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Open Thread 68.25

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever.

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908 Responses to Open Thread 68.25

  1. BBA says:

    Blogroll note: Freddie deBoer’s blog is down, possibly permanently. Context.

  2. Ceofy says:

    A form I’ve got to fill out won’t let me submit without providing a middle name. It’s not every day that you get to choose your own name, so, any suggestions? Going for something right on the border of clever and pretentious, figured this was the perfect place to ask about it.

    • One Name May Hide Another says:

      NaoMI or NorMaN?

      • Ceofy says:

        “Naomi” is an anagram of “omnia” as in “ex nihilo omnia” which would actually be pretty great for a nickname picked out of nothing.

        (Your username is so perfect)

        • One Name May Hide Another says:

          “Naomi” is an anagram of “omnia” as in “ex nihilo omnia” which would actually be pretty great for a nickname picked out of nothing.

          Ha, that would be pretty great.

          (Your username is so perfect)

          Thank you! =) What does yours mean?

          • Robert Liguori says:

            Seconded on the name. While I am devoted to my “Speak Under My Own Name, Or Not At All.” policy, I am tickled by the idea of everyone registering a clever way to say ‘anonymous’ and using that as their handle for posting here.

          • Ceofy says:

            It was just the strangest phonetic spelling of my first name I could manage to produce.

    • CatCube says:

      If it’s something important, I’d go with a simple “NMI” because trying to be cute can come back to haunt you later if your documents don’t match.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Can you use brackets? If so, writing ‘(no middle name)’ ought to make the situation obvious to anyone processing the form.

    • Incurian says:

      Jury-Nullification.

  3. rlms says:

    So I decided to write a program to scrape the SSC comments. Preliminary results:
    The most frequent commenters in the last 149 threads (would’ve been 150 but You Are Still Crying Wolf doesn’t have comments) (name, comments):
    Anonymous 1831
    Deiseach 1476
    HeelBearCub 1445
    onyomi 1250
    dndnrsn 1157
    John Schilling 1134
    The Nybbler 993
    Aapje 963
    David Friedman 908
    Matt M 870
    Lumifer 731
    DavidFriedman 704
    Jill 670
    Jiro 659
    Nornagest 659
    hlynkacg 642
    Nancy Lebovitz 630
    cassander 613
    Earthly Knight 611
    Randy M 586
    suntzuanime 582
    keranih 530
    FacelessCraven 515
    Edward Scizorhands 495
    gbdub 470
    (more here).

    Most prolific commenters (name, character count):
    Deiseach 295356
    onyomi 151129
    John Schilling 148852
    Anonymous 140175
    dndnrsn 136660
    Aapje 128026
    HeelBearCub 123664
    Tibor 85338
    David Friedman 83606
    Jill 82803
    Earthly Knight 81865
    Matt M 78152
    keranih 67899
    The Nybbler 66932
    DavidFriedman 64467
    Tekhno 64231
    bean 62032
    cassander 60891
    FacelessCraven 60222
    Spookykou 56050
    gbdub 54177
    Jiro 51563
    Murphy 49554
    Nornagest 46805
    Dr Dealgood 46697
    (more here).

    Coming soon — automated analysis of SSC commenters’ political persuasions, to finally settle the question of “are there too many libertarians?”.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Coming in fifth? That sounds like me.

      EDIT: Although “Anonymous” probably captures a lot of multiples. Is there a way to present comments since Anonymous was limited to one poster?

    • rlms says:

      Frequencies of words used in the comments on the last 149 SSC posts (numbers are frequency on SSC/frequency in Brown corpus).

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Noice.

      Need to do a pre-post required registration analysis, though.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      In the 60s for post count, but the 30s for word-count. I REALLY need to work more on being concise and to the point.

      That said, thanks for undertaking this, it’ll be interesting to see the results!

    • rlms says:

      Most frequent commenters in the last 60 threads (approximately post-registration):
      Deiseach
      Aapje
      DavidFriedman
      Matt M
      HeelBearCub
      dndnrsn
      The Nybbler
      Iain
      John Schilling
      suntzuanime
      Spookykou
      Randy M
      cassander
      onyomi
      Earthly Knight
      shakeddown
      rlms
      Anonymous
      Brad
      Tekhno
      FacelessCraven
      The original Mr. X
      hlynkacg
      Tibor
      Trofim_Lysenko

      Most prolific:
      Deiseach
      dndnrsn
      Aapje
      Matt M
      DavidFriedman
      John Schilling
      HeelBearCub
      Tibor
      onyomi
      Tekhno
      Iain
      Spookykou
      Earthly Knight
      Trofim_Lysenko
      The Nybbler
      cassander
      bean
      hyperboloid
      Randy M
      The original Mr. X
      FacelessCraven
      Brad
      Moon
      baconbacon
      Murphy

      (more here.)

    • Deiseach says:

      Oh, dear.

      Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

      I really have got to shut up, haven’t I?

      *skulking away shame-faced*

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Are ‘David Friedman’ and ‘DavidFriedman’ both the same David Friedman somehow, in which case he should score higher. And if not, he’s obviously got some sort of impersonator doing such a good job that I at least never noticed.

      Also, as someone who certainly wastes a lot more time here than second-order-desires me would like, I guess I am pleased to not be on your top 25.

      • dndnrsn says:

        They’re two separate entities, competing on the free market. People can thus choose, instead of having one imposed on them by some coercive power.

      • rlms says:

        Yes, there are also double Nancy Lebovitz, James Miller and TheAncientGeek, and a few doubles with name changes.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Most of them, I’d guess, are due to the need for registration providing a Schilling point for people to change names?

        • Douglas Knight says:

          For most purposes, you should identify people by gravatar, not handle. This will group together most name changes and it will break apart Anonymous. But it won’t immediately produce human-readable output.

          Evan: Yes, many people changed names at registration, but not intentionally, as you can tell from the changes reverting. In particular, many people didn’t know that they could put a space in their user names and subsequently learned how to make the displayed handle be different than the username.

    • onyomi says:

      Yikes, and this is me attempting to exercise my version of restraint and concision.

    • cassander says:

      I mean, I always knew I wasted too much time here, but now I know I waste way too much time. Thanks, i think…..

    • FacelessCraven says:

      Thanks much for taking the time to compile this. Very interested to see the political breakdown!

    • Combining the two spellings of my name, I edge out Deiseach on frequency, but she wins on character count by a large margin.

    • Dahlen says:

      Nice work, actual data is always welcome.

      I’ve been having some fun dividing the character count for some posters by their number of comments, to get a verbosity quotient. (Because I knew I would come out horribly on that metric.) You know how some websites have started to display “#-minute read” along with each link to their articles? Maybe this should be a public user stat, in the same vein. Just so people know what to expect and who to speed-read. :^)

    • Spookykou says:

      This is fun!

      I need to go play more dnd or something.

    • Nornagest says:

      I’m surprised I’m that high up.

    • bean says:

      Interesting data. I’m a bit surprised I score that high, particularly as I took most of January off. Thanks for doing this.

  4. In Scott Aaronson’s latest blog (http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3167)

    He and a few others debate Unq.Res author, Curtis Yarvin (who goes by Boldmug in the comments), for pages upon pages.

    I know the SSC comment removes anything related to the dark forces — but such a high profile public debate is surely too interesting to remove from the comments here, right? (sorry for cryptic language, don’t want to trigger any censor words).

    http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3167

    • dndnrsn says:

      The standard euphemisms are “Death Eaters”, “Death Eaterism”, etc.

      • Tekhno says:

        Which is weird because the alt-right are much more like death eaters than the nearly back from derry people, especially the Mldbg type formalists.

        • I honestly think the Mldbg types are harmless, in a good way. Mldbg, while his ideas are often extreme, can’t ever be construed as someone who is pro-violence. In fact, even if you accept as the premise that he is entirely wrong, his whole point is that he wants a safer world, and is not in favor of any sort of extremism, terrorism, or mass violence to get to his ideal world. He’s even laid out his ideal revolution structure, which is non-violent.

          In comparison to the alt-right, who (depending on your classification and how extreme your draw from the alt-right distribution is) are frequently much more disturbing, and willing to do whatever it takes.

          Even Nick Land, on Xenosystems, is getting shit from alt-right commenters that he’s basically a pussy for being a cerebral formalist type.

          What do commenters here think? When I hear people talk about being nr’s I don’t get any spooky feeling or chills. I think “Oh, a bunch of harmless people who view progressivism as being horribly flawed, and want to try another structure.” When I go to the alt-right hubs I get those spooky vibes that evil is lurking.

          • Wrong Species says:

            I think Mldbg(I believe the standard term is Voldemort) is actually not that different from progressives, in terms of values. It seems like the main difference is that he simply a completely different conception of how the world works. That thread is a perfect contrast between Voldemort and the unsavory right wing extremists. The Dark Lord is a persistent but polite debater, obviously sympathizes with a fellow nerd and even has a cosmopolitan attitude towards Iran. Jim, on the other hand, simply wants to kill people he disagrees with.

          • Montfort says:

            Moldbug is certainly much more polite than Jim, and perhaps polite overall, but I wish he’d drop his “I bet you never read anything by X” routine, especially since he’s often wrong and it hardly ever seems germane to his point.

    • Anon. says:

      I liked Yarvin’s posts, but you can hardly call it a debate. I don’t think SA ever really responded seriously.

      • I would agree with that. SA can’t match Yarvin in this realm.

        Whether Yarvin’s grandiose claims are correct is honestly beyond my ability to prove (or probably anyone’s ability. Sweeping historical narratives are pretty insane to prove epistemically). But it’s always loads of fun reading his stuff and wiki-ing all the historical facts I don’t know (or occasionally reading a book he recs). He is almost unbelievably well read.

        • dndnrsn says:

          He’s well-read, but there are some pitfalls he stumbles into that autodidacts often do. It’s a damn pity that on the one hand, there’s skills specific to the study of history and so forth that are very useful, but that on the other, learning those skills often means falling into faculty-club group think. I think he’s wrong about a lot of things, and a lot of the conclusions he comes to are both incorrect and very unpleasant. But he’s interestingly wrong; a lot of historians are right in a way that is basically useless. You’ll learn more from seeing someone do the former than the latter.

          EDIT: He’s completely wrong about the Holocaust in comment #275. Not in the sense of his interpretation is wrong, or in the sense of some wider historical point, but in the sense that when he says “These facts are historically true” he is either lying or ignorant. Far more than 1000 men had direct involvement in the Holocaust, let alone knowledge of it. It seems bizarre to me that someone of Jewish ancestry would be able to bring up stuff about ancient Greece, the US civil war, etc, but miss a basic historical fact about the Holocaust.

          And Aaronson doesn’t correct him, either. This is weird.

          • He generally isn’t able to convince me that he is in fact right. But what he does convince me of is that neither are the people he disagrees with. He shows this very undeterminable model of the world and historiography, where if you read the right books and cite the right sources, you can support nearly any claim.

            Or said another way, if we assume there is some set of books that characterize the past, then when you draw a subset of those books you want to hope your draw isn’t biased in any way. If it’s biased your subset won’t represent the true set of the past. I don’t think Moldbug is getting that true draw, but I also think he does a great job of showing that his opponents aren’t either. In that sense you’re exactly right: He’s wrong in a *very* interesting way.

          • cassander says:

            > He’s completely wrong about the Holocaust in comment #275

            eh, he’s sort of wrong in the details, but I think his point is correct. The record of fascism, however broadly you try to define it, is objectively less bad than that of communism. But no one is allowed to go around and say “that hitler did bad things says nothing about REAL fascism”. No one in polite society can say “Sure he was a fascist, but salazar gave portugal a great public healthcare system”. Organizations or people with the absolute most tenuous connections to fascism or nazism, like america first, are consider dark spots in american history. Charles Lindbergh, for example, argued that the US should not crush nazi germany because doing so would let stalin conquer much of europe. Once the war started, he tried to join the military, was rejected on the personal order of the president, but wanted to serve badly enough that he joined aircraft companies as a civilian, got posted to the pacific, and eventually flew 50 combat missions. For this, he goes down in history as a traitorous nazi. Communists who similar things got awards.

            His point that the left has managed to build a world where there are two lefts but only one right is spot on.

          • dndnrsn says:

            That left-wing authoritarians and totalitarians have gotten better press than their right-wing equivalents is true. However, his argument for this, in that particular case, is just simply wrong.

    • Steven Pinker’s notes on wars should refute this claim “And the results of the modern theory are objectively terrible — gigantic wars, laden with the utmost brutality on every side”

      Turd-Bug would absolutely under no way want to replace his current life in western democracies with that 1700’s nonsense. His writing style is too…not to the point to go anywhere, and he isn’t worth reading because of that. Kingdom is stupid(time for a 300,000 word essay on the definition of kingdom, with a billion citations of books not made in the last 130 years) , all hail meritocracy/democracy blend.

      He seems to be blaming the mass murders on some form of politics that he believes probably would not have happened under his form of politics(and not a word about the development of the machine gun, aeroplane bombs and other technology)…which form is almost impossible to grasp due to his obscurantism, which he has done on purpose in a CS scam of his.

      Hes a scammer. Urbit was a lying obscurantist piece of crap whose code would fail if turned into a school project for being deliberately obtuse, and he renamed everything in CS like a kindergarten student. It was horrible reading about the project due to how wrong it was, and how he tried taking credit for well known concepts in computing. The hell can you even attempt to try taking credit for deterministic computing methods?

      “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”–Turd-Bug in a nutshell

      • Tekhno says:

        (and not a word about the development of the machine gun, aeroplane bombs and other technology)

        It’s weird, because this is what makes me like Nick Land better as a narrow factionary, though admittedly “you’re all screwed coz AI” is an easier argument to make then “combining the systems of old style monarchy and modern join stok corps will prevent us being screwed”.

        If you’re not a materialist, you’re not even wrong, frankly.

      • Wait, wouldn’t the code succeed if turned into a school project for being deliberately obtuse? If it fails in that project, then it would mean it isn’t deliberately obtuse.

        Anyway, I don’t know enough about Urbit to meaningfully disagree. I do know (of) some of the people and investors involved, none of whom are idiots or light-weights, so if I had to guess I would say it’s not some stupid scam.

        The whole ‘turd-bug’ thing is pretty sophomoric though, bro.

        • Montfort says:

          I believe the suggestion is that it would fail because it is deliberately obtuse, not that the assignment would demand obtuse work.

          (I also dislike mocking nicknames)

        • I know enough about computing to say the mans project is so obscurantist that its in the “baffle with bullshit” territory.

          Anyways you can do everything he seems to be proposing with WAN technology, and sharing network resources, with perhaps simply updating the cryptographic algorithms used to be on “always” mode. If you’re really worried, use linux, open up some crypto textbooks, and write it yourself.

          But because he’s so obscurantist, i’m ready for a 1,000,000 essay of crap that redefines all of computing.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Turd-Bug

        Do we really have to go down this route?

        • suntzuanime says:

          Are we even allowed to say Moldbug? It’s hard to keep track.

          EDIT: Guess so.

        • I tried mentioning moldy-tugs, but that name seems always blocked as commenting, so I gave a name appropriate to someone making a scammy tech product.

          • CatCube says:

            Well, it comes off as you not being able to actually find a problem with what he’s saying or doing and using sophomoric insults instead.

            I don’t like the guy either, but this isn’t fuckin’ ninth grade.

          • Montfort says:

            As Suntzu demonstrates, Moldbug is not censored. Perhaps you also mentioned die neuen Reaktionäre? The comment page gives a little bit of guidance on which terms are censored.

          • Oh, I have extensive critiques.

            1. The usage of esoteric programming languages for a project that claims seriousness.

            2. Within that esoteric programming language, the baffling replacment of boolean logic of 1’s with 0’s, going against the rest of computing(and mathematics and computer hardware) for utterly no reason.

            3. Claiming some special link to deterministic computing methods, when from the get-go all of computing has been deterministic, sans a few specific algorithms that make use of random numbers generated from physical methods(with good reason).

            The two above sins are far more serious then they appear.

            4. Terrible coding documentation methods. I have read through open-source projects that take themselves seriously, and pretty much all the code is better documented and commented, with better variable names. Its trying to take the “vetted by many eyes” security of open source without really doing so.

            Here is a good example of documentation in the code and logical variable names. And here is urbits code.

            5. Some weird layer over code that defines yellow as green and green as yellow. That dosen’t happen in serious projects. Or for that matter, some massive renaming of known computing concepts, defended the way his political writing is. Mounds and mounds of nonsensical words that give me a “not even wrong” feeling when applied to verbal spewing.

            6. Ridiculous claims of security of the program, due to usage of cryptography.

            7. His peer to peer virtual computer not on your hardware is doable by any group of people on windows machines with perhaps the aid of an MCSE to be done fairly securely in a way that wont brick the machine. People don’t give this level of machine access to other random peers because its a terrible idea. He isn’t really doing anything that has not been made several times before on linux peer-to-peer networks that place a premium on cryptography.

            Thankfully, he claims everything and nothing with urbit, leaving every critique both valid and invalid 😀 That’s a very very bad thing. At least other scams are not fractally terrible.

            ” It is worth noting that being fractally wrong can be handy for the losing side in a public debate, since you are likely to leave your opponent looking baffled and unable to deal with each level of wrongness.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Holy cow.

            I don’t know if that code is representative of urbit, but that’s … um … wow.

            ETA: but, using gradeschool level name calling weakens the strength of your arguments. It makes me less likely to pay attention to anything you have to say. Stick to things that make your arguments stronger.

          • I was just having fun with what was once a name-ban.

          • @TheBearsHaveArrived

            Thanks for walking through why you disagree with his code. I’ve heard similar criticisms from others. I’ve *also* heard some people talk about how, while what he is doing is unlikely to succeed, it’s really cool.

            I sorta don’t know what to believe. I work as a data scientist by trade, so my computer science bona fides are far far too weak to meaningfully understand or evaluate these disagreements.

          • @NatashaRostova

            The problem with this project of his is that his decentralized peer-to-peer fluid storage and computing…is easily done in any mesh to mesh network.

            And it tends to become a total mess when the user count starts going past 10, with the lack of planning and arguments over resource sharing becoming horrible.

            Centralization of the internet into servers maintained by people with the knowledge and training of internet protocol was a way to deal with the lack of organization he is bringing back. Useful resource sharing has already been done well.

            But because none of his claims are concrete, this applies but does not apply,which is maddening.

            And with just a little bit of network no-how (sending requests to a specific Ip address and back) easy peer-to-peer communication is easily done.

            I really believe he is using verbal obfuscation to hide that he isn’t really…doing anything besides selling a horribly done peer-storage resource sharing system. And because the codes so horribly documented running on top of a language that’s worthless to learn, even vetting *that* is a uselessly daunting challenge.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Banned, after one previous warning. We try to aspire to higher forms of criticism here than replacing parts of people’s names with “turd”

    • Jugemu says:

      Really good (and long) discussion. It’s kinda funny too how Aaronson’s all like “NO WAY THIS CAN POSSIBLY CONVINCE ME” and then by the end he’s 95% of the way to agreeing with Moldbug (except on the Global Warming issue, where he retreats to truth-by-majority-consensus).

      • SA: I’m entirely against any form of monarchy.
        MM: What if… it was a scientist or person you deeply admired running the US?
        SA: Well… In that case…

        *note: profound oversimplification for humor purposes*.

      • Wrong Species says:

        That’s a vast oversimplification. Aaronson was basically saying that Monarchy could work, but eventually there would be a bad ruler, who could do far more damage than a democratic bureaucracy.

    • cassander says:

      Nice to see him who must not be named back in proper from. I was active on UR back when it was still around and he engaged in the comments section, and it must be said, the man is a better writer than speaker, with the caveat that he’s better in short form debate than long form essay.

  5. Here is a question I have.

    Why do so many people seem to reject GMO technology? I consider it to clearly be the future(and present!) of food production.

    Every investigation by actual scientists has lended support for all the GMO crops in existence after consumption for several decades. The only question is what are the effects of the trace amount of pesticides on crops. And its pretty clear that current levels of them typically found in food don’t obviously effect people on any timescale smaller then a decade.

    So why do you see such a distrust of GMO tech across the population? What psychology is coming into play here?

    • John Schilling says:

      Per Haidt, humans seem to have a need to classify something on the basis of purity and sanctity, and to reject the impure. In the pre-antibiotic era this had obvious survival advantages when it came to one’s choice of e.g. food, water, and sexual partners, and maybe this will be true in the post-antibiotic era. Here and now, with little prospect of dying of cholera because you collected your drinking water downstream of your latrine, we need some other way to scratch that itch.

      Conservatives mostly seem to focus on the purity of their everyone else’s sexual partners. Libertarians on how strictly lesser sorts of libertarians adhere to the non-aggression principle. Liberals for the moment apply the purity/sanctity thing to environmental issues, including food and water but on more sophisticated grounds than the mostly-irrelevant “is it filthy and germ-ridden?”. Food is now considered pure and sanctified if it is in harmony with the natural environment and/or conforming to the latest dietary fads. Vegan, gluten-free, “organic”, etc, with genetic tinkering being something that intuitively corresponds with unnatural and impure.

      The details can change; fats of any sort used to be ritually impure, now it’s (processed) carbohydrates. So there is hope. But if you want greater acceptance of GMOs in food, you’re going to need to give people something else to denounce as impure and expunge from their lives, and you’re going to need a way to convince them to make the switch. What, realistically, can you come up with?

      • Kevin C. says:

        @John Schilling

        The purity axis is definitely a major part. On the other hand, I cannot help but suspect that a contributing factor is the sometimes arbitrary “natural”/”artificial” distinction, which seems to be sometimes a remnant of vitalism (wherein a molecule of vanillin is somehow different whether it was synthesized from precursors in a lab or in an orchid, despite the indistinguishability of identical particles saying otherwise), and sometimes Cartesian-style human exceptionalism (where humans and human activity are somehow “separate” from nature; beaver dams and termite mounds are “natural”, hydroelectric dams and apartment buildings are not).

        • Spookykou says:

          I agree that this strange ‘natural’ idea is a contributing factor.

          But I wonder, is it that humans are ‘unnatural’ or is it more of a critique of the efforts of a conscious mind. I would imagine that these people would still find Human childbirth ‘natural’ and ‘beautiful’ for example.

          Actually, I think there are probably levels/styles of society/technology that these people would also consider ‘natural’ like hunter gatherer tribes, I think farms are starting to get into a gray area, and once you go past agriculture everything man made stops being ‘natural’.

          This is at least the impression I have gotten from interacting with hippies.

          • One Name May Hide Another says:

            Hippies or the Paleo types? =) I usually try to steelman “natural” and take it to be a shortcut for the Paleo heuristic: all else being equal, let me choose foods that are more likely to closely resemble what my ancestors have been eating. That’s for the obvious reason that the match between us and such foods would have been perfected by evolution, with the obvious caveat that both we and our food keep changing, so the process is ongoing. And so while chomping on bison and tigernut fricassee may have worked beautifully for my grandma, it may not be optimal for me.

            (Closely related to that is the idea that less processed = more natural.)

            Now, many Paleo types reject what they consider to be agricultural age foods, and as far as I know they make arguments for it that are partially based on some archeological findings: Paleo humans’ skulls, teeth and bones being purportedly healthier. I don’t know enough about the subject to have an opinion. What you say about the application of conscious human thought as the determinant of whether something appears natural certainly rings true.

            The question of childbirth is interesting along similar lines. As you mention, I’ve definitely heard the crunchy types glorify it as beautiful and natural, without there being a need for any medical interventions. On the other hand, I’ve also read that the average size of the human head may have already evolved to be larger today than it was not so long ago due to the availability of C-sections. So, as with food, going for what appears natural may not be optimal.

    • Corey says:

      Naturalistic fallacy.

    • One Name May Hide Another says:

      Definitely not a subject I know much about, but your comment got me curious. So I googled and read a couple of articles by nutrition dudes who are opposed to GM foods to see where they are coming from. Seems to me that some of the opposition is not to GMO technology in theory, but rather to specific companies doing the work in practice. People seem to believe these companies aren’t ethical so their product can’t be trusted. Also, there seems to be a perception that much of the safety research isn’t reliable because of various conflicts of interest.

      The Wikipedia article you linked states that the scientific consensus is that each GM food needs to be tested for safety on a case-by-case basis. So people end up being distrustful, especially if they are unable or unwilling to analyze the research themselves, and they have been scared by nutrition dudes online with stories about conflicts of interests or other reasons why the safety research might not be reliable.

      • Spookykou says:

        I have heard that there are various strange legal issues associated with GMOs that can be used to make a pretty rational case against at least some practices, similar to sustainability arguments for ‘organic’ agriculture.

        On the other hand, I know several people who refuse to eat GMO food’s and they are very clearly just motivated by a vague purity thing and are not at all concerned with crop contamination, etc.

        So I am not sure what portion of people who reject GMOs can be attributed to legitimate concerns about GMOs.

      • I can buy that. It seems something strange(and by strange I mean bad) has gone on with pharmaceutical companies and leasing out medications so academics can study side effects, so why not with food itself?

    • WashedOut says:

      Legal issues abound. In the famous Monsanto case, the GMO company’s “intellectual property” (read: patented gene) flew off in a breeze and sowed itself in a neighbouring farmer’s crop, resulting in demands for payment.

      • suntzuanime says:

        The media reported on that one a little too uncritically. The farmer deliberately selected for the seeds that had the gene in order to plant a whole field full of Monsanto crop, it wasn’t an accident. They didn’t go after him just because some seeds had accidentally entered his property, they went after him for trying to exploit that as an end-around on their patents.

        It’s like the difference between reading over someone’s shoulder on the bus, and sticking your phone over their shoulder and photographing the pages of the book to distribute.

        • Matt M says:

          Not to mention that this has little to do with GMO hysteria. Even if you believe the story entirely and you want to think Monsanto are a bunch of jerks and you want to boycott them, it does not logically follow that all GMO food is suspicious and one must buy organic exclusively.

          • WashedOut says:

            Suntzu, Matt M

            The legal issue of enforcing patent law due to a random airborne vector remains, regardless of interpretation of the facts of the above example.

            It has plenty to do with GMO suspicion if you talk to enough agriculturalists and lawyers.

          • Matt M says:

            And what normal person talks to a lot of agriculturalists and lawyers?

            My aunt who is utterly convinced that organic bananas are “better for you” than the regular ones is not protesting Monstanto’s questionable legal tactics in defense of their intellectual property.

            The masses at large are not closely following the details of IP law.

          • Jiro says:

            The Internet and places like SSC have a lot of computer geeks who absolutely are aware of such a thing, because it basically is DRM for plants, and computer geeks understand the problems with DRM.

            And you don’t need to talk to a lot of agriculturalists and lawyers to be a computer geek, or to listen to one.

    • lvlln says:

      I think there’s this idea of DNA having a sacred property that is common in popular culture. There’s this sense that DNA is this core invisible thing that defines us as individuals, that they determine our destiny. Almost like they’re our souls in physical form. So I think people have some sort of revulsion to the idea of changing that in a way that feels too mechanical or quick, in a way that bypasses – even if producing similar results as – the long-term process of selective breeding. It just feels a little too manipulative for comfort.

      Combine that with Monsanto not being all that likeable, and an uncritical acceptance of (mis-)information that shows such companies in a bad light, and I think it results in a paranoia about such foods.

  6. HeelBearCub says:

    Random mental weirdness.

    I have always rounded off Protagoras and Urstoff’s avatars to “sepia tinted vaguely greco-roman statue”.

    Therefore, I have no clear picture in my mind of their individual intellectual positions, other than that I know that I think they are quite different from each other.

    I’m not sure what that says about me, how my mind works, and the potential perils of using an avatar, but I’ve found myself noting this for what I think is the entirety of my 2+ years here. And yet it persists.

    • Jaskologist says:

      I do the same with Protagoras and TheAncientGeek, which I usually read as TheAncientG*r*eek, so they’re in the same category so they must be the same person, right?

      I had a similar problem with John Sidles and John Schilling back in the day, which leads to some very severe mental whiplash.

    • Protagoras says:

      Hmmm. Seems like I should perhaps be paying more attention to what Urstoff and TheAncientGeek say, to see what people might be confusing me with. Had never occurred to me before, as for some odd reason I have never confused myself with either of them.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      I never had any trouble with those two—a head and a bust—but I did at some point have trouble with Protagoras vs Blacktrance (who is gray, not sepia).

      I have had much more trouble confusing names than icons. This might just be because few choose their icons and many choose their names. People whose handles are complete sentences including the word “anonymous” are probably not trying to be memorable. I’m not sure if the high consonant people—dndnrsn and gbdub—are trying to hide. But I’m not the only one confusing them. I’ve never had trouble confusing them with rlms or hlynkacg, but I don’t know about others.

      Less explicably, I had trouble with HeelBearCub vs houseboatonstyx, who I think of as HBC and HBS. I think that if one or both of you had used consonants, I would have had less trouble. But capitals vs lowercase didn’t help me, so I dunno.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Ah yes, I had so rounded them off I had forgotten Blacktrance.

        The “consonanters” don’t give me trouble, but that is because everyone’s name is pronounced in my head anyway.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        I once confused you with someone who has the same last name for twenty minutes or so of reading a thread that you were not actually in. My opinion of you went way, way down until I realized my mistake. I think I’ve compensated adequately, but I’ll never be sure…

    • Winter Shaker says:

      There’s one commenter here, sorry, I can’t remember their name, whose avatar is a cartoon chicken (or at least a cartoon plausibly-a-chicken type bird) and as a hangover from when Jim with his Foghorn Leghorn avatar used to hang out here, I am always briefly expecting to read a gratuitously abrasive reaxionnary screed, and momentarily pleased when that doesn’t happen.

      • BBA says:

        Prinny is not a chicken, dood! (Unless you mean he’s a coward, in which case yes, yes he is.)

        • Winter Shaker says:

          No, it wasn’t you. The person I’m talking about has a mostly-white chicken-or-chicken-like-bird avatar.

          Though, while yours is clearly identifiable as a penguin, I had no idea just how non-standard a penguin until now 🙂

    • Randy M says:

      I do the same, but to combat the unfairness, I also afford them the gravitas their avatar conveys as well.

  7. Tekhno says:

    Do centrists have a Samson Option? Can we make one?

    • dndnrsn says:

      We haven’t reached the point where centrists set up paramilitary street-fighting groups.

    • Tekhno says:

      Why did these organizations fail?

      • cassander says:

        I’m going to guess “because it’s a lot easier to get young men excited about beat people up than it is to get them excited about not beating people up”. Escalation aids the extremists.

      • dndnrsn says:

        They were paramilitary organizations built for street fighting, and it looks like they had plenty of members, but it looks like their posture was more defensive. So, cassander may have a point – they were defending the Weimar consensus, and a lot of people disagreed with that consensus.

        On the other hand, the communists and their street fighters were extremists who arguably gained from escalation, but they did not win.

        The Nazis gained from escalation, and they gained more than the communists did – communism was seen as more of a threat (after all, nobody could see into the future, but people could look to the Soviet Union – the KPD were, by the early 30s, quite tight with the USSR). The Nazis were friendlier to conservatives and thus got more support from them (not necessarily votes, but the various other right-wing parties were willing to work with them prior to the seizure of power) than the communists did from the centre-left – largely because the KPD subscribed to the concept that social democrats were just a different type of fascism, so the SPD hardly wanted to work with them. As some charming person spray-painted at Berkeley alongside a hammer and sickle, “liberals get the bullet too”. Why team up with that?

        • Tekhno says:

          @dndnrsn

          So, cassander may have a point – they were defending the Weimar consensus, and a lot of people disagreed with that consensus.

          Would they have succeeded if instead they defended a fixed version of Weimar, that threw off the treaties, and made some of the purely economic changes Hitler did, like infrastructure to tackle unemployment, but were otherwise in line with liberal norms, rejecting the calls for taking back territory, and fought against Nazi ethno-nationalism, totalitarianism, and communism?

          I guess that would require that they had a pre-existing ideology, and that there was some kind of “second center” that was willing to appease the base concerns that were driving people to the Nazis (national pride) and commies (economic deprivation) without upholding the dogma of conspiratorial antisemitism, and a might makes right worldview of race struggle, or class struggle for that matter?

          The Weimar Republic did need to die, but it wasn’t interested in creating its own replacement, so bottled up pressure did its work. It’s not in the interest of existing politicians to create a new center if they can’t profit from it. I feel like a similar process has led to Merkel in Germany doubling down with the result that the far-right has made gains.

          The more difficult task then is to defend the idea of the center (or more accurately liberalism with center-right and center-left democratic compromise), over the existing center which is failing people now. We want to fix all of the problems, without discarding liberalism, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

          Right now, that means promoting liberal norms, and arguing that the existing center isn’t upholding those in contradistinction to the far-rightists and far-leftists who argue that the establishment is liberalism de jure.

          The Nazis gained from escalation, and they gained more than the communists did – communism was seen as more of a threat (after all, nobody could see into the future, but people could look to the Soviet Union – the KPD were, by the early 30s, quite tight with the USSR). The Nazis were friendlier to conservatives and thus got more support from them (not necessarily votes, but the various other right-wing parties were willing to work with them prior to the seizure of power) than the communists did from the centre-left – largely because the KPD subscribed to the concept that social democrats were just a different type of fascism, so the SPD hardly wanted to work with them. As some charming person spray-painted at Berkeley alongside a hammer and sickle, “liberals get the bullet too”. Why team up with that?

          Doesn’t this help us a bit in that we now have the advantage of knowing what Nazism and communism both produce?

          If what you say is accurate though, then we need conservatives to loudly counter-signal and attack Nazism/fascism at every opportunity, so these one sided coalitions can’t form. It’s a bit hard to do at the moment when the far-left is declaring conservative to be Nazis, but we have to find a way of convincing conservatives to do it in spite of their fear.

          Perhaps appeals to self-interest will work? You don’t end up on top in a coalition with any illiberal movement that is based on grievance rhetoric, because they can always out-grievance you, make you look disloyal, and pull your side towards them and away from liberalism.

          The other bad thing here is that America has largely lost a word for what support for principles like free speech, freedom of expression, rule of law, civil rights, right to own property, etc would be, because the word liberal now means “leftist”, and those few cases when it doesn’t it comes with the “classical” prefix and means “libertarian”. There’s no shared understanding of liberal in America.

