical conclusions, ends up in individualism. That seems broadly right to me (though “individualism” doesn’t look like the proper word).

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            “The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”

          • Sigivald says:

            All I ever really see Intersectionality being used for is demanding compliance.

            “Care about everything we demand you care about, to the extent we demand, in the way we demand, or you are Other.”

            It’s led me to pooh-pooh the very concept, possibly more than is justified.

            (On the other hand, I find the argument “fighting any injustice makes fighting every injustice easier” to be more compelling than the [as I understand it] Intersectionalist version where you can’t fight one without fighting them all.

            “All or nothing” is ineffective compared to “get any incremental or marginal gain you can”.)

          • Arbitrary Greay says:

            Yeah, Intersectionality as bludgeon is just as annoying as any other term as bludgeon, following in the time-honored tradition of the “they don’t go far enough!” critique, which, damned if I didn’t get a lot of mileage out of that one in competitive debate. (And thus am not too impressed by for genuine discussions now)

            There’s a lot of leftist Capital Letter Terms that are supposed to just point out that certain perspectives have been historically ignored, dismissed, incidentally dogpiled by the numbers, etc., and that we should listen to them for a change. As has been pointed out in this community multiple times before, academia developing these simultaneously complex and vague systems just to express this one sentiment is a large problem of theirs. (As also was said, people could just read the Sequences to get the same insights vs. the much more inscrutable primary texts.)

          • Mary says:

            “I’ve seen it said that intersectionality, taken honestly to its logical conclusions, ends up in individualism. ”

            Emphasis mine.

        • Dan T. says:

          Assess the individual aspects of a particular person, and then satisfy their values through friendship and ponies! All hail CelestAI!

        • giant nanosanta says:

          “Social justice seems to work by intentionally excluding conflicting information like that. This person has low confidence, is unattractive, is unpopular, is sexually unsuccessful, is unemployed, is depressed? Oh, too bad, they’re a man. BZZT! Privileged shitlord detected.”

          Even if you are a low-confidence, unattractive, unpopular, sexually-unsuccessful, unemployed, depressed white guy, there’s a very high chance that you’re still better-off than a low-confidence, unattractive, unpopular, sexually-unsuccessful, unemployed, depressed black guy, or a low-confidence, unattractive, unpopular, sexually-unsuccessful, unemployed, depressed woman of any color. Being otherwise disadvantaged does not eradicate race and gender advantage, is what the SJWs are saying.

          • lvlln says:

            giant nanosanta said: “Being otherwise disadvantaged does not eradicate race and gender advantage, is what the SJWs are saying.”

            That certainly is what SJWs keep saying when this argument about disadvantaged white men are pointed out. However, anyone who’s seen SJWs in action knows that this is not ALL they’re saying. Because in practice, no 2 individuals are exactly identical in every way except for the one dimension of race/sex/gender/etc. And in practice, that one dimension seems to dominate every other one.

            That is to say, the idea that [white person X] has privilege over [white person X] – [whiteness] + [blackness] in today’s society is supportable. Some may disagree, but I’d wager than in the US today, most in the center & left side of the aisle would be receptive to that. But in practice, this kind of comparison is impossible, since if we have [white person X], it’s highly unlikely that we’ll find a black person who meets the description [white person X] – [whiteness] + [blackness]. Instead, we have to compare [white person X] with [black person Y] or [black people]. And in those comparisons, no matter how many disadvantages [white person X] has compared to [black person Y] or [median black person], “white privilege” is invoked as why [white person X] has it easier than [black person Y].

            Now, in this imperfect world, “white privilege” seems like it’d be a good HEURISTIC to use in the absence of other information – if we had 2 individuals X and Y about whom we knew nothing other than that X was white and Y was black, then it seems reasonable to believe with some low level of confidence that X PROBABLY had a life that was easier than Y. And even if we knew a little about them, and even knew specific details about X’s life that were bad and about Y’s life that were good, we might STILL conclude that X probably had an easier life than Y, as long as the details we knew weren’t too extreme.

            But SJWs in practice seem to want to end the discussion of who had the easier life at who’s white and who’s black. I’ve seen lone exceptions here and there, but in general, this is what I’ve observed.

            This is without even touching on the whole problem that advantages/disadvantages of being in certain groups is multi-dimensional, which is lost when it’s all summed up as “group A has privilege over group B.” Such talk, that due to the patriarchy [oppressor class] can have disadvantages compared to [oppressed class] within very specific and limited realms, is verboten and heavily ostracized in SJW circles.

          • Cauê says:

            Even if you are a low-confidence, unattractive, unpopular, sexually-unsuccessful, unemployed, depressed white guy, there’s a very high chance that you’re still better-off than a low-confidence, unattractive, unpopular, sexually-unsuccessful, unemployed, depressed black guy, or a low-confidence, unattractive, unpopular, sexually-unsuccessful, unemployed, depressed woman of any color.

            And even after you controlled for all of that, this gives nothing more than “statistically [slightly?] more likely to be [slightly?] better off”, which is screened off as soon as you get even a little information about the specific people involved.

            What’s the point? The steelmanned version is basically useless, the bailey version is false.

          • Brawndo says:

            I see what you are trying to say, but many of us still disagree: we don’t think it’s ever been shown that the “low-confidence, unattractive, unpopular, sexually-unsuccessful, unemployed, depressed white guy” has it better than his female or black equivalents. Either it’s false, or it depends on how you stack up the comparison.

            For instance, men are a lot more likely to be sexually-unsuccessful than women. Being low-confidence, depressed, or unemployed hurts men’s quality of life (and sexual success) more than women’s, because men are judged on those things more.

            Race is harder because you are often comparing people of different classes, and of course lower class people are in a worse situation.

          • Zorgon says:

            I have never once seen a case made for “white male with big list of disadvantages is likely to be better off than black or female with same disadvantages”. Ever.

            And I suspect I won’t ever see one either, because believing that all members of a Statistically Privileged Group must automatically be equally and uniformly privileged is so fundamental to SJ dogma as to make trying to prove it an admission of lost faith.

            Meanwhile, those of us who have actually spent time at the bottom of society’s heaps recognise that there was no real difference in how society treated us. Scum are scum, after all.

          • Anonymous says:

            That may well be true. But maybe not. One point I mentioned above is that these factors affect one another, they don’t just stack neatly, so it’s not as simple as just assigning a value to each and then adding them up.

            But I don’t even think it’s necessary to bring that up. Assume the simple model is right – there is some amount that each characteristic disadvantages its bearer by, and you can find out how disadvantaged someone is via the sum of the values. If this is true, you could indeed say, “you think an unattractive, sexually unsuccessful, unemployed, depressed white man is disadvantaged? Well, he’d have it even worse if he was all that but black and female instead!”. But you could also say, “you think a black, female, gay, trans, sexually successful and employed person is disadvantaged? Well, she’d have it even worse if she was all that but sexually unsuccessful and unemployed instead!”.

            There doesn’t seem to be any reason to prefer the first statement to the second. Just by pointing out that a disadvantaged person could be worse off, you haven’t demonstrated anything about how much of an effect each of those disadvantages has, which I assume is the intention behind this kind of statement. Yes, things could be worse – for everyone other than the single most disadvantaged person in the world.

            I’m not claiming that the disadvantages SJWs talk about don’t exist, only that they are a very small part of all the disadvantages in the world, and prioritizing them to the exclusion of all else seems to serve only to enable intentional dishonesty: pretending some people are more disadvantaged and others less disadvantaged than they really are.

          • anonymous says:

            Unattractive works, but sexually unsuccessful & unemployed are outputs rather than inputs.

            Depression is a tricky one. Prone to depression is an input but being depressed can be an output.

            Mixing up the inputs and outputs make no sense. In some sense if you are in a bad position then of course you must be in a bad position. But the whole idea behind the notion of disadvantages is that you are more likely to end up in a bad position because of a particular input.

            The way I understand it, the privilege idea is that there are these immutable characteristics that are inputs into the life function and when we look at a whole bunch of trials we find that some values of those characteristics tend pull the output down and some tend to pull the output up. If you have all the versions of those immutable characteristics that tend to pull the output up, that’s what Scalzi called playing on easy mode. You can still get a crappy outcome (i.e. unemployed & sexual unsuccessful) but you had better odds going in.

            I see the argument that you could just pick the people that have the crappy outcomes and help them without worrying about how they ended up with those crappy outcomes, but that’s kind of give a man a fish / teach a man to fish argument.

            FWIW, immutably unattractive seems like a good fit with privilege theory in general. In fact for physical deformities that don’t have much impact on anything besides looks, I’d think already would qualify under the disability banner.

          • Cauê says:

            You can still get a crappy outcome (i.e. unemployed & sexual unsuccessful) but you had better odds going in.

            Again, what’s the use of tracking these and only these specific things?

            The relevant difference to these characteristics you are calling immutable must be rather that they’re “outside one’s control”. And in that class of “inputs that can pull someone’s output up or down”, we find things like:

            – physical characteristics, including those whose effect can mostly predicted without looking at the environment (intelligence, health), those whose effect varies immensely according to how the people in one’s life will react to it (race), and a combination of the two (height). And there’s beauty, which you can usually do something about;

            – Psychological and personality characteristics, like being extroverted vs. introverted, getting more or less lucky in the Lottery of Fascinations, and a big etc.;

            – Anything that happens during childhood, when one has no control over one’s life, that has an impact on life outcomes, including family characteristics (wealth; one parent vs. two parents vs. being an orphan; good parents vs. incompetent parents vs. abusive parents; very religious parents vs. less religious parents vs. non religious parents, for each religion; having siblings; having relatives who can offer support; having relatives who need support) and environment characteristics (violence levels; school quality; availability of social relationships, e.g. with neighbors close to one’s own age; living in one place vs. moving a lot; living close to people who share one’s values and interests), or things like being born in january;

            – Events over which one has no control, like being at point X or Y in one’s career when a crisis hits, or when it’s affected by unforeseen technological advances; having a financially draining event happen at time X rather than Y; being affected by an impactful crime.

            And a general “etc.”.

            Each “input” has a very different impact on the “outputs” of each person’s life. I see no (legitimate) use in, well, privileging a couple of these over the sum of all the others when gauging who’s better off or who has it harder.

            (one could just as well have written articles titled “Healthy wealthy and pretty – the lowest difficult setting” or “Tall, from a good family and very interested in activities that happen to be lucrative – the lowest difficult setting”)

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          You’re outdated in your vocabulary, “fuccboi” is the new “it” insult in those circles.

          • Cauê says:

            I still don’t get what that means or why it’s supposed to be insulting.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I only recently learned about this term, so I’m not sure either. Shitlord seemed like an attempt to construct an insult that couldn’t be interpreted as sexist, racist, ableist, etc.

            As for why it changed… Shitlord was pretty discredited in pretty much all of the internet, so maybe it was that. Or maybe they’re just like us, and just traded an old meme for a fresher one.

          • As I understand it, “fuccboi” is a modification of “fuckboy,” it arose in prison cultures, migrated out into general Black culture, and then got picked up by SJ types.

            And yes, “fuckboy” as a term of abuse in prison probably means what you’re thinking it means.

          • Nornagest says:

            Wow.

          • Aapje says:

            It’s ironic that the term would surely qualify as an example of ‘rape culture’ if non-SJWs used it.

          • Zorgon says:

            I didn’t think it was possible for me to be more disgusted by them but this… I kinda want to puke.

          • anonymous says:

            @WHtA & MEP
            You are mistaken, there’s no particular association between fuckboy (regardless of spelling) and SJ. It is in general circulation, like ‘thirsty’, ‘tryna’, ‘basic’ and plenty of other inanities.

            As for the origin, I wasn’t aware but I can’t say I’m surprised. Compare for example ‘punk’ for an older version.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The Vanity Fair article on Tinder had the women in it using “fuckboy” to describe men interested in casual sex but not relationships.

            Parallel evolution?

          • Zorgon says:

            I’m pretty sure the pejorative version of the word is not taken from the same framing as “stud”.

        • ddreytes says:

          As someone more on the social justice side of things – I would say that social justice *as I understand it* is not really principally about determining whose experiences are valid, or who deserves empathy or sympathy, or determining some kind of objective ranking order of oppression. I think trying to determine an objective ranking order of oppression would be very silly & I think as you point out most everyone deserves some kind of empathy.

          From my point of view, I find that social justice is principally about two things. First, understanding the extent to which social structures are unjust and oppressive; second, trying in theory to understand – and in practice to ameliorate – the ways in which those unjust social structures impinge on our prejudices, our assumptions, and our understandings of & interactions with other people. And I think that’s useful to do. And I think that those things do exist – that you do have these social structures where all things being equal for instance people of color are more oppressed than white people, while at the same time the individual level is always the individual level. I don’t think that believing in unjust social structures requires creating this kind of black-and-white dismissive worldview; it only requires granting that the social structures do exist and are unjust.

          Now obviously there’s a hell of a lot of people out there that I can’t answer for. I don’t think it’s really possible to make a useful, meaningful judgment of Social Justice As A Movement in toto, because it is such a broad thing that is refracted in a million ways on a million different platforms & issues, and trying to judge it as a whole requires generalizing over the specific statements of a million people. The most I can speak to is what I try to do and think, and what I see the people who I associate with & talk to trying to do and think. And I don’t think that your analysis here is an accurate representation of that. To me, ultimately, I think social justice is a practice of empathy & one sub-component of trying to be a decent human being. If someone is doing it in a shitty way, that is obviously no good. I don’t think the shitty part is the dominant part but I think you have to use your own judgment.

          • discursive2 says:

            So, honest question, to you or anyone: what is a “structural” injustice? The word “structural” seems to do an awful lot of heavy lifting in the SJ conversation. Most of the evidence for “structural” that I’ve heard seems to be evidence for “widespread”, but “structural” seems to mean more than “widespread” does.

            Drinking Starbucks coffee is a widespread part of capitalism, but it doesn’t seem to be structurally part of capitalism: if Starbucks got displaced by Peet’s, capitalism would be Just Fine.

            Likewise, homophobia is a widespread problem, but the speed at which the mainstream rejected it over the last few years (i.e., the fact that it’s become a huge political liability for the republican party that they are trying to backpedal away from) seems to indicate it wasn’t a “structural” problem, it was just a (really) bad meme. Did any “structures” get overthrown or revolutionized? I don’t think any powerful Cis leaders got impeached or driven out… It just became increasingly less cool, a sign of low status rather than high status, until it reached a tipping point where people started to actively distance themselves from it.

            When I hear “structural” problem, my mental definition is that if the problem were solved, it would cause some kind of massive fall out, that people’s jobs / lives / etc depend on maintaining the status quo. The healthcare industry has structural problems, because if the healthcare system were actually sane, hundreds of thousands of people — many of them good and industrious — would be out of jobs.

            When people use the word “structural” in a SJ context, do they have my definition in their heads, or some other definition? If mine, why do they think oppression is structural? Is there evidence for that beyond it being widespread? Or if not mine, what do they think it means?

          • Mary says:

            The healthcare industry has structural problems, because if the healthcare system were actually sane, hundreds of thousands of people — many of them good and industrious — would be out of jobs.

            Huh? It has structural problems because things have evolved in ways no one would have chosen had it been a choice (rather than an accumulation of choices and drifting).

        • Loquat says:

          Oh, too bad, they’re a man. BZZT! Privileged shitlord detected.

          Not too long ago I listened to an interview with a transman who’d transitioned in his late 30’s, and this was one of the main reasons he actually felt less socially privileged afterwards. Before the transition, he was a more-or-less-white-appearing queer woman, and in the liberal circles he moved in people would be highly likely to want to listen to what he had to say and to give him the benefit of the doubt in the event of a misunderstanding. Afterwards, as a straight white man, he was much more likely to get the “privileged shitlord” treatment.

        • Anonymous says:

          Categories exist…

          Be careful around these parts. Some people have some crazy ideas about throwing out thousands of years of western philosophy.

          Lots of the social justice favored categories have disadvantages; lots of the social justice favored categories have advantages. Not everyone in a category that is disadvantaged on average experiences those disadvantages themselves: many of these disadvantages simply occur more frequently for people in the relevant category. Others are totally dependent on other factors. There are also about a billion other categories that only apply to a few people, or apply to lots of people but only a little bit, that it isn’t feasible to build into the kind of big data classifier that social justice seems to be.

          My all-time favorite way of expressing this was when I saw side-by-side /r/AskReddit threads: “What is good about being tall?” “What is good about being short?” The obvious SJ response is, “Since there are good things about being tall and good things about being short, we can immediately conclude that the patriarchy hurts everyone.”

      • DrBeat says:

        “I think social justice has some good parts that expose real problems and some bad parts that are just point-scorers in ideological warfare”

        I disagree. I think that not only does the Social Justice Movement not expose any real problems, it fundamentally cannot do so, because its interpretation of power, privilege, cause & effect, etc. leaves it unable to accurately assess any situation. The Nameless Ideology at least can get the identification of some problems right, even if every proposal it has to fix them is ass-backwards. When Social Justice identifies something is a problem, you should have a pretty large Bayesian whatever prior that not only is it not a problem, it is the exact and literal opposite of an actual problem.

        The Social Justice Movement is all about emotions, all about rejecting every single tool we as humans have come up with to mitigate the inaccuracy of emotional reasoning until you can’t tell your feelings apart from facts about the world. SJ is only capable of identifying “things that hurt the feelings of SJ members” as threats, and to be an SJ, you need to be so well-off and coddled and secure and safe that you are consumed with imagined fears and focus on symbolic harms because you’ve never had to deal with actual threats.

    • E. Harding says:

      “overton window has shifted drastically towards permitting criticisms (of all kinds) of social justice, and this strikes me as a very positive development.”

      -The vast majority of the people who are shivting any Overton Windows here are the SJWs and their allies. The stodgy old professors are staying in the exact same places they were in 2010.

    • DensityDuck says:

      “my impression is that over the past year or two the overton window has shifted drastically towards permitting criticisms (of all kinds) of social justice…”

      I’m not sure about the “of all kinds”. Neither is Scott, it seems.

      “nerds bein’ all nerdy” is not necessarily the kind of criticism that will cause the criticized to change what they’re doing. It’s more likely to make them double down, because now it’s not just bad behavior but an Identity.

      If you say “hey you GamerGate supporters, you’re creepy misogynists!” what do you expect to see as a response? “omg, you’re right, I will stop supporting GamerGate” or “eff you, no I’m not”?

      • jeorgun says:

        Or, as a third possibility, “well, if I’m a misogynist, that must be because women really do suck! Boo women!”, as per that one study where telling people they had low faithfulness made them more inclined to cheat. I’m not really sure what the appropriate analogy in the SJ situation is, though.

        • Cord Shirt says:

          (No, it “just” made them more inclined to say cheating wasn’t a big deal.)

          But yeah, the “You give me the name, I’ll play the game” reaction.

      • anon says:

        Insults like that target bystanders, and very effectively too. Speak in favor of GG and you risk labeling yourself as a gater, which is almost the same as admitting to being mysoginist.

        And good luck arguing that you’re not. Even if you win, which you won’t, you’re still not arguing for GG because you’re busy with your defensive crouch

        Yeah it may cause outrage among the GGers and certainly won’t convince them of anything, but that’s not the goal anyway.

  5. Anaxagoras says:

    A few general questions:

    * How much would 2010 Scott agree with 2015 Scott in his views about social justice?
    * Do you see any of the early criticisms, lesbianism-causes-witchcraft level or no, reflected in the modern mainstream critiques of social justice?
    * Did you see this coming? What other ways could social justice criticism have become mainstream?

    • Ghatanathoah says:

      I’m not Scott, but I kind of want to take a stab at this:

      -Yes. My views on SJ have remained stable since 2005.
      -In 2005 I read up on criticisms of postmodernism and general anti-rational anti-science leftism. They are very similar to modern-day critiques SJ, which appears to me to be a direct descendant of the stuff I was reading about in 2005. There’s the same stuff about SJ being hostile to free discourse, anti-intellectual, and identity driven. Society has been fighting about this for a while, it’s just now become more mainstream.
      -I saw it coming, but less due to anything rational and more due to the irrational observation that news items I pay attention to seem to become much larger news items later on. Previously the same thing happened in regards to those Danish Muhammed cartoons, the political career of Barack Obama, and DVDs. In all of those cases it seems like I started paying attention to those things months before anyone else. It’s probably just confirmation bias.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Off topic, but their bringing up that “Idris Elba playing Heimdall” thing again reminds me of my favorite implication of the Prose Edda: Heimdall may be white, but Thor is canonically black.

      We get a lot of our Thor-related material from 12th century Norse bard Snorri Sturluson; he counts as much as anyone as an “official” source for Norse mythology. By his time Scandinavia was fully Christianized and talking about the old gods was taboo, so Sturluson justified writing about them with a prologue saying that this was all silly pagan nonsense and that probably all of these supposed “gods” and “giants” were just historical figures who had been blown out of proportion.

      This was back in the heyday of linking everything to the Trojan War, the same historical impulse that gave us Virgil’s Aeneid (Rome is descended from Trojans fleeing the fall of Troy), the Charlemagne legends (France is descended from Trojans fleeing the fall of Troy) and Geoffery of Monmouth (Britain is descended from Trojans fleeing the fall of Troy). So Sturluson figured that the Norse gods were probably Trojans fleeing the fall of Troy, opened his Iliad, and invented whole genealogies for them. Thor got to be the son of Priam’s daughter Troana by Trojan ally King Memnon of Ethiopia.

      So Thor is half Ethiopian. By Obama’s Law, anyone who’s half-black is black. Therefore, Thor is black. Therefore, your complaints about cultural appropriation of Norse gods are invalid.

      • E. Harding says:

        But don’t most White people not accept Obama’s law?

        • Scott Alexander says:

          Don’t most people think of Obama as black?

          • Scott Alexander says:

            If you offer people the option “mixed race” they’ll pick it, but I don’t think anybody naturally uses the phrase “first mixed race president”

          • Adam Casey says:

            … Huh. I would have bet a lot of money against that Pew finding. A lot.

          • Tibor says:

            Scott: I’ve always wondered how come Americans talk about having a black president when they in fact have a mulatto president 🙂

          • Anonymous says:

            Do Americans give less/no significance to the distinction between west African and east African, or to that between descendants of slaves and other sorts of immigrants? If Obama were one-half aboriginal Australian and one-half European by ethnicity, would he be “black”? It always struck me as a disingenuous sort of sophistry from leftists to emphasize blackness in terms of skin colour, when as far as I can see the matter is one of (nascent, new-world) ethnic groups, with the variously west-African slave-descended people in the USA clearly constituting one, and your average guy from Kenya (or his half-white son) clearly not being part of it.

          • keranih says:

            @ Anonymous

            Do Americans give less/no significance to the distinction between west African and east African, or to that between descendants of slaves and other sorts of immigrants?

            On the first question, you would be relatively hard pressed to find someone who could tell you, in theory about the difference between the two, much less an American (outside of $stringStudies at a Blue Tribe university, or a janitor there) who had personally met more than one first generation immigrant from both regions.

            On the second question…direct immigrants from Africa are pretty rare in America, especially compared to 1) ‘native’ descendants of people enslaved in the United States prior to 1865 and 2) to a lesser degree, descendants of people enslaved in the Caribbean and Latin America.

            That there are cultural differences between the groups named above is honestly invisible to a lot of Americans – including many people who identify as ‘black’. However, most Americans are equally blind to the differences between an Albertian and a person from Quebec – and people from, oh, Santiago, Chile, have no reason to think that NYC is a whole ‘nother world from Wilmington, NC. (They’re both east coast cities! They both have battleships in the harbor!)

          • Alsadius says:

            Tibor: Because “mulatto” is mostly a legal term from a dead era of legally mandated racism. It doesn’t roll off the tongue naturally in any context save period drama.

          • Tibor says:

            Alsadius: Is it? Maybe it does not have this stigma in Europe. I mean it is not a word I would use every day (mostly because there are not that many blacks here and even fewer mixed whites/blacks), but I thought it was just the standard denomination for a mixed white/black race. The term mixed race alone is not very descriptive, it could mean a mestizo, it could mean a mulatto, it could mean a mix of black and east Asian (I forgot what that is called) or whatever. And black is simply incorrect in Obama’s case.

            I mean not that I would make a big deal out of it. But what I find a bit funny are Americans who proudly go about saying “we finally have a black president”. Well, no, you don’t 🙂

            By the way, fun trivia – a head of one minor Czech highly anti-immigration and nationalistic party is a half Japanese, born in Japan…there are things you just can’t make up 🙂

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            We have one such party in Holland(It is very big), and its founder/leader is married to a Hungarian woman. Why no media exploit this I don’t know.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’ve always wondered how come Americans talk about having a black president when they in fact have a mulatto president

            “Mulatto” is one of those words that you basically can’t use in the US because of its associations with discriminatory policies in the past (compare “quadroon” or “colored” [not to be confused with “people of color”]), and has been for so long that these days a lot of people don’t know it.

          • Aapje says:

            @Stefan

            Wilders’ main beef is with Islam and non-christian cultures, which is a sentiment very much shared in Eastern Europe. So having a Hungarian wife is not hypocritical. He also happens to have Indonesian ancestors. Indonesia has the largest Islam population in the world and the colonists that Wilders is descended from have a strong history of disdain for Islamic Indonesians. When they returned to Holland after the Indonesian independence, this caused relatively many of them to support extremist right wing groups.

        • Patrick Spens says:

          When it comes to individual cases you’ll get a certain amount of quibbling about terms like biracial or mixed race. But if given a choice between black or white, nobody’s calling Obama’s white, and nobody ever refers to his kids as mixed race.

          Also “Obama’s rule?” Are we seriously trying to pretend that the one drop rule hasn’t been a thing for centuries now?

          • Roman says:

            This. The man looks black, therefore he’s black.

            Obama’s Law is a pretty funny coinage, but yeah, if the guy looked while, he’d be white, if it was hard to make distinction, (according to my own internal observations and biases therein) then I’d end up saying he was mixed race.

            Source: I’m a white American.

          • hawkice says:

            Let me say: this is precisely the sort of comment I have only been able to find in the LW-o-sphere, and is pretty much why I come here. A careless reader would have a reaction of “wait, did he just endorse an element of extreme racism from American history?” So, this hardly needs to be said, but (1) no and (2) the name change, and the total lack of originality surrounding this idea, actually does illuminate the bizarre context within Obama’s heritage is discussed.

            As a side note: I find myself discussing Martin Van Buren’s heritage a lot more, because he was Dutch. Aside from him, all US Presidents have a shared family tree (albeit quite distantly in many cases, although an intrepid relative of mine has traced my family explicitly to LBJ and the Harrisons, so I am on the giant map of mega-Americans).

          • Alsadius says:

            Hawkice: Shared family tree in the trivial sense(where all humans do), in the sense of it being traceable, or in the sense of it being shared relations on this side of the Atlantic?

          • Dain says:

            It seems to me those promoting biracial or mixed race identities have fallen in status and influence since the 90s, early oughts. In reading lots of libertarian literature at the time I’d end up on websites for those refusing to “pick a category,” and celebrating their unique individuality.

            Boy are those days over.

          • Richard Gadsden says:

            Mixed-race is much more of a “thing” in Britain, and I suspect in other parts of Europe, than it is in the US.

            I think the one-drop legacy of slavery, which didn’t distinguish between black people and mixed-race people – mulatto is a Spanish word, not an English one, and there certainly wasn’t a separate mulatto caste in either slavery-era or segregation-era USA – is why mixed-race people identify as black, where they might well identify as mixed in the UK.

      • Gary Jones says:

        Timothy made this point:

        “What’s being called appropriation in some of the current activist discourses is how culture works. It’s the engine of cultural history, it’s the driver of human creativity. No culture is a natural, bounded, intrinsic and unchanging thing. A strong prohibition against appropriation is death to every ideal of human community except for a rigidly purified and exclusionary vision of identity and membership.”

        All of the feral Trojans are a pretty good example of the engine of cultural history working.

        • Julie K says:

          The prohibition against appropriation only applies one way, against whites “appropriating” from non-whites. (This seems to be a basic SJW principle- you can’t say a certain behavior is always wrong, it depends who is doing it to whom.)

          • Cauê says:

            It’s wrong the other way too, but then it’s cultural imperialism/domination. The villains and victims are the same both ways.

          • Mike says:

            Sometimes I feel as though they’re just playing mad libs.

            White people ______ minority people. There is so much structural and historical baggage that *anything* you fill in the blank can be argued convincingly as a way racism works.

            I mean, hell, “fetishization” is little more than “White people like asian people.”

        • DataShade says:

          “What’s being called appropriation in some of the current activist discourses is how culture works.”

          Which discourses? I have a lot of activist friends from college, and while I don’t go to protest marches with them I see what they post on twitter and Facebook and the appropriation they get upset with are things like mimicking a minority artist, poorly, without attempting a collaboration and thus making something that perverts the original work or perpetuates unfortunate stereotypes. These are people who share and retweet annoyingly endless streams of mashups; they are obviously not offended by the concept of a remix. But they seem to insist that someone treat the original subject matter with respect, and seem to feel the most succinct way of drawing attention to the ways in which something misunderstands or misrepresents another culture is to call it approrpriation.

          I’m increasingly sure that tactic isn’t effective, but I’m not sure the underlying urge isn’t important or at least honorable enough to warrant some kind of review and refinement.

          • keranih says:

            things like mimicking a minority artist, poorly, without attempting a collaboration

            My experience has been somewhat different – poor mimickery is ignored, but successful mimickery/incorporation of themes is labelled theft and oppression.

            (Never mind that all artists – painters, dancers, writers, what have you – appear to be constantly ripping each other off in an unending cycle of discovery and inspiration, nor (which is more important imo) the Caucasian/oppressive artist has transformed the original work into something more appealing to a mass/Caucasian audience – which that artist can do because of their own cultural perspective. The original thing is not as attractive to the new audience because of [cultural factors], which the interpreting artist can and does add.)

          • dmose says:

            What is “mimicking a minority artist”? I assume you’re not referring to following them down the street repeating everything they say in a silly voice.

          • Magicman says:

            If you look at the tumblrs directed at that poor girl who tried to commit suicide a much less rigourous definition of appropriation emerges. Thus re-drawing a character from Steven Universe without exactly the right skin tone or hair or shore is described as appropriation.
            One of the biggest problems for me as someone on the left is that these approaches blur the distinction between criticism of problems in society and confected outrage between appropriation (in a direct sense) and the normal diffusion between cultures. If an artist makes a career by directly copying the style of some oppressed indigenous group then that is appropriation but an artist whose work is influenced by anime or or Japanese woodblock printing is not doing the same thing.

          • Dain says:

            Fear of appropriation is the closest the left gets to fear of race-mixing.

      • Lupis42 says:

        IIRC, even in Sturluson Thor is also cannonically described as a redhead.

      • Harald K says:

        Talking about the old gods could not have been entirely taboo, or Snorri wouldn’t have had any sources. Some stories that ridicule the gods (e.g. Thor’s wedding) are probably from a period where the Icelanders had very little reverence left for the old Norse gods.

        One point I’ve made from time to time, is that very quickly the old Norse gods went from the stage where they were formally revered, to being taken so lightly that a Christian like Snorri would have no qualms about documenting the stories to the best of his ability. They found Christianity so much more convincing than Norse paganism they didn’t in their wildest dreams worry that writing about the latter would inspire anyone to revive their cult – I think modern secularists don’t quite appreciate that.

        • TrivialGravitas says:

          The explanation I get from historians is it had more to do with Icelandic privacy law. Christianity was made the official religion and paganism outlawed to make Norway happy, not because, but telling anybody somebody was being pagan in their own home was treated as assault, rather than evidence. Snorri likely knew pagans as a result (though by that time Christians would have been the genuine majority).

          • Snorri is in the Sturlung period–indeed, is one of the prominent Sturlungs. That’s more than two centuries after Iceland went Christian and Christianity was written into the law code. If I remember correctly, the initial compromise including toleration for private but not public pagan worship disappeared pretty early.

      • Presumably Steve says:

        What I’m hearing here is “making asgardians black in the name of political correctness goes back longer than you think”.

      • Deiseach says:

        “Idris Elba playing Heimdall” is silly to worry over. Yes, I had the same reaction for a millisecond, then said to myself “Feck it, it’s Idris Elba, he’ll be fantastic!”

        Anyway, when talking about the God of Thunder, alien dimensions, and sorcery mixed with advanced and present-day science in our present-day world, quibbling over Heimdall being black is straining a gnat and swallowing a camel 🙂

        They might be on slightly firmer ground arguing over making Peter Parker black, or Latino, or whatever, but that’s a fight I’m not going to get into. I have enough bile and vitriol going on with the Sad Puppies, where I do broadly agree that damn it, SF/Fantasy awards should be given to works of SF/Fantasy based on them being SF/Fantasy and not on ticking off a checklist of “Have we enough wheelchair-using lesbian trans mixed-race polysexual single parents and their otherkin genderfluid polyamorous partners in here? Oh, I guess we need a story – um, ah, oh yeah – make it about coming out in a small town and how they get beaten up by the gin-drinking bigots! Yeah!”

        I mean, you could write a damn good story about a trans lesbian black wheelchair-user and her otherkin genderfluid partner, but there needs to be more to the story than just plonking those two characters down on the page and leaving it at that, work done. If you want to see it done right, go read “Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand” where the central love affair is an existential threat to galactic civilisation.

        Now that’s skiffy! 🙂

        • Loquat says:

          Peter Parker was not made black or Latino – in the Ultimate Marvel universe, Peter Parker was killed by one of the many murderous psychos he’d been accumulating on his enemies list, and this mixed-race black/latino kid named Miles Morales took up the mantle of being Spider-Man after him.

          /nerd nitpick

          ETA: I do agree that it’s irritating to see people going around with the checklist of “are there enough disabled/minority/gay/etc characters in this work”. This is an actual (paraphrased) comment I once saw from an amateur writer: “Oh, when I write a new character I always ask myself if there’s any good reason why they have to be white, straight, or male and if there isn’t then I make them something else” – if you’re putting a significant percentage of your mental effort into ensuring Diversity(tm), you’re probably neglecting the actual quality of the story.

          • Richard Gadsden says:

            I’ve seen other writers use randomizers for the sex/gender/ethnicity of their characters, that way they can decide at a world-building level what the racial mix of their society is, and end up representing that in their characters so it seems to flow naturally, instead of relying on the well-known-to-be-bad-at-being-random human brain.

          • TrivialGravitas says:

            “Oh, when I write a new character I always ask myself if there’s any good reason why they have to be white, straight, or male and if there isn’t then I make them something else” – if you’re putting a significant percentage of your mental effort into ensuring Diversity(tm), you’re probably neglecting the actual quality of the story.

            This flip side of this is that most creatives (without realizing it) do the opposite, if they don’t have a reason otherwise the character is a straight white male.

            Though the randomization solution per Richard is a better one.

      • alexp says:

        Why call it Obama’s law? It’s been a phenomena in American race relations for a long time, and I think is called the “One drop rule”

      • nameless says:

        >By Obama’s Law, anyone who’s half-black is black

        This quote kind of implies that this idea sprang into existence recently, and was invented for SJ/PC reasons–but I’m sure you know that the one-drop theory originally came from white people* who were looking out for their own interests.

        *especially English speakers–for whatever reason, romance languages construct race differently and have always been open to different racial gradations (even if usually in a racist way)

        • enoriverbend says:

          The one-drop rule is not as old as most people think, however.

          Pre-Civil-War rules had mixed race people regarded as white if their African ancestry was up to 1/8 to 1/4. See Sally Hemmings’ children for example. Hemmings was 3/4 white, the unnamed but suspected Jefferson father was white, therefore the children were 7/8 white ancestry. The children were born into slavery, since Hemmings was a slave, but were white by Virginia law.

          In fact if I recall correctly the first one-drop law wasn’t passed until 1910.

          • Anthony says:

            I recall reading on Clayton Cramer’s blog that the color line began to harden in the 1820s to 1840s, and that about the same time, it became a lot less respectable to have (claim) Indian ancestry. I can’t find it in a couple of casual searches, but Cramer really does research this stuff thoroughly.

          • Mary says:

            Eh, Indian ancestry was respectable enough into the 20th century that Virginian law had to carve out the “Pocahontas exception.”

      • Borgþór Jónsson says:

        Here in Iceland, Thor is primarily known as Odin and Frigg’s son. His skin colour is not commented on from what I can remember in the original text of Hávamál (+other texts) and I think his hair colour was never established there either, but it is red in many of the fictional stories based on the character.

        The tales of the old Norse gods are usually characterized as a collection of really old fables and myths, not Snorri Sturluson’s fiction. The individual stories surrounding the characters of the old Norse gods are numerous and internally consistent with their characters also. I am really curious as to where the link to the Trojans came from. This is the first I have heard of it and the Eddas are a big deal in the basic education of Icelandic children.

        When people were described as being black, white or red in the old Icelandic texts, the writers were generally referring to the colour of their hair. Baldur the White had white hair. Historical accounts of the day refer to people’s colour the same way. Eiríkur the Red, for example, was father to Leifur Eiríksson, discoverer of Newfoundland and the colour in his name referred to his red hair.

        EDIT

        It seems weird to me that our teachers do not associate the prose Edda with history more than they do. I had never heard of this connection with historical figures before, but now that I am reading about it, the connections seem very interesting. Still wouldn’t call Thor canonically black, as the history revision thing casts Odin as Thor’s descendant.

        • Bassicallyboss says:

          I recently took a course in mythology, and my professor (a German-educated American whose special expertise was in the Eddas,) was of the opinion that Snorri just made that bit up because claiming Trojan descent was fashionable at the time. Having seen the passage in question, and similar claims in Geoffery of Monmouth (whose story we know is false), I’m inclined to agree.

          I don’t speak Icelandic, whether modern or medieval, but here’s a link to an English translation of the Prose Edda. The bit about Troy starts in section 3 of the prologue:
          http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre03.htm

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I have to say, reading the Prose Edda after being exposed to secondary sources of Norse mythology is a mind-altering experience. There’s an implicit tone of national romanticism in secondary sources, so to find out that Snorri saw his ancestors as primitives duped into worshiping advanced Asians (“Asgard” apparently means “Asia home”) is weird.

  6. Pku says:

    I think there’s also an element of the fashion-type politics you mentioned in “right is the new left” – Criticism of social justice may be becoming the hipster politics of Yale.

  7. E. Harding says:

    “When creepy white supremacists criticize social justice, they’re at no risk of taking over the wider SJ-critical movement.”

    -I beg to disagree. The creepy white supremacists have a lot more beefs with social justice than anyone else, are among the most motivated anti-SJers (the most motivated may be Ggtrs) and their whole ideology is the exact mirror image of SJWism. If someone’s disgusted with SJ thought, see it taking over the media, and even their own communities, who are they going to turn to? The ones that have had the biggest and largest beefs with SJism for the longest time, and the ones whose ideology can provide the most comprehensive philosophical alternative.

    White supremacism is a form of identity politics: when you feel identity warriors ganging up on your tribe -nay, your race- your first (or ultimate) look may well not be at the sort of universalist politics that is completely incapable of granting special protection to any special interest group, but at the more focused, concentrated politics of race -in particular, your race, the one that is openly and covertly under attack by the adherents of SJ thought to the greatest degree. I think this explains Dylann Roof’s behavior quite well.

    And as for them taking over the entire representation of opponents of SJery, well, look at how the left-liberal media has defined the meaning of partisanship for Trump.

    And I agree, Scott, most of the most popular and elite criticisms of SJery seem to be intellectually vacuous, and dealing with a highly fringe part of the SJ movement mainly present on college campuses. Maybe that’s because these SJ “opponents” agree with 99.5% of what SJ doctrine has to say.

    things like “prevent threats and intimidation from holding back social science research”

    -Indeed, the most popular and elite anti-SJ pieces in that direction don’t even begin to address the SJ ideologues’ arguments. PZ Myers, for example, has some pretty good arguments against pop Evo Psych I rarely see addressed by the elite anti-SJ guys.

    • Pku says:

      And yet I contrast this with the fact that when I’ve been unusually frustrated with SJWs and looked for somewhere else to turn, finding white supremacists made me turn around and think “OK, maybe those SJWs weren’t that bad after all”.

    • Zykrom says:

      I honestly do think its possible for “creepy white supremacists” to “take over” some large part of the SJ critical movement, which would obviously be a huge boon to the SJ movement.

    • birdboy2000 says:

      As someone in said most motivated group of anti-SJers, I don’t see a comprehensive ideological alternative coming from the white supremacist camp. I see a very similar ideology differing primarily in which ethnic group they embrace and which they demonize, and one which disgusts me for many of the same illiberal reasons; at least neo-nazis are far less influential in the circles where I run.

      I find /leftypol/’s critique far more compelling, although as a longtime socialist who voiced elements of said critique as early as 2007 (which isn’t surprising, it’s not much of an intellectual leap at all for those who read either Marx or the socialist opponents to World War I on nationalism) I can not neglect the role of bias. I also think Scott’s critique is far more compelling. I think liberal critiques are far more compelling. I think elite media critiques, even as echoed by Scott, are more compelling, because it would be hard to be less compelling.

      Neo-nazis recruit off of social justice warriors and vice versa and it’s a depressing vicious cycle. But the overwhelming majority of opponents of identitarianism are still able to recognize them for the hateful bigots they are, and the most they can accomplish is troll hashtags and shitposting – especially given that the wider society despises white supremacists, and not because they’ve been misinformed about what they represent.

      • E. Harding says:

        So far, I see these positions on the issue of identity politics:

        WNism

        Citizenism

        Non-identitarianism -This is the most conventional view. Objectivism and Caplan’s ideology falls under this category. The logical result of this is Open Borders, but this is not, for some reason, a conventional view.

        SJism

        My position lies between citizenism and non-identitarianism. I support a high level of skilled immigration to the U.S., but support limiting unskilled immigration, especially that from South Asia and Africa, as that sort of immigration is likely to enlarge America’s inner cities. Although I’m really afraid of these high-skilled immigrants’ seemingly non-trivial support for SJ ideology (Emma Sulkowicz is my nightmare), seemingly much less trivial than that of U.S. Blacks. Thus, I support raising the residency requirement for U.S. citizenship to 10 years.

        • birdboy2000 says:

          I’m fully and unambiguously in the non-identitarian (well, proletarian internationalist, but it falls into that category) camp, although I understand some of the reasons for its rejection, and am well aware that growing up online means holding far less of an attachment to my countrymen than the average person does.

          This means support for open borders in my case – but it also means an end to the sort of foreign and economic policies based on inequality which create economic migrants in the first place, in favor of a foreign policy based on exporting the international democratic socialist revolution.

    • MR Reader says:

      Speaking of creepy white supremacists …

    • Ezra says:

      I still think they’re too white-supremacist-like to take over the movement per se, but they’ll probably gain a few more converts than they otherwise would have. Bigger effect is people associating anti-SJ with white supremacists.

      • Zykrom says:

        By the social black hole theory SA brought up awhile ago, being associated with an undesirable group has a good chance of getting you taken over by them.

    • Daniel Speyer says:

      > The creepy white supremacists have a lot more beefs with social justice than anyone else, are among the most motivated anti-SJers

      Are you sure? People rarely beat up actual racists for racism. There’s not a lot of point, and they’re kind of scary.

      Sort of like how no one has a problem with the fraternity-like culture of fraternities, only of tech companies that barely have one.

      • suntzuanime says:

        People have plenty of problems with the fraternity-like culture of fraternities, have you forgotten about the invented gang-rape story in Rolling Stone? That was clearly an attempt to push against fraternity culture.

        • TodPunk says:

          I don’t think it was invented as a way to do anything other than get attention on the part of the girl who invented it, and the author who wrote it up for ad eyeballs. Pushing against fraternity culture is just the angle on which the leverage was drawn.

    • Yakimi says:

      I think it was Nick Land who referred to social justice as a white nationalist factory, precisely because of its use as a defensive mechanism.

      The tacit asymmetry that only allows designated minorities and radicals to engage in identity politics is becoming undone as their ambitions escalate. I expect that the designated majority will respond with identity politics of their own in the coming years, quite possibly marking the end of the universalist project that progressives have promoted to justify their conspicuous position of power. The consequences of this disruption are far more concerning than any number of people bullied into suicide by the radicals.

      • Walter says:

        Come on man, “more concerning than any number of people bullied into suicide”? You can’t just proclaim stuff more important than an arbitrary number of human lives, or rather (since you clearly can, and did), I wish you wouldn’t.

        • Anthony says:

          I’d say it’s a prediction that “the end of the universalist project” will cost far more lives than the number of suicides at the hands of the social-justice bullies.

        • TheNybbler says:

          The thing is, the designated majority’s identity politics of their (dare I say “our”?) own would be white supremacy — which has been ascendant before in the US, with really horrible results. Imagine if the Ku Klux Klan was an organization a respectable white person would be proud to be a member of.

  8. ilkarnal says:

    Any general knows that you want to hold the high ground

    And this is an emotional war, so the goal is the emotional high ground. “You’re just a bunch of pathetic crybabies” is the strategically correct response to the emotional appeals of SJWs. It’s the correct response across the board whether it is justified or not in a given individual case, just as the SJW tactic of framing their opponents as oppressors across the board is the correct tactic. This is a battle for dominion where one side must win and the other must lose. The path to victory is uniting around a narrative and sticking with it.

    A friend on Tumblr recently pointed out that Hillary Clinton’s official list of campaign priorities include “ending sexual assault on campus”? Why not just “ending sexual assault”?

    These kinds of quibbles are wonderful and all, but they won’t form the basis of an “SJ-critical movement” that has a chance of success in the wider field.

    All this is doing is granting social justice activists their most dubious claim: that they are trying to use their ideology as a shield for themselves rather than a sword against others

    Their position hinges on their complaints being granted credibility. Anything that hurts that credibility hurts the core of their position. The correct way destroy credibility is NOT object-level quibbles, which have little or no emotional bite. The correct way to destroy credibility is to mock and ostracize – the louder, more numerous, and more hateful the voices, the better. SJWs have acted in accordance with this reality. That is the only path consistent with their goals, and they have made respectable progress. A symmetrical response is called for. It’s not clear that this is a bad outcome when opposing factions have such divergent philosophies, values, and goals. A treacherous, uncomfortable peace can be worse in the long run than an honest, fiery parting.

    • Schmendrick says:

      +1

    • 75th says:

      This comment reads uncannily like the Arthur Chu comments Scott addressed in “In Favor of Niceness, Community, and Civilization”.

      • Anonymous says:

        True, except the bit about object-level concerns. In general, I think if your arguments against a position are all nitpicky little object-level critiques then you’re not going to convince anybody. Identifying the trends, the broad overarching mistakes, seems to me far more important.

      • Theo Jones says:

        I think there is reason here to separate the descriptive and the prescriptive. Is “Internet social justice claims x,y,z are wrong for reasons a,b,c” a better argument than “Did I trigger you, oversensitive college freshman moron?” Yes. The former argument is much more rational. Should you prefer to make arguments like the argument over the second one? Yes. Is the latter argument more clickbaity? Yes. Will the second argument get more attention? Yup. Hence you see a lot more arguments like the second in the wild.

        While I disagree with ilkarnal about the effectiveness of such an argument, his post is a good explanation of why you see that type of argument.

        • gratuitous_Nailbiter says:

          I think the problem with arguing against an SJW point by point, is that they have shown time and time again that they’re not interested in arguing. They’re not interested in debating. They’re not interested in considering the legitimacy of their claims. They just want everyone to agree with them full stop. If a SJW target doesn’t immediately come out apologizing and abasing themselves and feeling true contrition over their supposed offenses, the SJW faction steps up the abuse. They shout down the target or harass and heckle them enough that the target has no recourse but to shut up and sit down. If that’s their strategic go-to, then how does one reason with them in that moment? You can’t. But to resort to their tactics just escalates the conflict, until somebody gets fed up and goes home.

          • Nicholas Carter says:

            From the SJ perspective, you are not so much being invited into a debate of facts and values, as being informed that you’ve broken the rules and either need to stop or leave. In the same way that you wouldn’t expect the people watching a movie in a crowded theatre to debate first amendment rights just after you shouted “Fire!” for no reason, but rather to throw you out of the movie.

          • Arbitrary Greay says:

            I watched TheMarySue (pop culture through a female geek lens website) go from enthusiastic celebration of fandom to freeze-peach crowd in real time, over these past 2.5 years. You can literally word-replace “SJW” for “pro-GG” in gratuitous_Nailbiter’s description to get what things looked like from their end. They had pro-GG commenters arguing in bad faith derailing every thread, until they simply didn’t have the spoons to give any dissenter the benefit of the doubt, and stopped engaging.
            Unfortunately, although the tactic worked, and the comments are no longer so consistently a troll-fest, neither the commentariat nor the management dissolved their Reign of Terror. That’s why, although I still browse the site to keep up with pop culture happenings, I try to avoid any articles with the whiff of mindkiller to them.

            A similar thing happened to the Mark Does Stuff community. The commentariat they have right now is a bit SJ trigger-happy, but that developed after years and years of comment section disasters and hijackings eroded their faith in charitable discussion, until the titular owner made his decision to prioritize voices that are minority elsewhere over discussion integrity.

            The point is, to a large part of the SJ crowd that used be able to be reasoned with, it’s anti-SJ that is not interested in honestly debating. (largely because most anti-whatever that go barging into opposition internet spaces to argue, as a hobby, probably aren’t the type you want repping the movement) So it’s not so much of a thing unique to SJ, as that nearly every place that has tried to create discussion spaces has chronic moderation exhaustion. Everyone is currently once burned twice shy.

            (In the latter half of that linked article, there are a good number of links to examples of the SJ movement criticizing its own Dark Arts use. The “Welcome To Our Queer Internet Commune” section of the article ends with “And fuck it, like, we honestly believe in kindness.” So while y’all, and sometimes I, may still find that website and its comments unreasonable and steeped in SJ, it still shows that there are leftist spaces trying for charity. As an aside, I found SSC because someone linked the trigger warnings post there!)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Arbitrary Greary “They had pro-GG commenters arguing in bad faith derailing every thread, until they simply didn’t have the spoons to give any dissenter the benefit of the doubt, and stopped engaging.”

            …I imagine this narrative leans rather heavily on what one considers “arguing in bad faith”. Making rape threats? Pointing out that Quinn is a confirmed abuser, and Gjoni was a victim? Taking issue with the ideological stances and methods of the enthusiast press?

            “So it’s not so much of a thing unique to SJ, as that nearly every place that has tried to create discussion spaces has chronic moderation exhaustion. Everyone is currently once burned twice shy.”

            Oddly enough, it seems to me that this only happens when owners try to enforce a tribal model of “decency”. Larry Correia doesn’t seem to have much trouble moderating his fora, for instance.

            If things are as symmetrical as you say, why is it that Social Justice is consistently the side advocating censorship, bannings, speech policies, etc, and anti-SJ is the side consistently arguing for free speech? Gratuitous_Nailbiter’s analysis might be nearly identical to those of the average social justice advocate, but are their proposed solutions identical?

          • Cauê says:

            The point is, to a large part of the SJ crowd that used be able to be reasoned with, it’s anti-SJ that is not interested in honestly debating.

            Well. I don’t actually doubt you on this, as you’re only speaking about their perception. But this one is quite weird.

            It isn’t symmetrical, and it isn’t close. Only one side has offered thousands of dollars to a charity of the other’s choice if they agreed to debate, only to be refused. Only one side has refused to attend any events where the other side is represented. Only one has attacked neutral parties for giving the other any kind of platform. Only one has declared a number of positions and even topics as out-of-bounds for reasoned discourse.

            You sound reasonable enough. Is there a coherent way to combine this with what you said?

          • Nicholas says:

            Well, A. They aren’t. 4chan is probably the biggest voice for silencing SJ speech in the world, mostly because they’re collectively insane and make bad flash videos about how, any day now, /pol/ will join forces with /k/ and /fit/ to murder (and I mean literally end lives) every overweight SJ tumlr user in their sleep in the Glorious People’s Revolution. The Greek Orthodox Church and U.A.E. got Harry Potter banned from schools in the last ten years, and the whole concept of being in the closet is that, even today, even right here in Cathedral Central USA, you can’t talk about being gay (or Wicca apparently) depending on how attached you are to your social circle, job, or life, co-varying with your city of choice.
            I, personally, have been asked how I felt about joining a mob to find and attack the first queer person we found because “lesbians I get, but faggots are just sick.” And that’s why I’m still not out to that uncle.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            >and make bad flash videos about how, any day now, /pol/ will join forces with /k/ and /fit/ to murder (and I mean literally end lives) every overweight SJ tumlr user in their sleep in the Glorious People’s Revolution.

            I’m gonna need a source on that. Not because I don’t believe you, but because that sounds hilarious.

          • Mary says:

            “From the SJ perspective, you are not so much being invited into a debate of facts and values, as being informed that you’ve broken the rules and either need to stop or leave.”

            Yup, that’s exactly the problem. Somehow or other all the marginalized people set the rules and the non-marginalized must conform or leave their own society. What was the definition of marginalized again?

            However, I’ve found “KAFKATRAP!” works pretty well. (With an observation that this is not The Trial, of course.

          • Cauê says:

            Wait, Nicholas, is “anti-SJ” = “social conservative” in this conversation? Because my comment would have been very different if I thought that was the case.

          • BBA says:

            @FacelessCraven: The worst arguments I saw coming from GG were that the harassment, threats, etc. were false flags or outright invented by the targets to get sympathy. I don’t know how much of this was bad faith and how much they really believed, but it was extraordinarily uncharitable, and some GGers just wouldn’t shut up about it.

          • Arbitrary_greay says:

            @Nicholas: Yes, exactly. While the Thrive-Survive theory has Right-Wing operating off of the survive mindset, the core driving force for SJ (as opposed to SJW) is actually also one of survival, at least for the people closer to the movement originators.

            @FacelessCraven: I consider “arguing in bad faith” to be generally what people would consider to be “arguing in bad faith” on this website. I’d also include people using much of the cheap rhetorical tricks I used to abuse in competitive debate. There have been sufficient obnoxious interlopers into leftist spaces using Dark Arts and calling it rationality, that the term has become an outgroup signal. (said interlopers don’t seem to be familiar with LW-based rationality, but just using the term for “logic that seems consistent to my perspective, also I just learned about fallacies this is amazing”)

            With regards to GG specifically, the pro-GG people would quickly abandon talking about anything specific to Zoe Quinn, video games, and the enthusiast press in favor of general anti-SJ talking points, as if GG wasn’t the topic they were really angry about at all. (As in, the exact same talking points would be more applicable in the Puppies situation, but not to the pro-GG points they came in with)

            The trouble with moderating a comment section would be a combination of the disposition of the writers/moderators, (are they volunteer, are they avid commenters themselves, were they extroverts already, etc.) disposition of the commenters, (community, pet topics, inclination to self-moderate, activity level, regularity) size, and exposure to non-target audiences. Most of the larger sites that attract a wider swath of commenters also have writers that weren’t particularly interested in maintaining a comment section in the first place.
            imho, and “Freedom on the Centralized Web” talked about this, is that comment sections depend on how well a clearly established baseline is enforced.

            @Cauê and FacelessCraven, on the symmetry:
            As of right now, it is not symmetric at all. For the most part, SJ does not engage.
            SJ’s current form, as epitomized in these parts by Arthur Chu’s statements, is the result of decades of cooption and dismissal. The rise of the microaggressions framework comes from frustration with respectability politics, and the perception that adhering to respectability politics failed. So they decided that flipping the table and re-dictating the terms of respectability would get better results. Hence linguistic prescriptivism and the focus on pop culture critique. But it comes from a place of feeling that working with the system, trying to engage with it as is, did not work. “anti-SJ is the side consistently arguing for free speech” feels disingenuous to a movement for whom “we have been silenced” is their background. See the second paragraph of part IV of Freedom on the Centralized Web. It feels like Distress of the Privileged to them. SJ doesn’t engage anymore because they already tried it. (Hence what Scott found in Fearful Symmetry)

            As I said in the previous comment, much of these leftist spaces are basically Reigns of Terror that never ended, after the trolls went away. Which is a shame. They can have great conversations outside of mindkillers, but their learned paranoia also means they are incentivized to identify mindkillers in anything. See the pop culture text “deconstruction” thing that is in vogue in certain spaces.

            The other main issue is simply that SJ went mainstream, with all of the ideological dilution and misappropriation that comes with the privileged mainstream playing with the latest Shiny Thing.
            Most of the good internal leftist criticisms of SJWs (and it was leftists who originally coined the SJW term) are from movement originators who are/close to primary text authors, boots-on-the-ground activists, most of them barely making ends meet and having been done concrete harms by the systems they oppose. This in contrast the mobs of sheltered youths who are getting their philosophy and critique beliefs 4th-hand off of digests of digests of tumblr summaries of structural models. It’s baileys all the way down.

          • NN says:

            It isn’t symmetrical, and it isn’t close. Only one side has offered thousands of dollars to a charity of the other’s choice if they agreed to debate, only to be refused. Only one side has refused to attend any events where the other side is represented. Only one has attacked neutral parties for giving the other any kind of platform. Only one has declared a number of positions and even topics as out-of-bounds for reasoned discourse.

            Only one side has spent a huge amount of time building Twitter blockbots to automatically block the other side on Twitter, and advertised them as “anti-harassment tools,” even though the algorithms used were at one point so broadly defined that @KFC ended up on the blocklists. Only one side got representatives of the other side thrown out and banned from a convention for the horrible crime of expressing polite disagreement when they were given permission to speak at a panel. Then called the cops on them when they met in a park a half-mile away.

            The Greek Orthodox Church and U.A.E. got Harry Potter banned from schools in the last ten years, and the whole concept of being in the closet is that, even today, even right here in Cathedral Central USA, you can’t talk about being gay (or Wicca apparently) depending on how attached you are to your social circle, job, or life, co-varying with your city of choice.

            Yes, if we broaden the definition of “anti-SJW” to include the Greek Orthodox Church and the UAE then things look a little different. But from my perspective that seems about as reasonable as broadening the definition of SJW to include Mao Zedong. Besides, the UAE has a surprising amount of common ground with certain people on the SJ side.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Arbitrary_Graey – Reading over what I’ve written, I think I should apologize up front for any offence caused by the following. You seem like a decent, serious person engaged in good-faith communication, regardless of how much I disagree with you on the object-level issues.

            “The other main issue is simply that SJ went mainstream, with all of the ideological dilution and misappropriation that comes with the privileged mainstream playing with the latest Shiny Thing… This in contrast the mobs of sheltered youths who are getting their getting their philosophy and critique beliefs 4th-hand off of digests of digests of tumblr summaries of structural models.”

            The lesson to be learned from GG is, you don’t get to pick which members of your movement represent you. Pre-GG, I was a blue tribe feminist obama voter who was just starting to dip my toe into Shakesville. A year later, I am passionately opposed to Social Justice, consider feminism to be morally bankrupt, and probably will not be voting democratic in the near future. Pretty much all of that change has come from observing, talking to and debating with Social Justice advocates and opponents.
            I appreciate the difficulty of policing a grassroots movement, but at some point the question boils down to what your ideology actually produces. I see the Zamii hate blogs, the Shirtgates, the Tim Hunt and Brandon Eich incidents, RequiresHate. I see the farcical treatment of Gjoni, and the protection of his abuser. I see people on ToT and SSC talking about how they don’t actually care about who gets hurt and how badly on the other side, because people on the other side deserve it. I’ve heard all about how the mobs of internet sadists are just misguided, or how they’re “doing it wrong”. That doesn’t really matter much to me; I only care about where they are coming from, and how to protect myself and others from them.

            Like it or not, fair or not, those people are your problem, and if you can’t figure out a way to stop them they will destroy your movement. Personally, I’m pretty skeptical that you *can* stop them, because conversations with serious SJ advocates here and on ToT have left me pretty convinced that they’re not actually all that far off Social Justice orthodoxy.

            “With regards to GG specifically, the pro-GG people would quickly abandon talking about anything specific to Zoe Quinn, video games, and the enthusiast press in favor of general anti-SJ talking points, as if GG wasn’t the topic they were really angry about at all. (As in, the exact same talking points would be more applicable in the Puppies situation, but not to the pro-GG points they came in with)”

            For what it’s worth, when GG started I’d never even heard the term “Social Justice Warrior”. By about week 3, I saw GG as one small part of a very large fight that seemed to extend as far as the eye could see. Sad Puppies seemed like a more or less identical situation, simply in an adjacent fandom. Ditto for a great many other fights I became aware of around that time. Social Justice seemed like a juggernaut that was poised to sweep away all opposition. It also seemed blatantly, obviously, insanely evil. It was not a fun time.

            “As of right now, it is not symmetric at all. For the most part, SJ does not engage.”

            Say rather, SJ doesn’t engage constructively. A good number of them didn’t seem to have a problem “engaging” with Zamii. Or with Tim Hunt. Or Matt Taylor. Or Plebcomics, or Temkin, Wardell, Krahulik, Holkins, or with a fair number of the residents of this comments section. Again, I think this is a serious problem for Social Justice; if that sort of engagement can’t be controlled, it comes to define the movement in the eyes of the public.

            “The rise of the microaggressions framework comes from frustration with respectability politics, and the perception that adhering to respectability politics failed.”

            Gay marriage is legal, and religious institutions that condemn homosexual behavior are likely to lose their tax-exempt status and in many cases their existence within a decade or so. How is that a failure? …More generally, one of the problems I observe with Social Justice is that it does not seem capable of compromise and coexistence with those who disagree with its principles. Which leads to:

            “So they decided that flipping the table and re-dictating the terms of respectability would get better results. Hence linguistic prescriptivism and the focus on pop culture critique. But it comes from a place of feeling that working with the system, trying to engage with it as is, did not work. “anti-SJ is the side consistently arguing for free speech” feels disingenuous to a movement for whom “we have been silenced” is their background.”

            Another way to phrase this, I think, is that they do not have 100% control over everything. That the existence of any voice but their own is equal to being silenced. I appreciate that this framing is not kind, and plead that I consider it both true and necessary; whether it is how Social Justice advocates mean to say, it is unquestionably how they come across to their opponents.

            @BBA – Ditto the comment to Graey, for what it’s worth. If the following fails the kind gate, it’s at least intended for the true and necessary ones.

            “The worst arguments I saw coming from GG were that the harassment, threats, etc. were false flags or outright invented by the targets to get sympathy.”

            Have you read the MsScribe story? Assuming so, did you assume that was a unique event? How would you say people should deal with a situation where they suspect similar things may be occurring? I see pretty much no reason to believe anything Quinn and Wu say that can’t be independently verified. Gjoni, on the other hand, appears to have been telling the truth consistently from the very beginning. I am very much looking forward to the outcome of his court case.

            Pretty obviously, there were not enough seconds in the day for the people in question to fake even a fraction of the harassment they received once the shitstorm got properly rolling. There were a great many obvious false flags, and undoubtedly a massive amount of genuine harassment from people who saw themselves as pro-GG. There was an equally massive amount of abuse flowing from people who saw themselves as anti-GG. The difference, of course, is that while GG had no meaningful leadership, it made every effort to curb the abuse by IDing and reporting harassers in an organized fashion. Anti-GG, on the other hand, ignored those efforts and actively and in fact publicly encouraged harassment, doxxing, and threats against their opponents.

            “I don’t know how much of this was bad faith and how much they really believed, but it was extraordinarily uncharitable, and some GGers just wouldn’t shut up about it.”

            People who observe themselves actively being lied about are liable to take it very, very personally. And yes, the dominant narrative throughout GG was absolutely a lie. GG organized a lot of things: several consecutive charity drives, an anti-harassment patrol on social media, legal funds, letter writing campaigns, and general activism. What it didn’t do was organize harassment. Meanwhile, Anti-GG figures actually did organize harassment of their opponents, in public and with their names attached.

            As for me, “Extraordinarily uncharitable” is how I would describe siding with a confirmed abuser against their victim, attacking anyone who broke ranks, and engaging in a coordinated many-months-long campaign to ensure that the victim’s story was never heard by anyone who mattered. Likewise with justifying and encouraging doxxing and harassment of ones’ opponents.

          • Arbitrary_greay says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            No offense caused. I don’t support the SJ movement as you seem to define it, the one I see the mainstream is pushing. (And therefore, with regards to harming right-wing people, is the one that matters.) I’m not activist at all, so I’m not also going to defend the movement from my armchair. SJ has serious problems. Many of the gains they seem to be having, I don’t celebrate, because they seem to be derails from the accomplishments I want them to achieve.
            Frequenting leftist spaces, I am also bombarded with object-level accounts of harassment from the right-wing side, and more than that, how swaths of the population can barely scrape a living together because of systemic obstacles. There’s plenty of macroaggressions to go around for me to care less about the micro. (The focus on the latter being one reason I don’t explicitly side with SJ) There’s enough proposed and existing legislation, plus official rhetoric that is a direct risk to who I am that I feel as much lizard-brain fear of Red Tribe as you seem to fear from Blue Tribe. So while most people would see this as the beginning of my pendulum swing to Grey Tribe, I’m not so sure.
            My dissatisfaction with aspects of SJ means that I self-filter most of the leftist spaces I frequent. So I see many parts of the community that represent the ideal, that it is possible for the movement to be constructive. (and I mean constructive, not simply thriving under status quo structures) Most notably, I am thus exposed to internal leftist critique of the same concerns expressed about SJ here, usually by prominent bloggers closer to the OWS/BLM origins than the well-off assholes with the time and money to do the harassing.

            As for GG, first, I’m in the opposite camp as you. I was probably more Grey Tribe before GG, and reading the deluge of shit day after day for months as it unfolded pushed me deeper into Blue Tribe for a while. And as with you, it probably stems from which side we felt threatened by.
            Anyways, now having read the perspectives from both sides closer to the mainstream, (warped views as they are) there was a denial of harassment from both sides. I had never heard of any of the right wing victims that you listed before I came to this site. I suspect that I could list an equal number of left-wing victims that y’all have never heard of. (To start with, Felicia Day, who explicitly wrote in neutral terms that she didn’t want to weigh in out of fear of trolls, and subsequently became firmly anti-GG because of the doxxing and harassment she received in response) Is leadership on both sides suppressing the information?
            What it didn’t do was organize harassment.
            The 4ch chatlogs that were coordinating harassment campaigns and originated the #notyourshield tag for that purpose says otherwise. I’m not saying anti-GG didn’t do the same. But I find your statements on the imbalance in GG untrue.

          • Cauê says:

            BBA,

            The worst arguments I saw coming from GG were that the
            harassment, threats, etc. were false flags or outright invented by the targets to get sympathy. I don’t know how much of this was bad faith and how much they really believed, but it was extraordinarily uncharitable, and some GGers just wouldn’t shut up about it.

            When you say false flags, do you include 1) false attacks by the victims themselves (like, say some of these), 2) attacks by people on the anti-GG side, but not the victims themselves, and 3) attacks by unaffiliated trolls?