  8. Deiseach says:

    I’m beginning to wonder if Trump – or at least President Trump – isn’t a tulpa created by the years’ long concentration on the figure of the Autocrat Theocrat Republican Threat by the opposition in America. They have called this baleful figure (or rather his presidency) up out of the depths of the collective unconsciousness by continual meditation and concentration of spiritual energies upon it, and now the embodiment of their worst fears and dreads has gained the White House!

    What provoked that rumination was a book review I have just read – I’m not keeping up with modern literature so I hadn’t heard of this one, but it got a review in “Private Eye” so it must be making a bit of a stir.

    It’s called “The Nix” by Nathan Hill and (to paraphrase from the review) it was publicised as “politically prescient” and a novel for the times, as it “begins with a former 1960s political radical throwing rocks at a presidential candidate with a Trump-like alt-right pro-God, anti-abortion and immigrant-phobic platform”.

    The review makes a comparison between “Governor Packer, the terrifying would-be president” and Scott Walker the governor of Wisconsin, but makes the point that the novel can hardly be called “prescient” as it was written in 2011 – or at least that is when the contemporary parts of it are set, “in the run-up to what turned out to be one of the most unremarkable American elections ever, with the incumbent Barack Obama easily re-elected”.

    And that is what started off my whole train of thought. Because in 2011/2012 who was Obama running against? Mitt Romney. He is the one the fearsome Governor Packer is based upon or meant as a nod to, not Walker. The anti-abortion anti-immigrant theocrat is the same as the man now looked back at as principled, competent and honorable.

    For years they had been denouncing the candidate opposite to their own as Literal Hitler. Now they’ve got the President of their dreams (fever dreams and nightmares, that is).

    Looks like the Democrats and others should have taken heed of the advice in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”:

    I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you cannot put downe; by the Which I mean, Any that can in Turne call up somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use. Ask of the Lesser, lest the Greater shall not wish to answer, and shall commande more than you.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      My crazy theory is that there was an occult attack on America’s luck, starting with 9/11.

      It can presumably only be lifted from outside the country, since American efforts to do so will be cursed to either do nothing or make things worse.

      • Aevylmar says:

        So I suppose we’d better start searching for someone willing to lay down his life three times for the United States of America, then?

  9. Here is some good news by STEVEN PINKER and JUAN MANUEL SANTOS

    No war in the western Hemisphere.

  10. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    First they came for the Nazis….

    So far as I know, the relevant incident hasn’t been verified.

    • suntzuanime says:

      “This, of course, raises questions about free speech: Is it free speech if it makes us feel unsafe in our own skin?”

      This fellow is writing for the New York Times. It’s one thing for random idiots on Tumblr not to know anything about liberal principles and not care, but this is literally a journalist literally reporting about how literally unsafe the world is, you’d think they’d see the irony. If you can’t even trust the press to take a firm stand for free speech, whom can you trust? (Internet trolls. The answer is internet trolls.)

      • Iain says:

        This fellow is writing for the New York Times.

        Malini Ramaiyer is a first-year student at the University of California, Berkeley.

      • Deiseach says:

        Why did that make me go “Ah, Berkeley. Of course“? 🙂

        The New York Times should stop letting random idiots write under their brand

        The future of journalism, suntzuanime. Unpaid interns churning out content for free the exposure, to get their name out there.

        Gee, I wish all this concern about “making us feel unsafe in our own skin” had been expressed back when Transgressiveness! was all the rage and making the squares and conservatives feel uncomfortable and unsettled and unsafe was the pinnacle of liberty.

    • TenMinute says:

      At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, for example, he singled out a transgender student for ridicule by name.

      Because thousands of “LOOK AT THIS FUCKING WHITE MALE THING! THIS ONE, RIGHT HERE! FUCK HIM!” incidents mean nothing compared to making fun of someone who they actually consider a real person.
      I don’t even care if this excuse for a journalist comes out provisionally in favor of “free speech”, this time. It’s time to root out and burn their culture. No more “fighting for a more progressive society” will be tolerated.

      What do you mean, “the relevant incident hasn’t been verified”? Video doesn’t count now?

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I haven’t found video of the man being attacked because he “looked like a nazi”. If you’ve got it, please post.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          I haven’t got video of that part, but there’s definately vid of the dude who got laid out on the pavement, and stills of some pretty serious blood spill.

      • 1soru1 says:

        > It’s time to root out and burn their culture. No more “fighting for a more progressive society” will be tolerated.

        To be clear, after you have done this, will you still be demanding from whatever survivors are left that they acknowledge that you are not any form of fascist, just someone who loves free speech?

        • TenMinute says:

          I’ve stopped caring, because this is apparently how the enemy fights now.

          anyone who stands up and respectfully applauds their perfect right to say these things should probably also be punched, because they are clearly surplus to human requirements.

          Burn it to the ground, tear up the roots, and grow something new from the composted ashes. Because that’s kinder than what they want to do to us.

          I used to care about free speech, but now it’s dead as a principle.
          What else do I have to care for but my friends? What else do I have to hate than anything that hurts them?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            TenMinute – “I used to care about free speech. Now I just hate.”

            Then do it somewhere else. Better yet, cool off and realize that the tactics you’re so enraged by are *losing tactics*.

          • TenMinute says:

            They’ve been winning for a hundred years. What’s going to make it a losing tactic now?

          • 1soru1 says:

            Only a hundred? Does that mean you acknowledge that slavery was bad, and abolishing it was good? It’s just votes for women and civil rights you think went too far?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Yeah for serious dude, chill out. This ought to be obvious, but you don’t fight anarchy by descending into anarchy yourself. The goal is to provide an alternative to the murderous, thieving hordes of peasants.

          • TenMinute says:

            The alternative to the murderous, thieving hordes of peasants isn’t going to be me, but whoever it is will need volunteers to hunt down Müntzer & Pfeiffer.

          • Jugemu says:

            FacelessCraven: For those tactics to lose, *someone* has to forcefully oppose them – unlike the Berkeley police. Otherwise the communists can simply make their way into power one beating at at time.

          • Space Viking says:

            @TenMinute:

            “I used to care about free speech, but now it’s dead as a principle.”

            Nah. That’s going too far. My response to antifa is: arrest and imprison them, on felony charges, using law enforcement. Also, use RICO law to go after their leaders and funders, perhaps even George Soros himself. That would be action in defense of free speech. We don’t need to burn the village in order to save it.

          • TenMinute says:

            One of the attackers in Berkeley turns out to be an employee at the college. He actually bragged about beating a guy on twitter.

            So much for it being a Trump-sponsored false flag.
            If he isn’t punished, what should the consequences be for Berkeley? What should we assume about the institutional left, and how should we deal with them in future?

          • They’ve been winning for a hundred years.

            The societies in the past century that most obviously embodied those tactics were the USSR, Hitler’s Germany and Mao’s China. None of them did very well.

            The societies that succeeded were ones where, most of the time, internal disagreements were settled peacefully.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @TenMinute

            “What’s going to make it a losing tactic now?”

            It’s a winning tactic for the Left. That doesn’t mean it would be a winning tactic for the Right. One does not build a house with the same tools one uses to knock it down.

            “If he isn’t punished, what should the consequences be for Berkeley?”

            It doesn’t matter what the consequences should be, because we know what they will be: nothing.

            “how should we deal with them in future?”

            That question assumes it’s possible to “deal with” the “institutional left”. It isn’t. They’re unstoppable, and they’ve already won. There is no hope, there is no hope, there is no hope.

            @Space Viking

            “My response to antifa is: arrest and imprison them, on felony charges, using law enforcement.”

            And when law enforcement (or more accurately, the people who give them their orders and control their pensions) refuse to do that because they’re on the same side as the “antifas”?

            “Also, use RICO law to go after their leaders and funders,”

            And when the prosecutors won’t do so, or the few who do lose in courts that favor those “leaders and funders”? In other words, how do you take action “in defense of free speech” when pretty much all of the people with the power and position to do so are on the other side?

          • Deiseach says:

            That video of the professor was – what do the kids say nowadays? – extra.

            Wow.

            ‘These kids are learning non-violence and I want you to go kick that guy’s ass’ – well, plainly she ain’t teaching them to recognise a contradiction.

            Really, when I see the hopeful idealists calling on (or even claiming that) the police and military to be on their side in the Great Rising Up against He Who Is Not My President, I do have to ask: and which side do you think the cops and army will be more sympathetic to – the foam-flecked screeching of “fuck you, you should be ashamed, you’re a disgrace” side of love and inclusion, or the nasty alt-right who claim to admire such things as patriotism and service of one’s country?

          • Tekhno says:

            Things were worse in the 70s. This is nothing. Relax, or everyone will die.

          • James Miller says:

            TenMinute “One of the attackers in Berkeley turns out to be an employee at the college. He actually bragged about beating a guy on twitter.”

            If this is true, and if this guy doesn’t get punished then Berkeley Republicans should write a letter to all the leaders at Berkeley saying this guy not getting punished creates an unsafe environment for them, thereby making the implicit threat of suing if this isn’t changed, or if further anti-right political violence occurs.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Kevin C.

            You seriously think the police are on the same side as the rioters?

          • Matt M says:

            You seriously think the police are on the same side as the rioters?

            In Berkeley specifically? I think it’s entirely plausible that they are at least sympathetic.

            Where do you suppose Berkeley police come from? I don’t imagine their entire police force was imported from Mississippi…

          • dndnrsn says:

            The sort of person who would be sympathetic to blac block tactics and goals is probably not going to join the police. Evidence from all over the place suggests that the police are generally to the right of the communities they police – complaints of police brutality and police killing people disproportionately come from left-wing cities.

            I don’t know the setup – were these UCB campus cops? If these were campus cops, I’m not at all surprised they were not prepared for a hundred and fifty rioters.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @dndnrsn

            “You seriously think the police are on the same side as the rioters?”

            The rank-and-file officers? Probably not. But ultimately, they follow the orders of the bosses who can fire them and take away their pensions if they don’t (as seen by how they do, in fact, stand aside), and those bosses definitely are on the same side as the rioters. Remember, a police officer’s real, de facto job isn’t “enforce the law”, it’s the same as everyone else’s real job: to make their bosses happy.

          • Matt M says:

            “Evidence from all over the place suggests that the police are generally to the right of the communities they police – complaints of police brutality and police killing people disproportionately come from left-wing cities.”

            Slightly to the right of Berkeley is still probably far left compared to the American average. And the second point does not establish a causual relationship, and could simply be an artifact of lefties being more likely to complain about police brutality.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Kevin C./Matt M.

            I think you’re underestimating the degree to which police unions are strong. They will go to the wall for their people, and they have not been systematically weakened in the way unions often have been.

            Lacking information about the resources and numbers the cops had, whether they were campus cops or not, etc, I don’t think we can say which it was. I think that the police were probably overwhelmed by what happened. The violence at Berkeley was unprecedented considering the stakes: there was destruction of property and violence at the inauguration, and the cops were ready for that, because inaugurations are a big deal. Has a Milo speech or anything like that seen well over a hundred masked rioters smashing shit and beating people, as opposed to yelling, water bottles getting thrown, fire alarms getting pulled?

            I live in Canada. We are to the left of the US. The left-wing parts of the country are generally quite left by American standards. If you are correct, the police would have been seriously punished for behaving as they did at the G20 protests (in Toronto, the actual urban area of which is Liberal and NDP). The punishments amount to … not much.

            To be honest, you guys are doing an inverse of what I see left-wingers (liberals and leftists both) of my acquaintance doing: to them, the world is a blasted hellscape, the Patriarchy reigns supreme, nobody gets true justice, brownshirts roam the streets, the police can kill whoever they want and get away with it, etc.

          • Jiro says:

            The violence at Berkeley was unprecedented considering the stakes

            So why didn’t the police arrest a number of people that was fewer than the total number of violent rioters (since they weren’t expecting that number), but still as many as possible?

          • To be honest, you guys are doing an inverse of what I see left-wingers (liberals and leftists both) of my acquaintance doing: to them, the world is a blasted hellscape …

            My impression also of the “the left runs the world and we’ll all have to die” rhetoric.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Local reporting on the riot and police response.

            I’m seeing a general consensus in the media that what happened in Berkeley was unacceptable. Most amusing was the trial balloon sent up claiming that the Antifa were a right-wing false flag, but the general reaction seems to be that this was an obvious disaster that must not reoccur. Perhaps more importantly, I don’t see this spawning a new round of congratulatory memes in the “punch a nazi” mold.

            The Berkeley College PD chief appears to confirm the officers were ordered to hold position rather than making arrests; the claim is that they were prioritizing protecting people being attacked rather than trying to catch perps. On the other hand, I haven’t seen any examples of people actually being protected, nor did they protect the building they were deployed around, so it seems they really did just stand around and watch the riot happen. Some ambiguity over how many police were present; apparently they had 20 officers from the College PD, but the articles seems to imply that city police were on-site as well. I look forward to the police report.

            [EDIT] – Man, I love local newspapers.

            The police by then had taken a mostly hands-off approach, which they continued all night. Many were massed and visible in the MLK student union and some stood on the balcony with their paintball and pepper ball rifles. UC Police regularly issued warnings that the gathering was an unlawful assembly and ordered people to disperse within five minutes or face arrest. However, the police never acted on that threat.

            Lots of mentions in the comment section that BPD used tear gas and non-lethal force against previous riots, and was roundly condemned for “excessive force”. They apparently just settled a couple lawsuits over the issue, which might explain a lot about the lack of actual policing.

            Yvette Felarca, a BUSD teacher and a leader of BAMN, who has been captured on film engaging in violent resistance to right-wing speakers, declared the night a success.

            “I think shutting down and forcing the cancellation of a white supremacist like Milo Yiannopoulos was a stunning achievement,” Felarca said around 10:15 p.m. (She was not dressed in black like many of the anarchists in the crowd, nor were the group of about six young people she was with.)

            She said Yiannopoulos deliberately came on campuses to stir up trouble and his words encouraged people to act out against immigrants, gay people and people of color.

            “It isn’t a question of free speech,” said Felarca. “This is about our right to be free of intimidation.”

            Yup.

            Debates loom over whether or not last night’s violence could have been prevented had the university yielded to demands from various campus groups to cancel Yiannopolous’ visit. “The university has no regrets,” Stephen Sutton, vice chancellor for student affairs, said in response. “We worked with the Berkeley College Republicans to have the event occur. We sat in meetings with them and we wanted them to have as successful an event as possible.”

            It’s nice to see that some people still have principles.

            I reiterate, violence is a losing tactic. The Black Bloc types shot themselves in both feet at Berkeley, and it looks like everyone knows it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Jiro:

            So why didn’t the police arrest a number of people that was fewer than the total number of violent rioters (since they weren’t expecting that number), but still as many as possible?

            Well, if they were overwhelmed by what happened, they might not have been able to arrest anyone.

            @FacelessCraven:

            On the other hand, I haven’t seen any examples of people actually being protected, nor did they protect the building they were deployed around, so it seems they really did just stand around and watch the riot happen.


            MMA fighter Jake Shields, who stepped in to stop a guy and is on video arguing with a couple of completely incoherent black bloc guys, says police weren’t doing anything.
            Also, his defence of free speech:

            Shields (31-8-1), who recently lost a bid for the WSOF welterweight title against fellow vet Jon Fitch (28-7-1), sustained no injuries in the incident. Although he identifies as a moderate, with friends on both sides of the political aisle, he blasted the protesters’ approach.

            “I don’t think those people are capable of rationalizing,” he said. “I think they’ve switched their brains to where if you have a different opinion of them, you’re a Nazi. I hate Nazis, too, but who determines what’s a Nazi?

            “There were hundreds of people cheering on, ‘Get the Nazi,’ and I went up and started arguing with them. Why’s this guy a Nazi? What did he say to make him a Nazi? No one could say.”

            Shields said he was influenced by his late father Jack Shields’ civic activism during anti-war protests in San Francisco in the 1960s, and what he saw bore no resemblance to that ideal.

            “I think both sides on the right and left have gone crazy,” the fighter said. “I think the left has gone more crazy because they’re saying the right is so crazy, but they’re the ones stirring up all this chaos.”

            Although Shields makes a living with his fists, he said dissent should never involve violence.

            “You need to have a conversation with people,” he said. “Maybe instead of attacking Milo, they should have went in and debated him and say why they don’t agree with his issues. Most people want the same thing. They want America to be a better place; they just have slightly different ideas on how it needs to be done.”

            I think you’re right that a fear of lawsuits was an issue. Once bitten, twice shy. If they’d waded in – assuming there had been enough to do so – their bosses probably would not have gone after them, but courts might.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            The point about lawsuits is well taken and makes me moderate my previous suspicion that the hand-off stance of the police was due to animus on the part of senior city or police officials. Another point that just occurred to me is Riot Training: Has BPD had much? Any? Facing down a violent or potentially violent mob that outnumbers you is not something that every cop is prepared for, and Berkeley hasn’t had the reputation of either a town or a college campus where that sort of training was in great demand since my parents were there as undergrads in the early to mid 60s.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @Kevin C.:

            They’re unstoppable, and they’ve already won. There is no hope, there is no hope, there is no hope.

            I bet you’re a lot of fun at parties.

            More seriously, since about 60% of the SSC commentariat suffers from depression, you should probably think about getting screened.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Machina ex Deus

            Diagnosed with depression (and other things, including Asperger’s) over a decade ago — after a suicide attempt — and am already on multiple psychiatric drugs. This is me on an antidepressant, and doing fairly well. Imagine what I was like without it.

            As for being “fun at parties”, besides being a sensory-defensive introvert (diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, then called “sensory integration disorder”, in preschool, along with gross and fine motor skill deficits and speech delay), and coming on my mother’s side from a long line of gloomy Germanic depressives prone to catastrophizing, I’ve been compared more than once to one of Rowling’s dementors, for my ability to suck all joy, light, and hope out of a room. Plenty of discussions have ended with me being told something along the lines of “stop talking because what you say is too smart to ignore and too emotionally distressing to contemplate”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Kevin C.

            I am semi-acquainted with someone who suffers from depression, anxiety, probably something Aspergers-y, in general a host of mental issues. He lives in terror of the brownshirts who stalk the streets (there are no brownshirts stalking the streets). To hear him talk, Trump’s election was a vindication of the Nazis, proof that the fascists are going to kill us all. Richard Spencer getting punched in the face provided a brief respite – lots of enthusiasm about punching Nazis, with periodic clarifications that it would be other people punching said Nazis – but that seems to have cooled.

            I think you are doing this, but in reverse. Your enemies are not all-powerful. Humans are weak and fallible; if we are doomed (and I think that we are) it will be due to incompetence, not malice.

    • Spookykou says:

      The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        You have become my new favorite commenter, Spooky. And that was before you posted that H.L. Mencken quote.

    • Zombielicious says:

      One thing that keeps getting overlooked in the condemnations of that protest is that a Milo fan and Trump supporter shot an unarmed protester who was trying to de-escalate stuff a week or two prior. He wasn’t prosecuted and the victim didn’t want him to be, and I’m not sure about further details beyond that. A lot of people were angry about the asymmetry between journalists being charged with felonies just for filming the black bloc people the day before the big DC march, versus a Trump supporter shooting an unarmed protester and getting off without charges.

      With that added to the fact that the Quebec shooter (Alexandre Bissonnette) was allegedly radicalized by a Marine Le Pen speech at his college, a shooting which Fox News continued to advertise as an Islamic terrorist attack for a full day (now removed) after the mistake was cleared up, and that the Trump admin may remove white supremacists from groups targeted by one of the FBI counterterrorism programs, and on top of reports about white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement, I’m not totally shocked that people feel a need to shut down this guy with protests and are coming to them prepared for war now as well. You can debate the overall effectiveness or morality of the protests, but the simplistic argument of “the right thing to do is ignore him until he goes away” is kind of ignoring the larger context. It’s not like he didn’t already have a platform with a history of inciting violence, or wasn’t part of a larger trend already building momentum anyway.

      Also, re: “first they came for the Nazis” (and Spookykou’s reply above): counterargument.

      • suntzuanime says:

        The source on the claim that the guy was unarmed and de-escalating was the IWW, i.e. the literal communists. The nice thing about real justice as opposed to “restorative justice” is that you get to sort through these sorts of claims. My sense is that the cops don’t just let you get away with shooting a guy for no reason, even if the guy says he’s cool with it, so I strongly suspect there’s more to the story. Apparently the investigation is still ongoing, so perhaps we’ll learn more.

        • 1soru1 says:

          > My sense is that the cops don’t just let you get away with shooting a guy for no reason,

          To abuse a bit of SJW jargon, I fear you may need to check your ‘living under the rule of law’ privilege.

          The keypoint to authoritarian rule is to have people killed and the murderers not punished. The law against murder becomes stifling red tape that must be swept aside. For an example from the 1920s, Giacomo Matteotti was an Italian politician who stated in Chamber of Deputies that the election of Mussolini was fraudulent.

          11 days later he was murdered; his murders were arrested, but released or pardoned. There was a controversy, until a few months later Mussolini openly took responsibility for the murder in a speech generally considered to mark the start of fascist rule. If he could kill an opposing politician, boast about it, and still rule, then obviously he had achieved legitimacy by inevitably.

          Putin’s Russia operates on similar principles, as does something between half to a third of the world.

          You have a theory that Trump’s USA doesn’t work like that. Show your working.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            The Seattle police were already an arm of the Trump administration the evening of the inaugural? Those boys have really hit the ground running.

          • TenMinute says:

            It turns out the police have been infiltrated by the White Supemaracist Patriarchy, funded by the Koch bros to… um,
            Who’s the evil right wing billionaire who retroactively funded them now they’re the good guys?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Yeah. I do think we more or less live under the rule of law. Occasionally some shitheads can burn down a college campus and beat people with impunity, but given that this guy turned himself in, the police can’t turn THAT much of a blind eye.

            Forgive me if I’m skeptical here, but this is sounding an awful lot like the Trayvon Martin case, where people were like “oh he shot an unarmed boy who was just buying skittles for no reason and the cops let him go, the rule of law has ended and it’s open season on black people”, and then when the media forced the case to court it became clear that the cops had tried to let Zimmerman go because he had a strong case for self-defense.

            Clear to anyone who actually followed the court proceedings and understood the law, that is. People following the media reports naturally got quite a different perspective on it.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            The keypoint to authoritarian rule is to have people killed and the murderers not punished.

            Well, the antifa in Berkeley aren’t getting punished, so maybe there is something to this whole authoritarian rule thing you’re worried about — just not what you think it is.

        • hyperboloid says:

          IWW, i.e. the literal communists

          If the word Communist here means Marxist-lenninist, then that is simply not true.

          • suntzuanime says:

            That’s splitting some thin hairs, like saying “oh heavens no I’m not white supremacist, I’m merely a white nationalist”. Maybe they weren’t openly taking orders from the Soviet Union back when the Soviet Union was a thing, but I know a couple Wobblies, and yeah, they’re communist.

          • hyperboloid says:

            There are several ways of using the word “Communist”. Are 1960s style hippies living on communes growing weed Communists? Are kibbutzniks?

            In one sense yes, both groups share political ideals of a classless society based on common property and communal living. But I don’t think that’s what people have in mind when they use the C word.

            Communism is very closely associated in the popular mind with the ideas of the soviet, or Chinese, backed Communist parties; The dialectical materialist theory of history, the dictatorship of the proletariat, democratic centralism, ext.

            The soviet habit of calling their ideology Marxism-Leninism wasn’t just Russian chauvinism (though it was also that), instead it reflected the truly profound impact V.I. Lenin’s ideas had on the nature of the soviet state. The violent totalitarian nature of the Communists infamous to history comes right out of Lenin’s conception of class conflict as total war.

            These are very much not the ideas of the wobblies. Here is, probably the leading intellectual of their brand of socialism giving a very effective critique of Lenin. While I don’t agree with everything he says, but Chomsky’s basic point that the Bolshevik party was a fundamentally undemocratic movement that turned it’s back on much of what nineteenth century Socialists believed is an important one.

          • TenMinute says:

            How about “I knew a girl who joined the wobblies and smashed shit with them at the WTO protests, then got high and had sex with a bunch of them, and they all called themselves communists before and afterwards”.

            That’s a definition I can work with pretty easily, that doesn’t rely on second-guessing people’s thoughts and motivations.

      • Spookykou says:

        Responding here.

        The feigned goal is to expand the Overton window, when the actual goal is to just move it somewhere else.

        I agree with this, but I am not as convinced as to how this happens. It seems to me that ‘ignored because it is so ridiculous’ implicitly keeps it out of the Overton window. Any more serious response, means you take them seriously, means they are not ridiculous, helps push them back into the Overton window. (See the real world effects of ‘noplatforming’ in this instance, do you think Milo reached a bigger or smaller audience, is taken more or less seriously now than before the protest? Consider the impact on the people who are actually susceptible to his message)

        I am certainly amenable to consequentialist arguments, but it is not clear to me that the consequentialist victory comes from noplatforming.

        With that issue up in the air as far as I can see, it is very easy for me to default back to my ‘protect free speech’ and ‘censorship is bad’ memes.

        • onyomi says:

          Yes, I think using violence and intimidation to keep someone from expressing an opinion for which there clearly is an audience is not only not virtuous, it also likely fails on at least two consequential grounds: one being the negative long-term effect of defecting from the norm that bad argument gets better argument, not bullet (nor threat of bullet, nor angry, shouting crowd) and also that scaring or shaming people into silence doesn’t cause them to actually change their minds–or their behavior in the privacy of the voting booth.

          Though arguably much more dangerous than nearly any political idea if it were widely taken seriously, no one has to use intimidation to keep an anti-vax speaker off campus because no one on campus is interested in hearing about it, and, if they were, the idea is easily refuted by better arguments. And if you were to use violent protests to drive away an anti-vax speaker, the likely result would be more long-term exposure for and interest in the bad idea, whereas if you had just ignored it, probably no one would have shown up anyway.

          Many are posting that XKCD about how not giving you a platform for your ideas doesn’t mean your free speech is being abridged. But obviously in Milo’s case, it wasn’t that no one at Berkeley would have shown up, but precisely because people would have shown up to hear him speak that protestors came. He was invited to come, wanted to come, and people wanted to hear him. Intimidating a speaker and those who might listen to a speaker whom they invited is clearly an attack on free speech. There’s a huge difference between refusing to provide you with a platform and a microphone and storming up to your platform with a weapon and stealing your microphone. Bad argument gets better argument or gets ignored. Not sucker punch, not rioting, not fires, not yelling.

          Intimidating people into not listening to a bad argument doesn’t keep it out of the Overton Window. To some extent, the fact that a significant number of people are curious about it means it’s already in the Overton Window. Signalling that the idea is forbidden just makes college students more curious about it, pulling it further in. Only debunking by better argument or putting better ideas into practice can push something back out the Window.

          I listed “In Favor of Niceness and Community” as my all-time favorite SSC post on the recent survey and I feel now, more than ever, that that idea is so, so key to well, pretty much everything. I can be neighbors with a Nazi, a Communist, and a Black Panther so long as we all share commitments to non-violence, live-and-let-live, peaceful discussion, and negotiation (insofar as one can believe in these things simultaneously). Conversely, I can’t be friends or do business with someone whose priorities are even a little different from my own if he thinks violence and intimidation are a good way to achieve them. Sure, he may not be aiming his guns at me yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @onyomi

            “scaring or shaming people into silence doesn’t cause them to actually change their minds”

            Who cares about changing minds so long as you change their behavior to what you want? Does it matter if the laborers in the privacy of their heads don’t really believe in the divinity of Pharaoh, so long as they haul the bricks to his pyramid?

            “or their behavior in the privacy of the voting booth.”

            This assumes that behavior “in the voting booth” actually matters.

            “Signalling that the idea is forbidden just makes college students more curious about it, pulling it further in.”

            How about signalling that the idea is heresy, and will bring inquisitors with stakes and kindling? You seem to be arguing that one cannot eliminate an idea by pronouncing it forbidden. Sure you can, so long as the pronouncement is backed by sufficiently severe punishment. Plenty of ideas were lost to the burning of books and burying of scholars, and one clearly can eliminate an idea by eliminating enough of the minds that hold it.

            “so long as we all share commitments to non-violence, live-and-let-live, peaceful discussion, and negotiation”

            But I think there’s plenty of evidence that certain cultures are effectively incapable of “live-and-let-live”, and show a consistent pattern across centuries of seeking to “convert the heathen” (See Stuntz’s Collapse of American Criminal Justice, chapter 6 “A Culture War and Its Aftermath”, and the forgotten “culture war” between “the late 1870s and 1933” for an example.) How do you deal with those who won’t stop trying to convert you, especially if they have much more power than you do?

          • Jugemu says:

            >This assumes that behavior “in the voting booth” actually matters.

            It’s early days yet, but so far it seems it matters pretty bigly.

          • onyomi says:

            How do you deal with those who won’t stop trying to convert you, especially if they have much more power than you do?

            I mean, I’m not arguing for pacifism. Proportionate violence in self defense is an appropriate response to actual violence. And violent protesters (or rioters) should be physically restrained from harming peaceful people and damaging property. Actual bullet gets bullet, but bad argument gets better argument or ignored. The Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t stop trying to peacefully convert me, but it isn’t really a problem.

            I’m in favor of using guns to defend the community of people interested in peaceful debate, voluntary exchange, win-win negotiation, etc., but only to defend it against actual guns and other forms of physical intimidation, not against bad arguments.

          • Plenty of ideas were lost to the burning of books and burying of scholars,

            If you follow your link, you will discover that the reality of the events in question is dubious.

            Recent scholars doubt the details of the story in the Records of the Grand Historian—the main source —since the author, Sima Qian, wrote a century or so after the events and was an official of the Han dynasty, which succeeded the Qin dynasty, and could be expected to show it in an unfavourable light.

            When an actual Qin site was excavated, it produced legal documents inconsistent with the Han account of their Qin predecessors.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Onyomi

            “And violent protesters (or rioters) should be physically restrained from harming peaceful people and damaging property.”

            Restrained by whom? And how?

            “Actual bullet gets bullet, but bad argument gets better argument or ignored.”

            The problem is the things in between. What’s the proportionate response to being fired? To being blacklisted? To being shunned? To being barred from all the important institutions? To being rendered an “untouchable”?

            “The Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t stop trying to peacefully convert me, but it isn’t really a problem.”

            Because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have the power to have you fired for publicly dissenting too far from their doctrine. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t control sizeable parts of the state apparatus, and can’t get you shut out from lucrative government contracts. The Watchtower isn’t read by over half-a-million people each day. You aren’t required to write lengthy essays showing your understanding and fidelity to Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, along with listings of how you’ve spent copious hours at tasks and causes they consider holy to get into elite, semi-elite, or even middling colleges or universities. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have over 90% of academia as adherents.

            So what do you do against those who do have such powers?

            “only to defend it against actual guns and other forms of physical intimidation, not against bad arguments.”

            Again, what do you do to defend against firing, blacklisting, exclusion from upper society? To defend against being made a dalit/burakumin/baekjeong/khadem/cagot? What do you do about those who stop short of violence, but who use their greater power, wealth, and control of institutions to exert immmense social pressure so as to make your existence increasingly low, limited, and miserable so long as you refuse to convert?

            How does “proportionate violence” work when one side uses a weapon that the other side literally does not and can’t counter? To make an extreme example, what’s the “proportionate violence” to a nuclear attack when you have no nukes of your own? How does “bullet gets bullet” work when one side has all the bullets, and the other none?

          • onyomi says:

            what do you do to defend against firing, blacklisting, exclusion from upper society? To defend against being made a dalit/burakumin/baekjeong/khadem/cagot

            I’m not really sure what you’d see as an acceptable alternative. Actual violence as a remedy for the psychological “violence” of ostracism?

            Keep in mind that I think political authority is illegitimate, so I also consider the coercive power of the state to be an unjustified use of force except in cases when individuals would be justified in using force, i. e. mostly self defense of life and reasonable defense of property. So I would see e. g. Jim Crow laws as falling within the range of “bullet,” since ultimately backed up by bullets, not “bad argument.”

            As for plain, simple, social ostracism, I don’t think there is anything within the “bullet” realm one can or should do about that, so long as it remains peaceful. After all, everyone discriminates to one degree or another in their lives: about their friends, romantic partners, business partners, where to live, where to shop… To use e. g. state-backed threats of violence to force them not to do so is a solution worse than the problem.

            I can’t ask for a society where everyone wants to be my friend, wants to live next to me, wants to do business with me. I can only ask for a society in which I am not prevented from seeking any of those things, nor is anyone prevented from doing so with me. “Pursuit of happiness,” not “happiness.”

            Fortunately, so long as no one is using actual coercion or violence against someone, there are usually lots of non-violent options for getting out of such a situation: protest peacefully, boycott, launch educational campaigns, create alternative institutions, move.

            We see this, of course, in the US already to some extent: conservative “think tanks” as an alternative to universities; actual universities like George Mason or even, to some extent UChicago, more friendly to a non-left wing perspective. The power of the state limits this, of course: moving, for example, is not so simple because even if you move from e. g. California to Texas to get away from policies you don’t like, California still helps elect your president. But I’m not in favor of forced association, and that includes forced political association.

          • onyomi says:

            Just to add to this: as everyone has a right to “the pursuit of happiness” but not to guaranteed happiness, so should the right of freedom of speech be understood, imo. No one has an obligation to provide you with a platform or outlet for your speech, nor to listen to it, but neither does anyone have a right to use violence and intimidation to stop you from using a freely offered platform, or to stop people who’d like to listen to you from doing so. It is, imo, perfectly analogous to the social and economic realms, though those freedoms get less respect than speech (freedom of association gets less respect than freedom of speech and freedom of economic association even less).

            This is, of course, also a problem with immigration restrictions: no one should force me to associate with or do business with immigrants if I don’t want to, but neither do I have the right to stop my neighbors, barring some prior HOA agreement, from renting to, or selling their house to, or doing business with immigrants. Of course, this gets complicated by the fact that immigrants may, in time, get to vote, and therefore to make coercive demands of me, but the problem there isn’t freedom of choice of renters and neighbors, but in the giving of coercive power over yourself to your neighbors.

            Of course, there is something of a grey area between speech and physical intimidation. Is yelling at a speaker “bullet” or just a rude way of making an argument? Is peacefully protesting in enough numbers that people may be scared to say, attend an event or enter a business rising to the level of physical intimidation or is it just an expression of the right to congregate and express an opinion?