            Because 3) happened a lot, and it’s easy to show (a couple of quick e.g.). 2) is harder to show now (in large part because of the hack mentioned on the last link), but I’ve seen it a lot as well. Checking the timeline of those who make the threats people showcase as GG has been interesting – it’s been consistently the case that I find someone who either never interacted with GG before or had been speaking against them immediately before tweeting the threats. Also, things like this.

            (bonus: see this “Teridax” guy showing up celebrating pissing off both GG and feminists with Weev in my second link, and having his call for fake threats retweeted by ZQ in my last link? Here’s him being actively added to the whitelist of the supposed “anti-harassment” blockbot. And here convincing some journalist he DDoS’d a feminist site “for a friend in GG”)

            As for 1) well, there is evidence for it, but it’s not strong enough to convince me beyond, say, 20% confidence (there’s more than enough evidence to convince me that many of the people involved are outright dishonest, which I won’t go into now, but this is too specific). It’s, however, strong enough that I’m not surprised less careful or more motivated people would be convinced, especially when they were drowning in clearly false accusations already*. It’s a mess, and there have been many bad arguments, but mostly not bad faith.

            (*the fastest way to get a feel for the climate is, I think, to look at the magnitude of the difference between this article and its correction, and imagine dozens of articles like it, but nobody with standing to sue, so no corrections)

          • keranih says:

            @ Arbitrary_Grey

            SJ’s current form, as epitomized in these parts by Arthur Chu’s statements, is the result of decades of cooption and dismissal.

            …I disagree. It’s the result of a very few academics convincing a slightly larger handful of young students that somehow the gradual leveling of society and dismantling of various barriers hadn’t actually taken place, and instead the concerns and issues raised by other people for decades before had been “dismissed” – instead of what actually happened, which is that the solid logic and reasonable appeals to common humanity slowly chipped away at entrenched biases, so that the young students could actually be in the colleges where they were taught that they were still being oppressed. It is a marvel of the power of persuasion overcoming the factal evidence surrounding them.

            The rise of the microaggressions framework comes from frustration with respectability politics, and the perception that adhering to respectability politics failed.

            Young passionate people were told that shouting obscentities and insulting people didn’t work. So instead of figuring out how to prioritize their goals and that one gets further with a smile than with a fist, they re-wrote their rules so that the loudest voices “won”.

            So they decided that flipping the table and re-dictating the terms of respectability would get better results.

            When you re-write the rules so that person A is allowed to shout and make insulting statements, but person B is not, the resulting departure of person B from the game is not, actually, “better results”.

            But it comes from a place of feeling that working with the system, trying to engage with it as is, did not work.

            Which is historically inaccurate, maps well with the emotional immaturity displayed by most SJWs, and is of course what people would say, in order to justify the abusive techniques they are using.

            The SJW movement is founded on the assumption that things are worse now than they have ever been – instead of people being more free, less often abused, and having more wealth available than in decades and centuries previous. Had the activists actually ‘engaged’ with these issues “for decades” they would know this.

            I recognize that people “feel” that they were not going to get their goals met “by working with the system”. But the failure to appreciate rigid methodology and to over-emphasize narrow-view “primary sources” and “lived experiences” is rampant throughout the SJW field, and this failure to judge “success” by objective measures means that even when they get what they think they’re demanding, they won’t be able to identify it.

          • Arbitrary Greay says:

            @keranih
            My first response was along the lines of “I’ve seen too much of the movement away from your description for it to seem charitable,” but I suspect that this is just the result of the blurry boundaries definitions of SJ and SJW and feminists and whatnot.
            As far as the part of the movement that this commentariat deals with/is concerned with goes, I don’t disagree with your description.

          • Nicholas Carter says:

            @NN
            So um… Centrality fallacy guys. Sorry about that. Where I happen to live, a large number of SJ activist are Wicca, and Wicca isn’t a powerful minority in any sense. So I’d just sort of been using “against Witches” as a proxy for “Against SJ”.
            Five minutes in the penalty box.

          • keranih says:

            @ Arbitrary Greay –

            “I’ve seen too much of the movement away from your description for it to seem charitable,” but I suspect that this is just the result of the blurry boundaries definitions of SJ and SJW and feminists and whatnot.

            If you mean that you know of people in the SJ movement who put a great deal of effort into protecting all the abused, feeding all of the hungry, and caring for all of the lonely and unloved…well, yes. The movement has those, absolutely. They are the worthy on whose account God has not wiped us all off the face of the planet.

            But the SJ movement is far from the only place where they can be found, and I would hold that those worthies neither control nor define the SJ movement. They have, in my view, surrendered control of the SJ movement to those who shout down those who oppose them and ban those who disagree with them.

            You might say that these…difficult people don’t define the SJ movement for you, and I won’t tell you how to define “your people.” I also don’t feel that it’s my place to police the SJ movement when I no longer have any interest in being part of it. (I’m open to the idea of supporting a SJ revival/reformation that changed the way the SJ movement took action, but again, it’s not my circus, I don’t know how to help you pick your monkeys.)

            So long as the public face and active wing of the SJ movement remains the toxic and destructive elements that are the SJW, however, I will stand in opposition to the SJ movement. The noble goals of some people who claim that title do not justify the means of the larger group.

          • Arbitrary_greay says:

            @keranih
            So long as the public face and active wing of the (A) movement remains the toxic and destructive elements that are the (B), however, I will stand in opposition to the (A) movement. The noble goals of some people who claim that title do not justify the means of the larger group.

            My original comment was pointing out that SJ taking this very stance is why they seem so uncharitable and non-engaging.
            That’s why I do think keeping in mind that SJ, SJW, feminists, and the like can represent different subgroups is important. Isn’t it similar to why Scott tabooed That One Term recently? Tarbrushes do no one favors, just like in the way SJ has done to Reddit and GG. In addition, identifying those subgroups is what allows a movement to disavow their actions, stave off evaporative cooling. If, as per FacelessCraven’s complaint, SJ needs to take responsibility for the harassers in their ranks, don’t they also need a means of denote who they are referring to? And that indeed was why the SJW term was coined. It was because the right-wing backlash started conflating SJ and SJW, turning both into the same outgroup signal, that they began wearing the latter as a badge of pride.

            As I wrote in my response to FacelessCraven above, I am not an activist. I don’t support SJ, especially not the kind you’ve described. I think certain leftist mottes are good and interesting for my own intellectual purposes, but in practice, I’m near apathetic.

          • BBA says:

            The bad faith I’m talking about isn’t just asserting that the false-flag harassment existed, it’s asserting that all of the harassment was false-flag. Which simply doesn’t make sense – the internet is full of immature teenage boys, especially the part of the internet that plays video games, and they’ve just heard that an annoying indie game dev who thinks she’s better than them has been sleeping with journalists to get positive reviews, OF COURSE they’re going to harass her. And since what they heard in that last sentence is a vast distortion of the truth, the media can spin the story as “evil misogynist gamers harass woman over false rumors” and not even be lying that much.

            Now, this is not to say the antiGG portrayal of GG was remotely true. In the GG threads I read, I saw very few attempts to organize harassment campaigns. I saw some attempts to convince advertisers to pull their ads from Gawker and Vox, a lot of complaints about SJWs ruining their hobby, and a few bizarre conspiracy theories. Not much harassment, but also not many people who bothered trying to straighten out the truth about what actually happened, and an almost complete obliviousness to why anyone would find them annoying. By the time GG finally got half a clue, the narrative had been set and it was already too late.

            And you know what? I’m fed up with SJ – that’s why I’m here. I agree that what Quinn did to Gjoni was awful. And I can’t stand being unable to express that in certain circles without getting lumped in with GG and people who send death threats and the Men’s Rights movement and Elliot Rodger and everything bad and wrong that a straight white dude ever did.

          • Cord Shirt says:

            What Arbitrary_greay said.

            The commentariat they have right now is a bit SJ trigger-happy, but that developed after years and years of comment section disasters and hijackings eroded their faith in charitable discussion….

            The point is, to a large part of the SJ crowd that used be able to be reasoned with, it’s anti-SJ that is not interested in honestly debating….

            much of these leftist spaces are basically Reigns of Terror that never ended, after the trolls went away.

            I saw this progression too, with basically all the feminist sites online (to be clear, I’m talking about way before gg). It’s why I stuck around to be mobbed a second time–I understood why they were so paranoid.

            Even so…ultimately, McCarthyism is McCarthyism.

            Most of the good internal leftist criticisms of SJWs (and it was leftists who originally coined the SJW term) are from movement originators…. This in contrast the mobs of sheltered youths who are getting their philosophy and critique beliefs 4th-hand off of digests of digests of tumblr summaries of structural models.

            Yeah, I was about to say, it’s when the children showed up to the “Reigns of Terror that never ended” and assimilated into the communities’ toxic norms without undestanding their origin–instead just assuming that taking this attitude was justified by the *current* situation or was their right as Holy Activists–that it really got bad.

            It was at an influx of these kids in 2003 that Ms. Magazine shut down their discussion board. I was disappointed at the time, but in retrospect…they were right. It had become a “Reign of Terror that never ended” and the kids’ arrival was set to make it even worse.

            I’m afraid Nicholas Carter accurately described their behavior as it is today. :wince:

          • Cauê says:

            BBA, there’s still mostly no bad faith there, just massive differences on how people perceived the situation.

            Your “immature teenage boy” looks like GG from the outside, but he’s clearly “not us” from the inside. After all, they condemned him at every opportunity, they organized to investigate and report him, to fight him however they can. There’s quite literally nothing they can do to keep “him” away that they haven’t already tried. When people accuse them of the things “he” did, some will say “you can’t blame all for what one asshole did by himself”, some will go for “that’s guilt by association”, and some for “not us, that’s a false flag”, depending on how each one is framing it.

            It doesn’t help that way too many people on both sides seemed to not understand the concept of an unaffiliated troll for an embarrassingly long time (and of course that’s much worse for people outside). But bad faith? Well, thousands of people, so sure, but not common.

            And if there’s a word that deserves to be tabooed in this conversation it’s “harassment”. Hard to say what I think of it when I honestly don’t know what kind of thing you have in mind when you say it.

            (and the “not even be lying that much” part is not quite right, but let’s leave that aside)

          • Cauê says:

            Arbitrary Greay, Cord Shirt:

            Yeah, I was about to say, it’s when the children showed up to the “Reigns of Terror that never ended” and assimilated into the communities’ toxic norms without undestanding their origin–instead just assuming that taking this attitude was justified by the *current* situation or was their right as Holy Activists–that it really got bad.

            Thank you two for this. It makes a lot of sense, and looks generalizable as a cautionary tale.

          • keranih says:

            @ Arbitrary greay –

            (I’m not sure how much we’re talking past each other, but I appreciate your thoughtful responses, despite my occasional over the top provocations.)

            That’s why I do think keeping in mind that SJ, SJW, feminists, and the like can represent different subgroups is important.

            …I was there, and I watched “SJ” warp into “SJW”, without overt opposition from the “mainstream SJ”. If there were arguments over name-calling, privileging perspectives based on the identity of the speaker, and “I am not your teacher, go learn and then come listen to me” dismissals, they happened completely out of sight of anyone who wasn’t already deep into intersectionalism. I will grant that feminism started out as distinct from SJW-type activism (it kinda had to, being more than a century older) and has started pulling away harder and faster, but even in the 80’s large parts of the feminism movement were using a lot of the same methods.

            (I don’t know why Scott tabooed [That One Term] – had it been me, I wouldn’t have done it, and I hope he stops there.)

            In addition, identifying those subgroups is what allows a movement to disavow their actions, stave off evaporative cooling. If, as per FacelessCraven’s complaint, SJ needs to take responsibility for the harassers in their ranks, don’t they also need a means of denote who they are referring to? And that indeed was why the SJW term was coined. It was because the right-wing backlash started conflating SJ and SJW, turning both into the same outgroup signal, that they began wearing the latter as a badge of pride.

            Again, I saw this action take place. (Maybe I was part of the original evaporate cooling.) SJ’s did not start actively, overtly opposing the actions of the SJWs until relatively recently when the SJWs committed serious over reach. (RH is an excellent example of this – next to no one in the leftist fandom camp had a problem with RH/WF stalking and attacking Caucasians and conservatives.) Some of the “Real SJs” (*) did go so far as to say “I see the point of the SJWs and think that they have a legit cause to express their real and justified frustration with 500 years of oppression (**) with harsh language and a lack of charity, but I myself value politeness.” Eight years later, you have those same “Real” SJ’s saying “Well, you know, politeness is for weannies and people in power. If you really want things to change, you have to be prepared for blood(***).”

            Given all this, I don’t think that I’m actually “conflating” SJ and SJW – in online activist terms, they are the same thing.

            Having said all that – I spoke excessively passionately and badly when I said I stand in opposition to everything of the SJ movement. To the extent that the SJ movement attempts to comfort all afflicted, allow all voices to speak, prevent all suffering and enable freedom and liberty for all, I do support those aims. I’m not even going to demand perfection in execution of reaching for those goals.

            Deliberately rejecting some groups as unworthy of the rights of Englishmen, however, is straight out.


            (*) Northern Ireland reference deliberate, but possibly a step too far.

            (**) Speaking of an upper-class 20 year old at an Ivy League college (not Yale)

            (***) This is not quite a real quote. The flip-flop on the part of the previously-aligned with civilization “Real SJs” was, I think, as described. But I’m not in contact with those people any more, and am obviously biased.

          • Arbitrary_greay says:

            @keranih
            I watched “SJ” warp into “SJW”, without overt opposition from the “mainstream SJ”.
            This is true. Mainstream SJ embraced SJW with scoffs of “you thing being a warrior for social justice is a bad thing?” as by the time most of the current SJW troublemakers even heard of the group, ingroup/outgroup signalling cooption was already in full swing. (and GG played no small part in introducing lots of these people to the term in its conflated form, including me) Some of the previous discussions here about not bothering to reclaim it might be correct.

            Ironically, some of the root philosophies of SJ (privileging the voices of the oppressed, intersectionality) were supposed to address this kind of “movement getting out of the control of its originators” thing. But the microaggressions framework is entirely to easy to abuse out of context, tailor-made for armchair activism, so runaway movement we have. There’s the flush of recent victories SJ has had, some of them (imo) genuinely good, meaning that some victors are of course reluctant to chasten their sources of power. And as I said to FacelessCraven, there’s sufficient fear (both false and not), not just preventing evaporative cooling of certain groups, but also driving SJ to adopt the “Survive” militant mindset that characterizes some of their right-wing counterpart. In some areas, (of America) this mindset can be necessary, but the Internet transfers the same level of fear everywhere. In Blue Tribe territory, this naturally makes for power overreach. In Blue Tribe territory full of sociopathic sheltered youths, (as per Paul Graham) you get Yale.

            As far as the possibility of “fixing” SJ, I think addressing that last point might be the most important. Nearly every movement gone wrong/gone violent tried to harness the power of “disaffected” youth. Even if dumping them into the world goes poorly for them, then at least they’re closer to the situations of the movement originators, with more legitimate and controlled applications of the framework at hand.

          • Zorgon says:

            Regarding the “Survive” mindset – both right-wingers and SJs do seem to have a habit of constructing apocalyptic scenarios where not kowtowing to their specific demands will result in broad, well-specified but mostly unsupported disaster, usually for a protected class like women or children.

            This might be a reasonable heuristic for when a movement is going batshit, now I consider it.

            Also – “GGers didn’t understand why they were so annoying”? Really? You think there’s a group anywhere in history that hasn’t been annoying to its enemies? They were the targets of outright memetic warfare by hipsters and media types. Of course you considered them annoying – you were being told to do so!

            If you think GGers were “annoying”, I dread to think what you would consider people who smugly repeated “LOL EFFICS IN GAME JURNALISMS!” all over everything for the past year if the shoe was on the other foot. (Not to mention “worse than ISIS” and repeated claims of actual violence, all of which are completely fictitious, unlike the bomb threats called against GG, the needles sent through the post, etc, etc.)

          • “both right-wingers and SJs do seem to have a habit of constructing apocalyptic scenarios where not kowtowing to their specific demands will result in broad, well-specified but mostly unsupported disaster, usually for a protected class like women or children.”

            Left wingers too. I see some apocalyptic rhetoric from the right, but more, currently, from the left in the context of climate. But not that narrowly focussed–the usual pretense is that AGW will be horrible for everyone, although it’s pretty obvious that the effects will vary a lot with local climate and geography.

            And before global warming was an issue, population problems, pollution problems, that whole set of (I think imaginary) catastrophes was linked mostly to the left.

      • ilkarnal says:

        Scott’s arguments there weren’t particularly compelling. I suppose they are a natural outgrowth of the great gifts Fortune has bestowed upon the liberal Anglos. Their milquetoast ideology has thrived spectacularly as a result of geographic isolation, and no small amount of luck. Throw them border-to-border with the Communists and Fascists in their heady, passionate primes and we’d see something more sensible emerge. One way or another.

        I understand that the spectacular victory of the liberals makes this line of criticism accordingly easy to dismiss. Be assured, however, that the least decisive and combat-effective faction typically gets the worst end of the stick, not the best. Fortune is a flighty girl – we’ll see how things shake out on the next go-around.

        • People are queuing up to join liberal democracies in a way they are not queuing up to join fascist and communist regimes. THat’s how liberals are winning.

          • ilkarnal says:

            Indeed! And in doing so, they are making them steadily more illiberal. I’d gloat, but it has unavoidable dysgenic implications. At the end of the day, good genetic stock is the foundation of all progress. It’s a much bigger deal than ideology. And much as I might harp on the liberals, none of the major western ideologies had any understanding of the foundation of their power – a foundation they all shared with one another.

            The steady degradation of this foundation is probably the most pressing threat to the prospects of Earth-origin life. It is overwhelmingly important. This feature of liberalism that you’re praising may be its most damning flaw. To be clear on the big picture, though, all significant ideologies calmly accept such degradation. Liberalism’s distinction is one of degree rather than kind.

          • Brian Donohue says:

            @ikarnal,

            600 years ago, the Chinese had the premier civilization on the planet, and HBDers love Chinese genetics. Something happened. Dysgenics?

          • Nicholas Carter says:

            @Brian
            The system fucked up.
            The Chinese system of the era was one of the premiere systems for organizing memes, materials, and human work. I am aware of a similarly powerful system in Egypt, dimly aware of the existence of similar systems in Maya and Inca, and never remember the name of the Sub-Saharan African one where they had enough material wealth to crash the cash economy of the Middle East that one time.
            Each system had one of two outcomes: Either the system was narrowly adapted to a climate that changed (Mayan one, one of the Saharan Ones I don’t remember the name of, Egypt maybe) or an internal flaw of the system went into a positive feedback loop and tore the system apart (Monarchist France). The ruins of the system typically don’t allow you to rebuild anything cool for a while (you’re in a post-apocalypse for three or so generations) and often ruin the tools it was using (like if you mined up all the combustible and fissile material on Earth and launched it into space for your society of space-topia, and then an unprecedented solar activity killed all your colonists: That’d be it, no more space for people on Earth, not ever!)
            The Anglo-sphere defeated Fascism by having a better climate, and outlasted Communism by having a system that didn’t self-destruct so fast. It would probably struggle to do so now because it is closer to the breaking point by about 55 years.

          • Daniel Speyer says:

            > the name of the Sub-Saharan African one where they had enough material wealth to crash the cash economy of the Middle East that one time

            Mali.

            The modern nation-state was named in its honor, but otherwise bears little resemblance.

          • “Indeed! And in doing so, they are making them steadily more illiberal.”

            So Cthulhu isn’t swimming left any more?

          • “Either the system was narrowly adapted to a climate that changed (Mayan one, one of the Saharan Ones I don’t remember the name of, Egypt maybe) or an internal flaw of the system went into a positive feedback loop and tore the system apart (Monarchist France). ”

            Or the system just wasn’t flexible. Sooner or later, something will change. Climate is just a special case.

          • Nicholas Carter says:

            Climate may have been better substituted with “natural environment”, you’re right. Although it has generally been the experience (I’m told by historians I don’t have the knowledge base to disagree with.) that you never see two equally powerful, prime of their life civilizations facing off in open hostility, but instead see an already self-destructing civilization being pounced on by a new enemy. Rome/Carthage and USA/Russia are the two examples I’m aware of that might be exceptions, but I don’t know enough about the history of Carthage to say.

          • Tom Womack says:

            “you never see two equally powerful, prime of their life civilizations facing off in open hostility”

            That’s really quite an odd claim to make to a European *on Veteran’s Day*. At the time of the First World War Germany and Britain were definitely in the prime of their lives; at the time of the Second World War the US and Japan were definitely in the prime of their lives.

          • Nicholas Carter says:

            The object level claim about WW1 is that Britain was not at all in the prime of its power, and was in fact already so close to the end that the Empire would all but disappear by the end of WW2, barely 20 years later. Germany was also not in its prime, but the flower of youth (I know more about German history, so this is a claim I’m actually defending, not just repeating). If another ten years had gone by, there might have been a German Imperial State of true vitality, but as it was the “Empire” didn’t even last 50 years, didn’t get a unified Civil Order until 1900, and had barely a dozen colonies, of which only two were profitable.

        • Dirdle says:

          Sure is nice to imagine all those weakling liberals getting their soft delusions raked out by some harsh reality, isn’t it? But, uh, if that doesn’t work out for you – I’m sure it’ll go fine, mind, quite sure, just hypothetically – there’s probably some room left in the cuddle pile, if you’re friendly.

          • Randy M says:

            There’s a graphic going around showing how the average person liked being touched by various levels of acquintance. Anyway, “cuddle pile” is perhaps the least enticing reward you could offer me, and it seems I am not atypical.

          • suntzuanime says:

            If you do not like to cuddle, there is no place for you in our beautiful world of love and happiness. Take your chances in the wasteland with the roving gangs of Republicans.

          • Dirdle says:

            I am reaosnably confident that it was a metaphor:

            Liberalism does not conquer by fire and sword. Liberalism conquers by communities of people who agree to play by the rules, slowly growing until eventually an equilibrium is disturbed. Its battle cry is not “Death to the unbelievers!” but “If you’re nice, you can join our cuddle pile!”

            (I have been to New York Less Wrong meetups, and know that this is also effective when meant literally)

            I mean, literal hugs are okay I suppose, but I’m pretty definitely in Camp Metaphorical Hugs For Everyone. Uh, “camp” is a noun in that sentence. I mean, unless you want it not to be?

          • Randy M says:

            Well obviously it’s a metaphor, given how Monroe’s What-If? has already convincingly argued that it’s a bad idea to have everyone on the planet in the same place.
            It’s just a bad metaphor, is all I’m saying.

        • Alsadius says:

          I seem to recall those milquetoast Anglos being border-to-border with the nasty militarists in 1914 and kicking the shit out of them. They fought poorly in many ways, but they were still plenty effective despite their sins, and being a liberal democracy was an important part of how they got the alliances necessary to win. After all, the Americans were liberal, and that liberalism made them the largest(developed) and richest nation on the planet, so bringing them in by being fellow liberals was integral to the success of the Allies.

          • ilkarnal says:

            I seem to recall those milquetoast Anglos being border-to-border with the nasty militarists in 1914 and kicking the shit out of them.

            You recall incorrectly! First of all, pre-WW2 Anglos were far less “milquetoast” – I would say the metastasizing of liberal ideology into the moral fiber was mostly a post WW1 affair. Also, neither the US or the UK had a land bridge to the Continent appear and subsequently vanish. Sending troops overseas is very, very different than being border-to-border.

            Make no mistake, geographic isolation is a double edged sword. It makes influencing things more difficult in addition to making you safer, and it speaks very well of the Anglos that they managed to deftly steer things to their advantage despite that.

            The problem is that as humanity becomes more and more powerful, geographical quirks lose much of their potency. In the long run, a society’s survival depends on its combat effectiveness.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            See also: the swiss vs everybody else in Europe. Everyone left the swiss alone.

          • Alsadius says:

            ilkarnal: The French had a border, though, and they were vastly more rotten as a society than England or the US. Any theory that says it was French moral strength that saved the day in WW1 is not a theory I’ll accept. Also, Korea seems a relevant example here – the Anglos threw down against Red China with Soviet support in the most aggressive time in the history of Communism, and fought them to a standstill with vastly favourable casualty ratios in every branch of arms. There was no retreat behind water that time, they just straight-up fought a land war in Asia against the big Communist empires, and came out with a perfectly acceptable peace. (And it was negotiated under Eisenhower, who you can hardly claim to be an anti-military sort running away from a fight).

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            Alsadius –

            I dunno, I think there’s a strong case to be made for French moral strength at the Marne and Verdun. Both of those could easily have wrecked lesser societies, but the French took the best hits the Reich had and stayed on their feet (albeit somewhat drunkenly, but nevertheless).

            That said, I agree with your larger point – liberal societies aren’t noticeably worse at warfare than less liberal ones. The history of the United States at war seems to bear that out.

            ilkarnal, I take you to be arguing that it’s liberalism as it has existed since the Second World War that is weak, but that also seems to parallel the rise of unquestioned Western dominance in warfare. Even as liberalism was losing skirmishes in Vietnam they were winning the wider Cold War, after all. I think I have to back Alsadius in this one (apart from his denigration of Gallic moral fiber).

        • Cet3 says:

          “Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word….But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. One recent example I cannot pass over in silence. Alexander the Sixth did nothing else but deceive men, nor ever thought of doing otherwise, and he always found victims; for there never was a man who had greater power in asserting, or who with greater oaths would affirm a thing, yet would observe it less; nevertheless his deceits always succeeded according to his wishes,(*) because he well understood this side of mankind….Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them.”

          -Machiavelli, The Prince

          My point being, if the stated moral virtues of liberal Anglo culture seem to be incompatible with its objective material success, there’s a much more plausible explanation than “they were just lucky”.

      • Schmendrick says:

        While I agree that the tactics suggested by ilkarnal smack of the “race to the bottom,” as a description of the process at work here I’m fairly confident the post is correct.

        Additionally, I believe that object-level arguments which don’t take part in that race are largely doomed to obscurity and anonymity. What *might* work is an alternative positive vision like the one Scott so eloquently evokes with his talk of the Walled Garden in “In Favor of Niceness, Community, and Civilization.” I strongly suspect that modelling an actual community where people neither scream about shitlords nor participate in shitlordisms will probably have far more heft and persuasive value than a rigorous parsing of why, exactly, SJW/anti-SJW arguments are dishonest.

        • Jaskologist says:

          It is absolutely a race to the bottom. But that’s the whole problem with defecting, isn’t it? If the other guy plays “defect” and you keep responding with “cooperate,” you’re screwed. Switching your own strategy to defect works, or least lets you stay in the game.

          Still much worse than the cooperate/cooperate outcome, but that’s already out of reach.

          • Linch says:

            There’s still Scott’s point about whale cancer to consider.

          • Anonymous says:

            The real life example of a fixed-length iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma I spotted the other day – of whether or not to turn down your headlights from full beam to half beam when you’re driving at night and another car is approaching you – seems in my experience to lead to cooperate/cooperate most of the time, possibly through something like a very forgiving tit for tat. Which from what I’ve read on game theory isn’t totally surprising; it doesn’t seem there is a unanimous view that always defecting is the optimal choice in iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma games.

          • Tibor says:

            Anonymous: Not turning your headlights off not only punishes the other driver but endangers you as well (he won’t be able to see well and is likely to crash into your car), so you gain something from turning them off whatever the other driver does. Also, given that the other driver is almost always anonymous, you don’t get a reputation of “better turn the beamlights off fast when approaching this guy”, so punishing really does not serve its purpose.

          • JBeshir says:

            If your goal is to stop the defections from hitting people in society, joining in and defecting yourself is probably not making your goal any less screwed than it already was.

            Right now, the other guy, the people who want to be cruel to people who don’t agree enough, are people who want to play defect back in response to the people who used to be the dominant cultural force not respecting *their* alternative points of view on how life should be lived while they were in the minority.

            With the whole “homosexuality being outlawed until 2003 in parts of the US” and surrounding social pressure deal lasting longer it’s pretty hard to argue they invented the idea of it being socially hazardous to express or act on lack of allegiance with mainstream morality/ideas.

            To get this to stop you need to make the case that defecting back should be socially inappropriate- get things like collective punishment or interference with science or bullying or mocking attacks on people who have different ideas about how to help people to be no longer considered okay.

            And I can’t see that starting doing these things yourself is going to help with that.

      • Forlorn Hopes says:

        However calling them crybabies in well written articles like the professors are doing is better than verbal bullying and “go kill yourself”.

        When the argument style you’re criticising is nicer and more civilised than the people they’re arguing against, I’m not sure you can call it a race to the bottom.

        • JBeshir says:

          I don’t think “We’re better than the worst of our enemies” is a high enough standard to avoid a race to the bottom.

          Especially when you’re comparing your article to your enemy’s commenters. Your commenters will naturally go further beyond where your article goes, wherever it goes, and that’d be enough for a race to the bottom even before factoring in subjective bias.

      • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

        “Ideologies which employ the Dark Arts tend to self-implode” was not the moral I took away from Scott’s infamous Whale Cancer post. The moral I came away with was “ideologies must be able to discriminate their ingroup from their outgroup on a consistent basis, lest they suffer an an autoimmune disorder”.

        From what I understand of cancer, things go wrong on a cellular level all the time. When anything goes wrong, the cell triggers (pun intended) the self-destruct sequence. When cell-death fails, the immune system attacks the cell. Tumors can only form when the self-correcting gauntlet of fail-safes fail to trigger. Therefore, tumors represent instances where the immune system didn’t recognize when a cell went rogue. From the perspective of the immune system, these cases represent false negatives.

        In order to fight off pathogens, the immune system has several defenses. After the skin, the second line of defense is the Killer T cells. These kill infected cells. The self-inflicted damage is what causes inflammation. But sometimes the Killers recognize healthy cells as foreigners. This also constitutes an autoimmune disorder. From the perspective of the immune system, these cases represent false positives.

        Ethical injunctions are necessary because though the ends may seem to justify the means in this instance, there’s no reliable mechanism to discriminate the instances where the ends really do outweigh the means vs where you’ve rationalized yourself into a convenient conclusion. E.g. a noble lie might be for the best with respect to one particular instance, but this sets a precedent where one can always lie because “I know best”.

        Arthur Chu’s argument was that it was okay to persecute innocent bystanders (or even allies) because the ends justify the means. But does this scale? How does one decide when enough innocent blood has been shed? Sometimes, a “slippery slope” really is a slippery slope. Or in this case, an autoimmune disorder.

        • Walter says:

          Functionally, the key seems to be that you make an ideology that is bigger than the peeps in question.

          So let’s say the 2 of us are concerned about social justice. Then you start walking right foot first and I explode about how the “starts stepping right foot first” clan are shitlords and you respond that I am infringing on your safe space. I presume you’d call this an autoimmune disorder.

          But, despite our unfortunate rift, neither of us rifted from social justice. We may think that the other are oppressors, but fundamentally we haven’t left the cause.

          Blah blah the IDEA cannot fail you, you can only fail the IDEA blah blah.

          I think the shell game (You can either agree with social justice or be in the KKK) protects it from the sort of disorder you are talking about.

          • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

            I would not call that an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder isn’t just when an overly sensitive macrophage and a lone pollen particle cross paths. An autoimmune disorder signifies a coordinated, system-wide, inflammatory response. The Arthur Chu episode wasn’t just a pissing contest between two allies. It was an instance where a mob coordinated in order to eviscerate Mr Clymers (the SJW paragon of virtue).

            Yes, we normally expect the shell game to work. The point of Scott’s “living by the sword” post was the surprise that the shell game didn’t work. You can say all the right things, repent profusely for any imagined misdeeds, promise to reform, and still be excommunicated from the cause.

    • TrivialGravitas says:

      And if you do all that, what have you actually accomplished? it replaces one group of ideologically intolerant bullies with a completely different group of ideologically intolerant bullies.

      • Jiro says:

        And even aside from that, on a purely practical level, it’s still not right. The critics aren’t calling SJW practitioners as a group crybabies. They’re calling a particular subset of them, who do a particular subset of SJW things, crybabies. It’s not an epithet being used for the whole class–it’s an epithet being used to narrow down their criticisms so they’re *not* talking about the whole class.

        It’s like claiming that someone who uses slurs against Muslims is being “anti-religion”. No, he isn’t, not in a way that matters.

        • ilkarnal says:

          The critics aren’t calling SJW practitioners as a group crybabies.

          The masses they are riling up are, and that matters! The SJW elite will often phrase things in a manner that is, when taken naively, quite acceptable. The way their exhortations are taken by the masses that form the point of their spear is the problem. The time has long passed to fight fire with fire.

          It’s not an epithet being used for the whole class–it’s an epithet being used to narrow down their criticisms so they’re *not* talking about the whole class.

          That’s not how any of this works. When you criticize a group, you target all members of that group – whether you know it or not. Even if you don’t know it, your brain is smarter than you and it knows. That’s behind the perfectly correct instinctive reaction to having your ingroup criticized.

          • Jiro says:

            That’s true in some cases but not all. Someone talking about greedy Jews is probably not just criticizing a subset of Jews who he believes to be greedy. He probably is trying to claim that alkJews are greedy Jews even though his words don’t literally say that. But on the other hand, he is probably *not* trying to claim that all religious believers are greedy Jews.

            Yet in both cases (greedy Jews->all Jews and greedy Jews->all religious believers) he would be stating his hatred towards one class but implying a larger class that includes it. There’s no grammatical rule that lets you determine when such a generalization is implied and when one is not; you have to figure it out from context. And I think it’s very clear in context that complaining about students being crybabies is not meant to imply a complaint about all of social justice.

          • TrivialGravitas says:

            I think it’s inevitably true in this case. As an example: “They’re calling a particular subset of them, who do a particular subset of SJW things, crybabies.”

            But SJW was originally a criticism of elements of SJ who did a particular subset of SJ things, now it becomes more and more all SJ.

      • nydwracu says:

        Since you’re asking about what it would accomplish, rather than whether it would be right: it replaces a group of ideologically intolerant bullies who hate people like you with a group of ideologically intolerant bullies who hate Maoists, which is beneficial for three reasons — first, it protects people like you, so you stand to benefit from it; second, taking a job as a programmer isn’t immoral, but acting according to the principles of American Maoism is, and if we’re going to have ideologically intolerant bullies anyway, they at least ought to be aimed at people who are actually object-level immoral, and they at least ought to not equate morality with ingroup membership; and third, empirically speaking, the way to keep protections for civil liberties in this country robust is to beat the shit out of commies. Nobody got mad about HUAC until it started going after CPUSA, and the ACLU was… not exactly founded as the legal defense arm of CPUSA, but not not founded as the legal defense arm of CPUSA.

        Of course, none of that makes it right or moral.

        • Ezra says:

          Wait, are you saying that trying to limit the civil liberties of communists is a good strategy because communists respond by ensuring civil liberties for all, whereas their natural inclination would be to fight civil liberties were they themselves not having theirs hampered? If so, I kinda like it as an abstract, but it seems pretty indirect/impractical and I’d think the stated goal is too far apart from the actual goal to be successful.

        • TrivialGravitas says:

          I think any group on the losing side of the culture war is going to be fighting for civil rights, very few people within that group actually mean it.

          On the other hand, the blue tribe was probably better at sticking up for the gray tribe 10 years ago than the red tribe is right now.

        • JBeshir says:

          The second point is almost an exact mirror of the argument that the people inside social justice who defend being cruel to anyone they deem as having lent support to bad things make.

          “Being [member of whatever group] isn’t immoral but supporting [vague bad ideology which endorses meanness to whatever group] is and if we’re going to have cruel and oppressive people anyway they ought at least to be aimed at people who are acting according to [vague bad ideology].”

          I’d suspect that creating a rule that it’s okay to be cruel and unpleasant to anyone “acting in line with [vague bad opposing ideology]” is going to lead to your side exhibiting the same “Maoist” traits of unpleasantness towards people, research, and positions who are inconvenient regardless of whether you’re filling in [vague bad ideology] with “American Maoism” or “Bigotry”.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        If you can’t come up with a way to stop one group from being in power and oppressing others, the least you can do is make sure that your group is the one that ends up in charge. The SJWs understand this perfectly.

        • TrivialGravitas says:

          My group is full of horrible people who would turn on me in a moment if they weren’t under assault.

      • ilkarnal says:

        A war is fought between two groups of killers. Does this parallel mean that all judgements of opposing sides in war must be symmetrical? Obviously not.

      • Brawndo says:

        And if you do all that, what have you actually accomplished? it replaces one group of ideologically intolerant bullies with a completely different group of ideologically intolerant bullies.

        But why is this bad? Obviously, the best solution is that all ideologically intolerant bullies are kicked out of power and replaced with responsible adults, but nobody has figured out how to do that yet. Personally, I think it would be healthy for everyone to have a change in which flavor of ideologically bullies we are graced with.

        • JBeshir says:

          This is one of the defences of the current set of unpleasant people; that they’re replacing the social conservative bullies who until this last ten years or so caused gay people to feel they needed to hide their sexuality and if their enemies now have to hide their beliefs about the best ways to live then that’s just a healthy change.

          I don’t think it’s a very good argument.

          I think some kind of social enforcement are kind of inevitable- a set of norms that doesn’t include “and if you try to enforce other norms, you get dinged” is just unstable, at the minimum. But we can agree that some methods are wrong, as we already have for many other methods, and I think that’s how you’d get the step down in the conflict that is wanted.

    • MasteringTheClassics says:

      “This is all most interesting, Mr. Clarkson; tell me more about how we’ll never abolish the slave trade unless we’re willing to start a revolution…”

      “This is all most interesting, Mr. X; tell me more about how we’ll never get any civil rights unless we’re willing to start another civil war…”

      “This is all most interesting, Peter; tell me more about how we’ll never get anywhere with this ‘kingdom of Heaven’ thing unless we’re willing to call down fire from heaven and roast a few Roman legions…”

      Repeat after me: Carthago delenda est, Carthago delenda est, Carthago delenda est…

    • baconbacon says:

      In warfare you hold the high ground because it allows for asymmetry. On a level field every action of your enemy has to be met with a response, if you ignore skirmishes eventually a weakness in you lines will be found and you will be over run. Every scouting party is a threat, and every threat must be countered, when you take the high ground you no longer have to respond to minor attacks. Discretion is yours and ultimately victory comes from your opposition bashing themselves against your fortified position.

      Strategically, imitating your enemy is a sure way to lose from a winning position. Just look at Vietnam.

  9. Seth says:

    Regarding “… include “ending sexual assault on campus”? Why not just “ending sexual assault””, there’s a complicated answer in that it all has to do with the legal maneuvers behind those efforts. It’s kind of hard to explain this all in a blog comment, and I’m not a lawyer though I’ve studied this (it’s also a measure of the topic that I worry getting into it will not be good). Anyway, sexual assault is in general a state-level crime, not a Federal-level crime, and there’s not a whole lot a President can do overall in that situation. The strategy of making it quasi-Federal has been tried, and got shot down overall by the Supreme Court, see “United States v. Morrison” https://www.oyez.org/cases/1999/99-5

    But there is a different legal avenue which mostly applies to colleges via Federal funding (“Title IX”). How far that goes is an ongoing controversy right now. Hillary Clinton’s indicating she’ll push it if elected, where a Republican probably would not. So it’s a reasonable statement of campaign priorities in terms of what’s in process, rather than aspirational in the broadest sense.

    • brad says:

      The Morrison-Lopez federalism revolution was very short, those two cases were it. And the law stuck down in Lopez (guns in a school zone) was re-passed with a recited jurisdictional hook that makes no practical difference.

      The federal government may be reluctant to get involved in ending sexual assault generally, may even be reasonably reluctant to getting involved, but there’s no constitutional barrier to them doing so.

    • TrivialGravitas says:

      Has Clinton laid out any sort of specific plan that actually has to deal with the reality of the power she’s trying to get, or is she just saying things liberals want to hear?

      And even if Clinton is just trying to lay down things-she-can-actually-do the media has been hyperfocused on college campus rape for a long time (this goes back to at least the first half of the 90s). While I think the media lacks the legal savvy to ever understand the issues you’re talking about the gated community focus doesn’t make a lot of sense for them if they do understand it. The president has far less ability than the collective media to influence state law.

      • Seth says:

        Yes, there is specific, well, I won’t say “plan”, but direction being taken by the Department Of Education, that affects colleges, in a way which is directly under the President’s control which is not true of the issue of sexual assault in general. The President has a direct and immediate impact here, as a Republican president could appoint people who would undertake dramatically different policy interpretations.

        My point is that I interpret the campaign item as referencing in a very simple way this large and complicated legal topic, hence it has a meaning beyond just crime-is-bad. In that way, it is a significant statement of priorities.

        • TrivialGravitas says:

          Nothing the current Department of Education does is part of Clinton’s plans for 2 years from now, unless she’s saying “I’m just going to keep doing the same thing”.

          • Nicholas Carter says:

            To a certain extent, Hillary Clinton has been criticized for campaigning on the promise of continuing to do all the things you like that we’re currently doing. With gun control being the only thing she’s really critical of in the current Administration/Congress.

  10. Anonimbus says:

    B-but doctor, lesbian really causes witchcraft

  11. It would certainly be nice if mainstream criticism of social justice acknowledged the harassment, threats and bullying that are perpetrated by its supporters, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing that they’re heavily scrutinizing its prevalence on college campuses. This is partly because I disagree with you on trigger warnings (I think your support for them is based on an idealistic version of what they should be rather than what they have actually become), but even disregarding that, I think there’s one important respect in which college campus social justice warrioring is worse than Internet social justice warrioring: it’s actually happening in the real world.

    Don’t get me wrong, death threats and incitement to suicide are worse than petitions to get people fired, but to some extent I think that behavior is just endemic to the Internet. It’s more frightening to me when the ideologies of identitarianism, unreflective self-righteousness, Machiavellianism, and victimization-as-a-status-symbol start to creep into the real world, because once they’re established in meatspace they’ll begin to have consequences on a much broader scale.

    I wrote this on my phone, sorry for any typos.

    • Taradino C. says:

      I disagree with you on trigger warnings (I think your support for them is based on an idealistic version of what they should be rather than what they have actually become)

      Indeed. This article tells the story of a teacher who believed in the ideal of trigger warnings, tried to deploy them compassionately and accommodate her students’ sensitivities, and still came away feeling that her students were, more or less, coddled and unwilling to deal with even the slightest discomfort.

    • daronson says:

      I agree with this. And I have something to add. I believe in ivory towers. So does Scott (the groups of civil, open minded people that expands by osmosis rather than by opening their borders to everyone at once. They show up everywhere on this blog). Academia is an example of an ivory tower that is based around intellectual honesty, and it does keep society more honest. (Look at the latest piece of debunked pseudoscience: people do believe scientists, overall). So threats against professors for doing their jobs should indeed be taken more seriously. Do you guys remembered the Italian seismologists who were jailed for failing to magically predict an earthquake? That was a piece of news that still makes me shudder. I’m very happy about the media response in this case: it reaffirms my faith in people’s common sense in this country, even if they’re not making all the criticisms of “SJ” that they could be making.

    • Julie K says:

      > it’s actually happening in the real world.

      And “End (or at least heavily decrease) bullying at a few identifiable real-world places” is much more doable than “End bullying on the Internet.”

    • Hadlowe says:

      Also, there is a much higher concentration of SJ activism on American college campuses than anywhere else in meatspace – many universities have entire departments dedicated to social justice issues. It seems appropriate to me that critics direct a majority of the criticism toward the area of highest incidence.

  12. Alex says:

    I work in higher ed, so obviously I think that what happens in higher ed is the most important thing ever. Beyond that, I would say that if it started and ended with Yale students bring the rhetorical equivalent of a knife to the rhetorical equivalent of a gun fight then I would agree that it’s no big deal. However, this ideological disease could spread to more schools, including schools with far less elite students. Many of these schools are public and at the mercy of state legislators who would love to have a good excuse to gut higher ed. People in my profession need to make it clear that these illiberal attitudes toward speech will not cow us. If we give in we will be handing the legislature its pretext.

    If we are successful, then the rest of you outside my profession should be able to focus on bullying and other pathologies because we will have our house in order.

  13. Schmendrick says:

    I suspect that the primary reason the screaming Yalies get more mainstream attention than the bullied online cartoonist is that the Yalies are playing very much against type.

    We expect people online – to say nothing about Tumblr – to be a bit batty. The popular imagination of online life is porn and hikikomori-esque nerdery, and while I’m sure uninformed people would express sorrow when told that an online cartoonist is being hysterically bullied by quasi-anonymous bloggers over some obscure spat, I think they would also shrug their shoulders with a “well, they’re all weirdoes off in their own little world, that’s their own lookout.”

    On the other hand…Yale is supposed to be Serious. Oh sure, student radicalism is a well-known phenomenon, bordering on a cultural trope. However, true crazy-makes of this sort only really blow up every couple decades or so, and then inevitably recede to a simmer well below the news-horizon. Not many people remember when Yale students stormed the administration building in support of the Black Panthers.

    Instead, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the rest of the highly prestigious universities have a very strong brand association with sober, Serious People who go into finance and government. We pretty much exclusively select our Presidents and Supreme Court Justices from Harvard and Yale, and Ivy grads are massively over-represented in business and government more generally. Most prestigious academics have at least one Ivy League degree (or one from an appropriate regional substitute, like Stanford or University of Chicago). Even top military brass like David Petraeus often take some time out from their careers to go do M.A. or Ph.D. work at an Ivy. Parents grub and grab to try and get their kids into these schools with the expectation that said kids will turn into Serious People who work Serious Jobs in Serious Industries, with commensurate wealth and power and influence.

    The shock is coming from the fact that the universities aren’t actually producing Serious People, but rather are turning out “crybabies” who whinge and scream and literally stamp their feet at the idea that their university cares more about producing an “intellectual community” with “dogmatic adherence to freedom of speech” than it does about making sure that students feel “at home” and are protected from the existential terror that comes from…seeing a white dude wearing a poncho and sombrero as a Halloween costume. I know it’s actually more complicated than that in many cases – apparently at Mizzou there were swastikas drawn in human excrement on dorm walls and cotton balls scattered in front of the Black Student Union, which, if true, are horrible and should be investigated and punished. Still, what the average uninformed onlooker sees are the supposed brightest and best of their generation; kids who in theory are writing long papers on “the legacy of the Ottoman Empire in the development of the modern Middle East” or some such; kids who in less than a decade will be the bright young up-and-comers at Goldman Sachs and the State Department and at Arnold&Porter and in Ph.D. programs; kids who in two decades will be running for Congress and being appointed to the bench and making partner and setting economic policy for the nation and teaching the next generation of undergraduates; screaming and yelling that their fee-fees are hurt and they can’t function unless there’s some grand over-watching authority who coddles them and suppresses any big ol’ meanies who harsh their mellow. It looks like the future leaders of this country are spineless, weak, useless, and immature.

    Coincidentally, this is why the articles are so quick to adopt the angle that SJ is fundamentally a shield rather than a sword – it dovetails with the broader optic. All murder may be bad, but at least there’s precedent for murder outside the gated community. While it may be regrettable, and while we might wish we could fix it, it’s at least understandable. Maybe even kinda normal. Murder *inside* the gated community? That’s how you know things have gotten really bad.

    • ahd says:

      To abuse Bujold: Serious People are what you’re supposed to be going out, not coming in?

      • Schmendrick says:

        True. But college unSeriousness is traditionally expressed through sexual libertinism, recreational marijuana use, and binge drinking. Political rage and mass emotional incontinence is unusual, thus scary.

        • meyerkev248 says:

          Especially when, as mentioned, there’s likely a Supreme Court judge as well as a few handfuls of Congressmen in those crowds. Maybe even a President.

          When this happens at Missouri, this is annoying and should probably be stopped.

          When this happens at Yale, this potentially reflects what the political landscape will look like 20 years out.

    • andy says:

      I do not worry about them being incapable of doing analyzis for Goldman Sachs without being pampered by superiors. I am fully fine with that vision.

      I am scared that one of them will become my boss due to connections they build on Ivy League. I thing that if any of them gets position of power, he or she will be as willing to abuse that power in petty ways as they show now. Get ready to be fired for minor disagreement about company code of conduct that just tripled size and regulates your out of work behavior to the tinies detail.

      That is future we are looking for, these kids being politicians and bosses and us being their victims.

      • Schmendrick says:

        I’m very worried about analysts at Goldman who refuse to adequately calculate the likelihood that subprime borrowers will default on mortgages. After all, racial and ethnic minorities are vastly overrepresented among subprime borrowers, and any conclusion which does not show poor people of color in the best possible light is ideologically repugnant. I’m very worried about analysts at the Eurasia group who can’t look at Russia objectively because they get the fainting vapors whenever Putin goes off on a homo- and transphobic rant. I’m very worried about analysts at any white collar firm who can’t handle rudeness or strong disagreement without breaking down.

        The adult world – especially important positions – require a thick skin and resilience. At least, so goes the theory.

        • andy says:

          Meh, the whole “adult world requires thick skin and resilience” is the bullshit on the same level as “inclusivity” is bullshit. For all the mockery targeted at these people, they are wining and getting everything they want. The supposedly resilient and tough one are being beaten and loosing.

          First, adult world for most middle class and upper class people, who these are, does not require too much of a resilience nor thick skin unless fight for power is involved. Only few professions are tough like that. And I am saying it as one of those people.

          Second, adult world is what adults make it to be. Corporation having elaborate rules about who can fall in love with who and who can say what existed for years. Aggressive zero tolerance policies are not a new thing. Overreacting on small infractions either (pot, loitering, etc). Oh, and previous generation of adults knee jerks every-time they hear the word “safety” – that is why these kids talk constantly about safety.

          Because it works.

          These kids just internalized all that and combined it with feel good agendas of equality. They are playing adult game in purest ugliest sense – grab the power and force everyone under you to obey.

          Anyway, objective analysis of Russia the way you ask for it are so rare anyway, that there is no risk there. The same goes for Goldman Sachs, it is not like they would be paragons of objective and fair analysis ever. In any case, these are not looking for professional positions like that. These want to go into leadership positions and politics. And you got to give them that they are good at gaining power.

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      +1

    • Muga Sofer says:

      That’s a really good analysis.

    • roystgnr says:

      This is it, right here. We’re not talking about safe spaces to shield future mechanics from nasty politics, we’re talking about safe spaces to shield future politicians from nasty politics.

      Who will watch the watchmen? If we’re raising a generation of elites who are to be indefinitely developmentally stunted, who cannot face the world without filters maintained by someone higher up the hierarchy, from where do we recruit “higher up the hierarchy”?

      (Maybe the mechanics? If you ever see trade school students protesting a lack of safety, you can rest assured they’re concerned about the risk of losing fingers, not just arguments.)

    • alexp says:

      There’s a reason why Yale provides the 1270th best undergraduate education in the United States 😉
      http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/10/value-university?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/dc/st/ourfirstevercollegerankings

      On a more serious note, Yale’s always had a particular reputation among Ivies: that they’re less business focused than Princeton or Colombia. Yale students aspire to academia, non profits, or social work rather than to Mckinsey or Goldman Sachs. Yale’s always had a culture of being a bit batty, so this isn’t that surprising.

      • Schmendrick says:

        This is confounded slightly by the truly stupendous reputation of Yale Law School. It has been number one in the US News rankings for so long, and its graduates have so thoroughly dominated the profession (and the policy-making and advocacy fields that, while not technically in “the law,” still hire a lot of lawyers), that the battier aspects of the school get a bit whitewashed, at least in the common imagination.

        • alexp says:

          I think the undergraduate and graduate and professional schools have to be considered separated. Yale law school is number one, but Yale’s business school is considered to be second tier, and it’s medical school considered pretty good, but not Harvard/Johns Hopkins.

          But part of the reputation carries over to the law school as well, where the stereotype is that Harvard Law grads go to become partners at major law firms while Yale Law grads become judges and professors.

    • Anthony says:

      Not many people remember when Yale students stormed the administration building in support of the Black Panthers.

      And even those who are aware of such things (I was too young, but…) will compare the causes of then with the causes of now, and wonder what happened.


  14. I think that is the problem. When creepy white supremacists criticize social justice, they’re at no risk of taking over the wider SJ-critical movement. As the old saying goes, white supremacists are the best argument against white supremacy, and most of them couldn’t take over a blanket fort with a flamethrower. But rhetorically-gifted Yale professors who get thinkpieces published in The Atlantic are exactly the sort of people who would take over the wider SJ-critical movement, become its most important voice, and define what it means both to the rest of the world and to its own members.

    Or just look at Reddit, where I visit to take the pulse of the commentariat. On Reddit and elsewhere, I definitely perceive a SJW backlash, since 2013 or so with the disintegration of the OWS/’we are the 99%’ movement.

  15. JB says:

    I have had this same thought. Trigger warnings seem like by far the least possibly offensive part of SJ… if anything it might have the outcome of permitting more speech, since a discussion of (say) graphic rape can be prefaced with “TW: discussion of rape” and rape victims who are triggered by such discussions will have forewarning. This is much better than censorship, and it isn’t forcing people to do anything except be a little courteous. Why are people who are okay with the rest hemming and hawing over this?

    • Nebfocus says:

      If TWs were all that were required, I’d agree. But SJs seem to demand much more (fire anyone who doesn’t abide…)

    • Jiro says:

      Trigger warnings seem to me to happen because claiming that one feels uncomfortable acts like a password to lawyers and colleges who interpret Title IX such that claiming to feel uncomfortable can be used as a weapon. From there it’s spread.

      I’m pretty sure that if there was a common college policy, especially one depending on a nationwide law, that let you attack another student by claiming he disturbs your sleep, there would be a rash of college students complaining about loud noises instead of trigger warnings.

    • Seth says:

      A possible explanation: trigger warnings are a demand placed on content creators, who can then be blasted for failing to anticipate the demand. Sometimes, it should be obvious that a trigger warning is required; other times, triggers may be understandably unexpected, but that wouldn’t necessarily prevent SJ activists from getting upset about it. I can see why people would not like the idea of opening themselves up to attack like that. As an extreme example, I’m not sure how legit it was, but I remember a screencap being passed around of someone angrily complaining because a picture of a sliced, red, seedy piece of fruit didn’t come with a trigger warning for gore.

    • Gbdub says:

      The problem is that courtesy needs to be a two way street. Trigger warnings work if and only if those being warned agree to be mature about what the warning really means. It’s a statement that “this contains challenging content” – the mature response is to honestly evaluate whether that content will cause you serious trauma or whether it is merely mentally challenging to your preconceived notions.

      Instead, people are weaponizing trigger warnings to dictate away content they disagree with – “A ha! Even you admit your content might hurt people! Why would you teach such things, you insensitive bigot! Take it away!”

      Also we seem to oddly fetishize trauma and offense. It’s something to be proud of, it proves your “authenticity”. Real PTSD is not a damn joke or a status symbol to show off. Most people asking for trigger warnings don’t actually have it.

    • Mike says:

      The big thing trigger warnings do is move the responsibility to the author to foresee the problems any reader of his work might have.

      The list of issues that might need a warning is as long as the DSM. And the norm under social justice is that the author is responsible and must apologize for each and every one of them if confronted.

      People thinking of them as reasonable tend to stop at a couple – like rape, or graphic violence. But there’s generally no real limiting principle offered.

      Trigger Warnings as “you might actually end up in the hospital if you read this” — make some sense to me. That is no longer how they are generally used.

      • Loquat says:

        On a very SJ-oriented website I used to follow, they had an official rule that any trigger warning anyone (who wasn’t obviously trolling) asked for ever would be added to the list of Things That Must Be Trigger-Warned For. The list was never published, mind you – if they put it up on the website for anyone to see, trolls might use it as a guide to subjects they could upset community members with.

        The list ran the gamut from the usual suspects like rape and abuse to absolutely baffling choices like transhumanism. Predictably, the commenter who used that last one devoted more words to establishing his white-guilt-liberal bona fides than he did actually talking about his ostensible subject, the ways in which uploading and transferring one’s mind into alternate bodies might change our understanding of race and gender.

        (Incidentally, does anyone know a good word for that behavior, where a speaker keeps neglecting his topic to emphasize that he’s the good kind of straight white male who totally respects the viewpoints of gays, minorities, and women? “Whiny” clearly isn’t right, and “wussy” seems overly broad.)

        • dmose says:

          “(Incidentally, does anyone know a good word for that behavior, where a speaker keeps neglecting his topic to emphasize that he’s the good kind of straight white male who totally respects the viewpoints of gays, minorities, and women? “Whiny” clearly isn’t right, and “wussy” seems overly broad.)”

          I find that “not worth reading” works out really well for me in that kind of situation.

    • Drew says:

      “Trigger Warning: Depictions of Violence” reads like: “CAUTION! ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD! Area contains: Asbestos and Wifi.”

      On one level, they’re both making purely factual statements about stuff that people can experience. And information is good. Even if (as in the case of wifi) the things aren’t really all that dangerous.

      On the other level, the warnings are claiming that the things are Very Serious Medical Hazards that should get an appropriate institutional response. Professors shouldn’t lightly expose students to stuff that’s reasonably likely to hurt them.

      That’s where things get controversial.

  16. The academic SJ movement just got a massive power-up through taking down the President and Chancellor of the University of Missouri. My hope is that this will divide the academic left, but I fear that most of academia will surrender to the SJWs, and any criticism of SJ will be taken as a sign of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I don’t think it works that way. I think every university administrator has just realized that campus social justice is dangerous to them personally. Short-term that means complying with explicit demands; long-term it means undermining them in any way they can quietly get away with.

      • I hope you are right. But some administrators are thinking of how they can amplify and then leverage this fear into getting extra money for their fiefdoms, and SJ professors with connections to SJ student groups are plotting how to increase their own importance and not get left out of the fun. Also, collective action problems will make it hard for administrators to coordinate to undermine the SJ groups, especially since the most ambitious administrators move from college to college and so don’t have a long-term stake in weakening SJWs at any one college. Finally, lots of the faculty at most colleges probably truly think what happened at Missouri was for the common good, even if they don’t think that the President and Chancellor deserved to be fired.

        • Tyrrell McAllister says:

          Also, collective action problems will make it hard for administrators to coordinate to undermine the SJ groups, especially since the most ambitious administrators move from college to college and so don’t have a long-term stake in weakening SJWs at any one college.

          But collective action should be at least as big a problem for their opponents, shouldn’t it? Ambitious administrators might move on after a few years, but so too do SJW students when they graduate.

          • roystgnr says:

            Religion, whether worship of a God or a Cause, is an excellent way to get around collective action problems. If you value your beliefs more than anything, you become more motivated if you think that your actions will make you a lone martyr rather than just another soldier in the ranks.

            “No justice, no peace” is currently such a cause. “Give me liberty or give me death” is not, which is why we’re reduced to the pathetic hope that “keep my administrative position safe” will be an adequate substitute.

        • Alex says:

          On a certain level, administrators can make good use of social justice concerns, as a way to argue for more funds for various resource centers, coordinators, etc. However, this incident also illustrates that you can only let social justice fervor go so far. Once it goes beyond students contentedly showing up to programs at a special resource center (where the admins can write down the attendance numbers to show their impact) to students protesting, things take on a life of their own, and you never know which head might roll. Administrators will learn that social justice activists need to be placated but not stirred up.

        • Gbdub says:

          But some administrators are thinking of how they can amplify and then leverage this fear into getting extra money for their fiefdoms, and SJ professors with connections to SJ student groups are plotting how to increase their own importance and not get left out of the fun.

          Indeed, one of the explicit demands of the Missouri protesters was basically “put the African American Studies dept. in charge of everyone’s curriculum”. Another was to hire at least 10% black faculty and staff.

      • Yakimi says:

        Scott, are you familiar with the campus uprisings of 1967 to 1969? History would suggest otherwise.

        When the Third Worldists i.e. social justice warriors avant la lettre violently invaded the universities, the liberal administrations surrendered. Far from undermining their influence in the long term, the radicals were allowed to expand: black studies, Chican@ studies, post-colonial studies, critical race theory, then women’s studies, then the social sciences, then the humanities. It has come to the point where every student has to demonstrate institutional loyalty to the commitment of “diversity” (i.e. the idea that the hegemony of the designated majority should be destroyed by a neoproletarian alliance of intersectionally oppressed minorities).

        The problem is that the liberals walk the same road as the radicals. They only disagree at what speed. The liberals find it far easier to accommodate disruptive radicals than to oppose them.

    • Theo Jones says:

      Whats weird with the Missouri case is that I can’t really think of what the activists really expected the administration to do about it. Sure, the vandalism of the dorm bathroom with nazi imagery is horrific. And if they figure out who did it, then yes, they should face academic and legal sanction for it. But what can the administration do other than refer the matter to the cops, fix the vandalism, and release a “we condemn this action to the fullest extent statement”.

      • suntzuanime says:

        Horrific seems like a bit of an overstatement.

      • Tom Womack says:

        “Sure, the vandalism of the dorm bathroom with nazi imagery is horrific.”

        It’s horrific only in the sense that it tells you that, among the people in your dorm that you thought were your acquaintances and mostly basically like you, there is someone whose sense of proportion is really badly broken.

      • Brandon Berg says:

        Am I the only one who smells a hoax here? This looks more to me like something an SJW imagines a racist frat boy would do than something a racist frat boy would actually do.

        • Tom Womack says:

          Yes, it is more than a bit odd to depict your high-status symbol in a disgusting and low-status (indeed intrinsically status-lowering) material.

          Whilst daubing the high-status symbols of your enemy with excrement has I suspect been around since the last common ancestor of chimp and human, a bathroom wall is not a high-status symbol.

          • Zykrom says:

            The Swastika isn’t used because it’s “high status” dude, it used because it’s edgy and vulgar.

          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            Also, it’s used precisely in order to get a rise out of the “other side”, due to its shocking connotations.

          • Gbdub says:

            @Tatu – but that’s also precisely why it’s just as likely to come from a prankster or false-flag hoaxer as from a true Nazi believer.

        • Randy M says:

          Wouldn’t be the first time. Or second, etc.

        • Shouldn’t there be some DNA from the person who produced the feces for the swastika? This would work as evidence, considering that it’s rather difficult to get hold of other people’s feces.

          Assuming some samples were saved instead of the door getting scrubbed down immediately, the only remaining question I can see is how much you trust crime labs.

          • James D. Miller says:

            It was probably made of dog poop.

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            “This would work as evidence, considering that it’s rather difficult to get hold of other people’s feces. ”

            I would hate to live in a world where that was the case.

          • Randy M says:

            Yes, but was it a German Shepherd? Or at least a white Chihuahua?

          • James Miller, good point.

            I have no idea why I jumped to that conclusion. Perhaps it was assuming maximum revoltingness.

          • NPR mentioned it as human feces, so at least this isn’t about *my* subconscious.

            Meanwhile, I’ve seen claims that there’s no evidence of a swastika at all, and that there was a police report. I have no idea what’s going on, and perhaps I’m not obligated to.

          • keranih says:

            A police report was filed and posted, where the author of the report stated that they themselves saw the smeared poop. Still no other collaboration, nor any indication it was more than 2 am drunken stupidity.

            I would like to think that if I was the one who found that, that I would have the maturity to report it (or just wash it away) without snapping a picture and slamming it all over FB. I like to think a lot of things.

          • TrivialGravitas says:

            @kerantih

            Did you happen to see (or even better still have a link to) a copy of the police report? It would be useful to be able to point to whatever it says.

          • keranih says:

            @ Trivial Gravitas –

            Dadnabit, I missed the edit window by like five seconds.

            Here is the poop police report article at dailycaller.

  17. stargirl says:

    An alternative theory is that “sound” arguments are usually ineffective in politics. The standard pro-SJ arguments are fairly non-nonsensical. However these arguments have been fairly effective. It should not be surprising that the “prestigious” anti-SJ arguments are also extremely unsound.

    Very few politicians use rhetoric that actually makes sense. Perhaps the smart and pragmatic Anti-SJ people have learned from the politicians. Logical arguments, like those Scott makes, serve a purpose but they cannot be the main weapon to win overall popular support.

    epistemic status: Just a theory.

  18. Anonymous says:

    @Scott:

    A friend on Tumblr pointed out that Hillary Clinton’s official list of campaign priorities include “ending sexual assault on campus”? Why not just “ending sexual assault”?

    Isn’t this the same as the argument, “why just oppose violence against women – why not oppose violence against everyone?” Come to that, why oppose violence against everyone – or to use your example, why favor ending sexual assault – when you could just favor ending all bad things?

    Some phrases exclude certain things implicitly. If you say “oppose murder!” then you’re implicitly not talking about opposing torture. That doesn’t mean you don’t oppose that too. If you say “oppose violence against women!” then the particular turn of phrase you have to use requires specifying women, which more easily invites the critique, “why just women?”, but the logic is the same in both cases.

    I also don’t think that critique is very good. Different bad things require different strategies. I suspect that violence against women looks different, on average, than violence against men: different types, different situations, different causes. I also suspect that sexual assault on college looks different, on average, than sexual assault outside of college. Some approaches to reducing college sexual assault won’t work as well outside of college; some approaches to reducing non-college sexual assault won’t work as well in college.

    • E. Harding says:

      “Some approaches to reducing college sexual assault won’t work as well outside of college; some approaches to reducing non-college sexual assault won’t work as well in college.”

      -Couldn’t you say the same for murders in gated communities?

    • or better yet, why not just end everything ‘bad’ . Who could take fault with that platform?

      • Alrenous says:

        Yeah. We should start by banning theft and stuff.

        That said, picking specifically the place with the least risk is transparently not about empathy. There’s Hansonesque hypocrisy and then there’s not even trying.

      • Linch says:

        I dunno if you guys are drawing from the same memetic base as I am (small world, after all), but this petition recently popped in my feed and it’s a Very Important Petition that All Serious People Should Sign!!

        http://tinyurl.com/og4p7yc

        (We’re almost at the halfway mark).

      • thisguy says:

        There’s plenty of people who don’t want to end everything ‘bad’

    • JB says:

      I think it’s like how, when people say things like “black lives matter,” while they aren’t saying that black lives matter more than white lives, they are saying that black lives are particularly at risk / their killers are less likely to be found guilty, and therefore this specific issue deserves special looking into. So “ending sexual assault on campus” seems to imply that, while all sexual assault is bad, the problem is especially bad on campus and deserves special looking into.

      If it’s true that black lives are disproportionately at risk, it is good to believe that black lives are disproportionately at risk. If it’s false that sexual assault rates are higher on campus than off, then it’s bad to believe that sexual assault rates are higher on campus than off. These might have real-world consequences in the form of sub-optimal allocation of resources, and they could indicate a failure of epistemic rationality that affects other things the person believes as well.