            Like baldness, it is a continuum, but like baldness, there are unambiguous cases. In terms of having a “freedom of protest and expression” fig leaf to hide behind, the Berkeley “protests” have more of a Patrick Stewart-level claim to hair than a Donald Trump comb-over.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Onyomi

            “I’m not really sure what you’d see as an acceptable alternative”

            I’m sceptical that there are “alternatives”, “acceptable” or otherwise; I’m just trying to adress what I see as a fatal flaw in your stated principles here, namely that it seems to imply a certain parity between sides. How does “argument gets argument, bullet gets bullet” “proportionalty” work when one side has the other literally or figuratively outgunned by an insurmountable gap?

            “I can only ask for a society in which I am not prevented from seeking any of those things, nor is anyone prevented from doing so with me.”

            You can also ask for a rainbow unicorn that farts glitter. Doesn’t mean it’s possible. In fact, that’s my point: that, the way the world is now, such a society is impossible, because there are people who will do exactly that preventing, have the power to do so, and are too strong to remove.

            “there are usually lots of non-violent options for getting out of such a situation: protest peacefully”

            “Peaceful protest” first relies to a great extent upon sympathy from the media megaphone, and more generally is only successful as part of a “high-low alliance”, that is to say, when it provides those in a position of power with an excuse to do something they already wanted to do.

            “boycott”

            And when their ability to boycott is stronger than you, their institutions have deeper pockets (and better government funding) than yours and are better able to last through your boycotts than your institutions are able to weather theirs, and their greater numbers of institutions mean your boycotts are spread thinner while your fewer institutions mean their boycotts are better targeted and more concentrated? In short, when you need their business far more than they need yours?

            “launch educational campaigns”

            Again, relates to relative media power. When their “megaphone” educational campaigns can outmatch your streetcorner soapbox. And can any “educational campaign” hope to even mach a fraction of the influence of the public school system? Or academia, for that matter.

            “create alternative institutions”

            again, deeply limited. Consider, just one example, colleges and universities, not as centers of scholarship, but as the institutions granting the degrees increasingly needed for employment. You can start your own “Right Wing U” to counter the leftist dominance noted by Haidt and others. But the degree a student receives from such an institution is just a worthless piece of paper from a “diploma mill”, unless the college is accredited by one of the college accreditation agencies. And if, as a result of being too “heretical”, and a mass of Untouchables, those agencies refuse to accreditate your RWU, then what? You can try to “create alternative institutions” again by making your own accreditor, but then it’s just an “accreditation mill“. Who determines which accreditors are valid and which are not? The US Department of Education. And don’t forget Title IX, if you want RWU’s students to be able to get federal aid. And there’s not nearly enough wealthy folks willing to be tarred by association with crimethink to go the Hillsdale route on any significant scale.

            If your people can’t get into medical school, then you don’t have any legal doctors. Can’t get into law school? No lawyers.

            Compare “parallel institutions” to “separate but equal”. Given the disparities in state approval, funding, laws, media coverage, et cetera, your “alternative institutions” end up pretty lousy alternatives.

            “move”

            Assumes there’s someplace to move to. What happens when you run out of places to flee to, when there’s literally nowhere on Earth their mettlesome influence cannot reach you, what then?

            But I’m not in favor of forced association, and that includes forced political association.

            You can be against “forced political association” all you want; that doesn’t mean you can avoid it. And if you can’t escape it, what then?

          • onyomi says:

            You can be against “forced political association” all you want; that doesn’t mean you can avoid it. And if you can’t escape it, what then?

            I’m not really sure where you’re going with all this. I’ve already said that proportionate force is an appropriate response to force. And if an existing social group is more powerful than me in terms of both guns and ability to exert social pressure, all the more reason for me to want them to share a cultural norm against using guns outside cases of self defense.

            Of course I’d prefer for people who agree with me to be in the social ascendant wherever I live, but if they aren’t, I’d rather those who are in the ascendant be fighting me with words and hiring decisions than bullets. Doesn’t mean I approve of say, firing someone for their political views, but I also don’t approve of fighting against such an action with guns. The fact that I want a norm of not using violence and intimidation to shut down opinions one doesn’t like doesn’t mean that’s the only norm I want, just that that’s the sine qua non of more civilized norms.

            You seem to be arguing something like “your fine ideals of peaceful debate and cooperation are well and good, but what happens when they run up against the real world, in which people aren’t peaceful?” but I never argued that respect for freedom of speech and association is already widespread throughout the world, only that it ought to be, and is seemingly becoming less so recently, much to my concern.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @onyomi

            “all the more reason for me to want them to share a cultural norm against using guns outside cases of self defense.”

            But what about everything short of guns/sticks/knives/etc.?

            “I’d rather those who are in the ascendant be fighting me with words than bullets.”

            See, that’s the problem, that’s “where i’m going with all this.” You’ve set up a false dichotomy wherein “fighting with words” and “fighting with bullets” are the only two possibilities, and ignoring everything in-between. There’s plenty of tactics that are more forceful and coercive than “fighting with words” and “bad argument gets good argument”, while falling short of literal, physical violence, and you seem to be obstinately refusing to acknowledge that such a middle space between your two alternatives even exists, let alone how someone is supposed to engage with it under your espoused principles. You say “proportionate force is an appropriate response to force”, but a sufficiently dominant group can, through measures short of violent “force”, make life sufficiently poor and miserable, reproduction and transmission of culture and ideas sufficiently difficult, for a smaller, weaker rival group as to slowly but surely drive said rival group to extinction. (This includes losses to defection. Make the social penalties severe enough for not believing in leprechauns, and people will start believing in leprechauns. People like our host who care more about the truth of their ideas than the social status they bestow are rare.)

            You speak of preferring that “an existing social group” which “is more powerful than me in terms of both guns and ability to exert social pressure” stick to the latter rather than the former. But what about when the latter, though slower, is in the long term ultimately just as deadly to your tribe as the former?

          • onyomi says:

            @Kevin C.

            You’ve set up a false dichotomy wherein “fighting with words” and “fighting with bullets” are the only two possibilities, and ignoring everything in-between.

            I’m not ignoring everything between. See the part about baldness and a continuum between peaceful protest and violent intimidation.

            As for the idea that social pressure can, in the long run, be as powerful or more powerful than violence–that’s what I’m counting on.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Onyomi

            “As for the idea that social pressure can, in the long run, be as powerful or more powerful than violence–that’s what I’m counting on.”

            Except that you’re on the wrong side of the social pressure. It is you and yours who will be crushed out of existence by a “social pressure” you have literally no hope of matching. How can you not see that you’re on the doomed, losing end?

      • The Nybbler says:

        A Milo fan shot a protester. It’s not at all clear the protestor was unarmed (some unconfirmed reports have him possessing both a knife and brass knuckles). And there’s video of the shooting, it doesn’t look like there was any sort of “de-escalation” going on.

        The police don’t just not prosecute shootings because the victim doesn’t want to press charges. That can happen in other cases but pretty much NOT shootings. Especially not with video evidence and plenty of witnesses even if the victim is un-cooperative.

        Anyway, even had that been a Milo fan who shot a poor innocent peaceful protestor, that would not in any way excuse the violence in Berkelely. You don’t get to beat up people you don’t like because other people with similar ideas shot someone you do like.

        • Zombielicious says:

          The lack of charges is surprising, since even I doubt the Seattle police and prosecutors are such big Milo fans they let his supporters get away with shooting people with impunity, but searching for stuff about brass knuckles just turns up Breitbart and even lower quality stuff like, uh, “investmentwatchblog.com” (it’s as bad as you’d think). So until it gets reported by a more credible source, I’ll lump this in with stuff like the non-existent “Bowling Green massacre,” faked footage of a Yemen raid, Iranian attacks on U.S. ships that never happened, and the countless other brazen and trivially disproven lies that come from the Milo / Conway / Trump / Spicer / Bannon / etc crowd.

          If people don’t want protests and escalation, there’s one key point of failure there: Milo himself. He’s the human version of the Westboro Baptist Church, and at this point it’s like yelling fire in a crowded theater. You blame the guy who catalyzed it, not the crowd for having failed to file out the doors in an orderly manner. Free speech aside, he’s at least a single person whose mind or behavior you could actually target and try to change, compared to some broad, amorphous swath of society. That would be true regardless of his politics, and the fact that he’s not fighting to speak out against some grave injustice (compared to something like MLK at the Lorraine Motel) just puts it even more on his shoulders. No amount of op-ed moralizing is going to change the laws of mass psychology and convince every single potential agitator to embrace nonviolent civil disobedience, anymore than more articles about how “clickbait is ruining news” will make it end either. That’s not excusing the violence at the protests, just understanding that if you want the reaction to stop, you have to remove the catalyst, not try and get all the individual molecules to continually move against entropy. You can either tolerate Milo and occasionally-violent protests together, or say having one isn’t worth having the other. Hard to tell that to people who are on his side of the culture wars, but hoping for other outcomes just seems unrealistic.

          • Matt M says:

            Milo is not the only person being protested. Richard Spencer was punched, as we all know. The hysteria directed at Gavin McInnes recently has been documented as well. Protests at colleges have been disrupted and shut down even for relatively lukewarm (by today’s standards!!) neocons such as Ann Coulter.

            There is no evidence that this will all go away if Milo simply shuts up, and plenty to suggest the opposite.

          • The Nybbler says:

            He’s the human version of the Westboro Baptist Church

            So, protected speech.

            at this point it’s like yelling fire in a crowded theater.

            Fortunately for the protestors, Schenck is no longer good law. Unfortunately for them, this does not apply to _setting fires_.

            Free speech aside

            Yeah, in the United States we tend not to do that.

            You can either tolerate Milo and occasionally-violent protests together, or say having one isn’t worth having the other.

            Or we could use the force of law to stop and punish the protestors, who are actually violating criminal laws in ways not protected by the First Amendment.

          • YehoshuaK says:

            People saying things you don’t like–even things you really really don’t like–is not like “yelling fire in a crowded theater.” It’s not hard to understand.

            If you yell fire in a crowded theater, you are telling everyone in the theater that their lives are in imminent danger. They will naturally and predictably stampede for the exits, and some will be trampled. If your warning was a lie, you are responsible for the injured or dead.

            Saying things you really really don’t like does not put your life at risk, nor make any sane person think his life is at risk, and therefore does not even begin the above sequence of events. (Also there isn’t a large number of people trying to move simultaneously through a pathetically too-small door.)

            This metaphor has been abused more than enough; can we please put it away now?

          • suntzuanime says:

            If you say things people don’t like, they will naturally and predictably riot, and that will put people in danger. You need to have some notion of rights, not just “does this endanger people”.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            You can either tolerate Milo and occasionally-violent protests together, or say having one isn’t worth having the other.

            Why can’t we have the police arrest the violent protesters?

          • Corey says:

            @YehoshuaK: Perhaps instead of “yelling fire in a crowded theater” a better metaphor would be “posting to rec.pets.cats asking for recipes.”

          • Matt M says:

            In a happy coincidence of timing, a conservative leaning (but not even close to alt-right or anything like that) friend of mine just made a FB post where he linked to a transcript of a recent Milo speech saying “I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, I encourage you to read it and judge for yourself.” So I did. And I echo his encouragement.

            This is not some racist, far-right, screed. It is an order of magnitude more civil and less blatantly provocative than say, the Westboro Baptist Church. It is a reasoned argument for a specific political position which is well within the overton window in American politics (and not even the most extreme position one could take and still remain in the window). Yes, there are a few shots taken at his enemies. Some of these jokes are crude, perhaps even offensive (although it’s worth noting he practices a lot of self-deprecating humor and also makes crude jokes about himself and his supporters). THIS is what we’re comparing to Hitler? THIS is what we’re rioting and assaulting people over? Really?

            Overall, I found it to be witty, engaging, and peppered with just enough references to Catholic saints that it struck me as more likely to be confused with a post by our very own Deiseach* than with a passage from Mein Kampf.

            *I sincerely apologize in advance if you take offense to this or if people give you grief because of it

          • Tekhno says:

            @Zombielicious

            and at this point it’s like yelling fire in a crowded theater.

            An interesting point of view.

            That would be true regardless of his politics

            That’s exactly the problem with going down this dangerous line of thinking.

            No amount of op-ed moralizing is going to change the laws of mass psychology and convince every single potential agitator to embrace nonviolent civil disobedience, anymore than more articles about how “clickbait is ruining news” will make it end either.

            I wonder about that, but the law is there to protect the liberal right to speak against a violent mob. Riot cops are necessary when there are riots. When the cops assemble properly, the would-be rioters can only screech and hiss about the rights of “Nazis” being protected, and violence is minimized.

            Also, it is not something inevitable that is dependent on innate psychology, when it’s an emerging trend with institutions behind it.

            That’s not excusing the violence at the protests, just understanding that if you want the reaction to stop, you have to remove the catalyst, not try and get all the individual molecules to continually move against entropy.

            The catalyst is that Universities are incentivized to encourage this behavior, to the extent where those hired by them will take part (such as Ian Miller). Government funding should be withdrawn.

          • CatCube says:

            I just want to point out that “Yelling fire in a crowded theater” was a metaphor used by the Supreme Court for justifying jailing anti-war advocates protesting conscription during World War I.

            So tell me more about how your political opponents can be shut up because their words are like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Zombielicious – ” So until it gets reported by a more credible source, I’ll lump this in with stuff like the non-existent “Bowling Green massacre,” faked footage of a Yemen raid, Iranian attacks on U.S. ships that never happened, and the countless other brazen and trivially disproven lies that come from the Milo / Conway / Trump / Spicer / Bannon / etc crowd.”

            The “credible sources” were still reporting that the Berkeley protests were peaceful and that no one had been injured hours after I was watching the vids of people face down and bleeding on the pavement.

            Further, news reports from the university of Washington include numerous mentions of scuffles and fighting from the crowd, protesters throwing bricks at the police, and the police ordering the attendees to remove or conceal hats or other articles of clothing that would identify them as pro-Trump or pro-Milo, and they left the auditorium under police escort out a covered exit. That is not a description of a “peaceful protest”*.

            Note the photo of the man who was shot leading the article. He is dressed all in black, leather jacket with pins. He is being helped by three other protesters, all dressed all in black, two wearing masks, the third having just pulled their mask down. From the picture, it is not clear whether the man who was shot was wearing a mask as well. One of the protesters is wearing a helmet covered front and black in black and red crosses, black and red being the antifa colors. The other is carrying what appears to be a medical bag with an “anarchist fist” fist over the red cross symbol.

            I do not believe they were there to “peacefully de-escalate the conflict.” I think the people we see in that picture are probably Antifa, and that the shooter acted in self defence. They are wearing the uniform and colors of a known violent gang, at an event where that gang is known to have had a presence and where “anonymous” violence occurred. We have video of the man in question charging the attendee who shot him.

            I think it is time to stop humoring this “anonymous anarchists” bullshit. Antifa is symbiotic to general leftist protests; they attack leftist targets while the crowds stand by and watch, then retreat to the crowd for safety. They are using leftist free expression to explicitly and violently deny free expression to the right. The left has turned a blind eye to this behavior for too long.

            I readily admit that I cannot prove they were Antifa or that the shooter acted properly. The people best situated to do that are the Seattle PD, who released the shooter without charge. As you note, it is remarkably unlikely that police from a major metro department are letting an attempted murderer walk, and there was no shortage of witnesses. I welcome any further investigation or revelations by the university, Seattle PD, press, or interested citizens; I am especially curious as to what the “victim’s” social media look like.

            Out of curiosity, should we on the Right start treating lightning-rod figures on the left this way? I’m not particularly fond of Sarah Silverman, for example. Should we riot whenever she goes on a campus to speak?

            *The early articles I read for the UW protest also mentioned the police seizing numerous weapons from the protesters, including bats and hammers. Unfortunately I don’t have the time now to hunt down the article, so feel free to disregard.

          • Matt M says:

            “An interesting point of view.”

            Not to mention that pulling the fire alarm in a crowded auditorium is literally one of the most common tactics of the protesters in this case. You can insist that the things Milo says are “like” that if you want, but his opponents literally do that thing.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “I think it is time to stop humoring this “anonymous anarchists” bullshit.”

            And what exactly would this “stop humoring” constitute?

            “Should we riot whenever she goes on a campus to speak?”

            No, because then, unlike your counterparts on the other side, you’ll be arrested, prosecuted, and thrown in jail. Tactics that work for one side of the political divide do not necessarily work for the other; one may knock down a building with a wrecking ball or demolition charges, but one cannot put up a building with them.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – “And what exactly would this “stop humoring” constitute?”

            For starters, forcing leftists to accept the blame for the violence they call for and cheer on. Trump has already threatened to pull federal funding. Force the police to actually enforce the law by putting overwhelming political pressure on the administrative types.

            You have claimed that these things are not possible to do, but I disagree. I’m pretty sure you didn’t think Trump could win the election either, did you?

          • Zombielicious says:

            *comes back to see 10 replies by 7 right-leaning posters, including transcripts of Milo speeches and 20 minute Hitchens youtube videos… and 1 reply by a left-leaning poster*

            *starts thinking of the ending to Gallipoli*

            Sorry but there’s no way I’m taking the time to respond to all that in depth – you win, I guess. Free speech sure, but people have the right to assemble too, if you’re gonna do it just don’t be surprised when some jerk uses it all as an excuse to take a tire iron to a bystander. From what I’ve heard Milo is ethical feces in the shape of a man and quite frankly I’d rather start reading Mein Kampf first than one of his speeches, if I’m going in that direction. I’ve been told, but haven’t verified, that he also doxxes people, incites violence towards individual students, and that the event in question was going to teach people in real-time how to out undocumented immigrants. Just the guilt-by-association with the rest of the alt-right and Trumpers is enough that I’m seriously changing my mind about the “counterargument, never bullet” thing anyway – see Karl Popper (among so many others) on “the right to not tolerate the intolerant.” Maybe we should have just smashed some heads in before things got so out of hand that I was seriously wondering whether I’ll be hiding Anne Frank in my basement a few years from now.

            Disagree as you will, but I’ve only got so much time and energy to respond, especially on a subject as trivial as college students protesting some meatspace internet troll.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “forcing leftists to accept the blame for the violence they call for and cheer on.”

            And how, exactly, does one force them to do it? Particularly as they can call on more force?

            “Trump has already threatened to pull federal funding.”

            And the courts will shut it down as unconstitutional under the Anti-Commandeering principle.

            “Force the police to actually enforce the law by putting overwhelming political pressure on the administrative types.”

            Who, exactly is going to put all this “overwhelming political pressure” on the administrative types, and how? Particularly when pretty much every institution capable of “overwhelming political pressure” already belongs to the left?

            “You have claimed that these things are not possible to do, but I disagree.”

            And on what evidence (other than wishful thinking) do you base this disagreement?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Zombielicious

            From what you’ve -heard-? You’re willing to say ‘I don’t normally excuse violence, but…’ and ‘I believe in free speech but…’ based on what you’ve -heard-?

            Now, I’ve actually read the speech, the first time I’ve bothered to go all the way through a full speech of his since I’m generally not a fan of that style of speaker. Too glib, and sliding too easily and freely from hyperbolic comedic insults and exaggerated shock value claims to “serious” insults to actual reasoned argument, and back again.

            But you’re comfortable abandoning what are supposed to go to some fairly illiberal places based on -hearsay- and accusations of online behavior you haven’t confirmed? Really?

            Consider the standard you’re holding yourself to here.

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            @Zombielicious

            I used to identify with the left but I don’t know if I’ve actually established those credentials here so that you’d believe me… but here it goes.

            I actually read that Milo transcript. It’s very distressing, but not because it was so ethically damnable. The distressing thing was because I have to agree, at least that one transcript is not comparable to Westboro or Hitler, on the contrary, it is more-or-less sane argument that some forms of pro-abortion posturing are quite morbid and ethically questionable when you really think about it. And of course, he is not being nice about it. But neither a nazi monster, at least in this speech: he is not even for a total ban of abortions (which even is a viable political position in US as far as I know), he cites Aquinas for a reason why some morally wrong things should not be illegal, just that they should not be celebrated.

            Which is, frankly, my position on abortions too, and I consider myself pro-choice. And I think some forms of pro-choice campaigning are bad tactics in the long run; the difference between me and Milo is that he is not being charitable when he picks them apart. Of course, intellectual-argument-wise the not-very-nice part is where he then just goes on rambling on and on how terrible and un-celebratable thing abortion is (which undermines the talk about Aquinas more and more as he goes on that route). I’d appreciate if he spent more time outlining which he think should be legal, instead of just appealing to emotions of the audience.

            On the other hand, the most terrible things he says are mostly about similar level of bashing feminists that happens regularly here on SSC comments (well except for the part where he compares abortion death toll to holocaust, that I haven’t seen much hereabouts). It’s intellectually uncharitable outgroup stereotyping, yes, but I don’t think it’s really that mortifying that people who want to listen to that should be beaten or your brain will rot if hear it.

            Of course there is a chance that maybe this transcript was cherrypicked so that the damnable offenses that everybody loves to talk about are missing.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            He’s certainly been an asshole on Twitter before he was banned there, from what I’ve seen, but no more so than many others. The sort of guy who’d argue with a liberal and then make snide comments much like the name-calling in his speech there.

            The rest is the same issue with “Andrew Cord”. He’s a prominent voice with lots of aggressive followers. So when he gets into a public fight with people on social media, and some third party later doxxes them or harasses them or threatens them, the accusation is that Yiannopoulos “targeted” them or directed it.

            His official statements have been of the somewhat weaselly “I think doxxing is wrong and unjustified and that shouldn’t have been done, but these people are assholes who brought it on themselves, not innocent victims” variety.

          • The Nybbler says:

            *comes back to see 10 replies by 7 right-leaning posters, including transcripts of Milo speeches and 20 minute Hitchens youtube videos… and 1 reply by a left-leaning poster*

            “Threw rocks at squirrels. Result: angry squirrels.”

            Free speech sure, but people have the right to assemble too, if you’re gonna do it just don’t be surprised when some jerk uses it all as an excuse to take a tire iron to a bystander.

            Surprised? No. But it’s still not at all justified, and those who are on the protestors side are rather disgusting people if they justify this by “but Milo’s a hater!”.

            From what I’ve heard Milo is ethical feces in the shape of a man and quite frankly I’d rather start reading Mein Kampf first than one of his speeches, if I’m going in that direction. I’ve been told, but haven’t verified, that he also doxxes people, incites violence towards individual students, and that the event in question was going to teach people in real-time how to out undocumented immigrants. Just the guilt-by-association with the rest of the alt-right and Trumpers is enough that I’m seriously changing my mind about the “counterargument, never bullet” thing anyway – see Karl Popper (among so many others) on “the right to not tolerate the intolerant.” Maybe we should have just smashed some heads in before things got so out of hand that I was seriously wondering whether I’ll be hiding Anne Frank in my basement a few years from now.

            You’re ready to condone violence in the streets based on hearsay, willfull ignorance, and guilt by association?

          • Zombielicious says:

            He’s apparently worse than that, and it seems the accusations are true (to no one’s surprise). I really, really can’t express how much I hate wasting my time worrying about what people like him think or do, which is part of why I’ve given up on polite debate with his kind. Low tolerance for people preaching hate, especially in asymmetrical relationships where the receiving party can’t easily fight back. Next time maybe just deny the veracity of the accusations. At least don’t claim some kind of moral superiority because someone thinks this kind of person is a scumbag and couldn’t care less if he gets KTFO. I do appreciate the summary of the transcript so I can decide whether it’s worth my time to read or not, but unfortunately in this case I wasn’t really judging him by his views on abortion, but by the worst things he does at his speaking engagements which would justify people trying to silence him on their campuses.

            Fwiw this kind of discussion could go on forever, and we’ve moved on pretty far from the original stuff about social feedback loops and escalating conflict. If, as Eleanor Roosevelt implied, talking about ideas > events > people, we’re at the absolute lowest rung now – “how bad of a person is Milo?” I want out of this now, is what I’m saying.

          • Zombielicious says:

            You’re ready to condone violence in the streets based on hearsay, willfull ignorance, and guilt by association?

            See above. You misrepresent the slightest statement of epistemic humility to feign outrage and moral superiority when you know, as I was already fairly certain, that the accusations are true. Go troll someone else – I’d already had you blocked for a while, and unhiding just for this discussion was clearly a mistake.

          • Matt M says:

            “but by the worst things he does at his speaking engagements”

            Just to be perfectly clear, what I linked to was a transcript of one of his speaking engagements at a university – the exact type of thing that meets protests which occasionally turn violent.

            I make no guarantee that it’s representative. I assure you that *I* didn’t cherry pick it as the “least offensive” speech he’s ever given, but it’s possible my friend did.

          • Matt M says:

            ” If, as Eleanor Roosevelt implied, talking about ideas > events > people, we’re at the absolute lowest rung now – “how bad of a person is Milo?” I want out of this now, is what I’m saying.”

            The entire premise of your argument was that it’s justified to meet Milo with violence because he is a bad person.

            So establishing whether he is actually bad or not seems relevant.

            If you want out, you have an easy out. Alt-F4.

          • Jiro says:

            I’ve been told, but haven’t verified

            The moment you typed that word, you should have realized what you just said and stopped typing.

            If you find yourself treating people as monsters when you haven’t verified it, you’ve joined the monsters.

            Just the guilt-by-association with the rest of the alt-right and Trumpers is enough that I’m seriously changing my mind about the “counterargument, never bullet” thing anyway

            Most people who use guilt by association are at least ashamed of doing so rather than being proud about it. Especially when they admit using the guilt by association to justify bullets.

          • *comes back to see 10 replies by 7 right-leaning posters, including transcripts of Milo speeches …

            followed by

            From what I’ve heard Milo is ethical feces in the shape of a man and quite frankly I’d rather start reading Mein Kampf first than one of his speeches, if I’m going in that direction. I’ve been told, but haven’t verified …

            Writing that after objecting to someone providing a link to actual evidence about Milo translates as “I’ve made up my mind, don’t confuse me with facts.”

          • Tekhno says:

            @Zombielicious

            *comes back to see 10 replies by 7 right-leaning posters, including transcripts of Milo speeches and 20 minute Hitchens youtube videos… and 1 reply by a left-leaning poster*

            I wonder who you are classing as right-leaning here, because I certainly don’t identify that way. I don’t really like conservatism at all, and I think Trump is an absolute buffoon.

            EDIT: I defend the left a lot here, but right now if you’re being dogpiled, it’s not on the basis of right wing principles, it’s on the basis of liberal principles.

            *starts thinking of the ending to Gallipoli*

            Don’t be so melodramatic.

            From what I’ve heard Milo is ethical feces in the shape of a man

            I consider him a opportunist conman, who only defended gamers when it was convenient after bashing them for years, and keeps claiming he’ll get his privilege grant ready while never delivering.

            If you want to stop Milo, focus on that. I’m not sure about the law, but I’m pretty sure he could be sued if he refuses to deliver.

            Just the guilt-by-association with the rest of the alt-right and Trumpers is enough that I’m seriously changing my mind about the “counterargument, never bullet” thing anyway – see Karl Popper (among so many others) on “the right to not tolerate the intolerant.” Maybe we should have just smashed some heads in before things got so out of hand that I was seriously wondering whether I’ll be hiding Anne Frank in my basement a few years from now.

            Translation: I want civil war.

            Arguments against debate should always be translated to “I want civil war”, because that is what the result will be. You don’t get to declare it unilaterally. What actually happens is that you set off an escalating multilateral trade that is more likely to result in you hiding in your basement in the future.

            Disagree as you will, but I’ve only got so much time and energy to respond, especially on a subject as trivial as college students protesting some meatspace internet troll.

            You care tons and are just frustrated about it. It’s going to be okay. Relax. We’re all going to get through this if we don’t throw liberal norms out the window the first time we get scared. It’s what I’ve been telling the right wingers after Berkeley, and it’s what I’m telling you now.

            Go hug someone you care about.

          • Deiseach says:

            Overall, I found it to be witty, engaging, and peppered with just enough references to Catholic saints that it struck me as more likely to be confused with a post by our very own Deiseach than with a passage from Mein Kampf.

            Indeed?

          • He’s apparently worse than that, and it seems the accusations are true (to no one’s surprise).

            I followed the link, which is not to anything Milo said or did but to claims by a UC Berkeley official about what he thought Milo might do. My first response was to wonder whether the “accusations” being referred to were accusations of UCB bias, which are the only thing the piece provides evidence of.

            Then I checked back and the poster was indeed the same one who made strong claims about how horrible Milo was while admitting that he had not bothered to check whether they were true.

            Summing up the two posts;

            “I have been told that Milo is terrible and I believe it and am uninterested in checking the truth of that belief. I now know that the belief is true because I found someone else saying that Milo was terrible.”

            Almost I suspect that Zombielicious is a right winger trying to make left wingers look bad, but the posts feel real.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Hello Zombielicious I am here to pile on you as well

            No but seriously, thanks for those links. I love it when people toss you information that works against them. From the second article:

            When Yiannopoulos appeared at UWM, Kramer had already withdrawn from the school.

            So he didn’t harass her out of school. What did he do?

            “I think verbal assault should be called verbal assault,” she explains, adding that it “doesn’t add anything constructive to speech

            fascinating.

            Seriously, before this I thought what he did was a lot worse than what this article explains – a girl got humiliated because she performed humiliating actions, as he explains. As I understand it, Justine Kramer has not transitioned either surgically nor physically, but still wants the university and all of its students to go out of their way, just to make her feel accepted. Why? The need for acceptance has been so fetishized that the need to not be around someone of another gender in the sauna has been marginalized, and one of those is clearly more important and applies to more people. Justine Kramer would twist the world to her will with victimhood as her weapon; the way you defeat that kind of authoritarianism is with ridicule.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @David Friedman

            The second link seems pretty nasty, if true, and I see no indications that it isn’t. Now, not sure that rises to something that is criminal or actionable for the purposes of a civil suit, but were I the young woman in the second article I’d certainly want to talk to a lawyer to see what my options were, since she is by all appearances not a public figure and thus has more protection when it comes to speech to and about her.

            It still doesn’t rise to the level of excusing or justifying the conduct at Berkeley, IMO, but it’s certainly more mean-spirited than the transcript linked earlier due to its targeted and immediate nature, and further solidifies my negative opinion of Yiannopoulos. Maybe I missed something, but while I concur with David Friedman’s dismissal of the first article, I can’t agree with AnonEE’s dismissal of the second.

          • The Nybbler says:

            were I the young woman in the second article I’d certainly want to talk to a lawyer to see what my options were, since she is by all appearances not a public figure and thus has more protection when it comes to speech to and about her.

            Only in the case of defamation, not mere insult. Milo’s an asshole, but there’s no asshole exception to the First Amendment. The student is also an activist and might be considered a limited purpose public figure, but that would only matter if there were actual defamatory statements made.

          • @Trofim_Lysenko:

            The second link seems pretty nasty, if true, and I see no indications that it isn’t.

            The second link I saw was to an SFGate story headlined:

            UC warns campus group: Yiannopoulos event could target students

            Are you referring to a different link? That one is just about UCB making various unsupported claims about what they think Milo will do.

            There are some links within that article which I didn’t follow–perhaps you are referring to those?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @David Friedman

            Zombie linked two different articles there. The second is a vice article discussing a transgendered student who was apparently singled out for mockery and ridicule by Milo while she was in the audience at one of his speeches.

            That’s the one AnonEE was responding to, and I was talking about.

            EDIT: If you’re having trouble finding the link, here’s another article talking about the same incident, from a similarly anti-Milo perspective. As I said, still wouldn’t justify Zombie’s response (especially since the response was made..well, not as a response, but ahead of time), but neither would I agree with AnonEE.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Give me a break. You – and I’m speaking loosely with a general “you all” here, because that was another damn lot of unnecessary replies – just elected a compulsively lying, torture-supporting, xenophobic, racist, misogynistic authoritarian bigot who wants to systematically destroy whatever few democratic checks and balances exist on his power in order to implement some kind of whites-only Christian America vision. For all the outrage about some students holding signs and shooting fireworks at a building, breaking a few windows, its barely even worth discussion when someone in your own tribe does something like shoot up a mosque or an unarmed protester, and suddenly the standards of evidence drop to completely non-existent so you can claim otherwise. You can pretend about your moral and intellectual superiority all you want, but you have none, as shown by your constantly cherry-picking facts and misrepresenting anything I’ve said so you can huddle up and circle the wagons to try and defend your racist, authoritarian worldview, while similarly staying silent about, or cheering on, violence towards your outgroup.

            Feel free to keep replying all you want, but I’m done arguing about it with a mass of people who collectively represent all that. Like I said in the first reply, it helps to remember the larger context when people are trying to misrepresent everything in their favor.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Give me a break. You – and I’m speaking loosely with a general “you all” here, because that was another damn lot of unnecessary replies – just elected a compulsively lying, torture-supporting, xenophobic, racist, misogynistic authoritarian bigot…

            Objection, Your Honor, irrelevant.

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            Like I said in the first reply, it helps to remember the larger context when people are trying to misrepresent everything in their favor.

            The context here, on this blog comment board, is that this is SSC OT 68.25, and participants to this discussion have included many respectable people who probably are not your designated enemy.

            The reason why I am paying attention to the UC Berkeley incident and this discussion is that the “is it right to beat up fascists” and other similar free speech discussion tends to leak over here to Europe, and I’d personally prefer if the standard of “not beating people up” would remain the standard here and there and all around the West.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Given that you’re lumping people like David Friedman, myself, Tekhno, and Deiseach in there willy nilly (I think there are a few others but I don’t know everyone’s ideologies perfectly), I think you’re painting with a rather broad brush there, and not very accurately.

            If you feel, for example, that I have cherry-picked my arguments, please show me the relevant evidence you feel I have left out or chosen not to engage with.

            The concern regarding berkeley is not about “some students holding signs and shooting fireworks at a building”, but about arson and multiple cases of assault, and the fundamental intent to respond to speech with violence. Why aren’t we discussing someone shooting up a mosque or the seattle shooting? Well, if you would look at the rest of the thread, you would notice that in fact both subjects DID come up and were discussed. The only person defending the mosque shooting was an Alt-Right type who was arguing AGAINST the same people you are attacking now, not WITH them, and the debate about the Seattle shooting centered around the fact that there’s actually pretty good evidence that there is more to the story than “Trump Supporter Shoots Unarmed Protester”.