      • Brawndo says:

        Turns out that blacks are not disproportionately victimized by the police:

        Dividing the first number by the second gives us the answer to the question, “how many violent crimes did it take to result in one death by ‘legal intervention’ for blacks and non–blacks?” And once again, once we control for the figure that is actually relevant—the number of violent crimes committed, which justifies the number of encounters with police—we find that it is in fact non–blacks who are most likely to have a fatal encounter with police: 1.78 times more likely, in fact—almost twice as likely. In other words, any given black individual who commits a violent crime has a 0.0687% chance of dying in an encounter with police—while any given non–black individual who commits a violent crime has a 0.122% chance of dying in an encounter with police.

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          I thought that the idea behind the BLM slogan was not even as much blacks being disproportionately in danger but the idea that wrongful deaths of black people in the hands of the police or Robert Zimmerman -like vigilantes often lead in situations where the perps are left unpunished and become a sort of a folk hero in certain circles while the black victims have negative details of their lives unnecessarily portrayed in the media.

        • Harald K says:

          > control for the figure that is actually relevant—the number of violent crimes committed

          Well, that blog really makes it easy for themselves, don’t they? If you work from the assumption that racial profiling is OK, that random people’s treatment by police should be dictated by the average propensities of their apparent race, then black people aren’t victimized.

          If you assume what they do to black people is warranted, then black people aren’t treated worse at all! What a surprise!

          • Cauê says:

            What? Black people commit crimes at disproportionately higher rates. That means that even an entirely unbiased police would have a disproportionate number of encounters with black people. If you don’t control for that you’ll find bias that isn’t there, on top of whatever bias may be there.

            I’ll take the opportunity to link Scott’s post on the topic, which for some reason I think not many people have read.

          • Gbdub says:

            I think there are multiple things being conflated though – the sort of low level harassment, “is this your car”, “driving while black” stuff is not answered for by Brawndo’s argument.

            But when you’re talking about actual cop shootings, then yeah, violent crime rates do matter, since most people shot by cops are in fact violent criminals or suspects in violent crimes. Deaths of obviously nonviolent people of any color (Tamir Rice, Garner) are more universally abhorred (but less publicized per the Toxoplasma effect).

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Gbdub:

            “driving while black” stuff is not answered for by Brawndo’s argument.

            “Driving while black” explicitly was answered in that post/argument. That phrase resulted from the fact that black drivers were getting what seemed like a disproportionate share of New Jersey speeding tickets. So a group that expected to find bias set up a study using an automated camera/radar gun to determine what fraction of various races were speeding when nobody is there to pull them over…and it turned out blacks were vastly overrepresented among drivers who were speeding, even when no cops are around to notice it.

            To quote the study

            The results revealed that the racial make‐up of speeders differed from that of nonspeeding drivers and closely approximated the racial composition of police stops. Specifically, the proportion of speeding drivers who were identified as Black mirrored the proportion of Black drivers stopped by police.

          • Gbdub says:

            @Glen – I was going off Brawndo’s argument and quoted portion, which does focus on violent crime and fatal encounters. Admittedly I did not read the whole article, but it’s interesting data and thanks for bringing it up.

        • Anthony says:

          Though that doesn’t really affect JB’s point. If you call attention to a specific instance of a problem, you’re implicitly making the statement that your particular instance is worse than others. Showing that black people are not disproportionately harassed by or killed by police is not the same as showing that they’re *less* likely to be harassed or killed than whites.

          So calling attention to campus rape in particular, instead of rape in general, is saying that #WhiteLivesMatter, not #AllLivesMatter.

      • Gbdub says:

        This seems to be the best rebuttal. If there is in fact a “rape culture”, then colleges are probably the least likely place to find it, inundated as they are with SJ activists and fellow travelers. If your goal is to help truly vulnerable women you probably shouldn’t start with the most privileged, least vulnerable ones. So it’s odd to focus on the problem in these places. (As an Internet wag put it, “Today’s progressives believe that colleges are hotbeds of rape and racism that everyone should be able to go to”)

        Occam’s razor suggests that the focus is on colleges because that’s what the activists are most familiar with. And Hillary focuses on it because that’s where the donors (and their daughters) are.

        The cynical view is that it’s a lot easier to get the camel’s nose under the campus tent than to get the sort of due process restrictions demanded by activists into the actual legal system.

    • Ezra says:

      I was going to post a rebuttal, but then I thought about it more and now I have a different rebuttal. The difference is that people think they have an effective strategy for campus assault and violence against women rather than non-campus assault or violence against men. Or the strategies they thought of for the latter two groups are already being practiced and they think they can’t help. That’s my strong man of the position, anyway, not taking into account their possible biases much.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        If we really want to steelman this position, here’s my attempt: The appropriate strategy to take against sexual assault consists of effecting a cultural change. Since large numbers of people pass through a comparatively small number of colleges, the colleges collectively form a “choke point” that is easier to influence than the culture at large, but where action that effects cultural change will have lasting effects once the students graduate. Then on top of that we can add what you said — that the institutional structure makes such action easier (and forms another “choke point”, administrators being much fewer in number than students).

        (I have no idea whether this is true. I do think that in general the feminist movement is not doing a great job of identifying choke points.)

    • Tom Womack says:

      Because it means ‘End the perception of impunity for sexual assault on campus’, and it’s entirely arguable that there’s a different class of perceived impunity for sexual assault on campus than for sexual assault in general.

    • Gbdub says:

      I could probably say something about Hillary’s history re: sexual assault victims off of campuses, but it is neither necessary nor kind. Suffice to say it’s odd to me that she’s a feminist hero.

  19. ahd says:

    Not sure it’s “Contemporary Perspectives On American Literature professor has to spend five minutes extra including a trigger warning in a syllabus for her class” so much as “Contemporary Perspectives On American Literature professor has to purge from their teaching the half of contemporary American literature that might require a Trigger Warning: Fee-fees Hurt.”

    Of course, I studied STEM and read whatever I felt like outside class, in Australia yet, so what do I know. (:

  20. Nebfocus says:

    “When a Contemporary Perspectives On American Literature professor has to spend five minutes extra including a trigger warning in a syllabus for her class, AAAAAAAAH SOCIAL JUSTICE HAS GONE TOO FAR! SOMEBODY WARN SALON.COM!”

    Parody or straw man or straw man parody?

  21. Anon says:

    I think your explanation for why the Yale thing went viral when the Tumblr thing did not is not the simplest explanation. Students bullying students is business as usual, and unremarkable. Students bullying professor is not, and people have opinions about it. See also Toxoplasma of Rage.

  22. The thing I worry about is that the “coddled” narrative completely mis-construes what’s actually going on here.

    The Popehat article gets it right. This is not the case of a handful of students who are too weak and fragile to handle the least bit of criticism. This is a case of Stalinist thugs who understand that the appearance of weakness and fragility is an offensive weapon, and who are quite adept at using weaponized offense-taking as a tool to destroy careers, purge enemies, and drive people to suicide.

    (This is similar to my complaint about those who used to complain about “relativism”, in that it confuses the rhetoric with the substance. The people who encouraged “relativism” were never themselves relativists without a moral rudder, but rather people who understood that the appeal to relativism was a weapon to undermine competing moral systems. Now that the culture war has turned into a rout, you rarely hear about relativism any more.)

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Yes, this is an important point.

    • “The people who encouraged “relativism” were never themselves relativists without a moral rudder, but rather people who understood that the appeal to relativism was a weapon to undermine competing moral system”

      An epistemological systems. I notice that relativism is quite popular amongst the more forward-thinking Christians.

  23. Jacobian says:

    If we’re speaking in military metaphors, Ivy league and liberal arts campuses are the SJW castles, the fortifications and command points. Even if the media is unfairly focusing on campuses (mattress girl, UVA fraternity, Mizzou etc.) that’s where the culture war is being fought now. Tumblr harassment is a big problem but one that is very hard to solve, since it involves many separate individuals. It’s much easier to focus one’s efforts on the power struggle between campus organizations that to coordinate millions of people to stop denigrating nerds without girlfriends. Maybe the results of the fight on the campuses will inform people idea’s about SJ, the good and the bad, everywhere else.

  24. HeelBearCub says:

    “Yet the elite professorial wing of SJ-criticism”

    That phrase almost begs to be followed by a criticism of “effete intellectuals”.

    I don’t know maybe you (Scott) really are a Rorschach test, but it sure is interesting to me that, in a post where you are ostensibly pushing back against overreach in criticism of SJ, you end up blaming professors.

    • Montfort says:

      Why? Are professors normally given immunity to criticism when they say dumb things?

      • Anonymous says:

        Um, yes…?

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Not really relevant to my point.

        If you go on Fox news, you see criticism of liberals. If you go on Daily Kos, you see criticism of conservatives.

        In the rare case where Kos finds themselves in agreement with a conservative viewpoint, they will tend to find a way to make sure that the article still ends up criticizing conservatives and usually in a not very charitable way that roughly maps to “See the source of all bad things is actually always conservatives.”

        So, when he blames professor’s en-masses for getting SJ criticism wrong, it pattern matches.

        • Montfort says:

          But in real life sometimes groups of professors do things you disagree with. Is a true liberal supposed to come up with some awkward framing to make them sound like John Birch Society members?

          Basically, I think your point might work where “professor” is an exceptionally awkward framing for the authors of the pieces Scott criticizes. But I don’t think that’s true here. There are a lot of professors writing about their experiences as professors.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Sure, but then you don’t frame those individuals as a class with the phrase “the elite professorial wing of SJ criticism”.

        • Cauê says:

          I think that is the problem. When creepy white supremacists criticize social justice, they’re at no risk of taking over the wider SJ-critical movement. As the old saying goes, white supremacists are the best argument against white supremacy, and most of them couldn’t take over a blanket fort with a flamethrower. But rhetorically-gifted Yale professors who get thinkpieces published in The Atlantic are exactly the sort of people who would take over the wider SJ-critical movement, become its most important voice, and define what it means both to the rest of the world and to its own members.

    • Gbdub says:

      Where did social justice theory come from? It was not invented by college freshmen or Jezebel writers. It’s certainly not a product of corporate America.

      • Nornagest says:

        As best I can tell, most of it originally comes out of the more activist-adjacent parts of academia: %sstudies departments, sociology, and the like. From there it filtered into old-school activist circles, and from there it seeped into Twitter and Tumblr and the rest of the radical blogosphere, where it grew and mutated through the usual game of Blog Telephone and eventually metastasized into what we see now.

  25. Blue says:

    I definitely agree with you about the dynamic you’re seeing, @Scott. It’s easy to see any anti-SJ movement becoming no better than it, especially if it follows the same rules of Moloch.

    In particular, the “free speech” advocates against SJ are doing *a lot more work* than the people motivated by anti-bullying in their SJ-concerns. If that continues to be the case, free speech concerns will win out. The people with anti-bullying concerns really need to step up their game on this front.

    But for you personally? You’re not responsible for what the leadership of an SJ-critical movement becomes. You’re one guy with a blog. You should say what you think is true, you should call out bad ideology and mind-killers on any side of a fight, even and especially when you otherwise agree with them. Which so far, you’ve done admirably.

    Sure, I’m disturbed by how many people in these comments embrace the realpolitik of “well if calling them crybabies works, then do it” with little concern for all the ways in which such mockery can go wrong. Those tactics might totally get more popular and become “the leaders” of any such movement. But you don’t have power over that, and as long as you are critical of faulty reasoning and ideologically-blinded bullying when it’s done by the next wave of groupthink, you’ll have done the best you can.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Hold on. Scott isn’t in favor of free speach?

      That seems like one of his most sacred values.

      • Blue says:

        Of course he is, we all are, but that was a simplified way of discussing the opinion that “the people concerned about trigger warnings (which could be grouped into ‘free speech’) are a lot louder than the people concerned about harassment of vulnerable people who happen to be targets du jour. (anti-bullying)”

  26. suntzuanime says:

    To some extent the war for the mind of Yale is the war for the mind of the future elites of the nation (and even other nations). I mean I get that it feels icky and inegalitarian to say that what goes on at Yale is more important than what goes on in some high-school dropout’s basement, but isn’t it? These are the people with leverage, if they fall to the Blight so will many more that they have power over.

    • Jaskologist says:

      I think Scott is right that we are seeing a lot of opinion pieces now because opinion makers (overwhelmingly leftist) are realizing that this could impact them. You’ve got the other side of the coin; rightists are happily spreading those articles because it reinforces their narrative of “look at the monster the left has created!”

      • Theo Jones says:

        At some point I think that is rational on the part of the op-ed writers. The fact that this type of social justice activism has crossed from the internet world into the university world means that it has meatspace relevance. There are a lot of internet political movements. Most of them are doomed to irrelevance in the broader political sphere. Relatively few of them cross into the off-line world. The ones that do cross therefore gain extra importance.

      • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

        +1

  27. Jaskologist says:

    I feel for anybody who gets yelled at and has stuff thrown at them, but the first of these two stories seems by far the most important; lots of teenagers commit suicide every year because of bullying.

    Tangential, but I want to push back a little at this bit. I think we risk creating some very perverse incentives when we elevate someone’s concerns because they attempted suicide.

    I’ve noticed a trend in television recently which I’ve come to title “Gay people: kill yourselves.” The basic structure of the story is always the same: gay character commits suicide, and he is then held up as a paragon of virtue and true martyr for having done so (most recently seen in House of Cards). This strikes me as a terrible, terrible thing to encourage.

    A martyr is somebody who was murdered. If you murder yourself, you are not a martyr. And while I don’t know the right response to suicide attempts, I’m pretty sure yelling “hey, trying to kill yourself will make people take you seriously and see how right you were all along!” to all the other marginal cases is the wrong one.

    • Nathan says:

      Massive +1 to this. Suicide should absolutely not be used as a weapon.

      • Gbdub says:

        Especially since that’s exactly what the trigger warning abusers are doing – weaponizing their suffering.

        But that’s not what Scott was doing I don’t think – he’s merely pointing out that the online abuse really was that nasty that it caused real trauma over a stupid SJ issue. It’s a fine line I’ll admit.

    • stargirl says:

      Killing yourself to protest something is an impossible to fake way to show you are very upset/hurt. Attempting to kill yourself is less completely impossible to fake but still pretty credible.

      Probably “game theory” types would be a fan of keeping the norm.

      • Daniel Kokotajlo says:

        +1

      • Jaskologist says:

        How we react to and express hurt is influenced by our culture. Back in ancient Rome, decent women were expected to kill themselves if they were raped. Christians changed this, pushing the idea that these women were not sullied by an act their souls had no assented to.

        I have no doubt that the women in both cases were very, very upset and hurt. But the women in the latter case lived, because we came down hard on suicide for any reason. This is an improvement.

        • Anonimbus says:

          Are you talking about Lucretia? Almost all modern sensational rape stories turn out to be hoaxes, but we can totally trust a tale of woe told by a woman who subsequently kills herself, recounted by people who used it as a weapon to oust the last Etruscan king of Rome.

          Audi et crede, domine merdae!!

          • Mary says:

            Lucretia was the archetypal case. St. Augustine drew heavily on it to defend the women who hadn’t.

            One notes that he dedicated two chapters of City of God to arguing against the pagan case stemming from the sack of Rome; one was everything else, and one was to defend rape victims who hadn’t committed suicide.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Even if Lucretia never actually existed, the fact that her suicide was held up as a praiseworthy example of feminine virtue should tell us something about Roman attitudes.

          • Mary says:

            And I have heard feminist criticism of Augustine that he didn’t respect Lucretia’s autonomy.

            Apparently that was more important than the real, actual, living women of his own era.

      • Mary says:

        This hits two problems:

        1. “I am very hurt/upset” is argumentum ad misericordiam

        2. It is very easy to claim to have attempted suicide.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Killing yourself to protest something is an impossible to fake way to show you are very upset/hurt.

        I don’t think the point was that people would commit suicide over fake hurt, but that people with real hurt might be pushed over the edge into killing themselves if they’re told that this is the way to get your troubles taken seriously.

      • 1212 says:

        The game theory angle never occured to me but imo it’s extremely strong. If, every time someone has things so bad and/or is so uninvested in life that they kill themselves, you throw this information away, or worse try to invert it, and hold it up as a justification that EVERYTHING IS PERFECT LALALA look what happens when you DON’T GET WITH THE PROGRAM, well, you’re opening the door to some really bad shit, or maybe it’s better to say you’re doing your part to close the door on acknowledging and fixing it. This is even more true if you

        when someone has things so bad they literally kill themselves, you throw away this information, instead of accepting about it and thinking about it, or worse try to invert it with accusations and howling, you’re opening the door to a lot of really bad shit. People’s attitudes to suicide go to show how authoritarian they really are iomo.

        p.s. you don’t have to

        I wish we had this as a norm. Imo the actual norm is that if you kill yourself you are sselfish!, and weak! The idea that Actually though people can’t even begin to acknowledge the idea that “if someone literally kills themselves they had it pretty bad”, or it seems that other thing about speaking ill of the dead.

      • 1212 says:

        Yeah, if, every time someone has things so bad and/or is so uninvested in life that they kill themselves, you just throw this information away, or worse, try to invert it, and hold it up as a justification that EVERYTHING IS PERFECT LALALA look what happens when you DON’T GET WITH THE PROGRAM, well, you’re opening the door to some really bad shit. Well, at this point it’s more doing your part to close the door /keep it closed on acknowledging and fixing anything, and more generally, on basic human understanding, reasonable mores, and otherwise sane and non-rotten forms of life.

        This is even more true if your society hates suicide, because people who kill themselves are doing so even despite those precious delicate feelings you’re using to hold their lives to ransom. Even despite the idea, in many cases, that killing yourself is the most selfish and evil thing a person can do.

        This is so obvious it shouldn’t have to be said, but if someone kills themselves, and your reaction is to demonise them for the *gasp* anguish they’ve caused you by their “selfish”, “actions”, you have lost all sense of proportion, decency and honesty, or never had any in the first place. If you were an isolated case it might benefit the community for you to kill yourself as a show of repudiation of your former shittiness, but this is common as sadness and corruption, and people would just turn it into an excuse for another narcissistic self pity party if they could, which they almost definitely could, and, that’s kind of harsh anyway imo: some people don’t get a good chance to develop their morals, and that covers plain bad judgement or bad mindedness if you found yourself with those without trying to develop them, so never mind all that: lets just say good news, you have a lot of room to improve and a moral debt to keep you motivated and straight! Go forth and be kind!

        So yeah wow the game theory angle never occurred to me before but glancingly. Thanks.

  28. drethelin says:

    Real Live Humans do stuff at a Famous College is much easier to make into news than “Internet Humans make fun of Internet Human over fanart of a children’s cartoon” I think.

  29. Daniel Speyer says:

    It makes sense if you assume no one is saying what they mean, which is disturbingly plausible.

    Trigger warnings have nothing to do with protecting PTSD sufferers. That’s why actual common triggers don’t get warned for. It’s about declaring who is and is not a real person and posting that declaration all over the public sphere in a show of power.

    Criticizing “crybabies” has nothing to do with crybabying. The point is that the SJWs are not so powerful that they cannot be mocked. The fact that the mockery makes very little sense only *contributes* to its value.

    I don’t have direct evidence for any of this, but it explains the arguments themselves. I remain confused as to how conscious any of this is.

    • Schmendrick says:

      My pet theory is that for a few people who are either intuitively brilliant at social dynamics or just very, very, very smart, this sort of purposeful mischaracterization, strawmanning, and demonizing is actually quite conscious…it’s the Dark Art of PR, only applied in order to damn the enemy rather than sell yourself. For everyone else, well, they just get infected with the virulent memes spread out from the content-creators. The Right has built up a fantastically warped infrastructure for spreading these sorts of things, primarily through media personalities…the Left is now doing it in a more organic and fragmented way. Both are horrifying. Both are evil. Both are tragically all too American.

  30. Squirrel of Doom says:

    Forgive my sardonic tone, but the latest Sex and the City episode came out in 2004, grandpa!

  31. TD says:

    If liberal professors weren’t now coming out against SJ, then no one in the mainstream media would be. The longer SJ went without a critique from the maintstream left, the more likely it became that far down the line the right would have to become more extreme to compensate, but now the calculus has changed.

    Those liberal articles may be making “pseudo-Nietzchean” appeals but at least they are liberal articles in mainstream liberal publications. It’s not a given that creepy white supremacists won’t become powerful. I mean have you seen what’s happening in Europe? So, on balance, even if you don’t like emotionalist counter-attacks, it’s better that there is some critique coming from the mainstream left at all, then to leave a huge emptiness where politically naive people see the right as the only alternative.

    Think about all the people who will now think “Hey, I guess I don’t have to feel disillusioned about the direction of the left after all.” who might have thought “Dammit! Is this where the left is going? Is this what liberalism is going to become? Oh shit, maybe my right wing uncle was right all along!”

    The perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good here.

    • J says:

      When one team gets more extreme, the other team doesn’t have to get more extreme, it gets to be more moderate, moving toward the center of the Bell curve where more people are. In two party systems, both sides fight for the middle, which helps keep them both more moderate.

      • gianni says:

        Not when your population has a bi-modal distribution of preferences. Or a party opts for a ‘coalition of minorities’ strategy. Or under a host of other conditions. I don’t think that you have great the literature that your are alluding to.

        • J says:

          I’m no expert on it, but it’s what I was taught in school, and seems to have good predictive power. Sure, the cases you list sound like valid exceptions, but are you claiming they apply in the US? Seems like charts I’ve seen of preferences in the US are in a broadly normal distribution.

      • Fazathra says:

        If one party shifts towards the extreme and the other shifts towards the centre, doesn’t that just end up shifting the overton window towards the extremist party?

        • J says:

          I get that intuition when I picture people’s positions shifting from one side to the middle. But instead pretend most people’s positions are fixed and distributed in a bell curve, and the parties are trying to get their votes by shifting the party’s claims. Then the overton doesn’t move and it’s just about which party is in power.

          • Fazathra says:

            But people’s political positions do shift, at least in the long run. The way I like to imagine it is by analogy to printing money in macroeconomics. There is a short term boost in demand/votes, but in the end it all washes out as inflation/overton window shifting.

          • J says:

            Sure, it’s all intertwined. When people shift left, the window moves left, all other things being equal. But that doesn’t mean anyone else should necessarily shift right. Ideally we all pull for the best policies we can find, regardless what the crazies at the tails do.

  32. Anthus says:

    The murder-in-gated-communities bit is very similar to what I think about every time a mass shooting makes everyone on my facebook feed trumpet their belief in more gun control.

    • Gbdub says:

      +1. “Common sense gun control” won’t do crap to stop the gang-on-gang-on-bystander mass shootings in Chicago, but not even the BLM folks seem to care much about that.

      But when it’s in YOUR walled garden…

      • Buckyballas says:

        Could you point me towards evidence of nonefficacy of “common sense gun control” on gang violence?

        • Sam says:

          Washington DC? They banned hand guns and had one of the highest murder rates in the country (the ban was recently voided).

          • Hlynkacg says:

            Ditto Chicago and New York

          • BBA says:

            As a New Yorker, I feel obliged to point out that New York’s murder rate is now comparable to that of Anchorage or Wichita, those well-known hotbeds of violent crime. It has declined precipitously in the last couple of decades, but the gun laws here are still as strict as they’ve always been.

        • TrivialGravitas says:

          “common sense gun control” means a large variety of things, many of which are OBVIOUSLY nonsense if you understand them and the ones which are obviously nonsense are the ones that come up most in the context at hand.

          Examples:

          “Close the gun show loophole” There is no such animal, the laws at gun shows are exactly the same as everywhere else. Dealers have to background check, private individuals do not. (closing the ‘private individual loophole’ is a different matter, if anybody brings it up I’m not sure if its usefully enforceable, but would be happy if it was).

          “Assault rifle bans” If we take ‘assault weapon’ to have the traditional meaning, they’ve been banned since 1986. It’s a boogeyman argument. People like to say this is pedantic, but when you force technical terminology what you end up with is a variety of features that don’t actually kill anybody (folding stocks, pistol grips, etc), some include bayonets but that would be an extreme oddity if somebody were killed with one. Sole (possible) exception is that the idea includes magazine capacity limits, but even that isn’t useful to gang violence because its about RIFLES and almost all gang violence is done with handguns (and high capacity handgun magazines are banned in Texas, which says something about how few places you can still buy them even if somebody modifies to handguns).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            High-capacity magazines, pistol or rifle, are legal pretty much everywhere; the federal ban expired a while ago. Also, the federal ban only covered new sales; privately-owned magazines could still be sold privately, and over the decade or so of the ban no one ever ran out. My Cz-85b purchased used in a private transaction at a gunshow in Texas came with four 15-round mags. I’m pretty sure no new magazine restrictions have been passed in Texas since.

            Also, practical, cheap, legal full-auto has been available for about three years now.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvLt8-Wf7r0

            …and the murder rate continues to drop. Otherwise, good summary.

            @Buckyballas – “Could you point me towards evidence of nonefficacy of “common sense gun control” on gang violence?”

            It’s old, but this:

            http://www.guncite.com/journals/tennmed.html#fn*

            might be a start. To my understanding, the scholarship has stayed pretty well in-line with the points made there in the decades since.

        • gbdub says:

          “Common sense gun control” is the standard pro-control euphemism for anything short of explicitly confiscating otherwise lawfully owned firearms. But taking them at their word, all such reforms basically fall under “make it more difficult for a law abiding citizen to obtain a firearm without committing a felony”. At best, such laws would reduce impulsive crimes or suicides by the otherwise lawful.

          The problem of course is that, more or less by definition, gang members aren’t too deterred by concern over committing felonies. They are after all usually involved in the importation and distribution of various already highly illegal substances, most of which are at least as hard to smuggle and much less durable than firearms.

          • Saint_Fiasco says:

            Maybe they steal those firearms from lawful citizens in such a way that reducing the amount of lawful citizens that possess guns will reduce the number of guns that are available to be stolen.

            Where do the illegal guns in the black market come from, originally?

          • Gbdub says:

            But now you’re talking about a straight ban, not “common sense” stuff.

            And anyway, the real issue with guns is that they don’t have a shelf life. There are literally tens of millions of guns already out there – criminals already have access to a lot of them.

            And at some point it’s going to be easy enough to manufacture your own, or knock over a supplier, or buy them from an unscrupulous cop or soldier (this last one is apparently common in Mexico).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @SaintFiasco – “Maybe they steal those firearms from lawful citizens in such a way that reducing the amount of lawful citizens that possess guns will reduce the number of guns that are available to be stolen.”

            Britian does still have actual gun crime post-prohibition. Not a lot, but it didn’t have a lot pre-prohibition either.

            “Where do the illegal guns in the black market come from, originally?”

            Goddamn do I love when people ask that question, cause it gives me an excuse to link this:
            content warning: guns, red-tribe asshatery

            http://www.northeastshooters.com/vbulletin/threads/179192-DIY-Shovel-AK-photo-tsunami-warning!

  33. Seth says:

    I believe people are missing the substance of what’s at issue with “trigger warnings”. It’s not about a rote disclaimer that one slaps on, like the food warnings of “May contain peanuts”. I’ll just quote one of the advocacy articles:

    http://columbiaspectator.com/opinion/2015/04/30/our-identities-matter-core-classrooms

    “During the week spent on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” the class was instructed to read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault, the student described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape throughout the work. However, the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text. As a result, the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class. When she approached her professor after class, the student said she was essentially dismissed, and her concerns were ignored.”

    • Yakimi says:

      It has been said that people only feel love because they are told that it exists. I have to wonder the same about being “triggered”. The problem may not be the lack of a “trigger” warning, but of a culture that expects and celebrates frailty. Ironically, the very notion of “triggering” would cause victims to feel “triggered”.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        …And PTSD is really just made up by cowards who want to get out of battle!

        That comment is very snarky, I recognize. But it gets the point across, I hope.

        • Yakimi says:

          I’m not saying that “triggers” are made up by the individual claiming to exhibit the symptoms. It’s imposed by a culture of expectations.

          When you’re a designated victim marinated in a narrative extolling your delicacy, frailty, and vulnerability, and you come to believe in this narrative with an ideological fervor, it would be expected that you begin acting in the way described. I’m sure proponents of social justice would agree from their readings of Judith Butler and performativity. It’s all very similar to how Victorian women could faint at the slightest shock, just from living in a culture that celebrated female fragility. The descriptive becomes prescriptive.

          Likewise, the Yale costume controversy is reportedly causing some students to have nervous breakdowns. It’s not that they’re faking it; it’s that they’ve come to believe that emotional incontinence is a normal way to react to perceived “oppression”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            “It has been said that people only feel love because they are told that it exists”

            The problem with this framing is the word “only”.

            CBT and DBT show us that sometimes our problems come from the lies our brain tells us.

            But this doesn’t mean that rape victims and others who suffer from PTSD don’t have a legitimate desire for trigger warnings. Nor does it mean that PTSD, rape trauma, General Anxiety Disorder and a host of other things are merely or even mostly performative.

          • vV_Vv says:

            I’m not a psychologist, but If I understand correctly, PSTD triggers are something like a rape victim having flashbacks of their assault when they ear a dog barking because during their assault there was a dog barking and their brain fixated on that.

            I doubt that there is any clinical literature about somebody being “triggered” by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, but maybe Scott or somebody more knowledgeable than me may confirm or correct me.

          • vV_Vv says:

            PSTD triggers

            PTSD triggers

          • gianni says:

            This is the interesting part – the critique of constantly assuming this subject position is already there, spelled out quite clearly, in the earlier work that paved the way for some of these ideas. You cite Butler. Someone above recounted hearing an academics stating their job as ‘making people uncomfortable’ – that was probably a direct reference to Foucault’s ‘ethic of discomfort’. Foucault himself, of course, directly criticizes identity politics in his work (see his intro to D&G, for example).

            Odd.

          • Peter says:

            Person with GAD here. I can see both sides here. I have a desire for… not exactly trigger warnings, but sensitivity. I also think Yakimi has an interesting point.

            I was going to illustrate this with an example from my own experience but it hurts quite a bit just to think about it. But during it I had the feeling, “hang on, I’m being encouraged to act and feel a certain way, and I can feel it influencing my feelings. I’m not exactly being egged on here, but various things I’ve been hearing and reading have encouraged me to take more offence at something than I might otherwise have taken. Those people who are saying that people take offence because they’ve been encouraged to do so, maybe they’ve got a point. I mean, ‘right-thinking’ people deny vigorously that they have a point and say that how offensive that supposed point is, but when I’m experiencing that point right now I find it hard to think along with them.”

            I think that was one of the things that persuade me to go quiet and reflective, and which helped to keep a variety of my friendships intact, although one of them was slowly crumbling at the time (largely because he was very SJ and I was losing a lot of faith in SJ ideas) and I think that helped the crumbling along.

            I suppose a lot of things have a “bubble under the wallpaper” character to them; things where socialisation etc. can move the bubble around and exert some limited control over its shape – if you had variable-thickness wallpaper you might even be able to control its size a bit – but whether the bubble is there or not and how much air is trapped in it is beyond such control.

        • brad says:

          …And PTSD is really just made up by cowards who want to get out of battle!

          So it is a good thing or a bad thing that certain segments of the population, pretty clearly without PTSD, now use the word “triggered” to mean “offended”?

          See for example this story where a professor attacked pro-life protesters after claiming that their signs “triggered” her:
          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/03/20/uc-santa-barbara-professor-steals-young-anti-abortion-protesters-sign-apparently-assaults-protesters-says-she-set-a-good-example-for-her-students/

          She made no claims about trauma, her explanation for why she was “triggered” by the images was that she teaches classes on reproductive rights and was pregnant.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            It can both be true that a)Triggering is real and requires sensitivity, and b)people, especially early in the societal movement towards that sensitivity, abuse the claim.

          • brad says:

            I certainly think that PTSD suffers experience flashbacks when presented with certain kinds of stimulus that remind them of their trauma. I don’t think that’s particularly controversial in any quarter.

            Further, I think schools should (and are legally required to) accommodate people with documented disabilities such as PTSD.

            That said, I think the concept of triggering and related concern over severe mental harms are not just being abused on the fringes while the core of the movement is about preventing genuine deep suffering but rather an entire generation is medicalizing minor, transient discomfort or offense because health issues are (somewhat justifiably) treated as a trump card and they feel entitled to a trump card to avoid discomfort or offense.

        • Gbdub says:

          Two black students, in an isolated incident, are called a racial slur by a passing redneck.

          Student 1 says “Fuck that guy, what an ass” and promptly forgets about it and returns to his classes at an expensive and prestigious university.

          Student 2 says “OMG, I have been triggered and traumatized! I am unsafe! I DEMAND ACTION!” and threatens to drop out of school unless Something Is Done.

          In today’s American society, which is the healthier, more logical response? Which one should we encourage and normalize?

          That’s what this debate is about, not how we should handle the special case of someone actually suffering from PTSD.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Isn’t this just a classic straw man?

          • Gbdub says:

            I don’t think it is. If anything, student one is the straw man – I’m not sure he exists anymore.

            Look at some of the rhetoric coming out of Yale – students claiming they are literally losing sleep and dropping out of classes because they feel “unsafe” due to an email suggesting that maybe we’re going a bit overboard on Halloween censorship (and the letter even agreed that e.g. Native American costumes can be offensive!).

            Look at the treatment of the student reporter at the Missouri protest – he’s surrounded by a wall of people physically pushing him, and the whole time they are yelling about how unsafe he is making THEM feel.

            This movement is encouraging people to have exaggeratedly macro reactions to micro aggressions.