            In short, I don’t think your charge of selective standards of evidence holds water, and I don’t think you’re even being particularly accurate in characterizing the beliefs of the people you’re debating with. Which isn’t surprising when you’re lumping everyone who won’t agree that it is acceptable to use the threat of a third party to respond to a speaker with violence as justification for silencing that speaker into one “racist, authoritarian” bucket. And where did “racist” even enter the discussion here. How is that not an example of exactly the sort of random interjection of the term as an attempt to shut down dissent that we’ve been talking about here at SSC for quite some time?

            So, I have to ask: Can you point to anything I have EVER posted here that points to a “racist, authoritarian worldview”? David Friedman? Tekhno?

          • lvlln says:

            If you honestly believe that the POTUS is playing the long game to turn the USA into a white Christian nation, that could reasonably justify normalizing violence in resistance of anyone vaguely associated with him.

            Also, if you honestly believe that Communists are successfully destroying the minds of everyone in our nation by infecting the water supply with fluoride, that could reasonably justify starting a nuclear war which you can win, even at great cost.

            Either of those honest beliefs may be likely to be arrived at if you decide that it’s inspecting evidence is a dangerous thing to do.

          • @Trofim_Lysenko:

            Thanks. That’s not the link I was seeing.

            He’s obviously going out of his way to be rude, but I don’t think he is going beyond the normal range of heated political rhetoric. Verbally attacking someone who is biologically male and openly lobbied the university to get permission to use the women’s locker room is harassment only in the sense in which the linked article is harassment of Milo–an attempt to get people to disapprove of him by describing things he did that they would disapprove of. The comment about black arrest rates on campus looks like a correct prediction of the violent response to his talk.

            He comes across as an unpleasant person who is trying to upset his political opponents. And succeeding.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            Zombielicious is on warning. Please avoid further posts like this in the future or you will be banned.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          If people don’t want protests and escalation, there’s one key point of failure there: Milo himself.

          No, the entire point of the exercise is to get to a point where people can respond to speech they disagree with in ways that do not involve criminal acts.

          “If there were no such speech there would be no criminal acts” might be true (I have my doubts, but I’ll grant it for the sake of argument), but it is just as much a societal and legal failure state, it is irrelevant to the matter at hand, and by raising it you are tacitly supporting and endorsing the validity of the heckler’s veto.

          We currently reject that in constitutional law, and for good reason.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I think Zombielicious is “on tilt” here.

          But to steelman what he is saying, we know that two wrongs don’t make a right.

          I condemn violence done in the name of causes of the left or of the right. It’s wrong morally and strategically, as well as debatable from a tactical perspective. However, the fact that such violence has been done is not a counter-argument to the idea that much of what the broad alt-right is pushing for is wrong and dangerous. It doesn’t change that the Trump administrations actions are far more consequential and important. And it definitely doesn’t invalidate any of the arguments being made against them.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I agree it’s not a counter-argument to the idea that the Alt-Right is pushing some ideas that are dangerous. I agree, and…so what? Unless the claim “the alt right is pushing dangerous ideas” is then connected to some broader argument relevant to the current topic of discussion, it’s a non-sequiteur. For example, you might frame it something like:

            “The alt-right is pushing some ideas that are dangerous”
            “Some ideas are sufficiently dangerous that responding to them with violence is justified or at least excusable”
            “This alt-right speaker’s ideas meet that criteria and are in fact sufficiently dangerous”
            “Therefore, responding to this alt-right speaker with violence is justified or at least excusable”

            You can follow the same pattern with “Trumps policies are bad”, “Trump’s policies are corrosive to democratic norms”, and “A right wing lone gunman shot up a mosque in Quebec recently” (that one in particular can get filed in the same bin as someone saying “But Micah Xavier Johnson!!” in response to complaints about inappropriate or excessive police use of force). I will actually agree with at least two of those three claims, but that doesn’t mean they are relevant or contribute in any way to the topic of discussion in this thread.

            But I think I can refocus my point of disagreement with Zombie (maybe you too, we’ll see, I’m not sure where you stand on this) by making a more explicit argument:

            My normative claim, “It is not appropriate to use or to attempt to use violence of the threat of violence to stifle speech, absent solid evidence that the speech incites imminent lawless action” is context and content independent. It is absolute. Therefore, there is no “larger context” or “bigger picture” facts that can be in any way relevant unless they provide evidence that the speech indeed incites imminent lawless action. To further clarify:

            “Imminent” in this context means some specific actions or combinations of actions to be undertaken either in the immediate future (within seconds, minutes, or hours), or at some definite future place and time. For example “The united states government is corrupt and must be overthrown, violently if necessary” or “Sometime soon someone should kill Joe smith” would not satisfy this criteria. “Alright, boys, we’re all gathered today to kill us some fags, let’s storm the castro! Come on!” spoken to a crowd of armed homophobes standing outside that neighborhood would qualify. So would an e-mail between would-be mass shooters saying “Thanks, John. Jim has acquired the guns we need, and I’ve made arrangements to get us security uniforms. Attached to this e-mail is the floor plan for the concert hall. We’ll hit the back entrance at 8PM next Tuesday for a dry run”

            Given that stance, I can agree all day with the correctness of statements like “Milo is really awful” and still object to their relevance to this discussion. I think that I probably made a mistake by not staking out that position when I first responded.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko:
            I have no objection to what you said, but I would say the non-sequitur point runs both ways.

            A) The alt-right’s ideas are dangerous (and should be condemned)
            B) Violent antifas are engaging in illegitimate violence (and should be condemned)

            Whether you run those A,B or B,A, the response is still a non-sequitur.

            Conversely, if one says that they found A more important and consequential than B, that’s simply a statement of relative importance.

            If I said that I found the issue of anaphylactic shock in school lunchrooms more important than bee stings, you can argue that bee stings are more important, but you can’t ding me as if I don’t think bee stings are bad.

          • However, the fact that such violence has been done is not a counter-argument to the idea that much of what the broad alt-right is pushing for is wrong and dangerous. It doesn’t change that the Trump administrations actions are far more consequential and important. And it definitely doesn’t invalidate any of the arguments being made against them.

            All correct. It’s an argument against the left, not for any alternative.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @HBC

            That’s certainly true, though it doesn’t apply to this particular sub-thread except perhaps to TenMinute and SpaceViking (and even then, they were getting pushback from libertarian and right wing commenters, including FacelessCraven and SunTzuAnime).

            In any case it sounds like we’re in basic agreement as to strong free speech principles and not accepting Zombie’s proposed binary solution set of “You either learn to tolerate violent responses when you tolerate speeches like Milo’s, or you decide that allowing Milo to speak isn’t worth the violence and…”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko:
            I think we are in basic agreement on that.

            However, I do think that there might be a trade off in there having to do with how “marginalized” the speech is. There is a cross over point, when marginalized speech, which broad society has rejected, starts to gain currency. That point is frequently met with some people provoked to violence.

            For a very anodyne example of the impulse, think of the fairly famous pictures of the race official attempting to physically remove the first female Boston marathon runner from the course. Maybe you will think this is a poor example. I’m just trying to show the impulse to stamp out with force things which are found to be objectionable.

            You can condemn this impulse being brought to action, but on a societal level, it’s a predictable response. This is similar to walking up to someone in a bar and calling them “a son of a whore”. Early in the evening you get told to piss off, but later, you get into a fist fight right quick.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            The alt-right’s ideas are dangerous

            I want to point out that there are different kinds of dangerous. There is the issue whether ideas are themselves dangerous if implemented and the separate issue of what the actual effect of the ideas being discussed is going to have in reality.

            Some ideas are horrible if implemented, but have pretty much no support in society or persuasive power to get anyone to act differently, like the idea to set off all nukes. So these ideas are merely theoretically dangerous.

            Other ideas are memetically powerful, usually because a lot of ground work has already been laid. So these are dangerous in the sense that they can actually be implemented (assuming one believes that they have bad outcomes).

            My claim is that US society is less racist than ever before and much of the rhetoric about the alt-right consists of tarring huge swaths of people with beliefs that in actuality, only a fairly marginal bunch believe. Furthermore, that insofar these beliefs are normalized, pulled into the Overton window and people are made to sympathize with those who have these ideas, that is primarily done by those who overreact to these people.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            If I understand you correctly, you’re trying to get at something like a big picture/collective version of the “fighting words” doctrine. I’m aware that here in the US we still technically allow restrictions of speech on those grounds (though from what I understand the scope has been narrowed pretty steadily and no one’s actually -upheld- a fighting words argument in court for quite some time) I’ve never been comfortable with the exception as a matter of law.

            Maybe I am excessively individualist or excessively rationalist in my outlook, but while I might personally say to a guy who walks into a bar full of tired, shell-shocked off-duty cops and firefighters in NYC on 9/12/01 and says “Hah, that was AWESOME, watching those towers go down! Serves this city fuckin’ right! Chickens coming home to roost for America’s crimes!” that they were a fucking idiot, I still wouldn’t stop him from doing so by force of law, and I’d hold anyone who threw a punch at the asshole 100% responsible for their actions.

            Now, as the owner of the bar I’d probably want to kick the guy out, but only because he was shouting it at the whole bar in general and screwing up what’s supposed to be a recreational environment for the majority of my customers. If he was sitting in the corner with a couple of friends talking like that and some guy at the next corner over heard him and took offense, I’d actually defend his right to stay in my bar, much as I might dislike his opinions and sympathize with the person taking offense.

            Actually, my analogy reminds me a customer service incident where I work awhile back (biker-ish dude with prominent swastika, sig rune, and other such tattoos displayed in an establishment with a lot of black guests. A group of black guests complained and wanted him ejected. Security verified that he hadn’t been actively disruptive or spoken with anyone, just displayed his ink and attitude, and while we kept an eye on him we declined to eject him)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko:
            No, I’m not saying the “fighting words” make the violence acceptable. I understand why you were misled.

            What I am saying is that it is expected. Acting as if it’s some unique thing that fighting words are leading to fighting right now is the mistake in analysis.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            Your claim that the alt-right’s ideas are so far outside the Overton Window that no one could get to a position of power where they could actually start implementing them … seems to be disproved by who is in the White House and what they are (in part) doing.

            I believe you are right that violence in protest is counter-productive as resistance, however. Especially because if you win through violence, you aren’t likely to be pleased with what you actually end up getting.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I think that here we run into the rather typical issue that labels are simultaneously applied in an expansive and narrow way, which is inconsistent.

            If we limit ‘alt-right’ to actual white supremacists, Neo-nazi’s or such, then their ideas are both quite dangerous if implemented and extremely marginal when talking about the number of believers. If we define ‘alt-right’ as including anti-globalists/nationalists like Bannon, then their numbers are much larger, but their ideas are much less dangerous (and arguably a necessary correction to the dominant globalist narrative which is one-sided and is built on some falsehoods).

            My objection to the currently dominant media narrative is that they want to have it both ways: they both want to use an expansive definition when discussing the number of people who fall under the label and the narrow definition when discussing the ideas.

            It is very tempting and convenient to do this, for reasons of clarity of presentation and such. However, the result is that falsehoods get told about people like Bannon and in general, people get misinformed with a narrative that greatly exaggerates the dangers that exists, that homogenizes groups (and not based on the average, but on outliers). This is not good.

            This is how you breed ressentiment against the media & the left and that ressentiment is not unjustified, because these people actually get slandered.

            Your objections to how ‘we’ threat SJ people here: IMHO that is fueled greatly by how common these fear narratives are in SJ culture. These narratives polarize. You cannot just blame those slandered by fear narratives for their ressentiment. Violence just increases the stakes of the fear narratives so much that it becomes a matter of survival to fight back.

            What needs to be done is the opposite: develop narratives that are fair to the opposition.

      • TenMinute says:

        anti-Trump activists, who see a double standard in how leftwing protesters are treated by police.

        ha. hahahaha!
        Also he was armed with brass knuckles and a metal pipe.

        And as soon as you hold left-wing radical preachers to the same standard, we might start believing you’re making these claims out of principle, rather than a desire to silence people who disagree with you.

        Besides, if you really wanted to “de-radicalize” the right (and it’s only ever the right anyone cares about deradicalizing, for some reason), maybe sending Berkeley employees to beat people up isn’t the best way to do it.

  11. suntzuanime says:

    Has anybody else noticed the SSC comments getting kind of right-wing lately?

    • Corey says:

      Nope.

    • TenMinute says:

      I can’t even tell how many levels of irony you’re on at this point.

    • Randy M says:

      Given that I haven’t seen this complaint in a couple of days, I guess it is now true.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I have reported this comment.

      Honestly people.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        are you sure he’s not serious?

        To be clear, I am serious when I ask this, because I legitimately am not sure, and was depressed.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Given his posting history, which is to liberally mix in trolling with vigorous and somewhat acrimonious debate, I’d say the likelihood he posted this merely because he thought it was true is very low.

        • Corey says:

          I took a long vacation post-election and only recently started reading again, and it kind of surprised me that the “we’re so persecuted, half the country wants to kill all white males” stuff appears to not have dwindled a bit. TBF maybe it dwindled during my vacation and is now returning. I assume there was also a shitshow after Coulter linked the “Trump’s not literally Hitler” post?

    • Whitedeath says:

      Lately?

  12. So I was going back to read In Favor of Niceness, Community, and Civilization after the whole punching Nazis, burning Berkeley, and threatening federal funding week we just had. Here is a quote:

    I think most of our useful social norms exist through a combination of divine grace and reciprocal communitarianism. To some degree they arise spontaneously and are preserved by the honor system. To another degree, they are stronger or weaker in different groups, and the groups that enforce them are so much more pleasant than the groups that don’t that people are willing to go along.

    The norm against malicious lies follows this pattern. Politicians lie, but not too much. Take the top story on Politifact Fact Check today. Some Republican claimed his supposedly-maverick Democratic opponent actually voted with Obama’s economic policies 97 percent of the time. Fact Check explains that the statistic used was actually for all votes, not just economic votes, and that members of Congress typically have to have >90% agreement with their president because of the way partisan politics work. So it’s a lie, and is properly listed as one. But it’s a lie based on slightly misinterpreting a real statistic. He didn’t just totally make up a number.

    And a few paragraphs down:

    Anti-Semites fight nasty. The Ku Klux Klan fights nasty. Neo-Nazis fight nasty. We dismiss them with equanamity, in accordance with the ancient proverb: “Haters gonna hate”. There is a role for organized opposition to these groups, like making sure they can’t actually terrorize anyone, but the marginal blog post condemning Nazism is a waste of time. Everybody who wants to discuss things charitably and compassionately has already formed a walled garden and locked the Nazis outside of it.

    I still agree with everything Scott wrote, but it’s troubling that these two passages in particular now ring hollow. Politicians used to just lie with what they could get away with, but now Trump seems to lie a lot more. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say Neo-Nazis are accepted or anything like that, but I was a lot more comfortable saying we shouldn’t worry about fringe right-wing groups a year and a half ago. Related: a year ago or more, I wouldn’t have thought to waste time arguing with someone that political violence was a good idea, but over the last few weeks, I’ve had several people I know on the left who cheered on political-based violence.

    I guess what I’m saying is that Scott wrote this really nice post about how liberalism tends to win out, but it seems over the past year that liberalism hasn’t been doing that great. A year isn’t a trend, and I’d bet against a huge spike in political violence over the next two years, but it’s very troubling.

    • Thegnskald says:

      The variant of Leftism that has been most prominent over the last few years has been pretty illiberal, to the point where many moderate leftists (liberals) are getting fed up with it.

      Eroding those norms has been a disgustingly bipartisan effort.

      • Deiseach says:

        The mockery was over the use of “irreversible”; plainly if it could change, then it cannot be irreversible.

        Leave that out, and the statement is – as you say – simply good sense. No “right side of history”, no “arc of justice bending”, just “this is not a guaranteed state of affairs, you have to maintain the structures or else eventually they fall apart”.

      • Tekhno says:

        @Deiseach

        I’m pretty sure that the contradiction was on purpose, and Dan Quayle was taking an irony tinged swipe at the idea of whig history.

        “arc of justice bending”

        You just made me think of something. Even if it’s a moral arc, it’s got to go down at some point, that’s kind of integral to something being an arc.

        • shakeddown says:

          unless it’s concave up. Not only is justice increasing, its second derivative is also positive!
          …sorry, that was bad. I derive too much humor from calculus. I guess it’s just integral to the way I express myself.
          (sorry).

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Alternatively, it’s asymptotically approaching justice. Justice is a horizontal line or slopes upward.

          • Protagoras says:

            “Justice is a horizontal line or slopes upward.” Clearly what Polemarchus should have said in Book I of Republic; how could Socrates argue with that?

    • cassander says:

      >Politicians used to just lie with what they could get away with, but now Trump seems to lie a lot more

      I strongly suspect that this isn’t true. Politicians are, and have always been, in the business of telling people what they want to hear. People being what they are, this seldom has much to do with the truth. I see no actual evidence that trump is any more mendacious than his predecessors, just that he’s less cooth.

      >A year isn’t a trend, and I’d bet against a huge spike in political violence over the next two years, but it’s very troubling.

      So far, the only violence we’re seeing seems to be coming from liberalism’s side of the aisle.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        Cassander – “I strongly suspect that this isn’t true. Politicians are, and have always been, in the business of telling people what they want to hear.”

        I want to defend Trump; I voted for him, after all. But unless I want to be a liar too, I have to admit that he is not even trying to sound believable a decent majority of the time. I have no idea what we’re actually going to get on a host of issues, because nothing he says means anything.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Strangely, I’ve gotten the opposite impression of him from his first two weeks. Or rather, I think he lies in the opposite way from normal politicians. He seems to have done his best to deliver on his promises to his base. He delivered on the Supreme Court pick. I don’t care about the wall, but a chunk of his base sure does, and he’s moving forward with that. He’s moving forward on his promise to cut down on refugees from terror-prone countries as well. He’s pretty much doing what he said he would do, in broad strokes (and I think his followers always understood his promises as broad strokes rather than detailed lists; they won’t consider it a promise broken if you explain that tariffs on Mexico aren’t really making them pay for the wall).

          His lies, on the other hand are directed at his enemies, and are about stupid things. There are no policy implications for the size of his inauguration crowd.

          It’s very confusing and I don’t know what to make of it. As a conservative, I’m used to my politicians lying to me, not the other guys. Compared against the past, Trump almost seems refreshingly honest.

          • James Miller says:

            I see it the same way, delivering what he promised to his base while giving the media silly things to complain about.

          • Deiseach says:

            Yeah, as I said, I was astounded that Trump did actually move on the pro-life/anti-abortion rights legislation as he talked about during the campaign; I’m used to “that’s a campaign promise which means it’s never going to happen”. That particular instance was something he could have let quietly die as soon as he got into office; the pro-life vote which may have gone to him was small enough it wouldn’t matter (and they’re used to Republicans not delivering on their promises anyway) and the odium from the ‘war on women’ crowd would have been avoided. This is not something that would get him a lot of good will or votes, even if you go for that cynical calculation.

            A guy who does what he said he was going to do – he really is an outsider shaking up the system!

        • cassander says:

          I have to agree with Jaskologist. Take Trump’s refuse to apologize campaign style, add in trying to knock out a bunch of campaign promises (and bear in mind that trump is to the left of the average voter on immigration, and certainly way to the left of his supporters), and I think you get basically what we have now. I don’t think he planned for the absurd over-reaction he’s getting, but I don’t think he’s upset about it. Makes his opponents look nuts.

      • Incurian says:

        Maybe it would be useful to develop an official SSC political dictionary, complete with examples, subtypes, venn diagrams, etc. Even though not everyone would agree with every entry, they would at least be have a common language to use here.

        • Deiseach says:

          At the very least, we’d switch to fighting about the Venn diagrams instead of the definitions of what is and is not left and right 🙂

      • I see no actual evidence that trump is any more mendacious than his predecessors, just that he’s less cooth.

        He may well be more mendacious than his predecessors. But whether or not he is, he is considerably more likely to be called on it, given a much more hostile media.

        One example for his predecessor, which got some but less attention, was the claim he made that

        “we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago.”

        At the time he made the statement, warming over the previous ten years had been substantially slower than predicted.

        • cassander says:

          >He may well be more mendacious than his predecessors. But whether or not he is, he is considerably more likely to be called on it, given a much more hostile media.

          And I would say that this is the single best argument that can be made for a Trump presidency. It wasn’t enough to make me actually support him, but knowing that the exact opposite would be true of Clinton made me more than willing to wish for her to lose.

        • 1soru1 says:

          Your example of Obama ‘not being called out’ is an article that is 100% criticism of an ambiguous statement that probably got the details of the timescale involved wrong?

          (10 years _before_ 2013 temperatures were rising faster than expected, now they have returned to the trend line, due to either random noise or some not-understood periodic effect).

          More importantly, what are the consequences for Trump of getting ‘negative coverage’ when he makes direct lies about things you can see with your own eyes, massacres that didn’t happen, etc? Are his supporters abandoning him, or are they doubling down?

          Are they, perhaps, saying ‘Obama was worse’?

          • cassander says:

            Did obama’s allies abandoned him when he lied? Of course not, no politician was ever abandoned for telling lies that their followers wanted to hear.

          • 1soru1 says:

            So why do his supporters want to hear stories about massacres that never happened?

          • cassander says:

            @1soru1

            The same reason Obama’s wanted to hear that the world was getting warmer faster than expected even though opposite is true, because it reminds them that the people they’re against are bad people.

          • So why do his supporters want to hear stories about massacres that never happened?

            If I followed the news correctly, it was a reference, not a story, and by one of Trump’s people, not Trump. It could have been deliberate, but it sounded to me more like carelessness. There was a real case involving the city in question, but it involved sending money to terrorist groups, not killing people.

          • Your example of Obama ‘not being called out’ is an article that is 100% criticism of an ambiguous statement that probably got the details of the timescale involved wrong?

            (10 years _before_ 2013 temperatures were rising faster than expected, now they have returned to the trend line, due to either random noise or some not-understood periodic effect).

            The quote from Obama was:

            “we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago.”

            That is not consistent with your explanation.

          • 1soru1 says:

            It’s entirely consistent with him remembering a situation being 5-10 years ago when in fact it was 15-20.

            Obama was president for 8 years, and that is the best you can do. Can you find a single day of his 2-week presidency in which Trump or his spokesman stayed closer to the truth?

          • James Miller says:

            Obama’s biggest lie was his “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” statement without which he probably would not have gotten Obamacare passed.

          • It’s entirely consistent with him remembering a situation being 5-10 years ago when in fact it was 15-20.

            Making the predictions from 15-20 doesn’t change things.

            Are you arguing that when he said

            “we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago.”

            What he meant was “we also know that the climate was warming ten years ago faster than anyone anticipated twenty years ago” or something similar? That wouldn’t be true either.

            Obama is not an idiot–he knows what “is” means. It’s barely possible that he was completely ignorant of the relevant facts and just guessing on the basis of the impression he got from the general alarmist PR campaign, in which case it wasn’t quite a lie, merely confidently proclaiming a guess as what we all know.

            But I take it as evidence that he did not care whether what he said was true. He was just inventing facts as needed.

            Pointing out that Trump tells lies does not change the nature of a lie by Obama.

          • 1soru1 says:

            In a graph of global temperature, 1999 was an anomaly above trend, if he had said what he said at a time that was the latest data he would have been factually correct (unless you are going to get pedantic about the word ‘nobody’). By saying the same thing a few years later he he was wrong.

            No-one is denying what he said was false; there are reasonable ground for disagreement over whether it was a verbal slip or intentional misinformation. As far as I am aware, he didn’t repeat the statement or issue a follow-up

            This is the same kind of error as still talking about a ‘warming pause’ now, which you can find plenty of examples of politicians doing. If someone does that, and backs down when corrected, they are interested in the truth. If someone bounces between ‘pause’ and ‘global warming is a Chinese hoax’ and ‘what is average temperature anyway’ and ‘prove it is not solar cycles’ too fast to respond to an answer on any one, they are not.

          • This is the same kind of error as still talking about a ‘warming pause’ now, which you can find plenty of examples of politicians doing.

            Saying that there was a warming pause is not an error, it is disagreement. As of a few years back, most people in the field agreed that warming had slowed down and that finding the reasons for that was an important puzzle. Here is an NOAA piece discussing it. The existence of the pause is clear enough if you look at their graph.

            Then some people offered arguments, based in at least one case on revising the earlier data, that claimed to show the pause had not occurred.

            The latest round of that controversy is a claim by a high level NOAA scientist recently retired that the “Pausebuster” paper by Karl and Peterson was based on flawed data, released to influence the Paris conference without going through the usual procedures for checking and archiving their data.

            I am taking your “talk about a ‘warming pause’ now” as “talk now about there having been a warming pause” not as “talk about there being a ‘warming pause now.'”

            Someone who says that the pause is currently continuing is probably misinformed, although he might only mean that he thinks the warming of the past two years is a temporary aberration due to the El Nino, like the earlier peak in the late nineties.

          • 1soru1 says:

            There is nothing in the above post I disagree with.

            (hope this gets attached to right point of conversation tree).

      • I strongly suspect that this isn’t true. Politicians are, and have always been, in the business of telling people what they want to hear.

        So not to toot my own horn, but I wrote a blog post about this last year during the election. Section 2 (titled “The Unknown”) catalogs 17 different positions Trump switched on during the election, sometimes differing from his previous position years ago, sometimes in a matter of days.

        These include that he thought Obama was the literal founder of ISIS, that he would self fund his campaign, that we should take Syrian refugees, that Japan and South Korea should develop nuclear weapons, that he actually supported the Libyan intervention, that he would reinstitute torture, then he said he would be bound by laws like other presidents, and then restating that he would use waterboarding and torture. He also said he would deport 11 million illegal immigrants, and that the U.S. should “renegotiate” its public debt. These seem like pretty important issues, and he changed his mind on all of them.

        Ken White at Popehat goes further, suggesting that Trump’s claims are so outlandish, he may be incapable of being sued for defamation because no one could take him seriously.

        On these points, I offer that it’s quite possible Trump is in fact more mendacious than previous presidents.

        On political violence only coming from the left: what I’m concerned about is political violence, regardless of source. It doesn’t make me feel better that it’s one tribe or the other.

        • cassander says:

          >On these points, I offer that it’s quite possible Trump is in fact more mendacious than previous presidents.

          And just off the top of my head, the positions Obama reversed himself on include gay marriage, the wisdom of an individual mandate for health insurance, whether or not we should bomb syria, whether or not ISIS was a threat to the US, and whether or not the US should have troops in Iraq (twice, actually). I don’t say this to claim that obama is more mendacious than trump, but to point out that just listing a politicians lies tells you nothing about how mendacious he is relative to others. For that, you have to document and evaluate the lies of at least two people.

          >On political violence only coming from the left: what I’m concerned about is political violence, regardless of source. It doesn’t make me feel better that it’s one tribe or the other.

          Agreed, but you can’t dodge something if you don’t know where it’s coming from

        • These include that he thought Obama was the literal founder of ISIS

          Following your link, I don’t see support for that one. None of the quotes seems to say “literal,” unless I missed one, and I think it’s obvious that his claim is that Obama and Clinton’s policies resulted in the creation of ISIS.

          Next you will be telling us that Obama lied by claiming to have been born on the planet Krypton.

          • Hi David,

            Perhaps I was overzealous, but what I meant was that Trump literally used the term “founder of ISIS” several times, even when pressed on it. I’ll grant Trump didn’t use the word “literal”. But specifically on this segment on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Trump insisted about 3 times that he believes Obama to be the founder of ISIS. Hewitt says he knows what he means, “[Obama] created the vacuum, he lost the peace” and Trump insists “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do”. He then backtracks and says it “was the way he left Iraq…”

            So yes, there’s totally an argument for he meant it figuratively…but he also apparently didn’t mean that it was a vacuum Obama created. I think it’s still a pretty good example of there being significant confusion over what Trump actually meant, since he speaks with such lack of clarity.

            Maybe he wasn’t really lying, he just didn’t understand the point. Maybe he doesn’t know what the word “founder” means. Maybe he was just being as loud and silly sounding as possible to get media coverage. Whatever it was though, it was bizarre and weird, and seemed to fit a pattern of flip-flopping on issues.

        • Deiseach says:

          17 different positions Trump switched on during the election, sometimes differing from his previous position years ago, sometimes in a matter of days.

          Hillary Clinton, 1994: Abortion is morally wrong

          Hillary Clinton, 2000: Late-term abortion is a horrible procedure

          Hillary Clinton, 2007: I want to make abortion safe, legal and rare. And by rare, I mean rare.

          Hillary Clinton, August 2016: Still personally nuanced, takes her position from her Methodist faith, abortion should be a last resort

          Hillary Clinton, October 2016: I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women’s rights to make their own healthcare decisions (nothing about restrictions or last resort)

          The August and October ones are particularly interesting, they’re articles in the same publication, just written by two different writers, and they are nearly mirror images of each other – Clinton the reluctant pragmatist vs Clinton the full-throated supporter. See the titles: “Hillary Clinton’s Moral Conflicts on Abortion” versus “Hillary Clinton’s Powerful Defense of Abortion Rights”. That’s a change in a matter of weeks, not years.

          Now, to be fair, she has always been pragmatic on it and has supported Roe vs Wade as law since it was decided. But she’s been cutting her cloth according to her measure on this – I was cynically amused to read about one minister who was surprised she didn’t mention her own qualms about abortion in that debate, as up till then she’d been reassuring the pro-life contingent she did have qualms.

          Is that lying, development of views, or just the normal kind of thing a politician does when they sense their constituents’ views are swinging away from what they were/you talk pro-life to the pro-life voters, you talk pro-choice to the pro-choice voters?

      • Tekhno says:

        @cassander

        So far, the only violence we’re seeing seems to be coming from liberalism’s side of the aisle.

        Antifa are not liberal in the broad Enlightenment sense (nor even in the narrow American sense). American political terminology is cancerous and has helped erode liberal norms by obscuring liberal tradition and principles.

        • cassander says:

          I agree, but to some degree, political movements do pick their allies. those on the center left aren’t condemning antifa the way the center right condemns stormfront, and that’s meaningful.

          • rlms says:

            When does the centre right condemn Stormfront?

          • cassander says:

            Whenever they’re asked to. Remember how it was a huge scandal when trump took almost 24 hours to condemn david duke for endorsing him?

          • Tekhno says:

            @rlms

            The center-right condemns Nazism by claiming it’s left wing and socialist.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            The center-right condemns Nazism by claiming it’s left wing and socialist.

            Precisely: we condemn Nazism in the strongest, most negative terms we have!

          • The Nybbler says:

            @rlms

            We right-of-center libertarians compare Stormfront to SJWs all the time. That ain’t a compliment.

        • Antifa are not liberal in the broad Enlightenment sense

          American liberals are not liberal in the broad Enlightenment sense. The fact that they stole our label is why we had to call ourselves libertarians.

          To quote GKC: “I’m still a liberal. It’s those people who aren’t liberals.”

          For the 19th century liberals, Adam Smith was seen as a leading thinker whose views they generally supported. When modern American liberals refer to Smith it’s usually negative, and the occasional positive reference almost always misrepresents Smith’s views (as in claiming he was in favor of progressive taxation, public schooling and or anti-trust policy, all false).

          • Deiseach says:

            Dangerous business quoting Chesterton in my vicinity, as it only encourages me to throw my tuppence worth in 🙂

            Possibly a good credo for all of us on here getting hot under the collar about Left vs Right:

            The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.

            When the business man rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, it is commonly in some such speech as this: “Ah, yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in the abstract and these castles in the air; but in middle age they all break up like clouds, and one comes down to a belief in practical politics, to using the machinery one has and getting on with the world as it is.” Thus, at least, venerable and philanthropic old men now in their honoured graves used to talk to me when I was a boy. But since then I have grown up and have discovered that these philanthropic old men were telling lies. What has really happened is exactly the opposite of what they said would happen. They said that I should lose my ideals and begin to believe in the methods of practical politicians. Now, I have not lost my ideals in the least; my faith in fundamentals is exactly what it always was. What I have lost is my old childlike faith in practical politics. I am still as much concerned as ever about the Battle of Armageddon; but I am not so much concerned about the General Election. As a babe I leapt up on my mother’s knee at the mere mention of it. No; the vision is always solid and reliable. The vision is always a fact. It is the reality that is often a fraud. As much as I ever did, more than I ever did, I believe in Liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in Liberals.

          • Tekhno says:

            @David Friedman

            American liberals are not liberal in the broad Enlightenment sense. The fact that they stole our label is why we had to call ourselves libertarians.

            Actually, I have a problem with this too, where we’ve so much discarded the meaning of liberal that hardcore libertarians have picked it back up and monopolized it as if things like social liberalism and liberal conservatism don’t exist.

            Liberalism defined broadly is support for: free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, secularism, civil rights, rule of law, liberal democracy, equality before the law, the right to own property, and free markets. Liberal conservatives/right-liberals and social liberals/left-liberals both support the majority of that, differing mostly in that social liberals promote more mixed economics, and that liberal conservatism emphasizes cultural traditions and national defense.

            I agree that the liberalism of the American left (and the right with Trump) has been rapidly decreasing, but I think that’s a relatively recent 2010s phenomena.

            Clinton era mainstream liberals could genuinely be considered liberal. Even during the 2000s, I would say the average opinion of my US liberal associates would be considered liberal broadly speaking. Yes, they promoted some illiberal things, same as the conservatives, but they did so in a context of broadly liberal principles. I think that has changed now for both left and right, and that the shared liberal context is decaying, and I lay the blame for that on the fact that in America, liberal just means “left”. There was nothing to stop this happening once the ground conditions were in play.

            My life’s enemy are illiberals. We need to restore left-liberalism and liberal conservatism by continually enshrining liberal principles. Classical liberalism is the most purest variant, but you can be left or right so long as that is your starting point, and the place you return to when you have doubts about the results of favored policies.

            I’m seeing at the moment a dangerous abandonment of liberalism in America, and the long term trend of that is that the American left becomes social justice pseudo-communists, and the American right becomes ethno-statist pseudo-fascists. Because liberal values and the shared context of politics have been completely abandoned people don’t consider the downstream consequences of their actions, only of progressively winning victories. Enemies are simply to be punched aside and silenced. This will lead to civil war if it isn’t stopped.

    • AnonEEmous says:

      Yeah, I think it’s important to remind us all of this:

      “I think most of our useful social norms exist through a combination of divine grace and reciprocal communitarianism.”