            I think it’s fair to ask if that’s healthy? After all, we recognize that PTSD is a disorder, and while we don’t go out of our way to trigger it in uncontrolled settings, certainly we look to treat it and reduce its effect. Being “triggered” isn’t supposed to be a mark of pride, it’s supposed to be something you work through, since the whole point is that you’re being “triggered” by things (like mild disagreement or even crass insults from assholes) that are a normal if unpleasant part of everyday life for the non-disordered.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          …And PTSD is really just made up by cowards who want to get out of battle!

          On the other hand, if the army introduced a policy whereby people who claimed to suffer PTSD were switched to desk jobs no questions asked, and were also lauded for being brave heroes who’ve undergone more than any other men, I’d expect to see a suspicious jump in the number of people suffering PTSD.

      • vV_Vv says:

        In the Jim Crow’s era there were “separate but equal” facilities for white and “colored” people, with the ostensible justification that it was an arrangement made to prevent people from becoming “uncomfortable”.
        I don’t doubt that white people of that era really felt uncomfortable (“triggered” in modern parlance) next to “colored” people, but that feeling was caused by a society that celebrated and weaponized this supposed frailty to exercise dominance.

        Much of the modern discourse about “safe spaces” and even the term “people of color” reeks of that bygone era, except with swapped parties.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          As nerds, I think we can understand both the desire and the need, to have spaces where one is exalted instead of degraded.

          Edit: Apologies if I am misidentifying you with what I assume is a common self-descriptor around here.

          • Gbdub says:

            But the solution is to allow Comicon to exist for one week a year, not that the whole world turn into Comicon or support your desire to live exclusively at Comicons.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Comic book/game stores exist 365 days a year.

            And we don’t think it acceptable for jocks to yell “NERD!” and stuff us in our locker. We don’t think it acceptable to be shamed for our acne. We argue that we should not be “de-personed”.

            So, yes, nerds argue that the entirety of society should accept us as general members of the public.

          • Gbdub says:

            You were talking about places where you’re “exalted” and then you switched to “accepted”. Everyone deserves to be tolerated, no one is owed exaltation.

            Yeah, I don’t want jocks to denigrate nerds, but it’s also not fair to expect them to stop being jocks just to make you more comfortable. Have your safe space, but don’t weaponize it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Gbdub:
            Comic/game stores are 365 days a year safe spaces for nerds. That is n example of an all the time “safe space” where nerds are exalted. How is that switching?

            The part about general tolerance is in addition to, not a further example of.

            To the extent that the general campus culture becomes intolerant of nerds, we find this offensive and wrong. Because, while we are students, campus is our home and should be a safe space. I don’t expect jocks to stop being jocks, but I do think that if a jock thinks that being intolerant of nerds is central to the definition of being a jock s/he is wrong. You can be a full-fledged jock and not be a jerk to nerds.

          • gbdub says:

            I don’t think we actually disagree about anything here.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Comic/game stores are 365 days a year safe spaces for nerds. That is [a]n example of an all the time “safe space” where nerds are exalted. How is that switching?

            Because nerds aren’t trying to turn all college classes into comic book stores (nor turn all media into Batman comics).

            Comic book stores are a tiny minority of all spaces. The social justice drive to turn all places into safe (for them) spaces is markedly different from the mere existence of safe (for nerds) spaces.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @InferentialDistance:
            Pardon me for quoting myself:
            “To the extent that the general campus culture becomes intolerant of nerds, we find this offensive and wrong. Because, while we are students, campus is our home and should be a safe space. I don’t expect jocks to stop being jocks, but I do think that if a jock thinks that being intolerant of nerds is central to the definition of being a jock s/he is wrong. You can be a full-fledged jock and not be a jerk to nerds.”

            Do you find something wrong in that paragraph?

          • InferentialDistance says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Pardon me for quoting myself:
            “To the extent that the general campus culture becomes intolerant of nerds, we find this offensive and wrong. Because, while we are students, campus is our home and should be a safe space. I don’t expect jocks to stop being jocks, but I do think that if a jock thinks that being intolerant of nerds is central to the definition of being a jock s/he is wrong. You can be a full-fledged jock and not be a jerk to nerds.”

            Do you find something wrong in that paragraph?

            Sans context? Absolutely correct. In context, though: can you explain to me how including Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” in a Literature Humanities class is akin to jocks being jerks to nerds?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @InferentialDistance:
            I don’t think that is the right context for this sub-thread.

            I was responding to vV_Vv’s contention that the modern request for trigger warnings and safe spaces was a request to impose dominance, and the very specific contention that white’s and blacks were swapped.

            I’m merely trying to point out, that put into proper context, whether it nerds, black people, or women, the idea that you would want to feel comfortable in your own home (and campus is a communal home) is not actually an unreasonable demand, nor is it a request for dominance in general.

            Further, to the extent that there is a request for places in which a sub-group can dominate, we easily can understand this request as well. We nerds want to dominate in our comic book stores.

            Now, I fully recognize that this is a double-edged sword. Why can’t a culture of white, male, nerds want to exclude non white male nerds in some spaces? I think a reasonable argument might be made for those spaces, but I would also note that the need for a safe space for that group is entirely born by the word “nerd”. The white-male part of it isn’t doing any lifting.

          • Cauê says:

            Now, I fully recognize that this is a double-edged sword. Why can’t a culture of white, male, nerds want to exclude non white male nerds in some spaces? I think a reasonable argument might be made for those spaces, but I would also note that the need for a safe space for that group is entirely born by the word “nerd”. The white-male part of it isn’t doing any lifting.

            Maybe I missed something here, it’s a lot of comments, but why are you bringing up the idea of “excluding non white male”?

          • Nornagest says:

            Why can’t a culture of white, male, nerds want to exclude non white male nerds in some spaces? I think a reasonable argument might be made for those spaces, but I would also note that the need for a safe space for that group is entirely born by the word “nerd”. The white-male part of it isn’t doing any lifting.

            Is it? I can’t see how “white” could reasonably fit in — one of the biggest weebs I know is a black dude, and from my admitted outsider perspective I haven’t seen any ways it’s informed his upbringing that wouldn’t be familiar to a white nerd — but the experience of growing up nerdy in the US is intimately tied in with gender norms and sexual success, and in a different way for nerdy guys than for nerdy girls. That doesn’t necessarily get you to active exclusion, but it does imply that a setting optimized for the comfort of the former might not be optimally comfortable for the latter, which implies a certain amount of passive discouragement.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Cauê:
            I’m responding to the not quite outright statement by vV-VV that blacks are looking to segregate from an subjugate whites.

            I’m trying to point out that the desire for some space in which one feels exalted is natural and need not be threatening.

            I am then pre-responding to the ready objection that nerd or black girls shouldn’t be able to request entry into white male nerd spaces, and pointing out that it’s not the male or white that causes the nerd problems.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I was responding to vV_Vv’s contention that the modern request for trigger warnings and safe spaces was a request to impose dominance, and the very specific contention that white’s and blacks were swapped.

            I’m merely trying to point out, that put into proper context, whether it nerds, black people, or women, the idea that you would want to feel comfortable in your own home (and campus is a communal home) is not actually an unreasonable demand, nor is it a request for dominance in general.

            As a communal home, the rights and feelings of the entire of community should be taken into account. It is, in fact, an unreasonable demand for an individual to make. That it is a demand is exactly why it’s about dominance. That the demand is “justified” (by social justice) when a more structurally oppressed group is demanding concessions from a less structurally oppressed group is why vV_Vv made the comment about swapped segregation: PoC are more structurally oppressed than white people, so social justice pushes for PoC-safe, white-unsafe spaces.

            Furthermore, if a class makes a person feel unsafe, then they shouldn’t take that class. Colleges have plenty of other classes. The idea that every single class has to make every single student feel safe is absurd (and probably impossible, due to mutually exclusive needs). Emotions aren’t rational. Emotional response from a minority is not sufficient justification.

            Edited to add: and on further consideration, I wholly reject the notion that the entire campus is a communal home. The dorms, yes, but not the whole campus.

          • Cauê says:

            HBC, your “pre-response” addressed a supposed objection that my models of the people in this conversation wouldn’t have raised, so it looked suspicious. But hey, let’s see.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Inferential Distance:
            “Edited to add: and on further consideration, I wholly reject the notion that the entire campus is a communal home. The dorms, yes, but not the whole campus.”

            Is your “home country” your home? Your home state? Your home town? Do you expect to feel more at home in those places, than you do in other places? I understand the desire to break things down into binaries, but the world really is analog.

            As to the point about the entire community feeling comfortable, I actually generally agree with this. The question I would pose is the following: Suppose the jocks have a habit of making nerds feel uncomfortable in all of the various ways that they do. In order for the nerds to feel comfortable, the jocks will need to change their behavior. Convincing the jocks to change their behavior will necessarily involve discomfort on the part of the jocks.

            What should be done?

            Cauê:
            Note that inferential distance is actually really close to making the argument I pre-responded to in his response. “Everyone should feel comfortable” -> addressing your discomfort makes me uncomfortable -> the two cancel each other out and the status quo remains.

          • lvlln says:

            HBC said:
            “@Cauê:
            I’m responding to the not quite outright statement by vV-VV that blacks are looking to segregate from an subjugate whites.

            I’m trying to point out that the desire for some space in which one feels exalted is natural and need not be threatening.”

            That response seems to miss the point entirely, at least the way I understand it. vV-VV’s point in drawing the parallel seems to be that in the past, segregationist whites who “desired some space in which they felt exalted” achieved getting that space by implementing segregationist “separate but equal” policies, because they perceived that having black people in the same space they did was in conflict with their goal of “feeling exalted.” This is exactly parallel to the SJWs who desire to make their “home” a space where they believe that blacks “feel exalted” by implementing a trigger warning policy.

            Today, we recognize the actions of the segregationists in the past as being unethical and unjust, NOT because they “desired some space where they felt exalted,” but because their way of accomplishing that involved excluding black people, and we believe today that excluding black people from spaces is wrong. Likewise, the objection people have against SJWs attempting to implement trigger warning policies in their “homes” has exactly nothing to do with SJWs wanting black people to have “spaces where they feel exalted,” and everything to do with the methods they’re using to fulfill that desire.

            Thus getting people to understand that SJWs are motivated by a desire to have black people have spaces where they “feel exalted” doesn’t accomplish anything because people ALREADY understand that and ALREADY have zero problems with that. It’s only in the implementation that they see problems. Just like with segregationist policies in the past.

            The failure of the segregationists of the past was in their false belief that the pain caused to black people by their being excluded was a reasonable trade off for the white people getting to “feel exalted” in that space. Likewise, to the people who oppose trigger warning policies, the failure of the SJWs is in their false belief that the necessarily negative consequences (virtually all policy changes have both negative and positive consequences) of implementing trigger warning policies are a reasonable trade off for the SJWs getting to feel like black people get to “feel exalted.” That’s the part that needs addressing, NOT the part where someone desires a space where they “feel exalted,” which is a natural and understandable desire for everyone.

            HBC said:
            “I am then pre-responding to the ready objection that nerd or black girls shouldn’t be able to request entry into white male nerd spaces, and pointing out that it’s not the male or white that causes the nerd problems.”

            I don’t believe it’s a reasonable prediction that anyone involved in this comment thread would respond with an objection of that sort. It seems weird to me that you’d predict that such an objection would come up in this comment thread to such an extent that you felt the need to pre-respond to it.

          • Cauê says:

            HBC, no, I mean when you introduce the idea of white males wanting to exclude non white males. Wanting to “exclude” SJ types telling them to check their privilege and quit mansplaining, sure, I can see that, but “excluding non white males” was something nobody else brought up.

            When you speak of “jocks” who “have a habit of making nerds feel uncomfortable in all of the various ways that they do”, you’re implying a class of stereotypical behavior associated with jocks vs. nerds, that is active, intentional, and in bad faith. You seem to be smuggling in the assertion that the SJ complaints about straight-cis-white-males are meaningfully comparable, and acting as if opponents are defending the position that it should be ok for white men to act towards non white men as the stereotypical jock acts towards the stereotypical nerd.

            Edit: also, agreed with lvlln.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Is your “home country” your home? Your home state? Your home town? Do you expect to feel more at home in those places, than you do in other places? I understand the desire to break things down into binaries, but the world really is analog.

            In the sense of being places that I grew up in and am familiar with, yes. In the sense of places where I have the right to dictate policy in public spaces without due consideration of my fellow citizens, no. Full stop.

            As to the point about the entire community feeling comfortable, I actually generally agree with this. The question I would pose is the following: Suppose the jocks have a habit of making nerds feel uncomfortable in all of the various ways that they do. In order for the nerds to feel comfortable, the jocks will need to change their behavior. Convincing the jocks to change their behavior will necessarily involve discomfort on the part of the jocks.

            What should be done?

            You’re going to have to be more specific than “all of the various ways that they do”, because it matters (a lot) what specific actions we’re talking about. If, for example, we’re talking about nerds being uncomfortable around sports paraphernalia (like victory pennants), it might be a problem if such items are everywhere. However, the jocks should still have space where they can keep such things, just like the nerds should have space where they can hang Star Trek posters and play Magic: the Gathering. If, however, we’re talking about nerds being uncomfortable because of a baseball-themed question in math class, the nerds are wrong. If we’re talking about the nerds being uncomfortable with jocks discussing sports in public spaces, like the cafeteria, the nerds are wrong. If we’re talking about the nerds being uncomfortable with their textbooks being ripped out of their hands, being shoved into lockers, harassed (insults about appearance or sexual prowess, for exampe), or other caricatured “jock vs. nerd” behavior, the jocks are clearly in the wrong (and probably breaking laws, to boot).

            In general, the first thing that should be done is discussion. The discussion should include which actions are acceptable, as well as which emotion responses are valid (in a “force concessions from others” sense). Being upset when someone insults you is valid; being upset when you see the color green is not.

          • TheNybbler says:

            @ InferentialDistance: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. One of the things Social Justice throws away is that it’s ever right to examine whether offense is justified. A typical SJ statement is “If someone takes issue with something you said or did, resist the urge to be defensive. Just stop doing what it was they complained about and apologize.” (this one is from the proposed Go code of conduct)

            This is often used against nerds (presumed white male, though not always actually so) by claiming that nerds doing stereotypically nerdy things is somehow offensive to members of marginalized groups, or makes those groups feel excluded. So therefore the nerds should stop doing them. Some of the nerds (correctly, IMO) see this as the same sort of abuse they’ve received from the “jock” sorts all their lives… but others, inexplicably to my mind, accept it.

            Once the concept of determining whether offense is justified or actionable (by examining the action prompting the offense) is discarded, so is the concept of proper and improper behavior. If you leave it at that, you have chaos and “dueling offense”. Social Justice solves that by making the behavior (potentially ANY behavior) proper or improper based on who is doing it.

            The consequences of this are predictable: the most vicious abuse will be accepted from a member of a “marginalized” group, and the most innocuous behavior (e.g. talking about sports) from a member of a “privileged” group will be decried. This is exactly what happens.

            Why the moral bankruptcy of this philosophy isn’t completely obvious to more people I don’t know.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @llvlln:
            I think you are really understating what white’s did to blacks during segregation. Given that, it’s really hard to engage with the rest of the argument.

            @InferentialDistance:
            “If, however, we’re talking about nerds being uncomfortable because of a baseball-themed question in math class, the nerds are wrong.”

            Single questions? No. What, if the overwhelming majority of classes and the overwhelming majority of problems in those class used sports examples, that: a) assumed athletics were the only important topic, b) everyone knew all the rules to all of the sports games, c) athletes are great, d) nerds are losers.

            That might start to grate, yes? And I believe complaints about the general portrayal of nerds have been made in various nerd friendly space, if not directly on this blog.

            “You seem to be smuggling in the assertion that the SJ complaints about straight-cis-white-males are meaningfully comparable, and acting as if opponents are defending the position that it should be ok for white men to act towards non white men as the stereotypical jock acts towards the stereotypical nerd.”

            I think you have misunderstood me.

            Let’s suppose a group of black jocks were making arguments about feeling excluded on their college campus. Almost always it would be the “black” part and not the “jock” part that was the point of contention.

            When black nerds or female nerds point out that they would really like to feel more comfortable in nerd-dom, for instance by seeing more and more fully fleshed portrayals of black or female characters, my sense is that this creates a fair amount of contention in nerd spaces. I thought that this being contentious was fairly common knowledge, and one of the common complaints about SJ.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            Single questions? No. What, if the overwhelming majority of classes and the overwhelming majority of problems in those class used sports examples, that: a) assumed athletics were the only important topic, b) everyone knew all the rules to all of the sports games, c) athletes are great, d) nerds are losers.

            Then you are, once again, going to have to explain how reading the myths of Persephone and Daphne in Literature Humanities class is akin to: [0] the overwhelming majority of problems in those class used sports examples; a) assumed athletics were the only important topic, b) everyone knew all the rules to all of the sports games, c) athletes are great, d) nerds are losers.

          • Cauê says:

            Single questions? No. What, if the overwhelming majority of classes and the overwhelming majority of problems in those class used sports examples, that: a) assumed athletics were the only important topic, b) everyone knew all the rules to all of the sports games, c) athletes are great, d) nerds are losers.

            I can see “b”, but it’s hard to even imagine actual questions doing “a”, “c” and “d”.

            When black nerds or female nerds point out that they would really like to feel more comfortable in nerd-dom, for instance by seeing more and more fully fleshed portrayals of black or female characters, my sense is that this creates a fair amount of contention in nerd spaces. I thought that this being contentious was fairly common knowledge, and one of the common complaints about SJ.

            Yes, this creates contention for a number of good reasons that don’t match with your “addressing your discomfort makes me uncomfortable” description, and which are not present in your “things jocks do to nerds” analogy.

            A good start when looking to understand the “fair amount of contention” would be to notice that ideological persuasion is a much better predictor of whether someone will complain about that, and in those terms, than being female or non white.

            Which goes back to my previous point. When someone (and it looks as likely that this someone will be a white man as not) is telling you that your “mansplaining” is “making people unsafe“, describing your resistance to that as “discomfort at addressing their discomfort” is at least very weird framing (and describing it as “excluding non white men” is, at least, very uncharitable).

          • keranih says:

            @ HBC –

            “What whites did to blacks during segregation” varied considerably, depending on the year, location, and the people involved. I’d like to draw your attention to the primary point, which is that everyone here appears to be agreeing that (legislated) segregation based on racial lines was a bad idea, and we should not return to that.

            When black nerds or female nerds point out that they would really like to feel more comfortable in nerd-dom, for instance by seeing more and more fully fleshed portrayals of black or female characters, my sense is that this creates a fair amount of contention in nerd spaces.

            Speaking as a female fan, I really like reading stories which have female characters. More than that, I like female characters that “speak my language” – that I can get into the head of. I also like stories with horses or quasi horse creatures in them, and I really like stories where America Saves The Day. (Because Red Tribe. MERKA!)

            So when people say that I would like to read more stories with characters that look/think/act like me, please, I completely get that. I think most nerds/geeks/fans do. They might not see *why* you thought XYZ was cool, but they respond positively to other people’s enthusiasm.

            What goes over very, very poorly is when I start saying things like “stories with cats in them are bad. Stories without any mention of any animals are just *horrible.*” Or: “This story is good *because the hero is American!*” Because having an American character – even a well fleshed out, well rounded character with a complex story arc – doesn’t make the story good if it’s just a bunch of jingoistic phrases strung together with lousy physics.

            Fans and nerds and geeks don’t get turned off when people have different personal preferences, they get turned off when people make value moral value judgements based on personal preferences.

            It gets particularly sticky when people say “I like this story X because it has a hero who looks like me! I didn’t like those other books because the hero was white/male/American and so didn’t look like me!” and then get outraged when “white male nerds” shrug and say, “Okay, but I don’t like that story X because the hero doesn’t look like me.” At which point the worst sort of identity-politics fan blows up and starts screaming about racists and the like.

            Now, if WMNerd Albert pulls up a comic like Shi and is astounded that I don’t adore it, on accounta strong female character, what’s not to like? Then we can have a convo about “male gaze” and so forth. But still. That’s a learning opportunity, and a convo we can have, and it’s a way to make sure that my brother geek WMNerd Albert understands that what I’m after is NOT “women win all the fights”, but something else. And no, it’s not just horses, it’s extra-human connections in fiction, and it’s not just MERKA, but a spirit of liberty and initiative. And how I can still love a story that has NONE of those things in it.

            But if I am so careless in my speech that I make my nerd brothers think all I am after is more female characters, and that I am willing to reduce the number of “their own heroes” in order to get that (and I have been so selfish and so bad at communicating in the past), then I should own up to my share of responsibility for the *&^*storm that comes down.

            (Nerdbros who go into fainting spells when anyone hints that they might have different fannish preferences than them – hooo booy, they bear responsibility too.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @InferentialDistance:
            “Then you are, once again, going to have to explain how reading the myths of Persephone and Daphne in Literature Humanities class”

            In what way is this akin to what White’s did to Blacks’s in the Jim Crow Era? That is the contention in this sub-thread made by vV_Vv. Is it women trying to turn all men into literal, by law, second class citizen’s without access to public facilities? Is it black’s trying to turn all white people into those without access to the protection of the law?

            I honestly don’t particular want to defend the idea that Persephone and Daphne are such awful myths that they cannot be read. I don’t think I have made any arguments to that effect.

            But the general idea that a) people can be disadvantaged by society, and, b) that they should be able to attempt to correct that, should be familiar to nerds in general. Indeed that was the argument Scott Aaronson made eloquently.

          • lvlln says:

            HBC wrote:
            “I think you are really understating what white’s did to blacks during segregation. Given that, it’s really hard to engage with the rest of the argument.”

            I’m not sure how I’m understating it, but even taking that as a given, I’m not sure how it’s relevant. My argument doesn’t meaningfully change regardless of whether whites were doing nothing more than posting signs up that said “no blakz allowed” or they were using semi-random acts of violence and terrorism, both vigilante and state-sponsored, to enforce segregation. Heck, it wouldn’t even matter if whites were literally committing genocide on blacks at the time, systematically murdering them a la holocaust – the point remains the same: whites had the entirely reasonable desire to “feel exalted,” and in order to fulfil that desire, they took the unreasonable action of harming a population in a way that they determined was OK.

            Of course, I think it’s reasonable to classify “terrorism” and “genocide” as forms of harm that are worse than “trigger warning policies” in much the same way that a nuclear explosion is a worse form of harm than a kick in the shins. But then that brings the discussion to, “Is the trade-off of the harm caused by a trigger warning policy for the benefit of believing that minorities get to ‘feel exalted’ in their ‘homes’ more reasonable than the trade-off of the harm caused by segregation for the benefit of white people ‘feeling exalted?'” Which is EXACTLY MY POINT. My personal view is, Yes, the trade-off IS reasonable in a way that the trade-off introduced by segregation isn’t. That can be the basis of a meaningful argument in response to vv_vv. The conversation then could go to whether it’s more reasonable ENOUGH that it actually IS reasonable, not just “less unreasonable but still unreasonable.”

            What doesn’t make sense to me, though, is responding that SJWs are motivated by wanting a space where minorities can “feel exalted,” because that only feeds into vv_vv’s parallel. Segregationist whites in the past were just as rationally convinced that they had a right to “feel exalted” as SJWs today are rationally convinced that minorities have a right to “homes” where SJWs believe they “feel exalted.” But most people today acknowledge that “desire to feel exalted” was not a good justification for implementing segregation, and thus one can’t expect SJWs’ desire for minorities to have “homes” where they “feel exalted” to be sufficient justification for implementing trigger warning policies (though it may be a critical component of a sufficient justification, it in itself isn’t enough).

            HBC wrote:
            “When black nerds or female nerds point out that they would really like to feel more comfortable in nerd-dom, for instance by seeing more and more fully fleshed portrayals of black or female characters, my sense is that this creates a fair amount of contention in nerd spaces. I thought that this being contentious was fairly common knowledge, and one of the common complaints about SJ.”

            This doesn’t match my observations. I’m sure it happens, I just don’t perceive it as being common, or whatever contention created as being significant. I think what’s far more common is that a fair amount of contention is created when [minority] nerd demands more fully fleshed portrayals of [minority] characters in nerd-dom. This is a significantly different example from the example you provided. I believe I HAVE seen (presumably non-minority) nerds respond your example with dismissive, “Why do you care what the characters look like? I don’t care,” but I think it’s much more common for the response to be along the lines of, “I don’t care about that (and don’t think anyone should care), but more variety in characters in a way that satisfies your stated desires certainly would be cool. Oh well, c’est la vie.” It’s only when the expression of desire rises to demand and attempts to punish via shaming that I’ve seen a fair amount of contention created.

            That is, a lot of nerds (who are probably mostly non-minority, definitely some minority) don’t understand some [minority] nerds’ desire to see more [minority] characters in nerd-dom and are even dismissive of such a desire, but they generally don’t express contention with [minority] nerds expressing such a desire. But once actions are made in attempt to fulfil that desire, the nature of those actions can cause serious contention. One example where I definitely see a ton of contention would be shaming of specific works. One example where I don’t think I’ve ever seen contention would be creating works oneself that has [minority] characters one wishes to see in that nerd space.

            I see this as another example of the disconnect between “desire” and “actions.” While “desire to see [minority] characters” is weird and perhaps even unreasonable to some nerds, very few of them will have such a problem with such a desire that they respond to the mere expression of that desire with a fair amount of contention. After all, desires are personal, and it’s OK for other people to have preferences that make no sense to you, and I think nerds generally have no worse an understanding of that than the rest of the population. But when someone takes specific “actions” in order to fulfil that “desire,” nerds often respond with anything ranging from support to ambivalence to significant contention, depending on what those specific “actions” are. It seems to me that here, just like above, the contention is with the specific “action,” not the specific “desire” that motivated the action.

            Maybe my perception doesn’t accurately reflect what’s common in SJW/nerd conversations. I’d like to think that I have a decent idea, being immersed in both Blue Tribe and nerd culture, but of course all my observations have passed through the filter of my own biases. This may be an empirical problem that we currently don’t have the means to accurately solve.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            @HeelBearCub

            In what way is this akin to what White’s did to Blacks’s in the Jim Crow Era? That is the contention in this sub-thread made by vV_Vv. Is it women trying to turn all men into literal, by law, second class citizen’s without access to public facilities? Is it black’s trying to turn all white people into those without access to the protection of the law?

            I honestly don’t particular want to defend the idea that Persephone and Daphne are such awful myths that they cannot be read. I don’t think I have made any arguments to that effect.

            But the general idea that a) people can be disadvantaged by society, and, b) that they should be able to attempt to correct that, should be familiar to nerds in general. Indeed that was the argument Scott Aaronson made eloquently.

            Back at the top level, Seth said that the discussion of trigger warnings was not merely about informing people of the content in works, and gave an example of a student being upset about reading Persephone and Daphne as part of the Literature Humanities class.

            Yakimi suggests the possibility that the extremely adverse response the student faces might be exacerbated by a sub-culture that encourages adverse reactions to certain stimuli.

            vV_Vv agrees, citing ye olde racist segregationists as an example of a sub-culture that encourages adverse reaction to certain stimuli. vV_Vv points out how the adverse reaction is weaponized to dominate policy. vV_Vv says that they find the modern discussion of safe spaces to be very similar, in that a sub-culture encourage adverse reaction to a stimuli, and uses adverse reactions as justification to control policy. Except that social justice uses black people’s discomfort to dominate policy over white people (rather than vice versa during segregation).

            You, HeelBearCub, respond by saying that everyone needs somewhere to feel good about themselves. The only way that I can interpret that as a relevant response (that is, something that actually disagrees with anything in the above) is as saying that the above student should feel good about herself in the Literature Humanities class. That if she couldn’t feel safe in Literature Humanities class, she couldn’t feel safe anywhere. If that is not what you meant, please say so, because it sure looks like you were disagreeing with something somewhere in the above statements of Seth, Yakimi, and vV_Vv. But I’m not sure what it is at this point.

            That’s why Gbdub brought up Comicon: because we nerds do have safe spaces. They’e just not the Gender in Popular Culture class offered by the Women and Gender Studies faculty.

            The point of the Jim Crow Era reference is a clear example of mere emotional response being insufficient justification. That the segregationists’ discomfort does not excuse excluding black people, just as the students discomfort does not justify excluding Persephone and Daphne from the class. They’re also a pretty good example of a culture’s effect on affect.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @InferrentialDistance:
            The purpose of Jim Crow laws was subjugation. It’s an awful argument. It’s essentially a Godwin. It’s an argument that begs to be ridiculed and mocked.

            I was trying not to do this, and point out in the nicest way possible that you can want the kinds of things the SJ wants without desiring to subjugate people.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            @HeelBearCub

            The purpose of Jim Crow laws was subjugation. It’s an awful argument. It’s essentially a Godwin. It’s an argument that begs to be ridiculed and mocked.

            I was trying not to do this, and point out in the nicest way possible that you can want the kinds of things the SJ wants without desiring to subjugate people.

            Then you should say so explicitly. Because that doesn’t contradict any of the points made by Seth, Yakimi, and vV_Vv. You feel insulted by the comparison to horrible racists. But that’s the point: horrible racists used the same argument that social justice uses, and used it to justify horrible things. That’s why it’s a counter-example. Because that argument can “justify” anything, including subjugation. And we all agree that subjugation is wrong, therefor the argument must be invalid.

            And given the way some social justice advocates talk about white people, I don’t find comparisons to horrible racists on explicit behavior and justifications for said behavior to be “an argument that begs to be ridiculed and mocked”. This is not Godwin’s law, because this is relevant. Jim Crow is referenced not because of the negative affect it generates, but because it is so inarguably wrong that it is beyond the point of contention. No one has (nor is going to) defend segregation just because white people were uncomfortable around black people. It proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that sometimes people are just going to have to deal with their own discomfort.

            The point that what social justice advocates for is not as bad as segregation is correct. Useful, even. But it doesn’t make their argument correct.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @InferentialDistance:
            Do you think the objective of the SJ movement is subjugation of whites and/or males? Was the objective of Jim Crow laws the subjugation of blacks?

            The argument uses the non-central fallacy

          • InferentialDistance says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Do you think the objective of the SJ movement is subjugation of whites and/or males? Was the objective of Jim Crow laws the subjugation of blacks?

            The argument uses the non-central fallacy

            Then please provide a better example of:
            1) A culture that causes and/or exacerbates it’s members experience of discomfort in response to stimuli.
            2) Weaponizes discomfort to control social and/or legal rules.
            3) Control of social and/or legal rules in this manner is used to inflict unacceptable/immoral harm.
            4) Actually happened (not a theoretical).
            5) Is salient and persuasive to both sides of this discussion as an example of the above points.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @InferentialDistance:
            The onus is on those who contend that Jim Crow and SJ are proper referents to show that they share central characteristics. You are ignoring the question of whether the single salient characteristic of Jim Crow, it’s objective of subjugating blacks, has a corollary within SJ.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            @HeelBearCub

            The onus is on those who contend that Jim Crow and SJ are proper referents to show that they share central characteristics. You are ignoring the question of whether the single salient characteristic of Jim Crow, it’s objective of subjugating blacks, has a corollary within SJ.

            No. A comparison is not reduced to it’s single, most-salient feature. Especially when people have gone out of their way to point out which features they are comparing. Pointing out that the wrongs of social justice are much less severe than the wrongs of segregationists is fine, but that is not cause to dismiss the rest of the comparison out of hand.

            Furthermore, if you can’t point to a central example that should have been used instead, how is it a non-central fallacy?

          • Back during RaceFail, when SJ was a lot more like “We’re really angry! And we’re tired of explaining so you figure out what we’re angry about!”[1], white people sometimes asked for rules so they could avoid offending, and the answer was “Black people in the Jim Crow south weren’t handed a set of rules.”

            To be fair, it might only have been one person saying that, but I did see it more than once, and didn’t see anyone objecting to it.

            Things have changed. In particular, there’s a lot more available explaining what SJWs are angry about. You may think their standards are incoherent and arbitrary, but trust me, it was a lot harder to comprehend then.

            Now, using the SJW technique of attributing malevolent motivations by making deductions from metaphors, we can conclude that Jim Crow is the level of dominance SJWs are looking for.

            As for the real world, damned if I know. I don’t believe people of color are anything resembling a single power block. I don’t know whether people of good will can develop effective tools for dealing with SJ, and I don’t know whether people of ill will [2] can manage it either. Nor do I have any idea what will happen if no one finds an effective way to oppose SJ, but I expect it to be ugly.

            I’m about ready to hand the world over to the Kurds, assuming I could do so. They seem to have better sense than most people.

            [1]I believe there are two kinds of people who say “You figure out what I’m angry about!” Abusers, and people who’ve been abused by those who can’t or won’t understand the damage they’re doing.

            It may not be obvious from what I’ve written here, but I think there are legitimate complaints on the SJ side, it’s just that their methods are disastrous.

            [2] Some of what they oppose is a great deal worse than they are– murderous racists and anti-Semites, for example.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I don’t think that your example of nerd “safe spaces” are relevant. Nerds don’t try to establish “safe spaces” in the same sense that SJWs do.

            You never hear of nerds trying to have the football team of their college disbanded because displays of physical prowess and traditional “alpha male” masculinity make them feel “unsafe” and “triggered”.

            GamerGate is often accused by mainstream media of trying to keep gaming a white boy’s club, that is, a “safe space” in the SJW sense, but as far as I can tell this accusation is false. In fact, nerd communities tend to bend over backwards to be as inclusive as possible, which is probably one of the reason they were so vulnerable to SJW entryism until Sad Puppies and GamerGate started to push back.