      These social norms really are useful. If you plan to sacrifice them, then bad things will happen as a result (see:Trump, or at least Trump outright lying). So every time you act against them and / or weaken them, ask why you did so. Ask yourself if it was worth it.

      that’s sort of a dig at the Berkeley protests (though it’s universally true so anyone can have it). On the bright side, my mom read through Milo’s Wikipedia page on her phone while hanging out with me, and then the Regressive Left page too – unprompted by me, by the way. So I’m thrilled about the protests (but of course, properly respectful of those who got injured. Or at least, pretending to be since I’m bad with emphasizing with people I know nothing about.)

    • Matt M says:

      Politicians used to just lie with what they could get away with, but now Trump seems to lie a lot more.

      I disagree with this. I posit that Trump is also lying to the extent that he can get away with it. It’s just that huge portions of the country have such open contempt for most of the media (and with good cause!) that “what he can get away with” reaches a level that is unprecedented in modern society.

      There was once a time when CNN calling you a liar meant that you weren’t “getting away with it” anymore. Now not only is that not the case, but for about 1/3 of people, CNN calling you a liar can be taken as pretty strong evidence that you probably are not lying, because they view CNN as a bunch of shameless liars themselves.

    • YehoshuaK says:

      I actually once had a very interesting conversation with an internet Nazi (and I mean a self-described admirer of Adolf Hitler). We actually had points of agreement, and could reasonably and calmly define our points of disagreement. Pity I lost touch with him.

  13. Thegnskald says:

    I am curious:

    What political group do you most closely associate yourself with, and what is your opinion of the average member of your own group, as compared to the average member of other groups?

    Mine: Leftist liberal. We are pretty much exactly average in everything except self-perception, as the average leftist seems to have a greatly inflated opinion of the average leftist compared to most other groups. That might be a result of me not seeing the average rightist’s attitude, however.

    • PedroS says:

      Right-libertarian here. I think there is no difference between my group’s average and the other groups, but this is simply a matter of “statistical faith” on the law of great numbers applied to human populations. The number of libertarians in Portugal is so low that I only know 2-3 others IRL, and most of the activity happens online (where I expect to find only the extremes of the population: the knowledgeable people from academia/think-tanks and the opinionated/too-sure-of themselves with too much time on their hands).

    • Corey says:

      I think there’s a general principle to be applied: “nobody knows what’s mainstream in their outgroups”.

      Part of this is just a corollary of outgroup homogeneity bias, part is the nature of Internet discourse, where the loudest and most persistent voices dominate.

    • Libertarian. Less likely to be religious than the national average. Somewhat more likely to be familiar with economics. Much more likely to think they are. Probably a little better educated than the national average.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Liberal-ish left. In general, the advantage of my kind is that we are unexciting. The disadvantage is also that we are unexciting.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      nuevo traction fairy, apparently.

      We are evil and very possibly must be stopped before we kill again.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I honestly have no clue. Find me a group that’s pro-immigration and wants more refugees but ALSO pro-vetting and increased surveillance on them, who wants significantly more mmigration but is against multiculturalism, pro-UBI but anti-welfare state, anti War on Drugs but also against cutting much military spending (but would be willing to cut overall size while maintaining spending to create a higher quality and even more modernized force if possible), and I’ll let you know.

      • Matt M says:

        who wants significantly more mmigration but is against multiculturalism

        Maybe not the rest, but as a right-leaning AnCap this definitely applies to me. I want much more skilled immigration of people who are likely to assimilate, or at least to not be huge dicks about not assimilating.

        I’d be willing to open the doors to hundreds of millions of immigrants provided they are all pretty much like the Indian students I went to business school with. Smart, motivated, hard working, speak perfect English, follow their own traditions but respect, adapt, and embrace some American ones as well.

      • Once you find out then tell me, so I can join as well :^)

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      Clintonista. Members of other groups are mostly younger; we know what peace and prosperity were like.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Not permitted to say, but we’re cool.

    • Civilis says:

      I’m somewhere in the vast, nebulous cloud that can be called the right.

      I am somewhat social conservative, in that I tend to adopt a ‘Chesterton’s Fence’ attitude towards social mores; they’re there for a reason, and loosening them in the name of personal pleasure has long term negatives. On the other hand, I don’t believe social mores about individual behavior should be maintained by laws, which skews libertarian. The Drug War is something for which there is no good solution, but one of the things we need to admit is that there are problems with no good solution.

      Like libertarians, I believe the government should be smaller and less intrusive on the lives of Americans. Still, I believe there are, again, things for which the least bad solution is having the government do something. Dismantling many of the poorly functioning government systems in place of private alternatives is something that is not going to be done quickly, if it is possible in the first place, which makes me sympathetic to the establishment Republicans that have to actually deal with the problems.

      I grew up outside of Washington, D.C., and have seen how laws are made and bureaucracies work. While I join many Republicans in not liking the establishment, I understand why its there, and believe that many of the people in it see it as a necessary evil required to actually get things done.

      All of these forces are shifting and jockeying for position in the big nebulous cloud that is the right. I think there is tension between them, but that also it’s not an alliance of convenience, that ultimately all three have more in common with regards to political values than they do not. I believe most people on the right are somewhere in this cloud, whether they know it or not, and they shift around it with political winds but never leave it entirely.

      As far as the average member of the group, they’re average, just like everyone else. It’s the gray tribe (and the gray tribe in me) that has the desire and fortitude to measure the cloud. I recognize my view of the cloud is skewed from inside it, but I do what I can to account for that.

    • Tekhno says:

      @Thegnskald

      What political group do you most closely associate yourself with

      Is it telling that I can’t answer this question at this point? I think I’ve legitimately managed to get to a combination of views that don’t have a group behind them (other than one irl friend).

      I am a snowflake.

    • onyomi says:

      Right-leaning libertarian anarchist. My impression of other libertarians is that they strongly skew white, male, and nerdy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I tend to like and respect other libertarians more than average, especially for what I perceive as our intellectual openness and willingness to stick to principle and logic even when they seem to lead to counterintuitive conclusions.

      That said, we also tend to have a contrarian bias. I know I have one. That is, we can tend to be “so open minded our brains fall out,” or gravitate towards weird answers to common issues precisely because they are counterintuitive, unpopular, or intellectually fun to contemplate. And we also tend to be, perhaps, overly doctrinaire–to follow our principles to their logical conclusions, come hell or high water, even if they lead us to strange and possibly bad places. It was usually these traits, in part, that led us to contemplate libertarianism–still a non-mainstream and relatively “extreme” ideology–in the first place, of course.

      But libertarianism is much better known now than when I first became one and hopefully will continue to become so. If it does, I wonder whether having the “open to contemplate weird, counterintuitive, non-mainstream political ideologies” trait will no longer be such a prerequisite, and, if so, what sorts of new libertarians will then show up (hopefully not just white, nerdy, men–not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Democrat (although I am registered Unaffiliated).

      Strong pragmatic inclinations. I’m most interested in the practical affect of policies. I think that, just like you can’t decide to only steer a vehicle left or right, and you can’t get much of anywhere, and definitely not safely, by locking your steering wheel, that policies are necessary and need to be dynamic.

      The average human is far less interested in being pragmatic than I am. The average Democrat is no different.

    • I have no idea. Here are some policies and positions I support.

      For immigration, I support immigration with filters applied, and at this point in history I am against a refugee policy. The filters probably need to be stricter with those of islamic origin.

      Pro regulated free market, with the regulations mostly being pollution related, with some mind towards renewability.

      I would ban factory farming in an instant.

      Supporter of a basic minimum income, though i’m worried about idiocracy in the long run with policies such as that.

      Anti minimum wage. I think it creates more losses then gains applied to society. Why can’t a business hire a part-time worker for 4 bucks an hour? In the current system, that guy just doesn’t get any jobs and has to try scamming the welfare system all the time. 5 bucks a day is more then enough to eat a lot of healthy food, with the smallest amount of planning.

      I hate all tariffs, excepting the cases applied to countries with human rights violations and such.

      While I would not run the experiment on the whole country, i’m pro drug legalization for all of them. I consider myself a social experimental on the issue, though. What tips me to “pro-drug” is that the class of violent stupid criminals that currently claim access to distribution will no longer be funded whatsoever.

      I am pro strict Singaporean public-cleanliness and behavior laws.

      Meritocracy with some democracy is better then pure democracy. So I suppose I support what China is attempting to do more then the American model.

      I’d try and socialize as much as medicine as possible, while keeping a mind towards incentives to improve service and R&D. The college system is trickier, but something has gone horribly wrong with college loans.

      So where am I?

      • Pro regulated free market, with the regulations mostly being pollution related, with some mind towards renewability.

        Why the renewability part of that? If I use up a resource I own there is less of it left for me, so I have an incentive to take account of that cost just like other costs.

  14. James Miller says:

    From Mandy C Souza (Facebook) “In Brazil and Argentina, when violence erupts, everybody sits down so police can quickly detain the perpetrators and the protest while the peaceful protesters get out of the way and then can resume afterwards.”

    • FacelessCraven says:

      That would, in fact, be a perfect solution to the problem, if the violence weren’t actually supported by the protesters as a whole.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Are you sure that’s true?

        It seems at least as likely that a lot of the US protestors don’t like the antifas, but haven’t figured out a solution they like.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          in the videos I’ve seen, there seems to be a lot of cheering on the violence. In berkeley, as I understand it, the specific goal of the protest wasn’t the content of Milo’s presentation, but the fact he was being allowed to speak at all, and in fact the antifas successfully prevented him from speaking.

          I could be wrong, but given that a fair number of people are arguing publicly that political violence is good, protesters make no attempt to impede or even differentiate themselves from the antifa, and that the antifa are directly securing the protesters’ declared goals, it’s a hard conclusion to avoid.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I don’t think we have good enough evidence that this is true, but I will admit it’s what my lizard brain is thinking, and I don’t have a better counter-argument than “We don’t have -proof- of that, be more charitable”.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Well, down here a lot of people are clamoring the police behave more like in the US, so I guess this is a “grass is greener” sort of thing.

  15. Deiseach says:

    Oh no, the Christofascists are out there!

    Okay, I have heard dark mutterings about Christian Reconstructionism so it probably really does exist in some way, shape or form. On the other hand, I have this awful niggling feeling that someone calling themself “Kieryn Darkwater” and talking about “I checked Twitter as I got in my Lyft back home. Shock bombarded and horror filled me as I scrolled through my timeline” is just possibly maybe slightly milking the moment for all it’s worth and may be inclined to over-egg the pudding, gild the lily, and other metaphors when it comes to talking about the terrible background of oppression they have fled?

    Does anybody have a sane opinion on this? As you can tell, I am inclined to scoff, but I don’t want my instinctive prejudice against “blue-haired fairy bois*” and the fairy stories they might tell you to blind me to something that is actually happening and actually real. I don’t mean “Do you realise people who are serious Christians are, like, serious about being Christians?”, I mean “yes there is a definite political agenda where people are purposefully infiltrating their agents into positions of power to create a theocracy”.

    *I’m Irish. You don’t joke about the fairies and they are not cutesy. Pratchett got it right in “Lords and Ladies”.

    • Corey says:

      I’m an atheist living in Raleigh so I’m probably more attuned to the Christian dominionism in the US’s water than most are.

      I’ve got (programmer!) co-workers who sincerely believe that e.g. the original 13 US States had official Christian denominations, and so the First Amendment Establishment Clause was only intended to cover the Federal government, only activist judges prevent States from establishing official religions.

      They’re about evenly split between literal young Earth creationists, and old-Earth creationists, e.g. one tells me evolution can’t be true because mutations can’t create information, and has maps of evidence of Noah’s flood.

      They all believe religion is the only possible source of morality, and AFAICT this is true of most people, so the concept of laws not informed by religion isn’t even coherent to them. (TBF if you’re a creationist, literally everything comes from religion, I tell myself). So they’d be theocrats in a broad sense, where they wouldn’t even recognize the difference between religiously-motivated and morally-motivated laws.

      Most US homeschooling is indeed for religious-separatism reasons (keeping your kids away from evolutionists, fornicators, rock & roll, etc; keeping them away from “socialist indoctrination” is also sometimes a plus to them). My knowledge is second-hand, from trying to find curricula and materials for supplemental at-home instruction that *aren’t* part of this movement.

      I have come across homeschoolersanonymous.org, an interesting place where they typically criticize the homeschooling movement from a Christian perspective. Obviously they focus on the harsher bits, and posts of personal experiences are always vulnerable to being made up, but they’ve got verifiable sources for lots of their stuff.

      Christian dominionism is definitely a nontrivial force in the US. As to exactly how big and pervasive it is, I don’t know. And of course in believers you have a range of devout-nesses, so exactly where to draw the line is a bit fuzzy.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        I’ve got (programmer!) co-workers who sincerely believe that e.g. the original 13 US States had official Christian denominations, and so the First Amendment Establishment Clause was only intended to cover the Federal government, only activist judges prevent States from establishing official religions.

        I don’t know about the rest, but Massachusetts was officially Congregationalist until the 1830s, so that factoid seems at least partially true.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          The phrase “Established Church” is ambiguous in both words. By 1789, I think no State required people to belong to a particular Church. According to this there were 5/13 state-funded Churches, 3 Congregationalist in New England, and Anglican Maryland and South Carolina. Many States required elected officials to be Protestant. Even Pennsylvania (though not RI), founded in the name of religious liberty, required profession of a belief in God and the Hereafter. Many states required people to belong to and fund a Church, sometimes specifically a Protestant Church. In theory that gave the State the ability to approve a body as a Real Church, so you might say that these were Established. Indeed, South Carolina said that “the” Protestant Church was Established. Here are some quotes from State Constitutions. The activist judges were in the 20th century.

          • Deiseach says:

            Coming at it as a non-American, prior to independence the Established Church would have been the Anglican Church (because of Henry VIII and the Supreme Head of the Church being the monarch. If George was king of the American colonies, the Anglican church was the state church). This is why The Episcopal Church has what is called The National Cathedral in Washington, even though you do not have an established church: they regard themselves as being a church of and for the nation due to their history. This led to some kerfuffle during the Revolution, where this led to the inevitable split (ironically, in view of Later Events, the Southern church was more strongly the ‘patriot’ separatist side). The official Episcopalian website puts it somewhat simplistically:

            The Episcopal church, established shortly after the American Revolution, has its roots in the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church, known as the Church of England, had a strong following in colonial America. But when the colonies won their independence, the majority of America’s Anglican clergy refused to swear allegiance to the British monarch as was required. As a result, the Episcopal Church was formed.

            It wasn’t quite that easy. In order to provide for native clergy in what was now going to be a separate national church (and not merely a province of the existing mother Church of England), they needed bishops. To get bishops, they needed them to be consecrated by existing bishops, who were all more or less in England and not particularly disposed to ordain bishops for a breakaway sect. So they did an end-run by appealing to the separate Episcopal Church in Scotland (not the Church of Scotland, that’s the Presbyterians).

            Wikipedia has a clearer view of the timeline:

            Although there was no American bishop in the colonial era, the Church of England had an official status in several colonies, which meant that tax money was paid to the local parish by the local government, and the parish handled some civic functions. The Church of England was designated the established church in Virginia in 1609, in New York in 1693, in Maryland in 1702, in South Carolina in 1706, in North Carolina in 1730, and in Georgia in 1758.

            From 1635, the vestries and the clergy were loosely under the diocesan authority of the Bishop of London. After 1702, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) began missionary activity throughout the colonies. On the eve of Revolution about 400 independent congregations were reported throughout the colonies.

            …When the clergy of Connecticut elected Samuel Seabury as their bishop in 1783, he sought consecration in England. The Oath of Supremacy prevented Seabury’s consecration in England, so he went to Scotland; the non-juring Scottish bishops there consecrated him in Aberdeen on November 14, 1784, making him, in the words of scholar Arthur Carl Piepkorn, “the first Anglican bishop appointed to minister outside the British Isles”. On August 3, 1785, the first ordinations on American soil took place at Christ Church in Middletown, Connecticut.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            There are three colonies that did not have the Anglican Church as the established Church. Maryland was founded specifically as a Catholic enclave, though by the time of the Revolution the Anglicans had taken over. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island emphasized separation of Church and State. Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers, who were definite Nonconformists. Rhode Island was founded by Puritan exiles from Boston, who were neither more nor less Conformant than those in Boston, but who believed more in Separation. (Perhaps they became even more Nonconformant when they founded the Baptists.)

            Moreover, as I said, even the word “Church” is ambiguous, if only because centralization was impossible with 18th century communications. The South Carolina Constitution asserted that all Protestants formed a single (Established) Church, while in New York the English Church was Established apart from the Dutch Church. I said that New England was Congregationalist, rather than Anglican. It had always claimed to be part of the English Church, but I don’t think anyone really ever believed them. When they called themselves Congregationalist, they were, among other things, rejecting Bishops.

          • The phrase “Established Church” is ambiguous in both words. By 1789, I think no State required people to belong to a particular Church.

            The fact that a church is established does not imply compulsory membership. England had an established church for centuries and still has one. I do not believe it has ever been illegal to be a member of a different church, although there were at various times various legal disabilities resulting from doing so.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            You can assert a definition, but that doesn’t stop a term from being ambiguous. I was very careful not to use the term myself, as you might notice if you bothered to read.

            Also, all this talk of “belonging” to discrete “Churches” is anachronistic.

            (Well, my second comment was not so careful. I meant that there were 3 colonies where there were times that it was very clear that the English Church was not Established, not that it was clearly Established in the others.)

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Deiseach, let me try that again. At the time of the Revolution, there were two Established Churches in Great Britain, one in Scotland and one in the rest. So Maryland being part of this Kingdom* does not logically preclude it from having the Roman Church be Established. Indeed, I claim that it was for a while, though that time was far in the past. Similarly, it is reasonable to propose that Pennsylvania and Rhode Island never had Established Churches, but it is harder to make sense of such a negative statement.

            * I think Maryland was part of this Kingdom, but it might not have been, just as Ireland was not (yet).

        • BBA says:

          The federal Bill of Rights certainly didn’t apply to the states prior to the 14th Amendment (1868). The 14th Amendment was probably intended to do so, but the Supreme Court first ruled that it didn’t, then a few decades later ruled that a different part of it did, using bizarre double-backflip logic to avoid admitting that they got it wrong the first time.

        • Protagoras says:

          Rhode Island never had an official state religion.

      • Skivverus says:

        Having only visited Raleigh, I can’t comment on your experience, but having lived in the Baltimore and Rochester areas for several years each, I also can’t say I’ve noticed much overt proselytizing or dominion-ism – though this may be a matter of selection bias, since the family is basically atheist and unlikely to seek out hostile communities (though certainly visited plenty of churches of the friends we did make without bursting into flame, so there’s that; synagogues were less common, and only Muslim friends were female, so invitations to a mosque would’ve been weird).
        Have only been proselytized to once, in college; the man was friendly enough, though he left disappointed (Two McMillion here has/had more convincing arguments, I think).
        The US is large and difficult to generalize for.

      • PedroS says:

        Why do the literalist Christian denominations seem to have such a disproportionate influence in the US vs. other Christian countries? Even taking into account the rapid rate of seculization in Europe, I do not recall hearing any reports of such denominations on my side of the pond.

        • Part of the answer suggested by the work of Larry Iannacone, an economist whose specialty is the economics of religion, is that European countries mostly had established, hence monopoly, churches. The U.S. had a competitive market for religion.

          Which reminds me of David Hume’s argument in favor of the established church, that it bribed the indolence of the clergy and so reduced religious passions.

          • Deiseach says:

            What’s interesting to me is that the Rapture, which seems to have developed into an explosion of Dispensationalist theology in the USA (where “explosion” means “small percentage but very heated in particular non-mainline denominations”) actually started off, or got popularised, in the British Isles by John Nelson Darby but got really nowhere (unless you count eventually resulting in the Exclusive Brethren splitting off from the Plymouth Brethren who were never a large denomination to start with).

            However, when it got to America, via one particular canny or inspired editor of a Bible translation with a Bible-study course included, it took off like wildfire. Apparently you can also blame him for the whole Young Earth Creationism thing:

            Finally, the 1917 edition also attempted to date events of the Bible. It was in the pages of the Scofield Reference Bible that many Christians first encountered Archbishop James Ussher’s calculation of the date of Creation as 4004 BC; and through discussion of Scofield’s notes, which advocated the “gap theory,” fundamentalists began a serious internal debate about the nature and chronology of creation.

            Impressive, considering it was only published in 1909 and revised in 1917!

            Indeed, the only reason I know anything about it is from hanging around American Protestant websites where this is discussed from time to time (generally in a tongue-in-cheek way like the Emo Williams joke). It is so not even on the radar that I had to Google to see if Catholicism has any position on Millennialism – seemingly yes we do, we amillennialists 🙂

      • TenMinute says:

        Corey, your coworkers were right, and you’re undeservedly smug in your superiority.
        “the First Amendment Establishment Clause was only intended to cover the Federal government” is an exact and unambiguously correct description.

      • I’ve got (programmer!) co-workers who sincerely believe that e.g. the original 13 US States had official Christian denominations, and so the First Amendment Establishment Clause was only intended to cover the Federal government, only activist judges prevent States from establishing official religions.

        The First Amendment Establishment Clause only covered the Federal Government, as should be obvious from reading it.

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

        If you think your co-workers are nutty for believing that, that says more about you than about them.

        Some of the original states had established churches, some didn’t. The application to the states was a result of the incorporation doctrine, which held that one result of the Fourteenth Amendment was to make at least some of the Bill of Rights applicable to the state. That was a decision by judges–the Supreme Court in 1940.

        Most US homeschooling is indeed for religious-separatism reasons

        It is clearly one important reason but not, judging by survey data, the most important one.

        What your evidence suggests is that people pushing home schooling for religious reasons are more active in providing home schooling materials, which might, for all I know, be true.

        • Corey says:

          [Religious separatism] is clearly one important reason [for homeschooling] but not, judging by survey data, the most important one.

          More people cited “concern over the school environment” as the most important reason (31%) than “religious/moral instruction” (29%), true. But when they could list all the reasons, 85% included environment concerns, and 72% included religious/moral instruction. So there’s definitely a lot of overlap, which would match my prior of environment concerns roughly equalling “exposure to secular culture”.

        • Corey says:

          If you think your co-workers are nutty for believing that, that says more about you than about them.

          Thanks for the tips, I’ll update. I didn’t think it was that bad to be skeptical of pro-theocracy claims from people who group animals into baramins, but *shrug*.

          • I didn’t think it was that bad to be skeptical of pro-theocracy claims from people who group animals into baramins, but *shrug*.

            If “skeptical” means “the fact that they believe it is not a good reason to think it is true,” I agree. If it means “the fact that they believe it is a good reason to think it is false,” which seems to have been the rule you followed, I disagree.

            And thanks for causing me to google for “baramins.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            If people have demonstrated that they have an unusual number of incorrect or false ideas about a subject, we can increase our probability estimate that the next they say on the subject is false or incorrect.

            If they do so about many subjects, we can increase the estimate that anything they say is incorrect.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          @David Friedman:

          If you think your co-workers are nutty for believing that, that says more about you than about them.

          Please don’t go native. Please?

    • beleester says:

      This part jumped out at me:

      You cannot be this version of evangelical and not force your beliefs on others. Failing to convert is a failure on you and your dedication to your faith. This religion is based entirely on fear; you can’t argue away a fear so intense that it hardens you to anyone unlike you or your tribe.

      I follow another ex-evangelical blogger, Fred Clark (mainly for his takedown of the terrible Left Behind novels), and he described the mood in evangelical circles in exactly the same way – saving souls is paramount, everything else is just a means to that end. If you don’t preach hard enough to convert someone, then they’re going to hell and it’s your fault. This post was a good one, and seeing as he wrote it five years ago when Obama was still president, he’s probably not milking the moment for political points. So, blue-haired fairy boy or not, the guy you linked sounds like an actual evangelical.

      Do I believe that putting Pence on the ticket was a 5D Nine-Men’s-Morris move to get a Dominionist into the presidency? Not really, any more than I think that anything else Trump did is some grand chessmaster scheme. Do I believe that there’s a good-sized voting bloc that sincerely thinks the US is a Christian nation, wants to pass laws to that effect, and has an insular subculture that creates kids who want the same thing even more fervently? Yes.

      (Obligatory scary headline: Trump stated yesterday that he wants to remove the Johnson Amendment, the thing that requires tax-exempt charitable organizations, like churches, to stay out of politics.)

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Beleester – “I follow another ex-evangelical blogger, Fred Clark (mainly for his takedown of the terrible Left Behind novels), and he described the mood in evangelical circles in exactly the same way – saving souls is paramount, everything else is just a means to that end.”

        That is horrifyingly unbiblical. I mean, it’s definately real; I’ve got a guy in my small group at church who believes this, but man, what a appallingly awful way to see the world. I think Church of Christ qualifies as evangelical, and we definately do not believe this. I would hope the larger Evangelical community doesn’t either.

      • Iain says:

        Minor pedantry: unless I’ve missed something, Fred Clark is still an evangelical blogger, not an ex-evangelical blogger.

        I agree with the rest of your post, though. Fred Clark is good stuff.

        • beleester says:

          My mistake, sorry. I didn’t recall how he actually identified, I just remembered him usually being critical of evangelicals.

      • Deiseach says:

        Obligatory rebuttal of scary headline: since I’m not American and wouldn’t know the Johnson Amendment if I fell over it, I’m relying on the history as related here:

        The Internal Revenue Service, which monitors the activities of tax-exempt groups, including churches, specifies that the rules apply to “all section 501(c)(3) organizations” and not just churches, mosques or synagogues. In other words, the reference to “entities like churches and charitable organizations” is a bit on the vague side of things.

        Some history here: In 1954, then-Senator “Landslide” Lyndon Johnson was facing his first re-election to the Senate after squeaking to an 87-vote win over popular former Texas governor Coke Stevenson in 1948.

        Johnson’s political stances riled some on the right, particularly oil magnate H.K. Hunt and newspaper publisher Frank Gannett. Each separately formed tax-exempt groups to distribute information against Johnson, alleging the Senator was “soft” on Communism.

        Neither Hunt nor Gannett founded a church, however. But because the Johnson Amendment – to the Internal Revenue Code – blocked political speech for all 501(c)3s, pulpiteers were suddenly swept up in the rules.

        I have seen some online posting about “This would mean Fred and Betty could go to a church where the preacher tells them God hates homosexuality and to vote for a candidate who is anti-gay rights”. Given that (a) you can as yet go to a church where a sermon about homosexuality being a sin can be preached, this is not going to be affected by any maintenance or repeal of this amendment (b) this equally applies to Zuzu and Fawnia going to a faith community where the guest speaker talks about how crucifying Mother Gaia is a sin and to vote for a politician who will act on climate change. You can preach about sin all you like, just as long as you don’t mention any particular names – no “Trump is indeed the Anti-Christ so if you vote for him you will go to Hell (if Hell existed you would, that is)” or “Jones-Smyth-Browne is the only candidate it is sane to vote for because xie will reverse the rising of sea levels”.

        That is, any denomination, church or other religious grouping is not supposed to directly campaign for or against any politician or party. A black preacher at an African-American church getting up in the pulpit and telling the congregation vote for Obama? Just as much breaks the law as Westboro Baptist telling its people to vote for a candidate who will get rid of the gays:

        Though it apparently seems this way it isn’t only conservatives who’ve felt the sting of the IRS’ implementation of the Johnson Amendment. In 2005, All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, was investigated by the agency after a 2004 guest sermon by former rector the Rev. George F. Regas inveighing against the war policies of then-President George W. Bush. That’s hardly a Jerry Falwell-style homily, is it?

        …In implying that the Johnson Amendment only impacts churches with conservative doctrinal views, The New York Times frames the issue poorly and obscures the heart of the issue. You see, churches on the left and right have felt the IRS’ hand on their shoulder because a freshman Texas Senator once got his way.

        The progressive element either are unaware of the existence of the Religious Left or don’t think it’s ‘religion interfering in politics’ when their side does it for their pet causes or candidates.

        • Corey says:

          Wonk criticism of Johnson-Amendment repeal is that it provides a (new) way to funnel opaque money into campaigns – launder it through churches, who don’t have to disclose anything about their funding sources. Likewise, it’d be easy to incorporate purpose-built churches; the US government takes an expansive view of what counts as a church, and the government asking too many questions about any church will cause an uproar.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Running the money through churches seems kludgey when there are already so many more politically-minded 501(c)3s out there: NAACP, NRA, ACLU, SPLC, to name just a few.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Honestly, I’m with Marc Randazza on this. Let’s just strip churches of tax exemption entirely, and then the question of whether or not advocacy endangers their tax exemptions becomes moot.

            Although to be honest, I’d much rather just delete 501(c) in its entirely and erase the entire concept of the tax-exempt non-profit. If people care enough to pay money for policy advocacy (or spiritual enlightenment for that matter) sufficiently to support a business organization, tax that business the same as any other.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Honestly, I’m with Marc Randazza on this. Let’s just strip churches of tax exemption entirely, and then the question of whether or not advocacy endangers their tax exemptions becomes moot.

            The power to tax is the power to regulate. Making religious institutions pay taxes would endanger the First Amendment, which is why they were exempt from taxation in the first place.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Fair enough. I’m not a big fan of the use of taxes and subsidies as a carrot and stick to shape public behavior period, so I’m all in favor of strictly limiting that power.

            When the only type of tax you’re allowed is (as a ferinstance), income tax, and it must be assessed universally against individual or collective organization (whether business, church, environmental activist group, or local amateur dramatic club that sells tickets to its plays), it makes it hard to wield that as a club without hitting so many unintended targets as to make it useless.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            There is an intermediate possibility between eliminating 501c and the status quo, namely eliminating 501c3 charities and forcing them to become other 501c non-profits, which are allowed to lobby (though it is complicated).

    • For almost the bulk of western civilization with accessible written historical records, the government was either less powerful then the papal institution, or nearly the same in power. Never underestimate religious influence in government.

      Look it Irans islamic theoracy with its written legal code being fairly close to quran laws, except where those laws can’t easily be applied. It appears that, excepting the countries where religion has been stamped out for decades under soviet rule, majority muslim countries are at strong risk of having their entire body of law be as brutal as the quran, with there being a random risk of brutal suppression of anything considered non-halal, so even rock-bands have to be very underground or risk being murdered. (And it appears so violently self-reinforcing that even at levels of being a small minority, current western civilization is already being brutally silenced

      As someone whose step-siblings were almost homeschooled, and the families closest friends children were homeschooled to avoid non-religious influence, its powerful. The biggest reasons seemed to be this
      1. Ensuring abstinence only education(remember, sexual immorality is horrible unless a really rich guy who “supports” religion does it, then its being like king david) 2. Avoiding the topic of Evolution and adding doubt to any historical records past 6000 years in history 3. Ensuring more favorable coverage of the religion one grew up in 4. Ensuring more negative coverage of other religions, in particular emphasizing the negative rule of the catholic church(clearly my family was of protestant origin)

      My guess is most parents or potential parents who believe that an area truly has a terrible school system and care for their child’s education probably just do their best to move locations to a better system, rather then just find(and how?) the one good tiny private school in the area, that may cost a fortune.

      • Avoiding the topic of Evolution and adding doubt to any historical records past 6000 years in history

        Writing seems to have been invented a little over five thousand years ago, so there is good reason to doubt any historical records claimed to be from more than six thousand years ago.

        Do you mean “any conclusions about events from more than six thousand years ago,” such as those based on geological or paleontological evidence? There is a reason for the term “pre-historic.”

      • Aevylmar says:

        For almost the bulk of western civilization with accessible written historical records, the government was either less powerful then the papal institution, or nearly the same in power.

        I can’t comment on your larger point, of whether it is unwise to underestimate religious influence on government, but based on my studies of history, I think the quoted sentence is wrong – that is, that the popes often (almost regularly) lost; that the papal faction was generally not the stronger, but the weaker by far. I’d like to focus on Pope Innocent III, since I coincidentally know a lot more about him than I do about many of the others.

        (Apologies in advance for a long historical rant, by the way; I’m somewhat sleep-deprived.)

        Per Wikipedia, “Pope Innocent was one of the most powerful and influential popes.” (Unsourced quotes will be from Wikipedia in this, since it’s easy to access and fairly reliable.) So we can use him reasonably well as a potential upper limit to papal influence, and we can look at the things that he tried to do and the things he did do and see what happened.

        • English conflict: King John quarrels with his barons. Pope Innocent is on the side of the barons and uses every means at his disposal to stop John. John responds by confiscating the income of the church and ignoring the interdict, fighting a war with about equal terms with his barons. John then offers official surrender to the Pope, who switches sides in the war and supports John. John remains fighting on approximately equal terms, but by the time he dies is clearly losing more than he’s winning.

        I don’t think we can say here that the papal institution is more powerful than the government. Indeed, I think we can say that the papal institution does not have the power to swing a war between two roughly equally balanced branches of government, suggesting it is considerably less powerful.

        • Italy. The project of the Papacy from the eleventh century to the fourteenth or fifteenth was to get Italy out of the hands of the Holy Roman Empire. It is true that the Holy Roman Empire eventually lost Italy, due to internal revolt and French invasion; it is also true Innocent reigned during the period in which the Holy Roman Empire had the most control over the peninsula it had had since before Charlemagne. Indeed, one of his rivals, Frederick II, who held onto Italy his entire life, “was frequently at war with the papacy, [which was] hemmed in between Frederick’s lands in northern Italy and his Kingdom of Sicily (the Regno) to the south, and thus [Frederick] was excommunicated four times and often vilified in pro-papal chronicles of the time and since.” It is nevertheless true that these excommunications failed to accomplish anything until more than forty years after Innocent’s death, when they were backed by the foreign armies of the French. Again, the Pope isn’t doing much.

        • Crusading. Pope Innocent III wants a holy war to recover Jerusalem. He gets the Fourth Crusade, a crowning piece of idiocy which starts by attacking the city of Zara, held by *other* crusaders, and moves on to invading the Byzantine empire. The whole time – up until it succeeds, when he finally throws up his hands and says, fine, the only way this could have happened was if God wanted it – he is sending angry emissaries to them excommunicating them and dissolving the oaths that bound them to the crusade and telling them go invade the Middle East, you idiots, Byzantium is not the Middle East. He is excommunicating the leadership and then excommunicating them again, because he has no bigger stick to hit them with.

        Jerusalem isn’t recovered until after his death, by Frederick II, who he hated and who recovered it with the condemnation of the Papacy. So, again, the Pope is putting his political power into things, and the exact opposite things are happening despite everything he can do.

        Now it is true that he wanted the Albigensian Crusade and it happened. But it is *also*
        the case that “The Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown and promptly took on a political flavour, resulting in not only a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars, but also a realignment of the County of Toulouse, bringing it into the sphere of the French crown and diminishing the distinct regional culture and high level of influence of the Counts of Barcelona.” So while I think we can call this a point for him, we can’t call it a very large point, since while he’s accomplishing something he wants, he’s accomplishing it by handing a lot of power over to the dominant faction in France.

        So, over all, I think we can say conclusively that at at least the point in history when Wikipedia says “the papacy was at the height of its powers” and the Pope was “considered to be the most powerful person in Europe at the time,” governments were enormously more powerful within their territories (and more capable of waging war outside of them) than was the papal institution.

      • cassander says:

        >For almost the bulk of western civilization with accessible written historical records, the government was either less powerful then the papal institution, or nearly the same in power. Never underestimate religious influence in government.

        This is debatable. First, you have the problem of the papacy being quite unique as far are religious heads go in having the papal states. in most historical circumstances, the religious heads, if they even have the sort of formal bureaucratic authority the popes possessed, were kept safely in the capital where the royal armies could smack them down if they got too uppity. Catholicism is rather unique in that the temporal power (the great lords of Europe) were often quite far from the locus of spiritual power, and with a large number of often hostile powers between them.

        Second, even in Europe, papal power waxed and waned strongly over time. Prior to 1059, there were no formal rules for papal selection, and emperors had little trouble seating and unseating them. Papal power certainly became real in the middle ages, but it was never consistently maintained and was broken for good by the reformation, if not earlier. Even the states that didn’t go protestant went through a “gallicanising” of the church in their domains, gaining substantial control over church lands, revenues, and appointments. Popes being more powerful than secular rulers did happen, but in only during a narrow period, roughly 1100-1500, and excluding big chunks of time in that period. For example, most of the 1300s, the popes are in Avignon because they’re literally incapable of controlling Rome, much less the great princes of Europe.

    • hls2003 says:

      I’ve got pretty solid family, community, religious, and educational ties to the evangelical community. This will reflect my experience, rather than specific survey evidence, etc., but I will represent that I have also at various times seen survey evidence conforming to my opinion. To quote Reverend Lovejoy, “Short answer yes, with an if… long answer no, with a but.”

      There are actually Christians who genuinely believe that society would be better if it was run exclusively by Christians in accordance with Christian principles, with Biblical law in place of sharia law. They are not numerous; they are not supported by any denomination of note; and there is not even the tiniest chance of their success. Worrying about them is foolish.

      To the extent there are large numbers making anything like this argument, they are generally saying something relatively anodyne, like the argument that America was founded on Christian principles, that those moral principles are the only feasible buttress for the small-L liberal democratic nature of American society, and that therefore it is best for America if we do not jettison those moral principles. In other words, they are seeking not to rule because Christians should wield power, but rather to encourage a virtuous citizenry that is capable of maintaining a functional liberal democratic republic (for example, citing George Washington “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society” or John Adams “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”)

      If you want to include that second group in the term “Christian Reconstructionism,” then it is more widespread. But the goal is not to convert anyone by force, mandate church attendance, or tell anyone what to believe. Rather, it is to use law to support public virtue in connection with self-government. That may well include banning same-sex marriage, or abortion, but is generally more concerned with the relationship of citizens capable of supporting their government, not the government dictating to its citizens. In fact, most all such people are very small-government types who would be delighted with the government touching as little as possible. Worrying about this category is perhaps more realistic since they are more numerous, but they are also largely harmless as far as “Christofascism” goes.

      Neither group is seeking to “infiltrate” and “sneak” their way into anything. In fact, to the contrary, the larger second group wants to be as public and loud as possible. There are no secret conspiracies.

      I would also suggest that your suspicion of the narrative from “Kieryn Darkwater” is well-grounded. Nobody is as bitter as an ex-anything, or a less reliable expositor of the “real” nature of the thing.

  16. Silverlock says:

    I posted this question a couple of open threads ago . . . about three hours before the next thread was created. So I’m trying it again:

    I need some help tracking down an essay, please. It was entitled something like “If you Want People to Trust the News, You have to Print News Worth Trusting.” In it, the author pointed out several recent instances — mostly involving the Washington Post, I think — when the mainstream news media did not do such a hot job of spreading truth.

    I could have sworn it was from The Atlantic, but I have been unable to find it. I also thought it had been tweeted by Jon Haidt, but I can find no sign of it there, either. I know someone linked to it on SSC, but I can’t find it here either.

    My Google-Fu has failed me. Can anyone bail me out here?

  17. quintopia1 says:

    Hey Scott (or anyone interested in tinkering about with numerology)–I just got this question sent to me on Quora:

    “Are the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life and the Golden Ratio Phi linked in any way? If so, how?”

    Not experienced in the ways of engineering connections between things that are, to all outward appearances, completely unrelated, I leave this here in the hopes that someone could answer this question in the way that the kabbalists of UNSONG would.

    • shakeddown says:

      The rectangles in the drawing look like they have the golden ratio between their sides. That’s not really very kabbalistic, though.
      They are both methods by which an infinite God touches the finite world: The tree of life, as explained by Aaron and Uriel.
      The golden ratio: God is one. God is very definite about being one. However, God is both infinitely complex, and yet touches the finite world. How to resolve these apparent contradictions into a satisfactory numerical representation of God?
      The answer is to find an infinite series representing a finite number, composed only of ones. The most natural and simple way to do this (and remember, God is both perfectly simple and perfectly natural) is by the number 1+1/(1+1/(1+1/(…))), which is also the representation of the golden ratio.

    • rlms says:

      Since the Golden Ratio is the limit of the ratio of successive Fibonacci numbers, just find some of 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34… in the Tree of Life.

  18. Deiseach says:

    Has anyone else heard of this? Tesla may have made the most crash-safe car by accident? 🙂

    • Aapje says:

      The comic completely fails to distinguish between ‘less crash damage to the car’ and ‘less crash damage to the passengers.’

      Modern cars are made to intentionally deform in a controlled manner, as to gradually decelerate, limiting the G-forces on the body, maximizing survival odds. This means that modern cars sustain more damage than the much more solid cars of old, which sustained less catastrophic damage in accidents, but were way more lethal.

      If the characteristics of a Tesla are more like the old cars, this would make them less crash-safe, if one uses this definition of crash-safe: more chance of passenger survival.

      However, AFAIK the Tesla uses modern crumple zone techniques as as such, it is both quite safe and also quite prone to crumpling up like a can of coke in the hands of the Hulk (except the passenger cage).

      • gbdub says:

        Logged in to say basically the same thing.

        In theory a Tesla could be safer in a frontal crash for exactly the opposite reason the comic proposes: in a traditional car, the engine block is a big, basically undeformable injection right in front of the triver – having that intrude on the passenger compartment is a very bad thing.

        In a Tesla, the front end is all empty space, so you could conceivably design the whole thing as a crumple zone. I don’t know whether or not they’ve actually achieved this in practice, but if they have, I can assure you it wasn’t an “accident”.

        • The Nybbler says:

          The front end of a modern front-engine car is already a crumple zone; the engine is typically designed to drop below the passenger compartment in a frontal crash.

          • gbdub says:

            Right, just saying it would be theoretically easier without having to worry about the engine at all – you’re still having to design a mechanism to deal with a massive hunk of not-really deformable metal that wants to go somewhere you don’t want it.

    • skef says:

      (Edit: scooped) The analysis doesn’t make much sense. (Much) older cars tended to be very sturdy. When a car hits something and stays rigid, the deceleration of the passengers closely matches the deceleration at the front of the car, which is not ideal. Newer cars have “crumple zones” that compact in an accident, which allows the deceleration of the passengers to be lower than that of the bumper. So the illustration at the link gets the relevant notion of safety wrong, as the goal is (presumably) to protect the passengers, not to minimize damage to the car itself.

      That bad analysis doesn’t mean there isn’t a similar, better one. If you look at a Tesla drive train you’ll see that there isn’t much up front, and what there is is fairly low. The motor (on the S at least) is in the rear, and the battery block doesn’t extend all the way to the front. Some of those features have non-safety arguments for them — rear wheel drive, for example, is considered preferable for performance reasons I won’t go into. But the front looks to me like it was designed with safety in mind with a front trunk.

  19. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Women who’ve regained enough weight to be healthy after anorexia still have autistic sensory problems and brain traits.

    The anorexia/autism study leaves me wondering whether anorexia is partially caused by autism, or at least some autistic traits.

    There’s something geeky about anorexia– the compulsive focus on detail and measurement. This still leaves the possibility open that anorexia amplifies autistic traits.

    • Corey says:

      Probably depends on specific cases – my 10yo daughter is a counterexample, barely verbal and eats anything not nailed down. (TBF she probably doesn’t have the capacity to think of measuring weight or understand “overweight”, and some of the appetite is probably medicine-driven).

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        My argument wasn’t that all autistic girls/women get anorexia, it was that perhaps autism prediposes them to anorexia.

    • 1. Over the past 3 decades, the definition for autism has broadened a great deal, including many people who originally were not included in the definitions, which already was probably too vague in the first place.

      2. A cynical note, people usually only say “don’t starve yourself” to ladies when they become thinner then what people believe is ideal for their physical attractiveness. Focusing on simply being thin, rather then becoming more physically attractive in general, is the glitch.

      3. Be cautious about including focusing on detail and measurement as signs of autism. Its more, focusing on detail and measurement in places society think is a waste of time. Focusing on detail and measurement in situation X is a sign of intelligence, in situation Y is a sign of stupidity.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        ” A cynical note, people usually only say “don’t starve yourself” to ladies when they become thinner then what people believe is ideal for their physical attractiveness.”

        I’ve seen a fair number of complaints from anorexics about getting compliments and requests for diet advice when they were thin enough to be very ill.

        The standards for beauty aren’t a good match for health.

        • Winter Shaker says:

          It also seems likely that, for women in general, there is a mismatch between the average ideal weight for being attractive to men and the average ideal weight for being … well, ‘thought by other women to be attractive to men’ doesn’t sound quite right, but you know what I mean – the idea that the average man would prefer a woman with a bit more weight on her than the average (non-anorexic) woman who is consciously trying to optimise her weight is actually aiming for (with a comparable mismatch for men in the ideal level of musculature).

          Which would mean that the standards for beauty aren’t even a good match for beauty.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’m not sure whether it’s the same sort of thing, but there are men who do body-building and take it past the point where they’re attractive to most women.

          • Matt M says:

            Total speculation here, but it might also be the case that say, rich/successful men prefer significantly thinner women, on average, than average men do.

            So it might be logical for women who are trying to attract high status males to target a weight that, to the average man, seems “too skinny.”

            Reasoning: The ultra-thin supermodels who most regular guys dismiss as being “too skinny” never seem to have any difficulty whatsoever in terms of finding beloved successful attractive male movie stars/athletes to date/marry

          • James Miller says:

            More total speculation here: Most people gain weight during middle age. Taking this into account, a man considering the “lifetime value” of marrying a 25-year-old woman would want her to be thinner, at age 25, than he finds short-term optimal because of her expected future weight gain.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Reasoning: The ultra-thin supermodels who most regular guys dismiss as being “too skinny” never seem to have any difficulty whatsoever in terms of finding beloved successful attractive male movie stars/athletes to date/marry

            That might be a matter of social sorting, though: supermodels are generally high-status, rich actors/athletes are generally high-status, so the two groups are more likely to socialise and, thus, to date/get married for reasons which have no direct connection to appearance.

          • John Schilling says:

            Total speculation here, but it might also be the case that say, rich/successful men prefer significantly thinner women, on average, than average men do

            It seems unlikely that their perception of sexual attractiveness differs greatly from that of the general public, but it seems very likely that they value their reputation(*) somewhat more than the general public and so prefer to be seen with thinner women than average – at least so long as that is the consensus style du jour.

            *We are implicitly talking about famous rich/successful men here.

          • Matt M says:

            Right, that makes sense.

            Being seen with a woman who is like, > 2 SDs on the thin side is of no reputational hit whatsoever, but if she’s > 2 SDs on the fat side….

          • > that say, rich/successful men prefer significantly thinner women,

            I don’t think so. Its probably a taste of culture influencing peoples stated views.

            The erm…curvyness of mens visual preferences on XXX sites differ markedly then what is viewed as socially proper. Perhaps its viewing the sexual impulse as impure and what all men are capable of, while viewing the aesthetic pleasing of style, background as “higher” in some way.

            As for supermodels, the New York fashion walk industry is unusually dominated by gay men. A lot of supermodels are clearly thinner and more boyish then a straight mans typical preference. Somehow, this turns into a class and status thing.

            Maybe in women the thinness of models gives aesthetic pleasure without arousing sexual based envy?

          • skef says:

            As for supermodels, the New York fashion walk industry is unusually dominated by gay men. A lot of supermodels are clearly thinner and more boyish then a straight mans typical preference. Somehow, this turns into a class and status thing.

            This is a plausible theory but one that, from what I’ve read or seen on the subject over the years, is outweighed by the evidence for a different one: There seems to be a general agreement (if not consensus) among both men and women in the fashion industry that thin bodies are the best for displaying high-fashion clothes on. A lot of this apparently has to do with the options available, given that you build up regions on a thin model with padding or layers to make them curvy as desired. And even when only some clothes look best that way, there’s some benefit to “standardization” so that models can be assigned outfits at the last minute.

            This trend is exacerbated by the general evolution of runways shows towards spectacles largely divorced from the selling of the clothes actually displayed. As “couture” has become branding for other product lines, it becomes less important whether the styles on the runway would actually look good on particular people.

            All this said, I only know this from a general appetite for documentaries and such and am in no way an expert.

      • Tekhno says:

        I’ve seen a fair number of complaints from anorexics about getting compliments and requests for diet advice when they were thin enough to be very ill.

        Giant fatties get this too (the compliments not the diet advice). It’s mainly due to the internet allowing the formation of groupies and weird fetish communities.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Is that an answer to what I said?

        • Tekhno says:

          It’s another example running in the opposite direction. I’m agreeing with you that the standards for beauty aren’t a good match for health, which is particularly bad with the internet.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I was too angry to be clear.

            I can’t remember whether you’re part of the “don’t be a dick to fat people” contingent, but referring to very fat people as “giant fatties” counts.

            Complimenting people for being so thin that their health is in danger is *mainstream*.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            I can’t remember whether you’re part of the “don’t be a dick to fat people” contingent, but referring to very fat people as “giant fatties” counts.

            No, I’m part of the dickish “fat people deserve (light) mockery” brigade, because I know how it helped me and some other people lose weight.

            Complimenting people for being so thin that their health is in danger is *mainstream*.

            Most people aren’t that thin. It’s a fringe community thing, not an issue that is wide spread in society.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            >>Complimenting people for being so thin that their health is in danger is *mainstream*.

            >Most people aren’t that thin. It’s a fringe community thing, not an issue that is wide spread in society.

            My point isn’t that most people are that thin. My point is that being that thin is a cultural ideal, and this causes damage.

  20. Mark says:

    I don’t understand why Slider was banned indefinitely.

    What is wrong with that comment?

    Also, it looks like all of the chief Trump haters have been banned. I think this is a bit of a problem.
    Many people are arguing that the policies of Trump are merely a continuation of existing policies. Yeah, problem is it’s direction and theme that’s important. We want to be moving forwards, upwards, and always twirling. Twirling towards freedom.
    Change you can believe in (even if it doesn’t happen).

    It’s the theme rather than the specific policies that are problematic (though the specific policies are also bad).
    So people who voted Trump *should* be shamed. We object to their attitude. Immigration restrictions *are* xenophobic.
    Instead of coming to terms with other types of people in an ever smaller world, we’re just supposed to hunker down, and when the others don’t go away? What happens then?
    It’s a dangerous attitude, and the correct way to combat it is to attack the attitude rather than the specific policies it gives rise to.

    • Leit says:

      The chief Trump haters were literally and continually advocating retribution against people because of their beliefs. A lot like you’re doing here, actually. I recommend going elsewhere if you want to try and shame people into compliance with your values. Facebook and twitter seem popular for outrage-based interactions.

      Slider was expressing the same sort of lumping together and assignment of uncharitable motivations that leads to the viewpoint of “they’re all monsters and thieves”. We’ve been through a few rounds of “okay, can everyone please just stop homogenizing outgroups”, commenters are pretty tired of it, and I imagine Scott is as well. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me too much if the link isn’t to the correct post there.

      • Mark says:

        “Retribution” is a bit strong – most of it was them talking about how awful Trump was, and how people who voted for him should be ashamed.

        I mean, let’s say I’m a vegetarian and I keep saying “Eating meat is awful, just think about those poor animals” – is that permissible?

        How about “People who eat meat don’t care about hurting animals”?

        I mean, unless we’re going to get into the metaphysical weeds, that second statement isn’t so much uncharitable, as overly optimistic about how far people actually think about what they are doing.

        Yeah, these things can get a bit repetitive, but there always has to be a bit of a repetitive aspect to anything comprehensible – it’s all just variations on a theme, or utter chaos.

        • Jugemu says:

          >How about “People who eat meat don’t care about hurting animals”?

          In general that’s not even true.

        • Leit says:

          Let me link you to the post that got Earthly Knight banned, in which he describes himself as a “retributivist” and advocates for abusing Trump supporters at every opportunity. And certainly, his incessant attacks had been wearing thin for some time already.

          Now you get to retreat behind “most” and call that example nonrepresentative until I dig up a bunch of Iain and HBC’s less proud moments since the election, the phrase “conservative safe space” gets thrown around, and we get exactly nowhere while wasting a lot of my time and looking petty and partisan. So instead I’m not going to respond to this thread any more.

          • PedroS says:

            I think that the specific comment Slider got banned for did not seem a particularly egregious example of a “bannable offense”, but it was indeed written in a way that would predictably cause offense (as are most comments who talk about leftists/rightists/muslims as a single homogeneous group defined by their worst representatives).

          • Iain says:

            Please do dig up my less proud moments. What have I posted that is remotely comparable to advocacy for abusing Trump supporters at every opportunity? I can think of a handful of posts in the “literal Hitler” thread where I was excessively snarky, but aside from that I have no idea why you would single me out as a bad poster. Is it because my avatar is so memorably awful?

          • Spookykou says:

            It seems very disingenuous to try and paint Iain and HBC with the same brush as EK. Also, I am not sure why you need to, the question is about the people who got banned, isn’t it enough that the people who got banned displayed the bad behavior that warranted banning?

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            Iain, I think you’re an asset to this comment section and I would be loathe to see you banned.

            You and HBC both do a pretty good job keeping level heads against our multi-headed hydra of righties (of which I am a part), I dunno what comments Leit could be referring to.

          • Let me link you to the post that got Earthly Knight banned

            When I click on a link like that, I get to comments on the right original post but not to the particular comment that is supposed to be linked to. Any guess why?

            In this case, a search for “retributivist” solved the problem. If there isn’t a way of making such links work for everyone, it might be worth, if trying to link to a specific comment, to deliberately mention some word or phrase by which it can be found.

          • Bakkot says:

            When I click on a link like that, I get to comments on the right original post but not to the particular comment that is supposed to be linked to.

            Huh. Works for me, but incidentally here is a bookmarklet you can add such that clicking on it will bring you to the comment you opened the page on (or clicked the timestamp of yourself). Also useful in other circumstances, e.g. if you opened a tab to reply to someone and then scrolled and lost your place.

            In this case, a search for “retributivist” solved the problem. If there isn’t a way of making such links work for everyone, it might be worth, if trying to link to a specific comment, to deliberately mention some word or phrase by which it can be found.

            Timestamps work pretty well, I think. They’re not always unambiguous, but there’s rarely more than one or two in a thread at a given minute.

        • Nornagest says:

          most of it was them talking about how awful Trump was, and how people who voted for him should be ashamed.

          The people that get banned here generally don’t get banned for “most of [their posts]”, they got banned for a smaller proportion of stuff that’s clearly outside forum norms. That is perfectly normal. Out here in the real world, we don’t put people in prison for thousands of hours of bad-but-legal driving, but we do if they spend twenty minutes stealing a car.

          The main exceptions I can think of are John Sidles (and his sockpuppets) and Jill/Moon, who both essentially got banned for being prolific and annoying. But that’s also defensible, for different but essentially apolitical reasons.

          • Matt M says:

            Technically speaking, Jill got banned for a one time rules violation, but it was a rule invented and applied specifically for and solely to her, due to long-term prolific trolling.

    • Jugemu says:

      Leftists have been using shame attacks on anyone remotely non-left for a long time now. You might notice that those tactics are starting to fail. Continuing to double down is not likely to have positive results, as good as it might feel in the moment.

      • Mark says:

        I think there are two kinds of “shame” tactic.
        1) Oh my god – you think that? What a loser!
        2) Oh my god – you think that? Please think about these real people who will suffer if we follow your advice.

        (1) useful for gaining support of young people, absolutely useless for persuading older people. (2) effective for everyone.
        I think the failure is that we have a lot of young, and young at heart, people on the left who think calling people losers is an effective tactic. It isn’t.

        • Jugemu says:

          2. is only likely to be effective to the extent that people share your values, or feel the need to signal that they do. Many people don’t share them, and the signalling is becoming increasingly polarized. Trump’s “America First” is a straight-up rejection of universalism and plenty of people are ok with that.

          • Mark says:

            Elua dances left.

          • Jugemu says:

            To the extent that’s true it’s probably driven by technological change, not by fundamental changes in human personality. And regardless this is a slow process, not something relevant to the Trump issue.

          • Mark says:

            I think that universalism makes people happy – it’s appealing.

            I guess that once you start thinking about morality, it’s just psychically easier to think that you yourself might have value because you’re human, rather than because you happen to be different to these other people in ways x, y, or z.

            So, we could be in a bit of a win-win – if Trump supporters mainly oppose immigration because they aren’t considering them, get them to consider them.

            I really don’t think there is much of a difference between having concern for your compatriots in a nation of 300 million, and concern for everyone. Very similar process for both.

          • gbdub says:

            The issue is that I very rarely see people caring about “everyone”; I see people caring about the photogenic victim du jour. Pure emotional appeal without any room to consider the holistic impacts of the policy. It’s how we get bad laws named after people.

            Your argument works against “I just don’t give a damn about foreigners”. It doesn’t answer “I wish we could help that crying child, indeed every crying child, but ultimately I believe that what you’re proposing would make us all worse off”.

            From the flip side, it’s one thing to say, “Look, I understand that there are some potential risks and negative impacts of accepting refugees, but ultimately I consider these costs small and very bearable when compared to the benefits”. It’s quite another to argue that even talking about costs and risks makes you an inhuman bigot.

          • Mark says:

            I guess it’s a bit like the M&M question – if you really liked M&Ms, what percentage of them would have to be poisoned for you to consider stopping eating them entirely. What if all food carries some small risk of being poisoned? What do you do then?

            Most people who’ve looked into the probabilities have decided that the risk of poisoned muslims is sufficiently low that it doesn’t really make sense to discriminate against them, especially given the long term costs of rising nationalism. Perhaps people who spend their time reading articles about scary foreigners decide differently.

            I guess the suspicion is that these people just don’t like muslims in the first place, and that we might change that attitude by saying “dude, muslims are people too.”.

          • gbdub says:

            I guess the suspicion is that these people just don’t like muslims in the first place, and that we might change that attitude by saying “dude, muslims are people too.”.

            It’s more than a suspicion, it’s an assumption – and a condescending, insulting one at that. It’s the exact opposite of the principle of charity. See also “bitter clingers” and “pro-lifers don’t care about babies, they just want to enslave women”.

            Go take a poll asking “Do you believe that Muslims are people?” You’ll get close to unanimous agreement, less the lizardman constant.

            The M&M analogy is a good one, in this sense: you notice that it starts from the assumption that everyone agrees that M&Ms are good, and that poison is bad. The only reason anyone would come to a different conclusion on eating from the bowl is that they have different assessment of the level of poison risk vs. the yumminess of M&Ms.

            The attitude you mention and I quoted is basically “You disagree about the wisdom of eating from this bowl of M&Ms? The obvious explanation is that you are a horrible human being!” Hopefully you can see why that would be off-putting and probably unlikely to positively modify attitudes.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Mark

            I think that universalism makes people happy – it’s appealing.

            Not to me.

            I really don’t think there is much of a difference between having concern for your compatriots in a nation of 300 million, and concern for everyone. Very similar process for both.

            If you’re trapped in universalist mode, you may not be able to see the multiple levels this operates on. I have a similar low level concern for my compatriots as for humanity, but I have a much much higher level of concern for people who share my values, and so I want to trap those who don’t share my values outside my walled garden.

            The people who don’t share my values who are already inside remain an issue, but it causes too much chaos to try and remove them, and trying to exert the supremacy of my values directly just makes a rod for my own back, so liberalism allows us to live side by side in an uneasy peace. I don’t want to go over some tipping point, where people whose values are so aberrant they don’t even care about the mechanism of liberalism outnumber those that do, and then the whole thing decays into Middle Eastern or African style democracy, so it is in my self-interest to maintain the ability to select who is allowed in and who isn’t.

            @Mark

            I guess it’s a bit like the M&M question – if you really liked M&Ms, what percentage of them would have to be poisoned for you to consider stopping eating them entirely. What if all food carries some small risk of being poisoned? What do you do then?

            Strawman. You take proper precautions about food hygiene already, and are able to be selective about what foods are appropriate to eat and what aren’t, and in what ways. Everyone does this. If you weren’t applying some kind of metric like this, you would have a “universalist” attitude towards food and start eating clods of dirt and planks of wood.

            Most people who’ve looked into the probabilities have decided that the risk of poisoned muslims is sufficiently low that it doesn’t really make sense to discriminate against them, especially given the long term costs of rising nationalism.

            In fairness, this is probably true in America because it’s so easy to be selective about which Muslims you bring in, without looking like you are cruelly excluding all the others. Not so for Europe.

            Also, not all nationalisms are made equal. We can play that game with any aspect of politics, which right wingers have been doing for a long time by implying that social welfare policies are some kind of creeping communism, so please place yourself above returning the favor.

            I guess the suspicion is that these people just don’t like muslims in the first place, and that we might change that attitude by saying “dude, muslims are people too.”.

            The inherent value I afford to people is that they go unmolested, and in this case, the incessant meddling in the Middle East should cease pronto.

            I don’t like Islam in the first place. I despise it like I despise Christianity. I can get along with Muslims to the extent that I can get along with Christians, where their sense of purity and dogmatism regarding their religion has been effectively neutered.

            This has already been done to Christianity where I come from, and it was quite a fight, lasting hundreds of years. It’s still going on in America. If you literally hold the position that immigration control of any sort is a step too close to Nazism (which is just the flipside of conservatives thinking welfare is a step too close to communism), then you import that struggle from where it’s in a particularly violent phase; the Middle East.

          • Deiseach says:

            I guess the suspicion is that these people just don’t like muslims in the first place, and that we might change that attitude by saying “dude, muslims are people too.”

            Which only flies when they’re the kind of Muslims like the girl I’m seeing in the raving about a Norwegian TV show Skam who wears a hijab but is not judgemental (unless it’s about things we all agree should be judged).

            A Muslim who not only didn’t drink themselves but refused to hang out with others who are drinking? That we wouldn’t see so much of, I’m thinking. Sure, wear the hijab but assimilate good secular values and we’ll see you as a person and we’ll tsk-tsk at the mindless prejudice of those who can’t see you as a person. A Muslim who turned around and told the “dude, Muslims are people too” folks that they’re sinning by being sexually active outside of marriage? How long would the tolerance last there, I wonder?

          • Matt M says:

            How long would the tolerance last there, I wonder?

            You may be surprised

            There’s decent precedent in the U.S. of leftist institutions catering to demands that would normally be considered outside of the overton window for being culturally regressive, so long as those demands are coming from brown Muslims rather than white Christians…

          • Mark says:

            @gdub

            If I don’t like M&Ms, I’m not going to eat them no matter how many of them are poisoned. If I’m not as keen on M&Ms, my acceptable level of risk is going to be lower.
            So, I don’t think it’s a terrible assumption.

            For example…

            @tekhno

            Fair enough, if you just think that muslims are likely to be really bad for society, it is rational to oppose increased immigration.
            My understanding is that it’s never really been shown that immigration on the whole is bad for a country, that it is generally thought to be good for the people immigrating, and that in order to create a story in which Muslims are a threat, you have to focus on a small, unusual, minority of Muslims.

            I’d like to defend the M&M analogy. Clumps of wood and dirt aren’t food. That’d be more like saying we should have an open borders policy for animals, or diseases, or something.

            I don’t think there is much appeal for a universalist food ethics, because we aren’t food.

            It sounds like you don’t like Muslims much. For a universalist, the immigration issue is actually subsidiary to this base ethical difference – the discussion has to focus on your motivations for disliking certain groups of foreigners and why that might be misguided.
            Part of that is emphasising the humanity of foreigners (guilt tripping).

        • dndnrsn says:

          If you divide between guilt (internal) and shame (external), the first is a shame tactic, the second is a guilt tactic. I, personally, like the division – the first depends entirely on social power, and is thus, as you mention, useless.

        • PedroS says:

          Actually, the single person most associated with “calling people losers” (actually “yuge losers”) is emphatically not a representative of the Left.

          • The Element of Surprise says:

            Both the Left and the Right have dysphemisms for their opponents (e.g. involving accusations of various phobias, or references to birds of the Cuculidae family; I don’t want to run afoul of any spam filters here), though it feels to me like the Left’s shaming tactics are more powerful, both in execution (you can read them in news headlines) and in consequences (more likely to get you fired).

        • Deiseach says:

          I really don’t think there is much of a difference between having concern for your compatriots in a nation of 300 million, and concern for everyone. Very similar process for both.

          I have recently seen an example of someone who generally honestly would be “let’s be tolerant and nice, let’s value all people, we should be ethical altruists” making an honest comment about a certain sub-set of people that boiled down to “I don’t understand them, I don’t share their values and frankly I don’t like them, they should quit whining and pull up their socks and help themselves!”

          Which was once again an example of “very compassionate about Them Out There once they’re foreign and safely not within a thousand miles of you, but very antagonised by fellow-citizens of your own country that are on the other side of the fence to you”.

          So when you get people from that side of the fence lecturing you about “won’t somebody think of the children?”, it’s very easy to go “I just don’t give a damn about foreigners” because it’s not going to make them think any worse of you than they do already, so why should you be the one on the defensive here?

          • PedroS says:

            As Ivan Karamazov said (and I am paraphrasing) “Its is easy to love mankind. It is my neighbour whom I cannot stand”

          • THE WORLD STATE

            Oh, how I love Humanity,
            With love so pure and pringlish,
            And how I hate the horrid French,
            Who never will be English!

            The International Idea,
            The largest and the clearest,
            Is welding all the nations now,
            Except the one that’s nearest.

            This compromise has long been known,
            This scheme of partial pardons,
            In ethical societies
            And small suburban gardens —

            The villas and the chapels where
            I learned with little labor
            The way to love my fellow-man
            And hate my next-door neighbor.

            (GKC)

    • Zombielicious says:

      You’re touching a broader problem at the end there, I think, in that a specific, openly-endorsed strategy of extremists (e.g. the literal far-right neo-Nazis, or ISIS types if you live in those countries) is normalization of their ideas. The entire game is to get a foothold of respectability in public discourse where they’ve been shunned ever since the Holocaust, then work to become a real movement again from there. The feigned goal is to expand the Overton window, when the actual goal is to just move it somewhere else. Philosophies of “radical charity” at any time and any place, regardless of the goals or intentions, play into that strategy. As the saying goes, “If you open your mind too much, your brain will fall out.”

      We’re used to worrying about the slippery-slope of free speech: you censor one thing and a few decades later only government-mandated speech is allowed. The danger in the other direction seems to have gotten less attention up to now – play devil’s advocate no matter the circumstance and you end up having to fight the same wars that never should have happened again. Hence why stuff like intentionally removing Jews from statements about the Holocaust should be looked at with some suspicion (especially when surrounded by mountains of similar “coincidences”). Charity would say “oh don’t be ridiculous,” but at some point the evidence piles up and you’re either stupid or guilty for continuing to deny it. The Bradley effect applies here too – if people are frequently willing to lie about their true feelings towards unpopular candidates, you should expect some of them to also sometimes be lying about their true feelings towards really reprehensible ideas.

      Moderation and some kind of golden middle are probably the answer – using wisdom and good judgment about where to draw the line. Good luck getting everyone to agree on where that is, though.

    • Corey says:

      Protip: SSC is a safe space for conservatives and/or libertarians. Arguing that their values might be misguided is unwelcome. You can argue against the median SSC characterization of the left (all-powerful, anti-reason, etc.), but you’ll get shouted down at best. (We have the rest of the Internet so we can just bug out and leave the place to the monarchists when things get too annoying).

      This can make discourse exhausting, because you have to accommodate such a wide range of values (e.g. you can’t, implicitly or explicitly, employ an assumption that US blacks are roughly intellectually comparable to whites, without inviting a dogpile). But it can be useful and educational to engage conservatives in an online place where they’re reasonable.

      • Mark says:

        Just as a test, if we’re saying that there is a genetic difference in the IQ of black and white, how to explain that poor (free school meals – their parents aren’t doctors) afro-caribeans and black africans in the UK, perform better at GCSEs (16 years old) than equally poor white British students.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          No clue. I’ve heard recently that blacks in Germany do just fine in testing as well.

          The assumption that gets the most pushback is that all differences in outcome are due to discrimination, and anyone who argues differently is a racist/bigot.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          Just as a test, if we’re saying that there is a genetic difference in the IQ of black and white, how to explain that poor (free school meals – their parents aren’t doctors) afro-caribeans and black africans in the UK, perform better at GCSEs (16 years old) than equally poor white British students.

          Possibly related question: How much of the black British population are descendants of slaves vs immigrants who arrived after abolition?

          • 1soru1 says:

            The reference to ‘doing better’ was almost certainly to ‘Black African’. ‘Black Caribbean’ (overwhelmingly ex-slaves, though less recently than African-Americans) remains a few percentage points behind (before any adjustment for income or parent’s occupation).

            https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/439867/RR439B-Ethnic_minorities_and_attainment_the_effects_of_poverty_annex.pdf.pdf

            The real standout is the ‘irish traveller’ group, who despite being ethnically identical to ‘white irish’, have educational outcomes off the bottom of the chart.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Page 10 seems to confirm his statement for both african and afro-carib (the part where they isolate the subsamples poor enough to qualify for FSM)

          • 1soru1 says:

            You are right, the economically adjusted figures show both groups above white british (by an amount that’s more or less random noise).

            The data also contradicts another common assumption held here; increased education spending never leads to noticeably better results…

          • cassander says:

            Looking at that chart (pg.27) and how every single ethnic group has massively improved in the last decade (really the 3 years from 2008-11), I suspect the test has been made easier, which has compressed the scores.

          • Deiseach says:

            The real standout is the ‘irish traveller’ group, who despite being ethnically identical to ‘white irish’, have educational outcomes off the bottom of the chart.

            This result is partly why I think IQ tests are as much about testing how good you are at taking tests as they are at testing IQ. Circumstances for Travellers include poor school attendance, massive disruption to education due to being itinerant (moving around from place to place), non-diagnosis of special needs/non-treatment/erratic access to services due to being itinerant, dropping out of education early and no interest in higher education, separate culture and values, etc. I couldn’t tell you if population IQ is less or equal or what, but I don’t think that they are much more stupid in general than the rest of the Irish even if population IQ might be lower.

            This is a complicated situation, when talking about Travellers (who are not at all the same as Gypsies/Roma, if anyone is confused). Genetically identical, yes. Culturally and socially (even settled Travellers) – a whole other ball of wax. There has undoubtedly been prejudice and discrimination against them in Ireland, but equally – and here is where I am going to run right into being called a racist – as a population they are not assimilating. Especially in Britain -and I’m trying to find a way to be tactful about this but there isn’t any, so not to beat about the bush, they’re involved in criminality of a petty kind. Mainly unregistered trading, small-scale smuggling, confidence trickery, things like advertising as odd job men or small building works and convincing people (often the elderly and/or vulnerable) to get unnecessary repair and maintenance work on the exterior of the house and yard done, not doing it, and charging huge sums of money for what little they do perform.

            It really is a case of “not all – “; some (whether settled or still travelling) are great people, who just want to get on with the neighbours and are trying to improve their situation and that of their kids. Some are embedded in their culture and regard the settled population (non-Travellers) as other and pigeons for the plucking and are not interested in integrating into mainstream society but will take advantage of all that do-gooders can give them, including cries of oppression and racism when it suits them.

            My experience professionally has been with social housing provision, education, and personally in childhood (I remember the Traveller encampment under the railway bridge when I was a kid in the country and we did hang around a little bit with the Traveller kids). Even my boss in social housing, who comes from a social worker background and would be one of the bleeding-heart do-gooders, admits that it’s a very hard life for a Traveller woman because the men don’t take responsibility in the same way and are often involved in feuds and crime. (Anybody who thinks The Patriarchy is bad in modern society should try living in Traveller culture, although the younger ones are becoming a lot more influenced by the mores of the wider society – that’s not necessarily in a good way, there’s a lot more cohabiting and childbearing outside of marriage and breaking up with spouses and moving on to new partners than was usual). And yes, we’ve had experience of scamming and petty frauds and crimes.

            Local government is responsible for halting sites, where Travellers can park their caravans instead of (as traditional) by the side of the road. Please don’t confuse these with American trailer parks and mobile homes; halting sites are gradually getting overhauled but they tend to be bare concrete berths with one toilet block where you get running cold water and electricity provision and that’s about it. Since we pay towards provision of caravans (where old ones are no longer habitable or they need a bigger one since they’ve had more kids), they are in the price range €5-7,000 as on this site.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m particularly tickled by the Figure 19 graph, which shows the White Irish (non-free school meals eligible) doing better than the Chinese (non-free school meals eligible) and nearly as well as the Chinese (free school meals eligible):

            Figure 19: Age 11 results by ethnic group and FSM: England 2013
            % Level 4+ in Reading, Writing and Maths

            White British FSM – 58%
            White Irish FSM – 60%
            White British Non FSM – 80%
            Chinese Non FSM – 85%
            Irish Non-FSM – 87%
            Chinese FSM – 88%

            I am also puzzled by the difference in the Chinese FSM and NFSM results; surely eligibility for free school meals is a measure of deprivation and you’d expect the results to be flipped, if you expected any difference at all?

            The (11 year old) Irish in Britain – smarter than the native British, nearly as smart as the Chinese in Britain! (I am falling about laughing here).

          • 1soru1 says:

            There’s really not that many Chinese in the UK; random noise seems easily a sufficient explanation.

    • >Immigration restrictions *are* xenophobic.

      This is more of a platitude than a model of reality or opposition policy.

      Letting in 1,000,000 North African’s and Syrians into a refugee camp in upstate New York would be a bad idea. Opposing that idea would also be xenophobic — since we would be afraid of the outcome of letting these outsiders into our country. In this case it’s a rational xenophobia (note: I’m sure phobia has some real psychiatric definition, but we stopped caring about that ages ago so I won’t fixate on it here). I don’t think many people would support this policy, but if any did it would probably be some political theorists or ultra-hippies.

      Different people have different heuristics and algorithms for when they get scared of outsiders. How different are the outsiders? Do they match on culture? How many are coming? How much of an exogenous shock will they represent to my community? Do I feel my community is currently thriving and can let in more people? Will these people drive down wages for low skilled work? (etc).

      Last year the US let in roughly 100k refugees. Why not 1000k? Or why not 10,000k? If we lower it to 50k, why not 0? Is this a situation of some sort of logical construction of an ‘ism’ e.g. (“You are in favor of LESS refugees/immigration than the status quo. This makes you xenophobic. I am in favor of the status quo. This makes me baseline good person”)

      Unfortunately, this more rational and reasoned approach is basically nonexistent. It’s all or nothing panicked xenophobia, detaining green card holders, and scaring permanent residents, vs. a side unwilling and unable to listen to the preferences of those who want less immigration.

      • Last year the US let in roughly 100k refugees.

        Source? Looking at a graphic from the Pew center, the last time the figure was that high seems to have been in 1995. The figure in recent years looks like about 70,000.

      • Mark says:

        That’s true, but I don’t think the distinction is based upon some arbitrary number of immigrants – it’s more about direction. Clinton wasn’t proposing open borders, but she was a step in the direction of openness.
        So, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Trump supporters are xenophobic (or more xenophobic) than Clinton supporters. Are we trying to work through our fears by gradual exposure, or are we going to trying to remove ourselves from them.

    • Tekhno says:

      @Mark

      Immigration restrictions *are* xenophobic.

      And regulations on business are capitalphobic.

      • Mark says:

        Some left wingers are capitalphobic – they just want to crush the capitalist system.
        I would say that the difference, at the end of the day, is that capital is a form of social relationship, whereas outsiders are people. Hating the first (while it might be misguided) isn’t necessarily a retrograde step.

        I think it would be quite a peculiar moral position to say that capital (a specific set of laws/ social relations) should be promoted in some specific form, without reference to the effects of this system on people. Taking the view that we should be moving towards an increased openness and acceptance of people in general is less tenuous, because it’s a consequence of universalist ethics.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      @Mark:

      Immigration restrictions *are* xenophobic.

      Do you mean this literally? Any restriction on immigration is xenophobic? Or are there some restrictions (e.g. on criminals) that are not?

  21. Is there any way to see if my comment was removed? I sometimes feel like I’m losing my mind when I can’t follow up on threads.

    I’m also a pretty chill bro, and don’t troll or have radical views, so unsure why my comments are removed. Maybe the thread is removed? The idea of disappointing Scott is too much for me to bare.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      Almost certainly your posts are getting eaten automatically due to including a Sin Word. This is not your fault; the Sin Words are selected by the Powers that Be, and what imperfect knowledge we possess of them is handed down through bitter experience. typing ‘edudorb’ reversed, for example, will delete your post.

      • shakeddown says:

        This also happens a lot with links.

        • Matt M says:

          One thing I’ve noticed is that if you actually use the code to embed a hyperlink, you’re almost always safe.

          If you copy and paste an actual URL into the text of your comment, it’s very very likely to be deleted.

    • Deiseach says:

      You may have fallen afoul of the Scunthorpe problem (I had a couple of instances where a full word contained a combination of letters that might be re-arranged to form a slur, and I was knocking my head off the wall trying to figure out why my comments were not showing up, until the penny dropped).

      • Corey says:

        Fark’s filters exemplified that, e.g. they would change “bitch” to “biatch” and ignore spaces, so if you said “it’s a bit chilly” you might be surprised to read your post as “it’s a biatchilly”.
        Eventually these got well-known enough that people leverage it for (mildly) humorous effect.

        A good solution might be: Scott publishes the list, and makes willful attempted circumvention of the list a (probably temporary) bannable offense.

        • Loquat says:

          The official forums for Guild Wars 2 have the same thing, only they replace all censored words with “kitten”. Thus you’d see things like “why can’kitten” (for “why can’t it”), and my personal favorite the Kittenushima reactor disaster.

  22. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    The new post– [GUEST POST] The International Refugee Assistance Program– has shown up in my email, but not on this site.

  23. kaninchen says:

    People are getting annoyed at my bell-ringing and have asked me to stop, but I just carillon anyway.

  24. Kevin C. says:

    As to the rules here, I have a question about reporting comments. Namely, how much is too much? As I understand our host has to review the resulting list and all. On the other hand, there looks to be quite a bit that seems rather objectionable, compared to past posts that resulted in bannings, these days. Any useful guidelines?

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Any useful guidelines?

      When in doubt, don’t report. Truly awful comments usually garner enough attention to get the hammer anyway.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      It depends? (Said the not very helpful cub)

      Is someone a regular with a history? What is that history and where are the comments in relation to the tone of their general comments?

      Perhaps you should engage them on the point. I think this is more effective, because ultimately we have to self police. Some people take exception to this because they don’t want to see what amounts to nagging in the comments, but I disagree.

      If someone else is already doing this, ignore it and move on.

      If you have done this already, and the comments continue in this vein, maybe report it.

      Are they new and are their comments all of a piece? Report it.

    • IrishDude says:

      I’ve only reported one comment before. This was for a poster that was being rude, obnoxious, and verbally aggressive across multiple posts and multiple threads, with one particularly bad post being the straw that broke the camels back for me.

      So, I have a very stringent standard, choosing to ignore/tolerate almost all posts I find rude.

  25. Well... says:

    For a long time I’ve been saying that journalism, as an industry, is positioned all wrong. There’s this notion that journalists serve this important function of bravely gathering facts, assembling them into the truth, and humbly delivering the truth to the public. Instead, says I, journalists should transparently advertise their biases and deliver their biased reports to subject matter experts, who in turn can debate what truths are revealed in the reports and deliver their findings to the public.

    That’s a summary, though also a soft refocusing, of what I said on my blog today. Am I being terribly unfair to journalists?

    • JulieK says:

      Who decides who qualifies as a presumably unbiased “expert?”

      • Well... says:

        They aren’t presumably unbiased. Nobody is. But unlike journalists, SMEs at least know what they’re talking about.

        • Iain says:

          Subject matter experts know what they’re talking about in the same sense that journalists are unbiased — as an ideal that is nice in theory, but rarely if ever achieved in practice. Like journalists, the more that depends on the testimony of an expert, the more incentive there is to defect and be the “expert” who tells people what they want to hear.

        • Nornagest says:

          For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert.

    • Why not go the other way, and be upfront about your biases? Don’t pretend you have an objective view, report what facts you can, and then illustrate why you think your biased worldview best explains it. Then, readers could be aware of the biases and look for multiple sources with different points of view.

  26. Blakes7th says:

    Brief story, had a discussion with a friend about “What is the opposite of fascism?”
    I offered Libertarianism as a possible answer, but then followed up by saying “I bet I could Google search for Libertarian Fascists” and get >1000 hits.
    He scoffed, saying “You can get 1000 hits on Google for anything.”

    And while he’s right, I now wonder what that threshold is? How many Google hits does it take to get past the Lizardman’s Constant?

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      This being a checkable claim, I searched for “libertarian fascists” (double quotes included) and got… 927 hits.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        But did you combine them with the results for “fascist libertarians”?

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          Whoops; no. 812 results. But who knows what the overlap is…

          • Anonalous says:

            “Fascist Libertarians” | “Libertarians Fascists” yields ~1,730 results, so apparently there was almost no overlap. Passes the 1000 hits test, though.

      • Manya says:

        OK, but how many of those results are people describing themselves as fascist libertarians? From what I can tell, most if not all of them come from people insulting libertarians and using “fascist” as a generic word for “really really bad”.

    • dndnrsn says:

      “Anarcho-Monarchism” gets 13.8k hits, and apparently is an actual thing.

      • Urstoff says:

        I’m an anarcho-statist.

      • massivefocusedinaction says:

        That term might not be helped by there being a blog with precisely that name. Though I’d guess more than a few libertarians are also reaching similar conclusions to Trofim_Lysenco’s.

        • dndnrsn says:

          What blog? I can’t find any blog called Anarcho-Monarchism or Anarcho-Monarchist or anything like that.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Well, I’m not about to go look for a King, Autarch, God-Emperor, or Tyrant. I figure that barring external pressures provoking an authoritarian collapse (not impossible, but not guaranteed either) I’ll probably be dead and buried decades before the “liberal” part of liberal Democracy withers away completely and we get our own version of David Weber’s Legislaturalists.

          I just think it sucks.

      • AnarchyDice says:

        Um, I also wrote a blog post about an anarcho-monarchist town for roleplaying games, so count my blog as one o’ those links. Same with an anarcho-fascist town and nine other anarchist flavored towns.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Wait, isn’t anarcho-fascism just some weird Jack Donovan MANLY MEN WHO FIGHT BEARS IN THE WOODS AND LIVE WITH OTHER MANLY MEN NO GIRLS ALLOWED thing? Is it, instead, a real thing?

          • AnarchyDice says:

            Far as my research for that series could tell, it is a real thing based around the idea of voluntarily submitting to the will of a autocrat or the like so that the community can band together. It is more commonly referred to as anarcho-nationalism, but it trends closer to the original meaning of fascism which is the “bundle of sticks” approach rather than the modern interpretation of god-emperor by allowing groups to self-segregate into cohesive groups of similar ideologies, values, ethnicities, religions, etc.

            It was definitely a TIL moment when I was looking around for material to use for that anarchist town series.

          • TenMinute says:

            It’s Tolkien, man. That’s literally the word he used to describe his political views.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I thought Tolkein coined anarcho-monarchism?

          • Deiseach says:

            I thought Tolkein coined anarcho-monarchism?

            Re: Tolkien, from his “Letters” to his son in the 40s:

            (1)

            My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) – or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people.

            (2)

            It is not the not-man (e.g. weather) nor man (even at a bad level), but the manmade that is ultimately daunting and insupportable. If a ragnarök would bum all the slums and gasworks, and shabby garages, and long arc-lit suburbs, it cd. for me bum all the works of art – and I’d go back to trees.

    • shakeddown says:

      Related: What percentage of the lizardman constant is people who believe in actual lizardmen vs. people just screwing with the interviewer? If something like 10-20% of americans believed in pizzagate, it doesn’t seem that out there that a tenth of that number also believe in lizardmen.

      • Evan Þ says:

        I’m not sure you can generalize so easily. Pizzagate sounds very plausible to someone who doesn’t really follow the news: “Look, this email dump shows that the Hated Outgroup is conspiring to commit Sadly-Possible Crime!”

        Actual lizardmen… are another story.

        • shakeddown says:

          True, but I think assuming “X sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory” as strong evidence against X isn’t common to everyone. If there’s a significant percentage of the population that are willing to believe something that sounds ridiculous to me, maybe it’s typical mind fallacy to assume that there isn’t a (significantly smaller) non-zero percentage of the population that thinks differently enough from me to believe in something that seems even more ridiculous to me. And once I do assign a nonzero probability to the option that some people genuinely believe in lizardmen, I don’t know how to test it.

          • 1soru1 says:

            If belief in lizardmen is real, then there must be something that people genuinely don’t believe in, say toadmen. Identify it, survey it, compare to lizardman constant.

          • John Schilling says:

            If belief in lizardmen is real, then there must be something that people genuinely don’t believe in, say toadmen. Identify it, survey it, compare to lizardman constant.

            How do you know whether people “genuinely don’t believe in” a thing, when you are particularly interested in are the ones who will say they believe a thing even if they don’t?

            IIRC, someone here found in one of our previous go-arounds a survey in which ~5% of the respondents claim to have been personally decapitated. Can we agree that the fraction of the population which genuinely believes such a thing is <<<5%?

            Yes, there are people who genuinely believe in the lizardman conspiracy theory. They also are <<5% of the population, and probably <5% of the people who answer "yes" to the question "do you believe in the lizardman conspiracy". Probably more numerous than people who genuinely believe they have been decapitated.

            So, if someone actually cared, how might they go about determining the number of true lizardman-conspiracy believers in this sea of noise?

          • shakeddown says:

            A toadman is someone who has made a deal with the devil which gives them control over horses.

            This seems like a bad name.

          • cassander says:

            @John Schilling

            >ow do you know whether people “genuinely don’t believe in” a thing, when you are particularly interested in are the ones who will say they believe a thing even if they don’t?

            You could always make something up. Poll how many people think that Donald Trump has rabies, or Barack Obama was born in Australia.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “IIRC, someone here found in one of our previous go-arounds a survey in which ~5% of the respondents claim to have been personally decapitated.”

            Should we believe that all those people know what “decapitated” means?

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy

            A lot of people are behaving like headless chickens, so they could legitimately answer ‘yes,’ if they take the question metaphorically.

          • Deiseach says:

            IIRC, someone here found in one of our previous go-arounds a survey in which ~5% of the respondents claim to have been personally decapitated. Can we agree that the fraction of the population which genuinely believes such a thing is <<<5%?

            You can’t leave out the chance of malapropisms as an alternative to people deliberately messing with the survey. It’s entirely possible that, for instance, they may be confusing “decapitated” with “resuscitated” or a similar word – or something completely different.

          • Nornagest says:

            Yeah, Lizardman’s constant isn’t just capturing trolling, it’s also capturing people who made a mistake, or who didn’t understand the question, or who got bored halfway through the survey and filled the rest of it in with garbage.

      • shakeddown says:

        Thinking about it, there’s another distinction here that I’d like to make.
        Consider articles on Briebart with titles like “Women should be barred from STEM subjects”. They have some arguments to reason in them, but that’s not really the main purpose. The main purpose is to signal antifeminism.
        Feminists can’t really understand how anyone could write something like that, because they always try to signal feminism, and to interpret facts in ways that allows them to do it. It’s hard for most of them to wrap their heads around the idea of someone with the exact opposite signalling incentives.

        I think conspiracy theories are like that. For most of us (especially in rationalist culture), something sounding like a conspiracy theory is strong motivation to both disbelieve it and to signal disbelief in it. I think that this is less true for the general public than the people here, and that if we select for the people for whom it’s least true, we can get some small percentage of the public for whom something sounding like a bizarre conspiracy theory is motivation to believe (and signal belief) for an idea. So if you call them and ask them “do you believe in crazy conspiracy theory X”, then even if they’ve never heard X before, they’ll try to believe it (at least at the surface level), because “so crazy it has to be true” actually is a heuristic for some people.

        You can reasonably argue that these people don’t really believe in lizardmen so much as they just generally believe in conspiracies. But that still makes them distinct from the people who’d tell an interviewer a ridiculous answer they don’t believe on any level, just to annoy the interviewer.

        (The people who believe they’ve been decapitated are probably almost exclusively the second category, but that seems like it’d depend on the question. I’m pretty sure I’d say yes if someone asked me that one).

        • cassander says:

          >Feminists can’t really understand how anyone could write something like that, because they always try to signal feminism, and to interpret facts in ways that allows them to do it. It’s hard for most of them to wrap their heads around the idea of someone with the exact opposite signalling incentives.

          Sure they can, they’re just mindless (or malevolent) servants of the patriarchy, living proof that feminism bravely standing up to the dark forces of reaction. If Hitler were alive today, he’d be writing articles like that!

        • rlms says:

          I think there are also other relevant categories, such as “people who ticked the wrong box by accident”, “people who misread the question” and “people filling out random answers because they want to spend as little time on the survey as possible”.

          • shakeddown says:

            That seems easier to control for, though, for example by putting a dummy “please check box 4” question. Although the error margin of this control is still significant when dealing with low percentages in the first place, so that’s still not great.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You are leaving out “does not know what decapitated means” . This could be considered a subset of “misread the question” but I would submit it is different.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      All that means is that some people claimed there are libertarian fascists. It doesn’t mean libertarianism isn’t actually the “opposite” of fascism, though I think it’s equally the opposite of socialism, and there is no clear meaning of “opposite” since the dimensions by which you group political ideologies is up for judgement.

    • Corey says:

      I just tried “nonpracticing atheist” and got ~4130 hits.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        I just tried “nonpracticing atheist” and got ~4130 hits.

        Were they also offered to you by Amazon and eBay?

        • YehoshuaK says:

          I just tried “libertarians are fascists” and got about 271,000 hits. Anyone who wants to go through and read them, be my guest.

    • To answer the question you didn’t ask, I don’t think there is such thing as a true opposite of fascism (or democracy, or communism etc).

      The mistake there is thinking the term is actually a unique well-defined entity. The reality is they are simply terms we use to classify a set of attributes. What that set is, and how you measure them, is a hard question to answer. Hitler’s Nazi party would be classified as Fascist by 99.99%> of people. But, then again, that’s sorta cheating since we tend to use that government as part of the literal definition of fascism.

      Some people then said oh, no no, Hitler and the Nazis were actually socialists. Which is stupid, but that’s how they classify it since it backs up their own view of the world.

      Probably your best bet would be to try and identify a set of dimensions you think make up fascism, then try to talk with your friend about the inverse of those would look like (and whether or not it even exists or is coherent). Then you start noticing the whole thing is more like some sort of weird measurement problem. Unfortunately we don’t have the data processing or machine learning to do multidimensional scaling yet for grand political spectrums 🙁

  27. JulieK says:

    Is there a way to search the comments on SSC, not just the original posts?

  28. HeelBearCub says:

    So, recently Trump reaffirmed the Obama executive order prohibiting discrimination against gays by federal contractors. Score 1/2 point for Scott.

    It’s rumored, however, that he is going sign another executive order allowing discrimination against gays by any company that has a religious objection to hiring gay people.

    So, here is my query.

    Assuming this will be true, I think this should be contingent on then company needing to declare and make public their religious objection to hiring gays, and that they should do so before they (potentially) hire any gay people. Unless they have publically made this declaration, they have no right to retroactively make a religious exemption claim.

    Agree or disagree?

    • suntzuanime says:

      What goal are you hoping to achieve by creating this religious registry?

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Fairness for the gay prospective/current employees, so they know that they will not be hired if they interview and will be fired if the out themselves.

        Also, as a preventative to convenient claims of religious exemptions. If the religious claim is sincere, they shouldn’t have an issue with making it public.

        • Jiro says:

          If the religious claim is sincere, they shouldn’t have an issue with making it public.

          The problem with this is that publicizing names leads to them randomly becoming targets for outrage.

          Of course, you may believe that publishing people’s names to get them targeted by outrage is fine, in which case ignore this. (Although said outrage can include extralegal methods as well as boycotts.)

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            As the names are things like “Hobby Lobby” and “Chick-Fil-Lay” their names get publicized as soon as the fireee, er, fired person gets the ACLU or similar publicizers to publicize it (if the media needs poking).

            The only real difference is that if Hobby Lobby had not previously announced their peculiar sub-group of Christianity, they would lose the court case, which in our timeline they won.

          • Jiro says:

            If you’re going to argue “they’d still get publicized by the court case”, you’re ignoring the scenario where nobody sues over the policy but the company is targeted for outrage anyway.

        • hls2003 says:

          Many or most such companies have mission statements, employee handbooks, Web sites, values declarations on the wall, welcome-to-our-company seminars, etc. that mention their religious, moral, and ethical positions. Those are the sorts of things that they usually point to as evidence of their sincere religious belief. It’s currently public, but hard to track down unless you’re bothering to go examine the mission blurbs of every business in the U.S., which nobody currently has the time to do (but when they do, you get Mystic Pizza mob nonsense). Why do you want a formal public registry, other than a convenient list of targets compiled in one place?

          As a practical matter, sincere belief is rarely questioned – because it is almost always true. Seriously, why would (e.g.) Chick-Fil-A bother bringing a shitstorm on themselves, and screwing themselves out of a potentially great employee pool, if they didn’t have some sort of core belief at issue?

          If a company’s prior affiliation is so weak that nobody could have discerned its existence, then it might be the vanishingly rare case where the government could challenge the belief’s sincerity. If the suddenly “kosher” butcher has been offering congealed blood-pops for the last 20 years, maybe that’d get tried. Otherwise it’s a non-starter.

          But also ask yourself this: why does it matter so much? Let’s say a company has no public history, but the owner just met Jesus on the road to Damascus (or Muhammad on the road to Mecca). Why are his beliefs any less valid than someone on the registry? More to the point, if the regulation being skirted is so damaging that you expect people to lie about their religious affiliation to get an exemption – not just isolated cases, but regularly enough to be a legit problem – then (1) maybe you need to rethink the wisdom of your regulation, and (2) why wouldn’t everyone just pre-register as a matter of course? It’s turtles all the way down. Then you’re back to the current test – judging sincerity, which RFRA already requires.

          • Evan Þ says:

            “If a company’s prior affiliation is so weak that nobody could have discerned its existence, then it might be the vanishingly rare case where the government could challenge the belief’s sincerity.”

            Like that one wedding chapel in Idaho which the government forced to allow same-sex marriages, because they hadn’t previously articulated any beliefs except “marriage is good, and God probably exists”?

          • hls2003 says:

            @Evan – Actually, religiously affiliated institutions usually have different arguments; if I’m not mistaken that chapel was exempted from the city’s ban because it was a religious organization. See, e.g., http://www.ktvb.com/news/local/idaho/idaho-gay-marriage-wedding-chapel-case-partially-dismissed/108528890

          • JulieK says:

            if the regulation being skirted is so damaging that you expect people to lie about their religious affiliation to get an exemption – not just isolated cases, but regularly enough to be a legit problem – then (1) maybe you need to rethink the wisdom of your regulation

            My position is that a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is a nice start, but what we really want is a “Freedom Restoration Act.” If a law is sufficiently non-crucial to allow religious exemptions, maybe we should just get rid of the law.

          • My position is that a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is a nice start, but what we really want is a “Freedom Restoration Act.”

            Agreed.

            I am routinely irritated at people arguing that they should be free to do things because their motives are religious when, in my view, those are things that they should be free to do for any reason or no reason. Part of the point of freedom is that you don’t have to justify to someone else the reasons for the choices you make.

          • JulieK says:

            Let’s say we agree that someone is a sincere adherent of Orthodox Judaism. Do we want to give a government official the responsibility for deciding what Jewish law does or doesn’t require?

          • Winter Shaker says:

            David Friedman:

            I am routinely irritated at people arguing that they should be free to do things because their motives are religious when, in my view, those are things that they should be free to do for any reason or no reason.

            As someone with a keen interest in drug policy reform, one of the more outstanding examples of that is this law, which allows you take peyote if and only if you are a certified Native American taking part in a traditional peyote ceremony.

          • No one thinks that the freedom to discriminate is a crucial right…at best it is an addendum to the right to religious freedom. And an untrammelled right to discriminate is inimical to freedom , as most people conceive of it. Putting the two together, you end up with a limited right to discriminate, or no right.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            No one thinks that the freedom to discriminate is a crucial right…at best it is an addendum to the right to religious freedom.

            Or freedom of association.

          • No one thinks that the freedom to discriminate is a crucial right…at best it is an addendum to the right to religious freedom.

            It is a consequence of the principle of voluntary association, which I, at least, do view as a crucial right.

            I very much object to the idea “you are entitled to decide who you associate with and how, but only if your motives are religious.”

          • Once again : freedom if association’ mrans the right to hold political and othet meetings.

          • neciampater says:

            I think the freedom to discriminate is a crucial right.

            It’s the only way to stop bigotry.

          • TenMinute says:

            freedom if association’ mrans the right to hold political and othet meetings.

            And that is meaningless without the right to “discriminate” and kick people out of your meeting. Otherwise you get this.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ hls2003
            Many or most such companies have mission statements, employee handbooks, Web sites, values declarations on the wall, welcome-to-our-company seminars, etc. that mention their religious, moral, and ethical positions. Those are the sorts of things that they usually point to as evidence of their sincere religious belief.

            To use something like that as evidence for the company’s pre-existing religious discrimination, without it outright saying “No gays need apply” — could keep a lot of lawyers and PR firms in business composing and attacking the necessary dogwhistles.

        • Deiseach says:

          Fairness for the gay prospective/current employees, so they know that they will not be hired if they interview and will be fired if they out themselves.

          Yeah, no, that’s not working great in Catholic schools where there have been cases of gay employees saying “I had no idea that getting married to my same-sex partner would be violating the terms of my contract of employment! They knew I was gay!”

          Yeah, and you knew the position of the Catholic Church on same-sex marriage. This is going to be an ongoing problem, especially since the ethos of Catholic education is that religion is not “a forty-five minute class we take once a week” but permeates all aspects of the life of the school and (to be hoped) the students. I foresee a lot more cases here, where it’ll either be “yes the government can tell you what to believe and how to believe it” or “yes there can be discrimination on religious grounds” and nobody will be happy.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Guess the Muslim Registry is back in the Overton Window.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          Before saying “I get to fire you because I’m a Whatever”, it’s reasonable to register well in advance that you’re a Whatever.

          I’d like to see fewer Undistributed Middles in ssc.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          What a facile claim.

          This is certainly not “every X is required to register”.

          Rather, it is saying that a butcher can’t retroactively claim to be kosher to avoid a fine for not complying with state rules about slaughter if they never claimed to be kosher in the first place.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Where’s the evidence that people retroactively claiming to be Christian in order to mistreat gay employees is actually a problem on a scale large enough to justify creating a big government-mandated register?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Who said anything about a government mandated register?

          • John Schilling says:

            Who said anything about a government mandated register?

            “I think this should be contingent on then company needing to declare and make public their religious objection”

            The sum total of such declarations, especially if indexed in a manner that makes them at all useful for the stated purpose, is a register in fact. And you are not arguing in good faith.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And you are not arguing in good faith.

            I never said anything at all about a registry or filing anything with the government. I simply said they needed to make a public statement of policy.

            Suntzu said something about a registry in asking me what the purpose of this was, which I perhaps should have objected to. I was trying to answer what I thought that the actual question was.

            I don’t understand what you think I have done that was in bad faith.

          • Jaskologist says:

            “The government requires you to do X to not get sued” is a government mandate. And the difference between a registry and a bunch of public declarations is a matter of bookkeeping, easily done in this day and age.

            We are worried about it for the same reason you would worry about a Muslim registry: we think it will be used as a blacklist/list of targets for harassment. And it’s not like that is a slippery slope argument or unfounded fear; it is something that already been done, by activists over this very issue.

            Do you believe it wouldn’t be used in such a manner?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Perhaps, as a compromise, we could make both religious business-owners and gays register, that way both sides can feel equally persecuted.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Have we needed a Jewish Butcher registry in order to allow kosher slaughtering?

          I think these things look very much the same. Do you really believe that the list you propose would not be used in order to target and terrorize those on it?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jaskologist:
            I said make public. This is something kosher butchers do. Declare publicly that they are are kosher. IIRC, they actually do a lot more, including submitting to inspections for certification as kosher.

            In Hobby Lobby, I believe that SCOTUS held that we aren’t allowed to question the sincerity of the religious conviction being declared. Consider a) no need for prior public declaration of the professed religious conviction, b) no ability to question, for any reason, if after the fact declarations are sincere.

            A and B look like a fully generalizable defense to any accusation of discrimination that cannot be challenged in court. In essence, the new executive order effectively nullifies the Obama executive order (and goes much further).

          • Salem says:

            In Hobby Lobby, I believe that SCOTUS held that we aren’t allowed to question the sincerity of the religious conviction being declared.

            No, that’s not right at all. Under RFRA (and most state equivalents), a religious conviction has to be sincerely held to qualify. A sudden, suspiciously convenient declaration of a never-before professed conviction would be (rebuttable) evidence of insincerity.

            What SCOTUS actually said in Hobby Lobby was that they weren’t judging one way or another the sincerity of the conviction in that case, because the government didn’t raise the issue. As a practical matter, the government almost never questions sincerity, because it’s so hard to prove, and it puts them on the wrong foot.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Salem:
            So, my belief is perhaps overstated vis-a-vis the facts of the case.

            Stanford Law Review agrees with you.

            Whereas Jeffrey Toobin (and others I am sure) agree with Ginsberg’s dissent.

            I would like to note, however, that the minimalist interpretation of the Hobby Lobby case already basically agrees with my contention that we need to have clear evidence before hand that the religious contention is sincerely held.

            This is probably different than a requirement that evidence will have been public though. It just strikes me that, if I am gay, and you have a religious objection to it, this should be information I am entitled to if you get to use that as a shield to protect you if you treat me unfairly because of it.

          • Evan Þ says:

            “IIRC, they actually do a lot more, including submitting to inspections for certification as kosher.”

            Inspections by private groups, not the government.

            And if a counterfactually-powerful American Gang of Nazis asked one of those groups, “Hey, can we have a list of all the kosher butchers in town so we can (wink wink) talk to them,” I wouldn’t be surprised if they were refused. In a world which really does contain powerful gangs of leftists, I don’t want such lists to be readily accessible.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Inspections by private groups, not the government.

            Who said anything about the government doing any inspection?

          • Evan Þ says:

            The registry’s by a private group, as well. There’s a difference.

          • Deiseach says:

            Who said anything about the government doing any inspection?

            In the case of kosher (and halal) butchering, animal rights groups claim that they inflict unnecessary suffering (on top of the usual suffering of slaughterhouses) on animals, as the method of ritually-sanctioned slaughter forbids stunning.