            As for the endgame of the social justice movement, it is difficult to ascribe coherent goals to a decentralized movement. I think that most of SJWs are affected by a memetic infection which locked them in a game of holier-than-thou signaling.

            The social justice movement, however, isn’t completely uncoordinated. Overt endorsement and covert astroturfing by well-organized political and economic interests certainly exist.

            To the extent that the SJ movement has any coherent goal I think that it is indeed domination. But not the domination of blacks over whites or women over men or gays over straight, etc. It’s the domination of financial elites over the working class. The distinctions that SJ focuses on serve to divide the working class and in particular to belittle white men, who in the West represent the largest productive group, the one that could more easily harm the 1% through strikes, civil disobedience, organized political action or even outright violent rebellion. Look at how the Occupy movement was killed of by the “progressive stack” for instance.

            The 1% (or more specifically, the 0.01%) fears the rest of the populace organizing against them, something that the Internet made possible more than ever before. Note the rise of popular support for anti-establishment parties and candidates in Europe and the US. Therefore the 0.01% tries to steer political discourse to divide the populace and single out the largest group for subjugation.

          • If Social Justice has a goal, I don’t think it’s demographic or class based. I think it’s the dominance of people who are good at Social Justice over everyone else.

    • I just read the account of Daphne. Cupid shoots Apollo with an arrow that makes him fall in love with Daphne and Daphne with an arrow that makes her not fall in love. Apollo then chases Daphne, trying to persuade her to stop and make love to him. When he catches up to her she prays to a river god, I think her father, to be saved and is turned into a laurel tree.

      No rape occurs.

      The account of the abduction of Persephone:

      ” in a trice, Dis [Haides] saw her, loved her, carried her away–love leapt in such a hurry! Terrified, in tears, the goddess called her mother, called her comrades too, but oftenest her mother; and, as she’d torn the shoulder of her dress, the folds slipped down and out the flowers fell, and she, in innocent simplicity, grieved in her girlish heart for their loss too”

      Not what I would describe as a “vivid depiction of rape.”

      • Seth says:

        So it should be *attempted* rape. Greek gods were not big believers in affirmative consent. It seems clear what Apollo intended to do when he catches up to Daphne. And the translation is obviously being euphemistic in saying “Dis … loved her” where the specific is more like “lusted after her”. Would you grant “vivid depiction of *attempted* rape”?

        • Attempted rape in the first case, almost certainly rape in the second case—but the rape wasn’t described, the carrying off (rape in the older sense) was.

          The original claim was a “vivid description of rape.” Unless the person who made it was using the old sense of the term, which doesn’t seem likely, that was a lie.

          • Seth says:

            The line is “both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault”. I would definitely give them the “sexual assault” claim. Are we agreed that “*attempted* rape” (in the modern sense) is reasonable? If so, I’d say “that was a lie” is a rather strong characterization of that discrepancy.

            Digging around, I think the legal definition of *attempted* rape is intent plus criminal act. Both elements seem well satisfied.

          • Cauê says:

            Seth, I’m pretty sure the dispute is not about the “rape” part, but the “vivid description” part.

          • Seth says:

            Isn’t that the whole point of the objection? “However, the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text.” – i.e. focusing on the linguistic aspects of the description, rather than on what was being described.

      • Deiseach says:

        Problem here is older use of rape or rapine to mean “forcibly carrying off women, often as spoils of war” and how that gets conflated with “sex against the woman’s will and by force”.

        Thus, the Rape of the Sabines. Or the Rape of Proserpine. Carried off by force, not (necessarily) sexually violated (very unlikely in the case of Hades, who is one of the more decent Greek gods, unlike his brother Zeus who would have had sex with the carried-off partner, wiling or not).

        Of course, this is part of my wider complaint that people don’t read as widely and when school curricula are all about “texts that are relevant to the experience of teenagers” so nobody reads anything older than fifteen years ago in school if it can possibly be helped, then you get this loss of being able to put yourself into the mindset of the past or recognise differences in usage.

        Which is why you call “canola oil” what we call “rapeseed oil” (“rape” being the bright-yellow flowered plant grown as the crop) 🙂

        • brad says:

          The meaning shift is the reason it’s basically futile to try to teach students ‘The Rape of the Lock’. Too bad because it’s pretty funny.

        • Seth says:

          Err, what likely was going to happen to those women forcibly carried off as spoils of war? That is, I’m not arguing that the older use of “rape” wasn’t “forcibly carried off”. Rather, this does not affect that a women being “forcibly carried off” by a god in a fit of “love” (euphemistic description of “lust”) was almost certainly going to be subjected to “sex against the woman’s will and by force”. Perhaps in theory he could be abducting her out of the purest “romantic” notion of only putting her on a pedestal and displaying her as a trophy – but that’s not a probable outcome. That is, this doesn’t strike me as a difference in usage dispute.

          • The question isn’t whether Dis raped Proserpine, which Deiseach thinks he may not have done. It’s whether he is vividly described as raping her, which was supposedly the reason to object to reading the material.

            He isn’t.

        • Nornagest says:

          I don’t know about you, but when I was in school the most popular literature we studied seemed to be the stuff written forty to eighty years before (so roughly 1920 to 1960 for my high school: Eliot, Steinbeck, Orwell, people like that). Earlier than that and the language and style drifted too far from contemporary norms to be easily readable by anyone that wasn’t a lit nerd; later and it was usually misery lit, which few people liked.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Thus, the Rape of the Sabines. Or the Rape of Proserpine. Carried off by force, not (necessarily) sexually violated (very unlikely in the case of Hades, who is one of the more decent Greek gods, unlike his brother Zeus who would have had sex with the carried-off partner, wiling or not).

          In fact, Livy is pretty firm that the raped Sabines weren’t raped, if you get my meaning:

          “The stolen maidens were no more hopeful of their plight, nor less indignant. But Romulus himself went amongst them and explained that the pride of their parents had caused this deed, when they had refused their neighbours the right to intermarry; nevertheless the daughters should be wedded and become co-partners in all the possessions of the Romans, in their citizenship and, dearest privilege of all to the human race, in their children; only let them moderate their anger, and give their hearts to those to whom fortune had given their persons. A sense of injury had often given place to affection, and they would find their husbands the kinder for this reason, that every man would earnestly endeavour not only to be a good husband, but also to console his wife for the home and parents she had lost. His arguments were seconded by the wooing of the men, who excused their act on the score of passion and love, the most moving of all pleas to a woman’s heart. The brides’ resentment was diminished somewhat…” (Ab Urbe Condita 1.9.14-10.1)

          • Seth says:

            Now, I know one shouldn’t project modern sensibilities into the past. You don’t have to tell me that. Still – that’s incredibly creepy, in today’s terms. “Listen, we just kidnapped you, but it was your parent’s fault. We’ve got a good deal for you – you can be full-status wives, and maybe we’ll be extra-nice to you, because we did grab you from family,.” The the kidnappers say “Yeah, and you’ve got to understand, we just did it because we have the hots for you.” Author – “the most moving of all pleas to a woman’s heart [and it worked]”.

            I don’t even think one has to be “feminist” to find it disturbing. Romulus comes off like a high-level thug, telling his victims to shut-up about what his gang has done to them – “give their hearts to those to whom fortune had given their persons”! Brr …

            I’d still call it rape, via implicit threat of force. What’s going to happen to any woman who refuses?

        • I don’t think the older use is specifically carrying off women but taking anything by force, hence “The Rape of the Lock.”

      • AlphaGamma says:

        I recently read a very good SF book (The Just City by Jo Walton) which is told partly from the point of view of Apollo trying to understand why Daphne would pray to be turned into a laurel tree rather than have sex with him.

  34. Nathan says:

    I propose using emotive attacks against people who use emotive attacks accusing them of using emotive attacks because their object level claims don’t stand up to rational scrutiny.

    This is the best solution I have to the problem of punishing defectors against rational debate while preserving rational debate as a virtue. It’s sorta unsatisfactory but my previous conclusion was that a rational person should recognise that rational argument is ineffective and abandon it, so even if this is a bit inconsistent I do like it better.

    • You don’t see that is precisely how the problem got out of hand? The whole Enlightenment tradition is rewarding rationality with prestige points. But short-cuts can be found, real or subjectively felt prestige (emotive = subjective prestige, guilt not shame) can be generated by other, easier means. And this is what it is really about.

      If you had to name 10 really long-term (centuries old) institutions that did a great job at being rational and increasing knowledge and were generally engines of the Enlightenment, the Royal Society would be certainly on the list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Society

      And the trick seems to be that, how to put it, their prestige was coming from the king ultimately. Not seriously proposing to have absolute kings again (who am I even kidding? of course yes, just not now) but you need some kind of a higher prestige-judge or higher source of prestige or something. Handing out an ornate looking mace (see article) because elaborately decorated penises are high prestige, apparently.

      Have you seen this: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/151005-nobel-laureates-forget-racist-sexist-science/ this guy really had the nerve to say “James Watson’s fame for the discovery of the structure of DNA was later ****overshadowed**** by his outrageous statements on race and intelligence.” Overshadowed!… As a comparison, imagine a libertarian journalist saying Einstein’s fame for the discovery of relativity was overshadowed by his support for socialism. What an incredibly conceited move that would be!… And this one too. People who aren’t ridiculous narcissists should feel there are achievements so much bigger than everything they ever done that they should not judge it at all.

      I mean, you really desperately need to get to the point when someone else hands out prestige, not these guys.

      • Nathan says:

        I think the underlying reason why the problem got out of hand is that irrational, emotive attacks are just plain more convincing and effective. That’s why people who are highly paid and successful professionals in the field of convincing people to adopt their views (i.e. politicians) use them all the time.

      • Anatoly says:

        The Royal Society was founded 11 years after they executed the previous king and 30 years before they ousted the next one. To suggest that its prestige was coming from the king (who was not anything like an absolute monarch) is absurd and suggests a Disney level grasp of history.

        You’re outraged that a journalist dared to denigrate Watson’s achievements. Perhaps you think that this is some sort of modern development, and in the ages past journalists always genuflected before famous scientists, and words of derision towards Newton, Einstein, Darwin were unthinkable. Such a view is also naive and dead wrong.

    • Mary says:

      Be prepared. I have heard people launching vicious name-calling attacks then accusing any response of “tone-policing.”

  35. J says:

    My guess is that blue team leadership sees it as a liability and is reining it in ahead of the election.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Is this meant to be a satirical statement?

      Otherwise, the phrase “blue team leadership” imagines something that can’t exist.

      • J says:

        No, I’m serious. You don’t think the leadership of the Democrats count as blue team leadership?

        • brad says:

          No. If you mean Democratic Party just say Democratic Party. The concept of a tribe is supposed to be richer than that.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Not only what brad said, but the idea of various higher ups in the Democratic party (Obama? Clinton? Nancy Pelosi? Debbie Wasserman Schultz?) secretly directing either journalists or college professors to rein in social justice abuses in advance of the election is, well, sort of into tinfoil hat territory.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Holy crap.

            Mark and I agree about something.

          • J says:

            I agree with brad that blue team is not synonymous with Democrats. But I do think that the Democrat party leadership are a subset of the blue team leaders. And by leaders I just mean “exceptionally influential/powerful people on the team”. Other leaders would include well known journalists, pundits and academics.

            And I agree with Mark that it’s not a secret cabal.

            But I do think that influential political players are smart enough to see the playing field and use their influence to respond to threats in powerful ways.

            So just as I expect Republican leadership had a lot of conversations about the Tea Party, I expect the Democrat leadership (and more broadly, influential people on blue team) pay attention to the SJW phenomenon and have an incentive to distance themselves from it as the presidential election draws near. Likewise I’d expect the red team to be gleefully preparing to get as much mileage out of it as they can, timed to inflict maximum damage.

            And none of that requires secret cabals or Being in Charge.

          • brad says:

            Exceptionally powerful and exceptionally influential, at least in part, point in different directions.

            Take gay marriage. It wasn’t politicians who were taking the lead on pushing that. On the contrary most had to be dragged to it kicking and screaming. But when it came time to formally make the change it was politicians (well judges, but they are sort of like politicians) who pulled the levers of power.

            Inasmuch as the concept of leadership makes sense at all in the context of something as amorphous as a cultural tribe, I think it is more appropriately bestowed on major influencers than on those who hold the formal grips of legal power.

            All that said, politicians can be influencers, and in particular have a strong agenda setting power. If the President makes a major policy speech than everyone is going to be talking about that subject for at least a little while. But the tribe as a whole may well not take their lead from him on what to think about that issue.

  36. But watching the leviathan devour itself is far more entertaining than watching some poor person commit suicide.

  37. Michael says:

    Lowercase t in Caltech please.

  38. Sniffnoy says:

    OK I have quite a bit to say about this, some of which has already been said by other commenters (in particular Schmendrick and suntzuanime), but I’m going to repeat it anyway.

    Firstly, I am basically in agreement that the seemingly-media-dominant crybaby narrative is pretty stupid.

    Secondly, The incident at Yale is actually pretty bad. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to focus on.

    Thirdly and mainly, depending on context, analogues of “end murder in gated communities” are not necessarily silly, and can indeed be pretty important; indeed, you may even be implicitly using one here.

    “End murder in gated communities” is pretty silly. But what if you have a group that’s all about ending practice X, and then it turns out to be shot through with practice X? This group is presumably the best at preventing and stopping X; if they’re in such a poor state, presumably everywhere else is even worse. And if that’s not the case, and the anti-Xers have somehow managed to promote X even more than everyone else, well, it soon will be the case as everyone looks to the anti-Xers for advice on how to fight X.

    In particular, worrying about SJ awfulness at college campuses strikes me as entirely justified. What are universities for? Thinking seriously, discussing things sensibly, getting the right answer. Collecting a lot of smart people in one place and let them bounce ideas off one another, because you can really get somewhere good that way. The primary thing I complain about regarding SJ is their awful norms of discourse. In that respect, universities picking up awful norms of discourse seems a legitimate basis for worry, as an example of the pattern above. (“End sexual assault on campus”, by contrast, is silly because the two parts have nothing to do one another.)

    So I’m pretty OK with this; really, my own criticism of SJ is largely predicated on it — not this instance of it but a different one — and, I suspect, yours may be too.

    See, here’s the thing: I wouldn’t care so much about the problems of SJ if it didn’t have some power to, y’know, hurt me. Now you discuss bullying and harassment, and of course there’s the issue of them trying to get people fired, but for me the real threat has always been a different one: exile.

    The SJers have warped the norms of discourse so that they can discredit anyone they choose to. Nobody will listen to such a person again — not on race, not on gender, not on anything. It’s a scary possibility… but not for everyone.

    Because, you see, when I said “discredit”, I really meant “discredit among certain circles”. The Blue Tribe. If you’re a Red-Triber, there’s simply no threat to you. They can discredit you among and exile from the Blue Tribe? So what? Who cares about them?

    But you and I are not Red-Tribers, and in my own case, that’s largely why I care. Awfulness among the Red Tribe is, to my Blue-Tribe-mind, expected; but awfulness in my own home I can’t stand. To my mind, Blue is supposed to be better than Red; anyone else remember the phrase “reality-based community”? Feminism is supposed to be better than any alternative; it often claims to be about avoiding bias, after all. If defecting to the Red Tribe were an option, why would I care about exile? But it’s not. The Reds to me seems fundamentally off-base; if the Blues aren’t going to get the right answer, nobody is.

    Let me go on a bit of a tangent here: This seems to be related to the general problem SJ seems to have with recognizing the existence of distinct communities among which its goals may be less achieved or more achieved at any given time. This manifests itself in a number of ways, such as for instance:
    1. Treating everywhere as a “war zone”; not recognizing the existence of communities that are already wholly on their side
    2. Bringing things up in SJ-affiliated communities saying “nobody is talking about this!” when everybody there has been talking about it for a long time
    3. Relatedly, looking at problems in an lower-SJ community and saying “What can we ever do about this, this is a wholly new problem nobody has ever discussed before” rather than trying to import existing solutions from a higher-SJ community [I am assuming here their idea of what constitutes a problem]
    4. Or really instead maybe I should say trying to “heat the outdoors” by trying to directly improve outsider groups rather, than, say, alternately improving their community and expanding it

    That last two there I think are pointing to something like an explore/exploit distinction. Improving things in the SJ-heaviest communities — their “vanguard” — is an exploration problem. [Again, here I am assuming their idea of what constitutes “good”.] Improving things elsewhere, or expanding the community, is a bit more of an exploitation problem; you already have solutions in one place, so transfer them. (Actually, it’s not wholly an exploitation problem; in reality, different communities have different characters and you can’t necessarily export something from one to another just like that. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a useful starting point.) And — to take us back to the original point — that’s why here the analogue of “ending murder in gated communities” matters, because that’s a lot of the exploration part of the problem-solving.

    • >What are universities for?

      Diogenes mode on:

      They are for getting a piece of paper that allows you to get an office job by teaching things that are largely irrelevant for it. And since “everybody” seems to believe “Butbut it isn’t just about jobs but also more educated citizenry makes a better functioning democracy!” i.e. political indoctrination is highly useful in manufacturing loyal voters (after all, if you think there is such a thing as better and worse democracies, you already know who or what kind of ideas should win), it is basically so that putting up with political indoctrination is the price of getting that office job.

      Which reminds me of an old Russian joke. “Comrade, have you read the Communist Manfesto? The whole thing?” “Yes, but not all of it, just from the beginning to ‘and then’ ” “WTF? You stopped reading mid-sentence?” “Well, the first 10 pages were required on the management seminary and ‘and then’ was at the end of the 10th page”.

    • God Damn John Jay says:

      “Because, you see, when I said “discredit”, I really meant “discredit among certain circles”. The Blue Tribe. If you’re a Red-Triber, there’s simply no threat to you. They can discredit you among and exile from the Blue Tribe? So what? Who cares about them?”

      The issue with this is that often these things wind up showing up literally right at your doorstop- See Scott Aaronson becoming becoming Emmanuel Goldstein overnight after a comment made 100 levels down in his blog made after continued challenging. Same thing happened to Paige, she was a young woman drawing pictures from the left wing equivalent of Veggie Tales (I am actually be honestly curious if anyone gets this reference here) who immediately found herself in the middle of a firestorm.

      Same thing with the Bernie Sanders debacle, an aging Jewish socialist was ambushed on stage, questioned found lacking and now mainstream papers are now deriding the Berniebro.

      I don’t think this is limited to being exiled from one tribe, what happens is: someone commits some faux pas, gets screamed at, covered in media attention and then a year later everyone just king of remembers that they are controversial or bad with no actual coverage of what was actually said or done.

      • keranih says:

        if anyone gets this reference here

        …I would be curious as to how many do – VT came long after I and my sibs would have been a target demographic, and besides, its not actually aimed at my denomination. But different versions were all over used book stores and thrift stores, as well as being well represented at the library that I volunteered at.

        I suspect that the shift to Netflix and youtube might have exposed some people to the series, but I’m not thinking too many of SSC.

        • Steve B says:

          I’m 26 and I get the reference, but I’m from a very rural and religious area, so VT was a touchstone for us, sort of how I guess Davey and Goliath would have been for the preceding generation. I’m not sure it’s the most apt comparison for Stephen Universe, though.

          On the subject of the young woman getting harassed, I actually don’t see a lot of value in reporting on that story, for a couple reasons.

          1. As Scott said, you find stories like this in just about any randomly selected community online. Someone fails to meet the standards/expectations of their community, and they are hounded for it. The net has a lousy history of failing to maintain a healthy perspective. There’s nothing really unique in this case, except for its relation to a weird fandom with SJW ties, and that strikes me more as a sensational tidbit than as anything meaningful.

          2. Let’s say that people DID really dig into this story and discuss it fully, teasing out all the subtle injustices and contradictions. Congratulations, Young Woman who responded poorly to harassment, prospective employers can expect to find ten pages written about your suicidal episode when they google your name.

          I’m not denying that bullying and harassment are important and need to be figured out and countered, but I’m not sure I want to take this particular Young Woman and make her the poster child for all that.

        • Ghatanathoah says:

          I got the reference. They occasionally showed Veggietales at my not particularly conservative Protestant Church.

      • andy says:

        Discreditation does matter to red tribe too. There are plenty of blue tribe managers in companies or commissions who give out various awards. If you are red triber who want to keep a job, get the new one or have a chance prestigious industry/art/etc award, being discredited by blue tribe matters. It can affect your life in the most day to day practical ways.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        Broccoli, celery, gotta be, VEGGIETALES! *wa WA wa wa wa*
        Cauliflower, sweet and sour, half an hour, VEGGIETALES!

        *ahem*

        • tcd says:

          VeggieTales was the reason I started eating 3 or more servings of Protestants every day, but I may have misunderstood the mixed messages they were sending.

      • GCBill says:

        “Veggie Tales (I am actually be honestly curious if anyone gets this reference here)”

        I do!
        (For reference, I attended a Catholic elementary school, mostly because the public schools in my birth region were awful. I’m pretty sure I first viewed it there.)

      • Pete says:

        I loved Veggie-Tales. I seem to remember the punishment in one of them being sent to the land of eternal tickles (I imagine that would now be triggering to some people).

        Is it bad that this random reference to something in my childhood is the most interesting thing in the comments?

      • Collun says:

        Oh me!

        Though I’m a Christian from the South, so that’s not shocking.

    • “anyone else remember the phrase “reality-based community””

      Indeed. I remember it as quite striking evidence that the liberal community was not reality based. The phrase originated in a story by a liberal journalist about something he claimed an unidentified person on the other side had said. There was never any crumb of evidence that it was true, and it obviously supported his side.

      And lots of people treated it as fact.

      For details: http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-reality-based-community.html

    • Deiseach says:

      If you’re a Red-Triber, there’s simply no threat to you. They can discredit you among and exile from the Blue Tribe? So what?

      Brendan Eich? For the horrible crime of making a legal donation to a legal campaign in a legal referendum but to the Wrong Side Of History folks.

      Didn’t stop him having to jump before he was pushed to protect the company because he was so self-evidently an awful human being it was only a matter of time before he started organising gay-burning sessions at the company – or at least, LGBT people would not feel comfortable working there now they knew his real opinions.

      I think it’s permissible to disagree about marriage equality. I think it’s permissible to think those for/against it are in the wrong. I think it’s permissible to argue (discuss and reason, not shout and yell) about it. But when you make it the holy campaign to not alone fight in a referendum but utterly crush any dissenters and wrong-thinkers, then it’s gone to a very worrying stage.

      I also think it was very damn disingenuous of OKCupid to make the big publicity case about Eich and I am not one bit convinced they did it out of high-mindedness or disinterest in the cause of marriage equality, but to serve their own ends, e.g. get publicity and establish themselves even more widely in the marketplace (hey, use our services not our competitors, we are so open and welcoming to our gay and lesbian customers, see how welcoming we are?)

      • brad says:

        It wasn’t a company, it was a non-profit. A non-profit with a Utopian and at least left-ish ethos built around 1) opposition to for-profit corporation dominating the internet and 2) programmers giving away their work-product for free.

        This guy is one of the gurus of the movement that spawned Mozilla:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman
        and here is his manifesto
        https://www.gnu.org/gnu/manifesto.html

        So it is more like getting fired as the head of the teachers union than being fired as the head of IBM. Perhaps still objectionable but very different.

      • grendelkhan says:

        Brendan Eich? For the horrible crime of making a legal donation to a legal campaign in a legal referendum but to the Wrong Side Of History folks.

        It’s worse than that; Eich made the donation in 2008. In 2008, Obama was on the “marriage is between a man and a woman” side of things. Has anyone tried to drum up SJ-type anger at Obama for that? Could any of the people in the anti-Eich mob have even told you about that?

        • BBA says:

          And Prop 8 passed – is the half of the population of California that voted for it unemployable now? And what about the people in other states that passed anti-SSM referendums? Does nobody remember what it was like in the 2000s?

          (For the record: I would’ve voted for SSM/against Prop 8 had I lived in California at the time. I remain convinced that Eich would have been a terrible CEO – it requires political chops and his inept flailing in the face of criticism proved he didn’t have them. But it was a horrendous misstep for Mozilla to lose the creator of JavaScript. The Peter Principle strikes again.)

          • Hlynkacg says:

            Strictly speaking, yes more than half of California’s voting body is unemployable. However, nobody knows which half because secret ballots.

            Eich’s mistake was in being prominent and not properly covering his tracks.

          • Tom Womack says:

            The lovely thing about the secret ballot is that it lets you express your views without anyone knowing that you hold them. A similar thing holds for donating money anonymously to political causes and not admitting in public that you’ve done so.

            If you’re on the CEO track at a charity (and Mozilla is definitely ranked with the charities), you really don’t get to donate to even mildly potentially inflammatory causes with both your name and your company’s name on the donation, regardless of the alignment of the cause.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            Agreed, see the line about not covering his tracks. 😉

          • grendelkhan says:

            is the half of the population of California that voted for it unemployable now?

            I actually got an answer to this! Voting wrongthinkingly is okay (for now!), but donating money is a no-no if you want to keep a job that involves “leadership in a hugely diverse community”. I’m still waiting to hear back as to whether yard signs are allowable.

    • anonymous says:

      See, here’s the thing: I wouldn’t care so much about the problems of SJ if it didn’t have some power to, y’know, hurt me. Now you discuss bullying and harassment, and of course there’s the issue of them trying to get people fired, but for me the real threat has always been a different one: exile.

      The SJers have warped the norms of discourse so that they can discredit anyone they choose to. Nobody will listen to such a person again — not on race, not on gender, not on anything. It’s a scary possibility… but not for everyone.

      No one listens to me right now — not on race, not on gender, not on anything. I can post on the internet and maybe some people will read what I write. Maybe.

      I could see how it would be scary if I had a column in the Atlantic or a show on NPR or something, but for me this threat seems wholly illusory.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Anonymous – “I could see how it would be scary if I had a column in the Atlantic or a show on NPR or something, but for me this threat seems wholly illusory.”

        That’s why they also go for getting you fired or threatening your loved ones. Gotta hit ’em where it hurts.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Freedom of speech is just another word for nothing left to lose.

        • anonymous says:

          Nope, still not scared. The owner of the company I work for is almost 70 years old. I bet he’s barely heard of twitter.

          This whole thing reminds me a bit of the temporarily embarrassed millionaire thing. Some guy making $60k/year is terribly concerned about the top marginal tax rate because his big break is just around the corner and he doesn’t want to have to pay much of his imaginary millions in taxes.

          Likewise, most of us anonymous schmoes aren’t at any risk from anyone because no one cares what we have to say to begin with. But surely one of these days we are going to strike it big and then won’t it be awful that we’ll have to be careful what we say?

          I mean sure I post anonymously here or in any similar place, that’s just internet hygiene, like not opening attachments. But even if I didn’t I don’t expect anyone would bother tracking me down, and even if someone did, I don’t expect much of anything would come of it.

          • Saint_Fiasco says:

            The Internet allows an almost infinite number of status ladders to exist. You would have to be exceptional to have millions of dollars, but anyone can be the most popular guy at some niche forum or Internet community.

            You probably don’t think that someone losing the respect of the Steven Universe fan-art community is much of a tragedy, but many people have odd interests they want to share pseudonymously over the Internet and that sort of thing is important to them.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @anonymous – “Nope, still not scared. The owner of the company I work for is almost 70 years old. I bet he’s barely heard of twitter.”

            I don’t work for him. I work for a company with less than ten total employees. If some asshole on twitter decides to make me famous the bad way, my company will go out of business, I and all my coworkers will lose their jobs, and I will have a much harder time being hired again. There are actually a whole bunch of people in my industry who are publicly saying that’s a thing that should happen on principle.

            “Likewise, most of us anonymous schmoes aren’t at any risk from anyone because no one cares what we have to say to begin with.”

            My career goals long-term are completely reliant on being some degree of internet-famous. Being internet-famous is some combination of a prerequisite and an unavoidable consequence of succeeding as a Creative. I am actively trying to avoid spending my career as an anonymous drone in a cube farm, and again, both the industry I work in and my first and second backup choices are loaded with people actively looking for people like me to destroy.

          • Zorgon says:

            ^^^ Wot FacelessCraven said. I have the exact same problem. My chosen career is currently completely surrounded by starving SJ piranhas desperate for meat and they would have zero compunction about coming after me, even as unimportant as I am.

  39. Skef says:

    “Caltech” should not be intercapped.

    This may be a nit.

  40. Conor Friedersdorf says:

    Hi all, your friendly neighborhood Atlantic staff writer and longtime Slate Star Codex reader here. I’m a biased critic of this post, granted, but The Coddling of the American Mind, my magazine’s big cover story, doesn’t strike me as fairly or accurately summed up as “College students are big babies!” And neither does the article that I just published on Yale (from my living room in Los Angeles, where I am not a professor).

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/the-new-intolerance-of-student-activism-at-yale/414810/

    With respect to that article, analyzing calls to remove a lecturer and faculty member from posts in residential life for daring to ask students to examine a controversy through an academic lens other than social justice theory seems consistent with a goal like “prevent threats and intimidation from holding back social science research.”

    I’m always eager to read smart critiques of Atlantic stories, especially stories that I write, and that goes double for anything written by Scott, but the characterizations of The Atlantic’s coverage of this subject, a lot of which I’ve written, doesn’t much resemble what we’ve published, at least in my view. (Was the eloquent Yale professor hypothetical or am I forgetting a piece?) In any case, I’ve focused on subjects like…

    the threat sexual harassment law poses to academic freedom http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/sexual-harassment-academic-freedom/411427/

    How the elite campus left faction of Black Lives Matter harms the off-campus faction that is trying to pass urgent reforms http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/will-black-lives-matter-be-a-movement-that-persuades/407017/

    First Amendment violations at UCLA http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/the-anti-free-speech-movement-at-ucla/410638/

    Why Critics of the Microaggressions Framework Are Skeptical http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/why-critics-of-the-microaggressions-framework-are-skeptical/405106/

    Disincentivizing Corporate Actors from Addressing Racism http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/03/overcaffeinated-attacks-on-the-starbucks-race-together-campaign/388072/

    And why getting kids outside their bubbles is better than introducing themto academic subculture a few years early http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/the-limits-of-talking-about-privilege/386021/

    In short, not “Baby! Baby! Baby! Waaaaaah! Waaaaaah! Waaaaaaaah!”

    That line was the strawman that broke the gift horse’s back.

    Oh, well, I love SSC anyway.

    CRF

    • Jacob Steinhardt says:

      Thanks for this! While reading Scott’s post I kept thinking “But what about the Atlantic? Their coverage is pretty good…” I’d read many of the articles you listed but glad to have the other links.

      For what it’s worth, I think Scott is being somewhat sloppy here, and I also don’t really agree with the gestalt of his post, but I did also feel like a surprising amount (possibly a majority) of the coverage on this issue is off-base in the “cry-baby” direction. Not everyone will read the Atlantic and many people will walk away from this issue thinking that it’s about college students being immature / entitled, whereas I think (as I assume you also do) that the picture is a lot more complex than that.

      • LCL says:

        Actually, for some reason The Atlantic is a -10000 karma node for Scott. Associating anything with the magazine is an easy way to make Scott like it less. Like when Haidt wrote an anti-SJ piece in The Atlantic and a commenter linked it here, my reaction was “uh oh, now Scott won’t like Haidt any more.” So I’d imagine the fact that The Atlantic is now carrying anti-SJ pieces has a lot to do with Scott no longer liking anti-SJ pieces.

        Commenters follow suit, usually. If you want to say something positive about one of their stories, you need to qualify with “I know it’s in the Atlantic and we know what they’re like, but . . .” or you can hear the eye rolls in response.

        It doesn’t make sense to me either, and has AFAIK never been directly explained. Maybe Scott wanted to write for them and was rejected?

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          >Commenters follow suit, usually. If you want to say something positive about one of their stories, you need to qualify with “I know it’s in the Atlantic and we know what they’re like, but . . .” or you can hear the eye rolls in response.

          Wait, really? I’ve certainly seen this towards stuff like Vox or Steve Sailer’s blog, but I haven’t noticed The Atlantic being a “clickbait site that we hate”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Steve Sailer’s blog is a click-bait site that Scott hates?

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I was speaking of the commentariat. “click bait site that we hate” might have been (totally was) too specific, but there’s certainly initial skepticism when it’s linked (at least when it’s linked by someone who isn’t Sailer himself).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Maybe that is true. I’m certainly skeptical.

            But, if anything, that seems to cut against your argument, as that isn’t something that seems to come from Scott being skeptical of the site.

            And Vox, as click-baiting goes, is hardly the ultimate example.

            I really haven’t seen Scott be critical of the Atlantic (Although perhaps he would take issue with Coates, which seem like a whole different conversation). So, I do think I agree with your general contention.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            >And Vox, as click-baiting goes, is hardly the ultimate example.

            It’s not the ultimate example by any means, if it were, it wouldn’t be relevant. Vox has the perfect mix of clickbaitiness and genuinely interesting content that makes it controversial here.

            >But, if anything, that seems to cut against your argument, as that isn’t something that seems to come from Scott being skeptical of the site.

            Well, yes. But as you say, I haven’t found Scott to be particularly skeptical of The Atlantic… I mean, why even The Atlantic? What are its defining characteristics?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I think I misunderstood the thrust of your comment. I thought you were basically agreeing with LCL’s contention that people follow Scott’s lead on sites (Vox seems like a good example of that).

            You actually just seem to be trying to only talk about the general cant of the commenters here, and aren’t really talking about what Scott likes or dislikes.

        • Randy M says:

          I actually have a fairly positive opinion of the Atlantic, despite being a righty and being skeptical of anything from, say, Salon or Slate.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Salon and Slate are really different from each other. Slate is way closer to The Atlantic than Salon.