            It wouldn’t be beyond the bounds to imagine such a group kicking up enough of a storm via social media publicity (private inspections would be a god-send in this instance – “yeah, they get a bunch of their like-minded freaks to certify that the animals are not suffering, and we’re supposed to just take their word for it!”) that the government might take over, or send in additionally, civil inspectors.

            You can develop the analogy for yourself.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          That was my first instinct as well, but re-reading, HBC is talking about a list of companies, which is voluntary, and only necessary if you plan on claiming a religious exemption to anti-discrimination laws.

          • Montfort says:

            In fact, HBC is not even proposing a list, just that said companies put it on their website somewhere, and in some company policy statements so they can point to it later in court and say “See? We warned you ahead of time.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well, more so that people who might be discriminated against (now legally) are actually warned.

            Imagine you go to work for the “Chelsea Handymen Umpires and Refinery Company”. In your interview, no one asks about your sexual orientation. There is no notification that they discriminate against gays.

            Two years later you get married (to a same sex partner) and they won’t let you add your spouse to your insurance policy and site their (new found) religious objection to gay marriage.

          • Deiseach says:

            Imagine you go to work for the “Chelsea Handymen Umpires and Refinery Company”…Two years later you get married (to a same sex partner) and they won’t let you add your spouse to your insurance policy and site their (new found) religious objection to gay marriage

            HeelBearCub, then if it is “newly-found” and hence to be doubted as the real reason behind their discrimination, as you seem to be implying, then what is the real reason?

            If they interviewed you, hired you and were happy for you to bring your partner along to Christmas parties etc. but then when you got married, this happened – what were they doing? Either it’s purely to save money, in which case the motive is not homophobia, or they were homophobic all along but never showed it despite knowing you were a gay employee. Because if they’re actively homophobic, then presumably you will pick up on that in your two years working there.

            I agree this is going to need to be clarified so everyone knows where they stand, but so far the impression I’m getting from your comments – and if this is not what you mean, please correct me – is that you are assuming plenty of places want to actively discriminate because they’re owned, founded or run by homophobes but under present legislation they can’t do that, but with the religious exemption they’ll all jump on that as an excuse? And so nobody is really religiously motivated unless they’re an actual church, this should be presumed to be a cloak for bigotry if used by anyone?

          • Deiseach says:

            only necessary if you plan on claiming a religious exemption to anti-discrimination laws

            How do you know what legislation will be passed in future that you will need to stake your religious identity claim now? That’s the other side of the registry idea: if you are going to claim religious exemption from (say) laws passed guaranteeing that every employee has the right to a bacon sandwich from the company canteen (no discrimination about anyone’s food choices permitted on dietary or cultural grounds), you must register now in advance of this law being passed in five years’ time.

          • Corey says:

            @Deiseach: It needn’t be ex post facto, RFRA is already the law. I’m not sure why, if you wanted to keep your workforce gay-free, you wouldn’t hang up a “No Gays Need Apply” sign. (Yeah, it’s an invitation to outrage from the All-Powerful Left(tm), but if that’s too big a price to obey direct divine commands, what kind of religion is it?) It seems a lot of work to try to weed out the gays after hiring.
            ETA: this would of course be incompatible with “Equal Opportunity Employer” – that’s where the government comes in, with some regulatory definition of who you can exclude while advertising you’re an EOE.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Yeah, it’s an invitation to outrage from the All-Powerful Left(tm), but if that’s too big a price to obey direct divine commands, what kind of religion is it?

            I’m not aware of any religion which explicitly forbids its adherents from employing homosexuals; are you?

          • Matt M says:

            “And so nobody is really religiously motivated unless they’re an actual church, this should be presumed to be a cloak for bigotry if used by anyone?”

            I think this is an intentional tactic used by the cultural left for the express purpose of avoiding the appearance that they have anything against any particular religion X (usually Christianity, but sometimes Judaism and rarely Islam as well).

            Making the case for the state forcing people to violate their own religious beliefs is often a tough one. But if you establish that said people don’t really hold the belief, it no longer becomes tough. Nobody has any respect for hypocrites and forcing them to kneel and do bidding is reasonably popular. There are enough biblical contradictions and a general lack of religious knowledge among the American populace that this is an easier hill to climb.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’ve read about people who at least said they weren’t prejudiced against homosexuals, but considered homosexual marriage to be a step too far.

          • TenMinute says:

            avoiding the appearance that they have anything against any particular religio

            Until it’s too late, yes. “If you like your god, you can keep your god”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:

            were happy for you to bring your partner along to Christmas parties etc.

            Who said that they were? You didn’t bring anyone along and they didn’t officially know your sexual orientation.

            Case 1: It turns out that the company is actually just regular old biased against homosexuals, not actually motivated by the religious beliefs. They discriminate against you and you engage in legal action. You have what would be a lock-solid case.

            Except that now they claim their motivation is actually religious. That all the anti-gay sentiment in HR and the CEO and your managers is really actually religious.

            Well, if they can do that, in what way is their any actual protection against non-religious discrimination?

            Case 2: Turns out the long time CEO and board are deeply religious. HR goes to add your spouse and is countermanded by the executives because they have true religious objections.

            Well, now you have still suffered a harm, you either have to give up your job or give up equal treatment by your company. Or, you have no choice in the matter, as they may even fire you if they object to employing you at all. They may object to even giving you a reference on grounds of morality.

            The onus should been on the company to notify you that you would not be entitled to the treatment you would receive at a non-religious company. If the company wants a special exemption from the law in regards equal treatment, it also has a special duty to their prospective and new employees.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The original Mr. X:

            I’m not aware of any religion which explicitly forbids its adherents from employing homosexuals; are you?

            Doesn’t matter. Hobby Lobby definitely establishes that if you say you won’t employ homosexuals on religious grounds, the court cannot find that your belief is not sincere.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Doesn’t matter. Hobby Lobby definitely establishes that if you say you won’t employ homosexuals on religious grounds, the court cannot find that your belief is not sincere.

            Which part of the decision says that?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Case 1: It turns out that the company is actually just regular old biased against homosexuals, not actually motivated by the religious beliefs. They discriminate against you and you engage in legal action. You have what would be a lock-solid case.

            Except that now they claim their motivation is actually religious. That all the anti-gay sentiment in HR and the CEO and your managers is really actually religious.

            Case 2: Turns out the long time CEO and board are deeply religious. HR goes to add your spouse and is countermanded by the executives because they have true religious objections.

            Perhaps you should try proving that this sort of thing actually happens a non-trivial amount of time before asking us to accept your proffered solution.

          • rlms says:

            @The original Mr. X
            Which case don’t you think occurs? (It clearly must be one of them, since otherwise asking for examples would just be annoying pedantry.) You should be able to find plenty examples of people being fired for homosexuality with Google (if you can’t, here are some (I don’t vouch for the validity of all of them)).

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Which case don’t you think occurs? (It clearly must be one of them, since otherwise asking for examples would just be annoying pedantry.)

            I’m sure they do occur; I’m considerably less sure that they occur often enough to justify the sort of government interference HBC is advocating.

            ETA: And I wasn’t asking for examples, annoyingly pedantic or otherwise. I was asking for statistics.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            government interference

            Seriously, what government interference? Why do people keep bringing up registries and government lists and government interference?

            I mean, the government is “interfering” in the sense of saying that discrimination against gays is not allowed. In that sense the interference is baked in. Now we are just talking about requirements for claiming an exemption to that rule.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Seriously, what government interference? Why do people keep bringing up registries and government lists and government interference?

            Who do you expect is going to enforce this “You can’t claim religious exemptions unless you declared your religion beforehand” rule if not the government?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The original Mr. X:
            No one “enforces” it.

            It’s simply that a claim a of religious defense against charges of discrimination will be rejected.

          • Jiro says:

            That’s like saying “nobody enforces laws against bank robbery. It’s just that if you rob a bank, you don’t get a defense against the government putting you in jail.”

            A law saying that if you don’t do X you can’t defend yourself against punishment is just another way of phrasing a law saying that you are punished for not doing X.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Let’s assume that it is not allowed to rob banks.

            Let’s further assume that their is an exception, that it is allowed to rob banks if you worship Laverna, the Roman god of thieves.

            Can you successfully punish anyone for bank robbery if they can claim after they are caught that they have been secretly been worshipping Laverna?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            If there’s any doubt that somebody actually follows a given religion, there will usually be evidence they could present — members of their congregation who can confirm that they’re regular worshippers, copies of the religion’s holy books in their possession, stuff like that. I haven’t come across any cases where somebody claimed to be religious in a discrimination lawsuit and there was no evidence to back it up, and the fact that you haven’t presented any examples makes me think that you haven’t come across such a case, either. Frankly, this entire sub-thread looks less like an attempt to solve a problem, and more like wanting to stick one to the outgroup.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Original Mr. X:
            As others have pointed out, being religious does not hold a guarantee that you wish to discriminate against homosexuals. In addition, sincere religion can be a strictly private matter that involves only prayer and nothing else.

            I’m not trying to “stick it to the outgroup”, I’m exploring the idea of how principled exemptions can exist without simply nullifying the law altogether. I’m also exploring the idea of what responsibility the exemptee has to inform someone that they will discriminate against them.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            As others have pointed out, being religious does not hold a guarantee that you wish to discriminate against homosexuals. In addition, sincere religion can be a strictly private matter that involves only prayer and nothing else.

            So what’s your actual problem here? Do you think that gay people might unknowingly start working for religious conservatives, or that non-religious homophobes might pretend to be religious to get out of lawsuits? Some of your comments seem to imply the one thing, others seem to imply the other.

            I’m not trying to “stick it to the outgroup”, I’m exploring the idea of how principled exemptions can exist without simply nullifying the law altogether. I’m also exploring the idea of what responsibility the exemptee has to inform someone that they will discriminate against them.

            You’re coming up with an onerous hoop people have to jump through (and, yes, I do consider having to put your name out there for angry mobs to target you to be onerous) to solve a problem which you’ve made no effort whatsoever to prove even exists in the first place. This isn’t the sort of proposal which is generally made in good faith.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            On the accusation of bad faith, I could not disagree more.

            Look, I get your side of it. But his side is that people should at least know if they’re at risk of being discriminated against. It’s not bad faith at all.

          • John Schilling says:

            Creating a registry of e.g. bigoted Christians is a possible way of accomplishing that goal. It will also be used in the service of other, less laudable goals, so we at least need to discuss whether this is the right way to go about the primary goal.

            Denying that a registry is a registry, because the process of compiling the final list will be (predictably, inevitably) outsourced to enthusiastic bigots on the other side, is where the bad faith comes in. And legitimately leads to a suspicion that the actual motive for the registry is one of the less laudable ones.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ The original Mr. X
            If there’s any doubt that somebody actually follows a given religion, there will usually be evidence they could present — members of their congregation who can confirm that they’re regular worshippers, copies of the religion’s holy books in their p ossession, stuff like that.
            I haven’t come across any cases where somebody claimed to be religious in a discrimination lawsuit and there was no evidence to back it up,

            Yes, most defendants would have no trouble producing such evidence, which suffices in other cases, doesn’t it? But a worried employer might do well to have a letter, written long previously, on file in his lawyer’s office or some such safe place, to give to a court if and when extra evidence became necessary. No need to have anything on file with the government, or on any ‘list’.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @houseboatonstyxb:

            But a worried employer might do well to have a letter, written long previously, on file in his lawyer’s office or some such safe place, to give to a court if and when extra evidence became necessary.

            And would such a letter, submitted to the lawyer, be sufficient to protect one from lawsuit? Could it be wholly secret from everyone but the lawyer and certain executives?

            If that was sufficient, would it not be prudent for every company to file such a letter?

            And again, at no time have I suggested filing anything with the government or that any list be maintained.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HBC
            And would such a letter, submitted to the lawyer, be sufficient to protect one from lawsuit?

            From someone filing a lawsuit, probably not.* From losing use of the religious exemption, perhaps, if the letter turned out to be a key piece of evidence that the defendant’s claim of religious scruples was sincere.

            Could it be wholly secret from everyone but the lawyer and certain executives?

            Before it’s shown to the judge/prosecution? That would depend on the trustworthyness of the lawyer you chose, and the certain executives you chose to work with, and the staff of your company. (Of course, a lawyer’s service is not the only way you could deal with this. The point is just to prove that the letter was written well before the alleged abuse took place. Maybe get it notarized and hide it under your pillow?)

            After it’s known that you are planning to claim the religeous scruples exemption, your religious privacy is already blown, letter or no letter.

            * IANAL, but depending on the rules of the court, you might luck out with a win/win. In the pre-trial negotiations, if you can convince the prosecution side that they would lose the case, they might not proceed with the case — and not release the contents of the letter either.

            And again, at no time have I suggested filing anything with the government or that any list be maintained.

            Right. It wasn’t either of us who Rorschached an inkblot into a mountain.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @houseboatonstyxb:

            From someone filing a lawsuit, probably not.

            If it does not prevent you from losing a lawsuit, then I can’t see how it is actually fully addressing the proposed executive order, which seems designed to give blanket immunity to the religious against claims of discrimination.

            I note that you did not respond to this:

            If that was sufficient, would it not be prudent for every company to file such a letter?

            That is really the core of what I am trying to get at. The idea that, absent some fence, many will take steps to make sure the religious exemption applies to them, even though they don’t actually have any actual religious motivation.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HeelBearCub
            [T]hat people who might be discriminated against (now legally) are actually warned.

            Imagine you go to work for the “Chelsea Handymen Umpires and Refinery Company”. In your interview, no one asks about your sexual orientation. There is no notification that they discriminate against gays.

            Two years later you get married (to a same sex partner) and they won’t let you add your spouse to your insurance policy and site their (new found) religious objection to gay marriage.

            That’s the other side of the problem. The best thing for both sides is, if the gay person avoids involvement with the discriminating company in the first place — even the time and expense of traveling to their site for interview.

            One approach might be for the gay person to make the first move, by inquiring in zis first letter about the company’s gay policy. “As a gay man, I want to know [….]” If the company admits discrimination (perhaps by dogwhistle), or does not reply, the applicant crosses them off, good riddance. If the company replies with a promise of tolerance — then the applicant has a promise to hold them to, and evidence against any claim of religious objection at that date

            If, throughout the interviewing and hiring process, the applicant and the company are both hiding in their respective closets … I hope it turns out sitcom rather than tragedy.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HBC
            I can’t see how it is actually fully addressing the proposed executive order [….]

            I’m sorry, but that level is way over my head. As is the concern about the letter thing being abused and becoming a Leprecaun’s Ribbon; the judges of 2040 will have to deal with that.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Wake me up if it actually happens.

      Even then, pretty sure the EEOC goes back to Congress, not the executive branch, and that the precedents there are pretty clear.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Meaning the executive order?

        What odds will you give me?

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        None. I’m working on figuring out how to get a mattress that doesn’t stab broken springs through and still make rent, and “I’ve heard a rumour” isn’t enough information on which to make a forecast.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Smart move, because it has already been drafted.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Well, I wasn’t joking about the mattress. Betting is for times when you have the money to lose, or can dictate the odds (as you were doing).

          If nothing else, this year seems like it’s going to be a good one for new and exciting lawsuits and legal challenges.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well, it sucks to have a shitty mattress. I wish you good fortune?

            To be fair, I wasn’t really offering to bet. I was just offering a sideways dismissal of your sideways dismissal.

            The fact that I would have been unwilling to leverage an asymmetry of information probably makes me someone who shouldn’t bet.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I’ve become exceedingly skeptical of “I’ve heard a rumour that”, unless it comes sourced and the source is somewhat credible.

            I do find it somewhat interesting that he appears to be moving to please that part of the base, or elements within his administration so early.

            As I said, if it goes into effect, I doubt there will be be much effect for the same reason my work week has been cut to 40 hours a week despite the injunction blocking the Dept. of Labor FLSA Rules change last December.

            EEOC judgements smart, especially for small to medium businesses. And the ones who will be bigoted in their hiring and HR practices will be the ones who were going to be bigoted in their hiring and HR practices regardless. I’m basing that assessment on the EEOC and HR Law newsletter I get at work.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I don’t believe EEOC applies ? If EEOC already applied, Obama’s executive order would have had no effect.

          • suntzuanime says:

            The supposed leaked draft doesn’t seem to be sourced, though.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I don’t believe EEOC applies ? If EEOC already applied, Obama’s executive order would have had no effect.

            I’ll have to check, but didn’t the Obama EO apply specifically to the federal government hiring? EEOC has considered sexual orientation covered under Title VII since sometime in 2011. Gender identity I’m not so sure on, but there’s an example from 2012.

            It seems as if those rulings are parallel to the Obama and earlier EOs.

            Sometimes I think our combined body of statutes and regulations and precedents is in DIRE need of Version Control…

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            “Sourced.”

            Heh, I remember the olden days, too. News that was sourced… good times.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      It’s rumored, however, that he is going sign another executive order allowing discrimination against gays by any company that has a religious objection to hiring gay people.

      Where did you hear that rumor, and is it from the same sources that insisted such a thing was pending on the day the White House affirmed Obama’s nondiscrimination order?

      Mind you, this administration is so random that anything could happen, so I wouldn’t be totally shocked if such a thing did come to pass. But at least right this second the burden of proof is on the people who insist President Wrapped-Himself-In-The-Rainbow-Flag hates teh gays.

    • What the –bleep– has actually happened with this?

      Word of mouth where I am is less then useless on these topics. And my google-fu skills have waned for now.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/02/01/trumps-support-of-gays-is-right-out-of-the-european-far-right-playbook/?utm_term=.ff7a85a2664e

      Is this it?

    • Spookykou says:

      This is interesting if true, the EO as you describe it seems to fit in nicely with what I have heard of the Supreme Court nominee’s feeling on this issue, which slightly increases it’s likelihood of being true in my mind.

    • John Colanduoni says:

      I think a better way to do this than a registry is require it on the application, sort of like how federal contractors have to say things/ask certain questions on their applications.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Why do people keep thinking I said anything about a registry?

        “Declare and make public” is not a registry.

        • Matt M says:

          I feel like this is a meaningless semantics issue.

          If the government requires every business to state a fact of interest and makes the answers available to the public, a database will come into existence. Whether some federal bureaucrat creates and maintains it or whether George Soros pays some intern to do it doesn’t really affect the end result in any meaningful way…

          • HeelBearCub says:

            We are talking about what requirements there are to claim that what would otherwise be illegal discrimination is not, on the grounds of religious freedom. I’m assuming that is what you mean by “fact of interest”?

            Let’s consider the possibilities:
            a) There is no requirement for any evidence that a companies claim be substantiated.
            b) The evidence can be completely unknown to the public.
            c) The evidence must be knowable by the public.

            Which of these is sufficient in your minds?

            a database will come into existence

            Such databases already exist, but they aren’t the databases you are looking for.

            George Soros

            People objected when Moon attributed everything to the Koch’s machinations. Please don’t do this.

          • Matt M says:

            A is sufficient in my mind, but I don’t really care to debate it. I feel like the arguments for and against have already been covered sufficiently here.

            My only objection is to your idea that you “aren’t calling for a registry.” Having the state collect and make public an official declaration of religiosity will result in a registry being created.

            The one that “already exists” which you linked to seems to be a small collection of voluntary response surveys with no clear distinction of exactly what being on the list entails.

            If we have a comprehensive and publicly accessible list of which companies have declared sincere faith X and we know that sincere faith X allows them to perform widely condemned action Y, then somebody is going to make a database of who these people are for the purposes of attacking them.

            You are saying “Well I’m not calling for that to happen” and I am saying that what you are calling for makes that inevitable.

            Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe action Y really is evil. Maybe some people will claim X but not really be sincere. I don’t really care, that is not what I am arguing at this time.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:

            Having the state collect

            Who said anything about the state collecting anything?

            And (a) simply means that any requirements not to discriminate are rendered null and void. It eliminates all actionable claims of discrimination.

          • Jiro says:

            If there was a law saying that gay people had to publically admit to being gay or else they would lose in any discrimination lawsuit, would you accept that?

            What about a law (in some medieval Europe type place) saying that the Church is permitted to hang Jews fore heresy unless they publically declare that they reject Jesus?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            I find it hard to believe that someone claiming to be discriminated against even though their employer did not know they were gay would actually succeed.

            So, yes, I think that someone needs to establish that they were known to be gay in order for their claim to succeed.

            As to other, I object to anyone being hanged for being Jewish, period. Whereas, in this case, it is claimed that it still OK to claim that one has been discriminated against for being gay (but that religion is an acceptable ground to engage in such discrimination).

          • Jiro says:

            If someone’s employer wants to discriminate against him for being gay, he probably is known as gay to his employer, but that doesn’t mean he’s known as gay to millions of people on the Internet so that he can be harassed by 4chan. And it’s impractical for 4chan to send agents around all over the country to find out which employees are known to be gay, so even though in theory they can find out, they won’t.

            All you’re doing is suggesting the same thing, except that instead of the gay person getting his orientation broadcasted to millions of people, the employer gets his policies broadcasted to millions of people. It still has the effect of making harassment (of the employer, in this case) much easier because the harassers don’t need to go around to every employer in the country one at a time.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            I’ve been pondering this point. You would think I would have had a ready answer, as it’s an obvious counter point.

            The most powerful counter argument I think I can make is simply that being gay is not wrong, but discriminating against gay people is wrong. Thus gay people are not asking for an exception to be allowed to do wrong, whereas as those making a religious argument are asking to be allowed to do wrong. We are making a religious exemption for this, while still regarding it as wrong.

            Now, perhaps you want to make the counter argument that the religious people do think that being gay is wrong and discriminating against them is right. However the law disagrees with them. If the law accepts this argument, then law still regards being gay as somehow wrong.

            You may object that “right” and “wrong” aren’t clear enough in meaning, and have no force in law. You could substitute moral and immoral, which also have no particular force but are perhaps more clearly understood. I’m not sure that makes it any clearer, though.

            I also want to make a second argument having to do with asymmetry of information. If a Jewish person applied to be a taste-tester at a factory which produced mostly pork products, it would be unfair for them to win a suit for discrimination when they were let go for not wishing to consume pork. If they applied to be an accountant at a technology company, however, they certainly could sue if they were let go for not consuming pork at the annual holiday party.

            Assuming that roughly no one thinks being Jewish is wrong, but we also allow those who worship Moccus, the boar god of the Celts to claim an exemption to firing people for being adherent Jews, it’s incumbent on the employer to make clear that not being Jewish is a pre-condition to employment. Otherwise they are doing harm to the employee, rather than simply making clear that they will not employ them.

            And this is very much a “heads I win/tails you lose” situation. If the worship of Moccus is so wide spread that any Jew should reasonably expect a good chance that they shall be fired if they reveal their Jewishness, now we are in a situation of Jews being de facto unequal under the law. It’s not an exception, but the common way of things.

          • John Schilling says:

            Making false accusations of rape is also wrong, and frequent and very damaging. So maybe we want to protect people against this by having every woman who ever anticipates asking a court to recognize a particular exemption from the general presumption that nonviolent sex is consensual (i.e. to actually accuse someone of rape) predeclare the circumstances under which she would be willing to engage on consensual intercourse? After social drinking Y/N, after binge drinking Y/N, on a first date Y/N, in public Y/M, poly Y/N, etc. Linked to all of her social media accounts.

            Understand, nobody would be required to make such a declaration under this proposal; the courts just wouldn’t recognize their claim to nonconsent if they don’t, out of concern for the rights of the accused. And the government wouldn’t compile a centralized list, though of course there will have to be standards of what must be disclosed and where if one is to claim legal protection for their right to deny consent.

            This could not possibly be objectionable to HBC, and it would be unfair to suggest that the inevitable ranked and indexed lists compiled by e.g. every fraternity and sorority on every college campus in the land would constitute Registries of Sluts and/or Prudes. Right?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The most powerful counter argument I think I can make is simply that being gay is not wrong, but discriminating against gay people is wrong. Thus gay people are not asking for an exception to be allowed to do wrong, whereas as those making a religious argument are asking to be allowed to do wrong. We are making a religious exemption for this, while still regarding it as wrong.
            Now, perhaps you want to make the counter argument that the religious people do think that being gay is wrong and discriminating against them is right. However the law disagrees with them. If the law accepts this argument, then law still regards being gay as somehow wrong.
            You may object that “right” and “wrong” aren’t clear enough in meaning, and have no force in law. You could substitute moral and immoral, which also have no particular force but are perhaps more clearly understood. I’m not sure that makes it any clearer, though.

            Or you could just say that the government shouldn’t regulate morality, and that just because something’s wrong doesn’t mean it should be illegal. I gather that used to be quite a common position on the left, until they started winning the culture war.

          • Jiro says:

            The most powerful counter argument I think I can make is simply that being gay is not wrong, but discriminating against gay people is wrong. Thus gay people are not asking for an exception to be allowed to do wrong, whereas as those making a religious argument are asking to be allowed to do wrong.

            But my point is that requiring registration will make harassment practical instead of impractical.

            In order for your argument to be a good response to that, you would have to believe not only that discrimination is wrong, but also that that means it is okay to harass people for discriminating, in the Internet mob sort of way.

            Do you believe that it is okay to harass people for discriminating?

            (If your answer is “it is okay to harass them in some ways but not others,” you then need to argue that your plan will result in only the kinds of harassment you consider okay. I doubt you can do that.)

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It strikes me that a good way to solve the problem of people accidentally taking up employment with religious conservatives — if that is indeed the problem we’re trying to solve — would be to include a clause on the employment contract, clarifying whether or not same-sex partners are counted as spouses for the purpose of receiving benefits. That way people would know what they can expect, and the biggest hardship they’d have to suffer would be wasting time in applying for a job which they decide not to accept after all. It would also seem much less open to abuse than making business owners publically declare their position on a controversial political issue would.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            How does requiring registration make harassment practical rather than impractical?

            Right now any organization that fires gays on religious grounds runs the risk of being spotlighted and dogpiled. If all such organizations registered tomorrow, there would be far too many targets to effectively spotlight. strength in numbers.

            I’ve been following this conversation off and on, and the assumption of bad faith seems odd to me.

            @HeelBearCub – Are you comfortable living in a world that has people who strongly disapprove of homosexual behavior, or do you feel in the abstract that such beliefs should be eliminated if possible? It seems pretty clear to me that the “intolerant of intolerance” idea doesn’t lead to a stable equilibrium, whereas defining hard rules to control and minimize nastiness without seeking to eliminate it completely is a much more stable idea. It sounds like what you’re proposing is based on the latter idea, and it seems like a reasonable idea to me.

            @John Schilling – Organizations have orders of magnitude less expectation of privacy than individuals’ sex lives. I don’t think your example is a good one.

          • Iain says:

            The original Mr. X’s compromise seems to me like a good one.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “Or you could just say that the government shouldn’t regulate morality”

            What does “morality” mean in this context?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            would be to include a clause on the employment contract, clarifying whether or not same-sex partners are counted as spouses for the purpose of receiving benefits.

            I agree with the part of this where discrimination that they are claiming the right to is specified, and is specified proactively, not as a reaction. This satisfies my objection that this policy could be used to nullify any general discrimination claim.

            I have objection to the part where it applies only to the employment contract.

            First, I’m not sure that employment contracts are universal (although they may be near so, and I suppose simply requiring a contract in this case satisfies the objection). Second, employment contracts usually don’t allow you to agree to signing away fundamental rights, so I think it runs afoul of certain expectations about common contracts. Third, to the extent this allows hiding the clause in dense 8-point font it doesn’t satisfy my objective that the prospective employee actually knows what the organization is claiming. Fourth, if this company does not wish to employ me, I want to know before I accept an offer and even before I interview with them.

            As a further point, I want to know this even as someone who is not gay. If an organization choose not to employ homosexuals, or fornicators, or Jews, etc. (due to religious objections), I would like to know this as I do not want to work there even though I am a married, straight, nominal Christian (really an atheist, but let’s pretend).

            This is not because I want to harass them, but because I do not want to work somewhere that denies people their civil rights, no matter how sincere their religious objection.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Third, to the extent this allows hiding the clause in dense 8-point font it doesn’t satisfy my objective that the prospective employee actually knows what the organization is claiming.

            If an employee doesn’t bother to read the contract before signing it, that’s their fault.

            Fourth, if this company does not wish to employ me, I want to know before I accept an offer and even before I interview with them.

            Yeah but if I had a choice between a society in which people sometimes interview for jobs they later decide not to take and a society in which people holding a mainstream political view are required to broadcast their names for mob harassment, I’ll go for the first any day.

            This is not because I want to harass them,

            Dear me, not this again. Look, nobody’s saying that you, personally, want to harass people. What we’re saying is that you’re advocating a policy which will, in all likelihood, make harassment easier and hence more likely. So far you haven’t even bothered to offer a response other than “Yeah, perhaps I should have an answer to that point, but I don’t.”

            I do not want to work somewhere that denies people their civil rights, no matter how sincere their religious objection.

            And yet you’re quite happy to advocate a policy which would impede others in the pursuit of their rights (to freedom of religion and association).

          • Jiro says:

            Right now any organization that fires gays on religious grounds runs the risk of being spotlighted and dogpiled. If all such organizations registered tomorrow, there would be far too many targets to effectively spotlight. strength in numbers.

            Having a big list just means the mob would start picking random targets from the registration list to harass, not that there would be no harassment.

            Also, some sorts of “spotlighting” will scale up and could be used against everyone on the list. For instance, it wouldn’t be hard to no-platform everyone on a list of a hundred thousand names.

          • Fourth, if this company does not wish to employ me, I want to know before I accept an offer and even before I interview with them.

            The obvious solution to that problem is to tell them you are gay when you are applying.

            I faced a somewhat similar issue when setting up my web page. Did I want potential employers looking for information on me to know that I was an anarchist or that I spent a lot of time and effort on a hobby that had nothing much to do with my work?

            My conclusion was that if a potential employer strongly objected to hiring someone with those characteristics, it was probably not where I wanted to end up. So I put up the web page as one site with my academic, political, and hobby (medieval recreation) activities and with my name on it.

          • Jiro says:

            I want to end up at an employer that will enable me to eat and pay rent.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            The fact that some aren’t in a position to pick and choose is one of the reasons why I, as a labor asset with more options, would choose to deny my labor to an employer with those policies.

            It’s a small amount of leverage that I would exert, but it’s not nothing.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            Thus gay people are not asking for an exception to be allowed to do wrong, whereas as those making a religious argument are asking to be allowed to do wrong.

            Got it: I lose my First Amendment protections, because I’m wrong.

            Except the whole point of rights is that you have a right to do (what a majority thinks is) wrong.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Machina ex Deus:
            The First Amendment is not unalloyed. There have always been limits on what people can do in pursuit of their religion.

            Presumably you would not support the right of Muslims to murder Christians in pursuit of jihad simply because of their religious conviction.

            But of course, in this case, I’m merely asking you to assert that you are exercising the right (assuming that the said right is ruled not to be overridden by the constitutional rights of those with which you have a disagreement).

          • The Nybbler says:

            @DavidFriedman

            (this is kind of a tangent I guess)

            As Jiro and HBC have hinted, it’s one thing to do that when you’ll still have good places to work, and another when doing so will leave you with very poor choices. I have a picture of me on my (mostly-unused) social media accounts drinking alcohol; if I were in primary or secondary education rather than tech I’d never dare do such a thing, because one squawk from the wrong person and I’d at the very least have to move far away… at worst it would be “would you like fries with that”.

            Similarly, people in the fashion industry probably have no issue revealing they are gay; people in law-enforcement might find their options quite limited were they to do so.

            Sometimes the option is working for an employer who wouldn’t want you working there if they knew what you were, or losing everything. I dare say if I posted here under my real name I’d have had a lot of trouble finding another job in tech due to my political views.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            The First Amendment is not unalloyed. There have always been limits on what people can do in pursuit of their religion.

            Yes. My point is that you can’t simply argue that some action doesn’t have First Amendment protection because it’s wrong.

            This should be perfectly obvious with freedom of speech: I’m sure I’d find it wrong to say many of the things Milo says; that has no bearing on whether his speech is protected (except for some very, very narrow exceptions that Ken White over at Popehat lists in detail every couple of months).

            Freedom of peaceable assembly is a bit more physical, but it doesn’t seem like it’s been hard to strike a balance where {The Women’s March|The March for Life} can snarl traffic here in DC with a few hundred thousand marchers, regardless of how clearly wrong their position is. (None of those marchers set fire to anything, smashed anything, or beat anyone with metal rods).

            I’m lazy, so the marches can be my examples for Petitioning the Government for Redress of Grievances, too.

            In order for the government to restrict First Amendment rights, the restrictions have to withstand strict scrutiny; while I am not a lawyer, I understand that that’s a pretty high bar.

            (Side note: I thought “strict scrutiny” and “compelling government interest” went hand-in-hand, but everything I’m digging up only applies CGI to the Free Exercise clause. What gives?)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yes. My point is that you can’t simply argue that some action doesn’t have First Amendment protection because it’s wrong.

            But you can’t argue that my 14th amendment rights are nullified by your 1st amendment protection.

            These things are in conflict with each other.

  29. Anonymous Bosch says:

    Maybe there’s a 7-dimensional backgammon reason for berating the Australian PM, but I really don’t see it. I honestly think Trump is just being a dick for no reason.

    EDIT: The White House just said they would honor the refugee deal that Trump seemed to be bitching about. Then what the double fuck?!

    • suntzuanime says:

      I mean, he’s strongly expressing his displeasure about the refugee deal. That’s not no reason, it lays out the ground rules for the coming negotiations over it. It makes perfect sense under a plain meaning interpretation of what he says, I’m not sure why you’re confused.

      • Iain says:

        The “coming negotiations” that the embassy in Canberra confirmed wouldn’t be happening, after reconfirming with the State Department that Trump was going to honour the agreement after all?

        • suntzuanime says:

          Well, you don’t always get what you want. I understand Australia is also quite keen on not having refugees around, and they have the power of the status quo on their side. But the statement cited above sounds more like a commitment not to unilaterally violate the agreement, not a decision not to try to renegotiate it.

          • Iain says:

            In case it is unclear, by “the embassy in Canberra”, I mean the US embassy.

          • PedroS says:

            As I see it, renegotiating a “closed deal” or a completed agreement fundamentally changes the expectations of the actors. After all, the point of “closing a deal” is to get things sorted out and to be able to “move on” to other points. If “pacta non sunt servanda” , what are they good for?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Props for “7-dimensional backgammon”.

      I nominate “Many Worlds Go”

    • John Schilling says:

      I honestly think Tru