            As a lefty, I can’t stand Salon anymore and stopped reading it.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            As a chronic fence sitter, I frequently read Slate for a more lefty perspective. I only read Salon to get angry at the titles.

          • Urstoff says:

            Slate seems more oriented toward the Hot Take. Salon is just all about mouth-frothing anger at the right (and occasionally libertarians).

          • Cauê says:

            I have a positive opinion of the Atlantic as well, but a very large part of that is because of Mr. Friedersdorf here, who I’ve been following for a few years (by the way, keep it up!). I also think he’s right in this case.

            Every now and again somebody links me to a good one, but the impression I get from the random Atlantic articles that show up in my news feed is… not as good.

          • Tom Womack says:

            I have an Atlantic subscription, and not entirely because it auto-renews and I can never be bothered to cancel it; I read the paper copies, though often a month or so late.

            It’s interesting because it’s aimed at an audience somewhat more elite and significantly older than me … I think the reader I’m modelling is someone rich enough to own property in New York City and of an age between the one where their worry is about what their kids are up to at university and where their worry is about how their grandkids are being raised.

            Really quite keen on Ta-Nehisi Coates, for example.

          • Banananon says:

            I’m going to join the crowd of people liking the Atlantic. They have a number of outstanding journalists. I’d especially point out James Fallows and Ta-Nahesi Coates outstanding long-form pieces.

        • dndnrsn says:

          I did a ctrl+f and skimmed that post – what in it is about the Atlantic?

    • Schmendrick says:

      Not to split the baby, but I think it’s entirely possible that the coverage of ongoing SJ shenanigans can simultaneously be very good and, in essence, an accusation that current students are being gigantic cry-babies. After all, the fact that an argument can be reductio ad absurdum’ed down into an insultingly pithy insult doesn’t mean that the long-form justification for that insult can’t include rigorous legal and social analysis.

      This is especially true when the insult isn’t just that students are being crybabies, but rather that they are leveraging their crybabiness to wreak real havoc with freedom of expression, freedom of inquiry, and freedom of association on college campuses. In fact, I’d argue that pieces like yours (which I quite enjoyed) are made stronger by the fact that their theses can be so economically boiled down. There’s no need for jargon, very little “on the one hand, on the other hand”-style dithering, and the whole thing becomes easily digestible. Bravo!

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        More importantly, while your argument may boil down, when stripped to its barest bones, to “they’re huge fucking crybabies”, this does not necessarily mean that your argument is wrong at all.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Hi! I like a lot of your work and it doesn’t strike me as the “stop crying, babies” form of criticism and I hope I didn’t imply that it did.

      I admit that the exact phrasing was hyperbole and that the pieces are more sophisticated. But do you agree with what I’m trying to point to? That among the possible criticisms to be levied, Atlantic and other similar magazines are heavily skewed towards worrying about trigger warnings, microaggressions, and things that happen on campus, and that there’s a strong tendency to use imagery like “babies” and “coddled” much more often than in other strains of criticism like Gamergate or TownHall or the class-is-more-important-than-identity socialists?

      I guess maybe I shouldn’t expect the media to have to equally represent every single strain of criticism any more than, say, SSC equally repersents every single strain of criticism, I’m just worried at the implications when what seems to me like one of the weaker arguments is the primary public face of the position.

      • Conor Friedersdorf says:

        Journalists definitely write about college subculture more than other subcultures for reasons good, bad, and neutral. The good reasons: these institutions are important; people at them ought to be in conversation with people outside them; and they are influential, both as originators of intellectual trends that spread beyond them and as places where stuff happens that gets litigated and sets far-reaching precedents. The bad reasons: the social networks of journalists are 90 percent college graduates; many attended multiple institutions of higher education and their kids all attend college; so there’s something of a bubble phenomenon. The neutral reason: colleges produce source material to draw on if you’re trying to write a piece exploring an intellectual phenomenon. At Yale, there are faculty emails and petitions and student newspaper articles and video. Insofar as an activist in Los Angeles, where I live, is bullying someone to the point that they’re pondering suicide, but offline, I’m not sure how I’d be privy to it even if the story did lend itself to larger insights to flawed approaches to discourse.

        I’m going to do a bit of Googling and reading before I respond to the part about “elite journalism” in general focusing on baby and coddling narratives. I hadn’t noticed that, but I have weird reading habits, and it may well be correct. I will revisit in a future comment if possible.

    • The Anonymouse says:

      Conor:

      For what it’s worth, I am an old Atlantic reader/subscriber who stopped a while back because it started setting off my “just another one-note SJ-tinged blue-tribe mouthpiece” alarms. Your writing, in particular, brought me back. (Even if the place as a whole still feels far from evenhanded.)

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Also, your article today on “weaponized safe spaces” is exactly what I was looking for (in the same sense as the Popehat article linked above) as a good way of discussing these issues.

    • Lyn Waters says:

      I suspect that’s exactly why they pay him for his writing, and hopefully pay him well. He is one of the few Atlantic staff writers with a reliably non-partisan, or at least blunted partisanship, and reasonable position to articulate on a regular basis. As such, he probably is responsible for a significant chunk of their non-echo-chamber-blue-tribe readership.

    • Conor Friedersdorf says:

      Mark, IMHO, there’s nowhere better to work as a journalist than The Atlantic. I have tremendous intellectual freedom to choose what I write about and come down wherever I come down. In all the years I’ve been there, among colleagues all over the ideological map as far left as Ta-Nehisi Coates and as far right as Ross Douthat and David Frum, I’ve gotten nothing but support, even amid intellectual disagreement. And I love a lot of what we publish. Moreover, it’s a place where I can reach readers who don’t share my priors but are open to different viewpoints. So many of the qualities that exist there are rare and precious.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      The article on microaggressions is particularly good!

  41. Rachael says:

    I’m on your side and agree the SJ movement does more harm than good; but as a slightly facetious piece of pattern-matching, I couldn’t help noticing the similarities between this post and the standard complaint about cultural appropriation. “My people do this good thing. Now the mainstream is doing it too. This ought to be a positive thing, but it’s not, because they’re doing it wrong, and now everyone thinks it’s about their wrong version rather than our good version.”

    This isn’t meant as genuine criticism, it just amused me and I thought it might amuse others too.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Oh no, that was deliberate. See eg here.

      • Rachael says:

        Doh, I should have realised! I know that usually if I’m reading a post of yours and get a “does this remind you of anything?” vibe, it’s a deliberate setup on your part. It’s just that you usually spell it out at the end, so when you didn’t, I wondered if the similarity was unintentional.

  42. Scott,

    How to put it in a kind way… all this matters to you because you and your friends and people you romantically love tend towards having, um, less than usual sexual inclinations and gender identities. Was it nice enough?

    Meanwhile the average straight non-asexual uncomplicatedly masculine identity guy is more and more becoming a red pill guido because he realized pandering to SJ or feminism is buying him nothing in the bedroom. And thus from this side the answer is mainly a yawn. A total disinterest in all this SJ stuff, except when attacked. And there is a manual for dealing with that, too, now. You can think whatever you want about Vox but one thing is clear, he is good at having a tactical mind. He is something of a natural military officer type – or maybe just studied it. He is publishing military SF novels, and actually plausible ones, ding ding. So that base is covered now.

    I mean, you agree with Eliezer that group selectionism is fairly a weak force? Everything from the kind of social status conveyed by intellectuals to masculinity becoming economically obsolete and socially less useful is at some level group selectionism, while individual selection, more culturally than genetically in this case, is more like “do whatever clownish stuff that actually results in getting hot girls in skimpy outfits”. And individual selection tends to win.

    This is how we are going to undermine the Cathedral 🙂 It all begins with US males – as British or Russian males are already doing – starting to wonder what exactly pointing and laughing at guidos is winning him in the bedroom. Rea__ion, reduced to the most powerful force, individual selection for sexual success, is the guidoification of young males who consider SJ hardly more than funny background noise. This is why I love fat activism / body positivity. An excellent way for SJ activists to get absolutely ignored by – because having no sexual power whatsoever – to the guidoified young man 🙂 If they had any sense of tactics, they would focus on hot-woman feminism – Taylor Swift, Emma Watson – because of course the guido mind cares about their preferences or opinion or ideology or anything. Although the more hardcore RP types think pissing of women is a good way to look interesting… I personally dunno. But it is part of the strategy, of the calculation. But whatever opinion Lindy West has is so irrelevant to the guido mind it is not even on the radar. Want to bang? No. Why care then? Compassion? Well, are they compassionate with us? Nope. But we are privileged and they are not? Yes and we enjoy it and try to grab as much sweet, sweet privilege as we can, thank you. When your morality is abused, used against you, it is really easy to get amoral. This is how guidoification or redpillery or similar processes change one’s mind, and if it is successful, and I think it is, well then…

    individual selectionism trumps basically every other kind of social force. You already know it does, Scott, you are just not sure if this is really that successful or if it really trumps decency and ethics. We’ll see… I would bet decency and ethics quickly becomes highly impotent as a social force if it is not buying specifically that kind of prestige that can be cashed out in the bedroom.

    EDIT: “the waaah waaah” argument: the guidoified male mind, and I think correctly, associates it with being unattractive to women. So it is sort of a powerful and totally not subtle way of telling young men “this is not gonna work for you”. Even if it is a shield? Needing a shield is in this context is associated with unattractive weakness. I can’t find a link but there was somewhere a really cool article about charismatic body poses for men are the least defensive ones as they advertise courage and calm mastery, so holding a drink at the hip level and not chest, having the chest and genitals open and undefended, the other hand in the back pocket and so on, so the least fighty, least defensive, most open stance possible. Same story…

    • Schmendrick says:

      Hoo-boy, I’m already three laps back on this race to the bottom…pun not intended…owwwwww….

    • So there’s no happy medium?

    • Deiseach says:

      I would bet decency and ethics quickly becomes highly impotent as a social force if it is not buying specifically that kind of prestige that can be cashed out in the bedroom.

      Do you realise how deeply depressing it is to reduce the entirety of society and its interactions to “Basically, men are led by their cocks and are only concerned with getting laid”?

      Honestly, it makes me long for the legendary Gay Serum: all of you turn gay, fuck each other* until death from expenditure of energy through perpetual coitus ensues, and leave the rest of us (women, asexuals, people who aren’t trying every waking minute to get their end away, any visiting aliens) to carry on civilisation.

      *Because there is nothing in all this “uncomplicatedly masculine identity guy…“do whatever clownish stuff that actually results in getting hot girls in skimpy outfits” that sounds like any of them (you?) actually like women, that they see women as anything other than holes to fill.

      And really, one hole is the same as the other, so why not cut out the effort on getting girls and just do “you let me fuck you, I let you fuck me” and skip all the dancing round the mulberry bush?

      • Nero tol Scaeva says:

        Do you realise how deeply depressing it is to reduce the entirety of society and its interactions to “Basically, men are led by their cocks and are only concerned with getting laid”?

        The sound of nature must really depress you then!

        • Deiseach says:

          No, because you can castrate or cull superfluous males.

          And while the birdies chirping at 3 a.m. in the summertime can be goddamn annoying, at least they’re harassing females of their own species, not mine.

      • Are you depressed by Augustine, the three libidos? I am just geographing the City of Man. The City of God is someone else’s business.

        Try to see barbarism as the root that nourishes the tree of civilization with energy. The fire, not extinguished, just tamed in the hearth.

        Rome fell. The Empire was overran all over. Almost everything[1] was lost, except one small, besieged island of civilization around Paris.[1] And everything grew out from that spot again. Martel, Battle of Tours, Charlemagne, the Ostsiedlung, the Normann Conquest. We are all Francs now on the continent, in a way. “King” is “król” in Polish from Charlemagne’s name. And why was this grand revival possible? Because someone was smart and was able to recruit the Francs, and later the Normanns, tame them, and make them defend civilization, without extinguishing that barbarian energy that enabled them to successfully fight back. Without having some better sorts of barbarians around and knowing how to tame them, everything would have been lost to the worse sorts of barbarians.

        [1] another one in Ireland, but unable to expand.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Yeah, I have some friends with weird gender stuff. But 40% of the US is minority, 50% is female, 10-20% have some kind of psych issue depending on definition, some large percent I won’t look up right now is obese, etc. The number of people who don’t have to worry about any kind of social justice-y issue is pretty small. The number of people who don’t even have any friends who do is smaller still.

      • Wonderful! So they are unable to oppress anyone? The match is over, SJ won, they can all go home 🙂 Seriously, if any group of people can plausibly charged with being an oppressor class, anything that influences their behavior is probably important.

        I have very few personal experience about it, but my impression is that black men tend towards being “naturals”. They may feel oppressed but will probably not express it in a whiny tone, they understand how that is uncool around women. Also, it is not unreasonable to assume that when women are in love, and the if the man tends towards the dominant side, they tend to accept his ideology somewhat. So that easily looks like something that could influence the majority.

        I am obviously talking about the “victimhood type status signalling” going away and not the “find some things unfair” kind of politics.

    • coffeespoons says:

      To be honest, I think feminists do tend to focus more on the problems of attractive young women*, with the focus on street harrassment and unwanted male attention. The problems of e.g. older single women are pretty much ignored.

      This has only occurred to me recently. I’m a fairly average looking 31 year old woman, but as I hang around with geeks a lot I’m used to a fair amount of unwanted male attention**. Last week, however, I ended up going to a meetup group with a number of attractive women in their early 20s and men in their 20s and 30s. I found myself thinking ‘where’s the unwanted male attention?’ Obviously the men were distracted by the younger, hotter women! I think I might miss the attention when it goes entirely! I’ve certainly heard unattractive women say that they don’t identify with feminist problems.

      *Lindy West counts as an attractive young women. Pretty fat girls in their 20s/30s get an awful lot of sexual attention. Probably the majority of men don’t find them attractive, but a significant minority find them very attractive indeed.

      **I just mean guys I’m not interested in hitting on me – I don’t mean anything worse than that. At worst, it’s a bit awkward, but I’m fortunate enough to basically never
      have to deal with anything more threatening.

      • Randy M says:

        If unwanted male attention is a problem, and unwanted male inattention is a problem… well, what? Should we go back to arranged marriages? If there’s no pleasing women, men shouldn’t bother to try.

        • LCL says:

          I’m convinced the correct interpretation is just “don’t bother girls that are out of your league.” The reason complaints seem to rule out all possible behavior is that different behavior is expected depending on your relative status. But that’s too insensitive a thing to actually say, so it’s implied.

          And, yea, being excessively bothered by low status men is a young-attractive-women problem. To the extent feminists focus on that set of problems, then feminism is a young attractive woman’s club.

          There is a corollary though, which is that our hypothetical low-status man should realize he is low-status, stop bothering the high-status girls, and maybe go bother some low-status women instead. Insufficient male attention to low status women seems like it could reasonably be a feminist issue, but isn’t currently a priority. Maybe because distinguishing it from the stop-bothering-us case would require an awkward discussion of dating attractiveness hierarchies.

          • LeeEsq says:

            This entire high status and low status thing seems really ridiculous when applied to humans. Who has more status; a wealthy but physically short and slight investment banker or a tall, muscular but not that wealthy construction worker or fitness trainer? A very beautiful female actor paying the bills as a yoga teacher or an average looking female surgeon?

            There are many manifestations of status and a person could be high status in one way and low status in another way. Some people might see me as high status because I’m a lawyer that does well and others as low status because I’m bellow average in height for a man.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Mark Atwood – I think you are better than that, sir.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            @Mark and Faceless

            Get off your crosses, we could use the wood 😉

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqviDAkNo48

          • LeeEsq says:

            Hi, Mark. How have you been? I remember you from usenet from the early aughts.

          • @LeeEsq

            It isn’t, just somewhat complicated. There is the ancestral environment status, the kind of thing that would make you beat up other primates. Height, strength, fierceness etc. helps. This worked maybe up to barbarian tribes level, but then civilization created a different ladder already in the ancient states. Civil means not a soldier. Civilization is unsoldiering. It precisely means that it is possible to get status now by means other than being really good at sticking a spear in someone’s gut. Like trade, politics, or law, like Cicero.

            These two conflict especially how having high modern status usually means reduced ancestral status: the most aggressive boxers come from the ghetto, not from the silver spoons.

            This of course confuses the status receptors of women. It is like seeing a woman with three large breasts. Not sure of cool or scary but certainly weird. The result is that dating is hard, because most women are not fully sure exactly what they are looking for, but you can try to improve on both scales and basically hope for the best. The best approximation is that aggregate of the two counts most but with differing weights and nobody knows exactly sure.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Hlynkacg – I think you’ve got my meaning about exactly backward. For Warren Zevon, though, I always preferred this one:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvTv-I2Y390

          • LeeEsq says:

            @TheDividualist, I’m somewhat more open to the idea that human evolution plays a role in modern human psychology than other liberals but can’t quite get behind what your saying. What your presenting is a sort of Evolutionary Calvinism where all is pre-ordained. I can’t buy that.

            Most men and most women end up in a relationship and have kids at some point in their lives even if they are “low status” in all senses of the word. Most women know that either form of “high status” man is outside their league just like most men know they don’t stand a chance with a Hollywood actress or whatever the wilderness equivalence was.

            The status thing seems to be overthinking the entire situation.

          • Cauê says:

            Lee, I’m not sure you’re quite getting how people are thinking about status.

            The idea is that it works locally, not as an absolute ordering over the whole of society. That different people in different contexts will respond to different things as status markers, like money, muscles, academic achievements or skill at some hobby, but also that some patterns of behavior will signal similar things in most contexts (think of someone who looks confident as opposed to insecure, or who acts dominant as opposed to subservient – does the picture change much if you’re imagining a lawyer or a student?). One doesn’t have to be at the pinnacle of power in society to act and be perceived as high status.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          Here’s my answer: Be consequentialist about it.

          That is to say, both these things are “problems”, but only in the usual sense, that they are things a person may be annoyed by. They’re not violations of the True Feminist Laws that thereby make you an Evil Sexist Creep. Certainly, as we well know, if you take a naïve feminist approach, you will quickly conclude that every possibility is simultaneously forbidden and required. The solution is to ignore what they’ve told you and instead to attempt to judge, on the fly, whether you are actually bothering the actual person you’re talking to… and if you are, you can back off and (briefly!) apologize; it’s not a big deal that you have to necessarily avoid in advance. If you don’t know whether you’ll be bothering someone, it’s OK to try, because as I’ve said above, if you are, you can back off and apologize; you don’t have to assume that action is forbidden because you might creep them out. You are allowed to make reasonable inferences based on their actions, rather than having to avoid in advance possible but unlikely scenarios.

          And if you honestly encounter a person A who believes that for a person B to hit on them is a great evil if and only if they’re not attracted to B… then that person is being unreasonable and you’re free to disregard them.

          (Now if only I could more reliably execute the above. 😛 )

          [Or did you mean what would a self-identified feminist say is the answer? My answer there would be that most feminists are in practice reasonable people, and behaving reasonably will suffice; they say such unreasonable things only because they’ve got their common-sense-goggles on and are interpreting everything through that lens, not noticing what the actual implications of their statements would be if taken literally. As such, asking what they would say is the answer is, for most values of “they”, the wrong question.]

      • LeeEsq says:

        Putting on the other hat, my main problem with calling attention to cat-calling and unwanted sexual attention is a lot of the criticism is aimed at men who would never cat call or think of doing so. If you want to do something about cat-calling, go after the actual cat-callers.

        • Emily H. says:

          I have a history of responding very aggressively to cat-callers. That’s only for my own benefit; I sincerely doubt I have ever reformed anyone.

          It does leave me sad and shaky and distracted for at least the next couple hours, though, so it probably does even worse on a cost/benefit analysis than writing hot takes for Jezebel.

        • And be at least a little bit less shy about how it has ethnic-cultural-immigration undertones.

          • Randy M says:

            As shown rather hillariously by some of the reactions to the video of the woman walking around [lower-class, ethnic] New York video that went around recently.

    • LeeEsq says:

      Red Pill claims about sexuality are just so stories. They are just as much bull as Social Justice claims about the same topic. If Red Pill claims were true than we would have much more visible bachelors in society and more other visible evidence.

      The real reason why we have more people complaining about being lonely is that the Internet gives them a platform to do so. Lonely people of all genders and sexualities could now broadcast to the entire world and also publish their theories online. Before the Internet, they would be mainly complaining to people they new in real life and would be limited to pamphlets and books nobody would read if they were lucky enough to find a publisher. The Internet also allows lonely people to find like minded lonely people and form groups. That’s why we have Red Pill groups and Social Justice groups online but not in real life.

      • Brian says:

        Can you explain in a little more depth what specific visible evidence you would expect? Because in my observation, RP claims and ideas have been absolutely confirmed by real-world experience when I see them leveraged. They may be just-so stories, but they are useful and predictive just-so stories.

        • LeeEsq says:

          More allegedly high-status or alpha men, getting away with sex crimes or other bad behavior. Powerful men still get away with a lot of bad behavior but more and more women are complaining about the antics or even sex crimes of high status men these days. If I’m getting the Red Pill ideology right, women are supposed to do prefer the sexual and romantic advances from these men but it seems that if a woman isn’t interested, she will reject an “alpha” man just as she would a “beta” man.

          • Cauê says:

            If I’m getting the Red Pill ideology right, women are supposed to do prefer the sexual and romantic advances from these men but it seems that if a woman isn’t interested, she will reject an “alpha” man just as she would a “beta” man.

            I know very little about red pill ideas, but I’d be surprised if the highlighted sentence didn’t sink the whole point.

            Compare: “If an employer isn’t interested, they will fire a higly productive employee for a rule violation just as they would a less productive one”.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Caue, Red Pill writers aren’t the most clear and they take their intellectual lexicon from the Matrix so taking them seriously requires me to suppress some eye-rolling. From what I gather, the Red Pill claim is that women prefer the romantic and sexual attraction of high status alpha or bad boy types despite what they say. There are plenty of women I know that basically say they like nebbish types and date nebbish types. As far as I can tell, they are faithful.

            There is an element of truth to Red Pill claims but I’ve noticed that people date people like themselves. Flashy heterosexual men tend to date flashy heterosexual women rather than quieter types. Heterosexual men that like to read literary novels and watch opera tend to date similar women rather than women into less artistic interests. There are exceptions. Some people really like getting into relationships with people unlike themselves. Some people even manage to pull this off. Generally, the type of men that Red Pill ideology claims that women favor tend to date their womanly equivalents.

          • Cauê says:

            I don’t know them and I may be steelmanning here, but, again, compare:

            “There is an element of truth to [claims that men go for physically attractive women] but I’ve noticed that people date people like themselves. Flashy heterosexual men tend to date flashy heterosexual women rather than quieter types. Heterosexual men that like to read literary novels and watch opera tend to date similar women rather than women into less artistic interests. There are exceptions. Some people really like getting into relationships with people unlike themselves. Some people even manage to pull this off. Generally, the type of [beautiful women that people claim that men favor] tend to date their [manly] equivalents.”

            The point is, unless they really are extremely specific about “alphas” as a “type of man”, the proposed difference in reactions according to status is independent from the factors you mention, and both can be simultaneously true.

          • LeeEsq says:

            From what I can tell, Red Pill seems to believe that the so called alpha or high status men/bad boys have some sort of magnetic hold over women. The attraction is supposed to be so visceral that women simply aren’t supposed to be able to resist them. This does not seem true at all.

          • Cauê says:

            Is it supposed to be different from the way people usually see men’s attraction to physical beauty?

        • John says:

          Red pill are all about getting one night sex from random women in a bar which is very self-selected sub-group of women.

          Most women I know would not go and bang a guy they just met in a bar no matter how alpha they look. Sometimes because they see it as risk (either to reputation or physical), other times because they look for long term relationship, because they already have long term relationship or because they just not interested in random bangs from guys they just met.

          I guess that if you want to attract random one night stand kind of girl, you have to project that you are random one night stand kind of guy and play the game this particular sub-culture plays. However, that is just that one subculture and hardly a general description of what most women universally want in guys.

          There are plenty of women who find that super alpha behavior off-putting. Those will simply avoid those guys and not have sex with them. Some consider red pill guys downright dangerous and avoid them for that reason.

          It is kind of like going into a junkie bar, finding out that most people there will do a lot in exchange for drugs and then claiming drug offer is universal way how to make a person to do anything. It is not, it works only on desperate junkies. (Not saying consensual sex among adults it like being junkie, just could not come with better example.)

          • Fazathra says:

            A lot of redpill misogyny makes sense when you realize the main writers are probably 130+ IQ introverts trying to get laid with drunk 100IQ extroverted women in a club. Of course they’re going to form the impression that women are vapid sluts, because that’s who they interact with.

          • Jaskologist says:

            No, the part you have to look at is marriage rates prospects for the other half. For those with high school diplomas or less, the divorce rate is 38-46%. The marriage rate among the working class is somewhere around 48%. Getting married is basically a coin flip for the lower class, with little upside and massive downside. Our social engineers have successfully changed things so that it is not a wise option for them; one night stands are all we left them with.

            Now, you can claim that the kind of women who have one night stands are people unworthy of consideration, and I half agree, but mostly I think that a system which renders that big a chunk of society unworthy is inherently flawed.

          • Emily says:

            I disagree with this. Some of the techniques are widely applicable within relationships. (They’re also not exactly new discoveries.) For instance, intermittent positive reinforcement is a popular, effective technique used by abusive people.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Our social engineers did nothing of the sort. The decline of marriage in working class communities like most aspects of the sexual revolution were a combination of long term cultural and technological changes. The past wasn’t even as virtuous as people think either. Vagrancies from the official Christian position on sex and marriage were common in working class culture for a long time in urban working class culture. Its just that nobody talked about it.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Fazartha, exactly. The Red Pill ideology comes from a courting mismatch and subsequent thinking by technically intelligent people. I find flashy, extroverted women exciting but I know that we are probably going to be a mismatch for a relationship or even a one night stand because I’m a quieter person.

          • Emily says:

            If you wouldn’t say “only dumb* girls like it when men flirt with them and make them feel attractive and wanted,” or “only dumb girls get involved in abusive relationships” – and I hope you would not say either – then you should also not think “red pill/pua stuff only works on dumb girls,” since at its most benign it’s about flirting more effectively and at its least benign it’s about how to be an effective abuser.

            *or flashy or extroverted or dumber-than-you or whatever

          • john says:

            @Emily I did not said dumb. I said looking for one night stand with random guy. (Or thrill of the danger of it.) Those categories are not remotely the same thing.

            Plenty of dumb girls want long term relationship only and intelligent girl can look for one night stand. Sexuality, morals and intelligence are only somehow correlated and far from directly linked.

          • Emily says:

            I wasn’t mainly responding to you, I was responding to the comments responding to you. But, sure, I’d say the same thing about “women looking for x”: if you wouldn’t say that flirting is only effective with women looking for one-night-stands, and you wouldn’t say that only those women get into abusive relationships, you probably don’t think that about red pill/pua stuff. It encompasses a wide range of things, and putting on a silly hat and doing card tricks at a club is just one small piece.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        The problem is that for a lot of people, me included, the internet is real life.

    • Brian says:

      As a 25 year old straight white college educated male — one who people who say these kinds of things would say is privileged — this rings very true to me. Before I met my girlfriend, I was focused on two things: get money and get girls. Now that I’ve met a girl I’d like to marry, it’s get money and raise a family to be proud of. Pure practicality. A bunch of teenagers on a campus hundreds of miles away or lost souls on tumbr doesn’t affect either of those. I have reputation to lose, and nothing to gain, when engaging with them. Therefore, I ignore and avoid.

      I do sometimes feel a certain type of noblesse oblige to engage and improve discourse, because I do believe PC culture/SJWism/Quantum Super-State Feminism is the wrong direction for society; but in the end practicality wins out — I go to my 9-5, work on my side projects, and sip a mid-market Merlot over candle-lit dinner with my girlfriend while occasionally nibbling away on the margins in a groupchat with my very close friends. Perhaps the time isn’t right for me, maybe in 20 years I’ll be more powerful and more influential and less vulnerable to attacks on my livelihood. Or perhaps I truly don’t care enough to ever do anything. Or maybe, in the end, that’s all a cop-out and I’m simply uncourageous.

      • moridinamael says:

        I feel this. I am you five years from now. I have married that woman, I have those kids and a little bit of that money. When I was younger and only responsible for myself, I felt that noblesse oblige fairly strongly. Now I perceive calls for “justice” and “equality” as attacks against me and mine. And I believe that my perception is accurate. I mean, the mainstream rhetoric explicit calls for forcibly taking stuff from me, one way or another. Taking food out of my kids’ mouths.

        To the extent that I am “privileged”, the Left is trying to penalize me. Any tradeoff the Left is offering in exchange for these penalties is completely abstract and doesn’t replace the food it’s taking out of my kids’ mouths. Anybody who would respond “don’t your kids have enough already?” probably doesn’t have kids. I feel like somebody is going to say that this is selfish and short-sighted. I can only point out that the biological imperative to care for your kids is probably the central thing off which all forms of reciprocal altruism in our species is based, and arguments that erode that impulse necessarily erode all other charitable impulses.

        I feel a charitable impulse, EA rhetoric appeals to me, but do you know what squelches that giving impulse faster than anything? Interest groups telling me I don’t deserve what I have and that they’re going to take it from me because of who I am.

        Man, I am ambivalent about posting this. Oh well.

        • Randy M says:

          At the grocery store, with 3 kids hanging off my full cart, the register asks me if I want to make a donation to fight childhood hunger. I point to the bill and mutter “All of that is going to fight childhood hunger!”

          • John says:

            Plenty of people with kids are willing to donate to charity or other people kids. That includes non-rich people.

            While I get the joke, the idea that parents are supposed to care about themselves and their own children insulting to most parents who simply are not like that.

            In my experience, people who were egoistic before having children became “me and my kids only” kind of parents. People who were cared about others before having children, cared about people outside of their immediate family after having children too.

          • Randy M says:

            I didn’t need to include a disclaimer that this was not the entirety of my position on generosity, right?

        • anonymous says:

          In my observation sociopathy induced by parenthood peaks sometime around when your youngest kid is in middle school. So don’t worry, you’ll be back to being a decent human being soon enough.

          • moridinamael says:

            I get the joke, but I’m not sure how seriously you mean it. If taken literally, that means that my alleged sociopathy will “peak” in fifteen years and then take, what, ten years to tail off down to the level of somebody with no kids? Which forces me to conclude that anybody engaged in the project of continuing the human race is (by your logic) spending most of the useful years of their life being “problematic” by virtue of trying to raise their own children as well as they can?

            I think we got civilization because millions of parents collectively wanted what was best for their own kids and intuitively saw that civilization was the way to ensure that. We didn’t get civilization because millions of childless people got together and decided to build civilization despite the selfishness of all those free-riding breeders.

          • anonymous says:

            How lucky we are to have selfless people like you. Heroes willing to sacrifice for the good of the human race. Creators of civilization and all that’s good and pure and right.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @anon – true, kind, necessary?

            [EDIT] – Concur with Psmith. I’m single, no kids, and I think parents are an obvious benefit to society. If you think they aren’t, do you likewise view educators as a net drain on resources?

          • Psmith says:

            @anon, yes, we are in fact very lucky.

            edit: @Randy, I’m down to team up with FC and establish a natalist empire.

          • Randy M says:

            @ FC: I hate to merely point out typos, but yours is such a lovely mangling of the meaning that I was thrown for a loop. The word you want is “concur.”

          • anonymous says:

            Funny how this tone policing stuff only ever comes out against posters on the left. You can say that feminists want to put nerdy men into ovens no problem, but say anything against the military or parents or religion and all of a sudden people start chattering about ideological Turing tests and calling for charity.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @RandyM – Normally I would reply with a capital letter F repeated about a hundred times, but the edit window was still open. Forgive me.

            …for those wondering, my original usage was “conquer”. I have forgotten the face of my father.

          • lvlln says:

            Anonymous said: “You can say that feminists want to put nerdy men into ovens no problem”

            Hm, I know Scott Alexander and commenters of his blog have made many claims regarding what feminists desire to do to nerdy men, but I don’t recall seeing anything that could accurately be summed up as – or even reasonably hyperbolized as – “feminists want to put nerdy men into ovens.” Do you have any links to examples?

            My perception of Scott Alexander and the general population of commenters on his blog is that if someone tried to make such an obviously uncharitable and inaccurate claim regarding what feminists want, then they would cause problem for the person making that claim by ignoring that claim or by proceeding as if the claim weren’t true, or by calling out the claim and challenging the person to back that up.

            But my perception is most certainly biased, and it’d be great to get a reality check that challenges what I believe about the community of people surrounding this site.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Anonymous – “You can say that feminists want to put nerdy men into ovens no problem, but say anything against the military or parents or religion and all of a sudden people start chattering about ideological Turing tests and calling for charity.”

            I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here.

            RequiresHate enjoyed a relatively long career of calling for people to be mutilated by machetes or to have acid thrown in their faces. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere in this thread, the OP linked to a record of SJ types banding together and harassing an artist to attempt suicide because she drew skin the wrong shade of red and noses too small. That seems pretty unequivocally like the sort of “tone” that needs “policing”.

            People in these threads say lots of negative things about parents, the military, and especially religion. Some people disagree with those things, and say so, sometimes by pointing out that they are uncharitable. Specifically, your last comment seemed to contain nothing but a sneer, and was therefore neither true, nor kind, nor necessary. If you think otherwise, you’re free to elaborate why that impression is mistaken and misses your actual point.

            alternatively you can keep sneering, and people will ignore you.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says: